Whilst I could cobble together 6 books that will be released in 2021 that I am excited about, I want to make my focus about 6 books I OWN and am excited to read. Along with expanding my reading by introducing new genres and attempting to include non-fiction amongst my book choices, I want to get through a good number of books that I have bought but not read yet.
Witches Bane by Pippa Dacosta – Urban Fantasy The Con Artist by Kitty Thomas – Dark Romance Chosen by KF Breene – Fantasy Last Ship Off Polaris-G by Carol Van Natta – Space Opera Rules of Engagement by Lily White – Dark Romantic Suspense Star Kingdom by Lindsay Buroker – Science Fiction
So those are my six picks – which books are on your TBR or radar for 2021?
Whilst I’m sure the prompt is meant for us to share books that caught our eye in 2020, perhaps books that others raved about, I’m doing something a little different. I have a habit of impulse buying books and possibly not reading them because of arc or other commitments. So I’m going to feature six books that I bought last year but never got around to reading.
1 The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I bought this after reading glowing reviews by several Goodreads friends along with seeing it on numerous book blogs too. I didn’t realise it was a traditionally published book at first but it does explain why it was so high profile!
This is my current read (and I am loving it). I fell behind in the series and could never quite find the time to re-read the fourth book and then finish books #5 and #6. Which is silly because this is an amazing Urban Fantasy series, with a heroine I absolutely adore.
This was actually a freebie, but VT Bonds is an author I have been wanting to read for a while but have just never found the time. This is a dark paranormal romance, one of my favourite genres, and omegaverse to boot, so I’m really looking forward to reading it.
Lindsay Buroker was one of the first authors I discovered when I first got my ereader. I devoured her back catalogue and eagerly awaited new books. At least I did until an inability to pass by arc offerings meant that I rarely got to read anything by whim or free choice, I was always too busy reading books I had signed up for. Over the last year I have made a concerted effort to make more time for reading whatever captures my attention, rather than the next book on my “committed to read” list. I’m hoping I find time this year to rediscover why I love LB’s books.
Every now and then I enjoy an erotic romance, and Claire Thompson is one of my go to authors in this genre. It didn’t harm that this book was on sale either. I’m trying to work my way through her back catalogue but there are still more books than I seem to have time for.
I actually bought this as a Book of the Month read, but I never actually got chance to read it along with the group. I missed out on a great discussion, but I’d over committed on arc reads (ahem). However since I plan on reading books outside the romance genre this year, now is a great time to give this psychological thriller a try!
Uilleam is THE man to go to if you need a job doing and are prepared to pay his price. Everything he does is to his own advantage and plays into his long game. If life were a game of chess, you’d discover that he was playing both sides, and always to his benefit. Karina is the woman who bested him.
Toby is a criminal mastermind, the man who keeps the rest of his criminal family safe and secure. However it isn’t the life he wants and he tries to escape. Follow his adventures in this full of feels contemporary romance.
Today’s prompt is to share 6 book covers that feature my favourite colour. Part of me wants to say I don’t particularly have a favourite colour – and from my home and my clothing you probably wouldn’t be able to identify one either. I love colour full stop. However there is one colour which ALWAYS catches my eye when I see an item in it, and that’s purple. Hopefully I can find 6 books I’ve read that fit the bill!
Just An Illusion – EP by D. Kelly A Contemporary Romance that is guaranteed to produce an ugly cry. It isn’t standalone, Just An Illusion Side also Side B must be read first. It is a great NA trilogy.
Black Light: Valentine Rouletteby Various An anthology of BDSM romance short stories. Normally I’m not a big fan of anthologies – I often only read or enjoy a few of the stories. However the Black Light anthologies always have a great cast of authors who produce some scorchingly hot BDSM scenes to indulge in.
Deacon by Kit Rocha A hot SFR set in a dystopian future and featuring alpha males and equally strong females. This is a follow on series to the steamy adventure that is the O’Kane series. Whilst each book can be read standalone, it is one of those series’ that is best read in order.
