Tag Archives: Julia’s Reading Post

Julia’s Reading Post (4)

You guys! Julia is baaaaaack!

There is nothing so wonderful as being in love and nothing so miserable as being in love with the wrong person. The three novellas here are all stories of unrequited love, or at least love that is assumed to be unrequited. Even knowing she’s going to get her heart broken, heroines can’t help but love these men. Even knowing they can’t have the girl, heroes can’t help but yearn. We read romance to see longing turned to satisfaction.

I met Erin Knightley, a friend of a twitter friend, at the RWA conference in Atlanta. We were chatting while I was waiting to say hi to someone at a signing.  She was so completely charming to chat with that when her novella Ruined by a Rake was available for free (it’s no longer free but it’s under a dollar!) and I was looking for a short read, so I snapped it up and started reading. I read the novella that day and started the next book in the series the next morning. Eleanor, having grown up alongside Nicholas, finds him endlessly annoying. For his part, Nicolas finds her endlessly fascinating and he spends all his time teasing her and taunting her, which might annoy her but at least ensures that the beauty doesn’t ignore him. Our hero is just home from the Army and he’s matured enough to catch Eleanor’s eye even if she is unwilling to admit it. While it’s true the “Sealed with a Kiss” books are chaste, there is no shortage of sexual awareness and tension. These books reminded me of all the things I loved about historicals when I first started reading the genre. They are light and flirty and fun. The story all takes place during a house party so it’s a quick paced read. The characters dragged me along through their adventures, eager to know what was coming next.

*On the other end of the spectrum is a short, erotic novella by Edie Harris. A friend lent this to me after I’d spent (okay, exceeded) my book budget for the month and I’m so grateful that she did. This story has all the pieces you’d expect of a historical but manages to surprise at every turn. The heroine Claudia is a shy wallflower desperate to marry to escape her heartless relatives but she isn’t timid. In fact she is almost recklessly brave as she pursues the promiscuous nobleman she hopes to wed. Only it isn’t the hero she thinks herself in love with. As sexually experienced as Gaspard is, he has had no romantic relationship so their affair is an awakening for him as well. As hard as he fights, he can’t help but falling for Claudia. There is even a circle of spies, but it isn’t the enemies who pose the greatest risk. It’s also the opposite of Knightley’s book in most every way. Erotic, angsty and emotional, still not without humor. I read this one straight through too and I’m going to end up buying it so I can read again Gaspard’s and Claudia’s slow, desperate slide into love.

Tempting Fate by Amber Lin is a totally different book. Lin gave me an early copy of this book (which is now on sale) after I was expressing my love for ballerina heroines on Twitter. This one is a contemporary about a ballet dancer who is struggling with the wear on her aging body. This part of the book rang so true with me. I’ve known a few aging ballerinas and it’s hard to watch them fight through pain and injury to get one more performance out of their uncooperative body. As hard as they fight, it simply isn’t as good anymore. All of this meant I started out this book with a huge love for the heroine and then? Rose has a thing for her older brother’s best friend. This is probably my favorite trope ever. Rose is a complex character, both hesitant to finally strike out on her own and determined to follow through on her plans, despite her fears and her brother’s smothering. She brings those same qualities to her pursuit of Drew. They’ve had years of silent, hungry stares while Rose battered her body and worked to overcome her past. The book begins when things are at a breaking point for Rose – both physically and emotionally. I love so much that the huge changes in her life are things she chooses for herself as she sets out to make a new life out of the ashes of the old one.

I’m not 100% sure that’s the title, but I figured I’m right. 😉

What Have You Been Reading? (Here’s Julia’s Answer)

Can you believe it’s been a few months? Here’s what Julia has been reading, as it says. Hooray for her organization because I don’t know if I could do this. 😀 I’m curious to see what books you all have been devouring!

I’ve continued my somewhat eclectic reading journey the last few months without really planning to. I just pick up whatever seems to suit my mood. Which apparently swings like Tarzan on a vine.

