The Liberatio (Heavens Romance Book 1)

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Their lives were perfect. Until she meets his notorious brother. Until they met each other. Love makes men do desperate things, if desperate things means opening a rival cupcake shop to drive your ex-girlfriend crazy. Twin brothers and Air Force vets, Tanner and Garrett Mann, return from deployment to find their thriving business burned to the ground. Smart, mainstream contemporary romance from bestselling author Caridad Pineiro. Millions of people visit the Jersey Shore every year, for beaches, boardwalks, sand, sun, and summer fun. This romantic series features families that go back generations on the shore, their ties to New York City, and their love for the Shore, and each other.

Scandal begins with just one kiss. Shunned by her family, Rory was banished to the country to live in disgrace. Arroyo Blanco, When Emilia Cruz agreed to accompany her sister to a boating party, she had no idea that the darling of the literary world would be in assistance—or that he would take such pleasure in disparaging the deliciously sinful serial she writes under a pseudonym.

Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache.

From Dust and Ashes: A Story of Liberation

And he thinks subs exist to serve him. We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. What if the standing stones and stone circles across the old Celtic world had a secret origin and use? What if some opened into another world? What if the goddess of fire was trapped beneath one?

Lovely and innocent, Brienne of Yester has always been able to manipulate fire, but when her powers suddenly surge, the simple life she once knew explodes. She came to him as a precious gift, a naked angel rolled in a rug. Once he gazed into her green eyes, saw her tangle of honey blonde hair, he was undone with passion. Elizabeth would never surrender. He was a hated Montgomery — she was a Chatworth — and the blood war between their families raged on, a wildfire of rape, murder, and betrayal. My life plan is to be brutally honest all the way to the bank. I run a popular YouTube channel called TrashyZane, and my claim to fame is oversharing about every aspect of my personal life.

Sometimes while tipsy. I have no time for judgmental foolishness. To do so twice takes a woman like Julianne Baxter. The chit is as much trouble as her red hair suggests, and just as captivating. The last thing he needs is a wife. Second in a passionate, fast-paced Scottish Highlander romance series from critically acclaimed author Amanda Forester A conquering hero Cormac Maclean would rather read than rampage, but his fearsome warlord father demands that he prove himself in war.

Cormac chooses what he thinks is an easy target, only to encounter a fiery Highland lass leading a doomed rebellion and swearing revenge on him. It may be the 21st century, but in a not-so-united kingdom the wounds of the the Wars of the Roses have never healed. The rivalry between the Yorkish north and Lancastrian south has threatened to pull the nation apart for over years. While the modern world struggles with fractures born of ancient conflict, Lady Amelia Brockett faces far more mundane problems.

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my! Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. I wake up chained to the wall of a dark cell aware of two things: I failed my sister, and I smell my enemy. The last thing I expect is for the Alpha to recognize me as his fated mate.

A gripping, glittering novel of scandal and suspense that ranges from Sweden to New York City to Africa, from the bestselling author of All In. Alexander de la Grip is known in the tabloids and gossip blogs as a rich, decadent, jet-setting playboy who spends most of his days recovering from the night before. With a string of beautiful conquests, he seems to care about nothing and no one. They say you form your first impression of someone within thirty seconds of meeting them. This is not a perfect start to her new life. Determined to destroy the Echelon she despises, Rosalind Fairchild is on seemingly easy mission.

Get in. And get out. In order to infiltrate the Nighthawks and find their leader, Sir Jasper Lynch, Rosalind will pose as their secretary. In this warmhearted and charming debut from Tif Marcelo, a food truck chef and her long lost Army love clash when they cross paths in San Francisco. Camille Marino has got a full plate. Three sinfully handsome dukes, three scores to settle, three hearts about to meet their matches.

Family history: Scandalous. Personality traits: Dark and brooding, with a thirst for revenge. Lynn has moved to the Hawkins Ranch, left to her by her Uncle Freddy, who she had not visited for years. This leaves her with a wedge of guilt, that is difficult to shake off. She should have been here for him, and nursed him. The first standalone romance by New York Times and 1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren Beautiful Bastard is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret. Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. Welcome to Park Heights, Brooklyn where three brothers discover the meaning of family, and taking a chance on love. Raised to despise the Douglas name, Mared outwardly agrees to the marital bargain for the sake of her family; secretly, she concocts a plan to ensure Payton will not wish to marry her.

Snow is in the forecast. Then a car accident made certain her brother could never return. Trevor Reynolds has chased stardom in Nashville for more than a dozen years, but it remains out of his reach. Spinster Miss Eleanor Lockhart is suddenly homeless and employment is her only option. A deadly rivalry. Two families at war. Nobody is safe, not even the innocent. Especially the innocent. Blood will be spilled. As the only daughter of Primo Galante, notorious boss of the Galante crime family, her life is dictated by a certain set of rules… rules Genna was never very good at following.

Distrust is no match for desire as a proper young miss and a self-professed rogue hunt down a murderer in this thrilling Disgraced Lords novel. Arend Aubury trusts no one besides his fellow Libertine Scholars. After his family escaped from France, penniless and persecuted, only the Scholars took him in. So when the stepdaughter of the villainess who has been plotting against them approaches Arend with allegations against their enemy, he suspects a double cross.

When a powerful relic goes missing from a secret society that dabbles in the occult, Miss Ianthe Martin is charged with finding it at all costs. She needs help, but all clues point to someone on the inside being the thief. Love and revenge both come at a price. Catching one lowlife after another, she continues her search for the only man she really cares to locate. The one whose voice she will never forget; the man who murdered her husband. Until the night he apprehends a rogue footman in their midst and discovers the spy is Lady Mairi MacNair—the woman who long ago broke his heart.

The first in a sexy contemporary romance series featuring the Lawless siblings—from New York Times bestselling author Lexi Blake. The Lawless siblings are bound by vengeance. This seductive paranormal series continues with a brutal Highland werewolf and an exquisite young witch, adversaries with a blood vendetta between them.