Resistance by Pippa DaCosta The sixth book in the science fiction/space opera 1000 Revolutions series, this can NOT be read standalone. It is a totally captivating series that will give you all the feels.
Reign to Rule by Zoey Ellis This is third “Reign to” book and part of a fantasy omegaverse series that must be read in order. I would recommend reading the Crave trilogy first, for background, though Reign is set on a different continent and this trilogy can be read separately.
Daddy PI by EJ Frost A DD/lg story that is one of the best kink books I have ever read. The attention to detail is fantastic and the author cleverly weaves in consent and discussions without making the book feel like an instruction manual. One of my favourite reads of 2020.
The Girl and Her Ren, by Pepper Winters, is a book that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It is hands down one of the most emotional books I have ever read, probably THE most emotional.
My Romance Curse, by Cari Silverwood, is a delightful story, filled with great characters, steamy moments and witty humour. Just mentioning the book makes me want to do a re-read!
Fresh Catch, by Kate Canterbary, wasn’t quite my first MM read, but it was the first that had me convinced by both the characters and the honesty of their emotions. In fact the author imbues her protagonists with so much life that you feel as though they are old friends, and ones you care about deeply.
Filthy Rich, by Julie Kriss. This is another author who creates characters and stories that you fall in love with. This is a good opening to a series that has only got better and better.
Bass-Ackwards, by Eris Adderley, is a book that is so very wrong in so many ways but is also absolutely amazing. Another book that I desperately want to do a re-read of.
Saving Simone, by Tiffani Lynn. This author deserves to be more widely known. One of the things that I value about her work is that often she continues the story long past the traditional HEA point, building a story that goes beyond the “I love you’s”.
Today’s prompt is Spring Colours, which was more difficult to pick than I had imagined! For some reason yellow, pink and green spoke to me, so here is my selection for the week.
Frisky Business by Lila Monroe – a great rom-com with an enemies-to-lovers theme, a 4 star read. The bright splashes of colour on a white background just said spring!
Elemental Fae Academy #3by Lexi C. Foss and J.R. Thorn – the final instalment in a reverse harem PNR and another 4 star read. It’s the pink flowers that suggest spring here.
Big Sky by Kitty Thomas – an intense BDSM erotica read that I rated 4.5 stars. The cooler tones made me think more of spring than summer for this one.
His Blushing Bride by Emily Tilton – an erotic romance, 4.5 stars. Pastel pink equals spring.
The Son & His Hope by Pepper Winters – a NA contemporary romance and a 5 star read. This book was just as heartbreaking and life reaffirming as The Ribbon Duet. The background reminded me more of a spring meadow.
Tumble by Adriana Locke – a second-chance romance and another 5 star read. This covered yelled spring, not sure if it’s the colour combo or just that particular shade of green!
#SixforSunday is a weekly blog post where you get to share 6 books which fill a certain prompt. It’s hosted by A Little But A Lot, do go visit them and say hello!
Oops – I forgot to hit publish yesterday, never mind! I’m going to have to be careful and NOT repeat my list of tropes that I love, because those I just can’t seem to get enough of.
1. Mature Protagonists
This is a controversial one, but I’ve reached a point in my life where I find it hard to empathise/connect with heroes and heroines under the age of 30. That is STILL a lot younger than I am and also links into my avoidance of NA books.
2. Main characters who are “average”
Especially those women who are insanely attractive to every male within a 50 mile radius but don’t even have the faintest idea of just how beautiful they are. Even when the MFC at first appears to be a plain jane, there is often a miraculous ugly duckling transformation and a beautiful swan emerges. The heroes don’t always need to have chiselled abs, a 6 pack you can bounce pennies off and that overused magical V pointing to the promised land. I get that we need to be attracted to the characters but – sigh – they could just be ‘normal’. This also extends to jobs, though blue-collar romance does seem to be more common these days.
3. Space Opera Romance
Ok so already I’m in the “not trope”-osphere but I love a good sci-fi story that has strong elements of romance in it. However the vast majority of what is available on the market is heavy on the romance and often lacking in those elements that make a good sci-fi story just that, good. I can find great space opera stories, but they usually lack the romance I want. Those with romance lack the “alienness” and space travel elements of science fiction.
