What We’re Reading!

Christina here and it’s time for our monthly roundup of what we’ve been reading! As always, we have a very varied selection and hope you will find something you like the sound of. And please add to our must-have lists in the comments below by letting us know what you have enjoyed as well. We’ve got our credit cards at the ready!

We’re starting off with Patricia:-

Space JunkSPACE JUNK: HOUSTON, WE HAVE A HOTTIE by Sara L. Hudson. I wasn’t going to report on this one because it’s half hot sex, so I skimmed a whole lot. The sex scenes were fine. I’m just not interested. But the book’s premise and some of the scenes stuck with me, so I thought maybe there are others out there who might be as amused as I was. Jackie is a genius PhD working for NASA. She was always too young for the people around her and the only time she got into the dating scene, she got burned. So she wears her geek glasses and Chucks and pays no attention to where she lives or what she drives. Until she meets Flynn. He’s a college graduate millionaire who decided to be a mechanic, and her geekiness completely turns him on. She doesn’t know who he is and doesn’t care, but she loves that he teaches her to hot wire cars. She loves his mid-century modern house and his cool muscle cars. What is really fascinating is the detail the book goes into about NASA and astronauts—in a romcom! The characterization is entertaining, and there is obviously room for lots more books in the series. Excellent writing, good humor, hot sex … if that’s your bag, go for it!

Sharon ShiTHE SHUDDERING CITY, Sharon Shinn. I think Mary Jo probably mentioned this one earlier, but it’s worth repeating. Shinn is a master class in world building. In this book, the world is a continent inhabited by several different races. The scientific peninsula of Corcannon worships a god that pulled together a bunch of islands into a continent so all the different peoples might trade and be healthier and happier, which is all very well and good, until the continent starts shuddering with earthquakes. The priests believe the blood of the god’s descendants is needed to oil the machinery to keep the continent from breaking up again. Shinn glues this impossible world together with characters of all walks of life, and colors them as intricately as their world. They come to life with goals and motivations and deep emotions that keep the pages turning. I want to be Shinn when I grow up. This is romantic fantasy the way it should be written.

Mary Jo:- 

RestInI just finished REST IN PINK, Book 2 of the Jennifer Crusie/Bob Mayer Liz Danger trilogy, which continues the tale of hi-jinks and mayhem occurring in the small village of Burney, Ohio. Native daughter Liz Danger has returned to her hometown after many years away and discovered new things about her family and also meets the hot cop and former Army Ranger, Vince Cooper. Both are commitment-phobes, but their continuing series of one night stands suggest that there's more going on and maybe they should think about where they're going. Plus attention must be paid to the arsonist and the ongoing saga of the 392 teddy bears. Lots of action, banter, and romance make for a fun read. Book 3 of the trilogy, One in Vermillion, will be released on September 19th, and I'm looking forward to seeing how all the wild threads are wrapped up!

DropDeadI also read DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, by Rachel Gibson. She's known for her contemporary romance, but this book is more–women's fiction with magic and humor? Heroine Brittany Lynn Snider is a Texas hairdresser with a good heart and bad taste in men. On the way to hook up with a Tinder date called HotGuyNate, she crashes her mother's minivan and finds herself in a kind of limbo for people in comas who may or may not survive. She'd like to return to her old life, but she's been a good churchgoing believer and gets used to the idea of heaven.

She's being drawn toward the portal to heaven when Edie, a mean, skinny, socialite from Detroit, shoves her aside and grabs her slot. THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN! So the authorities give her a second chance at life, but she has to become Edie, so she wakes up in a stranger's body and is diagnosed with amnesia; she still has her Brittany memories but she's in Edie's life. It's complicated! There's humor and a romance, but the real story is how Brittany evolves and learns to live the life she's been given. Hard to explain, but I enjoyed it.

Christina:-

Cowboy in a KiltSometimes it’s fun to read a book that mixes sub-genres and COWBOY IN A KILT by Kait Nolan is one such story. I know not everyone likes ‘men in kilts’ stories (although I do), but this isn’t just that because it features a bona fide Texas cowboy who ends up in Scotland (and yes, wearing a kilt, at least for his wedding). Raleigh Beaumont has been cheated out of his inheritance – the ranch that’s been in his mother’s family for six generations – by a scheming step-mother and he ends up in Vegas drowning his sorrows. There he meets a woman who invites him to play poker with her. She loses, seemingly on purpose, and he finds himself the owner of an estate and a barony in Scotland.

