This is a Good Book Thursday, February 11, 2021

This week I reread Welcome to Temptation and Faking It, mainly to see which parts I don’t skim when I read now. Those are almost always the scenes between the H and H. It’s the romance, stupid. Now, back to cutting Nita. And figuring out the rest of Anna and Lily, not to mention Nadine and Alice. And Liz. Also, do you know how old Dillie would be now, give the date of publication when she was 8? Twenty-nine. That’s almost in my heroine age range. Of course she probably still doesn’t have her driver’s license, but still . . . (That also means Sophie and Phin and Wes and Amy and Davy and Tilda are somewhere in their fifties. And having a wonderful time, too.)

What did you read this week?

100 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 11, 2021

  1. I have decided this month to only reread . Now that I have finished rereading Sharon Shinn’s opus, I am rereading AJ Demas in anticipation of her latest which will arrive on Tuesday on my kindle (my only pre-order for this month). I have just started on ‘Something Human’. If you like m/m romance and ancient Greece, you’ll enjoy this book.

  2. There are lots of 29 year olds who can’t/don’t drive. It’s become one of those generational punchlines/marking points, like “avocado toast.” I’m actually wondering if that is something that is going to change b/c so many people of that generation have been forced to move back home due to covid. It’s much easier to live carfree as an adult in a big city rather than in a smaller city or a suburb. At least in the states, I won’t speak for other countries.

    As for reading, I’ve now caught up with Elly Griffiths’ Mystery Men series. I like the most recent one, although I was disappointed she skipped over something like 10 years between books. We miss a lot of milestones and growth with the characters, I think. I’m still going to read the next book in the series. They’re very consistently good.

    I’m reading some new things, but too early to recommend them.

    1. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 32, because I was scared out of my MIND during driving lessons and it took a long time to get over the driving phobia. I find it flabbergasting that so many people are just choosing to … not…. do it. I guess they live in NYC or somewhere with great public transport* or can otherwise get away with it, but not driving REALLY has screwed up my life, especially my job prospects because I can chalk my entire career for the last two decades up to “I had to pick a place to work that I could get to without a car.”

      * though these days I am grateful I don’t have to depend on public transport, I have a 70-year-old friend who doesn’t drive and nowadays she doesn’t want to have to take two busses for 3 hours to go anywhere during Covid…

      1. I had/have a driving phobia too(b/c honestly I still hate it) and I’m pretty sympathetic to people who have it. I think it’s a combination of public transport, the ease of things like Lyft/Uber in more populated areas, and wanting to chose more environmentally friendly options when possible.

        I also lay some of the blame on helicopter parents who micromanaged their children’s every move and then tried to hand them the keys to 2 tons of metal and said “here, make good choices and have fun, but don’t forget there could be drunk people out there and people too busy playing Candy Crush on their phones to be good drivers.”

        I’m not saying that’s true in every case or even most cases, but I suspect it’s a significant factor. I know for a fact that’s where some of my anxiety came from. My parents were both terrible driving instructors (in different ways) and in our rural area it was expected that the bulk of my practice would be with them. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 23 and it took paying the extra money for a neutral party to “teach me” (I already knew how) to be able to take the driver’s test successfully.

        The sad thing (worrying thing?) I find is that my parents were overprotective compared to most of their peers and now they would be viewed as downright lackadaisical, depending on where you in the country and who you talked to.

    2. I was 35, again driving phobia. My parents pushed me from the time I was little to learn to drive (my cousin was driving her mom’s full sized van around the farm when she was barely able to see over the dash and reach the pedals at the same time) but what they didn’t know was that a) it was making me stubborn about not learning, b) autism brain over here does not process information in the same way and that lead to massive fear, compounded over time and c) I don’t deal with adrenaline/pressure/stress well, never have, never will, so even going 5 mph was terrifying and having them try to teach me pushed all the buttons. Paul forced me to take lessons (no, he wasn’t being a controlling asshole, he was concerned because we lived in a small town and I couldn’t go anywhere without him, even to get groceries unless I walked which wasn’t always a good idea) with a professional driving instructor and it saved me. I tell everyone who has any sort of driving issue to take professional lessons. The instructor is usually so much more laid back than anyone who has even the smallest emotional investment in you and that takes so much pressure off.

