A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

June in Book Bingo

on June 30, 2016

june bingo

This was a hard month for me, and I didn’t fill my whole card.

Recurring themes: “Angel” in the title. Horticultural interests. Rereads of favorite books. Being disappointed in books my friends loved. Heroes named variants of “Wolf.” (I should reread Scarlet.) Characters traveling someplace for no narrative reason and then going back. (My latest pet peeve.) Hero or heroine shoveling manure — no shit.

Naked: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh. Really enjoyed the hero of this one, a vampire who is also sorta kinda an animal shifter. Sweet “nature boy” type.

A Child’s Grief: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. Am tempted to put this one under “White Man’s Burden,” but I’ll be nice. Much, much grief in this one.

Favorite line:

“Blue had said that an Aglionby toga party went against everything she stood for. Maura had replied, ‘Private school boys? Using random pieces of fabric as apparel? That seems like exactly what you stand for these days.'”

June: Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas. Heroine wants to wait for a June wedding when she’s out of mourning, hero wants to elope. Guess who wins?

I’m not getting all the love for this one. It was a pleasant enough read, but nothing happened until the second half. The first half was just about arranging pieces on a board to get the characters into bed in a vaguely plausible manner.

Dust: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.

“Right into Gansey’s ear, he whispered, voice tinged in disbelief, ‘I didn’t — I just asked — I just thought –‘

‘Thought what?’ Gansey asked.

Adam released him. His eyes were on the circle around him. ‘I thought that. And it happened.’

The circle was absolutely perfect: dust without, dustless within.”

I was annoyed when I saw that the Raven Boys series was going to have four books instead of three, and reading the third book did not change my mind. The prose is gorgeous, but it’s a filler book. Gansey searches for Glendower. Blue worries about her missing mom. Noah continues to fade away. Adam waits for his abusive father’s court date. Ronan is, as always, pissed off. The introduction of a supervillain (or two) is curiously mundane. A few magical new things do happen but we don’t know why and I didn’t much care.

The book can kind of be summarized by pointing out that Gansey’s old professor friend from England arrives, does literally nothing except provide some vaguely comic relief, and then leaves at the end.

It’s too well written and funny to hate, but I really got tired of so much ado about nothing.

Delusion: Dreaming by Charlotte Lamb. The hero falls in love at first sight with a woman he’s barely glimpsed, not realizing she’s the same person as the nurse he thinks of as cold.

I almost cried with disappointment over this one. It’s classically emotional; the hero is unwittingly cruel to the heroine, never knowing she loves him. It’s like a great old movie. But then the ending pisses all the good stuff away, so there’s no cathartic resolution.

Au Revoir: Never Say No to a Caffarelli by Melanie Milburne. The hero often uses French endearments, and he dumps the heroine on their romantic trip to Paris. Le porc!

This is the second time I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a Harlequin Presents recently. I think perhaps the guidelines have changed, because authors I think of as being kind of  hysterically over the top have calmed down considerably and are using standard elements in a more believable way. Not a great book, but quite a nice read.

Interrupted Intimacy: Archangel’s Shadow by Nalini Singh. Elena and Raphael are cock-blocked by a call from his mom, which didn’t bother me at all, since I get really bored by continuing couple sex.

Mini: Manties in a Twist by J.A. Rock. One hero is quite short, which the other hero adores. Loved this one even more than The Sub’s Club, if possible. So sweet and funny. I especially love that this series is not just about different kinds of kinks and kinsters, but also different kinds of feelings around kink.

Gratitude: The Spy Who Spanked Me by Doreen deSalvo

“A deep groan left his throat as gratitude and release swamped his mind…”

Short Regency (?) story in which a woman accidentally witnesses an assassination and then has to submit to a bound interrogation she finds extremely hot. Romantic erotica. Well written — except for weird mentions of the heroine’s ‘privities’ — but a little scary.

