A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

So, This Happened



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When You Love It, But…

I’m over at Heroes and Heartbreakers with a post about The General and the Horse-Lord, a Problematic Fav.

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February in Book Bingo


I went out of my way not to win this time — being such a fast reader gives me an unfair advantage, not to mention all the short old category romances — but I discovered it’s fun to use the BINGO card to comment on my reading for the month.

“Gotcha!”: Daughter of Hassan by Penny Jordan. Hero gotchas the heroine but good. Rapey old skool sheikh story, with nothing original to make it worth reading, and several layers of ick.

“It’s All Greek to Me”: Baby of Shame by Julia James. Reader of shame. This is so wangsty, I’m seriously embarrassed by the fact that I reread it for the gut punch several times a year. Greek hero, of course.

“Or so s/he thought”: The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones.  Since the narrator has amnesia, there’s lots of mystery and secrets.

I admired how the author set this up, plotwise. Like the “In Death” series, the overall suspenseful awfulness is mitigated by the coziness of the repeated characters and jokes, and she managed to make that happen despite this situation she left Charley Davidson in in the previous book. At one point, I thought she’s overdone it (the new ghost in the new corner.) and even that turned out to work narratively in the end.

But as in the last several books, the pacing really irritated me. For example, at one point Janey (Charley) discovers a neighborhood man is probably in serious danger and she just futzes around pondering about it for days, if not weeks, while a whole bunch of other weird shit is also going on. I’m also finding Charley tiresome as a character. There is a gorgeous moment of sacrifice and and of course some huge ending tension so I’ll probably keep reading, like the sucker I am, but I may switch to print for the next one so I can skim.

“Marriage of Convenience”: Hostage by Madeleine Ker. Hero blackmails the heroine into marriage — but why? Seriously, why? I was confused all the way through.

“Dog Howling”: Midnight’s Kiss by Thea Harrison. Because it’s full of wolflike feral vampires. Good suspense, good reunion passion (even after 20 years, which isn’t as painful as usual since they’re immortal characters.) Really dumb plot point though — seemed like a weird leftover from the author’s previous category romance career — and I just never cared all that much about the characters.

“Family Disunion”: Artistic License by Elle Pierson. To give you an idea of the hero’s family, his best friend calls his parents “Darth and Cruella.” This is by the same author as Act Like It, and though it had some plotting issues and the humor isn’t as polished,  I just loved the characters. The heroine is a shy, introverted artist, possibly on the Autism spectrum (though it’s never mentioned,) definitely “highly sensitive.” The hero is physically tough but emotionally insecure. They have a lot to navigate. Very sweet, endearing relationship.

“Lust”: The Morning After by Michelle Reid. One of the more sensual Harlequin Presents, and pretty romantic, too.

“Love to Hate You”: Kinked by Thea Harrision. This is one of the squares I contributed. I usually use it to mean an epic rollercoaster sort of romance, where the hero and heroine keep going back and forth about their feelings for each other, but it fit this fierce enemies to lovers story too well not to use.  Great power dynamics in the relationship between two alphas.

“Bounty Hunter”: The Seduction of Samantha Kincaide by Maggie Osborne. Female bounty hunter, no less! This was synchronicity… I’ve waited for ages to listen to this audiobook, and just happened to finally do it in February.

“A Flower Amongst Flowers”: Night’s Honor by Thea Harrison. I wasn’t really sure what this square meant, but I used it to signify that the hero thinks of the heroine as special and wonderful while I thought she was a royal pain in the ass. Lovely, gentlemanly vampire hero though, and I wound up liking this one quite a bit anyway.

“Reading Flagellation”: A DNF — but I did struggle through half!

“Green”: Desire Never Changes by Penny Jordan. Many mentions of the hero’s green eyes. An odd title, since the heroine is engaged to, and very attracted to, another man at the book’s opening. And oh my, what a bundle of confused 18 year old hormones she is, too. The hero is one of Penny Jordan’s classics, who goes from Madonna to Whore in under 60 seconds. Twice! A lot of fun.