      Now I can go just about anywhere I want (though I’m not driving in Calgary, I have not lost all my marbles).

    3. I was 30 before I learned to drive and I still hate to drive and avoid it whenever possible. My kids are 25 and 27 and neither one can drive; nor can most of their friends.

      1. My parents insisted I get driving lessons as soon as I turned 18 (official age back then to take the exam). Here you HAVE to have a professional driving instructor, the “driving school” organises the registration for you to take the exam (written and practical). The exam included surviving in the worst areas (traffic-wise) in my home city (Munich). I still begin to sweat when I think of those multi-lanes.
        And after I got a nerve stuck in my neck and having big issues with my eyes because of this I got scared behind the wheel. Never really recovered my stamina, the nerve (plus the eyes) thankfully did.

        Having grown up in a small place it took courage, too, to use the bike in my now hometown Munich. The traffic can be crazy, but after some getting used to it, it’s a great option to go places. Even more so than the public transport which is excellent. With the pandemic, many choose to take the bike over the public transport (our tranport service is suffering horrendous losses due to lack of passengers) with bike shops being almost sold out last spring.

        Though I was never too keen on driving, I wish I were less anxious to drive: it provides you with freedom to not stick to the usual routes. And on some occasions (e.g. picking up stuff from IKEA) I really feel useless. Maybe I take a few driving lessons again.

        Ds is nearing the age to begin with driving lessons and it’s a no-brainer for him to learn to drive: his best mate and him are already dreaming about their dream cars and it’s so lovely that his absolute favourite is an Italian Piaggio ape while his mate lusts after a Trabbi or Lada…

        1. I took driving lessons at 18 also. We had an outstanding driving instructor linked to the school system, so it was half lecture, half practice. I then got in practice driving mostly with my mother, around town, and ultimately my father supervised my mountain driving in the Sierras (we have been passionate about Yosemite in my family for generations). It seems to have worked, as I have driven for fifty-odd years with nothing but a few parking tickets — parked next to the library or a book store, what can I say? Dad’s view was that a car is something to take one from Point A to Point B with a minimum of drama, and we’re all safety buffs, too.

  3. I read The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon where two public radio workers pretend to be exes so they can host a public radio show about dating and romance. Although I had to suspend my disbelief in parts, all in all I enjoyed it. It’s set where I live and since I listen to public radio, there was a lot that was familiar. It was a fun take on the pretend dating trope and there was plenty of sexual attraction but mostly it was about them becoming friends when they didn’t expect to.

      1. When I first heard ad-libbed ads on podcasts I thought: “Charlie All Night”/Jenny Crusie basically invented this!

        1. Well, both books are set at a radio station and both are romances but they are otherwise not at all the same story. I say give The Ex Talk a try.

  4. It was a Tale of Two Contrasts this week. I read “Claiming Mister Kemp” and managed to keep awake until the end, just barely, as it meandered lazily down an overly familiar M/M historical romance trope – two hot young friends have sex in the SECOND CHAPTER and then spend the rest of the book frolicking around until they decide to be together happily ever after, the end. So much for sexual tension or dramatic suspense.

    Then I read C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy ….and holy glorious romance and internecine political intrigue and fighting adventure! The series started with a couple of some really ugly treatment of one prince by the other and I really doubted that they could ever find their way – an authentic way, not contrived or implausible – into romance. But that’s the beauty of good writing – it always surprises you and finds a path you hadn’t anticipated. And no second-chapter sex here, spoiler alert; the author draws that out until you are begging to be put out of your misery.

    1. Isn’t the Past trilogy fabulous? I picked the first book up on a whim, read it in one sitting, went back and bought the second book, stayed up all night with it, went back to the bookstore only to find that the third wasn’t out yet. I almost died.

