Books

Review: The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller

Alva Webster is staking what is left of her fortune and tattered reputation on restoring an abandoned and some think haunted house in Upstate New York. Naturally she thinks Professor Samuel Moore’s enthusiastic approach is yet another improper but too common proposition.  As fascinated as Sam is about the prickly and sharp widow, it is her ghost that most interests Sam, a wildly successful inventor from a renowned family of scientists. When contractors flee her house in terror, she reluctantly agrees to partner with Professor Moore in hopes of debunking the ghosts stories and getting her restoration project back on track, but instead find herself drawn into a complex mystery and sure to be hopeless romance.  I was utterly charmed by this debut, so much so that I ordered a print copy of the book for my keeper after reading a library copy. Biller does a fantastic job creating a sympathetic yet prickly heroine, whose traumatic history rightfully makes her wary of marriage and romance. Biller does a fantastic job of unraveling both Alva and the ghost’s past traumas, and carefully building up the romance and tension between Alva and Sam. I loved the way Biller had Sam confront his enormous privilege without zapping away his hopefulness and enthusiasm. I loved how Biller allowed Alva to regain agency in her life, while at the same time learning to trust and rely on others.  

 

I highly recommend The Widow of Rose House to lovers of mystery with supernatural elements and all those who enjoy seeing an MC break free and find love, family and purpose after a life of trauma. 

 

Content Warnings:Ableism, domestic abuse, mental illness, Murder


Giant Catch up post!

I've been very busy for the past few months with podcasting and I have simply not gotten around to updating anything on this site.

For those of you who don't follow me on twitter, sorry!

Here is what is new:

I am co-hosting a #RomBkLove inspired podcast, called #Rombkpod with several fantastic fellow readers, Meka, Melinda, Sarah Jean, and Danie, held together by our producer Sarah.  You can find our podcast at all the usual places. We recently passed 1,600 downloads, and I am so excited to see our audience growing and to do our part in concentrating on talking about the fantastic inclusive romances out there.

I also agreed to be part of the Ripped Bodice Excellence in Romance Writing award's inaugural judging panel.  I am thrilled to be part of such a fantastic body and I look forward to our book nomination discussion when the year draws to a close. 

At the end of the year I am leaving the #readRchat team.  It has been fabulous to work with Ellie and be part of this community. However with all my new projects I need to let some stuff go. I know Ellie and MaryLynne are looking for new folks to help crafting a monthly slate of questions.  If you have a passion for romance chat on twitter please contact them and let them know you are interested.  I know they are very interested in hearing from LGBTQIA and POC readers as we are always seeking to lift up more non-white cis het voices in romance.

What is still true:

I am still reviewing over at Love in Panels.  I am proud to be part of this project, especially when my editor and co-reviewers do such amazing things like putting together the Romance for RAICES auction.  If you don't already support us on Patreon, would you consider doing so?

I am still podcasting, Beyond the Sectors with Chelsea, but we are rapidly running out of published Kit Rocha Beyondverse books, so we will likely go on hiatus after next few  episodes. But if you love Kit Rocha as much as we do, please listen, and let us know what you think.

Rombklove will be back next May but in the mean time check out RombkPod as I have made a point of reaching out to a lot of our past participants and inviting them as guests and cohosts. If you are a POC, LGBTQIA blogger or reader and interested in taking part. Let me know. 

I am also doing quite a bit of sensitivity reading for Puerto Rican Latinx characters. This year, I have read for, Mia Sosa, Ruby Lang, Lucy Eden, Alexis Daria, among others. If you want to learn about my rates and what I offer, please email me at anacoqui @ gmail dot com. 

 

What I've read and you might have missed:

First of all I keep a bookthread on twitter with everything I have read. I write bullet reviews there and it helps me keep track of my reading.

 

You can also find a list of all my Love in Panels reviews here: https://www.loveinpanels.com/prose/author/ana-coqui

These are all the book I have reviewed there since I last updated this blog:

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

Proper English by KJ Charles

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

American Fairy Tale by Adriana Herrera

Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai and The Right Swipe: A Conversation About Modern Love

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Flying with Angels and Hunters - Nalini Singh's Guild Hunters Series intro and overview.

Archangel's War by Nalini Singh

American Love Story by Adriana Herrera

Gilded Cage by KJ Charles

Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue

Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

 

I wrote a Top 5 list that mentions 35 books for Suzanne and that will be out next month over at LiP. This has been a great reading year.

I can't wait to see what 2020  has in store for us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

I finished up Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse in the early hours of the morning.

