#RomBkLove Day 19: Holidays

Day19 #RomBkLoveHave you started watching holiday movies on Netflix? Getting ready to travel for Thanksgiving?  Did you light candles in the dark night?  Holidays are emotional high-points and low-points for people. Family get-together are sometimes as tense as they are joyful.  

However holiday romance, particularly Christmas romances are a huge romance sub-genre. Do you have favorites?  Do you have recs for romances about other holidays? Why do you love holiday romances? 

 These three romances do a fabulous job depicting the ups and downs of holidays. The long-awaited reunions, the bittersweet or down-right awkward moments and even tensions that threaten those celebrations. 

A Taste of Blessings by Suleikha Snyder is a delightful novella about Tiya,an almost 40,  good-girl "with all the bad-girl trappings", tattoos, short-hair, & singleness, who has been nursing a crush for fourteen years for perpetually unavailable Arnav. First he was married, and no divorced still out-of-bounds. She sees him every time she comes home and she is ready to suffer her crush once more but this time he flirts back.  I loved the love of family here. Arnav loves his sons, and wants them to be happy, hoping one day his oldest might be brave enough to bring a man he loves home and similarly Tiya's father's love is undeniable. Doting, loving and determined to smooth things for her.  I loved the vibrancy and joy of the Durga Puja celebrations, and how their faith and traditions matter to the MCs.   Originally available in the Silver Bells Anthology, it s now available in a short-story collection along with other fabulous shorts by Snyder in Dil or No Dil).

Never Again by Stacey Agdern, from Rogue Acts, in the weeks leading into Chanukah, and it deals with the alarming rise of Antisemitism that we are seeing and is about being lights in the darkness.   Sam is a Jewish superhero-playing actor who is determined to use his fame & wealth and the platform it gives him to make a difference, from funding small donor-choose style projects for teachers to lending his influence to help promote a  documentary on Jewish resistance that moved him.  Deb, is the filmmaker’s sister & coincidentally the preschool teacher whose school-fund projects Sam’s been funding. While the pacing was a bit choppy at times,  I loved how Agdern portrayed the role of faith and religious practice in their life. It was poignant last winter and even more so now.

Cecilia Grant's Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong is a delightful snowed-in holiday romance with a stuffy uptight hero, who loses it for the heroine, when they are stranded together after just about everything goes wrong on a snowy Christmas eve. I loved the way Grant presented how grief has affected both their families.

 

What holiday romances do you love?

 

 

A list of all the prompts and links to all the posts so far.


#Rombklove Day 18: Romantic Bargains: Fake Relationships & MOC

Day18 #RomBkLove

Need a date for your ex's wedding, hire a total stranger to be your +1. Your father's will won't let you inherit until you marry? You don't need a love match, just someone willing to say I do.  What makes this such a beloved romance trope? Are there kinds of MoCs you love more than others. Does it work better in one sub-genre than another.

Marriage of Convenience works the best for me in Historicals but this year I read a fantastic MoC in contemporary, that reminded me that all tropes can be awesome in the hands of great writers. I loved Olivia Dade's Cover Me in Rogue Acts.  This is a friends-to-lovers MoC for insurance purposes. The heroine is so determinedly independent and the hero so determined to care for her. The result is incandescent.  

Ilona Andrews gave us marriage of convenience between distrustful partners in their new series, Iron and Magic. Hugh needs shelter for his hounded Iron Dogs and Elara and her people need their protection. They marry to cement the allegiance but have not come close to trusting their hearts yet.  I can't wait to see where it goes.

Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner's Free Fall has a marriage of convenience between an astronaut and a sorority girl after their one-night-stand has complications. I loved how much space Vivy takes up in this story. She is loud, brash, and bold as she fight for her marriage despite her husband's desire to keep his feelings boxed up.

I adore grumpy widowers convinced they will never love again, and so I loved Tempest by Beverly Jenkins. Seeking adventure Regan agrees to a MoC with a doctor who needs someone to care for his daughter.  They get off to a terrible start when she accidentally shoots him and things get hotter from there!

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#Rombklove Day 17: Fantastical: Fantasy and Urban Fantasy

Day17 #RomBkLove

I didn't grow up a romance reader, at least I didn't think I was one, but almost all the fantasy and urban fantasy I read had romantic elements in it and that was one of the reasons I read it for.  Which Fantasy and Urban Fantasy books provide satisfying romantic storylines? 

For Urban Fantasy my number one author is Ilona Andrews. Her Kate Daniels and Hidden Legacy series are fantastic and I know even as the leads go through romantic up and downs that I can trust for the relationships to be built up. They have even gotten me to read a story about Hugh, and actually feel sympathetic for the murdering lug. I also love Patricia Briggs, particularly her Alpha and Omega books.

