This is a Good Book Thursday, May 19, 2022

I’ve been reading this book about a woman who goes back to her small hometown after fifteen years, but strangely, she does not open a bakery and there are no zombies. Tragically, there is also no ending. So far.

What are you reading?

109 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 19, 2022

  1. Recently I fell down (and might still be stuck there) the black hole of hockey romance. I say black hole because there are some really not so great ones and they’re really hard to pull out of. Particularly one prolific author, it took me longer than I would have liked to realise that one of her characters should have been called Mary Sue – who was in many books of a series.

    Some that I can recommend are:

    Mira Lyn Kelly – Back to You series, and the Slayers Hockey series – great honesty between MCs and for one of a couple in particular, making a rational decision to believe his behaviour rather than the word of someone else, very refreshing.
    Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy – Him, Us and Epic – well thought out MM romance
    Josie Blake – the first 3 of the Chesterboro U series, where opposites attract, but they also very supportive of each other’s dreams, nice.

    I loved Avon Gale’s books (thanks for the recommendation!)

    A large number of the hockey romances have topless men on the cover, I had downloaded enough that almost all of the kindle library front cover page was semi naked men. Slightly embarrassing when a waiter spots it and asks what books you’re reading!

    I’ve also been rereading Celia Lake, alongside her latest ones. She seems to be releasing a book 2-3 times a year. One part I like is that every book has a well researched piece of information, key to either the storyline or a demonstration of the character’s knowledge. Eclipse had a lot of Astrological and teaching information, for example, and the most recent one I read, correct info about horse conformation and genetics.

    1. If you want any recommendations for great M/M hockey player romances, there are several of us on here who are big fans. Avon Gale for sure is awesome.

    2. I love Celia Lake but I think I need to reread some of her books before embarking on the new ones. The last one I read was the cruise ship one. I really liked it but I think Eclipse is one of my favs.

      1. Eclipse and Sailor’s Jewel are my favourites too. Fools Gold is a new favourite, I like how she redeemed Robin (a not so good character from Seven Sisters).

        What I also enjoy is there’s a theme of identifying and understanding difference in a number of her books. Some of her characters are neurologically different, some deal with physical difference, some deal with being different than their family and feeling like they don’t fit, all find people who understand, accept, support and in some cases also identify why they feel different.

        1. Just out of curiosity, is there anyone in this world who DOESN’T grow up feeling as they’re different? Everyone I know had the same feeling, whether they were gay, straight, able-bodied, disabled, whatever. Is this part of the human condition?

          I’d like to think that there are people who grow feeling as if they really fit in, but I’ve never met any of them.

          1. I guess it’s part of the human condition. I see it with the kids.
            You eventually find/build a group/ family/ community where you get this dearly needed sense of belonging.
            But a trace of not fitting in stays with many of us I guess. It certainly does with me to this day.

          2. I think part of it is the fluidity of American society, although the feeling may be international.

            We rebel against expectations, we leave home for new places, we get a sense of release from defying expectation. And also a lot of anxiety. I’ve always thought it was the American experience because, except for Native Americans, we’re all here because somebody sometime said, “The hell with this” and got on a boat or a plane or walked a long way to get here. Or were forcibly kidnapped and brought here. And then some of those people made sure even Native Americans felt unwanted. It’s one of the reasons I think Huck Finn is the Great American Hero: “All right then, I’ll go to hell.”

            But I also think it’s because life has been moving a lot faster for the last century or so. It used to be that a mother could sit down with a daughter, a father with. a son, and say, “Okay, this is how life works.” But life doesn’t work the same for generations now, each generation has to figure it out on their own because life changes on a dime in a big ways. My mother thought I was going to get married right out of high school and work somewhere until the kids started coming at which point I’d be a SAHM until they were all in school and then go back to work; she insisted I become a teacher because that would be a good job workaround for the kids I’d be having. I vividly remember telling her I was going to go to college and her saying, “Why would you do that?” and the two of us staring at each other across a gulf of incomprehension. That had enough impact on me that I let Mollie set her own expectations, but even there we had moments when she’d say, “Why didn’t you tell me about X?” and I’d say, “I didn’t know, I still don’t know that.” I grew up in a blue collar world and thanks to education was faking it in a white collar world; she grew up in white collar world, she was on her own. Which is the other thing about America and I’m willing to bet with a lot of the rest of the world: one generation can move into another class by education, travel, employment, whatever. Which means a lot of us are faking in it in social situations that we weren’t born into. We feel like outsiders because we are.

