What I Read in August

I’m still making my way through the pile of books I brought home from RomCon in July; there are five of those in this round-up, as well as four ARCs of books being released in upcoming months.  I also read a couple of short pieces, so the count for the month is 14 full-length books, one novella and one short story.

Historical Romance

(More than half of my reading this month was in this category. No surprise there.)

Lessons In French, Midsummer Moon, and Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale. I’m a latecomer to Laura Kinsale’s work, most of which was published during the period when I didn’t read romance. I enjoyed all three of these books. I appreciate the humor in all three, although there’s a lot of angst and plenty of punishing kisses, too. Midsummer Moon was my favorite of the three; I think that has something to do with my passion for inventors, engineers and 19th century science and industry. Livestock? Not so much my thing. And of course there’s the hedgehog!  WIN

A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl. This author’s historical romances get better and better for me.  I loved watching Marissa figure out sex, and love, and the connection between them. I know that some people were put off by Marissa’s interest in sex  and her appreciation of things like foreplay and the male form, but I thought she was a terrific character.  Of course there are women who ogle men’s bodies (I follow several on Twitter, in fact), and I don’t think that suddenly began at a particular point in history. I’ve never believed that the double standard applied to men’s versus women’s sexuality just went unquestioned all through history, and it’s great to read a character questioning and challenging  it, even as she has to acknowledge that this is how things are.  Jude was a great hero, too, seeing the positive side of loving a woman with a wicked streak.  As always, Dahl’s secondary characters are interesting and fun; I found myself hoping they WERE sequel-bait. WIN

To Kiss a Count by Amanda McCabe. This is the last book in a trilogy; I didn’t have trouble following the plot, but I found myself wishing I had read the other books first just to get full enjoyment of the connections between them.  I think I will read them once I’ve had more time to forget the details of the recaps in this book. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I liked it a lot. There was some adventure, but it was all plausible and didn’t overwhelm the romance at all. I do love watching a hero and heroine work together, rather than against each other, as a change of pace.  WIN

Marry Me by Jo Goodman. This was an ARC of a book that is being released in December. I feel privileged to have read it early, and I will be talking about it in a lot more detail closer to its release date. All I have to say now is, WIN

Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin.  I have been waiting eagerly for this book, so I jumped at the chance to get an e-ARC from NetGalley.  My Goodreads response is cross-posted over at Dear Author. This book is available now as an e-book, and the print version will be released in October. WIN

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James. I almost hate to call this historical romance, because the way James has played fast and loose with history is one of the things I enjoyed most about this book. This is the Cinderella story, and James has deliberately created a fairy tale setting, not a specific historical one. It’s just “once upon a time” — sometime in the past, like a Disney princess story. And I mean that in a very positive way! There are modern ideas, references to popular culture, and a definite feeling of familiarity in the midst of the “long ago/far away”that are similar to other retellings of this tale: Walt Disney, Rogers & Hammerstein, even Stephen Sondheim. It’s cute, funny, and very romantic. WIN

“Moonlight” by Carolyn Jewel.  This short story appears in the Mammoth Book of Regency Romance, and it is available to read for free from the author’s web site. You can download a PDF for free or read it on the site — even if you choose the download, be sure to take time to appreciate the artwork with the web version. It’s beautiful, and very evocative of the feel of the story, which is friends-to-lovers with a lot of sex. Two of my favorite things. WIN

Paranormal Romance

(It’s freaky that PNR is my number two category. Yes, my reading habits have changed!)

Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh. I met Nalini at RomCon — she’s a bundle of energy and a really delightful person.  She was on my list of authors to try, and I decided to start with this book because it’s the first in her newer series.  Fabulous world building, interesting characters, and insightful commentary on the human condition. Isn’t that why one reads paranormals? WIN

My Immortal Assassin by Carolyn Jewel.  This is an ARC of a book that will be released in January. I was glad to read it early, because it has been too long between books in this series.  There are a lot of paranormal romances that feature a big, powerful, more-than-human hero and a more human, in-need-of-protecting, still-figuring-out-her-power heroine, and not every author can make that work for me. Power balance in relationships is a big issue for me as a reader.  Carolyn is among the handful of authors I trust in this regard, and this book is worth waiting for. WIN

