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May 2017

#RomBkLove Day 21: Auto-buy


#RomBkLove Day 21: Auto-buy Who or what triggers your one-click finger?

This select group is actually very very small. I have a largish circle of authors whose books I am almost guaranteed to buy, because of their track record with me.  Those are authors are Alyssa Cole, Emma Barry, Erin Satie, Laura Florand, Ruthie Knox, Molly O'Keefe.  I will always look at their blurbs.

However my auto-buy list is quite small.  I could only think of four authors right now whose books I will buy without even bothering to read the blurb.   Those authors are Kit Rocha, whose world-building and vision in the Beyond and Gideon Riders series I am heavily invested in.  KJ Charles whose voice draws me in no matter the time period or genre. Whether it is a book in her long-running psy-changeling series or her contemporaries, Nalini Singh's has won such trust that even when I haven't loved every book, I don't even consider not picking them up.

What does it take to get you to auto-buy?

#RomBkLove Day 20: Unforgettable Lines


#RomBkLove Day 20: Unforgettable Lines Witty,sexy romantic, insightful. Tell me of the highlight worthy lines!

Here are some of my favorites from the last two years:

"The universe had been treating her with great sarcasm lately"  Joanna Bourne  -- The Spymaster's Lady (The Spymaster Series Book 1)

“It was only with you that she lived, that girl. These many years, she has been a dream no one else remembered.” He slid his hand up beneath her heavy braid, holding her to him. “I remember. You are no dream.” Elizabeth Kingston -- Fair, Bright, and Terrible (Welsh Blades Book 2)

"He may be wrong, but he is wrong in the right way. Why are you looking at me like that?”KJ Charles -- A Seditious Affair: A Society of Gentlemen Novel (Book 2)

"In their married life, she’d try to do whatever killing became necessary, as a loyal wife should." Joanna Bourne --  Rogue Spy (The Spymaster Series Book 5)

"She started three wars the first week" Julie Garwood -- The Bride (Lairds' Fiancees Book 1)

#RomBkLove Day 19: Romantic Suspense


#RomBkLove Day 19: Romantic Suspense: Spies, Soldiers, Seals, Who do you turn to for action with kisses?

 I read more than my fair share of thrillers growing up and I'm a sucker of heist and action films.   I love a story that builds great tension, action but doesn't lose sight of the romance or try to cram in kissing in ludicrous moments.

To be honest I get most of my thrills and action from SFR and PNR right now.  However my favorite romantic suspense series is Carolyn Crane's The Associates series. I haven't followed her into her Annika Martin Dark Romance, so my current go-to-Romantic Suspense-Author is HelenKay Dimon. Her new series Tough Love and Games People Play series are both fun and fantastic. I really love when characters are awesome at their jobs, skilled, passionate and ultra-competent but terrible at figuring out their feelings.  Her stories whether m/f or m/m  have great conflict, believable intense action, and tons of passion.

#RomBkLove Day 18: Not a Duke in sight!


#RomBkLove Day 18: Not a Duke in sight!Which are you favorite romances without aristocrats? Who do you read when you want to avoid the Ton, Royals, Billionaires, Rockstars or others from the 1%?  Who writes about the other 99%?

One of my favorite writers for Romances about non-aristocratic characters is KJ Charles.  I am loving KJ Charles's new series, Sins of the City.  Unseen Attraction is a friends to lovers romance about an Anglo-Indian boarding house manager and one of his lodgers, a taxidermist.    The London portrayed is vibrant, and full of People of color. If you haven't checked out the series I really encourage you to.

#RomBkLove Day 17: Dukes, Dukes & Dutcheses


 Ridiculously over-represented in Romance, Who out Dukes them all? 

My favorite Duke is Mary Balogh's Wulfric Bedwyn, from the Bedwyn Saga/Slightly Series.  Balogh builds him up as character over a half-dozen books before pairing him with a very unsuitable wife.  He is all superiority and quiet menace, raising his damnable quizzing glass to note anything not quite proper. Yet although his siblings occasionally see him as a villain, he is in his own overbearing way always there for his siblings when they need him, even if they don't know it.  Held apart from them for early adolescence, he only has duty to warm him.  

When I first read Slightly Dangerous, I didn't love it. Wulf had become such a beloved character, that I had a hard time connecting with Christine, who turns him away as much as she can. How could she be the right woman if she doesn't see how awesome he secretly is, I though unfairly.  In the end Christine does see him clearly, more clearly than he sees himself, and wants him, not for being a duke but despite it.

So who is the best/fave/ worst Duke or Duchess in all of Romancelandia?   And Don't forget tomorrow, there won't be a Duke in sight. 

#RomBkLove Day 16: Dark Moments


#RomBkLove Day 16: Dark Moments

I often read multiple books at the same time and the worst thing I ever do to myself is when I bail pages ahead of the dark moment, when the protagonist screw everything up, or the conflict seems insurmountable, in multiple books, and I am left with a kindle filled with a half-dozen of impending dark moments and no choice but to face one of them. I know I have the HEA waiting for me on the other side but still I hesitate, because I am so emotionally involved and I don't want to see the pain or hurt, but the HEA is not quite as sweet if there isn't anything to overcome low-angst or not.

One of the most memorable Dark Moments I can recall is from R. Lee Smith's Last Hour of Gann.  This book is absolutely brutal (TW: rape, sexual violence)  but it also did some extremely interesting stuff around faith and religion. I am not sure I can ever read it again, there is only so much rape I can stomach but Meoraq journey was fascinating. Meoraq is a warrior priest for his God, whose once unshakable belief in his God is shaken as he gets to know Amber, whose presence in his world, and her own beliefs start Meoraq on a questioning journey.  When Meoraq comes upon a shocking truth that upends everything he thought he knew, he is almost unable to go on, but in the end he come out of the other side of his belief, away from fundamentalism to a new less militant understanding of his religion and his role in the world, it was extremely satisfying. 

