The count this month is 12 full-length novels and one children’s book. That’s not bad, I suppose, with the semester in full swing. One of those was a re-read.
Historical Romance (This month there were some truly fabulous books in this sub-genre.)
A Season of Seduction by Jennifer Haymore. I have posted some thoughts about this book already here. It is a lovely story, bringing threads from the previous two books to a happy ending and giving Rebecca the chance to choose her own future after the disaster of her marriage. This couple has a lot to work through; I wasn’t sure I could forgive Jack for what he did, but the author made it work for me. At one point I wondered what amount of groveling would be enough, and I even wondered, “what’s the step beyond groveling?” This book provided an answer to that question. WIN.
Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan. I expected to like this book; Courtney is a smart, funny lady who pays attention to detail and writes really well. I was interested to see how she redeemed Ned, the hero, who in her earlier book was the cause of a lot of trouble for other people. But I was really amazed by how unusual, brave and compelling his story is. Ned suffers from depression, what we’d call today clinical depression, and he challenges himself to live well in spite of that, to conquer the darkness that makes him want to hide, give up, or even die. Ned’s wife, Kathleen, was a weak young woman when they married, a social necessity due to being caught in a compromising situation. But while Ned is away challenging himself in China for the first years of their marriage, Kathleen keeps busy running their estate and trying to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Specifically, she rescues women from situations of domestic abuse. Neither of these characters knows what to expect of the other when they are reunited, and there were times in the book when I really wondered whether they could surmount the obstacles in their path. I feared a magic wand or deus ex machina ending; instead, the “happy ever after” was brilliantly executed and wonderfully satisfying. These characters are dealing, in a historical setting, with issues that still perplex and challenge us today; there’s a fine line an author has to walk to make that work for me, and this is a fine example of how good it is when that happens. WIN.
The Dangerous Viscount by Miranda Neville. I’ve written a separate post about this book, which was just released this week, because I think it was overlooked by a lot of readers. That’s a shame, because it is Ms Neville’s finest work to date, in my opinion, and a really terrific reading experience. Details of my reaction here. WIN.
Confessions of a Little Black Gown by Elizabeth Boyle. This was my first book by this author; I met her at RomCon, and she is delightful, fun and funny. I was not surprised to find that her book was also on the light and funny side, although concerned with life and death, cloak and dagger events. At times I felt that I was missing something by not having read the previous books, but that didn’t keep me from following the story or enjoying it. This isn’t a book that challenged me, or that challenges the genre, but it was engaging and fun to read. WIN.
Paranormal Romance (Every new book I read in this category was by the same author; I glommed her books for about ten days solid. There was also an excellent re-read.)
Demon Moon, Demon Bound and Demon Forged, by Meljean Brook. I read one book in this series in July; I acquired it at RomCon and was sending it to a friend. I enjoyed it and wanted to read more by this author, especially since I was waiting oh so anxiously for more of her steampunk world. I’m now fully hooked on the Guardian series. WIN. WIN. WIN.
Warrior by Zoe Archer. This was a re-read; I first read this book back in June in ARC form. The published version has some small improvements, but it’s still the same great story. I wrote in detail about it when it was officially released earlier this month. WIN.
Fantasy (I read three books from the sci-fi fantasy shelves this month. Two were eagerly awaited sequels.)
Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey. Carey is a brilliant, talented author; this is the second book of her third trilogy set in this fictional world. As always, the characters are compelling and complex, the world building is rich and the story is engrossing. I quickly run out of adjectives when I talk about this author’s work; she holds her own with the very best in the field of epic fantasy. WIN.
Blameless by Gail Carriger. I adore these books; the mix of adventure, romance and humor is really refreshing and different, as well as just plain entertaining. Without spoilers, I can only say that I was glad the book provided the necessary (to me) resolution of the dilemma left from the last book, while still providing possible directions for future books to take. Also, it was a ripping good read. WIN.
The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker. Kage has been one of my favorite authors since 1997, the year her novel The Garden of Iden, first of her fabulous Company series, was published. She was also a fabulous person, and her death from cancer (last winter, shortly before my father’s) was a huge blow to me and to many others. I was delighted to find this charming fantasy for middle grade readers in my local bookstore; it was published in 2009, but I had never seen it. Like all good children’s fantasy, it uses relatively simple language to explore complex (im)possibilities. WIN.
Steampunk Romance (I am giving this book its own category, because it deserves it. I have no idea where they plan to shelve it when it is released next week.)
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook. Although there are some steampunk elements in other books on this list, this book really IS steampunk. And romance, beautifully balanced. I raved in July about the novella that kicked off this series, and this book lived up to my expectations, which is saying a LOT. It’s dark and edgy in many ways, and the world-building is amazing. Plus the sex is smokin’ hot, the characters are multi-faceted, unique and interesting, and the plot takes amazing twists and turns that are always well crafted. I am eager for more. WIN
Contemporary Romance (Only one. I’m just not finding ones that interest me.)
Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. I bought this book to reward myself for waiting for this author’s newest book to be available in paper or through my library, and it was a fun read. As with some of Crusie’s other books, it pushes/stretches the bounds of plausibility in some places, but for a good cause. It’s funny, utterly romantic, and of course well written. I am glad I have spaced out my reading of her solo romances; there aren’t enough other authors writing contemporary this well. WIN.