More books!

I tried to read more of the Ravenels by Lisa Kleypas and was reminded why I stopped reading her last time. Marrying Winterborne was ok, a reasonable library read. Hello Stranger … starts with an attempted rape and then is an eternity of the trope where the seemingly capable of defending herself heroine is told by the hero that she’s not actually capable but is instead deluded which she denies and then he teaches her to fight dirty and then it’s more he doubts her capability and she disagrees, rinse, lather, repeat. I hate this trope. So… basically I just stopped reading before any plot could happen. I read the last chapter and found I didn’t care. So…

I found a list of Beta heroes and got Backstage Pass, which turned out to be erotic fiction, which… not my cuppa, but whatever. The irritating thing (besides the author not really understanding academia) is that the hero was NOT a Beta hero– he refused to be understanding about the importance of her work and whined when it took her away from him and forced her to make sacrifices, never him (though he framed it as he was the one always sacrificing, which… he wasn’t, also that’s irritating controlling Alpha behavior, not can we find a solution together Beta behavior). That is obnoxious and not what I am looking for in an understanding supportive Beta guy. Nope. (Also three-somes with two guys sound *really unpleasant.* And there was some cringey not really understanding consent stuff with the BDSM portions– one of the characters, Jace, sounds like the reason I can’t listen to Moxy Fruvous anymore. So I won’t be reading any more of that series.)

A duke, the lady, and a baby was ok, but I think would have been better if the hero wasn’t such a jerk.  Like, the idea was good, the heroine is pretty cool, the side characters are intriguing (with lots of set-ups for future books in the same series), but the hero himself… not great and especially not great in interactions with the heroine.  He’s much better with people who are not the heroine.  Awful pushy alpha hitting on his nanny, following her with the baby once he finds out she’s not the nanny (this is not a spoiler– it’s in the first chapter) because she doesn’t follow his orders anymore.  Just… could have been a lot better.  I don’t agree with the author about what makes a guy attractive, I guess.

Ten things I hate about the duke by Loretta Chase was much better than the previous book in the series that I DNF.  It wasn’t worth purchasing, but I do not begrudge having read it.

The Devilish Lord Will by Jennifer Ashley was quite good.  I accidentally borrowed it when I meant to just look at it, so it I read it out of order in terms of the series, like WAY out of order, but it was an excellent stand-alone so I think that’s ok.  I’m not usually into to Scottish heroes, but this one was not at all brooding.  Quite jolly, really.  A++ do recommend.  Not sure if I’m going to buy it or not… maybe?  (Oh hey, it’s only $4.99, I think I will just get it.)  I then read a bunch more of these MacKenzies books and have so far liked all of them (but not all of them are library available– I suspect I wouldn’t enjoy the one about Lady Isabella because I tend to dislike the estranged-for-a-stupid-reason spouses trope.  It is so rarely done well (really only done will when it’s for Scarlet Pimpernel reasons!)).  I especially like the 18th century ones about Will (see above) and Alec (haven’t read the one about Mal yet, but I bet it is also good, cw: the villain was also a rapist, but no rape is shown and he does not survive very long after that is found out).  There’s some problematic stuff very early about Roma in the 19th century series, but Ashley seems to learn throughout the novels what not to do with respect to that so it gets better.

Gave up on Strange Neighbors (I think this was another from that list of beta heroes) because it started with an attempted rape right after the heroine mentioned to her new landlord who was hitting on her that she hadn’t been allowed to move out of her dad’s house until she was 25 because her mom was murdered after leaving the house and… could we just not?  I didn’t even finish the first chapter.  UGH.

A Notorious Vow by Joanna Shupe had such a great setup, but didn’t really deliver.  It was almost Grace Burrows-esque in terms of the villains not getting their comeuppance because the heroine was too milquetoast and forgiving.  Like, if she could have become braver and the hero could have helped her grow into a more confident version of herself, this would have been an amazing book.  It had that promise.  But it didn’t go that route.  Sometimes the trope way is the best way.  I mean, sometimes you just want the joy of seeing Trump prosecuted and landing in jail, you know?

DC1 noted that there are a lot of dukes in the titles of the books I read and we talked about how when there isn’t a social safety net the safest person to marry is a duke (assuming he’s not abusive) because it sucks marrying a prince and might even be dangerous if someone decides to depose you, but dukes are the most powerful and safest you can get without actually being in direct line for the throne (some ducal exceptions apply).

The library and amazon both claim I tried reading Fortune Favors the Wicked by Theresa Romain, but I think I must have lost interest right away because although I remember the cover I don’t actually remember reading it(!)

The Deadly Mystery of the Missing Diamonds by T E Kinsey was not at all cozy like the books in the previous series although it started out that way.  It made the fatal mistake of unexpectedly killing off someone that the reader has come to care for, on screen even(!).  Which, not what I am looking for.

Drops of Gold by Sarah M. Eden was too boring to finish.  Also:  Nanny trope, not my favorite.  Pollyanna trope, also not my favorite.