4. Consensual Non-Consent
I’ve just read what will remain as one of my favourite books containing this trope. My review of Cruel Idols by Sorcha Black can be found here. The author managed to give us a darker edge, hinting that maybe we had crossed the line into genuine non-consent, before taking us back to safer ground. I love darker reads, but the nice thing about CNC is that the hero can be just that, a hero, a good guy, a decent man rather than an antihero.
Anti-heroes are ten-a-penny, or a dime a dozen for my US friends. However books with a good anti-heroine are few and far between. Whispers in the Dark by LeTeisha Newton, Lethal Sin by Jennifer Bene and Bedroom Hymns by Morgan Reeves are some good examples of when the trope is done well.
6. Anti-heroes who don’t turn soft
Which isn’t a trope at all but it occurs often enough that it sort of ought to be, or at least a warning should be given so that I don’t waste my time and money on the damn book. I’m ok with a proper anti-hero, a sociopath or a psychopath as the MMC because this is fiction NOT real life. You wouldn’t believe the high horses some people climb on because of the darker content of romance books. Apparently it’s going to encourage kidnap, violence and rape. Those things are fine in horror, murder mystery and suspense books but not romance, well at least according to those who like to pour scorn, shame and blame on the romance genre. I’ve digressed. Dark romance is my favourite genre but when the hero turns into a gooey mess for the heroine then I tend to leave dissatisfied. I prefer him to make exceptions for the heroine but not change for her.
I’m back with another Six For Sunday, kindly hosted over at A Little But A Lot (please do visit them too). July is Trope month and so far I’m definitely enjoying it! Today’s prompt is “Tropes You Hate”.
Tropes I hate? As I started writing this I was wondering if there are any tropes I hate, but I just knew that they would start popping into my head as I typed..and…yep there’s the first one now!
Two years ago you couldn’t turn around in the romance world without falling over a Billionaire story. It’s still a popular trope (thank you FSoG – not) with a dedicated following.
I don’t know about you but I like a touch of reality in contemporary books, and billionaires don’t fall into that box. Particularly not when it’s a series of books about best friends who ARE billionaires or best friends who fall for them. Perhaps I’m hanging in the wrong circles, but there doesn’t seem to be a surplus of ultra rich men hanging out in the local hotspots. I haven’t even spotted one, never mind a whole gaggle of them.
Whilst the books have the guys looking like Mister Hottie McHotness in the first photo, reality is probably closer to the dude in picture 2.
I’m pretty certain this is another trope that gained prominence in the romance world courtesy of FSoG. There are a multitude of reasons that this trope rubs me up the wrong way.
First of all, for the vast majority of us, our first time was, at best, awkward. For others it was an experience best forgotten as quickly as possible. And for a few it was a heartbreaking ripping away of their innocence by scum that doesn’t deserve the air they breathe.
Secondly it’s that reinforcement of the sexist attitude that a girls virginity is something that makes her pure and special, but is something a boy needs to lose at the first opportunity. Thankfully this isn’t too prevalent in the world of smutty romance, mainly because we’re there for the sex, the romance, the sex, the HEA and finally the sex. So preaching about how a girl is more special because she is a virgin is not going to enamour me to you. The fact that this myth IS perpetuated by some female authors is somewhat depressing.
Thirdly, which links back to firstly, if he’s as hung as the guys in a romance book, you aren’t going to be going for rounds 2, 3 and 4 with quite the speed that is implied by these books. Nor are you going to be a pro at giving head and deep throating when you’ve barely held hands with a boy before. And lord above don’t get me started on first time anal lubricated by “her juices” or (and this one has me swallowing down the vomit) him spitting on her “dark hole”. For a book that’s happy to include anal sex, to suddenly balk at calling an anus by it’s name (or at least a slang name) and insisting on some ridiculously trite euphemism just makes me cringe.
