This year’s reading goals were to read, remember to record the books I read, and to seek out more diverse romance authors. I’m nowhere near hitting my reading goal for the year, unfortunately, but, so far, I have managed to succeed with the other two goals. While many people are starting to think of “diversity” as just another buzz word in fiction, the fact is the world is diverse. It always has been, and always will be. But, the stories that we consume in print, TV, film, haven’t always reflected that diversity. Now that authors are finding ways to bring their stories to the public, I find myself wanting to inhale all of their tales in an effort to re-shape the way my entertainment looks. Finally, my entertainment has caught up with my reality.
So, what have been some of my favorite romance reads of the year so far?
In Her Closet and Everything She Never Wanted by Tasha L. Harrison. Books 1 and 2 in The Lust Diaries, chronicling the life and times of Yves Santiago.
What did I love about them? I loved the fact that the book was full of people of color. They were rich and vibrant characters, who were good and bad, made mistakes, sometimes made MORE mistakes, tried to fix things, and just lived the kind of lives that have been available to white main characters for many years. It represented a reality that many of us see day to day but haven’t been able to find in books. There were well meaning, but out of line and interfering family members, old loves, new temptations, and, of course, a fantastic hero with secrets and baggage of his own. Besides being ethnically diverse, Yves is also a heroine who is not ashamed of her sexuality. She doesn’t agonize over it. She embraces it, and refuses to be shamed by the expectations and demands of others. And all of that goodness is in addition to the great chemistry between the heroine and hero. The two of them sizzle on the page, and Harrison brings a sense of wonder and anticipation and innocence to a heroine jaded by her experiences with men. I recommend this to everyone who doesn’t mind books that don’t mind waiting for a happily ever after, who are reading to ride the emotional roller coaster, and who are comfortable with erotic romance.
Kilted for Pleasure by Melissa Blue
What did I love about it? First, I loved that this was book 3 of a series, and you could jump right in without feeling you were missing a beat. There are some characters who show up that you’d know if you read the first two books, but I didn’t feel like I’d missed anything by starting the series here. I’m a sucker for wounded heroes, and Callan Baird, the widower, drew me in as fast as any hero this year. I loved that Blue was writing about modern day Scots, in a market that is glutted with historical Scots in kilts and fighting with swords. The heroine was a classic fish out of American waters, but you got to experience her falling in love with Scotland, as well as with a surly, sexy Scot. Lastly, the secondary characters were teeming with personality and life, making me want her to write about this Scottish town, and its inhabitants, until everyone in town has their own happily ever after…..and then she can start on their children. I recommend this to everyone who wants to read about a hero and heroine in 21st century Scotland, people who are a sucker for wounded heroes, and for people who aren’t afraid of getting sucked into the Baird vortex.
Hate F*@k – Ainsley Booth
What did I love about it? It might be easier to start with what I didn’t love about it, and that would be the title. Even while I was intrigued by the title, I thought it was a gimmick, and that it really didn’t add anything to the book except for a hesitancy to pick it up for many people. Once you get past the title, however, you find yourself wrapped up in a fascinating story of two people who, by the way, do NOT hate each other. They have different goals, and come from two very different worlds, but it’s clear from the very beginning that their chemistry is derived from anything but hate. And, while they push against each other’s boundaries, there is also a respect, and even a grudging friendship that develops. Does that mean it all goes smoothly? HA! Oh no. Not even a little bit. But Cole and Hailey have some of the best chemistry in romance that I’ve read this year, and you want, no you need, to see them make it to their happily ever after. Along the way, you get acquainted with Cole’s equally delectable co-workers, and the makings of a series come together.
I came across some very good romance already in 2015, and I have no reason to doubt that the rest of the year will be just as enjoyable. Happy Reading!
Robin Bradford is an Illinois librarian newly resettled in Washington at Timberland Regional Library, where she orders adult fiction, feature films (and TV!), and music CDs. You can find her on twitter as @Tuphlos, talking #collectiondevelopment, books, movies, and libraries.