“Lemon and Lime: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. Yellow and green cover was the best I could do for this square.  A long, leisurely fantasy with a romance so slow-burning it’s barely a simmer. Ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

“Book Boyfriend”: Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost. I don’t generally use the term book boyfriend for myself, so my interpretation here is that it’s a hero who’s only allowable because he’s in a book. (Which would actually explain a lot of the otherwise inexplicable “book boyfriends” I’ve seen…) Decent paranormal adventure, on the grisly side.

“Free to Be a Family”: Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins. Another square contributed by me — it signifies family bonds other than those of blood. Some more cool history in the follow up to Through the Storm, though not as intense a read.

“Gazillionaire”: A Ruthless Proposition by Natasha Anders. Would also have fit well in “Love to hate you.” Interesting because the characters really have negative feelings towards each other, but are forced together (for the usual reason.) Has more depth than her previous Harlequin Presents-y storys and gets pretty sad.

“Letters”: Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas. It’s not episotallary, unfortunately, but there are quite a few rather charming letters. This was an okay read, but it felt a little off to me. Things that happened didn’t seem to be properly linked to other things that happened.  Like just about everyone else, I was more intrigued by the secondary romance and hope their book will be better.

“Road Trip”: I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest. Several small road trips, really. This would also have fit excellently under “Wow.” Super suspenseful and exciting, also a lovely friendship story. No romance at all and it’s not missed.

“Netflix & Chill”: Dear White People by Justin Simien. Fairly funny, but I thought the movie made the same points in a less didactic way. I placed it in this square because I’d just read an article about the origin of the term, and it was mentioned as being one of the terms first used by blacks and then taken over by whites, which is a point that comes up in the book.

“Wow!” Volume 1-3 of “Ms. Marvel.” Awesome! Where were the comics like this when I was a kid?

“Ethically Iffy”: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. To say the least. The hero is prepared to destroy the world for the heroine, among other things.

Squares not used: the second “ethically iffy.” (Rules.) “Wildcard.” (Rules — that was my handicap because of winning last time.) “Yeeha Cowboy.” “Verse” — The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic would have fit nicely (the main character literally recites poetry to save her life) but I chose to put it elsewhere.

Also in February:

Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan. DNF. Good depiction of disability, as with the previous books in the series, but I got bored with the constant drug use. Skipped to the end and it was so sickly sweet I couldn’t even read it.

A Queer Trade by K.J. Charles. Promising beginning to the “Rag and Bone” series. An interracial across-the-tracks gay couple practicing magic in Victorian England…. should get pretty hairy!

Is This Tomorrow? by Caroline Levitt. Lovely narration by Xe Sands kept me listening when I might not have finished print. I enjoyed the characterizations, period setting, and many evocative moments, but it reminded me of one of the reasons I read genre fiction — because I almost never finish a genre book going, “what the hell was that even about?”

Dragos Goes to Washington by Thea Harrison. Fan service up the wazoo. Lots of sex, a little banter, a pointless mystery, and a set-up for the next book. That’s pretty much it.

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I got the best prize for winning, incidentally — I got to name a square on the next card! See if you can guess which one when it comes out. 🙂

My second (top across) BINGO.

7 Deadly Sins: Crosstown Crush by Cara McKenna. I had mixed feelings about this one. It’s very good at explaining a complex kink, and especially the effect of that kink on the unkinked partner. Also — TMI time here — I found it extremely hot. But there’s very little in the way of characterization — couldn’t help comparing it McKenna’s much meatier Unbound — and the ending didn’t satisfy me at all. Seemed like everyone got shafted in some way, and not the good kind.

Heart in Your Throat: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs. Had a very, very scary scene. I didn’t like some of the previous books all that much, but Briggs is settling into a good couples continuation groove here.

