Science

#RomBkLove 2021 Day 1: Survival

#rombklove 2021 DAY 1 SURVIVAL
As we begin this 2nd Pandemic #RomBkLove, we've all had to grapple how life-changing this experience have been. Some have left jobs, relationships, communities in order to do what they need to survive.  Even from positions of comfort and privilege (able to work remotely, access to vaccines, etc.)  I have witnessed the gaps communal safety net, how social isolation can leave people unprotected and how so many live on a razor's edge.  In times like these romances that grapple these issues, which stark stakes, remind me of our human resilience and the power we have to help those arounds us, strangers or friends when they are in need.  I find comfort in these exercises of hope that are happily ever afters even after trauma and disaster.

WILD-RAIN-final-252x400Beverly Jenkins writes survivors.  So many of her MCs have survived traumatic pasts, including enslavement, abandonment & abuse, defiantly flourishing despite the many obstacles racism and bigotry place in their ways.  Be it Hester & Galen in Indigo, Maggie & Preacher in Night Hawk, Rhine & Eddy in Forbidden or Spring & Garrett in Wild Rain  her MCs, stand their ground, face down bullies and oppressors and do more than simply survive, they thrive, building families and communities.  US Based Historical Romance, (CW: Racism, abductions, guns, violence, threats of bodily harm, grief, Past trauma: Enslavement, sexual assault, emotional & physical abuse) (Rep:  cis BM/BW, Black author) 

Rebekah Weatherspoon is another author I turn to when I want to read survivors in a contemporary setting. Her MCs face everything from financial insecurity (Sugar Baby Series), family rejection (Xeni's Angus) to attempted murder (Beards and Bondage series)!   Her MC's creative solutions, devotion to found family and persistence in the midst of traumatic events are inspiring and comforting to me as a reader.  I love how the rejected and abandoned find home in others, how trauma is overcome and fails to define them. IR Contemporary romances  (CWs: attempted murder, betrayal, familial abandonment, secrets, kink, grief past trauma: biphobia.)( Rep: cis BW/WM, Queer Black author)

I started out 2020 by reading Anna Zabo's Reverb, little knowing how much it themes of authenticity and survival would come to mean to me. In Reverb, a when Mish, a certifiable Rock Goddess is being stalked and despite her desires to ignore it, she finds her life, band, and voice threatened,  she must come to trust David not just with her safety but with her heart and David must figure out how protect and love Mish.

David and Mish are both survivors. Both have made many sacrifices and endured much to live authentically and are able to navigate power imbalances, career demands to find love in each other.  Contemporary romance with RS tinge, bodyguard / rock queen, (CWs: stalking, grief, loss) (Rep: trans WM /WW bi, White Trans author)

In Olivia Waite's The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics,  Lucy and Catherine have survived different kinds of intellectual stifling due to sexism and abuse at the hand of the men in their lives.  In each other they find enthusiastic support, and unexpected attraction.  They are able to reclaim their intellectual and social agency, and strike blows against sexism in science, reclaiming their confidence, art and work.  Sexy and full of longing and pining.  They are stronger for what they have endured and will strive to make room for others. UK-Based Queer Historical (CWs: betrayal, intellectual theft Past trauma: domestic abuse) (Rep: bi WW/WW, Queer White Author).

 

What kinds of survival stories draw you?  What do you find compelling? Do these high stakes stories comfort you?

Archive: Day 1's Tweets

For a full list of prompts visit: https://www.anacoqui.com/2021/04/rombklove-2021.html

 


Love in Panels Review: Chaos Reigning

Chaos-reigningI am over at Love in Panels with a review of the third book in Jessie Mihalik's Consortium Rebellion series:

In the final book of the Consortium Rebellion, Chaos Reigning, Catarina the youngest of the von Hasenbergs, takes center stage when the survival of not only her house but the whole Consortium is at stake. Catarina is used to being dismissed by others, hiding her sharp mind and unexpected strength behind frivolous conversations and colorful accessories.

Catarina is a fabulous heroine, with a sparkling personality that hides deep hurts and insecurities. Like the previous books in the series, the books are heroine-centered, with the love interest cast in a decidedly secondary role. While Catarina certainly finds Alexander dangerously irresistible his character arc is supportive to Catarina’s narratively and emotionally, single-minded in his desire to protect Catarina, but struggling on to do so while respecting her wishes.

Mihalik focuses on House politics and intrigue in this novel, with most of the action taking place during a house party, crafting a strong sense of menace and tension in which Catarina is deeply comfortable, knowing the ins and outs of the family relationships, proving her ability to judge the intentions of and cultivate loyalty of those she encounters. I loved the focus on this kind of soft power, despite Catarina’s hidden physical prowess and how central Catarina’s deep friendship with Ying Yamado is.

