A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

January 2020 Reading Part 2

on February 1, 2020

Recurring themes in my reading:

Artist heroines who are people pleasers because they hate conflict.

Unexpected artwork of fairies.


The Wolf and the Girl by Aster Glenn Gray

Like Briarly, this is a short fairy tale rewrite in a historical setting, this time pre-Revolution Russian. It’s wonderfully atmospheric, rich with folklore and period detail, as well as brave and kind characters. Romance is only hinted at. This could be enjoyed by children who like fairy tales. (The real thing, which is sometimes horrific and scary.)

Need You Now by Molly O’Keefe (The Debt #4)

I read this largely for completionism, since I have a hard time with dark stories right now. (I suspect that the author or romance readers in general or perhaps both feel the same, because her upcoming books are going in a very different direction and the next book in the series is no longer available for preorder.) Once past the horrific past stuff in the heroine’s hellhole of a foster home, it wasn’t so bad. There’s some hate sex, which I still enjoy, and neither hero nor heroine is a bad person, just dealing with a lot of ugly complications and emotions. She’s painfully strong, he’s disarmingly loyal, and it’s very sweet by the end. Stands alone okay but will seem a bit deus ex machina if you haven’t read the previous books. CW for white supremacist villains.

What Lies Beneath by Anne Stuart, Joanna Wayne and Caroline Burnes

It would’ve been fine with me if this anthology out-of-print anthology had stayed buried. The Stuart story is a good version of her usual mix, except for a grossly stereotypical depiction of a disabled person. The Wayne story is typical damsel in distress romantic suspense. The Burnes, about treasure hunting and sharks, is meh, ridiculous, and anti-climactic.

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Still a page-turner, and eerily prescient. It seems very sad though, that Well’s efforts to show the terrifying impact of colonization were apparently so futile.

Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Wow, I love “Shop Around the Corner” stories so much, they even work in a frat house. (Though I also read The Renegades this month, a reverse shop around the corner — and how’s that for a sexual position? — and thought it pretty meh.) Surprisingly sweet m/m romance involving a very privileged biology student and his wrong-side-of-the-tracks frat brother, whose terrible family have left him closed off and suspicious of love. Less graphic than their other stories.

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

This is written in first person, present tense — do not let that stop you from reading it! It’s a slow-burn romance with fantastic arcs for both heroine and hero and also has a great…. not meet cute. Meet significant? She’s a hand lettering artist with an unfortunate compulsion to sneak her private feelings into her work; he’s a very proper math genius who’s the first person to notice. Both are stuck and stifled in their lives, her because her parents forced her to be a peacemaker, and him because his highly intelligent weirdness as a kid made him extremely self-conscious. (You could definitely read him as autistic and masking.) If you love reading about people passionate about their work/hobbies, this is fantastic just for that. And it’s chock full of New York and Brooklyn flavor. Pretty much written for me.

Aishlin & Olivia by Aster Glenn Gray.

I’m very tired, so will just refer you to this excellent review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2847292008?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

(I didn’t love it quite as much as he did, but he’s right on the money about pretty much everything.)

One response to “January 2020 Reading Part 2

  1. KeiraSoleore says:

    I read The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells when I was too young the first time and couldn’t appreciate it. I’ve read it a couple more times over the years, and I have grown to appreciate it more with each re-read.

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