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#RomBkLove Week 4: Journey

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#RomBkLove Week 4: Journey. Traveling can make or break a relationship. What are the most memorable character journeys you have read? What are your favorite road-trip/travel romances?

Summer Vacation begins this week for me.  Growing up almost all our vacations were road-trips of some sort or another. We would fly up to NYC, rent a car and sight-seeing up and down the East Coast.  These vacation adventures became fodder for family inside-jokes, which we still love to retell to each other, from the endless evening spent looking for an affordable hotel in Montreal to how we lost our dad's new hat somewhere between Boston and Niagara Falls and he was so mad he didn't talk to us for the rest of the day.  Traveling together can make or break a relationship.  That particular trip was the first one where we kids noticed that my parents marriage was falling apart. It was second-to-last family vacation and their last as a married couple.  But in Romance trips often throw couples together.

I love road-trip/travel romances so much that I keep a shelf of them Goodreads.

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Two of my favorites are  Joanna Bourne's The Forbidden Rose and Laura Kinsale's The Prince of Midnight.  In both these tales, danger stalk the couples as they get to know each other, and slowly see behind each other's masks while on the road together.

 

What are your favorites?

 

 

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Next Month:

Daily #RomBkLove returns!  Jennifer Porter (@JenniferRNN) will be hosting a sexy version of #RomBkLove tackling the tropes and conventions of erotic romance.  I'll retweet the prompt graphic when she is ready to launch it.   I won't be posting weekly prompts while Sexy #RomBkLove is going on, but I'll be back with more Weekly prompts in Aug.

Also on July 1st, I'll be co-hosting #readRchat's mid-year conversation on the Best Books of 2017.  Drop in to share which books you have loved so far this year. 

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#RomBkLove Week 3: Change

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RomBkLove W3: Change In what ways has the genre changed since you started reading? What change do you want to see in the genre?

I sometimes wish someone would put out a Mindset List for romance.  As someone who only started reading romance in the last decade, I am short on historical perspective. There are things that define my experience as romance reader, things that I take for granted that are still suspicious newfangled innovations for people who have been reading romance for 40+ years.

If I were to write a mindset list for myself it would include some of these statements:

  • Romance has always been digital
  • Self-publishing has always been a thing.
  • Covers have always featured headless torsos or inanimate objects
  • Social media like twitter and fb have always dominated romance fandom.
  • Erotic Romance and m/m have always been a subgenres

But in these short decade I have also seen a lot of change. I've seen several publishers crash and burn, many more be absorbed into large publishing empires. I have seen trends come and subgeneres rise and fall in popularity (Bikers, Billionaires, Massive Box Sets, Serials...).   Hard to know what changes will stick or where they genre is going next. I do know that I love the Diverse book movement and the greater visibility of #ownvoices books and authors in the romance community.  There is still a lot of change needed in the way Romance portrays the stories of marginalized people and how it recognized voices that are not white-cis-het but I'm in awe of the work by LGBTQ, Black, Asian,and Latino authors to bring their stories out despite the foot-dragging of gate-keeping editors and reviewers.

What changes big and small have you noticed in Romance since you started reading? What changes are needed or wanted? 


#RomBkLove Week 2: Discovery

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RomBkLove Week 2: Discovery

How do you find new books? Who do you trust for recommendations? What are you looking for?

Romance readers probably struggle with this more than most other readers because of our voracious reading habits. Romance is also a huge genre and it incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and lost in a sea of choice.

I did not have a trusted friend or a treasured aunt slipping me a book to read next when I entered Romancelandia. First I exhausted my library's ebook collection, reading anything that was remotely interesting and plenty who were not all good. Then I stumbled into madly googling for read-a-likes as I tried to figure out what kind of reader I was.  I found Dear Author and Smart Bitches, and gorged on their old-joint podcasts and then followed them on twitter, and through them I started picking up rom readers and reviewers to follow. Eventually I learned the language of tropes and helped search for books for effectively. Knowing what kind of story worked for me helped me find more stories like it.  I also started following the authors I liked, and reading the books they recommended.

And this is where things are both really great, but also very sketchy.  Overall I have loved a lot of the books I read because of author recs. But not every author is judicious with their recs and early on it was hard to distinguish a true enthusiastic rec from a friendly promo exchange.   Not every sale retweet is endorsement based on actual familiarity with a book. After stockpiling too-many of these "bargains", I stopped click on most of them, unless there was a trusted review backing it up.  I still click on author recs, but I am way more selective to who I listen to.  