      So glad you mentioned it. I adore those characters and the twists I didn’t see coming.

        1. I knew what you meant! And yes, that series is SO GOOD. I know, I’m repeating myself. Had to say it again.

    2. I just blew through C S Pascat’s Fence series (very YA but fun and with swords!) and then heartily enjoyed Sarah Rees Brennan’s continuation via novelisation which is ridiculously sweet.

    3. I found the first few chapters of the Pacat book so disturbing in its treatment of sexual slavery and cruelty – it put me off and I nearly stopped reading it. But friends told me to keep going, and I ended up really liking it.

  5. I love when authors reread their own work. I wonder, does it feel like catching up with old friends or looking through an old picture album? Slap a bold on this and call it a questionable if you like.

    I read the fantasy Sword of Kaigen by ML Wang. It doesn’t exactly follow conventional narrative structure. And ended well for the heroine of this book. There are two main male characters and I’m bitterly disappointed that one does something amazing that nobody knows about by the end of the book. #SpoilerFree.

    But there’s SIGNIFICANT character development and it’s beautiful to read. The characters do more than arc, they peak and trough and the book is worth that alone.

    Truly, I need to know if I’m the only one who felt this way. If so, it means I’ve been reading bland characters.

    In other news. There is a naan dough that I mixed this morning proving. One pic up. The rest later.

  6. Reread Can’t Buy Me Love by Chris Kerry, my all time fave M/M romance. Funny, sad, happy – pushes all the right buttons for me.
    And for something completely different, I recommend Letters From Yellowstone by Diane Smith. It’s about a young female scientist in 1898 who joins an all male party for a summer-long collecting trip to Yellowstone which isn’t even quite a Park-with-a-capital-P yet. The story builds thru her letters to people and other character’s letters to each other. I love letter books (looking at you A Woman Of Independent Means) and I loved this. Will be buying my own copy for future rereads.

      1. Someone somewhere, Twitter or Instagram or here, called it auto carrot and now that is all I can think of!

    1. If you like “letter” books, you might like “The Last Days of Summer” by Steve Kluger. It isn’t *all* letters, but it is conversations. I loved this book so much that the first time I read it, I had to re-read it right then. It’s one of my top 6 favorite books. 🙂

  7. Also meant to say that Welcome To Temptation is my fave of your books. I reread it about every two years. Phin is still the guy against whom I measure most heros. And IRL men, to be honest.

          1. Yep it’s my fave too – and I remember giving it to a friend of mine whom I thought looked EXACTLY like Sophie, curls, mouth and all.

  8. I have one dvd waiting for me to pick up at the library for the last four days, but I’m stubbornly waiting for at least one book to be added (any on my list will do). I know I’m tying up the holds but when I see ‘in transit’ I get all excited and think that’s me only to be discouraged. About three weeks ago a cable channel had a free weekend and I started watching Outlander Season Five only to miss the last two episodes so I added that to my list only to wait and wait.

    This week I started to watch Fire Fly Lane on Netflix. I know I read that years ago and the only thing I remember is that it is about a friendship over the course of thirty years. Catherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke are very good in the age group they play but equally good are the actresses who play the friends when the first meet.

    I was thinking just last week where would the characters that Jenny and Jenny and Bob created be now? What would they be doing? Or is it more likely to be second generation?

    1. It was published fourteen years ago, so they’d be in their late forties, early fifties.
      The only second generation was the little girl in Don’t Look Down; she’d be in her twenties now.
      Bob’s doing the Agnes sequel, but I think it takes place right after Agnes.

  9. Off topic: I have a Thursday Happiness: had an email this morning in response to the one I sent in November, trying to get work on gardening books. They wanted to know what recent work I’d done in InDesign, which I haven’t used since creating my self-published gardening book in it in 2014. Luckily, I’m a writer, so I framed this as positively as possible and sent them a copy of the book. In response they booked a video call next Tuesday to discuss work possibilities! I’m really excited. Could mean more regular work for a few months, as well as my favourite subject.

