Announcing… ahem… A FULL CARD! Well, almost. I’m still reading For Your Eyes Only.
“Gasp!”: Pia Does Hollywood by Thea Harrison. I thought at first this was going to be as dull as Dragos Goes to Washington, but then — gasp! — the Fairy Zombies appeared! Still wound up without much tension, though. Since I’m bloody well sick of this couple between the sheets, I thought it was cool and funny that at one point in the book they can’t even touch each other. It was bookended by tons of sex, for those who care.
“Overdue”: Mistress for a Night by Diana Hamilton. Reunion in the shadow of a Big Misunderstanding — in other words, a Diana Hamilton story. Was pretty good til the hero decided to deliberately be stupid in order to stretch the story out.
“March”: A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman. I started this thinking it would work nicely for the “bitter” square, but when it came up on a search of “march” on Calibre, while I was actually reading it, I couldn’t resist. (One of the heroes, a transman, is The Marquis de la Marche.) Sweet alternate world fantasy short story.
“Dramatic Ellipses”: Winterbourne by Susan Carroll. Deathbed confessions… the perfect home for dramatic ellipses! And how cool that my tbr challenge book turned out to be my winning bingo square! It would also fit nicely in “bitter” and “overdue.”
“Artificial Appendage”: The Phantom Lover by Elizabeth Mansfield. I love how this one just fell into my lap. Started reading it on a whim, thought it likely wouldn’t fit any of the squares very well… then discovered the hero has a wooden leg! Very entertaining traditional Regency, much more lighthearted than you’d guess from the title. Seems to have brought back my historicals mojo, thank you very much!
“Super Spy”: Lady Be Good by Meredith Duran. Historical mojo continues!
“Stalker”: Pagan Encounter by Charlotte Lamb. From the good old days before restraining orders. Rather an interesting book, because it’s kind of the ur Presents of the “bring the controlling man to his knees” type.
“Sloth”: Hot Blood by Charlotte Lamb. No, seriously. It says so right here:
This was unusual in featuring a heroine who’s a grandmother — and older than me! She had an interesting perspective and I liked her as a character, but the man she’s in love with is such a grumpy pain in the ass that I was rooting for the third side of the love triangle, a charming younger man. The hero does have some good reasons for his inability to commit — not slothfulness — but possessiveness was just not enough to demonstrate love here.
“Love Thy Neighbor”: Burning Bright by Megan Hart et.al. A collection of Hanukkah romances; Hart’s is about two neighbors from very different Jewish backgrounds. The last story is kind of a love letter to Israel, intriguingly different.
“The Alibi”: Cowboy Alibi by Paula Graves. I searched for “alibi” on Overdrive and this title tickled me, though it’s not up there with Pregnesia. Enjoyable romantic suspense about a cop on the run with his former lover, who has amnesia — and whom he suspects of murdering his brother.
“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”: The Professor by Charlotte Stein
“The rain was particularly heavy that evening,” I put, at that tapping gets more insistent. He only looks like he’s not watching what I write, you see. Really he’s studying every word — and he proves it a second later.
“It was a dark and stormy night.”
“What? What do you–?”
“That is what you have written, Miss Hayridge, and quite frankly, I am appalled.”
I love that I live in a world in which I can read both The Professor by Charlotte Bronte and The Professor by Charlotte Stein.
“Whip It”: Crash Into You by Roni Loren. I had all kinds of issues with this, but still found it pretty compulsively readable — except towards the end where I frankly was just tired of all the sex. That seems to be a theme lately.
“Infidelity”: Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb. This would also have fit nicely into “Overdue” since a number of men who were not only serial adulterers but far, far worse, get a long overdue comeuppance. But I wasn’t sure I’d encounter another book with infidelity in it, so stuck it here. No worries fans, none of the regular characters cheat, though we do get some juicy descriptions of what would happen if they did.
“Watt”: The Redemption of Matthew Quinn by Kathleen O’Brien.
“Even the notoriously immune older woman melted a little under the wattage of that smile.”
A former yuppie who wound up in jail becomes a handyman for an impulsive woman in a falling-down mansion. There’s also a town full of lovably eccentric millionaires. Surprisingly likeable. The heroine is a touch manic-pixie-dreamgirlish, but since we get her point of view, it works.
