It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and I have been reading up a storm. Here are some of the highlights:
The Ruin of a Rogue by Miranda Neville
I do love a bad boy turning good and this is a classic example of the trope. I loved Marcus and Anne and almost everything about their story. Perhaps not quite my favourite Neville but certainly in my top three.
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Probably the best Christian romance novel I’ve read. It’s about opium smuggling in 19th century America, so it gets bonus points for the unusual setting. The heroine is terrific, but the hero wasn’t the easiest to warm to. There are some issues with the ending, I think, but on the whole I enjoyed this a lot.
Road to Rouen by Ben Hatch
Family travelogue. Amusing in parts. Mostly the lesson is: don’t take your family on a road trip around France.
The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers
Everything which is to be said about this has already been said four times over. I liked it but didn’t love it.
Imprisoned by a Vow by Annie West
M&B Modern. I like Annie West’s books a lot and this was her at her best, I think. I don’t remember reading a heroine like Leila before.
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
People had been recommending this to me for months and eventually someone just gave it to me and told me to read it, so I did. And loved it. A feminist lesbian professor at Syracuse University describes the trainwreck of her conversion to Christianity. Brutally honest and astonishingly frank, she reflects on her history in insightful and challenging ways. Also, I am now thinking of changing my name to Ros Champagne Clarke. Seriously, isn’t that so cool?
What have you been reading lately? Anything you’d recommend?
It’s Heroine Week all week over at Romance around the Corner, and Brie has got some great guest posts lined up. My rant about Fanny Price is coming later this week, but today she’s got posts from Sarah Mayberry and Stephanie Doyle on everyday heroines and the heroine’s point of view.
I love the idea of a week celebrating romance heroines. So often discussion focuses on heroes – how tall, dark and handsome they really have to be, how tortured, scarred or emotionally closed off they can be, and how much readers do or don’t fancy them. Which is all well and good. I like a great hero as much as the next person, but I LOVE a great heroine.
For me that means a woman I can respect and like, but most importantly, a woman I am rooting for. The romances I love most are the ones where the heroines triumph. They get the awesome guy they deserve. They get the respect they’ve earned. They get their dreams come true. I don’t love a story with a ‘diminished heroine’. I don’t want her to have to abandon her dreams or settle for less than the best. I want her to grasp hold of her life and be the best person she can be. I want her hero to challenge her, admire her, adore her and take on the world for her. But I also want her to rise to the challenge and take on the world for him. I want her life to be better in every respect for loving and being loved.
I’m Ros, and I’m addicted to heroines.
But I’m okay with that.
I promise there will be new Tom and Hattie soon, and even some other blog posts, but I’ve been away and busy and ill, and for now these are the easiest posts to write.
There has been more Jilly Cooper: Polo has been this week’s read. More horses, more ludicrous puns, more outrageous characters. Fab.
There is going to be more Betty Neels, following Liz’s mention of Cassandra by Chance.
And, since it is about to be March, there are going to be some new books: Annie West’s Captive in the Spotlight is first on the list.
I’m not going to be buying Katie Fforde’s latest, having been disappointed with most of her recent books. Nor will I be getting Janet Mullany’s Improper Relations, newly out on Kindle – I know many people love her style, but it’s just not for me.
What’s on your reading list this week?
RUPERT CAMPBELL-BLACK IS ON MY KINDLE.
Riders and Rivals in a joint edition for less than a fiver? I THINK SO. Also The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous for £2.50. I am three quarters of the way through Rivals and I shall then go back and read Riders, and then The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous.
Earlier this week I also re-read several of the Bad Blood Collection (aka Notorious Wolfes). My reviews for several of these books are here. I still think this is the best M&B continuity series I’ve read and almost all of the books are excellent or very good.
Mostly Betty Neels old favourites including: A Winter Love Story, Year’s Happy Ending, A Girl To Love, A Kiss for Julie. I hesitate to say that if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all, but it is almost true. They are incredibly comforting books set in a world that never really existed where capable young women with no qualifications get jobs advertised in The Lady and rich professors and doctors marry them. Falling in love is as likely to happen after marriage as before. They are books which are wholly free from POV considerations and she meanders happily from head to head. Usually, though, we get very little insight into the hero’s perspective so that we remain almost as clueless as the heroines right up until the penultimate page. Betty Neels wrote the trad Regencies of contemporary romance – no sex, not even a hint, not even after marriage. I am not precisely sure why, but I also think her characters live in the same world as Jilly Cooper’s.
I also read a dreadful Regency freebie novella, The Winter Wish by Jillian Eaton. Everything I most dislike about historical novels – inattention to period detail, language and most of all, social conventions. Also an extremely irritating heroine. If you have been in love with someone for seven years without so much as plucking up the courage to exchange two words with him, you do NOT deserve your happy ending. Ugh. And to add insult to injury, the author thinks that the correct spelling is ‘per say’. I have no idea whether this book had a copyeditor or not (it’s not self-published), but that is inexcusable. It’s no longer free, and I would say that this is not worth its current price of 77p.
Inspired by my trip to London last week, I also re-read Abby Green’s wonderful Bride in a Gilded Cage. I love the tango scenes in this book so much.
I almost forgot about this, because I have been away for a couple of days and it isn’t yet enough of a routine to be a habit. So I’ve got about 10 days’ worth of reading to catch up on.
Sold to the Enemy by Sarah Morgan
I’ve loved almost every book I’ve read by Morgan and this one is no exception. In fact, it prompted a re-read of a couple of old favourites of hers, The Sultan’s Virgin Bride and Doukakis’s Apprentice. She always writes strong, interesting heroines who challenge their heroes. The heroine in Sold to the Enemy has had to put up with more than most and she totally deserves the happy ending.
In the Heat of the Spotlight by Kate Hewitt
I’ve been waiting for this since I read an early version of the first chapter nearly a year ago, and it didn’t disappoint. Deeply emotional and deeply satisfying. Loved it.
Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The complete Oz chronicles were on Amazon for some ridiculously cheap price. I started with this one because, other than the Wizard of Oz, it’s the only one I remember from childhood. Lovely. A bit scary but always a guaranteed happy ending, so it’s nice, safe reading. There’s a bit in this one that reminds me of The Silver Chair, though I’ve no idea which was written first or if there was any actual influence.
Hired: The Sheikh’s Secretary by Lucy Monroe
Another re-read. I do love a clueless sheikh and an ugly duckling secretary, and these two are perfect.
When Two Paths Meet and Roses and Champagne by Betty Neels
There are times when only Betty Neels will do and today was one of those days. A sweeter, safer world, these are like traditional Regencies set in 1980’s England (or Holland).
That’s what I’ve been reading. What about you?