I’ve had a renewed taste for paranormal and urban fantasy. Thanks to twitter I found JC Daniels aka Shiloh Walker. I loved her new book Blade Song (P.S. It’s only $2.99 on kindle right now!), a fast-paced book with a heroine Kit, who will not give up, even when things seem their bleakest, which is my favorite kind of character. I liked Daniels’ take on the were/vamp world, especially since the story is set in my backyard of Winter (Wolf) Haven FL. Ha! The second book in the series is newly released Night Blade is the continuation of Kit’s story.

Blood Smoke and Mirrors by Robyn Bachar is a very different story both in terms of the supernatural world and the atmosphere of the story. Cat (This name occurs way more often in Romancelandia than the real world. I’m not discouraging its use. Sorry. Not sorry.) is confronted with her long-lost no-good dad and the ex who betrayed her. In this magical world, Cat wins her battles as much for being a good person as she does for being clever or powerful. It’s a nice upbeat counterpoint to the serious level of menace from the villains and the epic amount of angst.

How Beauty met the Beast by Jax Garren has a really unique almost steampunk vibe to its world building. Garren brings the heat with another heroine (for me, it’s all about the heroine with PNR/UF) who knows how to get back up when she gets knocked down. I love how this story doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of the ‘beast.’ There is no sugar coating it and the heroine doesn’t magically see the goodness in the hero’s heart. But slowly, bit by bit, Jolie (which is French for pretty) discovers how wonderful Hauk is and as a reader I got to see it all happen on page. I loved that.

In case you think I abandoned my erotic romance reading the last few weeks for swords and sorcery, fear not! I found the naughty wonderfulness of Charlotte Stein. I her latest release Control which was much talked about on twitter. (Which, dude, also just $2.99 for kindle right now!)I loved all its twisty, touching weird characters. What I love about Stein is how she can take characters I have nothing in common with, certainly not our sexual kinks, and yet I love those people so much I want them to have every single one of those things that don’t quite dare want. I absolutely could not turn the last few pages fast enough because I had to know how it was going to end! I was not disappointed.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud is a hoot of a Pride and Prejudice adaptation. (Heads up – this time it’s the print book that is cheaper, a bargain trade paperback at $6.) I read some chat about this online. I’ve no idea why I picked it up and passed on some other adaptations but I’m glad I read it. Darcy is a rock star and Lizzie the guitarist in an up and coming band. At first I read along, having fun picking out where the stories were the same and what had been changed. But before long, I was reading along for the fun of the story itself. Who hasn’t wanted to go along on a tour with a band? This book had all the fun details of the life of a rock god but I still got to sleep in my own bed at night. The story is long and adheres in clever ways to the overall story of Pride and Prejudice. There were some bits at the end that I didn’t love, but by that point I was too invested in Lizzie and Darcy and their band mates to let that detract too much.

What am I planning on reading next? Sequels galore. Several of the above titles have sequels out that I’m dying to read. Lauren Dane’s upcoming Lush (I LOVED Lush) has been much talked about on twitter and I am counting the days – another rock star romance for me! Snowbound by Janice Kay Johnson has been very warmly recommended by a few twitter friends, so that’s got to move up the TBR pile. And last week after finally getting to meet one of my favorite twitter friends Megan Mulry(squee!), I got to hear Ann Patchett (she shook my hand!) talk and got an autographed copy of Bel Canto, so I’m going to reread that. It is NOT a romance. It’s a beautiful, wonderfully written book but not all sunshine and rainbows there, so don’t say I didn’t warn you before that book rips out a little piece of your heart and puts it back in a slightly different place.

Julia Quarterly Reading Post! (2.0)

I can’t believe it’s been four months. And yet is has been. Aish. You guys, welcome Julia Broadbooks! 😀

I’ve always thought I wasn’t much of an erotic romance reader. I mean, I downloaded the sample of The Book That Shall Not Be Named, and didn’t even make it to the end. I wasn’t offended; I was bored. Which is how many of my erotic purchases end up: unfinished because I never really connected with the characters. But in the last couple of months I’ve been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, reading-wise and otherwise. I guess I’m a victim of all the hype too since in the past few months I’ve tried a few much talked about erotic romance/erotica books. Boy, am I glad that I did!