            Or I could be wrong. Maybe that’s just my generation.

            There are people who feel like they belong, but they’re clueless. If you belong, then you have to match that group, think like them, be like them. If that’s what it takes to be an insider, all right then, I’ll go to hell.

          3. Taking Jenny’s response to Lian Tanner in a different direction:

            I think a fairly recent change — or perhaps a recently acknowledged change — is that a chunk of USA-ian people will never have the opportunity to move upward in the economic or social classes.

            I grew up thinking that by virtue of being a USA-ian, I was part of a society that helped other people around the world while also taking care of its own. The USA had the best health care, the best schools, the greatest opportunities. That assumption — and even the shared assumption that such a society is preferable to less generous ones — has turned upside down.

          4. Yes. That’s another generational change.
            My generation had opportunities the current generation will probably never get.
            We also had much worse racism and sexism and homophobia, the threat of nuclear war, Viet Nam, AIDS with no treatment, blame-the-rape-victim, and a host of other horrors.
            It isn’t that each generation has it worse or better, it just has it worse or better in different ways that the generations can’t comprehend.

            Although current generations are getting a real good look at sexism right now with the abortion issue. I just read on 538 that the divide on the abortion issue isn’t between men and women, it’s between men and women who think the fifties had the right idea about women’s place in the universe and men and women who think that women are equal to men and should have the right to their own bodies. It’s a great article.

    3. I like Elle Kennedy’s Briar U/Off Campus series. Will definitely go looking for some of these thank you.

    4. Now that my beloved Penguins are out of the playoffs, I will console myself with your recs – thank you!

      I know that Avon Gale is going in another direction right now, but hope springs eternal that she’ll take up writing hockey romance again, particularly her minor minor league series.

      1. Avon Gale seems pretty invested in her Iris Foxglove work these days – they are pumping out the books fast. Doesn’t look like she’ll be returning to her hockey roots in any hurry. *:(

  2. It’s been all fanfiction, all the time for me lately. I’ve just needed it. Although A Murder Is Announced has been my bedside book for just before I fall asleep lately.

    1. A Murder is Announced is good (Christie, right?)
      My fave is Cat Among the Pigeons, I think. Although What Mrs. Millicuddy Saw/4:50 from Paddington is excellent, too.

  3. I read and recommend Seven Days in June by Tia Williams, a m/f romance where I didn’t want to throw the book at the wall.

    An odd thing though, there were many niggles – I didn’t love the premise (two authors who meet and fall in love over 7 days at 17, and then remeet 20 years later) but that was quite well done, I have a romance plot loving heart, and the romance development in this was I think the weakest part (insta love), I’m not always all in for Big Angst, but that didn’t annoy me at all here, there was a 12 yo that literally made me look up the author to see if she had ever met a child (she has one this age, so I stood corrected), there is a misunderstanding, flashbacks! (Or at least multiple timelines) Basically many of the things I don’t normally like, I liked or could ignore here. Weird.

    I think Jenny’s readers might like it; there is a romance, the main character is a strong, funny woman…

    I’m a bit confused. Keen to hear what other people who have read it think.

    Also keen to hear recommendations for romance where women don’t spend the whole book giving away their agency and reinforcing stereotypes (no women crying in frustration over princes please!).

    1. On female leads with agency, I’d recommend trying Mary Balogh’s “Slightly __” series, if you haven’t read it already.

      Or Pride & Prejudice, of course. Or Bet Me. Or….

    2. In general I enjoyed the characters and the writing style in Seven Days in June by Tia Williams, because it was good, but I’m not sure I would give it my full-throated endorsement either.

      I just really struggled with the plot and the lack of resolution for the character’s stories. It felt like a lot of initial info dump about stuff that I didn’t really need, while leaving out key pieces of things I wanted to know.

      I overall enjoyed the characters and it was interesting enough that I stuck around because I was hoping to get more….but ultimately I felt like it just didn’t get me to the payoffs I was hoping for on a plot/story level. (also….the young daughter’s wisdom/perfection was definitely a little much for me… in a stronger narrative, I think I would be inclined to forgive that more…but the fact that you had that reaction too makes me think maybe she really is just A Lot)

      It’s weird, because I want to recommend it so that people to have a chance to spend time with these characters because they feel worth knowing, but I wish we could maybe get to see more of them in action and have a better sense of overall narrative arc and where they’re going.