Stranger by Zoe Archer. This is the fourth book in The Blades of the Rose series; it will be released in December, and it completes the primary story arc from the three previous books. Much as I hated to see it end, I thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion.  My favorite hero of the series is in this book (I am SUCH a sucker for a scientist/inventor hero), and we get return appearances (completely plausible, not contrived) from the couples in the previous books, too. WIN

“Alpha and Omega” by Patricia Briggs.  Yes, I finally got around to reading this acclaimed novella, because I found out it was available in digital format at a great price. Then, of course, I wondered why I had waited so long.  This was a truly moving romance, so I’m obviously going to have to read more Briggs at some point. WIN

Contemporary Romance

(I read only one author in this genre last month. Is that a slump? Must contemplate.)

The Next Best Thing and All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins. The first Higgins I read was a RomCon acquisition; I didn’t love it.  I’m glad that the second one was a Smart Bitches summer book club selection, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have read it, and I liked it much better.  Higgins writes in first person POV from the heroine’s perspective, and in many ways some of her books are more chick lit/women’s fiction than romance. (There’s a good discussion of this at Jessica’s blog.) Her books have a lot of comedy (love the blind date encounters!) and funny/awkward/bizarre details and situations.  The pieces didn’t quite come together for me in The Next Best Thing, PASS, but they did in All I Ever Wanted. WIN

Fantasy

(For years this was my go-to genre. I still love it, but there’s very little in the way of unread backlist for me to read betweeen can’t-wait releases.)

Clementine by Cherie Priest.  I somehow missed the release of this sequel to Bonecrusher, or I would have read it sooner. Steampunk done well.  *happy sigh* This book features minor characters from the first one, along with a terrific new heroine, and the world building is just fabulous. Alternate history is a passion of mine, and done well (as it is here), it may be my very favorite kind of reading. I’m excited that there’s another Clockwork Century book coming out at the end of the month! WIN

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vi
    Sep 05, 2010 @ 15:46:11

    You did read a lot of wonderful books. Singh is so amazing! You should also try to read her Psy/ Changeling series. Her 9th full length book in the series will be released in Nov. Usually at this point in the series, I become bored. Not so much this series.

    I cannot wait to read Butterfly Swords and Marry Me. Never Love a Lawman was one of my most favorite reads last year.

    Regarding Zoe Archer’s books, I’m so jealous you read Stranger. Catullus Graves is so intriguing to me. Have you already read the other 3 books in the series?

    Reply

  2. sonomalass
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 09:17:56

    Vi,

    Thanks for stopping by! It’s good to find other readers who are excited about the same books I loved. I have read all four of Zoe Archer’s The Blades of the Rose series; I think they get better and better. Stranger really paid off for me. Catullus’ story is worth waiting for. I’m re-reading Warrior now, for an official release day post.

    I don’t know if you read the Dear Author blog (www.dearauthor.com), but I think Jane is planning a giveaway of some advance copies of Marry Me about a month before it is released. I’ll post about it too, when it happens. I’m a huge fan of Goodman’s recent work. This book is set in Reidsville, CO, with the characters from Never Love a Lawman.

    Reply

  3. Katrina
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:38:47

    What an awesome summer of reading! I’m so jealous.

    I’ve also come to Laura Kinsale late, but it’s wonderful because I get don’t have to wait a year for another to come out. I read Seize the Fire this summer and I’m pretty sure it’s my all-time favorite romance. Pretty sure. But always willing to keep searching, just in case.

    I loved All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins (I reviewed it for The Season). Usually the first-person thing annoys me, but she does it really well.

    Have you read Libertine’s Kiss by Judith James? I got to read it a few months ago so I could review it, and it’s amazing. It looks like you and I have similar taste in books, so I think I’m safe in recommending it to you.

    Hope September is just as full of quality romance!

    Katrina
    http://www.twitter.com/romancinkatrina

    Reply

    • sonomalass
      Sep 07, 2010 @ 19:12:15

      Katrina, I haven’t read Judith James, although I’ve had her books recommended before. I will definitely put it on my list.

      September is looking like a great month for books, too.

      Reply

  4. Trackback: Wot I Read in January « Sonomalass's Blog

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