The other two books in Tessa Dare’s Castles ever after series were fine (Say Yes to the Marquess and When a Scot Ties the Knot) but not as good as the first one (Romancing the Duke).  Not perfect, but ok.  I don’t regret having read them though I’m not going to buy them.  Even at $3.99.  I think Harper Collins might be having a sale– I just picked up Romancing the Duke for $2.99.  It may not still be going on when this posts.  :/

A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore was pretty good.  I stayed up late finishing it because it got exciting near the end.  I was astonished to realize I’d also read the first in the series because the heroine from that book is in this book but I had no idea it was the same person(!)

I really wanted to love The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows (lesbian beekeepers, what’s not to like?)… but Olivia Waite has this problem where she creates stupid angst and drama from lack of communication.  It was nonsensical in her last book where the heroines had a ridiculous fight with basically no provocation.  Here it took the form of 9/10 of the book being them not talking about how they were into each other, which made sense when neither of them knew the other was into women, but about halfway through the book the lesbian started giving extremely strong signals to the bisexual including straight out saying she was into women and had done women etc.  And the inner thoughts of the bisexual at that point just made no sense.  Then everything interesting in the book happened in literally the last (or technically the second to last, since the last chapter was just setting up the next book) chapter.   Waite needs an editor who is going to say cut the angst in the middle 5/6 of the book, stretch out this awesome part at the end so it’s not so rushed, and if you’re going to go with drama, them make things actually happen instead of repeating the whole, I like her but she couldn’t possibly like me ad infinitum.  I am glad our local library has started purchasing her so I can continue to test her books as they come out.

A woman entangled by Cecilia Grant was quite good.  Plus it actually did have a beta hero (though one who isn’t a doormat– he does yell at the heroine but she deserves it at the time).  Both the hero and heroine are interesting but not completely likeable, and they both grow up during the story which is nice.  The twin separate storylines about family estrangement, scandals, and choices also work well together.  It is a well put together book.  Not perfect (the ending is a bit rushed and to be honest, I completely skipped over the sex scenes), but definitely worth reading, maybe even buying at 7.99 depending on your price point for books.  I realized near the end that I’d read the first in the series and though it ok, but apparently not good enough to even mention in one of these round-ups (I vaguely remember it being a silly storyline about a recent widow paying a man to get her pregnant so her late husband’s estate doesn’t go to a Bad Man– if the sale is still going on, only $2.99 on kindle right now if you want to give it a shot) and had skipped the second.  I think I will not pick up the second given its lower reviews.  You don’t need to have read the previous books to read this one AT ALL.  In fact, the heroine of the first book was complete unrecognizable.

For some reason I don’t remember, I put “A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem” by Manda Collins on my library holds list.  I’m still #5 on that list.  But I noticed it doesn’t have great reviews, so I investigated it further and it turns out a lot of people *thought* they were getting a new book with a similar title, “A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder” by another author, Dianne Freeman.  That book being the third in a series.  Those books have much higher ratings and the pictures on the cover are DELIGHTFUL– full of the whimsy of Edward Gorey, though not quite in his exact style.  So I picked up the first two books in the series, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder and A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder from the library.  They are fun!!!  They’re kind of expensive so I probably won’t get my own copies, but if they were more in the $5.99 range, I would– the mysteries themselves are fine but kind of rushed, but they’re also fun romance novels set in the late 1890s (no sex), so…

What are you reading, Grumpy Nation?

19 Responses to “More books!”

  1. delagar Says:

    I’m reading a mlm romance/SF novel called Winter’s Orbit which is lots of fun, though angsty in parts. The two male leads are both adorable though.

  2. bethh Says:

    Two nights ago I read Alisha Rai’s The Right Swipe in one sitting – including staying up far past my bedtime to finish it! It’s part of her Modern Love trilogy but I read #2 (Girl Gone Viral) first and am eagerly waiting for the 3rd. Definitely fine to read out of order. I assume I found these through you or Revanche but I don’t remember for sure. I also devoured the trilogy The Brown Sisters by Talia Hibbert (again, out of order!).

    I’m not a one for buying books, is there some kind of patreon or other thing that is a good way to contribute to authors? I know I could check on those specific authors but I’m wondering if there is a thing that authors generally do for fan support outside of published works.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I just finished The Right Swipe! I liked it a lot!! It will be in the next roundup. :)

      I do not know about general ways of donating to authors, but you could donate to your library… or buy books for prisons (they always have romance novels on their lists in my experience) or for classrooms.

  3. FF Says:

    Currently reading: Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

    Recently read:
    Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (fossil-hunting women in 19th century Lyme)
    Who Do You Love?, Mrs. Everything, and Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner (enjoyable chick lit)
    The Lost Shetl by Max Gross (highly recommend this one–premise is that a shtetl in the Polish forest was so completely forgotten as to miss the past 100 years and is rediscovered).
    The House of Trelawney and the Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild (recommend the latter over the forme–an old painting turns up and many people are interested. Includes chapters from the point of view of the painting, among others).
    The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. Second volume of the Book of Dust, ~10 years after the events of His Dark Materials, darker.
    Two books on crosswords: Crossworld by Marc Romano and Thinking Inside the Box by Adrienne Raphael. For aficionados only, I think, but I am one.

