A visual depiction of a single parent with two kids and two jobs at the end of a school year:
Let’s see, where were we? Ah, yes — books. I’ve…read a lot more than I thought. And nearly all of it was soul-satisfying. It’s not hyperbole to say books can keep us sane.
I’m dumping everything in one stupidly long post so I can clear out my NetGalley Wall of Shame.
Only Beloved and Longing by Mary Balogh
I was a little wary of the last of the Survivors’ Club books because I did not like Ralph and Chloe’s story (so distressingly repetitive, especially on audio, and it added nothing of value to the series), but I knew Balogh would pull out the Big Guns of Angst and Drama for Stanbrook’s Deep Dark Secret. It’s set on a cliff-top in Cornwall, for crying out loud. I loved Dora, but I really wish she had a different name.
Speaking of Big Guns of Angst and Drama…. Longing is chock full of both. This is a stand-alone title, more of a “historical with romantic elements” than a straight rom-dram. Widowed mine worker becomes governess for widowed mine owner’s lonely daughter, with Chartist labor intrigue and unrest keeping them apart. The setting in the depths of an isolated Welsh valley is my favorite character in this story; Balogh’s usually understated brilliance at world-building is front and center here — it’s atmospheric and vivid and tactile and completely enveloping.
Someday I will write up my feelings about Balogh. But it will likely just be the word “effortless” over and over and over.
Only Beloved » | Longing »
- Title: Good Time Bad Boy
- Author: Sonya Clark
- Published: Self-Published, June 2015
- Source: Purchased
- Length: 316 pages
- Tropes: Good Ol’ Boy, Smartass Heroine, Small Town, Music, Dysfunctional Families
- Quick blurb: Country singer on the skids has to make amends for getting hometown barmaid fired.
- Quick review: New-to-romance author needs to write more romance.
- Grade: A-
This month’s TBR Challenge theme is Recommended Reads, and boy howdy, do I choose my friends wisely.
I bought Good Time Bad Boy last year when everyone else (e.g., Sunita and Janine at Dear Author and others) was raving about it. And of course it got buried pretty quickly because I rarely make an effort to keep contemporaries at the top of the queue.
I finished it in one night.
I haven’t read Liz’s review yet, but I’m sure she’s done her typically smart things with it. I’ll just do my usual thing because otherwise we’ll be here until next Tuesday.
The premise is pretty simple – the heroine is a small-town barmaid who puts the smackdown on a handsy drunk customer, who just happens to be the hometown celebrity. He gets his shit together enough to make amends and there’s an HEA and a crap-ton of angsty-yet-fun goodness in between.
I’m currently reading Riveted by Meljean Brook (audio) and The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.
Both are good. Really good. As in this kind of good:
A quick disclaimer: I’m friendly with several authors below on Twitter.
The Art of Sinning and The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries
Jeffries has been an auto-buy for years, and there’s no sign of breakup. I inhaled her entire backlist when I first started reading romance, and the Hellions of Halstead Hall and Duke’s Men series are constant re-reads.
The latest titles are just as good. Sinning has an artist hero and you know I can’t resist those. Seduction has a marriage of convenience between a grumpy hero who makes lists and a secretly-smart social butterfly, and adds in a truly creepy stalker who cooks up some creative blackmail over Deep Dark Secrets, and just put that crack in a bowl and give me a spoon, OK?
I can’t say more without spoilers, but Seduction was especially memorable because of the social butterfly heroine’s Deep Dark Secret, which made the consummation of the marriage…heart-wrenching. I think Jeffries handled that potentially problematic trope really well.
I keep trying to articulate why Jeffries’ books work so well for me. She’s not a particularly flashy or profound or incisive writer. Her books are standard dukes-a-million regency fare that never bust out of the usual tropes – but they’re never wallpapery fluff.
I think it’s the simple fact that I know I can rely on her consistency. That might not sound like a compliment, but I mean it the best way – she’s just a damn good storyteller. Every. Single. Time.
It’s Friday afternoon and I’m bored at the dayjob. Go figure.
Another fun fact: It’s so windy here on the open prairie (well, a barren cornfield north of the airport, but whatever) that the facilities guy put himself on call to HELP US OPEN THE DOORS. True story.
Current read: Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden
Narrated by Stina Nielsen
I’m retitling this Until the Yawn, because I’m clever like that. I’m about halfway in, and the pacing just ….keeps …..slowing …….down. I expect great things from Camden because I’ve unreservedly loved all her previous books; Against the Tide and Into the Whirlwind are both DIKS.
Sadly, Dawn has “meh” all over it, partly because the narrator is noticeably lackluster, but mostly because the main characters are both completely insufferable. He’s a Cranky Crankhole and she’s a Sunny Sunbeam and ALL RIGHT THEY’RE OPPOSITES WE GET IT MOVE ON ALREADY FOR CRIPES SAKE. The heroine is described as “nice” at least 1,486 times.
A bunch of scientists just showed up at the cursed mansion, so I’m hoping there’ll be some ghost action or a dog unearths buried treasure (I like dogs) or Mr. Crankhole breaks his other leg falling off a cliff or something to get this story moving.
HOWEVER. The prequel novella, Toward the Sunrise, was really good. It had GOATS as a primary plot device and I still liked it.
The binge is done. I have no more new Kearsley audiobooks. *sob*
I started my re-reads even before the binge ended. I listened to Winter Sea again first, because I had to prepare myself for the re-read of Firebird.
I love this book. I have I mentioned this before?
Firebird was even better the second time, because I allowed myself to just sink in and wallow in it.
WALLOW. IN. IT.
Wallow: to indulge in an unrestrained way in
something that creates a pleasurable sensation.
My facial expressions while reading this book are even dopier. Except when I’m ugly-crying, and no one needs pics of that.
Also, I really need to go to St. Petersburg.
Here’s the work-in-progress list— The Google doc is always open for more!
Kelly’s Must-See List
Because it’s All About Me. Watch these and report back.
Note: I would have included Casablanca, but that’s just a given on any list.
- Notorious — I’ll just be over here curled up in a ball yelling things at the television.
- Rebecca — Perfect casting of a perfect adaptation of a perfect novel.
- Gaslight — Your skin will crawl until the beta hero saves the day.
Note: All the best suspense movies have one-word titles.