    Not going to make DailyFeb today; this has taken up too much time – especially as I started rereading my book; which I still think is good.

      1. I figured she’d be part of the Nadine book since they’d share an uncle-by-marriage in Davy. There’s no way that two such strong families wouldn’t have latched onto each other. Nadine’s five years older than Dillie, so there’s that, but I could easily see them both going to Ohio State right there in Columbus.

    1. that’s wonderful! i love garden books, I have a collection. Is it still available? What’s the title? Thanks!

      1. I self-published it, but never got round to marketing it. It’s only available from my website, where there’s also a gallery of photos from the book:

        I’d like to do a new, Kindle-friendly version, but it’s a lot of work, and I don’t know how reliable the format is for picture books. I’ve been waiting for it to bed in; the Kindle Fire tablet only came out around the time I published, and the formatting for picture books was still a minefield.

  10. A lot of meh books for me again.

    We did watch Blown Away on Netflix, a glass blowing competition, that was really fun. We did the second season because my sister said it was better than the first.

    I am back to rereading the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. On book two, and enjoying it. There are a lot of things that I didn’t remember.

  11. I read four books that might be of interest to Argher’s this week.

    The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson, which was recommended by someone here on Argh. I didn’t like it quite as much as the original recommender but it was pretty good overall.

    Folking Around by Clare Kauter, the sequel to Get Folked. If you haven’t read the first one I don’t think it will make much sense. Guy in a folk rock band gets into a scandal and gets a female bodyguard, whom he had had a one night stand with the week before when she didn’t know who he was. I really liked the female protagonist, but the guy was wallowing in self-hate a bit too much. On the other hand the sex scenes were really hot, and I don’t usually like those. I’m not a prude at all, but after I get to liking a character it feels like thinking about your sister having sex.

    Whispering Twilight by Melissa McShane, book 4 in her Extraordinaries series of paranormal regency romances. In this case the main character is an Extraordinary Speaker, who can ‘Speak’ to any other speaker she knows, and even normals, although they can’t ‘Speak’ back. She ends up getting shipwrecked in Peru and captured by the remnants of the Inca empire, which is especially awkward as she’s almost blind. It was interesting but not quite as much fun as the first three books.

    One Knight Stand by Julie Moffett, the third book in her YA spinoff from the Lexi Graves Geek Girl Spy series. In this one Angel is going to Junior Spy School when rogue elements inside the NSA kidnap her mom to pressure her missing father, who’s been on the run from the same people for most of her life, to give himself up. He will then die in an accident of course. Angel and the rest of her classmates have to rescue her mom. It was somehow unsatisfying as a conclusion to a trilogy. Perhaps just not quite as good as the first two, which were pretty fun.

  12. I read Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell at the start of this week, and enjoyed it so much I read it again immediately after finishing. Loved the other-world setting and the angst and that both of the heroes were underrated by everyone but each other. Hoping the author uses the world they built again for another story.

    1. I just read this too! (We must both get BookBub…) And I was just thinking about doing a reread. This is a definite reread for me, and recommend for Argh.

  13. Normally, short stories are not appealing because I rarely have time to bond with the characters. But these days my attention span is nil. I discovered A Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis and am enjoying all the stories. Most are close to novellas in length so there is that.

    1. Rereading A Lot Like Christmas is one of my holiday traditions! On her blog, Connie also has a list of holiday movies that she and her family watch every year, from which I discovered some new favorites, like Martin Freeman’s Nativity!

  14. Well, this week I read 12 things, about half novellas or other short-form.

    Notable M/M historical romance: ‘The Gentleman and the Spy’ by Neil S. Plakcy. Victorian-set country-house spy thriller involving a Cambridge graduate of little means and the 3rd son of a duke with not much more. The graduate is recruited to pose as the duke’s son’s valet to gather intel on a railway deal. Some odd editing oversights but would happily read a sequel.

    Finally got to ‘Riviera Gold’ by Laurie R. King, in which Holmes and Russell are in Monaco. A leisurely start but quite actiony in the last third.