Finally are those books that have the heroine “selling” her virginity in an auction. Because of course it’s some super hot, dominant and sexy billionaire that buys her. Which again is so realistic (not). Why is a guy, who can get women without even having to make an effort, going to pay a huge amount for one? Go back to the pictures above and lets think about which of those guys is more likely to have to pay for it….
Heaven forbid when this is incorporated into the Virgin or Billionaire trope, and when all three are added to the mix you can guarantee I will be handing out a 1 star rating.
I hate secret babies UNLESS the heroine tried to contact the hero but couldn’t. Any other reason is not acceptable because, although it may be fiction, denying a child the right to know a parent (unless harm could befall said child) is just plain wrong. Zero respect for someone who decides to do that.
And surprise babies are just not romantic/sexy to me. God mine were an effective form of contraception for several years, so reading about a couple with a newborn having constant sex just makes me laugh hysterically. What is worse is when the couple are supposedly infertile, but somehow a “miracle” occurs. To me this feels like a slap in the face to all those couples who do suffer from infertility. It’s as though somehow the book couple get a baby just by “wanting” one enough.
This genre is on the up at the moment. Just as fashions change in clothes, so do popular tropes in romance books. Who decides what is going to be the next big thing, heaven knows. But, for the last yearish, the decree has been “thou shall write ye bully book”. Well you will if you want to jump on the latest trend/bandwagon at least.
Some of these books aren’t too awful, and indeed are just variations of the much older enemies-to-lovers trope. Romeo and Juliet anyone? However some have decided that they will combine bully with their version of “dark”. The worst one I had the misfortune to stumble across also threw in the, thankfully declining unless you read paranormal academy books, Reverse Harem (RH) trend. A dark, bully RH “romance”, though where the romance was in it I’m not sure, perhaps it was lost in the chaos of so much else going on.
Generally my gripe with these is that why on earth am I going to cheer on a character who has spent the majority of the book being a complete POS to the other main protagonist. Very often their path to redemption is far too easy and no real reparation is made for craptastic behaviour earlier in the book.
Lets keep a big secret until the last chapter
OK so this isn’t actually trope, but it is something that has annoyed the ever loving heck out of me on more than one occasion. I love secrets and suspense but to have the whole story revolving around one big secret, dangled in front of your face like the proverbial carrot, is lazy writing. It’s not a clever plot twist but a total lack of plot.
Lily White is the antithesis of this, with an ability to weave a tale where just as one secret is revealed another one takes its place. Resulting in a pacey story where the mystery/suspense is maintained throughout the story.
Oh and for goodness sake, if you ARE going to do a big secret reveal at the end, do make sure it doesn’t nullify the validity of prior scenes. I read one book where the big exciting twist at the end sort of made everything that went before rather pointless.
Overbearing not alpha
Yes, yes another not a trope, but it sort of IS a trope. Or at least the alpha bad boy/dominant is a tried and tested trope in romance. However some authors get very confused over what makes an alpha and what makes an asshole douche canoe. Hint – it shouldn’t include the words arrogant twat.
An alpha looks after his woman, might occasionally be a jealous idiot, but above all respects her. He might not like having to let her be independent but they find a compromise. On the other hand an alpha-hole, as I tend to think of them, keeps secrets from his beloved and makes decisions without consulting her because – oh you’re gonna love this one – he always knows whats best for her. What a pathetic, antiquated and patently misogynistic attitude to have. And yet the worst thing is that it is (usually) a woman writing this patronising garbage.
I’m not talking about Total Power Exchange books here, which are a totally different kettle of fish. In those respect for one other is paramount, and whilst the dominant partner may make decisions on behalf of the submissive, it will be because both have already discussed and agreed that he will have that authority over her. No I’m referring to those books where the “hero” knows and understand the heroine’s mind better than she does herself.
So that’s it, six “tropes” I hate in romance books. Sorry if I’ve just dissed one of your favourites. As my dad loves to say – “One man’s meat is another man’s poison” and that meat makes me gag. Sorry I couldn’t resist that double entendre given today’s topic. Thanks for joining me and well done if you got this far. See you soon!
