New adult was arguably the big, hot genre of 2013 for commercial fiction. Covering characters between the ages 18 and 25, and plucked from the self-publishing realm, the stories bridge the gap between YA and contemporary romance. The problem for me, as a reader? It’s a really narrow bridge.
Here’s the basic set-up: upwardly mobile young white woman with little to no sexual experience goes to college. Her financial concerns are nil, giving her the time to concentrate solely on why/how she doesn’t fit in despite being really pretty (btw, redheads are super on-trend). Any angst or conflict comes from a traumatic rape-related secret*. And all she needs to come into her own is a hot, arrogant, experienced white guy who has his own secret pain. Lather, rinse, repeat.
God knows, I loved Tammara Webber’s Easy, but I can’t go on. I can’t read another one, y’all. I’m losing my will to live.
October wasn’t too shabby, my friends. While there were a couple of duds that shall remain nameless, I also picked up quite a few reads that kept me pushing the ‘page forward’ arrow on my Kindle!
How to Love, by Katie Cotugno (young adult/contemporary romance)
A Little Too Far, by Lisa Desrochers (contemporary romance/new adult, e-book)
Once a Rake, by Eileen Dreyer (historical romance)
Hard as it Gets, by Laura Kaye (out 11/26, romantic suspense)
A Weaver Beginning, by Allison Leigh (contemporary romance, Harlequin category romance)
Broken, by CJ Lyons (out 11/5, YA coming-of-age/thriller)
Ketchup Clouds, by Annabel Pitcher (out 11/12, YA/coming-of-age)
Badlands, by Jill Sorenson (out 12/31, romantic suspense)
In terms of older books and backlist titles, I finally got around to Joey W. Hill’s highly-recommended BDSM erotic romance, Natural Law, and I’m still doing a (very, very slow) reread of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour.
P.S. Contrary to the book cover, the hero in Dreyer’s Once a Rake is a big, hulking, redheaded Scotsman. I pictured Kevin McKidd. As you do.
Hi, I’m a hot ginger. How are you?
I started out doing so well, but then the various entanglements of shifting apartments got in the way! Ugh. Life, why must you interrupt my reading?
Here’s what stuck with me in September!
Skies of Gold, by Zoe Archer (steampunk romance, e-book)
Uncommon Passion, by Anne Calhoun (erotic romance)
Iron & Velvet, by Alexis Hall (urban fantasy, LGBT romance)
Stripped, by Edie Harris (contemporary romance, e-novella)
Snow-Kissed, by Laura Florand (contemporary romance, e-novella)
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, by Sarah MacLean (out 11/26, historical romance)
Sleep With the Lights On, by Maggie Shayne (romantic suspense)
In terms of older reads, I zipped through Gingerbread Man, by Maggie Shayne, and Capturing the Silken Thief, by Jeannie Lin (let’s face it, I will read ANYTHING Jeannie Lin writes, and so should you!).
I made up for last month’s lackluster showing and packed in a LOT of new books this month — most of them even before the Ides of August!
I Married the Duke, by Katharine Ashe (historical romance)
High Passion, by Vivian Arend (romantic suspense)
Apple Polisher, by Heidi Belleau (contemporary LGBT romance)
Wallflower, by Heidi Belleau (out 10/21, contemporary LGBT romance)
To the Fifth Power, by Shirin Dubbin (contemporary superhero romance, e-novella)
The Rogue’s Proposal, by Jennifer Haymore (out 11/19, historical romance)
The Sword Dancer, by Jeannie Lin (historical romance)
Driving Her Wild, by Meg Maguire (out 10/22, contemporary romance, Harlequin Blaze)
The Derby Girl, by Tamara Morgan (contemporary romance, e-book)
Risk & Reward, by Alisha Rai (erotic romance, e-novella)
Beyond Pain, by Kit Rocha (erotic romance)
Delectable Desire, by Farrah Rochon (contemporary romance, Harlequin Kimani Romance)
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell (out 9/10, New Adult/contemporary coming of age)
In terms of older reads, I took a crack at Karen Robards’ unusual romantic suspense, The Last Victim and scared myself silly with Sophie Littlefield’s postapocalyptic zombie tales, Aftertime and Rebirth.
I’ve got Zoe Archer’s Skies of Gold in progress for my first read of September. Can’t wait to see what else is out there!
I’m feeling a tad pet-peevish about my reading lately. It seems everywhere I turn, there are a few tropes and archetypes that just keep cropping up over and over — ones that jerk me out of a story instead of feeling organic. Allow me to vent. Wait, this is my own blog. I don’t need your permission! So, without further ado…
1. The virgin or near-virgin heroine who has never known pleasure until the hero and his holy thunderstick come into the picture. Girlfriend, get a vibrator!