 

I had delayed starting this because I was under the mistaken impression it was YA. It is not. It is full on adult fantasy/Urban Fiction that would greatly appeal to fans of Ilona Andrews’s  Kate Daniels series and Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson books.

 

Maggie is a Navajo/Diné monsterslayer alone since her immortal hero mentor abandoned her.  Lured out of her isolation by disturbing reports of vicious monster attacks, she gets caught up in the mystery and unwillingly acquires a charming but secretive partner, Kai, a medicine-man-in-training whose clan powers might be as dangerous in their own ways as her own. 

 

Creatures and gods of Navajo mythology populate the story, set in post-Apocalyptic future, The Sixth World,  where the Big Water has drowned most of the US. 

 

The Intense story will keep you guessing. Loved the tension/heartbreak between Maggie/Kai and their secrets and the past they both must reckon with. 

I loved the Audio and was happy to see that book two, Storm of Locusts  is out and available on KU and audio, so I can immediately start it. (cw: past trauma (violent death of loved ones), violence, sexism, guns)

 

 

 


GUEST POST: Thank You Beverly Jenkins By Funmi Baker

Thank You Beverly Jenkins

By Funmi Baker

@when_funmi_met_romance

4D61FFA4-3A38-4655-B302-B41C7C54A561The Lust & Found blog (@lustfoundreads) has done a wonderful thing. She created #JenkinsJuly. A wonderful month to celebrate a living legend in the genre of romance, Beverly Jenkins. She is my favorite author in the entire world. All month, I’ve been mulling over what to say about her works, or how to say it. One thing is for sure, I couldn't let #JenkinsJuly go by without adding my two cents.

 

I grew up wonderfully black. I lived in a black neighborhood. I went to black schools. I had a mother who could drown out my whining perfectly when she had a Sepia, Arabesque, Dafina, or BET book in her hand. She surrounded me with illustrated books of girls who looked like me. I went to Juneteenth celebrations. It was easy to be black. I never understood exactly how hard she was working to make me understand that my blackness is a positive thing. In many ways, I was sheltered. A black life was the de facto for me.  

 

I, like my mother, am a voracious romance reader. Living a one minute walk from the library, it was my key to worlds unknown. I became particularly enamored with historicals. In high school, I entered a world of dukes, barons, and earls. They were all very good but all very white. I never read into it because I was young. Black was normal. Black was everywhere in my life. I was simply reading for the joy of reading. Before I knew it, I had read hundreds of historical books about white people. I was in every history class at my high school answering all the white-washed questions. There was no AP history test I couldn’t pass. Now, my mom had noticed that my reading was white and my history knowledge was fairly white. She tried steering me toward the things she had been surrounding me with since I was a kid. However, I was a high schooler. I knew it all. She was a single mom with four kids and two jobs. She didn’t have much time to really sit down with me.  

 

So speed forward. I’m 18. I’m at Purdue University. For the first time in my life, I felt the weight of my skin. Now, I’m the only fly in the buttermilk. I’m the only black person in my major in years. I’m the only black person in my friend group. I’m the only black person in my classes. I’m isolated. I stopped reading altogether. I spent five years fighting to be seen as a person as I pursued higher education.    

 

When I graduated, I decided I wanted to live the blackest, BLACKEST life I could. I wanted to be unapologetic. I wanted the luster to return. So I returned to my favorite thing in the world--reading. This time, I wanted to see myself. I wanted to see brown happily ever afters. Kinky happily ever afters. Full-lipped happily ever afters. This is how I found Beverly Jenkins.  

 

637D76F4-F2C6-4AB5-B4C2-349EAAB1E096I ordered her book, BREATHLESS. I remember when the Amazon package came--I just stared at the cover. I was thinking, “Where have you been all my life?” I devoured that book. With my first adult paycheck, I ordered EVERY single historical title of hers. With the help of my mom, I consumed at a voracious rate every single Beverly Jenkins historical. I felt my soul warming with each word. The excitement, the sighs, the tension. I had never been more engrossed in my life.  The power of representation--of reading your culture’s love stories--is unparalleled.  

 

Not only was I reading some swoon-worthy things, I was learning. Before you know it, I’m checking out the books from her bibliography. I’m reading books on black women in the west and wealthy black business owners in Louisiana. I had no idea cowboys were not white. As I learn the history of my people, I find that I’m also learning about myself. When I look at black people, we aren’t just made of struggle and suffering. We are the product of love. We are the product of fighting. We are the product of WINNING.

