I feel like I didn’t read enough last month, but I think I always feel like that. So many books, so little time!
My favorite read for September was, hands down, Take the Lead by debut author Alexis Daria. I could not put it down. This electric, sexy, Dancing With the Stars-meets-Alaskan Bush People contemporary is one of the best romances of the year. I can’t wait for the next in the series!
Take the Lead by Alexis Daria (contemporary romance)
Sinful Distraction by London Hale (erotic romance)
Corrupting Chris by Santino Hassell (erotic romance, short story/bonus scene)
Sightlines by Santino Hassell (out 10/9, LGBT paranormal romance)
The Shift of the Tide by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy romance)
My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari (out 1/23/18, women’s fiction)
North to You by Tif Marcelo (contemporary romance)
Mischief by Tiffany Reisz (erotic BDSM romance, novella/short)
Winner Take All by Mary B. Rodgers (contemporary romance)
Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa (contemporary romance)
Not Safe For Work by Charlotte Stein (erotic romance, ménage, novella)
In backlist adventures, I reread North and South by John Jakes after a 15 to 20-year gap, which proved to be an incredibly haunting experience given what’s going on in our country right now. I also read The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale, which featured a thoroughly unlikable heroine — and not in the fun way — and sex on horseback. Gotta love those questionable old-school romances…
A month involving new books by Joanna Bourne, Tessa Dare and Kit Rocha is definitely a good one! I also really enjoyed Santino Hassell’s first football romance for Berkley InterMix and Tracey Livesay’s soapy amnesia love story from Avon Impulse!
Beauty Like the Night by Joanna Bourne (historical romance)
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (historical romance)
Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell (contemporary LGBT romance)
The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson (contemporary romance)
Completely by Ruthie Knox (contemporary romance)
The House by Christina Lauren (young adult horror)
Love Will Always Remember by Tracey Livesay (contemporary romance)
His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras (contemporary romance)
Deacon by Kit Rocha (dystopian erotic romance*)
My backlist adventures were highly problematic this month. Both Sandra Brown’s French Silk and Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor proved to be really hard to get through due to the former’s racism and homophobia and the latter’s fat-shaming. Things that flew as progressive in 1989 are often woefully regressive when you look at them with older and wiser eyes. The books may be “classic” and the authors beloved, but some things just don’t stand the test of time.
*I have the toughest time categorizing these books. They’re not really erotic romance anymore, but Gideon’s Riders is the spin-off of an erotic series…and it’s almost romantic suspense? IDK! Just read them all!
August was packed so full of good books! With everything below, I still managed to fit in a reread of SEP’s Ain’t She Sweet (which is a fave) and a few Sandra Brown backlist titles (which I do not recommend — some stuff just needs to stay in the ’80s-’90s).
Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess made me cry on an airplane. Rachel Caine’s Stillhouse Lake was a thrill ride. I could not put it down and can’t wait to see what happens next. But the book that probably got to me the most was Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi. It’s the teen romance I wish I’d had in my life when I was 16. I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to finally have a funny, sexy, sweet book depicting people from my cultural experience. It resonated so much!
Rogue Desire by Adriana Anders, Emma Barry, AJ Cousins, et al (anthology, various heat levels/romance genres)
Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (thriller)
Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton (young adult/coming-of-age, mystery/thriller)
An Unsuitable Heir by KJ Charles (LGBTQ historical romance)
The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean (historical romance)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (young adult romance)
The Scandal of it All by Sophie Jordan (historical romance)
Fall by Claire Kent (erotic romance, novella)
The Confessions by Tiffany Reisz (erotic BDSM romance, Original Sinners series extras)
The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian (LGBTQ historical romance)
Delicious Complication by Sabrina Sol (contemporary category-length romance)
Delicious Satisfaction by Sabrina Sol (contemporary category-length romance)
Written on His Skin by Simone Stark (erotic romance, novella)
Believe the hype: Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You is one of the most talked-about romances of the summer for good reason! Her Avon debut is excellent. I loved it and can’t wait for the second installment of this steamy duology. I’m also glad I picked up Charlotte Stein’s The Professor, on Sarah MacLean’s recommendation, because it might just be my favorite of her books. Hilarious, awkward, poignant, sexy…no one combines all of those things as expertly Charlotte Stein.