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Her breathless kiss haunts him… Bowen MacRieve of the Lykae clan was nearly destroyed when he lost the one woman meant for him. The ruthless warrior grew even colder, never taking another to his bed—until a smoldering encounter with his enemy, Mariketa the Awaited, reawakens his darkest desires. The family-run Green Mountain Country Store is cherished by locals as a reminder of simpler times.

The Abbott children are determined to keep it that way—but their father has different plans… When Cameron Murphy heads to Vermont to build a website for a new client, she imagines a more relaxing trip than she gets. Because as everyone knows, it takes a thief to catch a thief—or to seduce one. The old farmhouse in the French countryside is a refuge for former jewel thief Josephine Deveraux. His latest prey: the sole survivor of a massacre that killed his brother years ago.

Kayla Roy claimed she was a victim of the carnage. Then she disappeared. Matthias thinks Kayla may have actually been the killer—and he wants justice. Kayla Roy never stays in one place too long and never lets a man get too close. Opposites attract… Even if he is the catch of the season, Charlotte Livingston has a low opinion of the wildly handsome Marquess of Camryn. Camryn is everything a social reformer like Charlotte detests. Besides, her loyalty belongs to another man.

She loathes people. Quinn Baldwyn is in a mess of his own. The USA Today bestselling author of Outside the Lines once again explores love on the edge in an explosive new romance about obsession, betrayal, and a killer attraction. Lee Delgado never planned on falling in love with the irresistible Oliver Savoca, son of a Chicago crime lord. Considering that their families are rivals, she knew it could never work.

Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. In this irresistible romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Happily Bedded Bliss, appearances can deceive, but the heart is not so easy to fool… Rosamund Carrow has spent years learning the law by assisting her barrister father, despite the frustrating truth that the profession is closed to women.

When he dies unexpectedly, necessity compels her to disguise herself as a man so she can step into the courtroom to finish his cases. Neurologist Helen Chang Frobisher is on a mission to ban hockey from Portland to prevent the kind of concussive brain injury that plagues her father. But while the two spar in public over the future of a sports franchise on the brink, in private, they battle an impossible attraction.

I am a daughter. A sister. A friend. With her fiery spirit and vibrant beauty, she is still the woman who holds his heart, but revealing his heritage now would condemn them both. That was what they said about Damien Rosier. No one messed with his family, because to do so they would have to get through him. No one thought he had a heart.

An Ode to Gordon Merrick

Not even the woman he gave his to. That was what they said about Jasmin Bianchi. A top perfumer of her generation, Jess had achieved commercial success by growing a protective shell over a tender heart. Childhood friends. Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there.

Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life. Lifelong enemies. Miki Durand has always dodged the limelight. Two rugged men show a trespasser just what happens when a good girl breaks the rules. And an experienced agent in seduction is captured by her enemy, who turns her worst fears into her darkest cravings.

One night. No one will know. That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies. Maxim Proud and passionate, the Marquess of Bradbury swore vengeance on those who had stolen his title and lands.

When the Duke of Lexington meets the mysterious Baroness von Seidlitz-Hardenberg on a transatlantic liner, he is fascinated. He falls hard and fast—and soon proposes marriage. The public knows her as a glamorous and tempestuous diva, mistress to emperors, a reputation created by the newspapers and the ruthless man who exploited her. Now she has come to London to make a fresh start and find her long lost English family. What happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?

Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. Maria has always been cautious. Emmaline Sutherland aboard thePride and ferry the raven-haired beauty across the Atlantic on what he imagines will be a routine trip. Nine years ago, Richard Allen fled England and his controlling father. As a young, penniless gentleman, Maxwell Harwick knew he had little to offer Juliet White—the most beautiful debutante of the season—except his love, and one thoroughly scandalous kiss. Trapped by a storm and with no way out, Leigh must face the man that she both despises and desires After the death of her rock star husband, Richard, Leigh swore off musicians.

And she burns with malice for the handsome Norman savage who would enslave her. Everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. Three years ago, London society changed forever, with a revolution placing the widowed Queen firmly on the throne her blue blood husband tried to take from her. Humans, verwulfen and mechs are no longer considered the lesser classes, but not everybody is happy with the new order… Entire families have gone missing in the East End. Sabine Banchory is a sensible, intelligent, and eminently capable woman—which is why she was forced to marry a short-sighted reprobate.

She tries to keep her husband in line while he fritters away her dowry at gambling dens and flaunts his affairs. The Earl of Kingston is just the sort of man she most despises. As teens, all they cared about was psyching each other out before concerts. Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love. Nemesis n. She will not give up… Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion.

As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike! When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Real suffering, not merely the oh no who will invite us over for tea now? Bed of Flowers shows how even a loving, thoughtful family — a beloved sister, a pair of parents whose own marriage is solid and supportive — can choose to shun a daughter who has erred in the eyes of the world. There is no reconciliation at the end to erase all the pain. But this refusal to satisfy with an easy out makes the romance far more meaningful — it has weight to it, because something was given up on its behalf.

It feels like the start of something genuinely new. He was handsome, too, but in a feral way. All his features were sharp: his cheekbones were sharp, his chin was sharp. Even his nose sloped down to a sharp point. He looked like a man who, if he tried to give a lady a kiss, would cut her instead. Marriage in trouble books disprove the idea that romance narratives are purely courtship-centered stories that end when the protagonists say their vows. I believed in these characters wholeheartedly, even when they were struggling to believe in themselves.

Touches of humor soften the angst, and cameos from past series heroes and heroines offer tantalizing glimpses of earlier stories: a Vegas elopement, a playboy settling down with a comic-book artist. This book is not entirely escapist, I think, but it is a testament to the necessity of escapism. We first get to know them in the midst of their ordinary lives — then we watch as an anniversary trip to Italy helps them blossom into fuller, better versions of themselves. Deeply grounded, poignantly felt, and spiritually generous, this is one of those romances that feels like more than entertainment.

