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 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!
THE 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.
I 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!
I 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.
Sometimes 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?
I’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.
I’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:-
My 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!