“Skools Out!”: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. Heh, I just got the joke in that square name. Very entertaining YA novel about a group of friends who live in an area swarming with Chosen One “Indie-kids” — while a supernatural crisis happens around them, they’re just trying to get through to graduation, hopefully before the high school blows up again. A really good combination of parody and realism, that turns a lot of cliches on their head. Good treatment of disability too, with some caveats.
“Bendy”: Wallflower by Heidi Belleau. A genderqueer interracial romance and a bingo two-fer! Rob is a self-described “gender-bender” and the book opens with him doing yoga. (He’s also “a bit of a chubby chaser” — be still my heart!) This is a story I’ve been wanting to read for ages, because of the intriguing premise and gorgeous cover, so it was nice that I really enjoyed it. It stresses coming out/coming of age over romance, but certainly ends happily.
“Bitter”: The Innocent’s Sinful Craving by Sara Craven. Oh good grief, that title! Quite an enjoyable book though, with a scheming, extremely bitter heroine who thinks she’s been done out of the house that should have been hers.
“Mad Dogs”: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. I forgot to include them previously, but my husband has been reading this entire series aloud to my son and I. He read me books 2-4 while I was pregnant (I never could get past Dobby on my own) and it apparently affected son in the womb, because this is his third read-aloud and I don’t even know how often he’s read them to himself. I never got past book 4 though, so this will be my first time of the whole series.
A conversation we have at least three times per book:
me or son: “Wait a minute, that plot point makes no sense!”
hub: “Well, in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, it’s explained that…”
So after we finish all of these, we’re going to read that.
“Hot and Sweaty”: More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry. You can pretty much count on hot and sweaty with Mayberry. A low-key, slightly sad story, though all ends happily.
Unintentional pun? “She wanted to believe. She wanted to grab the fairy tale by the throat and hang on for grim life.”
One thing I found implausible: the heroine’s mother died giving birth to her, yet she doesn’t fret about this in the slightest when she becomes pregnant. I can’t believe there’s a woman anywhere who wouldn’t worry just a bit in those circumstances.
“Purple: For Your Eyes Only by Sandra Antonelli. This came up on a search of purple, and not only is it by a fellow bingo player, but the heroine’s name is Willa, so of course I had to read it. Sassy spy story with older characters.
“Old Flame”: Dishonourable Proposal by Jaqueline Baird. Pretty much every problematic element you can imagine in an Harlequin Presents, but I guess that’s what makes it fun.
“Spider”: Winter by Marissa Mayer.
“To her, the system resembled a spiderweb and the capital city of Artemisia was the spider.”
The title character also hallucinates about spiders, because she has been driven crazy through refusing to use her power of psychically manipulating people. I love that Mayer gave Snow White brown skin in this story… as well as an exceptional moral center.
“Beta”: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. This has only the tiniest sliver of romance in it, but the main character is a celebration of all that is best in a beta hero. Even though I have very little interest in court stories and couldn’t follow the names at all, I listened to all 17 hours of it, just for him.
“Broken Record”: Humbug by Joanna Chambers. The hero keeps thinking of the other hero as “stupidly handsome.” Also, it’s kind of a one-note story — which is fine, since it’s short. Nice “Scrooge” retelling; I was surprised when no actual ghosts appeared, because that’s the cliche, but it was well done without them.
“Hatchback Hero”: The Substitute Bride by Kathleen O’Brien. I’m going a little metaphorical here, but the hero not only drives a ratty old pickup, but falls in love with a pregnant heroine. He’ll be driving a hatchback soon enough.
The Bishop’s Daughter by Susan Carroll. Traditional Regency. Proper heroine keeps believing the worst of the hero.
In Name Only by Diana Hamilton. Meh.
Shadow’s End by Thea Harrison.
Liam Takes Manhattan by Thea Harrison. There’s more going on in the blurb than the actual book — in fact, I think there’s even more going on in the title. But it’s a sweet character sketch. And I have now finished the Elder Races series!
Your Wicked Heart by Meredith Duran. OMG, a recent historical I liked! With good sex scenes! *faints*
The Darkest Part of the Forest
by Holly Black. I chose this for my best read (listen) of the month at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Black writes the most amazing girl protagonists.