 

Reading Beverly Jenkins books as an adult, I now understand what my mom was fighting to do. You have to understand your history, the good and the bad. Black people are amazing. Black women are awe-inspiring. There is not one Beverly Jenkins title that lets you forget that. We’ve been falling in love, fighting for our rights, and saving the day since the beginning of time.  

 

Thank you so much Beverly Jenkins. Thank you for restoring some color into a lost black woman’s life. Thank you for inspiring a journey of black knowledge that won't stop until I’m six feet under. Thank you for always showing Black Love.


Spellbound by Allie Therin

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Debut Latinx (Cuban-American) author, Allie Therin’s Spellbound is the first in a projected three book series set in Prohibition era NYC, where smuggled magic-infused objects threaten the lives of all magically-gifted paranormals and non-magical alike. Therin draws on the era’s post- war clandestine counter-culture scene and anti-immigrant to develop a cohesively tense backdrop for her action-adventure, where her wildly diverse characters can find acceptance a community in a black run speakeasy in Harlem, but also fear exposure and persecution elsewhere.  Therin also explores class and generational tension throughout the novel, as Arthur, the son of a wealthy political family, exploits his privilege to try to protect the younger and poorer Rory.

 

While the world-building was engaging, the secondary characters richly developed and the heist plot intriguing, the romantic beats were somewhat repetitive. I loved how soft and smitten Rory and Arthur become with each other but the dual insecurity about the realness of each other’s interest or the depth of feelings became tiresome. However when the romance was clicking it was delightfully sweet. I loved the little details about younger and smaller Rory tucking himself next to the taller and athletically built Arthur and Arthur who is the bossy caretaker of his friend group, soaking up the open-hearted affection.

 

Tropes:

First Love

Virgin Hero

Opposites Attract

Age Gap

 

Content Warnings: Homophobia, Torture, War, Past Trauma: Child Abuse, religious shaming, 

 

 

 


The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (Feminine Pursuits #1)

 

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics Cover  two women entiwnedLucy Muchelney worked at her father's side for years doing all the tedious work of astronomy without credit, purely for the opportunity to pursue her passion. After her father's death she feels most alone and vulnerable, her artist brother anxiously eager to see her settled in the same kind of comfortable marriage her long-time lover Priscilla has just abandoned her too, and threatening to sell her telescope, conscious that a lady astronomer would not be soon accepted.

Catherine, Lady Moth, was widowed three years before, yet she is still haunted by her late husband's dismissive and abusive treatment of her and her interests.  Like many of the other women of the Polite Science Society, she has served Science by supporting the scientific pursuits of others, directly and indirectly.  She is incredibly wary of Lucy's bright eyes, desperate ambition and clear genius but welcomes her into her home because she can't bear to turn her out.

Through the course of the novel we see Catherine and Lucy circle around each other, their growing awareness blossoming, along with the realization that they can leave behind the strictures and confining roles their previous lovers had bounded them in, while finding in each other someone who truly sees them and champions them.

One of my favorite elements in the novel is Catherine's growing confidence that her needlework is ART rather than simply a frivolous feminine pursuit.  I loved the moment where she first advocated and negotiated on her own behalf, after a lifetime of doing on behalf of others.  Likewise I loved the moment Lucy is dumbstruck by the fact that she is not alone as scientist, that there have been hundreds of women before her, echoing Catherine belated realization of her own mother's long-time love affair with woman.  Lucy anger at realizing how many women have been erased and sidelined  before her, and the comfort and power she draws from their persistence was incandescent.  It is such a powerful dismantling of the "not-like-other-girls"dynamic that so many women have in STEM develop, having sought approval from the men in their orbit.

As fabulous as the build up was the payoff to both the romantic and career story-lines was simply glorious.  The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics is worth every minute of lost sleep and will leave you breathless in wonder, much like the night sky leaves Lucy and Catherine. 

 

 


#RomBkLove May 2019– Thank You!

 

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Thank You!

I’m humbled each year by everyone who takes the time to participate and shares recs and book memories close to their hearts. I’m humbled when readers and bloggers devote so much time and effort on their rec posts.  Thank you for the gift you are to our diverse romance community.

 I hope that your TBR’s and Wishlists are full of new books and authors to explore.  I hope most of all that you’ve made a connection with other romance readers. That you may have found other people who love romance like you do.  

And I hope that you continue to celebrate Inclusive Romance all year-long. Celebrate it by buying, reading and reviewing books by LGBTQIA+, Disabled, Asian, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx Authors. Celebrate it by supporting Reviewers of color & LGBTQIA+, Disabled reviewers. 