After reading so many glowing comments (in particular from Jane at Dear Author) about Liberating Lacey by Ann Calhoun , I bought it, kind of thinking I wouldn’t finish it. I could not have been more wrong. I loved this book. I finished it a couple of days, and immediately started reading it again. The sex in Calhoun’s book is singe your fingertips hot and plentiful, but she never skimps on the emotion. To me, this read like a category novel – the conflict was all internal as the hero and heroine face their flaws and their fears and fight through them for their HEA. Watching two characters who I love figure out how much they love each other makes for a really satisfying read.

In a totally different vein, I downloaded a free ebook by Cara McKenna (the alter ego of Blaze author Meg Maguire) who I follow on twitter. She’s so fun to chat with that I wanted to give her books a try. Backwoods is a short, erotic, m/m book. It’s also a crazy dirty book. These characters have the high octane angst going on. These aren’t things I gravitate toward in my reading, but this title really worked for me. I was so invested in these characters that I couldn’t put the book down. I was in awe that McKenna could draw me in and make me care so damn much about Shane and Gabriel. I’m not sure this type of book is going to become a huge part of my reading diet, but I’m really glad I read this one and I have another short (Curio) by McKenna waiting for me.

The other books I been reading are mostly series romance. I’ve been pretty fascinated watching Entangled Publishing develop their different lines. I’ve read a couple of handfuls already and I’m curious to see how each line is going to develop its own style. I’d considered them similar enough to Harlequin’s lines, but while reading Wife for Hire by Christine Bell, it occurred to me that the differences between the two publishing houses go deeper than just the covers. Bell’s novel hits all the series requirements: fake marriage, shorter length leading to a more concentrated story, a strong internal conflict the hero and heroine have to work past to have their happy ending. But there were enough differences that it really stood out to me. There’s a bit of a light suspense subplot which was a fun change, but the big thing was the tone and the author’s voice. All through the book, even to resolution at the end, there is a certain playfulness to the book, that was really different and worked well for me here. Perhaps, stuck in my rut, I’m not reading enough new authors at Harlequin?

In my quest to broaden my horizons, I picked up new author Kathy Altman’s July SuperRomance title The Other Soldier. I don’t usually read military themed books, but I’d read a very early first chapter of her book and wanted to see where she was going to go with her story. On leave for a month Reid finds struggling Parker, whom he widowed. How do you work through that? Altman never cuts Reid any slack. Parker isn’t feeling forgiving. In fact she is everything but. She is angry and bitter but desperate to stand on her own. Ever so slowly over the course of the month, the pair has to work through their anger and guilt in order to find happiness together. I especially appreciated the portrayal of Parker’s daughter who feels so real, right down to her inability to catch a ball. There is even a sweet secondary romance that runs parallel. In the coming months SuperRomance will be adding to the word count of the line. With a nearly novel length and such complex story lines, these books really blur the boundary between single title and series.

Freshly purchased on my Kindle app I have The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis (yes, I am that far behind), Shannon Stacey’s latest All He Ever Needed. I have a couple of historicals from Carolyn Jewel’s backlist, Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville and Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean because even though I’m not reading much historical romance at the moment, I can’t quit buying them. I blame the covers.

The other upcoming book I am super excited about is Megan Mulry’s November 1st release A Royal Pain. Because I’m absurdly fortunate, I got my hands on an ARC and I can tell you it is one of my favorite books of the year. Witty and smart with a hero to die for and a heroine I want as a best friend. It will be well worth the wait.

Julia’s Reading Post

Hello Friends! Today we have Julia visiting with us! For those of you who have been around for a while – Julia used to comment with some frequency, if I recall correctly. Anyway, we also “chat” on twitter – and as you know I’ve been trying to find reviewers. I wanted to trick recruit Julia – but she refused. She did, however, agree to do quarterly (?) – it’s 4:01 AM so I’m a bit slap happy and non-high-brain-function-y and too lazy to search the calendar – posts about the books she’s reading! So here she is! The very first one!