      There are so many threads that are left untied, and I feel like probably that was an intentional choice by the author to leave room for people to color in for themselves, but the amount left unresolved ultimately left me a little unsatisfied on that level…I feel like it just stops more than it resolves.

      YMMV on that…but if I had to give a grade, it would probably land on like a B/B+ for me?

    3. Meljean Brook/Milla Vane comes to mind for females with agency. Yasmine is a steampunk airship captain who kicks butt. That is in Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook. Her love interest is a conman cinnamon roll with a taste for gaudy waistcoats. The Kraken King is also excellent, but better if you read HoS first, as characters carry over.

      Her alter ego, Milla Vane, is darker and A Heart of Blood and Ashes is almost too dark for me. Barbarians in an alternative Game of Thrones sort of world with dinosaurs. I don’t remember her heroine’s name, but that woman just refuses to lay down and die in the face of overwhelming odds. Her hero takes a while to get on board, but he has Reasons. Anyway, she is great and pulls her weight all the way to the end.

    4. I just started 7 DAYS IN JUNE. The first chapter set the scene for one of the characters so well and I was thinking it can be done, you can tell us all about a character in a chapter through action without tedious flashbacks. But now I realise the tedious flashbacks are to come so I’m not so enthusiastic.

  4. I read Alexandra Caluen’s (our very own Caichal) Be Mine. Two men have been casually dating for a while, when one is roofied, beaten up and sexually assaulted after a party they both attended. Tough subject but dealt with so beautifully. The book navigates its way through them grappling with the event itself, the police case around the event, and their new, raw feelings for each other. Was a warm, lovely book and I couldn’t put it down. Oh and I must mention that one man keeps an online blog and the other a private journal, entries from both are dotted through the book and adds a whole layer of internal reflection. I admire watching a writer be…writerly.

    I also read Honey and Pepper, AJ Demas’ (Sword Dance) latest and I adored it. Two men in her alt-history world, both of whom have until recently been slaves with very different experiences, creating new lives for themselves while dealing with the aftermath. Thematically similar to the above book – a nice, albeit accidental pairing. Also, some good smutty parts, not that that’s important. Of course.

    On the other hand, I read Set Mine to Five, which has been mentioned on this site as sounding like a Murderbot. It really isn’t. The only similarity is a bot with emerging feelings and there the similarity ends. There were some fun moments and some clever ones but too few and too far. I was annoyed by the constant exclamation marks! and the short sentences! And one sentence paragraphs! and overly repetitive jokes! Read Murderbot again instead!

      1. Olga, did you know she is a Canadian like us? That’s such a Canadian thing I did there. We are always pointing out who the Canadians are: Michael J. Fox, Jim Carey, Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, two of the Ryans, etc.

    1. I enjoyed Set My Heart to Five but it’s definitely nothing like Murderbot. I enjoyed it partly because of the bittersweet way the bot kept using bad jokes to try and express itself, so that side didn’t annoy me. But it’s not on my reread list, whereas I’ve almost got Murderbot memorised.

  5. A device I dislike is the heroine who goes to sleep or passes out so that the hero can have the climax of the action all to himself. When she awakens, someone tells her what she missed.

    I overdosed on Tamora Pierce and Aaron Elkins this week. I read Deb Blake’s Doggone Deadly which is fun.

    Still pondering Wild Ride. Personally, I like Meg’s story far more than Ethan’s. I think the transition from one Joe to another is vital to Mab’s development. Her story and her interactions with the demons and people fascinate me. Jenny continues to explore the experience of being taken over by another force/mind when, in Maybe This Time, May squeezes into Andi’s and the tooth-woman’s bodies.

    1. I should have set Oliver up much sooner in Wild Ride. That was my biggest mistake. I should have had readers rooting for him all the way through. But I think you’re right, the leaving Joe for Oliver was really important to Mab’s arc.

      1. Two-thirds of the way through Claws for Suspicion, and loving it, the best of the three. Also enjoyed the first two. While wishing for more of the animal rescue line, I will follow the author wherever next she takes we readers.