At the start of this book we have an Edwardian-era upper-crust poly trio in a long-established relationship, and one lonely gossip journalist with class consciousness issues. It was incredibly transporting, a very persuasive snapshot of Edwardian London. Aubrey Fanshawe, our bisexual aristocrat with a tendency toward self-deprecation, is adorable and clumsy and utterly charming. Lucien Saxby, an army survivor turned gossip journalist painfully aware of the gap between his working-class roots and the nobs he writes about, is fascinating as someone who both desperately wants to care for someone and desperately wants not to be depended upon as a servant.

Poly romances are always most interesting to me when they use polyamory not for cheap drama, but to show the process of constant negotiation and communication required to sustain a web of relationships so complex and vulnerable. Swaying with the carriage, Aubrey stared at him in silence. Stark white lamplight glared through the windows, then faded into darkness, over and again. White shirt and pale face gleamed between the black coat and tall top hat, then disappeared into shadow: perfect symmetry revealed and then snatched away in regular, tantalizing rhythm.

The Decades series, with one black-centered historical per decade of the 20th century, has been an absolute godsend for people like me who love seeing romance authors branch out into less well-traveled historical eras. While heroine Constance navigates the shifting, unsteady pathways of mingled public and private grief, hero Nathaniel struggles with the emotional legacy of an abusive childhood.

How do you find purpose and joy in a world with so much tragedy built in? I was pleased and charmed at the start of the book, and the more I read the more profoundly I was moved. The characters are layered and self-doubting but the prose is frank and clear as crystal, which makes the moments of highest drama land with a resonant weight I can only describe as Shakespearean. At several points I actually gasped aloud.

The book has a longer timeframe than many romances — entire years occasionally pass between chapters — but that expansiveness suits the story beautifully. Easy to see what keeps them apart so long, too. Perlshaw, Georgia is a safe place to heal, but there comes a time in every healing when bandages should be stripped away and the world must be explored and enjoyed and confronted once again.

You see, Constance knew she had to grieve. She knew she had to grieve, but she also knew she had to live as well. And because grieving felt so much like joining Al in death, life was what she chose even though no one else chose that for her. So hard, in fact, that I started writing one. All I wanted was an Avon-style Regency with two heroines — why was this such an impossible quest?

Someone blushes at odd moments and her speech seems laden with double meanings — but of course the experienced reader can guess why! The ending is a beautiful, quiet triumph, and the more I think about it the happier I feel. To say too much about this book is to risk marring the reading of it, so I will simply leave you with one of the best and swooniest quotes, as one character grants Ann a lock of her hair:. My heart is in this curl, Ann. Do not lose it. Note: this post was changed after publication.

A sharp-eyed reader pointed out that several secondary characters in the Behind These Doors are people of color, when it was originally noted that the book was "very white". Olivia regrets the error, and has correctred it above. In my middle school Having A Crush was an accepted route to Being Interesting And Grown-Up, at least for the length of a slumber party, so it was stressful to be the only one not gushing over Tiger Beat heartthrobs with bowlcuts and multiple layers of shirt. Was there something wrong with me? Was I one of those lesbians people were just beginning to talk about where kids like me could hear?

This was a few years before Ellen. How did I know who I was until I knew who I loved? When I finally did develop feelings for a boy — hyperbolic, helpless, dreamy feelings that were plenty easy to identify — I stamped the label straight on myself with some relief and considered the matter closed. For twenty years. While I dated men and fell in love with men and married a man. The insistence on being born this way or I always knew that inflects a lot of gay rights discourse has not been entirely helpful when it comes to the erasure of bisexuality. The questions whispered by that small voice in the back of my head could be so easily ignored.

Sure, I tried to be an ally, and voted accordingly on every anti-discrimination and civil rights issue I could. Sure, I was occasionally poleaxed by how beautiful women could be. And I definitely liked men — some of them quite a lot! Or maybe I was doing it for the attention: secretly, silently swooning over the occasional woman without doing anything or telling anyone…for the attention. Sure, that makes sense. What did surprise me: it felt like coming home.

Gaining something, not losing something. I read every one I could find for the next three months. Sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary — good ones, really good ones , and ones that were only so-so. I started asking myself some rather pointed questions about tamped-down moments and experiences in my past.

And then a couple years later Mr. Waite and I were watching Brooklyn 99 with gorgeous badass detective Rosa Diaz and the scales tipped. I recall being in the kitchen getting popcorn when Mr. And then I stopped, and turned to Mr. Waite with a furrowed brow. Since then Stephanie Beatriz, the actress who plays Rosa Diaz, came out as bisexual.

Then Rosa was revealed as bi in a milestone episode and got a girlfriend. This still feels eerie and magical, like when someone offers you a gift you may have wished for but never told anyone about. A lot of lighter TV shows practically exploded with bisexual characters. I came out officially the day after the election because I wanted people to know where I stood, and with whom. I may be for thirty more years, who knows? Every time I talk about it — even in passing, or in low-key pieces like this one — it feels like sliding one foot oh so carefully out past the edge of the cliff.

You might as well try to drink whiskey from a pint glass not recommended. This could have made for a really unique, brave romance. She drives an imported car, wears designer clothing, and does adrenaline-fueled sports on the weekend motorcross to work off the stress of the corporate world. Leigh is determined to become a better golfer to impress her wealthy colleagues and boss. Peyton is DIY-installing secret video cameras in her apartment to film the abusive midnight visits of her parole officer, who likes to trash her apartment and cop a predatory feel.

These two have absolutely nothing in common except that they really want to fuck each other. It feels like the author is trying to corral them into a relationship, and the characters are digging in their heels. The only reason I finished the book was to see how long our heroines could hold out against authorial pressure. Some romance novels, like some relationships, are just not meant to be. Peyton stiffened, then relaxed against her, then quickly stepped away.