  4. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I read Blood Heir (ilona andrews) and enjoyed it. Then a bunch of entirely forgettable fiction off kindle unlimited. I did like Blackwing War (KB Spangler) and the latest from Vernon/Kingfisher (Paladin’s Strength). Also I bought all the Whyborne & Griffin books and it was for sure worth it.

  5. Debbie M Says:

    I’ve re-read several of my own books in my mission to declutter:

    * Frankenstein-ugh, I couldn’t even finish it this time. I mean, his beautiful creation comes to life but turns out to look sickeningly ugly, so the creator runs away and hides. When he creeps back, he is relieved that the monster is gone. We hear no more about the monster for six months and our hero is all “la la la, not my problem.” Until it is. Also, I don’t see how the monster learned as fast as he did.

    * Silas Marner – A tough-ish slog, but I still like it. Get a glimpse into why Regency small town residents don’t deal well with strangers. How a decent person can turn into a gold-loving miser–just like Scrooge McDuck! Little bits of wisdom here and there, like when people do something they regret, they usually can’t help hoping that something will happen to magically make it all work out somehow. There were two really horrible bad guys, though, yikes, and I’m so glad to not be forced to live in such amazing ignorance as our hero.

    “I suppose one reason why we are seldom able to comfort our neighbors with our words is that our good will gets adulterated, in spite of ourselves, before it can pass our lips. We can send black puddings and pettitoes [or, say, pies and casseroles] without giving them a flavour of our egoism; but language is a stream which is almost sure to smack of a mingled soil.” Yeah, people are still doing this.

    * Roald Dahl’s “Over To You” is a set of short stories based on his time as a WWII fighter pilot. If I had read these first, I never would have guessed he would become famous as a children’s author. I would have guessed horror. These stories are well written and have a twist and do not all have happy endings (admittedly, neither do his kids’ books). The brain does very interesting things in troubling times.

    * Several Georgette Heyer novels. I just love some of them, especially “The Corinthian,” “Frederica,” “The Grande Sophy” (though not as much as I used to), “These Old Shades” (I was good! Oh–many times!), and my guilty pleasure, “Venetia” (is our hero a serial rapist before he meets Venetia? He is certainly quite icky to females of the lower classes.). Others, well, I’m putting a post-it note in “Regency Buck” to read just chapter 5 in the future and I can’t remember, but there’s another where I love the first two chapters and that’s it.

    I’m also reading Didius Falco novels (set in the Roman Empire). I think our hero and his love would make a great team except they just will not believe the other person loves them in spite of all the evidence. I’m on book four and it’s still happening! There are 20 books, though, and this series is supposedly famous for having drama without messing with the relationship, so I guess eventually they get it together? Otherwise, it’s a fun way to learn about ancient Rome. I’m most fascinated by the public baths. These were basically saunas and hot tubs attached to gyms, and people would go there to socialize like we go to restaurants, and apparently they clean themselves (or each other?) somehow with scraping instead of soap. And they were affordable for all people.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, with the Grand Sophy you have to ignore the antisemitism (I pretend all those anti-semitic parts just aren’t there) and the fact that she’s decided to marry her first cousin! Also I hate the way Heyer, not just in Venetia, seems to think it’s ok for heroes to accost/molest/grope/etc. lower class women and for them to still be heroes, which no, it’s not… I pretend those parts aren’t in there too. Basically I pretend that all of Heyer was written 200 years ago and not 50 years ago and remember that she’s not getting royalties because she’s dead. But Frederica– that one is still the best!

      I don’t think I need to reread Frankenstein or Silas Mariner… once is enough for me (plus the wikipedia page should I need to remember), though that’s a good quote from Silas Mariner. :)

      • Debbie M Says:

        At least in Venetia, the molester is not a hero at all during his molesting phase. And then there’s character development and he quits doing that! So I can pretend it’s not okay to mess with the lower class.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yes! She has another one where the hero sees the heroine at an inn and is about to accost her until he realizes she’s a “lady”.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Yes, sickening.

  6. kt Says:

    Got a copy of the Manda Collins from a friend and while the conceit initially sounded good I was just annoyed at how dumb everyone is. The murderer is called the “commandments murderer” or something but somehow “no one” has thought to connect the 10 commandments to the commandments-breaking things the victims did or said right before being murdered? And they interview a nice young lady witness and publish her name in the paper? That seems like an a(&hole move, saying “look this young lady saw the murderer you should talk to her here is her name and address”. I couldn’t go on.

    Overall in a bit of a rut. I think Courtney Milan has something new out and so does Talia Hibbert (where my def’n of new may not be very rigorous…?). I’ll check those out. Yeah, the Milan is about the telegraphy business….

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’ve got the new Milan and am saving it as a reward to me once I get some specific work done. The Hibbert is on hold st the library but my hopes aren’t that high because I didn’t like the second (the first was great though) and the personality of the third sister didn’t seem that appealing either, but who knows.

      Ugh—I do not like books where everyone is TSTL.


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