        1. Aw, thank you. It is a bit ironic (thank you Publishing) that I finally hit my stride with the third cozy, but the series probably won’t be continued due to poor sales numbers. I want to say, “BUT I FINALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO WRITE THEM!”

          So glad you liked them, though.

  6. I am still confused about where I am in the week. To my brain it is Tuesday. Sigh.

    I listened to Bet Me, and then moved on to the third book in Eileen Glass’s Human Omega series.

    I also picked up a smut book at one of the sales we went to over the weekend about an age gap professor and student romance, only in this one the student is male. It’s not amazing, the ethics aren’t addressed, but I am interested in how the dynamic shifts when the younger male student pursues the female professor. They meet before they know about the conflict. Anyway, it doesn’t really work, but I feel like it could work, which gives me something to ponder.

      1. Not really, but thanks for trying. I also showed up for the day job about 25 minutes early. Definitely off my game. I assumed I was in at 10. It was supposed to be 10:15. Argh.

    1. That is interesting.
      That happened to a friend of mine. She had a guy in her class, and after the class was over he asked her to lunch to thank you, and after the lunch was over he kissed her. They got married.
      Of course they were both about thirty, and he was a sweetheart, but that never grossed me out like all the male profs and their undergrads or even grads.

      I think it’s the power thing. Men have too much power over women. Profs have a lot of power over students, both real and psychological. Male professors and female students is just wrong. The other way around may feel like more of a power balance? Still wrong, but . . .

      I have not as much of a problem if the professor is not teaching the student, though.

      1. I agree, that if the student isn’t actively taking class from the professor then it is less of an ethical issue. Then, it is really just an age gap romance. Although, my partner and I were discussing lately how we both see twenty-somethings as young and unfinished rather than sexy. I have a hard time fetishizing youth as I age, I guess. And he is ten years older than me, so I am lucky he was willing to take the risk.

      2. Yes, my grandfather was accepted as a medical student at UWashington Seattle — the oldest student ever — and his chemistry professor had been the chem lab partner of my aunt, grandfather’s stepdaughter. The chem professor had been a regular visitor to my grandparents’ home back in the day. The dynamics get weird.

  7. My hold finally came in for Nettle and Bone. I enjoyed it greatly, but it won’t be my favorite T. Kingfisher. However, Bonedog is the! and will be my favorite Kingfisher dog until she surpasses him somehow.
    I had similar feelings to Tammy about Set My Heart to Five, although the jokes! and Ha! did not annoy me as much as Dr. I’ve-forgotten-his-name-already. I could have done with a lot less Dr. and a lot more free agency.

  8. Philby is stuck down the black hole of Hockey romance. I am there too but my alternate dimension is peopled with werewolves.

    I am still marking so wanted something undemanding following my YA foray last week… so werewolves.

    I really don’t like vampires. When I read Twilight years ago (way before the films came out I might add, I couldn’t understand how Bella could possibly prefer Edward to Jacob…).

    Anyway, a while back, I came across a list of shifters recs and I read a barrel load of Heather Long’s Willow Bend series, so I pulled those out and I have been reading them like smarties in between bouts of marking. I think I might be on book 7 or 8, not sure … It’s a nice relief from reading badly written arguments in toddler French.

    1. It depends on the werewolf/vampire for me. I tend more towards redeemed villains and snarky assholes. That’s usually the vampires. The werewolves are friendlier. Of course I never read Twilight. And I do prefer Ilona Andrews’ weres to vampires in both the innkeeper and Kate Daniels universes. Nalini Singh’s vamps and shifters don’t live in the same universe, but I like both sides there.

        1. He is a good vampire. I like Dimitri in Nalini Singh’s Arch Angel’s Blade. And Linda Howard has exactly one vampire book that I used to love. I don’t know if it holds up to time though.

      1. Yes, I really like Charlie Adhara’s books but they are quite angsty so not right for me at the moment…

    2. The only vampire that comes to mind is Barnabus Collins from the tv show Dark Shadows. It was such a hoot way back when in the 1960’s.

  9. This is a terrible GBT for me. I normally devour 3-4 books every week. Lately I’ve been stuck reading or rereading Grey Wolf’s Variations on a Theme. As previously mentioned, it’s being published serially, a new chapter on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I think I read chapter 89 of Book 3 yesterday, and in the reread, I’m up to chapter 44.

