A week in reading: quick hits

My Lord Jack, by Hope Tarr — This Carina Press re-release stood out to me for the concept alone, because the hero is a hangman…and a redhead! Definitely two things I’ve never encountered in a romance novel before. In fact, the whole book proved to be a great departure from the norm. There’s one other major twist about Jack that a romance reader would not expect, and I loved the dynamic that it creates between him and Claudia, who is more worldly but must learn to adjust to life in Scotland. Every time I thought, “Oh, this is going a predictable route,” it didn’t. I don’t have an eBook reader, so I read this sitting at my computer, and the ensuing numb rear end was worth it!

Fair Game, by Josh Lanyon — Another Carina Press release, Fair Game is a great piece of romantic suspense. Sidelined from the FBI by an injury, Elliot is now a college professor. Mysterious deaths on campus put him back in the game…and in close quarters with his ex, Tucker. It’s a mystery novel with a strong thread of romance. I think it’s really awesome that, in Lanyon, we have the male/male romance answer to your Sandra Browns and Linda Howards. But make no mistake, that doesn’t mean that all you have to do is hit find/replace and switch the gender pronouns to make it comparable to Brown or Howard. The difference in dynamic from a heterosexual relationship is clear, but you still get the universal feel-good, romantic stuff.

The Season, by Sarah MacLean — This book was just delightful! It’s a Young Adult Regency-era romance and mystery novel, and, honestly, works just as well as a “grown up” novel with the same elements. It’s such a crisp, charming book that it’s better than a lot of similar romances written for adults. Alex, Vivi and Ella are three best friends who would rather do anything than be paraded around the Marriage Mart during their first season. Luckily, their penchant for mischief, and Alex’s budding romance with childhood friend Gavin, gives them plenty to do! And while any book with three heroines feels like the set-up for a series, I have to admit I could not guess where MacLean might be heading in terms of pairing Vivi and Ella. There was no eye-rolling and, “Pfft, well, clearly this is who Vivi will end up with…” though I did get an inkling of who Ella could be slated for. Either way, I’m invested! I hope to see more of these three girls’ adventures!

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