    And picked up one more holiday-themed M/M romance, ‘A Family for Christmas’ by Jay Northcote, which is funny + sweet + sexy plus there is a kitten.

    Also, we watched ‘Date Night’ with Tina Fey and Steve Carell, which I thought was really funny but also a sharp look at how a marriage can lose its spark.

  15. I re-read Bitten and Stolen by Kelley Armstrong. I’ve re-read Bitten before but haven’t picked up Stolen since it came out over 16 years ago. Also reading some knitting books.

  16. I would love to say that my mental balance is restored after working midnight shifts, but I look at the hanging AARP Calendar and it still says today is the 11th. So does the data displayed in the corner of the computer screen. Well, I already did the 11th! And slept after, until 2:30 in the afternoon. Bah! Humbug!

    Good Book Thursday, though. I’m re-reading Eric Flint’s 1632 (2nd edition), the book that started the whole Ring of Fire series. I’m enjoying all the romance cooties with which Eric infected this SFF adventure.

  17. I read a lot during the past week.
    Mary Jo Putney’s Nowhere Near Respectable was one of her weaker romances. It didn’t make much of an impression on me.
    Connie Willis’s All Seated on the Ground was a delightful Christmas novella, light, sparkling, and hysterically funny. A blend of aliens and Christmas carols. I read the book in one sitting and smiled the entire time.
    This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens was a solid love story, not a romance. Many people loved it and found it funny, but I didn’t find it funny or enjoyable. Both protagonists are damaged mentally (not brain damage but rather emotional damage due to past hurts), so their love story hiccuped and limped all the way to the end. In general, I try to avoid dealing with mental damage in my personal life. I have a mental problem myself, so when I read, I want to escape that problem, not exacerbate it by reading about similar afflictions in fictional people.
    Mary Jo Putney’s The Burning Point was a rare contemporary by this famous regency writer. I didn’t like it, but my dislike had nothing to do with the quality of writing. In fact, the novel affected me deeply. Its subject matter was wife abuse, and I hated how the author handled that touchy topic.
    And then there were two charming books with Asian influences.
    Forthright’s Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox was a pleasant discovery. The novel was not perfect and it could’ve used some serious editing, but it was delightfully different from the Western fantasy. Based on the Japanese mythology, it reminded me of Miyazaki’s anime features. My only objection: one of its protagonists, Argent, smirked (you remember the discussion about smirking on this forum, right?) I think he smirked twice during the course of the novel. But then he wasn’t a straightforward hero but a much more complex personage. I’m going to read more of this author.
    The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin was a romance set in medieval China. Quiet and exotic, it was a fascinating glimpse into a culture I know nothing about. But after I closed the book I wondered: do our Anglicized names and locations in fiction look as odd to the Asian readers as the Chinese names and locations in this book looked to me, a white woman of European descent?

    1. I don’t have any issues with the names themselves; I think they’re cool. But the thing that confuses me is how do I tell when someone is following the Asian tradition of putting family name first and then personal name, or following the Western tradition and doing the opposite.

  18. I listened to Tales from the Folly, the Aaronovitch collection of short stories and really enjoyed it. I was working on Mom’s quilt so I needed good voices and something to distract me from the endless knot tying.

    I read For Better or Cursed, a YA about 2 girls who are magically endowed babysitters who, along with the other Sitters, protect the world from demons. Kind of like Slayers, but there’s more than one. It’s the middle installment in a trilogy.

    I’m now listening to The Book of Secrets by Melissa McShane and enjoying it so far but I’m only about 45 minutes in.

  19. I finished Katie Roiphe’s Uncommon Arrangements, which details the Bloomsbury set’s unconventional relationships – very readable and very good if you like Virginia Wolf, Vanessa Bell et al. And H G Wells – well, what a smuck!

    Also finished the current book in Charlie Adhara’s Wolf books, Cry Wolf. I really love the central couple, a neurotic smartass and his werewolf partner, and the mystery plots are getting better.