Resources:

Twitter list of #Rombklove contributors 

Master List of Posts & links to tweet archives 

#readRchat : Monthly topical romance reader discussion.  Next chat will be June 8th, 4pm EST/10CET. They also organize the #readRchatawards, an inclusive reader award, that each year introduces me to fabulous authors. 

#RomBkBlog : Find romance reviews and blog posts by romance readers. (Brainchild of Wendy the SuperLibrarian).  

Sign up for the Diverse Romance Release Press List Newsletter to hear about upcoming releases by AOC & LGBTQIA & Disabled authors. 

Joyfully Reviewed’s WOC Romance Bloggers & Reviewers List 

 

I’m going to try to catch up on my sleep after I link to all my May Love in Panels reviews! Love you and I look forward talking about inclusive romance with you on Twitter all year long!

 

 

 

 


#RomBkLove May 2019, Day 31: Change-Makers

 

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#RomBkLove Day 31: Change-makers is hosted by Leigh Kramer !

 

Leigh loves MCs that are passionate about making the world better, whether thinking globally or acting locally. What are your fave roms with change-maker MCs ?

 

 

Find her recs on her blog:

Change-Makers

Twitter Archive

 

How to participate?

Readers: Respond to the prompts! Share your favorite books, characters, scenes, or thoughts on tropes.  Make sure to include the #RomBkLove hashtag with your tweet! If you have read and loved a book by LGBTQIA+, Disabled, and/or  Authors of Color that fits the prompt please, please mention it.  You might think everyone has heard of the book but I can guarantee you there are lots of people who still need to hear about it.  

Authors: You are welcome to participate too, as fellow readers. The tag is not meant for self-promotion. Boost fellow authors, celebrate the community but do so in a way that respect reader spaces. Respect the conversation.   Join in to rec the books you love that fit the theme/trope/prompt. Yes, you can say “I wrote a book with this trope” but please don’t spam the hashtag with generic promo. 

For a list of all of these month's prompts and archives go to: https://www.anacoqui.com/2019/04/rombklove-may-2019-celebrating-inclusive-romance.html


#RomBkLove May 2019, Day 30: All the Pairings: Beyond Hetronormitivity

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#Rombklove Day 30: All The Pairings is hosted by @JenniferRNN !  

 

What are your favorite books that go beyond couples in romance? 

 

 

Find Jen’s Recs on her blog: https://bit.ly/2W9zmKW

 

Twitter Archive

How to participate?

Readers: Respond to the prompts! Share your favorite books, characters, scenes, or thoughts on tropes.  Make sure to include the #RomBkLove hashtag with your tweet! If you have read and loved a book by LGBTQIA+, Disabled, and/or  Authors of Color that fits the prompt please, please mention it.  You might think everyone has heard of the book but I can guarantee you there are lots of people who still need to hear about it.  

Authors: You are welcome to participate too, as fellow readers. The tag is not meant for self-promotion. Boost fellow authors, celebrate the community but do so in a way that respect reader spaces. Respect the conversation.   Join in to rec the books you love that fit the theme/trope/prompt. Yes, you can say “I wrote a book with this trope” but please don’t spam the hashtag with generic promo. 

For a list of all of these month's prompts and archives go to: https://www.anacoqui.com/2019/04/rombklove-may-2019-celebrating-inclusive-romance.html


#RomBkLove May 2019, Day 29: Geeky Romances

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Corey Alexander, romance/erotica author , reader and list-maker extraordinaire returns to #Rombklove with a list of favorite geeky romances.   What are your favorite Geeky romances?

Geeky Romances

Tweet Archive

How to participate?

Readers: Respond to the prompts! Share your favorite books, characters, scenes, or thoughts on tropes.  Make sure to include the #RomBkLove hashtag with your tweet! If you have read and loved a book by LGBTQIA+, Disabled, and/or  Authors of Color that fits the prompt please, please mention it.  You might think everyone has heard of the book but I can guarantee you there are lots of people who still need to hear about it.  

Authors: You are welcome to participate too, as fellow readers. The tag is not meant for self-promotion. Boost fellow authors, celebrate the community but do so in a way that respect reader spaces. Respect the conversation.   Join in to rec the books you love that fit the theme/trope/prompt. Yes, you can say “I wrote a book with this trope” but please don’t spam the hashtag with generic promo. 

For a list of all of these month's prompts and archives go to: https://www.anacoqui.com/2019/04/rombklove-may-2019-celebrating-inclusive-romance.html