    While making up the Goodwill packets, I found my Firefly and Serenity and Galaxy Quest DVDs I set them aside. I also found Ghost in the Shell. I watched that, then put it in the Goodwill pile. Then I watched Galaxy Quest and returned it (and the other two) to my shelves. I watched another movie on Amazon Prime, but all I remember is that it was about a witch community and a potential forced marriage. I’ve also watched somewhere around forty videos about AeroGarden and pruning and harvesting.

    Because of But First, Coffee I have revised my plans. Revision O, then Revision P. I have an electric frying pan and a spare toaster in need of a newer home, and I don’t recall ever using the blender or the choppy-dicy thing that plugs in. I use the manual choppy dicy thing. The dotter happily inherited six of eight glass mugs with handles. The other two I drink coffee or tea from.

    I haven’t even started on the electronics! That was all back under Rev B and that part of the plan… Rev P says there will be fewer electronics soon. Rev B just wanted organization.

    Ask me what the hold-up is on the next Goodwill trip. Go ahead, ask. “What’s the hold-up on the next Goodwill trip?” you ask? Carboard boxes. All my boxes have been recycled. I await the next order from Walmart or Amazon or Etsy in a large box to continue my donations. (It’s a flimsy excuse, but it’s all I’ve got.) Meanwhile… electronics.

    Official Weigh-In Day #57 – 250.4 pounds.

    1. I’m getting a little worried about all these plans. Doesn’t Hardison die in Plan M? And you’re past that, I need to know he survived? (Leverage reference for anyone who hasn’t seen the series, although I think everyone here has.)

      1. Nate says he dies in plans M through Q. I’m good with that.

        I have a storage tub with no lid full of power cords, phone cords, a baggy full of plug-in USB power supplies, ten baggies each containing a power supply converter ranging from 3VDC output to 15VDC, and some tiny number of amps. Several ethernet cables including one at least 25′ long. One of my seven spare mice – the one with a PS2 connection. A tool bag. I have two others. Cards for expanding a desktop computer (sound and USB). The tub is full, and I’m donating the tub, too.

        Electric skillet, ninja chopper, blender, toaster, small crock pot, electric tea pot, Mr. Coffee. Everything Must Go. Also, some spoons and those spatulas.

  10. Finished “To the Lighthouse” and had a fun discussion with the book group. Next it’s going to be “The Paris Apartment.”

    Enjoying Nan Rheinhardt’s “The Valentine Wager,” and have Deborah Blake’s “Claws for Suspicion” in the next-to-read pile.

    The Brothers Karamozov is stilling hanging in there, I shall start it up soon.

  11. I read By the Book by Jasmine Guillory a sweet romance about a would be author and an assistant editor at a publishing house. Also Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard full of science about how trees work together and some memoir about becoming a scientist and doing science. I thought it would take me a while to finish but I raced through. Fascinating. I reread Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw a book from my childhood about a girl just graduated from high school learning about who she is. It is dated (published in 1968) but still charming. Now I’m reading Hands of the Emperor, recommended here.

  12. Thanks to the kindness of others on the blog, I tried two titles by Grace Burrowes (only ones in my library). “Captive” was a DNF, because it began with a lengthy scene of torture by French military folks during the Peninsular wars. Nice historical detail about how soldiers were handled by opposing forces, but much too violent for bedtime reading. Will try the second title next and report on it.

  13. I started the True Gentlemen series by Grace Burrowes, again. There are 12 of these books, and I read all of them during the pandemic. She writes strong women who have a lot to deal with, it being set in the Regency period in England. The men are good men, even though they also have issues to deal with. There are a fair share of villains, and there are social issues addressed in a sensitive and forthright manner. There is humor, and there is sadness, and a lot of joy, eventually. There are no bad books in this series. There are some plot twists that I absolutely loved. I highly recommend these books if you are looking for strong female characters.

  14. I read Susan Mallery’s new one, The Summer Getaway. Loved it so much, I wanted to sit down and start rereading it from page one as soon as I finished. Women’s Fiction/romance. Great characters. Highly recommend.

    Started reading Tawna Fenske’s Killer Instincts and I’m loving it. (This is book one in a new series. There is a free prequel novella called Killer Looks if you want to get a taste for the series. I didn’t think I’d like it because romance with professional assassins? But actually, she makes it work.)