For fantasy romance that delivers, I would immediately think of Grace Draven. And I am really excited for new book by Song of Blood and Stone  author L. Penelope.  as I really loved the first of the EarthSinger chronicles book and the rest of the series looks to be published soon.

I am also very excited for Stephanie Burgis new series, the Hardwood Spellbook. I have loved the stories that come out so far and I adore the world. Snowspelled is the first book. In this world men do magic and women are politicians.  But our heroine works magic and is not going to be bound by the prescribed limitations of her society. 

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#RomBkLove Day 16: Just a Fling

Day 16 # Rombklove

This is one of my favorite tropes, because how closely it tracks with MC's in full-denial.  I absolutely adore MC's that somehow think a few days of passion will be easy to shake off.  I love when characters unexpectedly catch feelings for the "just a bit of fun" partner.  What do you love about this trope?  The denial, the negotiation, something else entirely? What are your favorite "Just a fling" romances? 

An Archive of the day's tweets

 

This year I really enjoyed Ainslie Paton's odd-couple, temporary roommates with benefits romance, The Love Coupon (m/f, contemporary).  Their romance has an end date and everything turns complicated when their hearts engage.  I loved how inconvenient and confusing those feelings became.

Mia Hopkins's Thirsty (m/f, contemporary with POC MCs) is another of those, it is just temporary, turns into more romances.  Sal has been out of prison for a little less than a year, trying to get his life together when his housing situation falls apart and he moves into Vanessa and Chinita's garage in exchange for clearing it out.  She was the good girl next-door that he never had a chance with when he was a teen. Their affair is hot and time-limited but both of them start feeling much more for each other than they dare admit.

Stripped by Zoey Castile, (m/f contemporary with POC, ownvoices heroine) this Magic Mike XXL inspired fantasy has a burn-out quarter-life crisis having teacher, Robin, falling for the stripper who moved in downstairs. The twist here is that while they know they only have a few months together, Fallon fails to tell Robin that his stay in NYC is even shorter than they thought.

Billie and Drew have an arrangement. He wines, dines and pampers her while paying her madam well for the time they spend together.  Billie works hard to remember that despite all his affection, she isn't Drew girl, or even his mistress but a sex worker for hire. But after Drew leaves to go find a wife, she discovers she is very inconveniently pregnant. Destiny's Surrender by Beverly Jenkins's Billie is fabulously prickly and determined and really deepens and complicates the it was just a fling trope into marriage of convenience/marriage  in trouble romance that was absolutely engrossing. (m/f america-set historical, POC MCs).

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#RomBkLove Day 15: Slump Busters

Day15 #RomBkLove

There are few things as miserable as a reading slump. Bad luck or bad mood, nothing is working. What do you do?  Do you re-read? Switch genres?  Do you save books by favorite authors in reserve in case of a reading emergency?  Do you wait out a reading slump or bust out of it?

I do a little of everything. I will switch genres, re-read faves (Hello, Hidden Legacy by Ilona Andrews, we meet again!), and occasionally if am lucky, I have been saving a book by a favorite author to try.  What do you read or do to break out of a slump.

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#RomBkLove Day 14: Power Dynamics

Day14 #RomBkLove

All relationships have them, skilled writers are aware of how tweaking them one way or another may make or break a story. How sensitive are you to them? What works for you? What do you like to see? Who does them well? Who surprises you?

I think about them all the time. I struggle with books where the power differential is massive when the fantasy element of it isn't off the charts. 

I love romances that think about the fact that one MCs is hugely rich and powerful and the other is not, and what that means.  I love when authors take the time work that into their HEAs.

Currently Kit Rocha is doing a lot of work in their Gideon Rider's series unpacking power dynamics in a world where political and religious fervor intermix.   The latest book was Ivan. Ivan has pledged his life to the Rios family, promising to protect them and is part of cadre of elite soldiers that serve the sector leader Gideon.  Maricela is a princess, sister both the head of the religion and the political leader of the sector. She is damn big deal.  It is a royal romance on steroids and Kit Rocha does the work so that I believe that Ivan and Maricela can be happy and have a relationship where they both have agency.

Band Sinister by KJ Charles, also spent a lot of time addressing power dynamics, and how wealth, gender and political position affect agency.  I loved that she spent time unpacking how Amanda & David, and Guy and Phillip all need different things to achieve their HEAs and how their positions in life affect what it looks like.  David waits to propose to Amanda til he isn't her doctor anymore.  Phillip has to find a way to make Guy financial independent so that he might be able to make choices other than what his Aunt dictates...etc.   It was beautiful.

What novels get you thinking about power dynamics?

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#RomBkLove Day 13: Stolen Kisses & Sexy Interludes

Day13 #RomBkLove

A stolen kiss in a moonlight garden, a scorching encounter in the coat room, these little sexy interludes spice up many a romance novel. Which ones were the most sexy? Sweet? Funny? Ridiculously wonderful?  Give us the who, what & where for the most memorable? 