2. The manwhore hero who has never spent the whole night actually sleeping with a woman. Because when he hogs the covers and Dutch-ovens you, that’s how you know it’s true love.
3. The heroine who thinks all other women are slutty ho-bags who are too tall/too skinny/too blonde, etc. No. Just no.
4. “I’m recovering from emotional or medical trauma, and instead of seeing a therapist or considering medication, I’m going to visit a sex club and get a Dom! ” BDSM is not a cure-all. Being a submissive will not magically heal your soul, your cancer, your self-esteem or your genital warts. This goes for vanilla folk, too: The Love of a Good Man/Woman/Perpetual Threesome does not heal all wounds. For Pete’s sake (or mine), go see a medical professional or get a life coach and THEN get your sexual groove on.
5. The stripper who is only a stripper to pay for college/a relative’s medical care and, therefore, is allowed to snark on all other strippers as being sluts, whores and generally low-class people. See #3. Slamming other women’s choices is NOT an endearing quality in a heroine. Just because your hoo-ha is magic doesn’t mean it’s any more saintly in a g-string than the next girl’s.
July was a tough month in terms of really socking away a bunch of books, but there were a lot of bright spots nonetheless. Here’s what I would recommend from my stack of completed reads:
Omens, by Kelley Armstrong (out 8/20, paranormal/urban fantasy)
Soul Stripper, by Katana Collins (paranormal erotic romance)
Corroded, by Karina Cooper (out 9/23, steampunk, e-book)
The Chocolate Touch, by Laura Florand (contemporary romance)
Glitterland, by Alexis Hall (out 8/26, contemporary LGBT romance)
My Lady Quicksilver, by Bec McMaster (out 10/1, paranormal/steampunk romance)
Blood Warrior, by Lindsey Piper (paranormal romance)
Bare Knuckle, by Katie Porter (out 10/8, erotic romance, e-book)
In terms of catching up on older releases, I finally tackled the much-lauded Control, by Charlotte Stein — a wickedly funny and filthy, first-person POV, erotic romance. Definitely lived up to all the recs! And it took me forever to read, because I kept reading on the subway and having to stop due to all the blushing. Yes, I can still blush. Who knew?
June’s Hot Reads
May’s Hot Reads
My defection to ABC Family began years ago, with Greek (2007), The Middleman (2008) and Make it or Break It (2009). Now, it’s the channel I turn to first for smart, fun, diverse youth-oriented programming.
If you still think ABC Family is the “Family Channel” of yore, rife with conservative, preachy, Seventh Heaven-esque shows run back-to-back with The 700 Club, you’re missing out on some great TV. The network’s tagline is “a new kind of family,” and it delivers on that promise: putting forth fresh projects and taking risks on stories that might not get traction anywhere else. For instance, weekly sitcom Melissa & Joey is refreshingly adult, Who’s the Boss for a new generation, with fast and flip sexual banter and teens who can more than hold their own. But it’s the dramatic field where ABCF really shines.
PLL’s Fields family
When I was growing up, Beverly Hills, Sunnydale, Capeside and Roswell were very white, heteronormative enclaves. It didn’t matter if their corresponding real-life geography boasted more diversity, the shows were pretty homogenous. If you weren’t fair-skinned and straight, you didn’t really see yourself on teen TV. By and large, if there were characters of color, they’d be wacky sidekicks, the first to die in a murder mystery or part of a brief Afterschool Special arc wherein somebody fell for a person from The Wrong Side of the Tracks. ABC Family changed that. Lincoln Heights, about a black family in LA, ran for four seasons. Greek had a college-age cast, with black characters Calvin and Ashleigh each getting their own love interests. Calvin, black and gay, actually had two — complete with onscreen smooches and implied sex. Got any pearls? Feel free to clutch ‘em. The Middleman featured Natalie Morales as lead character Wendy Watson. The flighty bestie? A blonde. How many times does that happen? Then there’s Pretty Little Liars‘ lesbian teen Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell). Her parents are portrayed by Eric Steinberg and Nia Peeples, and you don’t sit around wondering, “What are the Fieldses?” because you already know: a family trying to support each other while crazy crap happens around them. And ABCF continues to…you know, I don’t want to say “push the envelope.” Because it’s not scandalous. They’re just putting a bigger, better envelope on the table! This summer’s Twisted and The Fosters are prime (pun fully intended!) examples.