At first he thinks it’s a prank, but it turns out to be true so he travels to his new domains. What he wasn’t told was that in order to keep the estate, he has to marry the daughter of the neighbouring property. If they don’t marry, they will both lose their homes because of some ancient pact made generations earlier. Kyla MacKean already has a boyfriend, but knows she has to do her duty to save the castle that’s been in her family for 900 years. She and Raleigh come up with a plan – they’ll marry and live together for a month, then divorce after a year’s legal separation. That way they both get what they want. But of course, things don’t quite go to plan … I really enjoyed this story and Raleigh is a wonderful hero – intelligent, compassionate and protective, and always willing to listen and learn, rather than pushing his own agenda. And a hero in a kilt AND a Stetson? What’s not to like?

Nicola:-

The bullet thatI’ve spent most of August deep in my writing cave so I’ve had very little reading time (but the book is finished! Yay!) The one thing that I did read was the latest Thursday Murder Club book by Richard Osman, which is called THE BULLET THAT MISSED. This is book 3 in a hugely successful cosy crime series and it was the one I enjoyed the most so far. The residents of the Coopers Chase retirement village are investigating the disappearance of a journalist ten years previously. She was on to a big and dangerous story – but what became of her when her car was found at the bottom of the cliff?

As ever, the members of the Thursday Murder Club, Ron, Ibrahim, Joyce and Elizabeth are delightful foils for each other with their interactions, vastly different back stories and their friendship that grows stronger with each book. There is a lot of humour and also affection in the way that Richard Osman depicts them. It’s brilliant to see older characters who are clever, sparky, attractive people with so much to offer. I get so tired of books where people my age (and older) are so dull and stereotypical! Plus there is not one but two sweet romances in the book which is a bonus. I loved it and it made me smile.

Andrea:-

HelloI’ve been huffing and puffing to make a book deadline, so haven’t had much time for reading. But I managed to sneak in HELLO BEAUTIFUL by Ann Napolitano, which is a heartfelt story about four close-knit sisters and the complexities of sibling closeness, family ties, love and friendship as they navigate the challenges of finding themselves. Julia, the oldest, is the mother hen who sees her responsibility as orchestrating everyone’s life. She knows exactly what she wants and pursues happiness with a laser-like focus, beginning with her freshman year in college, when she sets her sights on William, a shy, only child star basketball player. Her younger sisters are introduced to him early, and approve … and thus begins a complicated journey. Julia has mapped out all their lives. She and William marry on graduation and begin a perfect life. But when an unexpected tragedy strikes, they all must find their own way of dealing with it. Told in vignettes from all five perspectives, the book explores the nuances of expectations, disappointments, heartbreak, loyalty and failure with gentle sensitivity and occasional humor. I very much enjoyed it. 

And last but not least, here's Anne:-

CodenameCharmingMy most recent read is Lucy Parker's new book, CODENAME CHARMING, which is set behind the scenes in the household of a royal princess — the newly married goth Princess Rosie, and her commoner husband, the lovely but accident-prone Johnny. The heroine, Pet (Petunia), is Johnny's PA, and when paparazzi start suggesting she's having an affair with Johnny, the princess asks her and Matthias, one of the royal bodyguards, to draw off the press attention by pretending to have an affair of their own. Of course you know what's going to happen, and an enjoyable ride it is, but the real pleasure in the book is Lucy Parker's writing, so sharp and funny and fresh. Recommended.

I've also been glomming Jill Mansell books — women's fiction/romance with two and sometimes three romances in each book that eventually twine together. And when Pat mentioned she'd read Sharon Shinn's THE SHUDDERING CITY, it inspired me to reread an old favorite of Sharon Shinn's, TROUBLED WATERS, the first in a quartet I really like. I've read all of Sharon Shinn's books, and am waiting for her new book, WHISPERING WOOD, which is coming out in November.  