Right now I think I find 95% of what I read through Twitter. Over the years I have found many fellow readers whose opinions I trust. They have become my trusted circle for recs. They can convince me to read a book in a way that beautiful graphic, 1,000 five-star reviews or hashtag filled tweet cannot. I also have certain tropes or premises that trigger my interest. If I see them in a review I perk up, and investigate. 

 So how do you discover new authors and books? Where do you go for book rec? How was that trust established? What are you looking for?


The Return of #RomBkLove. Week #1:

#RomBkLove (3)Is your TBR bursting after May's #RomBkLove? I heard it over and over last month, people blowing their books budgets on recs from the tag. What did you choose to read and why? Was it a genre or author you never tried before? What did you think? What goes into your reading choices you make? How do you choose what to read next?

As a reader I dread finishing a book if I don't know already what I am planning on reading next.  But I can't live by schedules or lists, at least not for all my reading. As a reviewer, I always have some idea of what I should read next, or what I have to read if I'm going to meet a deadline.  But I am also a very moody reader, and if I try to read a book at the wrong time, I might end up dnfing a perfectly good book.  

Right now I am alternating between some review, beta and contest books I have committed to read and re-reads for comfort.  I also have a large TBR on Audible but I have been having a hard time finding something that fits my mood. But recs on #RomBkLove for Kinsale, Garwood, Grant, Kleypas, and Quick have reminded me that I have been stockpiling some well recommended titles by these author and I should try them. How about you?


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For weekly #RomBkLove I will post a topic each week.  Hopefully they will be big enough topics to sustain conversation for a week. I'll try to reframe the topic through out the week with follow ups, but mostly I will trust you all to carry the conversation where you want it to go.

The topics for the rest of the month are Choice, Discovery, Change and Journey:

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 and I am coordinating with Ellie and Ava of #readRchat to host chats connected to the #RomBkLove topics. The first chat will be June 17th at 4pm EST (10pm CET). NBwgKwQV

In July, Jennifer Porter of Romance Novel News is organizing a sexier more OTT version of #RomBkLove, look for more info by the end of the month.

 

 


#RomBkLove Thank You!

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A little over 6 weeks ago, I had a thought, just a germ of an idea, and I threw it out there on twitter and got tons encouragement and some really great prompt suggestions.  My goal was simple: more romance conversation.   And that goal was met beyond my expectations.

I have been blown away by all the responses. It has been an absolute joy to open up my notifications and the tag each day and hear from so many different people sharing passionate opinions, numerous book recs and so many amazing memories and stories about their reading life.

As a reader of romance, I love finding new readers and authors to follow. My TBR has grown exponentially larger and my reading community has expanded.  That wouldn't have happened without all of you. When I searched the tag late yesterday, there were over 6200 posts tagged #RomBkLove this past month. That is amazing to me, especially when I think of all the spin-off response tweets that were not tagged!

So what is next?  I would love to hear your ideas on how to keep the conversation going.  In the short-term I am going to go back to my semi-regular reviewing schedule, as I have a month worth of review books to catch up on, but I don't want the romance conversations to end.  I can't sustain daily prompts but I can post a weekly one, and I would love to continue to collect prompt suggestions but most of all I want to hear your ideas.

So again: THANK YOU!


#RomBkLove Day 31: HEAs

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#RomBkLove Day 31: Why are HEAs are essential & necessary for you? What must a HEA deliver? What makes for a swoon-worthy HEA?


Melissa Blue is not wrong. I came to romance when my family was going through a rough time and I just couldn't read one more dark dystopian fantasy. The security of the HEA, lets me ride out dark or angst-heavy conflicts and to take risks with settings and premises because I can trust the author will not leave me in despair, but always work the couples back from the brink.

However all HEAs are not created equal. Some are rushed, others too pat.  For me the HEAs have to be earned on the page, rather than magically resolved pages from the end. Character growth and true repentance for bad actions and choices, needs to happen on the page in order for the restoration or establishment of relationships to be believable.  However I don't need babylogues or extensive epilogues. I am comfortable with HFNs, especially when relationships are new or couples are very young.  