In His Hands by Adriana Anders (out 8/1, contemporary romance)
Blood Guard by Megan Erickson (out 9/12, paranormal romance)
Oversight by Santino Hassell (paranormal LGBT romance)
Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai (out 7/25, contemporary romance)
Love Restored by Carrie Ann Ryan (contemporary romance)
Way Down Deep by Cara McKenna & Charlotte Stein (erotic romance)
Delicious Temptation by Sabrina Sol (contemporary category length romance)
The Professor by Charlotte Stein (erotic romance)
Between Lost and Found by Shelly Stratton (women’s fiction)
Backlist adventures: I devoured Simone St. James’ excellent gothic horror novel The Haunting of Maddy Clare.
I think all I did in May was read. Books are really a balm when things get heavy — and who needs socialization anyway? Besides, reading Santino Hassell’s latest Five Boroughs book was just like being out in NYC for real. He so vividly captures the pulse of the diverse city I call home. As for Pintip Dunn’s breath-taking Girl on the Verge…wow. I saw so much of myself in Thai-American heroine Kanchana. Throw in Karuna Riazi and KJ Charles and I was so awash in representation and voice and just…a feeling of belonging. I think that is SO necessary in uncertain times.
An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles (LGBT historical romance)
The Queen of Dauphine Street by Thea de Salle (erotic romance)
Her Secret Service Agent by Stephanie Doyle (out 7/4, category-length contemporary romance)
Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn (out 6/27, young adult thriller)
A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran (historical romance)
Concourse by Santino Hassell (LGBT contemporary romance)
Enemies With Benefits by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers (romantic suspense/dark romance, prologue novelette)
Baby, Come Back by Molly O’Keefe (contemporary romance/dark romance)
The Debt by Molly O’Keefe (contemporary romance/dark romance, prologue novelette)
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor (sci-fi/fantasy, novella)
The Red by Tiffany Reisz (out 7/11, erotica)
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (middle-grade fantasy)
Beyond Doubt by Kit Rocha (erotic romance, novella)
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay (mystery/horror)
As for backlist adventures, I read Linda Howard’s After the Night — and, hoo boy, it was problematic! Not something I would want to read from a new author and definitely a product of 1995.
Maybe I should call this month’s round-up “Cold Reads,” because, damn, it was kinda chilly in April! This book-loving dispatch comes to you from beneath my ancient duvet…promptly cast off in May because things quickly heated up!
Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders (erotic romance/dark romance)
Prime Minister by Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller (erotic romance)
Full Mountie by Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller (erotic romance)
An Unnatural Vice by K.J. Charles (out 6/6, LGBT historical romance)
Faking It by Christine d’Abo (out 5/8, LGBT contemporary romance)
Hidden Hearts by Olivia Dade (out 6/20, contemporary romance)
The Dukes of Vauxhall by Shana Galen, Christi Caldwell, Theresa Romain & Vanessa Kelly (out 5/9, anthology, historical romance)
The Fireman by Joe Hill (horror)
Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain (out 7/4, historical romance)
Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde (new adult contemporary romance, erotic romance)
I made up for past reading droughts in March. I feel like all I did was hide in books — in GOOD books. I mean, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give is one of the best novels of the year. Hands down. It is a game-changer. And Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near spoke to me so deeply — it’s the kind of book I always wanted from Jhumpa Lahiri; it’s about the Bengali immigrant experience but still joyful. Both of these books made me laugh and cry and run the gamut of emotion by the time I hit the last page.
The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre (paranormal romance)
The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre (paranormal romance)
Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop (urban fantasy)
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (young adult fantasy)
Insight by Santino Hassell (paranormal romance, LGBT romance)
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (science fiction)
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (out 9/12, young adult fiction, women’s fiction)
American Prince by Sierra Simone (erotic romance, BDSM romance)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (young adult, coming-of-age)
The Pawn by Skye Warren (erotic romance/dark romance)
Backlist adventures: Beauty by Robin McKinley. ‘Cause, seriously, who isn’t going to snag a McKinley book and glom it when they get the chance?
I also read Spectacle by Rachel Vincent, which is out 5/30, and I might have to write a separate blog post about why it did not work for me and why it makes the first book in the series, Menagerie, less compelling as a result. I don’t usually talk about my DNFs or disappointments, but this one keeps gnawing at me.