So what have you all been reading? Please send us your recommendations!

31 thoughts on “What We’re Reading!”

  1. Great suggestions, as always. I’m still binge rereading by mystery series in between proofreading/revising my own books for rerelease in omnibus editions. I’m about halfway through Lindsey Davis’s Marcus Didius Falco series (humorous historical mysteries). For balance, I threw in Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich (one of the older Stephanie Plums) and the newest (#33) in Donna Andrews’ cozy series, Birder, She Wrote. If you like light, funny mysteries with eccentric characters, I highly recommend Donna’s books. All have some sort of bird in the title.

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  2. Thank you, Kathy Lynn, those all sound great! I’ve been meaning to read the Lindsey Davis books for ages – must start soon!

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  3. I’m currently reading Claudia Grey’s “The Late Mrs. Willoughby.” All our favorite Austen characters are involved in yet another mystery. They are recovering from the house party thrown by Mr. and Mrs. Knightly where Mr. Wickham was murdered. (in the first book, “The Murder of Mr. Wickham.”) Now, Johnathan Darcy, the shy eldest son of, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, has been invited to a house party with his old schoolmate and nemesis John Willoughby, who is newly married. Jonathan has calculated how long he can stay, before he can leave. His prospects improve when he discovers his friend Juliet Tilney, the daughter of Rev. Henry and Catherine Tilney, is staying with her new friend Mrs. Marianne Brandon. I suspect there is a slow burning romance blossoming between Jonathan and Juliet, or the two amateur sleuths will be discovered alone without a proper chaperone. They had a close call in the first book when Mr. Darcy discovers them tete a tete discussing the murder. These two books have the potential of becoming an excellent series.

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  4. Just finished T. Kingfisher’s Thornhedge, which I loved. Her writing is just so comforting. And, in my opinion, there is always room for fairy tale retellings/re-imaginings.

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  5. What a fun assortment of books mentioned above. I’ve already read a couple and have requested another from the library.
    Thank you to all the Word Wenches and the commenters for this monthly column.

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  6. Since last time ~
    — For my distant book group, I read The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves. The book takes place in 1991 and 2001 and features a college student with autism and the young man who she dates. I found it an enjoyable and somewhat predictable read but fairly light (though it did have some sad events).
    — the contemporary male/male romance To the Moon and Back by N.R. Walker which I enjoyed. This was set in Australia and featured the single father of a newborn and a nanny.
    — a graphic novel which was an okay read, Star Trek: Picard-Countdown by Kirsten Beyer.
    — stayed up late to finish Hello Stranger by Katherine Center which I quite enjoyed. It featured a portrait painter who experiences face blindness after surgery and two men in her life.
    — read an enjoyable contemporary male/male romance that had me laughing aloud ~ Awfully Ambrose (Bad Boyfriends, Inc.) by Sarah Honey. This featured two college students, one of whom hired the other to act as a boyfriend after his mother kept matchmaking.
    — read Remember Me by Mary Balogh; this is a historical romance in which the female lead overhears the ultimate hero make a disparaging remark about her. Part of it strained credulity, but it did grab my attention and made me teary eyed near the end.
    — read a contemporary m/m novella, A New Pack For New Year by Kiki Clark, which was an okay read. This featured an abused werewolf joining a new pack and finding his mate.
    — Last month, for my distant book group, I read The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. Reread it for my local book group and enjoyed it once again.
    — quite enjoyed Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. It’s about a recently divorced woman who decides to go on a wilderness survival course in an effort to make positive changes in her life. The best friend of her annoying younger brother signs up for the same course. This book made me laugh aloud, but it also had depth and poignancy.
    — quite enjoyed the contemporary romance, Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon, which featured a ghostwriter and a man famous for his acting work as a younger man. They meet, connect, and have a one night stand. Unlike most romances, the sex is the worst the heroine has ever experienced, and she sneaks away soon thereafter. They meet again when the heroine is being asked to ghostwrite the hero’s memoir. This made me laugh a lot but also addressed some serious issues.
    — found The E.T. Guy by V.C. Lancaster to be a light enjoyable science fiction romance. The E.T. guy from the title is an alien who works in I.T. and the heroine is an immigration officer for aliens.
    — reread Good Deeds by Kathryn Moon which was a reverse harem romance featuring a female alien and several androids.
    — read a nonfiction book, Stitch Draw: Design And Technique For Figurative Stitching by Rosie James. This was a quick read, and I plan to pass it along to the woman who hosts the monthly art gathering I attend.
    — reread the science fiction romance, Only Bad Options by Jennifer Estep, which I enjoyed once again. I look forward to reading the sequel which was recently released.
    — quite enjoyed the contemporary romance, Lucky by Gigi DeGraham, even though it did strain credulity from time to time. It featured three teens in their last year of high school.
    — quickly read the comic collection Simon’s Cat: It’s a Dog’s Life by Simon Tofield which made for a fun ten-ish minutes.
    — Beyond the Next Star by Melody Johnson was a science fiction romance. When the story begins, it’s been five years since the heroine was abducted from earth. She’s now on a planet that loves unusual pets and has just been purchased as a companion animal by a new owner who has PTSD. It was an unusual story.
    — reread a book I read the previous week and enjoyed it again ~ Lucky by Gigi DeGraham. This was a romance featuring three older teens at an elite prep school; one is a scholarship student who lives in a trailer park. There were definitely some things that strained credulity, but I liked it and can see rereading it again.
    — a contemporary romance that I enjoyed ~ Codename Charming by Lucy Parker. It featured a personal assistant and a bodyguard both of whom work for the husband of a princess. It made me laugh a number of times.
    — plus a host of book samples.