    Now in the middle of the essays of George Orwell, written in the 1940s. Great writing and I am surprised at how on point his take on systems of oppression are relevant to today – much broader than just big brother.

  20. I finally managed to finish two books:
    One was the audiobook of For Real by Alexis Hall and the other a sexy Christmas story recommended herer.
    Neither of them was badly written, but simply not my cup of tea.
    With the audiobook I noticed once and again how much the voices affect me and the voice of one of the two narrators I just didn’t like at all. Nobody’s fault but a matter of taste.
    Plus, I still don’t get the appeal of bdsm. I don’t get it how for some there’s this aspect of hurt/pain. But that’s not the author’s fault either. At least I tried to broaden my horizon.

    With the other also I realized that I can do without an abundance of sex scenes. I prefer character development over sex any time. Well, I do love those scenes when they are an integral part of the story and the protagonists development. But sex just for the sake of it? Nope. Me: Not a teenage bundle of hormones anymore.

    Otoh, following recommendations here, I’ve read the excerpts of Fliss Chester’s duology and am very tempted to get the e-books. They seem a nice change from romances which I don’t seem to like so much these days.

    Plus: thank you so much for the idea of DailyFeb!! Lately I had some slow evenings and was too exhausted to do my daily sketch, but I’ve made up for it. Today ds was happy to pose again for three sketches. Both kids are more than willing which I treasure. It’s so much fun because I always remind myself that the sketch does not have to be good. Who cares? It’s incredibly liberating and surprising how much it enhances the quality.

    So, good times ahead.

  21. I read Emily Larkin’s Unmasking Miss Appleby, which is a fantasy take on Regency romance, and a lot of fun. It had its faults – I don’t think she ever quite decided whether Charlotte or Cosgrove was her protagonist – but I enjoyed it hugely.

  22. Phoey! My comment is in moderation. It has links to new CDC guidelines for masks! And a link to how to video for mask fitter! Very exciting because I want us all to stay alive!

  23. Using comments from last week, I read “The Clairvoyant Countess” which I enjoyed quite a bit. I finished Loretta Chases I started, Miss Wonderful and Ten Things I Hate About the Duke. I decided I did like them, and I especially liked how she solves emotional problems in ways you don’t see coming. For instance how about a train? Or, my mother will blackmail the trouble maker. I also enjoyed how much the couples enjoy each other, especially the men liking the women.
    I’m reading the Kurland St. Mary series now, quite a contrast to all the werewolf stories I’ve been enjoying.

    1. One of Loretta Chase that I really like is “The Last of the Hellions” the heroine is smart and brave, and it makes me laugh.

  24. I’m in non-fiction hell…

    All my holds came out about the same time:

    Barack Obama’s ‘A Promised Land’
    Eril Lawson’s ‘The Splendid & The Vile’
    Jacob Soboroff ‘Separated’
    Beth Macy’s ‘Dopesick’

    So of course I re-read Loretta Chase’s ‘Mr. Perfect’.

      1. Speaking of Loretta Chase – Bookbub has her latest ‘Ten Things I Hate About the Duke’ on sale for $1.99 today

  25. Read Tessa Dare’s Governess Game, the only one of the 3 books in that series I somehow hadn’t read. Now reading A Lady’s Formula for Love which starts off with the heroine ignoring the first and second explosions but getting up for the third. Very fun.

  26. I finished re-reading the Sharing Knife series — so satisfying, like visiting with old friends who are so trustworthy and funny and making lemonade out of the lemons they get handed in each book until they finally reach a safe harbor.

    Then a long-ago library hold FINALLY came out of its endless queue, and I found myself really enjoying Don’t you Forget about me by Mhairi McFarlane.

    Contemporary British romances always make me wish passionately that I was British rather than American, just because there seems to be a level of kindness and rationality that can be found there that all of us who are three or four generations away from it can never really get back again. It’s a sweet, slightly bittersweet story that was wonderful to experience, even though the origin part of it was wrapped up inside all the other threads in a way that made me go back several times to read bits to figure out what was what, when. It’s the only book I’ve read by her, but I’d like to read others by her, pronto.