What I’ve Been Reading

The first books I can remember being swept away in were fairy tales. I had a hardcover edition of the collected Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I read them all repeatedly, as though through repetition I could pull myself a bit further into their world. From there I found other folk stories and the ancient myths – the Greek and Roman, Norse and Egyptian, Bulfinch’s and Hamilton’s.

And then I found romance. The spun sugar sweetness of Barbara Cartland, Harlequins that I scoffed like M&Ms and the dense, velvety stories of Judith Krantz (And we had to discuss her because they are making a pilot of Scruples.  Squeeeeee!)

From there I was dragged by school and my bibliophile father into the Great Books. Contrary as I was, I surprised myself and fell in love with so many of them. But not Ethan Frome: still hate that.

But eventually I found myself coming back to romance. One of the things I love about romance is the great variety of stories in the genre. Despite that, I read in great chunks. Bundles of vampire books and then an armload of historicals followed by a stack of hot and steamy.

The last few months it has been mostly contemporary romances – and mostly series romance at that.

There was the justly praised All They Need by Sarah Mayberry.  This book is an example of what Harlequin series do well. The book opens with both the hero and heroine involved with someone else. When they meet sometime later, the heroine Mel has been beaten down by the unending censure of her bastard of an ex-husband.  The hero is weighed down by worries of his parent’s illness. They both have been pretty bruised by life, as people are by the time they are well into adulthood. What I loved about this book is the way Mayberry’s characters cautiously step closer to each other while wrestling with their past. None of the pain and sadness is glossed over here, and yet, there was such a thread of optimism winding through their story that I never once doubted that a HEA awaited them. This is why she’s an autobuy author for me.

Barbara Wallace’s The Cinderella Bride has an irresistible cover, but what really sold me on this is the first scene in the book of the heroine doggedly waiting in the cold and rain, determined not to be defeated, or at the very least, not to give up. From that first scene I adored Emma for her gentleness coupled with her steely resolve. Sometimes romances with a boss/secretary theme have a relationship that is so unbalanced that it’s uncomfortable. Despite the difference in their positions, Emma is clearly a match for Gideon and I appreciate the fact that they didn’t ignore their business relationship as the romance blossomed.  I loved the blend of fairy tale Harlequin Romance magic and the realistic feel of the story.

I’ve glommed onto Liz Talley’s backlist and just read her first novel for SuperRomance, Vegas Two-Step. This really is a romance in two steps. The first half shows good girl Nellie letting her hair down in Vegas. She and Jack meet and quickly fall for each other in Vegas. Then Nellie goes back home to her small town. In the second half Jack follows her there determined to win her over. This is the part that really won me over. I adore the stories where the hero and heroine fall hard and fast, but sometimes it’s hard to buy into their happy future together if they’ve only known each other a week. Here I got the best of both worlds – the rush of true love overtaking Jack and Nellie and then the surety of watching their relationship move solidly into a real world happily ever after.

The Getaway Car is a short nonfiction work by Ann Patchett about writing. At least it’s ostensibly about writing. It isn’t anything so unwieldy as craft lessons. Instead it’s a series of lessons on how to carve out a writing life, or really, any authentic and meaningful life. Ms. Patchett tells stories of facing down doubts and wrong turns and if you’re very lucky, finding one or two souls to guide your way. All of this in her wonderful prose that reminded me of the romance and the terror of staring down a blank page.

The top of my TBR pile is Ann Patchett’s State of Wonderthe new Mayberry title More Than One Nightthe last of Shannon Stacey’s series (Yours to Keep), and Lisa Kleypas’ new contemporary Rainshadow Road. But I think I see a turn ahead in my reading road. Thea Harrison’s latest book Oracle Moon, the next Alpha and Omega book by Patricia Briggs (Fair Game), a new title from Darynda Jones (Second Grave On the Left), and I think I might be ready to tackle the fifth book in the Chicagoland Vampires series (Drink Deep) . I’ve been warned it doesn’t end happily. Meep!

Anyone have anything else I should add to my TBR pile? What great book have you read that I shouldn’t miss?