    1. I used to love Tawna Fenske. Haven’t read anything by her in years. Need to check this out.

  15. I read when She Dreams by Amanda Quick. Good as usual.
    I reread Ain’t She Sweet by Susam Elizabeth Phillips. There is too much I liked to break it all down here.
    I have started a reread of The Cinderella Deal. Sweet and enjoyable.
    I finished my library copy of Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins. Before I finished I bought it on Kindle so that I could go through and note all the places where I had put post its. Yes it was that good. And funny. Always with the funny when you read anything by Tommy Rotten.
    Which made me decide to ditch my latest wip. Only about 5000 words in, thank goodness. It just wasn’t working for me so back to the drawing board. It’s a relief, actually.

  16. When should have been capitalized and Susan not Susam.
    Typos. Argh.

  17. I have to fly to Johannesburg (from London) on the weekend. First time flying down there since Covid. I am still apprehensive about travelling. It is a very long flight. I’ve got my knitting figured out, but need to find a few good books. I’m counting on you guys for inspiration.

  18. I’m reading The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, an epic women’s fiction set in 1970’s Alaska. It’s full of stunning scenery, deadly encounters, and a family imploding from the inside out- a must read!

    1. I listened to this one and really enjoyed the narration by Julia Whelan. Good story but some parts are hard to get through. I had to take a few breaks.

  19. Someone here recommended A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver. WWII London, an Uncle and Niece safecracking team get recruited (captured) by British Intelligence to try to plant false documents in a German spy’s safe, but it doesn’t work out quite like they planned. It was quite good. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

    Also recommended was Jayne Castle’s (Jayne Ann Krentz) The Ghost Hunters series. I read After Dark, the first book. It was okay. I’m not sure why I didn’t like it more. The world building was very good. The plot was okay. I just never really got into the characters somehow. They seemed like I should like them, but they were only mildly interesting.

    Oddly enough the teaser at the and of After Dark wasn’t for the sequel, but the first book in a new series, set in the same world, and it, and the new characters seemed much more intriguing. But the Rainshadow series seems like it’s set many years/books after The Ghost Hunters series, so I’m hesitating to skip to it because I might be missing a lot of backstory, and I generally like reading series from the beginning so as to avoid spoilers. Does anyone have an opinion about the Rainshadow books?

    1. Both series are happening sort-of at the same time. I love Jayne Castle, but if one of her books didn’t work for you, chances are, none of them would. She is formulaic. She works for me though – one of my favorite writers in all her nom de plumes.

    2. I remember not thinking much of After Dark and ignoring the series for a while as a consequence – and up to then I’d loved everything by JAK in all her guises. I did try the rest of the series some years later, and thought they were fun, though they become very repetitive after the first few. I’ve read most of the Rainshadow ones (borrowed from the library where possible); they do include references to more recent characters from the other series in this world; but I really don’t think you’d miss anything by reading them independently. (Though, like me, you might find the other books in the first series are better than After Dark.)

    3. These are all audiobooks-while-walking reading for meThey are perfect for that. Agree with Olga that if one doesn’t work for you most of them won’t. They work for me though.

  20. I’m trying to read Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen, I couldn’t put down the last two I read. This one is taking effort. Maybe due to the material he is trying to satirize. I also read a book where the couple went from deciding to date, to deciding to suddenly get married in the last two pages of the book, despite no build up, just to be tidy.
    If I ever write a book about a heroine going home after many years to run the family bakery, it’s going to be, because she needs to lie low from her enemies and it is all bait to bring them out in the open for her to strike back

      1. I truly enjoy how this is both one of the one of the nicest communities to interact with on the internet, while simultaneously also being the one of the best place to get ideas of vicious hypothetical fictional murders.

        I sincerely feel seen and understood by all you lovely, twisted people.

      2. I was thinking a series of cheerful little tarts with frilly borders, to maximize the irony.

          1. There are so many things in my dropdown menu to respond with here that I simply can’t choose. I will remain silent.

  21. I finished Book Lovers by Emily Henry, which I loved. Sorry if it’s already been thoroughly discussed here in previous weeks–I’ve been digging out of the biggest grading hole I’ve ever been in and have only just emerged. At any rate, in case it hasn’t been said yet, Book Lovers is a terrific response to Hallmark movies.