    (I’m jinx, by the way)(x 14/2)

  27. After seeing recommendations here over and over, I read and enjoyed the first two Loretta Chase dressmakers books – other two are already requested from the library – and “Boyfriend Material” (have we discussed the homages to Bridget Jones?). Much-needed delight.

  28. With regard to driving – I do most of the driving in my house and when taking roadtrips with my sisters, two out of four refuse to drive highway. So i do most of it. The thing is – I hate driving, too! But I’ve always pushed myself to fight the fear and do it anyway. But the one major invention that has reduced my anxiety so significantly is GPS – because the fear of getting lost would make me sweat. Mapquest was great til i got my iphone and I could just map my way anywhere. Honestly, it’s reduced my anxiety level by a good 92 percent.

    I know there are a lot of Loretta Chase fans here – and I always recommend Mr. Impossible. I adore the characters in this book. I’ve read it a couple times and then downloaded the audible for 1.99 and honestly, listening to it made it like a totally different book – and I loved it more! give it a go.

  29. From last week’s recommendations, I have been reading FRONT MATTER, ACT LIKE IT, and have just started MAKING UP, all by Lucy Parker. I think these are Early Works, but I’ve been seriously enjoying the snark — this is the first time (ACT LIKE IT) that I ever laughed all the way through a sex scene, Which I enjoyed, because I’ve been feeling anti-sex this week on account of great-great-great-grandmother, who, according to my research, was married off in 1837 at seventeen to a Revolutionary War veteran then aged seventy-four. Three years later she was left a widow with two babies. Since her marriage bond was signed by someone who clearly wasn’t her father — different surname — who ended up raising the babies — I keep thinking that she was all but trafficked. However, her second husband was three years younger than she . . . .

    Also reading BLOOD ROYAL, “James Lydon lectures in Medieval History and Culture,” which is family politics of royal and imperial dynasties between 500 and 1500 and I trust, from the sources, will have new information in it!

    And NATION TO NATION: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations, published by the Smithsonian and analyzing treaties from the seventeenth century forward.

    Rereading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s THE MAKING OF A MARCHIONESS, which is a fun story, definitely a period piece, which was mangled onto the screen some years back.

    1. Your great great great grandmother’s story sounds like the plot of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. So distressing, the thought of these young girls being married off to old men.

      1. Squicked, yes. Though Emily Fox-Seaton was twenty-odd years younger than the Marquis of Walderhurst, which Frances Hodgson Burnett was well aware of.

        But g-g-g-grandmother’s first husband must have been a contemporary of her own grandfather’s.

        1. I don’t know if they did this with revolutionary war vets but civil war vets often married young women when they were old—the young women got their civil war pensions so for a few years of marriage tbey got a lifetime of support. The men got nurses and housekeepers and presumably in some cases sex for their remaining days. The last civil war widow died last month.
          It’s arguably sex work but it doesn’t mean she was trafficked.

          1. I did know that — in 1900, there were four widows of Revolutionary veterans still living and drawing pensions, so the math was pretty obvious. Part of my problem is that I won’t have closure until I find out enough to figure out What Really Happened, and I’m at the opposite end of the country (San Francisco Bay Area) from the source information (South Virginia and North Carolina border) and I can’t do much about it right now because I can’t travel either to Virginia or to Salt Lake City. In a normal year I’d set up a file with the documents I have, the questions I have, and likely sources, and put it in my Next Trip to Salt Lake bag.

            However, writing this out has given me a couple of ideas for further online searching, so thank you!

    2. Wait, Front Matter? Is there a Lucy Parker I don’t know about? I love her stories but I don’t know that one and failed to find it on google…

    3. Dear lord but the TV version of “The Making of a Lady” (retitling of The Making of a Marchioness) is bizarre. I remember the book fondly but oof, perhaps I’m just remembering part 1 because part 2 looks like nightmare fuel.