My husband and I are approaching our 19th anniversary in less than a month. We married young, and have now outlasted our parents marriages by more than half a decade.  We have had to figure out this HEA business on our own and our marriage has evolved as we have grow up, finished educations, changed careers and raise our family. So for me a HEAs doesn't mean the lovers will never again struggle, and that things will always work out how they want, just that they are committed to facing those struggles and setbacks together.

What do you look for from a HEA? 

 


#RomBkLove Day 30: Old School/Classics

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#RomBkLove Day 30: Old School/Classics Which romances stand the test of time? What elements do you miss?

I came to romance within the last 6 years. I haven't read a lot of Old School romances  and I am honestly a bit fuzzy about what qualifies.  I think most of the older romances I have read, date from the period immediately after so I am curious to hear how others define old-school and what eras they are referring to when they use the term?  Because there are some older romances that I am just scared to try.

A few years back I sent in HABO for honest-to-goodness bodice ripper I read one rainy holiday weekend when I was around 12.  The awesome folks at Smart Bitches found it for me, but I honestly couldn't get past the summaries, to try reading it again.  It was one of those rapey sagas with hero that actually lashed the heroine so badly he left her back terribly scarred.

So what do you mean by Old School Romance?  Any I absolutely have to try?



#RomBkLove Day 29: Friendships

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#RomBkLove Day 29: Friendships. Bro-mances, Best Buds, Girlfriends, galpals, what are the best friendships in romance?

Friendship is super important to me as reader. I love romances where the protagonists have close friends, people who love and care for them and in many cases act as family. I actually keep a GR list for books that feature "great friend group" versus packs of frenemies or sexual rivals.  I have lived far from my family for most of my life, so friends have stepped in to fill that void, and acted as surrogate grandparents to our children, and essential part of our lives in every way.  While I love my spouse, I still need my friends and he needs his. We value and respect that.

One of my favorite things in Anne Bishop's The Other Series is Meg's human pack,  the women who grew from strangers into her family, and Meg's unique friendships with Erebus Sanguanati & The girls at the Lake. She and Simon might have a special deeper friendship, but Meg needs all these people in her life.

One of my favorite things in Beverly Jenkins' Forbidden were the friends Rhine and Eddy both had. Their friends challenged, encouraged and embraced them when they had hard choices to make.

Ruby Lang's Practice Perfect series has great friendships too.  Her three heroines are all doctors and work together. They give each other crap, and known when something is going wrong. The might snip at each other but it is out of love.  Olivia Dade's Lovestruck Librarians also features strong friendships if zany friendships.  Whether they are watching amateur hockey games together or forging dating profiles, these friends have each other's best interests at heart.

How essential are platonic relationships for you in Romance novels?


#RomBkLove Day 28: Novellas and Short Stories

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#RomBkLove Day 28: Novellas and Short Stories Short & Sexy? Which novellas deliver the HEAs?

In the last two years I have read three fantastic romance anthologies.  I adored The Brightest Day and Daughters of a Nation anthologies by  Kianna, Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart & Piper Huguley.  Their stories were all set at different points in American history, and they are fantastic. Their stories packed their punches, tackling history, social issues and crafting beautiful HEA's.  I don't think these collections are still available digitally but all the novellas have been republished as stand-alones.

The third anthology that I adored was Gambled Away with included stories by Rose Lerner, Jeannie Lin,  Isabelle Cooper, Molly O'Keefe and Joanna Bourne.  This was collection of historical romances, all tied together by a gambling theme. The stories were great showcases of their writing talent. Each and everyone of them is worth tracking down.



#RomBkLove Day 27: Romance Icons

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#RomBkLove Day 27: Romance Icons Their names are synonymous with romance. Who are they? Where do you even start?

Growing up if I associated romance with anyone person, it was probably Barbara Cartland. Her all-pink ensembles, manor house and British accent where often featured on TV shows I watched as a kid.  But when I actually started reading romance two names more than any other kept coming up.  Nora Roberts and Georgette Heyer.  I would then look at their immense backlists and despair.  Where does one start?  Chronologically? With something on sale? A trusted rec?

In the end for both of them I ended up starting with a book that came with both recommendations and a low price point.  I bought a copy of the McKade brothers trilogy on sale, on the recommendation of several Nora fans.  I started Heyer with Venetia, for the same reasons.  Reading them has given me a better appreciation of the romance genre. I understand references to their work that previously passed me by.

What writers do you consider romance institutions? Are there any you are scared to try?