Mihalik delivers a captivating and satisfying conclusion to the Consortium Rebellion saga, full of adventure and intrigue, but never losing sight of the importance of small moments. While I would read a dozen more books in this universe and I hope she is able to return to it at some point, I am ready to follow Mihalik happily to her next space-faring series because I can trust her to deliver great action, fascinating heroines and supportive heroes.

Content Warnings: Violence, Murder attempts, War, kidnapping, death of parents, Past Trauma: Abuse, non-consensual medical procedures

Ana received an advance copy of this book from the publisher for review.

 


#Rombklove 2020 Day 2: Space Romance / Romance espacial

ES_Day2_Romance espacial

Day2_Space Romance (1)

RomBkLove  2020 Day 2: Space Rom/Romance espacial

#Rombklove 2020 Day2: Space romances are out of this world! What are some of your favorites? What makes this setting unique?


Rombklove 2020, día 2: ¡Los romances espaciales son algo de otro mundo! ¿Cuáles son tus favoritos? ¿Qué hace que sean únicos?

Day 2: Archive

GR BookLists:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/147762.RomBkLove_2020_Space_Romance_1

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/147762.RomBkLove_2020_Space_Romance_1

 

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/2020/04/rombklove-2020-celebrating-inclusive-romance-during-a-pandemic.html



 

 

 

 

 


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, Day 3: Magic and Monsters

Day 3_ May2019Rombklove

 

Elisabeth Lane is long-time romance reader & reviewer. She has also recently started a booktube channel, where you can follow her adventures in not-buying books and reading through her TBR.  She is a huge fan of table-top role-playing games, and she knew her husband would be a keeper when he gifted her with an overpowered sword.  I am sure this immersion in the world of magic and monster-slaying inspired her choice of topic! 

 

Magic and Monsters

What are your favorite paranormal romance and urban fantasy series? And what are your favorite lesser-known books, series and sub-genres featuring magic and monsters? 

 

Day 3 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


Love in Panels Review: Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

PolarisRising-680x1024I am over at Love in Panels today with my review of Polaris Rising by Jessie Milhalik.

Polaris Rising is the first book in a new SFR series by Jessie Mihalik, this SFR adventure is full of action, fascinating secondary characters and interesting world-building.  There is lots of sexual tension, mutual mistrust, wall-banging sex and lots and lots of med-bay visits for the space faring duo. 

For the rest of the review: Love in Panels 


Love in Panels Review: Treason of Truths by Ada Harper

This review was first published at Love in Panels:

I adored the first book in this duology and so I had high expectations for this romance. I was eager to go back into this world and and explore the flip-side of the tropes from the first book. Unlike Galen and Olivia who meet during an assassination attempt and grow in to love and trust, Sabine and Lyre have been partners and friends for decades. Again Harper works to upend trope expectations while leaning into others. I loved the contrast between Lyre and Sabine’s styles and how that played into the way their romantic conflict were resolved. I am looking forward to more queer romantic adventures from Harper and I hope we see more like this from Carina Press in the future.

Lyre has found contentment and purpose serving spy Empress Sabine, guarding her throne from the shadows as her spy-master but when the empress ignores her advice and insists on accepting the mysterious Cloud Vault’s invitation for a summit between the Empire and Syndicate, Lyre is forced to take actions that neither of them ever anticipated.

Lyre and Sabine’s relationship is a friends-to-lovers slow burn romance, where both of them have long-ago committed their hearts while learning to deny the depth of their feelings and smother any acknowledgement of passion in order not risk their friendship and partnership. They had one night early one when things almost boiled over, and neither of them speak of it. While Lyre’s loyalty to Sabine has always been legendary, she fears if the truth of her past was revealed it would sunder their relationship and if it didn’t, it would threaten the security of Sabine’s throne.

Like the first book in this series, intense action dominates the book. Sabine, Lyre and a band of allies slip and slide through the murky underbelly of the Cloud Vault’s flying citadel, tangling with deadly carnivorous vines while trying to untangle the motives of their secretive hosts. About half-way my interest flagged a bit during some of the longer action sequences but my longing for more romance between Lyre and Sabine was rewarded by an incredibly swoony final chapters of the novel. I am not usually a fan of grand gestures but Sabine’s whole life is one of theatrical and strategic actions meant to wow her subjects and rivals and it was wonderful to see Lyre step out of the shadows and prove herself able to stand by her beloved’s side and stop playing the romantic martyr.

Content Warnings: guns, torture, abduction.

 


The Governess Game by Tessa Dare (Girl meets Duke #2)

Cover of the Governess Game by Tessa Dare. Two people, embracing, forehead to forehead on the edge of a deskI find Tessa Dare's writing delightful and reading them like being in the fluffiest and warmest of bubble baths, but underneath the fluff she is doing really some serious work piercing the Regency Romance bubble with decidedly un-fluffly topics, such as racism and abandonment.  