This latest volume is a contemporary retelling of Twelfth Night that involves a World Cup bid, a pro soccer player-turned-journalist, and a Belgian princess impersonating her twin brother while he recovers from an overdose. This is the kind of connective tissue that was missing from Fore Play — the sense of a shared struggle, or at least shared understanding of parallel struggles. Both heroines are reeling, in that dizzy headspace where bad ideas seem like great ideas. Impersonating your twin brother is the only way to win the World Cup bid! Themes of exposure, revelation, coming out, and disguise intertwine to keep things feeling complex without overwhelming.

The slender mystery subplot and beautifully rendered, rare locations Amsterdam! We start on page one with a shotgun wedding and things get increasingly fraught from there — it has all the intrigue you miss from the old crazysauce days of greats like Bertrice Small and Laura Kinsale, plus a pragmatic view toward queer lives in the 19th century Camilla is bisexual, and one particularly memorable secondary character is delightfully frank about her lesbianism.

But where Jane is cautious and stoic and principled, Camilla is flirtatious, impulsive, and embarrassingly hopeful in spite of everything the world has done to break her down. I loved her, and the on-page chemistry between her and Adrian — who is too open, too giving, and too painfully willing to offer kindness even to those who hurt him — is a deep well of conflict as well as comfort. He made everybody else seem utterly pallid by comparison. I must have read some variation on this no fewer than five hundred times.

What luck, that they had married at gunpoint, she had perhaps hoped he would say. God, it sounded stupid even admitting it in her head. You do not kill the dog. You do not have one character cheat on the other whether polyamory or scene play counts as cheating is a constant debate topic. And you do not, you absolutely do not have the story end with the characters not together. This book puts on riding boots and stomps that rule into the muck.

I have rarely been so angry and disappointed to hit the end of a story. Reader, I did my due diligence: this is a book I found in the Romance category on NetGalley, from a familiar romance publisher. It has a clinch cover, for the love of Garwood. The writing is superb : snarky, informal, self-deprecating, and keenly observed. Took the author less than two pages to win me over completely. Life moves pretty fast; novellas are a great way to get in a full story without a lot of time investment.

No length complaints here, if the story feels fleshed-out. This one did. Until the very last page. Our heroines — cynical heartbroken American Clara, and earnest Australian cowgirl Evie — are finally hooking up, after three days of riding and flirting along the Oodnadatta Track. I had a set of blissful notes all typed up ready for review. The book wound me up, and wound me up, and wound me up — and then it split the heroines up because the vacation was over. This book is a bait-and-switch, plain and simple.

The land kept going, a great sleeping serpent of ochre rock, sand, and dust. Before there was Dracula , there was Carmilla , a lesbian vampire serial. Later lesbian vampires became a whole Thing in horror cinema and pulp fiction, where the sinful, evil temptations of queer sex and female power mingled to terrify and titillate audiences assumed to be universally straight and male. But this series is definitely pitched at queer women, by a queer woman, and it shows; the conflict comes from strong personal relationships rather than predatory hunter-and-hunted patterns, consent is actively debated, and the third book in the series recently won the Lambda for LGBTQ Erotica.

Were amazingly good looks reason enough to trust your blood lusting captor? Seattle likes to make up for the long, grey winters by exploding as soon as the weather warms. A lot of those songs are love songs. Pop music is coded feminine the same way rock is coded masculine, and cultural heft is parceled out accordingly. Hell, even the early Beatles were mocked on account of their primarily female fanbase and girl-group hit covers—until male critics rewrote history after the fact to make them Official Preordained Geniuses of Rock.

How can you create something that evokes a real part of yourself and then turn around and sell it for money? This might explain why this rhetoric of annoyance centers so much around work by women and girls. But when a young woman offers up a piece about her love life, and then expects us to pay her, the culture clutches its pearls. One of our books this month features a s black couple whose romance unfolds through jazz numbers, studio sessions, and song lyrics. Miles and Leigh worry about sales and hits, about competing with other bands at other clubs.

But they also worry about getting the words just right—making them say something true, something real. Smooth-talking piano player Miles Cooper convinced good-girl church singer Leigh to run away with him to the big city—then snuck out of the boardinghouse while she slept and took her sheet music with him. Years later but mere paragraphs in book time Miles comes back, all soulful eyes, begging for a second chance. So Leigh—by now a successful speakeasy singer—punches him. Right hook to the jaw, no hesitation. He laughs, admits he deserved it, and promptly hands her the sheet music back.

Reader, I was delighted. This book is as bold and direct as red lipstick, the prose light and clean as an old and well-worn song. The next song started, and Leigh froze. Her heart started pounding. This is one of those rare romances that feels…comprehensive. The book has to jump around a bit in time to accomplish this, which means the pacing is somewhat measured, but the time is very well spent. Normally you only get that kind of layered double-reading pleasure quite late in the romance; having it turn up so early and so often is a real delight.

The days passed slowly, all at once.

Summer dripped over the city like spilled honey. This gem from Lindsay Evans has everything a category should: tight conflict, snappy prose, and character chemistry hot enough to burn the letters right off the page. Elle Marshall believes love gives humans hope, and has come on the show to promote her Atlanta business setting up memorable dates for couples. But everybody had to have a hobby. Every emotion in this one is dialed up to eleven, every mistake is compounded, every feeling is wrung out of the characters.

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One of the reasons I love paranormal romance is the way authors are glad to head straight to Bonkersville by the fastest train. There are ancestral ghosts giving advice and sex that unlocks magic powers and finally, finally someone writing fated mates as plot complications and not mere excuses for in-book stalking and jealousy. Our heroine Tess is a former foster kid, a jailbird, and a stone-cold badass. Her voice is hard-bitten and bluntly funny and so lonely you ache in glorious sympathy.

I wanted to hug her, then hand her a whiskey and tell her to kick back, then fight any of her enemies who dared to show their face. It makes total sense that our two heroes, smooth corporate type Harvey and ax-wielding biker Oliver, feel similarly: Harvey grew up in the same foster system as Tess, and Oliver has been having dreams of her for several years running.