However the dark moment doesn't have to be the culmination of some long brutal journey to be beautiful and meaningful. One of my favorite recent dark moments is from Vanessa North's Roller Girl. In it Tina and Joe are falling for each other and trying to hide it from their derby team. The last time Joe dated another teammate, their breakup had big repercussions for her former team. She wants Tina, to hide their relationship from their friends, so she won't have to deal with their feeling about her dating another teammate. Their breakup wasn't explosive, but teary and emotional, two people who are clearly falling for each other unable to find a way make it work despite wanting each other so much.  It was just a ordinary breakup, but it was so very meaningful because I had gotten so attached to Tina and Joe and their friends. I care because I cared about them. It is just that simple sometimes.

#RomBkLove Day 15: Bicker and Banter

#RomBkLove Day 15: Bicker and Banter Do you have a favorite bickering couple? Who writes the best banter?

One of my favorite on-screen couples are Nick and Nora Charles. Their constant banter and playful bickering is hilarious to witness in the Thin Man movies.  I love when characters can match wits or tease each other and there is still clearly a layer of love and respect beneath it.

I loved how in Heyer's Venetia Damerel and Venetia sparred in their letters and in person. Their verbal play was delightful and introduced an element of play into their relationship.

Sometimes verbal sparring is a way for more vulnerable characters to hide their insecurity or gain attention. In Fast Connection by Erickson and Hassell, Dominic Costigan is just starting to figure out his bisexuality and when he hooks up with older grumpy Luke, he uses his smart-alecky ways to poke through Luke's persistent cynicism and wear down his opposition to them seeing each other again.  



#RomBkLove Day 14: Covers


#RomBkLove Day 14: Covers  What says romance for you? Do they matter to you? Ever bought a book just because of the cover? Any favorites?

Because I follow so many authors on twitter, I know how incredibly hard it is to find even passably useful stock photos, so I tend to be forgiving when I spot the same cover model, on a dozen book covers.  Long-gone are the days of commissioned oil paintings. Although check out this slide show of original Lisa Kleypas covers! I wish I had some of these!

When I look at covers, I am not someone who is looking for a headless set of abs. When I look at couples I want to see tenderness or passion. I like the covers to highlight an element of the book.

Some of my recent faves:

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#RomBkLove Day 13: Contemporary Romance

IMG_7003#RomBkLove Day 13: Contemporary Romance:  Small Towns, Big Cities, and everything in between. What do look for? Who does it best?

When I burned out of HistoRom, I was lost on where to start with Contemporaries. My library at the time didn't have much contemporary romances available that didn't have Adirondack chairs on the covers. And browsing through Amazon seemed like a bad plan. Since I had no idea on how to begin I asked for recs on twitter.  I asked Sarah Wendell, specifically as I was huge listener of her podcast with Jane Litte and I knew she read a lot of them. She suggested I start out with Ruthie Knox and Shannon Stacey.  These were fantastic recs, as they are both authors I still read to this day.  Stacey's Kowalski series, set in a small New Hampshire town is still one my favorite small town contemporary series.

But the first contemporary I tried was actually Ruthie Knox's About Last Night. And to be honest I didn't really like it the first time I read it.  I didn't like Neville a lot and I wasn't quite sure what to make of Cath.  But there was there that when I saw the first novella in her Camelot series, with How to Misbehave was on sale, I decided to try it. Reading Amber was a little like reading about myself 15 years before. Her hesitancy and distance from her sexual self was painfully familiar as was her struggle with her faith and always having been known as a good girl. I eventually feel in love with Ruthie Knox's writing, with her flawed heroines's struggles and I recognized the suburban communities they lived in.  I slowly ventured further and further into contemporaries from there, discovering Cara McKenna, MaryAnn Rivers,  Audra North, Delphine Dryden and other of the Wonkmance writers closely associated with Ruthie Knox.  

My current go-to-authors for contemporary romance are Alisha Rai, Lauren Dane, Kristen Ashley, Farrah Rochon, Emma Barry, Molly O'Keefe, Lucy Parker, Laura Florand, Ruby Lang, Victoria Dahl and  Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson are just some my go-to authors writing contemporary romance.  

So who are your go-to-authors? What makes for a good contemporary romance? Is there anything that defines this broad genre?

#RomBkLove Day 12: Most Read or Reread


Whether you are reading for comfort  or rediscovery what books & authors do you return to?

In the past year, I've done a lot of re-reading or listening to series I had read in print before. With all the uncertainty during the campaign and since the election, I needed more than just the promise of an HEA at the end to help get through books, I need the familiar beats of books  I had once read or at the very least of authors whose voice I already knew well.  I binge read a lot of series this year, because it was less exhausting to sink deeply into a new world than jump around and explore in new ones each day.

In my re-reading I went back listened and re-read a bunch of Kristen Ashley contemporaries, and Nalini Singh Psy-changeling books.  I also very recently listened and re-read Lisa Kleypas's Wallflower books, Anne Bishop's The Others series and Mary Balogh's Bedwyn Series.

I always get something new from a re-read,  a connection I had missed the first time, a stand-out line that resonates even more the second time around or simply the delight of reading old-friends again.

As to the authors I have read the most books by, I recently learned that GoodReads tracks this.

This list was super interesting to see as it is a fascinating mix of the authors with extensive backlists I binge read when I first entered romance (Stephanie Laurens, Nalini Singh, Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas) , prolific Kindle Unlimited authors I binge read since last summer (TS Joyce, Ruby Dixon)  and more current favorites (Courtney Milan, Kit Rocha, Laura Florand, Lauren Dane, Shelly Laurenston.) 

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