Just the Tip: Wolf’s Hope by Lora Leigh. Betrayed (he thinks) hero teases the heroine something awful.

I’m So Sorry: Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold. One of the oddest apology scenes ever.

beautiful all along: The Italian Boss’s Mistress by Lynne Graham. Some might have put this one under “hero is a mountain,” since the hero is 6’5″, but I know exactly what I mean by that phrase and this guy isn’t it.

Gold Star: False Angel by Edith Layton. A book I’ve read many times, and it never fails to satisfy.

gesticulate: The Sicilian’s Stolen Son by Lynne Graham. It’s pretty much all there in the title.

Another one I didn’t love as much as others I’ve seen. There was a great good twin/evil twin set-up but the story pulled all the emotional punches so there was no real angsty payoff, not even a dark moment.

Broken pedestal: The Plumed Bonnet by Mary Balogh. Reread.

“I tried so very hard to please you, because I thought you were like a god. I might have better spent the time pleasing myself.”

Oh, how fun it is to read something and then find an absolutely perfect square! (And no, I didn’t contribute this one… I don’t think that  far ahead. 😉 ) Stephanie is totally stifling herself trying to become the Perfect Duchess, because she believes that Alistair is the Perfect Gentleman, who saved her life and her virtue. When she discovers the sordid truth, she has to figure out who she wants to be and whether to try and save their marriage. One of Balogh’s most thoughtful, insightful books.


Mary Sue: An Excellent Wife? by Charlotte Lamb. Cute book told entirely from the hero’s point of view. I actually didn’t mind the heroine all that much, after some annoying initial feistiness, but she is a Friend to Children, Animals, and Old People and wound up on one GoodRead friend’s “h-over-haloed-or-mary-sued” shelf.

White Man’s Burden: Regency Valentines by Jo Beverley

“Longevity was creating another problem. Many estates were carrying the burden of long-lived widows, and maybe more than one.”

A rather meh collection of two previously published short stories and some historical Valentine’s trivia; the most interesting part of of it was an article, also previously published, on “The Importance of Money in Regency Society,” with specific reference to Jane Austen.

With pleasure:

For your own good: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. Woof! An intense, intense read. I loved it for the spot-on depictions of New York neighborhood kids, which read EXACTLY like I remember them, only appropriately aged 40 years, and with some added racial aspects. The way they’re still playing kid street games while simultaneously experimenting with sex and drugs… I don’t think I’ve ever seen that weird in-between time shown so well before.

And I loved that what I thought was a derivative plot turned out to be… a starting point for a metaphor is the best way I can put it.

Shipping: Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. Reread.

Although this could go in Hero is a Mountain — admittedly, quite a short one — I could not resist the pun value of “Shipping” for a romance between two starship commanders. Also, Cordelia and Aral is a ship I will go down with, to the point that I refused to read Cryoburn for years. (I caved last month.)

Pride: Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. A reread inspired by this article. This is a contemporary old skool book and I love it to pieces.

If you had to choose one word to sum up Kiss an Angel, “pride” might be it. More about it by me here.

Pretty in Pink: Angel in a Red Dress by Judith Ivory. My June TBR challenge read. I chose this square, not for the book title, but because it opens on the young heroine totally grooving on the awesome dress she’s wearing. She also much admires the dandy hero’s lace.

Hero is a Mountain: Out of Nowhere by Roan Parrish. The author must love gentle giant heroes as much as I do, because she’s two for two. A pretty good redemption for the brother-villain of In The Middle of Somewhere, though I didn’t like it as much. High angst.

100: The Italian’s Mistress by Melanie Milburne. Should have checked the publication date on this one. I’m tempted to put it in “I’m so sorry,” as in “I’m so sorry I stayed up til 3am to finish this” but I’ll go with “100” as in “The hero and heroine argue over the same damn thing at least 100 times.” SUCH an aggravating book! And it’s even more aggravating because of all the lampshades the author tries to hang, pointing out how aggravating her couple is being. The hero is a seething cauldron of ridiculous illogic — he’s supposed to be driven mad with loss and jealousy, I guess, but he just comes off as mad. And then after all that, the heroine doesn’t even let him do the absolutely necessary grovel!