Unlike governesses, cowboys, or BDSM sex club proprietors, astronaut heroes and heroines are not common enough to count as their own romance subgenre. I still read every one I can find like this small sampler because of how they dramatize one of the big tensions of romance: Staying versus Leaving.

Space is big! Space is the opposite of home. A lot of non-romance astronaut stories revolve around this idea as well: Gravity, Interstellar, and Apollo So in order to Stay—since any HEA depends upon the protagonists Not Leaving—the astronaut hero or heroine has to forgo going into space. An astronaut hero or heroine always has to find a reason to knowingly, willingly choose domesticity. It is a sacrifice. Shelly is an aerospace engineer who has designed a new kind of capsule. Our hero Lincoln is a hotshot test pilot and astronaut golden boy: he made a famously daring emergency shuttle landing that landed him on the cover of Time magazine.

Astronauts have to resist the temptation of space, and a lot of romance heroines have to learn that Career is Less Important Than Living Life, or whatever. I braced myself for the coming disappointment. Wrong again! After a suspense plot involving sabotage—the less said about this the better—Shelly becomes an astronaut.

A great astronaut. With her own solo picture on the cover of Time and everything. Because of course the Staying versus Leaving dynamic presumes one partner has no choice about staying. That game was rigged and I never noticed. But Shelly is given the choice. She chooses space because she wants it. She chooses Lincoln because she wants him, too. This month I intended to write something frothy about clothing in romance. About the linen and muslin and silk of historicals, the wool suits and high heels of contemporaries, the uniforms of sports romances, the dragon-scarred leathers of fantasy romance, or the nano-regulated synthetic fabrics of the future in SFR sci-fi romance, for those in the know.

But every time I reached into the froth I found a chunk of solid substance underneath that brought me up short. Fashion, we tell our youth, is a frivolous matter. Anyone who has ever overdressed for a party knows how nebulous the rules are, and yet how painful it is when you fail to follow them. But this meaning is as slippery as the rules: take, for instance, a red dress. I could probably write a fifty-page dissertation just on gloves in historical romance, without ever having to look beyond the books in my personal library.

Because clothing is never just about fabric, or even just about fabric and bodies. Fashion is a bit like a book, in that sense: one person puts it together, and another person looks at it, and the artistry happens in the space where the building and the looking connect. For some characters, clothing is a business; for others, a vital medium for self-expression and identity.

When my print copy of this lovely book arrived in the mail, it caught Mr. He picked it up, flipped to the back, gasped audibly, and slammed the book shut again. Reader, they were right. I knew the page as soon as I reached it. When I reached the end, I went right back to the beginning and read it a second time straight through. I am now ravenous for other people to read this book. Keeping it to myself feels positively selfish.

One shocking dress for a prickly client gets her fired — but it also gets her noticed by Prince Sebastian of Brussels. The two become partners in couture, best friends, and maybe something more — but political marriages, commercial opportunities, and the constricting nature of secret identities threaten the bond between them. It may be the happiest happy ending I have read in some time. I love a good unrequited plotline, and this one is particularly stunning. And of course they want Martha to be the maid of honor! And do all the party planning!

This story really knows how to twist the drama knife without going over the line into excruciating, and if Martha is a little frustrating at times, well, so is Emma Woodhouse. The words spilled out of my mouth before I could stop them, like the beads on a necklace that had snapped. They scattered everywhere, and it was impossible to catch them all now.

We begin at the wedding. The groom, the Duke of Ashmont, is drunk and growing belligerent. The bride, Lady Olympia Hightower, also drunk, was supposed to walk down the aisle half an hour ago. The groom sends his best friend, the Duke of Ripley, to investigate — he sees the bride slipping out the back window, and hies off in pursuit. As the chase extends, that first question — just what is our bride running from?

There are falls into mud puddles, a rescued pup, accidentally seeing each other in the bath, sudden thunderstorms soaking people to the skin, and so on. Oh, and Ripley is a romance reader: he loves a good pulpy story full of feelings, whereas bespectacled, antiquarian Olympia devises her own library organization systems and cares more for original Gutenberg incunabulae than for novels. And so, when he should have said, No, wait, and then added something sensible and correct Instead, he walked straight into trouble, the way he always did.

He walked the few steps to Doing the Wrong Thing. Then she was in his arms, soft and willing and learning far too quickly how to make him delirious. For instance: pronouns. But it was a scene I worried might hit some people more sharply than others, so I wanted to note it here. Now the subjective stuff: this book is a pleasure that cuts deep.

Cat Sebastian definitely draws her couples as strong contrasts, and here Robin is sunshine and springtime, while Alistair is all brooding stodginess and stern propriety. Up to a point, of course. Watching him learn to let his human heart show is satisfying; watching Robin learn to really feel as carefree as she pretends is painfully sweet. I devoured the whole thing in a single afternoon and was then good and useless for the next three days.

Alistair walked directly to the stables and was in his traveling chaise within a quarter of an hour. By the time he realized he was still holding the kitten it was too late to turn back. This is the oldest romance I have reviewed so far, but even though it was first published in it fizzes like the cork was just popped.

Heroine Anthea is freshly heartbroken and semi-destitute in mid-century Paris; she stumbles into a hair salon to avoid an awkward encounter and lands herself a job as a mannequin read: model for the best couture house in France. The stakes are personal but they feel infinitely meaningful; this is the kind of book where a spill of Merlot is as good as a murder.

Okay technically not this book — but its author Ida Cook writing as Mary Burchell used the funds from her romance career in the s to fund trips to Germany for herself and her sister. They went ostensibly to see some of the great opera performances of the age. In reality, they were smuggling valuables out of the country to help Jewish refugees, in direct defiance of Nazi law.

It was a terrible bind. If any border guards asked why they were so kitted out, they played the eccentric spinsters and said they had untrustworthy relatives at home, so they always traveled with all their jewelry.