    I also read (lately, if not this week) The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, which I believe was a recommendation from someone on this list, so thank you for that!

    1. It could have been anyone. At least half of this list adores Mrs. Pollifax, and the other half just likes her a lot 🙂

  22. Enjoying “A good day for Chardonnay” (Darynda Jones) and two books of the Quinn Colson series (Ace Atkins)

  23. I haven’t been feeling too much like heavier reading material, or anything that requires much investment lately. Not sure what that says about my headspace, but def. something.

    That being said, found a delightful regency romance. Most of the prod descriptions on recent sale-regencies have been off putting to me (tropes), but this was charming!

    Tessa Dare, When a Scot Ties the Knot

    Girl about to have her … coming out season (what’s that called?), but terrified of crowds. So she makes up a fiance in the army whom she writes to religiously to avoid her season, then kills him off so she can go be a happy spinster.

    Quite the surprise then when her fiance shows up on her doorstep ready to wed!

    Highly recommend, and got quite invested, which was a nice change for my brain. There were only two minor issues that threw me off, but otherwise loved it!

  24. Recently, I tried to read a couple of new-to-me books. One was a steampunkish time travel fantasy. Another a women’s fiction. Both fairly well-written, but nothing worked. The characters didn’t attract me. The plots staggered like drunkards. My interest wandered. I had to force myself to keep reading. Finally, I gave up on both novels and picked up the tried-and-true Sizzle and Burn – an Arcane Society novel by Jayne Ann Krentz. So much better. Even if it is my 4th or 5th re-read, I still enjoyed it. The characters, the plot, the pacing – everything was perfect. The story sucked me in from the first page. Krentz is a master of beginnings in all her pen names. One of my favorite first sentences launches her Harmony futuristic book After Dark by Jayne Castle:
    If it had not been horribly obvious that Chester Brady was already dead, Lydia Smith might have strangled him herself.
    I’m filled with admiration for the writer’s mastery of words.

    There were two new books:
    Molly Harper’s Sweet Tea and Sympathy is categorized as contemporary romance. But the true romance only starts on p. 74, almost 30% into the book. Isn’t it late for a romance novel? The lusty sparks should start flying in the first ten pages at least, otherwise what kind of a romance is that?
    Grace Burrowes’s When a Duchess Says I Do was a so-so historical romance. I didn’t like it very much but I did finish it. I don’t think Burrowes is a writer for me, although I know many others like her books.
    Overall: not an inspiring week, reading-wise, except for Krentz.

    1. I do love that series by Molly Harper, but I agree with you, Olga, that it isn’t really contemporary romance. I think they’re more women’s fiction with definite romance.

  25. Impossible by Sarah Lotz. Did someone here recommend it? If so, thank you! It’s a love story with a difference, reminded me of The Time Traveler’s Wife which I adored.

  26. I haven’t had any energy to speak of for the last couple of weeks, but did manage to reread THE TOLL-GATE, Georgette Heyer. I do love Sir Peter! Other than that I didn’t have enough energy for LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY.

    1. Oh! I must go read Little Lord Fauntleroy immediately. I read the Secret Garden just about every year, and A Little Princess slightly less frequently, but it’s been years since I read Fauntleroy. (On the other hand, it’s spring. And my roses are blooming. Maybe I need to read the Secret Garden first.)

      1. I like A LADY OF QUALITY and THE SHUTTLE, but both require energy I don’t have right now.

        1. I loved them both back in the day, but my library deaccessioned them sometime in the eighties, and I’ve never found used copies. I suppose Project Gutenberg has them now. Also, not in the mood for sad right now.

    2. This week I re-read SPRIG MUSLIN, Georgette Heyer. Delightful as you would expect but there’s a whole patch in the middle where we’re stuck with the most annoying ingenue, while the romance that I care about just kind of resolves itself in the background later. It’s a strange choice.

      1. I used to adore Heyer ingenues. Now I find them incredibly young for their age: not as charming and fairly silly. The “innocent” girl just seems childish. Victorians made a big deal about keeping girls innocent but I don’t think they did in Regency times – Jane Austen’s Bennet sisters don’t seem particularly innocent to me. They were all aware of the need to make a good marriage and not to ruin themselves. Well, except Lydia, she just wanted to have fun and was a little stupid.