  30. I am re-reading Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series. She is a comfort read for me.

    The new-to-me authors I’ve read recently haven’t been bad, but I am not feeling the connection I’d like. I’m probably very late to realizing this, but so many new romances right now are written in the first person present, alternating between male and female POV (indicated by the name at the start of the chapter). I can’t seem to connect with these as deeply as I’d like.

    I like first person POV in many books. I think it is the alternating that throws me off. Also the present tense. I find it makes me itchy for some reason.

    1. Present tense puts a lot of pressure on the story, which can be really good, but I think it also undercuts the security of the read. That is, past tense implicitly says “There’s somebody telling this story who has insight into what happened here,” while present says, “This is happening RIGHT NOW, unfolding before the eyes of the storytellers.” Neither one of those PoVs is bad or good, they just have different impacts on the reader.

      I think part of my problem with SOME new writers (definitely not all, there are truly great new writers out there) is that they’re so focused on production. “Here’s my hero and he has six brothers, read their stories, too!” and the outcome seems to be very cookie cutter, which it would almost have to be, writing them that fast. I think there’s always a sense of “I’ve read this before” when you glom-read any author, but it seems to be worse with the series books because the author can’t get enough distance on them, writing them that fast. It’s hard to layer a book you wrote in six weeks, not because you’re a lousy writer but because you don’t have enough time to really look ta the story. And that’s before we get to the writers who don’t finish a book because they that means you’ll have to buy the next one; no, that means I’ll never read you again.

      1. I’m always completely gobsmacked by people who write a book in six weeks. I guess it could *occasionally* turn out okay. But where’s the depth? Where’s the accidental insight that comes during a walk on the beach and sends you into a rewrite? Unless it’s something the author has been mulling over for the last few years, and this is its final iteration, and the first time it’s actually gone down on paper – I can sort of understand that. Otherwise, I don’t see how a six-week story can be anything other than cookie cutter.

        1. Lian, I am part of a writer “support” group on FB that encourages authors to post their success stories so other authors can learn/celebrate.

          I just read one success story from a woman that runs three businesses (two other than her author business) and says she has time to write 70,000 WORDS IN 7 DAYS. She has published umpteen-zillion (probably an exaggeration) books in the last year.

          I don’t care how good a writer you are – that kind of output HAS to affect the quality. I don’t know how it couldn’t.

          That being said, she appears to be making money at it, so who am I to say she’s wrong.

          1. The most I ever wrote in one day was 8000 words and it damn near killed me.
            The idea of doing it again the next day would never happen. She must do massive rewrites.

            I always figure my un-success stories are more encouraging. Of course, sometimes my books get turned down, happens to everybody. No I have no idea where this story goes next, anybody have an idea? (No, Bob, there will not be a black helicopter). This part of my plot doesn’t make sense; I think it used to but then things changed . . .

      2. First person, present tense feels uncomfortable to me, probably because I don’t think people think in the present tense. The narrative in your head, or at least in mine, is in the past tense. As activity occurs, it is already in the past tense. When you talk about what you did to someone else, you might put it into present as part of the story ( so I see John over at the bar and I walk up to him and say …. then I hit him over the head with her purse, which will teach him to cheat on me. ). It feels like there is more distance from me to the activity.

    2. I’m with you on the first-person alternating points of view, Brenda. I was thinking exactly the same recently; and contrasting it with alternating close third person, which is fine – although I’d still rather it wasn’t rigidly swapped chapter by chapter.

  31. I read Grey Hair, Don’t Care by Karen Booth this week. The main characters have sex in the first couple of chapters but it turns out to be a catalyst for the female character to make changes in her life. She and the male lead eventually end up together, but most of book is about figuring out who you are. I liked that the female character is 50 years old and celebrates her grey hair and sensuality.

    I also read Cara Black’s Three Hours in Paris, about a female sniper sent to Paris in the 1940s to assassate Hilter. A departure from her Aimee Leduc series but a good historical mystery/suspense novel.

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