 

From Ada Harper's A Conspiracy of Whispers:

And oh, after it all, how she needed to be kissed like this. A kiss like a wall, stopping her thoughts. A kiss like a wolf, snapping up her breath. A kiss like stone, anchoring her in. A kiss like sunlight, chasing shadows and warming places so long in the cold. A kiss like everything Galen was, wrapped up and pressed past her parted lips until she tasted nothing but him.

 

 

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#RomBkLove Day 12: In Uniform

Day12 #RomBkLoveYesterday was the 100th anniversary of Armistice day which marked the end of the First World War. In the United States it was also Veterans Day, a day where we honor and remember the sacrifices made by those who served.

Today is #RomBkLove' In Uniform Day.  This category includes those who served in the military but is not exclusively about them, as other folks also serve and those careers share many things in common. Long-separation, crazy hours, dangerous and emotionally draining jobs don't sound sexy but romance has long been fascinated with MCs in uniform. Nurses, Astronauts, Navy Seals, Firefighters, and so many more. Why are these careers such a long-standing draw for romance readers?

Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner's Fly me to the Moon series is set during the Space Race and many of the MCs are Veterans, former military personnel or otherwise involved with the Government in pursuit of exploring space. I've really loved the way this play into many of the relationships and romances. I was particular moved by  Turner and Barry capture the way it affects the women, how they worry and how they band together to take care of each other. I've reviewed many of the books (Star Dust, Midnight Clear, Free Fall) and I beta read the 2nd book Earth Bound.

In Laura Florand' A Kiss in Lavender, military service provide a new community and place of belonging for Lucien when he needed it most. Elena struggle with fitting into that world however when they reconnect and struggles to let go of the idea that she would bring him back home.  They have to sort out a lot about how to have a relationship and balance how his military service will work or not work in their relationship.

Farrah Rochon has a couple of books in her Moments in Maplesville series that feature former military personnel. In A Perfect Holiday Fling, the Stephen is a former Navy pilot, coming to terms with the fact that he might no longer be able to serve due to injury and trying to figure out what his next step.  He is also taking care of his widowed sister's son, while she serves a tour as an Army Nurse. She ended up getting her HEA in I Dare You, where she is pursued by another ex-Navy pilot, a good friend of her brother.  

 

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#RomBkLove Day 11: Cross-Class Romances

Day11 #RomBkLoveContemporary or Historicals cross-class romances are a staple of the genre. The Princess falls for the gardener's boy, the Millionaire for the clerk, but there is a lot to overcome when love crosses classes. From Cinderella retellings, rescue fantasies or unexpected reversals, what romances get it right? 

I recently read Band Sinister by KJ Charles that while it was not strictly a cross-class romance, one of the leads was a lord while the other a country gentleman. There was a huge gap between their financial positions and privilege. I loved how Charles had that be a pivotal part of the plot and something that she expressly address in the HEA, rather than something glossed over.

In Priscilla Oliveras's Her Perfect Affair both the Rosa and Jeremy struggle in different ways with fitting in with Jeremy's prominent and wealthy family. There is a scene early in the novel with Rosa, Latina, middle-class and pregnant feels so very out-classed by Jeremy's WASPy ex-girlfriend, who grew up with him and know all the same people his parents do. The subtle insider/outsider subtexts of the scene were perfectly portrayed.

Alisha Rai's Hurts to Love You is another contemporary that doesn't shy away from portraying class differences in modern day America.  Gabriel grew up the son of cook, while Eve is the sheltered heiress.  They both have a lot of baggage associated with the way they grew up and have to unpack it in order to fight for something together.

What romances capture how the cross-class divides impact romances?

 

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#RomBkLove Day 10: What Did I Just Read? OTT & WTF

Day10 #RomBkLoveFun, wacky, wild or just plain odd. Sometimes nothing but an OTT or WTF will do. Which odd-ball romances are more than they seem? Which ones have stuck with you?  Why read something OTT or WTF?

Sometimes I have an itch for stories with over-the-top elements and ridiculous situations. I tend to binge read them for comfort when I am stressed or overwhelmed.  A few summers ago I read 40 TS Joyce, Lumberjack Werebear books over a 2 to 3 week span. The books are full humor, and surprisingly deep worldbuilding, but mostly about werebears fighting in lumberjack camps.    

GA Aiken/Shelley Laurenston has fantastically over-the-top fights and plots. I love the out-thereness of her stories. Whether it is brawling honey-badger sisters or a blood-thirsty queen married to a dragon.

Who do you turn to when nothing but eye-brow raising drama or zany plotlines will do?

 An Archive of the day's tweets

A list of all the prompts and links to all the posts so far.