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  7. That sounds like fun, Pamela, especially mixing up characters from all the various Austen stories! Thank you for telling us about this.

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  8. Wow, that’s quite a list Kareni! Many thanks for sharing it with us – sounds like a lot of promising reads on there.

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  9. What a fascinating bunch of books. As an FYI, Cowboy in a Kilt is still free on Amazon. Amazingly enough, I’d bought it earlier this month. Guess I need to bump it up in the que.
    As for me…I worked on re-eading many of the books in the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. The books are so much better than the TV series. In fact, not much is similar besides the names!
    Read Quite a few new to me books as well.
    About a Rogue by Caroline Linden. Karin recommended this book in Mar 2023 and I really enjoyed it. So much that I’ve purchased the next 2 books in the series. It is a Marriage of Convenience, deep dark secrets, learning to live and to love each other. h is an heiress to a pottery.
    Yours Truly and Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez. Kareni recommended Yours Truly in May 2023 and my sister passed on Part of Your World earlier this month. Both were very good. I almost think Yours Truly is the best. Both are somewhat angsty but not unbearably. Both were fun. both h’s are ER doctors, 1 H is an ER doctor with severe anxiety issues. I learned a lot about how he managed his anxiety. The 2nd H is Inn Keeper, talented woodworker, unofficial Mayor of his town.
    Lots of growth and learning to accept and like themselves. Definitely growing to the point where they realize they DESERVE better and they deserve to be with the one they love.
    The Lady from Burma – Allison Montclair. The latest book in the Sparks & Bainbridge series. LOVED the ending. A nice set up for moving on to the next book and Gwen regaining control of her life. Interesting developments between Gwen and her FIL. Iris & Gwen are maturing/overcoming past trauma’s nicely. Learned even more about lunacy court in England.
    West End Earl – Bethany Bennett. Fascinating Regency romance. A woman in disguise as a man and land steward. Becomes friends with his/her employer the Earl. The Earl finds out he is a she. They fall in love. But there are many betrayals and deep hidden secrets. Then h, in her land steward guise marries the Earls sister… So on and so forth. It was a very intriguing book. There is of course, a very HEA… Will definitely read on with the series.

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  10. That looks like a great list, Vicki, thank you! And good to know Cowboy in a Kilt is still free. I really liked it!

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  11. I’ve read quite a few already listed since we were on the road for over a month. A shout out to Christina for The Silent Touch of Shadows & Pat for The Secrets of Wycliffe Manor. Hubby & I both read The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis. What a ride. Creepy one by Paulette Kennedy – Parting the Veil. I read The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart. I just can’t believe there are still some of hers I haven’t read! I mean I have her books on my keeper shelf! I’m now reading The Ivy Tree. In that book she mentions Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey since it plays into the storyline. Also mentions the Tichborne case which is the subject of a new book by Zadie Smith- The Fraud. Soooo – I’ll be reading those two next. Talk about rabbit hole.

