It has been a long time (was it really October?!) and we haven’t really been keeping track so there will be a lot of books missing from this roundup. Let’s see what we can remember and what overdrive and the kindle remember…
I read a ton of Donna Andrews Meg Langslow mysteries (these are the ones with bird puns in the titles). They all have the same plot. The Christmas ones are better than the non-Christmas ones I’ve read. I did find it suspicious that Meg *always* finds the corpse and is *always* confronted by the murderer near the end. Until I read one of the earlier Christmas ones in which her dad (part-time coroner, though given the number of murders this small town has per year it’s less of a part-time job than one might think) gets really excited about a body being found and someone makes the comment about how getting a body to do his coroner stuff on is a great Christmas present for Meg’s dad. Now I’m pretty sure that she’s the mastermind and this is all just an elaborate set of presents for her beloved father. In one of the later Christmas ones, an out-of-town person who is visiting over Christmas brings a bodyguard and when asked about it he notes the extremely high per-capita murder rate in the town and that it would be crazy not to have one! So the author has a sense of humor about it. I think it would be much less noticeable if you read them one per year instead of reading 7 of them in a row. They are so ridiculous, but also readable.
Dashing through the Snow by Debbie Macomber was a disappointing novel with an irritatingly twee heroine. The plot could have been entertaining and interesting even ignoring the hero/heroine except the author never really pulled it through. Basically the heroine has a common name and is mistaken for a terrorist. If the actual terrorist had shown up and been apprehended this would have been a *much* more entertaining novel. Instead it’s just treated as a mcguffin even though there was already another mcguffin, needing to get to Seattle from SF ASAP, that would have been enough to get the two together (although Jackie Lau does a much better job of such stories).
DNF Seduce me by Christmas by Alexandra Ivy. I no longer have any tolerance for heroes who force kisses on heroines, particularly ones they just met, particularly when there’s a power differential. Got to that scene early on and decided it wasn’t worth it. Yes, whatever is going on with the hero and his father is probably interesting, but I no longer care about the hero, so…
A Very Levet Christmas by Alexandra Ivy was a pretty cute novella. I haven’t read the 13 earlier books in the series but that was ok.
I think I’d read How to Manage a Marquess by Sally MacKenzie before but it was forgettable then. It was ok.
I um, can’t remember what I thought about Season for Desire by Theresa Romain even though I’m pretty sure I spent most of my non-childcare time with DH’s extended family reading it. Aha! The comments have a better summary of it than does the plot synopsis. Yes. This one was pretty good! There’s some suspension of disbelief needed and if you’re a stickler about historical accuracy this one isn’t for you, but it was a decent read.
Did not care for Four Thousand Weeks. It seemed to be mostly a lengthy diatribe about why you should get depressed and do less with your life, ending with 10 pieces of kind of trite (but not necessarily bad) advice. I skimmed quite a bit. I don’t know why so many of the people on ana-begins blogroll liked it so much. Did anybody else read it and like it better than I did?
I liked The Unofficial Suitor by Charlotte Louise Dolan. It was different and a bit Gothic. I don’t know that any of the individual characters were particularly likable, but as a whole the ensemble worked, though there were a lot of characters and sometimes I had to remind myself who was who. There are some consent problems, but kind of minor compared to Seduce me by Christmas. I actually went through a lot of Charlotte Louise Dolan books in a row… most of them were better than The Unofficial suitor, but more similar to the standard historical romance. I particularly like Lady Leticia, who is a matchmaking figure across many of the books. Books by Dolan that didn’t have Lady Leticia were not as good. Fallen Angel was the Dolan book that I liked enough to put on my amazon wishlist.
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik was fantastic but… didn’t resolve the last cliff-hanger and ended on another cliff-hanger.
Read some more Jackie Lau. They were good. She’s solid. I suspect one of these days I will own everything she’s written since she’s become a go-to buy for when I’m out of things that I feel like reading.
Guild Boss was one of the weaker Jayne Castle Harmony books, but still a decent read.
His Wicked Charm by Candace Camp was good enough to try another book by the same author. I’m currently reading the prequel (book 7… Her Scandalous Pursuit) and it is excellent so far.
I DNF Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas pretty early on because the meet cute was kind of sketchy and not believable– I genuinely do think that people should be able to prevent themselves from seducing potential business partners that they just met even if they get soaked in water and are stuck alone in an empty building together. Like seriously. If they had known each other very well already and knew they were attracted, that’s potentially believable. If they were complete strangers at an inn and thought they’d never see each other again, also potentially believable. But … ugh…
Reread a bunch of Whyborne and Griffin by Jordan L. Hawk. Still good.
Read more Melanie Cellier books. I think the Ugly Duckling one was the one that was a bit cringingly racist where she gave the villains stereotypically Black US names and not the non-villains, even within the same family. Like, WTF? (It’s not even realistic since these are “fantasy kingdoms” and people in Morocco or the Caribbean or wherever she’s emulating don’t have African-American names! The only reason to do that is to make the White Christian people she’s targeting feel foreshadowed since they associate AA names with scariness which is The Worst.) If not that specific book, then it was another of her books– I stopped reading and regret any money I have given her.
First Comes Like by Alisha Rai was ok. I think I liked the other two books in the series better. There’s not as much getting to know each other before marriage in this one. It had a strong start. They’re both nice people though and the romance was believable, I just wish there were more of it before marriage and a bunch of extraneous sex scenes I mostly skipped (the sex scenes neither fit with the characters nor did they develop their relationship– they felt shoehorned in, and the abrupt marriage felt like it was put in so the author could get to the sex scenes), and then kind of an abrupt resolution. The extended cast was great though.
A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder by Dianne Freeman was again delightful. One fun thing about this one was where they did this thing that usually leads to a Deus Ex Machina clue, but instead of that happening, the person was like, you really expect me to remember what happened X decades ago? Not all clues pan out! (I bought it on sale– if your library doesn’t own it, you may want to wait for the price to drop, as $13 is a lot for a relatively short kindle novel.)
We listened to the first Andrea Vernon book, Andrea Vernon and the Corporation for UltraHuman Protection on Audible on our drive to/from seeing DH’s relatives. It was hilarious and fantastic and a real indictment of our capitalist society. The indictment in the first book is subtle, but apparently it’s quite overt in the second book that we decided not to start because after we finished the first book we didn’t have the hours of driving left to listen to the second. The narrator is brilliant, far better than Zachary Quinto who thankfully sounds less cringey in Murder by Other Means by John Scalzi, which we also listened to, since he got rid of the terrible accent he’d given the female Black Chicago cop in the first book in the series, and having a Chicago mafia person sound like a NYC mafia person isn’t as offensive. (Btw, Murder by Other Means was fine but not as clever in terms of plot as The Dispatcher). We laughed out loud a lot in the car.
So all of that probably would have been more helpful before winter break, but …
I have high hopes for the next one of these as several of my favorite series that should have come out before December will be coming out instead before my birthday. I wouldn’t have had to try so many dumb holiday romances if they’d come out like usual.
What are you reading these days? These past few months?