A few of the daily posts for #RomBkLove 2018 were developed by the team writing posts for that month rather than written individually. Here are my contributions to those various posts.
Hidden Gems (books you love but no one else seems to talk about)
One of my fave not-buzzed-about authors is Christine Pope. She writes F/SF romance, but within that broad rubric you can find all sorts of different elements: witches, djinn, alien worlds, and more. My favorite book of hers is Breath of Life. It’s the beauty-and-the-beast trope, but the beast is an alien on a human colony planet. Seeing the farmsteading Annika get to know Sarzhin is a treat in this lovely novella.
Another “why doesn’t she get more buzz?” author for me is Jamie Wesley. Her contemporary romances are fun, honest, and moving, and I never feel like I’m reading stereotypes. Instead, I get the sense that I could meet these people tomorrow, they are so genuine. I started with Tell Me Something Good, so I’ll point that out as a great way to begin reading her books.
Becca Jameson writes so many different types of romance–shifter books, military romance, BDSM romance, ménage, MMA fight club, romantic suspense–and I’ve loved them all. I don’t know why she doesn’t have the buzz that other authors do. She’s a great Hidden Gem. Look over her books, find the type that you like, and dive on in.
There’s an old Desire title I love–Just a Little Bit Pregnant by Eileen Wilks. In soooo many romance novels featuring accidental pregnancy, there’s angst, or secret babies, or any number of somewhat far-fetched plot points. But this book starts with the heroine marching into the hero’s workplace, informing him that she’s pregnant, and giving him the paper she’s prepared with probable medical expenses (including insurance coverage estimates), support coverage suggestions, and a schedule of visitation rights. At last, a book that starts with something I might actually expect to happen! But Just a Little Bit Pregnant then builds into a lovely romance of two lonely, wounded people and the steps they take to heal one another, with a risky pregnancy as a pivotal plot point.
Geeky/STEM romance (my recs were all historicals)
My Darling Caroline by Adele Ashworth is a Regency historical where the titular Caroline is a botanist, and quite a good one. Then her father arranges a marriage for her, and neither she nor her new husband Brent trust one another to start. How they manage to merge their mutual needs into a compatible marriage is the heart of this book. But it’s certain scenes that stand out for me: Caroline’s shock (and initial complete lack of belief) when Brent is willing to use her savant math skills to help with the estate; Brent’s defense of Caroline and her abilities to her family (who have never encouraged her interests). It’s a great older (1998) example of a historical STEM heroine.
Folks, all I need to tell you about Tessa Dare’s When a Scot Ties the Knotis this: the Regency-era heroine is studying the mating habits of lobsters. If that doesn’t get you to read this enchanting geek-heroine historical romance, I don’t know what will.
The glory of The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan is how it deals with appearances and reality. This is another Regency historical with a STEM heroine, but Violet has completely hidden her talent, using her oldest friend Sebastian as her “front” to the world. He pretends to be the scientific expert; she does all the work and gets to share it publicly through Sebastian (because a mere woman cannot speak about scientific discoveries). The Countess Conspiracy shows Violet and Sebastian’s achievements and struggles, and how love builds their confidence to share their truths with one another and the world.
Seasoned Romance (older protagonists)
Noelle Adams has written several books featuring older protagonists. In Christmas at Eden Manor, she has a May/December leading couple. That he’s significantly older than her is tackled head-on, and Adams matter-of-factly presents the differences in their sex life from a younger couple. And in Late Fall, Ellie and Dave are in their 70s. Work rivals in their professional days, they reconnect (and not joyously) when they both move into an assisted living center. Late Fall touches on all the aches and pains and hopes and satisfactions of being elderly–and weaves into that a pretty magical love story.
Mary Balogh is an author who’s comfortable writing older leading couples. In A Counterfeit Betrothal, Marc and Olivia are married yet have been estranged for 15 years. At 40 and 36, it seems their separation will continue for a long time. That is, until their daughter decides to fake a betrothal with a dear friend to motivate them to contact one another. Balogh contrasts the impetuosity and vivacity of the young couple with the bitterness and poignancy of an older couple moving from hate back to love. And in Only Beloved, George, the Duke of Stanbrook, is a widower nearing 50 who finds a second chance at love with Dora, the sister of one of his friend’s wives who is herself almost 40. Balogh loves topics like lost chances, overcoming missed opportunities, and finding love at any age.
The full list and links to all the #RomBkLove 2018 posts is here.