In the Governess Game, outside of a few dear friends, Alexandra Mountbatten is totally alone in the world. Her Philippine Mestiza mother died when she was a young child and her beloved father went down with his ship in a storm.  She makes her living as professional timekeeper, winding and setting the clocks of wealthy patrons.  She arrives at the home of Mr. Chase Reynaud to offer her services only to be mistaken for an applicant for the perpetually vacant post of governess to his two young wards. He doesn't care who she is and doesn't remember the time they briefly met the year before, but he is desperate to keep her.

"I don't care if you're gently bred, roughly bred or a loaf of brown bread with butter. You're educated, you understand propriety, and you're . . . breathing." -- Chase Reynaud in Tessa Dare's The Governess Game

But his charm offensive and extremely lucrative offer are not enough to sway her.

"And then she did what Chase yearned to do, often. She flung open the door, fled the house and didn't once look back." -- Tessa Dare's The Governess Game

But an accident and lost chronometer not much later has Alexandra re-evaluating the merits of his offer and ends up changing all their lives.

If the governess trope is not one of your favorites, I usually avoid it, know that early on Dare makes it clear that Alexandra has other options for shelter and job opportunities, so the power imbalance of employer and employee is minimized but it does not go unacknowledged as it does in too many stories.  

Dare layers banter, word-play (I lost track of how many alliterative names they came up with for Chase's hideout, but I cackled at each one) and surreal situations (such as Millicent's daily deaths and funerals) into a confection that serves to highlight the moments of piercing emotional realism.  When Alexandra wakes shaking after nightmares flashing back her days adrift alone in a dinghy or when Chase is confronted by his guilt over his cousin's death and his feelings of inadequacy as a father-figure and future duke, those moments sear.

I loved how Dare deconstructs the familial relationships in this book,  unacknowledged brothers, wards of uncertain parentage &  estranged relatives and how Chase, Alexandra, Rosamund & Daisy find a way to reassemble themselves into a new family. As much as Chase, Daisy and Rosamund consider themselves lost causes, unlovable or unworthy of loving, Alexandra refuses to give up on them.

Dare's style is not for everyone (don't come here looking for detailed depictions of wallpaper) but this series are dollops of delight. I love that heroines are unbowed by their past pain, but not emotionless "strong-female heroine", they hurt, they struggle but they are determined to build lives for themselves.  At points I wanted to shake Chase out of his wallowing in guilt and self-reproach but I adored the scene when Ash ( the hero of the Duchess Deal) bursts in on Chase and Alexandra determined to save her from Chase. 

"I came as soon as I hear you'd taken up residence in this place." He walked past her to stare down Chase face-to-face. "You deserve to know what a worthless scoundrel he is, Alex"

"Yes!" Chase exclaimed. He reached for Ashbury's hand and pumped it in a vigorous greeting. "Thank you. I've been trying to tell her myself, but she won't listen."

 

But Alexandra has listened, and seen. I love that love isn't blind. Alexandra sees his guilt, his past bad actions, and still sees he is more than that.  But their journey as a couple takes them through many ups and downs of dashed hopes before Chase gets his act together.  There is a good grovel and reconciliation at the end, with little touches, that made it far from generic, but very grounded in the specifics of their narrative.

 

I received a ARC from the publisher for review consideration via Edelweiss.

 

 


The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

43. The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz. #RomBkLove rec D17 STEM.(f/f ace)Globe-trotting AI-mechanic Clara falls for Sal, a Tea-shop running robot, one of the last of her kind.Emotional story about grief, trust, routines & new beginnings. #ttr #bkbrk https://amzn.to/2GQf93e

 

— Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) June 3, 2018

Meredith Katz The Cybernetic Tea Shop  steaming cup and saucer with a pile of gearsClara is a gifted programmer and AI-tech, whose highly-coveted skills facilitate her nomadic lifestyle. With wanderlust always spurring her to move on and try living and exploring a new place, she never gets too comfortable or attached, always ready to pack up and move on. 

Sal on the other hand has bound herself to her Tea Shop, seeking to live out her beloved owner's wish that it celebrate 300 years in operation.  She is one of the last remaining true AI's, created before the manufacture of sentient and sapient AIs was outlawed.  Having outlived her original owner by centuries, she struggles to remain operational, to adjust to the ever-changing world, to survive the increasingly frequent acts of vandalism and not simply sink into nostalgia and melancholy. Her life is one of routines, and the safety of the familiar.

I loved the gentleness of this story, the time it spends on the quiet moments, the companionship that grows into affection and love.  I was swept away by it and the way they took care with each other, determined as they are not encroach or override each other's wills and desires.

There is plenty of meaty science-fiction content to sink one's teeth into, and I loved the world building but most deeply this story was about all the little things that go into slowly falling in love and wanting the best for our partners.

I am thankful for Ruby Lang's mention of this story on #Rombklove Day 28. I will be looking to read more Meredith Katz in the future.