Am I allowed only six? Can I narrow the list down that far? I’m breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it, it’s like asking me to pick a favourite child!
Yes, I’m joining in with A Little But A Lot and their weekly Sunday prompt for six books on a theme. July is all about the trope, so hopefully over the weeks I’ll get to feature all the things I love to read about in a book.
When I visit other blogs it becomes very apparent that romance, despite being the most popular genre of books, doesn’t seem to be that widely blogged about. Particularly not the indie published authors that make up my reading world. I often feel like a lone voice in a huge room, but I’m hoping the echoes reach some of you and even if only one person tries a new book then I count that as a success.
In no particular order, my six favourite tropes are as follows:-
1 Second Chance
Yep, I see the words “second chance” and I’m caught, hook, line and sinker. That’s not to say I’m not picky about the trope. First of all, I need a darn good reason/misunderstanding for the original break up. I then need us to get to the bottom of that in fairly good time. No fluttering it around but keeping it secret through most of the book. No way, Jose, that is just lazy writing. Once the reason has been revealed I then need the guilty party to earn their forgiveness. Nothing hacks me off more than an easy out. However when done well second chance melts my heart and soothes my soul like no other trope can.
I love Science Fiction, and whilst aliens, space ships, new solar systems and warp speed travel fills my little heart with joy, there is nothing I love quite so much as a dystopian tale. My love affair with this trope probably started with John Wyndham’sDay of The Triffids, and has continued ever since.
3 BDSM/ Power Exchanges
Not Fifty Shades, so much not Fifty Shades of anything. In fact Fifty Shades is as close to BDSM as Donald Duck is to farm animals. I’m probably one of the few women of a certain age who hasn’t read the trilogy, but from what I’ve heard I’m not missing out on this fanfic of Twilight. Both in real life, and in well written BDSM romances, there are principles that should be adhered to, the main one that underpins everything else is consent. Without consent then you have abuse, which was the slippery slope FSoG slid down. Though as I’ve mentioned more than once before, it did open the door for authors who are part of the lifestyle to release books involving the trope.
Whilst this trope (sometimes considered a subgenre of erotic fanfic) is fairly new to the playing field, it has a big following in romancelandia. Based on wolf dynamics of strong, dominant alphas, submissive, weaker omegas and betas who are generally workers with no distinct scent or ability to form a knot during intercourse. As previously mentioned, the trope began in fanfic, where it soon became hugely popular. The first books on the market were MM preg books but when M/f entered the fray they bought with them a much darker, more violent, non-consensual edge to the trope. A world where omegas are considered ripe for any alpha to take and do with as he will. The last few years the trope has spread into fantasy, science fiction and more contemporary settings, no longer always dark and violent.
Dark is a rabbit hole that I have loved falling into, though it has become a very controversial trope for a couple of reasons.
The first is that Amazon likes to relegate romance books to the erotica catagory, which results in them being hidden from searches (even specific searches of the exact book title), languishing in the depths of their dungeons. Certain words trigger their “march you off to obscurity” bots, usually the ones that hint/suggest certain aspects of kink, dubious and non-consent, sexual violence and sex full stop. This means that many authors now avoid using the very words that would stop many an unsuspecting reader from getting a nasty shock.
The other reason is that because Dark is popular, in fact it’s Popular with a capital P, many have felt it’s a bandwagon they should jump on. Even when their book is really nothing more than a mafia romance, or an MC romance, or even just the story of a bad boy hero. The trouble is that readers of those books labelled as dark, have absolutely no idea what has hit them when they read the types of book that I, and many others, consider to be dark. Books with both dubious and non-consent, stories where the heroine may be mentally, emotionally and/or physically violated. Needless to say this can result in a plethora of 1 star reviews that usually contain the words “abuse”, “rape” and “disgusting” somewhere.
I love me a good fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal romance. One that involved magic is always good, but all the better if there are Gods or Angels and Demons involved. Who can resist a fallen angel?……