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This worked at least a dozen times, and after the war the sisters were named Righteous Gentiles. We should all have such clarity of purpose. This becomes a weakness when an author forgets to also think about their characters as participants in systems. About power, both personal and political. About money and status and violence and community.

The best romances, obviously, deal with both. But then there are the other romances. Because the author somehow fails to appreciate the difference between a bad boy and a bad man. As with the infamous Nazi inspirational romance from two years ago — yeah, you heard me — this new book is a failure of empathy on a colossal level: redeeming its Nazi-turned-Stasi hero WTF WTF WTF requires you to gloss over violence inflicted on every other inhabitant of this fictional world.

I do not want to get sidetracked here. Nazi romances are definitely A Problem, but for the purposes of this column they are not The Only Problem. Blistering critique of a single bad book is vital, but so is trying to figure out why one specific type of bad book keeps showing up and crapping in our coffee. Romance readership is full of supposedly frivolous comment threads about popular characters like this one that are actually lengthy and nuanced conversations about forgiveness, redemption, ethics, and trust.

Extremely Chidi voice. We talk about consent both enthusiastic and dubious , and realism, and hope, and regret, and have very complex, mostly respectful debates about rape fantasies and survivorship and tokenism and representation. All the time. You know, for fun. Or slaveowners. Or stalkers. That this is somehow a daring and iconoclastic position, instead of the simple fetishization of power. Yes I fucking am. What are you spending time and thought and marketing money on?

What is taking up real-world or digital shelf space? Romance is never a neutral genre. When you designate someone as a hero or heroine in a romance, you are making an ethical claim. Porn is about someone being turned on. Romance is about who people turn into. Right now in this country we are seeing a surge in anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim rhetoric. We see white supremacy openly tied to the violent power of the state. Our neighbors are being deported, our children are being shot in appalling numbers, and our government hastens to cut medical coverage, especially for disabled Americans who depend on it the most.

To look at all this, then to decide that now is the time your self-pubbed fascist hero could really drum up some buzz and rake in the royalties — this is a selfish, selfish choice at best. But when it comes time to publish it, promote it, and profit from something this questionable, you should expect a more rigorous critique.

Tamsen Parker has the canniest timing in all of romance, because just as social media was exploding about the Olympics—and especially the super-duper platonic friends who just kiss each other on the neck and curl passionately around one another to romantic anthems gold-medal magic of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir —she released not one, but two books in her Snow and Ice Games series.

On the Edge of Scandal features a hockey coach struggling with chronic pain and his star player struggling with a douchebag boyfriend. One of these troubles is more easily eliminated than the other. More than any other author, her heroes feel like dudes you could be friends with in real life. Short-track speedskater Blaze Bellamy is a fire-haired, libidinous bruiser who lives to be in the spotlight.

Figure skater Maisey Harper is known as the Canadian Ice Princess: cold and aloof and outwardly prim. Sometimes the end of a romance feels like less like a conclusion and more like the beginning of a new book, one which the characters are starting to write together. This is definitely one of those. I have a terrible weakness for a scoundrel with heart of gold, and most especially scoundrelly princesses in lesbian fantasy novels.

This particular book gets off to a slow start so many fantasy god names, and we only just got here! Adale has nothing against Esofi whose blonde, plump prettiness appeals to her but believes herself completely incapable of being the kind of queen her country needs. Who is very aware of her responsibilities to her adopted people, even though she yearns to be loved for who she is and not just how useful she can be. This new one is the real deal: a queer-femme-centric, trans-inclusive, lushly realized fantasy romance with nonbinary forms of aristocratic and military address, political intrigue, dragons, political intrigue among dragons , and manipulative gods.

And a stupidly gorgeous cover. Do not miss this one. Esofi swallowed visibly. In the first book of this dynamic series we saw dance reality show judge Dimitri and star professional dancer Natasha both secondary characters hooking up, and arguing, and hooking up some more. We thought they were just dicking around. We thought it was only physical.

But oh, my friends, we were wrong. Has been from the moment they met. And Natasha? Has no idea how he feels. The emotional suspense this generates is exquisite. Both Dimitri and Natasha are driven, talented, ambitious, and hard-working. Family, creativity, friendship, when to ask for help and when you need to stand up and get things done on your own—this book has a lot going on, but it never feels like too much.

I enjoyed the first book, but this one? I fell utterly in love. Head over heels. That was it. That was the thing fluttering in her chest like a bird trying to fight free from a cage. It can be hard, sometimes, for readers who like their genres all to happen at once. Less common is to find one book or series that blends all these elements together. Especially in a historical setting, which is my absolute favorite. Second Sight , the first book, is still my favorite of the series on account of the heroine, Venetia.

An Ode to the Romance Novel (Feat. Lindsay Ellis) - It's Lit!

She can also see auras, which is one reason her photographs always appear to capture the essence of their subjects. Turns out, sex is fun! Venetia Jones, whose late, lamented husband died tragically and left her the money to start her business. Her photos become an instant fad among the aristocracy, who are eager to purchase portraits in this mysterious new medium. And then Gabriel Jones shows up, very much alive, and very interested to know why Venetia is going about town posing as his widow.

This is where the book really starts to have fun. There are aristocrats whose external beauty does not mask the terrible sins in their aura. Great for chill winter days, when it feels like the world will never be green again. He was the man she had been waiting for, the lover who was destined to ruin her. But first she wanted to photograph him.

In short, he is a giant ego-balloon, and the bigger he swells the more fun it is to buckle in and wait for the inevitable pin to find him. As much as we talk about alpha males in romance, ego-balloons are not only carried by musclebound alpha heroes. Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice famously has her own self-regard deflated a bit before the happy ending.

