The Ex Talk very much appealed to the NPR nerd in me, so if you like romance and you like public radio, you probably don't need to read the rest of this review.
Rachel Bloom's brand of humor isn't for everyone, but if it's for you, you'll love I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are. Fans of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend like me will appreciate the blend of gross, awkward, honest and er, musical? humor contained in these essays, screen-plays and journal entries by a young Rachel.
Be Dazzled is the sparkly gay book I hoped it would be.
By now maybe you've noticed that I've been on something of a gothic romance kick lately. Maybe you don't follow my reading that closely. This is expected, you are a real human with better things to do. (Unless you're Google crawling the internet, in which case hiiii robot overlords.)
Happy New Year!
This is the first TBR list of the new and way-less-awesome Love in Panels. Just me. Hopefully there are still some books in here to top off your TBR!
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This year was really something, huh?
When the previous home of the Unusual Historicals column, Heroes & Heartbreakers, folded in late 2017 I opted to keep up the monthly feature on my personal blog. Then in early 2018, another former H&H’er, Suzanne, proposed that I cross-post the feature on her blog, Love in Panels. I agreed: 1) because I like Suzanne [Editor's note: awww shucks] 2) because I’m passionate about “unusual historicals,” and 3) the more eyeballs that got on this column the better.
Now here we are in 2020, the longest year on record, and this will be the last column featured on LiP. Both Suzanne and I have been evaluating our respective blogs of late and have come to the mutual decision to discontinue the cross-posting of this column. However, Unusual Historicals will continue to have a home on my personal blog. I want to thank Suzanne and the entire LiP crew for hosting this column the past two years and for promoting historical romances that are about more than the terrible Almack’s lemonade. Onward and upward to what surely has to be a better year in 2021!
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After a lengthy--for the romance genre--break following the first in the Greycourt series, Elizabeth Hoyt returns with When a Rogue Meets His Match. I'm not sure why this series is received less favorably than the Maiden Lane series, but to me the hallmarks of her historical romances are still there. Her writing still pulls the emotions out of me and her plots are complex and action-packed.
The folks from the LGBTQ centre are a mix of lovely and grumpy old people who throw out love-hate banter at all their classes. Clyde, Leo’s old-person partner and friend, is hilariously grumpy –like, people have made formal complaints about his ridiculous insults. The Clyde sub-plot reminds us about the perspective of gay men of the 80s: that they paved the way, the loss they felt, and the stigma many older people in the LGBTQIA+ community still carry with them. Clyde’s romantic interest is from the same generation, and struggles with unlearning the need to be undercover about being gay. He's also given a wonderful introduction to the world of feeling genderqueer and publicly dressing accordingly.
One of the best and most laugh-out-loud enjoyable things about this book is the extremely current dating situation. Leo has to explain to Clyde why he didn’t ask for Merrick’s number (because he needs to stalk him online first to see if he’s married and/or racist) and we obviously experience the classic, painful accidental Instagram double-tap crisis. There’s an unpacking of whether he has the rainbow flag in his bio and a panicked avoidance of actual phone calls. The Instagram ‘like’ situation escalated so amazingly and almost too realistically! I was sitting on the couch listening and felt like I was sitting on the couch right next to Leo and his best friend. Their adorable friendship also had me missing casual late-night hangouts over-analysing crushes with friends. Sidenote: Leo’s voice sounds a lot like Troye’s Sivan, incase that’s something you’re into.
Throwing Hearts is everything N.R. Walker's books always are: Adorable, warm, charming and fun, with interesting characters who are undeniably and openly into each other, which results in memorable dates and sweet, intimate affection. 10/10 recommend!
Content Warnings: There’s some casual meanness and judgement of men who use Grindr and hook-up at gay clubs. Grief and mention of Clyde’s boyfriend who died in the 80s along with most of his friends.
When I heard that Where Dreams Descend was being pitched as a gothic circus fantasy romance, I was intrigued. Then I saw the cover and I swear I gasped. The cover blurb from Claire Legrand says it's perfect for fans of Caraval and The Night Circus and while that is absolutely true, I got some pretty strong Phantom of the Opera vibes as well.