Laughter: Act Like It by Lucy Parker. In my previous BINGO.

OIIA Party Dance: Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh. Has a huge celebration for a previous couple. I really liked what she did what the fated mates thing here!

You Read a Spoiler, A Fairy Died: Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins. Not too bad a spoiler really, because it didn’t happen the way I expected.


TBR Update

My thoughts on Carved in Stone are now up at Heroes and Heartbreakers.

A 30 year old book about romances and racism… that couldn’t still be relevant, right?!





When we do this at camp, everyone hugs when we get to OOOOOOO. It’s adorable.

So anyway, there’s a reader bingo game going on and I just got bingo!

My books:

Laughter: Act Like It by Lucy Parker. Very funny, British style.

Red: Carved in Stone by Kathleen Eagle. Red shirt on the cover. And you could say the heroine’s depictions of Indians in her historical fiction made the hero see red. Oh crap, I just realized this was a choice chock full of potential racist faux pas. I swear that didn’t occur to me until just now.

As You Wish: More Than A Convenient Marriage by Dani Collins. A free space for a book I kind of regret wasting my time on. Good plot, but very claustrophobic and naval-gazey.

Hero/ine: Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh. I like how both characters are very powerful, in their own ways.

Mnom Mnom Mnom : Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. Not because it’s about two hot guys. Because it’s about purple skittles. Sadly, I didn’t love this.



Hey Hey Heyer!

I wrote about Georgette Heyer books that I don’t think get enough love for the Book Binge’s “Five Books Everyone Should Read”  series.


Three Day Quote Challenge, Day Two

Thanks again to Erin Burns for my nomination.


  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Publish a quote on 3 consecutive days on your blog.  The quote can be one of your own, from a book, movie, or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers each day to carry on this endeavor.

Quote number 2

“What are we after when we open one of those books? What is it that makes a classic a classic? … in old-fashioned terms, the answer is that it will elevate your spirit. And that’s why I can’t take much stock in the idea of going through a list of books or ‘covering’ a fixed number of selections, or anyway striving for the blessed state of having read this, or the other. Having read a book means nothing. Reading a book may be the most tremendous experience of your life; having read it is an item in your memory, part of your receding past… Why we have that odd faith in the magic of having read a book, I don’t know. We don’t apply the same principle elsewhere: We don’t believe in having heard Mendelssohn’s violin concerto…
I say, don’t read the classics — try to discover your own classics; every life has its own.”  — How to Make Sense by Rudolf Flesch

One of the most inspiring sections of a very inspiring book from 1954. It’s had a very strong influence on both my reading and my writing. Oh — it just occurred to me to check Open Library for his other work. Sadly, this book is not available but several others are. I’m surprised to learn he wrote the famous (infamous?) Why Johnny Can’t Read.

I nominate:

Elisabeth Lane of Cooking Up Romance. She is horrendously busy right now, so I hope she can find time for a small commitment that might get the blogging juice flowing — no recipe required!

FeministAspie. She isn’t someone I’ve interacted with, but her blog is always insightful and I’d enjoy seeing what she would contribute.

Dionne Galace. One of the first bloggers I followed when I found the romance community; I was so happy to see her start reviewing again recently. If you enjoy old HPs, you have to read her loving snark.

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Luckily, I Did Not Have to Invent a Recipe



Elisabeth Lane of the review/recipe blog “Cooking Up Romance” is doing a series on sex in older category romances, so of course I had to put in my two cents. My thought on the intriguing (albeit problematic) Sirocco by Anne Mather.  Elisabeth is also doing a survey on category romance sex and your input is requested.

I also joined Elisabeth and author Alexis Hall at “All About Romance,” as we relived our adolescent love for boarding school fantasies while reading and discussing Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale.

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“a thousand secret symmetries”

Such a beautiful post by Alexis Hall at Wonkomance today.

Here’s my soundtrack for it.


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