It has not, shall we say, left him struggling with the burden of self-doubt. Not only was he an excellent negotiator and a shrewd businessman, but having completed the tasks assigned him, he was well on his way to becoming a master waiter, too. And then the racket comes around and whack : ten minutes later, our master waiter is dumping fish into the lap of a VIP, setting fire to the fondue station, and getting unceremoniously fired by our heroine. Romances live and die on the alchemical reaction of reader expectations combining and combusting with the reality of the text.

We expect a happy ending — but what has to happen first? We expect a hero to be, well, heroic — but what if instead he is, as the old Princess Bride blurb goes, a son of a bitch? What must be: his transformation. The ultimate result is something that has long been deeply uncool to talk about with respect to literature: a moral. Trends or no trends, a good vampire novel is never out of style. He becomes annoyingly fixated on a witch named John, who is living under a truly frightening, isolating curse, and in the way of all romance they slowly annoy one another more and more intimately.

He paused for a minute, trying to put together all of the feelings inside of him, so many of them buried. He felt like an archaeologist, uncovering his own soul piece by piece. Nan's first love is a beautiful introduction to this coming-of-age tale, but her narrative evolves into so much more.

Recommended by Emily F. Leslie Feinberg is phenomenal because her writings remain extremely relevant to this day, which I find especially impressive because the field of gender studies evolves so quickly. Oftentimes I pick up a gender studies book and just from the vocabulary can tell it's dated, but that never happened to me while reading this book.

The concepts Feinberg presents are before their time. If you liked Stone Butch Blues , I promise you'll like This is an excellent resource that deals with bisexuality not as some kind of hybrid identity, but as a distinct orientation!!! Eisner articulates notions of biphobia and monosexism in a way I have not previously encountered — I cannot recommend this book enough. Recommended by Britney T. I dog-eared my way through this entire book. Audre Lorde tells her story of what it was like to be a lonely black lesbian woman coming to adulthood in early s NYC.

She writes with raw, poetic, political, and heartbreaking detail and never holds back. I recommend her work to every person who has ever used "feminist" when describing themselves. When I was a teenager living in a small town in central West Virginia in the mids, I often felt alone and ostracized.

I dared not come out of the closet as a lesbian, for fear of physical violence directed my way. One day in a thrift store, I came across a beat-up paperback copy of Rubyfruit Jungle , a coming-of-age story set partially in the South and partly in New York City, and featuring an openly gay woman.

To say that it changed This collection will break your heart over and over, but it will lift you up and give you hope, too. Because love is love. This adorable comic is about a group of people and a goldfish who get turned into magical girls whether they like it or not! It's cute, hilarious, and diverse. Recommended by Hannah B. Another Brooklyn is a beautiful, brief, pressing book. August moves from rural Tennessee to Brooklyn with her dad and younger brother.

She waits every day for her mom to join them. Initially they watch the scene from their bedroom window, forbidden from going outside. Eventually they are freed, and August links up with three magnetic girls she had seen walk arm-in-arm below her window. Growing up is messy anywhere, but especially here The story setup is reminiscent of The Secret History , but the language and themes are all Yanagihara. Spanning five decades, this is a hefty novel at pages, but one that you will wish would never end.

Focusing on a quartet of friends who move to New York together after college, A Little Structurally sound, emotionally resonant, and startlingly erotic, this novel explores both lust and love in the lives of two men, as they attempt to find Garth Greenwell writes a poignant story touching on gay life, sex work, relationships, and longing, as well as a heartfelt love letter to Bulgaria. The transaction seems tidy enough in the beginning, but as the relationship progresses, it becomes muddy with desire, passion, and eventually obsession.

It becomes murkier still with jealousy, In October of , Ariel Levy was pregnant, married, a homeowner, and financially stable. One month later, none of those things were true. Recommended by Mary Jo S. I hadn't read any of Maggie Nelson's other work before this, so I was unfamiliar with the stream of consciousness style of writing.

Once I got into the book, however, I found the notes in the margin helpful guides, and I quickly passed this book along once I was finished with it. This book speaks to so many core human experiences, like childbirth, parenthood, queerness, and just being alive, that I was deeply and unexpectedly moved. This is a book you can easily devour within a weekend, but one whose characters and story will stay with you long after. It's about a gay teenager living in a hospital after the deaths of his family and moving through his own "Five Stages of Grief" to find himself once again.

Though it's marketed as a young adult novel, it certainly has the potential for a much wider audience with its complex storytelling and universal themes such as overcoming On the day she first kisses a girl, Cameron Post's parents die in a car accident. She keeps kissing girls. Eventually, someone's bound to catch on. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a captivating coming-of-age story of a queer girl growing up in rural Montana.

Seriously well written and engaging, this is a book that will stay A captivating ride through the darker side of being young and rich in LA in the '80s. Take a couple of days and immerse yourself in this evocative and frightening portrait of a subculture. Recommended by Nicholas Y. Immerse yourself in this daring work of absolute genius. This is magic!

In addition to the letters, there are a few short comics that are touching and unique. David Levithan's letter is a personal favorite of mine in this collection. The writing of Bret Easton Ellis disturbs me, but sometimes in a good way, and this is him at his best. Lunar Park is one of the novels that shook me from my chair, frightened me and made me uncomfortable, but kept me completely riveted.

This fluid, first-person story seemed so realistic that at first I thought it was entirely biographical, until he started introducing supernatural elements, and even then I'm not convinced there isn't Guapa takes place over a single day, following Rasa, a young queer Muslim man as he navigates the aftermath of two crises — the sputtering disappointment of the Arab Spring and accompanying authoritarian backlash, and the fact that his domineering grandmother Teta, the only family he has, has just caught him with his lover.

Stuck between the social propriety of his grandmother and deeply closeted lover on one side and the passionate Part erotic thriller, part psychological study, part murder mystery, The Paying Guests is an intricate tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Frances and her mother live in a large estate in a small English village, but after having lost all the male members of their family in the war, they are faced with taking in lodgers in order to make ends meet. The young married couple who moves in seems fine at first, but Frances begins Bechdel first became well-known as a cartoonist for her long-running series Dykes to Watch Out For When Fun Home was published in , it was clear her work had taken a much different direction.