        1. Romney, I agree with you about Sprig Muslin which happens to be one of my favorites. After setting up an unexpected couple in Gareth and Hester, Heyer shows how well suited they are by giving them a family. Not at all comparable to but kind of like Andi in Maybe This Time getting two challenging kids. The most noticeable trait that shows in Hester is that she has opinions and expresses them and is both generous and humorous. But Heyer feels it’s necessary to give tons of space to Amanda which is unnecessary.

          Jessie, I agree with you, too. The saddest case in my opinion is Heyer’s Arabella in her eponymous book. She is too young and by the end seems to melt down while Beaumaris and the dog become the bantering couple.

          As for Jane Austen’s characters: all the Bennett girls clearly know about sex; for example, Lizzie feels Wickham’s sensuality. Separately, there’s some standard of decorum — perhaps mostly learned by Jane and Lizzie through their aunt and uncle from Cheapside? But Mrs. Bennett is stupid, both she and Mr Bennett are selfish, and the younger girls are left with fuzzy morals. The childish, innocent girl is definitely is with the later Victorians.

          1. But surely Heyer’s writing is rooted in her time – 1930s to 1960s; she grew up at the beginning of the twentieth century, when girls were still supposed to be innocent, and were often very sheltered. She’s seeing/painting the Regency through that lens.

            Arabella and her companions were my gateway to Heyer; perfect for a twelve-year-old in the sixties.

          2. Margaret Widdemer (1884 – 1978) had some comments about that — she was a clergyman’s daughter, so she knew about sin, because that was Father’s professional concern!

            My mother and her sister, on the other hand (1922 – 2018, 1922-2021) told me that because their mother was a doctor, they knew the Facts, whereas a good many of their friends weren’t well-informed — in fact, mothers used to bring their daughters to my grandmother for a counseling session before marriage, back in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, possibly even the 50’s,

  27. After the Wedding (Courtney Milan) has shuffled through my TBR for a long time. I really enjoy this author but couldn’t work up the enthusiasm needed to get started. I am a third of the way through and, as usual, am warming up to the characters and the unusual storyline.

  28. My happiest discovery in the TBR pile this week was To Love and to Loathe by Martha Walters. It was such a fun romp that I ordered the author’s first book before I even returned this one to the library.

  29. This week my favorite not-a-romance was ‘The Sanctuary Sparrow’ by Ellis Peters, which begins with a very cinematic scene in which the monks are at prayer (the one at midnight) and there’s someone fleeing for his life outside, who manages to scramble into the church and grab onto the altar cloth as pursuers chase him in. Very dramatic. There’s a nice romance in this one.

    Favorite actual romance was ‘Her Band of Rakes’ by R.A. Steffan, a poly/reverse harem Regency with some clear ‘Band Sinister’ (K.J. Charles) inspiration and some bananapants Gothic plot. Highwaymen + could-be-mortal wound + bridge washes out + trapped at country home of scandalous viscount with his free-thinking friends + abduction + forced marriage + daring escape + a duel + convenient & profitable death + four-way among the standing stones + happy poly married ending. It’s a riot. 🙂

    If anyone is feeling adventurous, I could use 2-3 ARC readers for my next title! Releasing June 4. aycaluen at gmail dot com if interested in an e copy and willing to post review on AMZ. It’s a sweet, low-angst, ensemble Edwardian frolic (F/F, F/M, and M/M romances) in which basically everyone is queer.

  30. Ahhh!!!! My partner brought the movie Cyrano home from the library and I love it! I didn’t know it was a musical! And the costumes are fabulous. I highly recommend it!

  31. This week I read Tessa Dare’s Goddess of the Hunt which was awesome and also Lorraine Heath’s The Duchess Hunt so apparently I’m on a hunt theme? Both great reads. Nonfiction, been reading The Art of Possibility because it’s easy to get stuck in your thinking what with all the shell-shock from news and life in general.

  32. After recent discussions of Loretta Chase, I am listening to Lord of Scoundrels again. Brilliant narration by Kate Reading that utterly enhances the humor. I have thoroughly enjoyed laughing at numerous scenes and as I’ve said before, Jessica Trent is such a fabulous heroine.

    I’m reading Trisha Ashley’s Creature Comforts and it is indeed comforting.

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