On hiatus and a request

>> Monday, December 16, 2013

Bye for a month or so! I'm in Uruguay visiting family for the next month or so, and will be back mid-January.

In the meantime, could I ask you all for some suggestions? My book club have asked me to select a genre romance novel for us to read in February, and I'm not quite sure what to choose. I want something really well-written, obviously, and I'm thinking something that is mainstream. What I mean by that is that the romances I most appreciate these days are the ones that do something different and subvert the usual tropes in some way, but that's probably because I've read so much in the genre. These are people who've read little if any romance, so they would not appreciate that aspect of them.

So far, I've thought of 3:

- Lord of Scoundrels, by Loretta Chase, which I can tell them is the classic romance

- Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie, as I lent my copy to one of my other non-romance reading friends and she loved it. However, this is one that's not very typical romance, what with its childfree characters.

- The Viscount Who Loved Me, by Julia Quinn, mostly for the Mallet of Death scene.

All three are books I found hilarious, although they also gave me that angsty stomach-knotting feel. Do you think this approach is a good idea or should I go for more 'serious' books? Thanks for any opinions and suggestions!


Fernande,  16 December 2013 at 16:38  

I think Lord of Scoundrels or Bet Me would both be perfect for your book group. Alternatively, I think Chase's Your Scandalous Ways and Crusie's Welcome to Temptation are equally brilliant, the former of which I used to successfully tempt my twenty something daughter into trying historical romance.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a lovely time on your visit to Uruguay.

Darlynne,  16 December 2013 at 16:46  

Bummer, not a genre romance, but probably my favorite, completely unexpected read this year.

Harry Bingham's TALKING TO THE DEAD, which is usually on sale at Amazon UK. All of the usual crime novel tropes are turned upside down: Fiona Griffiths is an immensely likable detective constable in Wales, dealing with cases and also finding her way in a squad that respects her work, but doesn't understand her. She has a loving, supportive family and a fellow officer who would like very much to have a relationship with her, if only they could figure out how.

Honestly, if you'd said you were looking for an obscure, medieval herbalist non-fiction story, I would still have said, "Wait, pick TALKING TO THE DEAD!" It's all part of my dastardly campaign to make sure everyone reads this book.

I'll try to think of a genre romance, although your choices are good.

Have a wonderful time on your travels and Merry Christmas.

Brie 16 December 2013 at 17:12  

This is a tough one. Although if you're going with Crusie, my pick would be Welcome to Temptation.

How about One Good Reason by Sarah Mayberry? It has the added bonus of being category romance and a Harlequin.

My other choice would be anything by Susanna Kearsley (maybe The Winter Sea or The Rose Garden), although she doesn't write straight genre romance. But her books are so beautiful and romantic!

I hope you have fun in your trip and happy holidays!

Barb in Maryland 16 December 2013 at 20:30  

Well, if you are looking for mainstream, Nora Roberts might be a place to start: maybe 'Vision in White', as it has no ghosts, no suspense sub-plot. It was my favorite in that quartet of stories.
My fav Loretta Chase is her trad regency "Knaves' Wager"--but availability might be a problem.
Sherry Thomas' "Luckiest Lady in London" -- well, I love everything she's done.
Another contemporary author to try is Julie James--I love her stuff.

I would like to think all/any of these would be good for a book group--they all have enough meat to sustain a good discussion.

Have a safe trip and a very good holiday!

Darlynne,  17 December 2013 at 05:34  

I remembered! SEP's Natural Born Charmer. Funny, touching contemporary romance between an artist and a quarterback. Which description doesn't even get close to the awesome that is this story. Bonus, for you: the audio version by Anna Fields is outstanding.

Marianne McA,  18 December 2013 at 23:54  

I think 'Bet Me' is a good choice - I reread it recently, and it still read well and that there'd be enough to talk about - my reservation with the Quinn would be that it mightn't lend itself to much discussion. Also, Quinn is pretty impressionistic in her world building - you graduate from Eton, cross at busy intersections in London, etc - which just about works if you're familiar with the Romanceland version of the Regency wherein the books are set, but might perplex readers unfamiliar with the subgenre.

(Can't remember the Chase well enough to comment: I know I didn't like it: I've no idea why.)

Rosario 28 December 2013 at 09:34  

Thank you all for your suggestions and good wishes, and apologies for not coming back to reply sooner. It's been a really good holiday so far!

Fernande: Agreed. I have usually given people I wanted to try romance contemps (seems like a smaller step into the genre than historicals), but interesting to know that Chase worked well for your daughter.

Darlynne: Ok, ok, you've convinced me. You really have: I went and bought Talking To The Dead and am reading it at the moment! Really liking it so far, too.

Brie: Picking a category romance is really tempting, actually. There have been a couple of mocking comments about Mills & Boons by some in the group, so it'd be good to actually make them read one! As for Susanna Kearsley, I did try picking The Winter Sea years ago for another book club and it didn't work out. But then, it was a really crap book club, where the rest of the members were more interested in gossiping and only one actually read the book, so I can't read much into that...

Barb: I did consider Nora Roberts. After all, a lot of people who don't consider themselves romance readers read and enjoy her single titles. I haven't particularly loved her more recent trilogies, though. Sherry Thomas and Julie James are very good suggestions, too!

Mariane McA: Those are definitely things I need to consider. I think you might be right that there's probably not a huge deal to discuss in the Quinn (I expect a lot of meta talk, though, about conventions of the genre, etc), and that some of the things seasoned romance readers are used to might puzzle new readers. Glad to hear about your recent reread of Bet Me, because...

Bet Me is the front runner right now. I did consider that I might get "This is not romance, it's chick lit" comments, but I'll just have to explain how I define romance. I'm also thinking quite seriously about chosing After Hours, by Cara McKenna, since we read 50 Shades a while ago and I'd like to show them what erotic romance with a touch of BDSM can be when done right. Might be a bit too much for them, though. I've also just finished The Heiress Effect, by Courtney Milan, and thought that might work, too. Still not 100% decided, but I think it will be Bet Me.

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