She says that Fun Home is about how she learned to be an artist from her father. Bechdel narrates her childhood No one is better than Tom Spanbauer at exposing the hidden pain inside us. In I Loved You More , he reaches even deeper, plumbing the terror of death, love, AIDS, cancer, propinquity, and the complex business of being a man in the world. Recommended by Gigi L. Hello, Login. Visit Our Stores. Overthrow A Novel Caleb Crain [isbn] I loved all the characters in Caleb Crain's Overthrow , and how the narrators bounced between them, while keeping the plot moving forward.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays Alexander Chee [isbn] In this collection of essays, Alexander Chee weaves his personal and political memory and history into a detailed fabric depicting his life as a queer writer in the world today. Zuckerberg [isbn] As welcoming as it is informative, this joyful guide celebrates both the questions you may have and the answers you might find. Neither Airlie Anderson [isbn] From the perspective of an agender person, this is a book I wish was available when I was growing up.

Jonny Appleseed Joshua Whitehead [isbn] Intimate and earnest, like a late-night conversation with a friend, Whitehead's novel captures the challenges of leaving home and being an outsider no matter where one goes. Less: A Novel Andrew Sean Greer [isbn] Arthur Less, a mid-list author with his best work behind him, stares down the barrel of his upcoming 50th birthday and feels forlorn.

Sodom Road Exit Amber Dawn [isbn] Sodom Road Exit is a rollicking and genuinely spooky lesbian ghost story, helmed by a swaggering queer protagonist who would rather jump horror's bones than scream. Princess Princess Ever After Katie O'Neill [isbn] In a world full of fairy tales that follow the same patterns, this one stands out for breaking gender roles and providing fantastic representation for queer kids looking for a fairy tale ending. Sugar Town Hazel Newlevant [isbn] Sugar Town is a wondrous little love story about polyamory, queer dance parties, gentle doms, and really excellent communication.

Little Fish Casey Plett [isbn] Little Fish is a story centered around Wendy — a trans woman who, after a family death, begins to suspect her late Mennonite grandparent may have been trans too. Safe Girl To Love Casey Plett [isbn] Casey Plett's stunning collection of stories star trans women who are fully fleshed out and profoundly human — something our society, with its regular habit of presenting trans women as cardboard cutouts, rarely accomplishes.

Salt Fish Girl Larissa Lai [isbn] Salt Fish Girl is a phenomenal creation story resembling The Little Mermaid , wherein our fishlike goddess falls in love with one of her creations and sacrifices everything to become human. Every Heart a Doorway Seanan Mcguire [isbn] When I was a kid I had a recurring dream about the door to my crawlspace opening and calling me to a place that felt otherworldly, and I wished so badly that it would actually happen.

Pervert Michelle Perez, Remy Boydell [isbn] The Pervert is a monster, at various times choking me with my own tears and at others shaking me with my own laughter. Stray City Chelsey Johnson [isbn] I absolutely flew through this unique debut. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness Nagata Kabi [isbn] Both laugh-out-loud funny and heart-wrenchingly sad, My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is a beautiful queer narrative that shouldn't be overlooked. Ash Malinda Lo [isbn] This spellbinding read is perfect for fans of fractured fairy tales or Celtic mythology.

Autonomous Annalee Newitz [isbn] Kudos for excellent world building. Even This Page Is White Vivek Shraya [isbn] I devoured this book in two sittings, but it is something that merits reading again and again and again. Jeanette Winterson [isbn] This is the funniest sad book I have ever read. Nevada Imogen Binnie [isbn] Finally, a story about a trans women that was created for an audience of trans women. Anna Pulley [isbn] If you're a lesbian or queer person, you might struggle to find yourself represented in the mainstream haiku media; but fear not, for The Lesbian Sex Haiku Book is now here with cats!

Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue Leslie Feinberg [isbn] Leslie Feinberg is phenomenal because her writings remain extremely relevant to this day, which I find especially impressive because the field of gender studies evolves so quickly. Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution Shiri Eisner [isbn] This is an excellent resource that deals with bisexuality not as some kind of hybrid identity, but as a distinct orientation!!!

Love is Love Marc Andreyko [isbn] This collection will break your heart over and over, but it will lift you up and give you hope, too. Power Up Kate Leth, Matt Cummings [isbn] This adorable comic is about a group of people and a goldfish who get turned into magical girls whether they like it or not! What Belongs to You Garth Greenwell [isbn] Garth Greenwell writes a poignant story touching on gay life, sex work, relationships, and longing, as well as a heartfelt love letter to Bulgaria.

The Argonauts Maggie Nelson [isbn] I hadn't read any of Maggie Nelson's other work before this, so I was unfamiliar with the stream of consciousness style of writing. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley Shaun David Hutchinson and Christine Larsen [isbn] This is a book you can easily devour within a weekend, but one whose characters and story will stay with you long after.

Danforth [isbn] On the day she first kisses a girl, Cameron Post's parents die in a car accident. Autobiography of Red Anne Carson [isbn] Immerse yourself in this daring work of absolute genius. Guapa Saleem Haddad [isbn] Guapa takes place over a single day, following Rasa, a young queer Muslim man as he navigates the aftermath of two crises — the sputtering disappointment of the Arab Spring and accompanying authoritarian backlash, and the fact that his domineering grandmother Teta, the only family he has, has just caught him with his lover.

The Paying Guests Sarah Waters [isbn] Part erotic thriller, part psychological study, part murder mystery, The Paying Guests is an intricate tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Browse by Staff Member. Abigail R. Adam P. Adrianna S. Adrienne C. Alec B. Alex K. Alex Y. Amanda P. Amber N. Amy W Amy W. Andy A. Angelo R. Ann P. Anna F. Anna M. Anna O. Ashleigh B. Aubrey W. Azalea M.

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