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  12. My TBR pile has grown exponentially since yesterday. But the pile is untouched. This month, I finally read Anne’s The Laird’s Bride. Just lovely. And there are two recent re-reads: Nora Roberts’ Identity and Sharon Sala’s Once in a Blue Moon, which is part of her “Blessings, Georgia” series. Oh, and one more: Justine Davis’s Operation Blind Date, which is part of her “Cutter’s Code” series. For those of you who may not know, Cutter is a wicked smart and possibly sentient Belgian Malinois. The series so far had 16 books. Book 17 is on the horizon for 2024 I,’ve already pre-ordered it. Happy reading to all.

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  13. I mentioned last time that I was just about to start ‘The Covenant of Water’ by Abraham Verghese – it was really good, spanning the twentieth century, and just interesting to reflect on the many changes that have taken place through the lens of one family’s experiences. However, it did therefore have a lot of (borrowing Kareni’s phrase) sad events, one of which I found especially difficult to read.
    Also Sophia Holloway’s The Chaperone – she’s become an auto-buy author for me – I am always looking for another Heyer, and she comes close. I particularly enjoyed one of the secondary romances – the chaperone is minding, in her mother’s absence, both her younger sister and her wayward cousin. I would have loved a book from the wayward cousin’s pov.

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  14. Thank you so much, Jeanne, I’m really pleased you enjoyed our stories! And the rest of your list sounds great too. Isn’t it funny how we go down these rabbit holes? Always fun though!

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  15. The Laird’s Bride is wonderful, isn’t it! And I love the sound of a smart and sentient Malinois – will go and check that out. Thank you and happy reading to you too!

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  16. I can’t handle sad stories at the moment so will give the first one a miss, but thank you for the second recommendation, Marianne! Always good to find authors who write in true Heyer style.

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  17. Thanks for all the book suggestions. Wonderful lists.
    Some of the best books I read this month –
    Leigh Duncan – The Secret at Sugar Sand Inn
    Verity Bright – Death on Deck
    Jude Deveraux – The Girl From Summer Hill
    Jude Deveraux – Met Her Match
    Suzanne Enoch – Every Duke Has His Day
    LAST BUT SURELY NOT LEAST —-
    Patricia Rice – The Mystery of the Missing Heiress
    The Wycliffe Manor Series is a wonderful one.
    I read other books some were good, but these were best for me

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  18. Vicki L., I’m so glad you enjoyed “About a Rogue”. And thanks for the heads up on “The Lady From Burma”. I just started reading it, and Gwen’s situation has given me some anxiety, so I’m hoping for a good resolution of that plot thread.
    Caroline Linden recently released a new book in her previous Wagers of Sin series. It’s called “Fortune Favors the Viscount” and I very much enjoyed it. And I totally loved Julie Anne Long’s “You Were Made To Be Mine”. It’s an absolute delight, from start to finish, but it helps to have read the whole Palace of Rogues series, because characters from previous books appear quite a bit.
    I am taking another run at Ashley Gardner’s Captain Lacey Regency mystery series. I read the first one years ago, and even though I liked it, I somehow never got around to continuing the series although I have bought quite a few of the books whenever I saw a good sale on Kindle. So now I am rereading from the beginning. As you probably know, Gardner is another Jennifer Ashley nom de plume.

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  19. Thank you for your list, Annette – all looks great! I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment in Patricia’s new series. It’s lovely isn’t it!

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  20. Thank you so much for all those recommendations, Karin! And I’m glad everyone is finding something they like here.

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  21. I finally finished the library’s Bookopoly and am now free to read what I want. I especially liked Becky Chalmers’ “A Psalm for the Wild Built”, “To be Taught, If Fortunate” and “A Prayer for the Crown Sky”. I’m presently reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Under Heaven” set in early China and I think I’ve found a new author to binge on! I’m also on a Grace Burrowes reread.

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