Also Reads:

“Season 9” of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (graphic novel.)

A Common Scandal by Amanda Weaver – DNF.





9 responses to “June in Book Bingo

  1. hilly says:

    Love that you’re a fan of LMB, too. The Heyer peeps were all abuzz about A Civil Campaign, and so I tried her on by reading that book first. Science+Fiction+Romance+woman author+male POV=winning formula! I went back to the beginning and read them all. I barely got through Cryoburn, but then Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (though slight) won me back, so I read Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen after all. LMB’s storytelling is dry but engaging!

    On BtVS: have you read Spike: the Complete Series? I love the artwork, the storyline is good enough to keep turning pages, too, and if there wasn’t a lettering error in my favorite frame, I’d be searching it out to own. Spike: the Complete Series

    BtVS aside, I’m not partial to vampires, ghosts and shifters; however, I just saw that N.Singh has released contemporaries (new ones; I read some of her old ones), so those are future reads for me.

    Thanks for sharing your reads with us.

    P.S. – Have you tried Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series? Mysteries, not romances; set in Australia in 1920s. The audiobooks are wonderfully performed by (the late) Stephanie Daniel; the TV series is marvelous eye-candy (though they make less sense than do the books).

    [I’d recommend the contemporary Corinna Chapman series, too, however, I found them to be rather formulaic with each successive book: the mysteries becoming more obvious and less interesting, the scenes feeling repetitive. Moreover, one story in particular was actually disgusting.]

    • willaful says:

      I haven’t read Spike because the library doesn’t carry it. But perhaps I’ll splurge at the comic book store. Though I think the new morally unambiguous Spike is a bit less fun than the old one. 😉

      I love the Miss Fisher show, but haven’t tried the books… not much of a mystery reader these days, except the old favs. But a good audiobook performer will get me to listen to almost anything…

      • willaful says:

        Having just read _Love Dares You_, I now think the problem is not with the change in Spike’s character, but the fact that we don’t have the fabulous James Marsters to bring him to life.

        Great art in that one. Wonderful expressions. Also makes for me nostalgic for when I used to have Spuffy sex dreams. 😉

  2. lawless says:

    I wonder if HP is being edited differently than it used to be.

    • willaful says:

      I think they’ve made some strong efforts to update, with mixed results. I like the freshness — they had gotten painfully stale in the last decade — but a lot of the newer books are very naval-gazey and claustrophobic in feel.

  3. Another great entry! I have read both the Lambs you have listed and agree with you on both. As for the good/evil twin Lynne Graham – I did love it purely for the genius of the plot setup 😀

  4. Valancy says:

    Maggie Stiefvater is on my auto-buy — but I totally agree – the 3rd one added so very little! I kept HOPING something would happen, but then I’d look at my kindle and go — oh – its 82% – clearly this is all that’s going on…
    I have the final one – but I haven’t read it yet — I am saving it for an EMERGENCY.

  5. Shannon C. says:

    Did I not actually leave a comment? Hmmm.
    I loved In the Middle of Somewhere so much. I’m glad that the second book is, if not just as good, then well worth the read.

    I figured out why I don’t like the Stiefvater books as much as everyone else seems to. It’s because Will Patton, while possibly being a great narrator, is not super great for these books. I have the audio, and I’ll probably enjoy it once I sit down to finish the series, but I’m not excited about some 20 more hours of that guy’s voice in my earbuds.

    • willaful says:

      Oh, absolutely! I listened to the first book, then picked it up in print and was astonished at how much I hadn’t gotten the beauty of the prose from the audiobook.

      I have an idea that the second book had a different narrator but that it wasn’t an improvement… I may be totally off on that though. I’ve read 2-4 in print.

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