In the final book of the Consortium Rebellion, Chaos Reigning, Catarina the youngest of the von Hasenbergs, takes center stage when the survival of not only her house but the whole Consortium is at stake. Catarina is used to being dismissed by others, hiding her sharp mind and unexpected strength behind frivolous conversations and colorful accessories.
A great romantic suspense series needs to be able to balance romantic tension and pulse-pounding action, sustaining the momentum throughout the whole book, while crafting a believable resolution to both the intrigue and the romance. Juno Rushdan’s Final Hour series, packed with spy-thriller staples, secret installations, high-stakes interventions, coupled with fascinating characters and intense plotting delivered a great adrenaline rush and romantic punch. It is rare to be as invested in both the romantic and action story-lines as I was when reading the Final Hour series, but neither the action and romantic tension ever flagged.
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing has all the hallmarks of a classic house-party mystery: isolated location, communications cut-off due to unexpectedly bad weather and a full cast of shady characters with hidden motivations. Full of tension and secrets, Adhara continues to craft fascinating mysteries while complicating and deepening the relationship between the cross-species crime-solving & romantic partners, Dayton and Park, who in this installment go undercover at a relationship retreat while tracking a missing person.
In A Prince on Paper, a made-for-the-tabloids relationship provides a much needed distraction from a kingdom-shaking referendum for Johan and an opportunity to escape for Nya. Nya and Johan at first glance seem an unlikely match, a smothered and cloistered teacher and a globe-trotting serial heart-breaker, yet Cole develops a sweet and believable intimacy rooted in the secrets they share only with each other.
A while back, we talked to Ana about being selected as a judge in The Ripped Bodice's first ever Awards for Excellence in Romance Fiction. Informally known as "the ribbies," this award is judged a bit differently than others. TRB put together a diverse team of judges and had them discuss the books they thought represented the best in Romance, rather than a system involving self-nomination, money or simple popularity (such as in the Goodreads Readers Choice Awards). You'll find the full panel of judges and more information about the contest here.
Sometimes the urge to do something is so strong you just have to go with it. I’ve been reading romance for close to a decade and as we close this decade I felt a great necessity to look back at the Romance novels that marked me as a reader. Although I only started reading romance seriously during 2010, I started with what my library collection had, so my first romance novels were really books that had been out for years (Balogh, Kleypas, Quinn, Garwood, Dodd, Krentz and Chase). They were an excellent crash course on romance, if Romance is only for white, cis, straight historical ladies. I don’t regret reading them, I just regret thinking they were the only things out there.
Alyssa Cole’s smart, sweet and short science fiction romance playfully mashes multiple tropes into a fun and surprising adventure. It is simply excellent.
I’ve read so many wonderful books this year it actually hurts to pare down the list to a Top 5, so I had to cheat a little bit and create sub-genre specific Top 5 (and occasionally Top 10) lists to figure out what should be in my Top 5 list of the year so I am going to sneak in mentions of all the others books I loved in here too.
The emotional intensity of Weatherspoon’s initial chapters, whether it is Claudia running for life straight in Shep’s arms in Haven, Liz fighting off an attacker in her home in Sanctuary or Sloan arriving home to discover her nanny has walked off the job and left her twin daughters alone at home with no notice in Rafe, powerfully introduce her heroines. We meet Xeni as she stands surrounded by near-strangers at her beloved aunt’s memorial desperately trying not to break down, and from that moment I loved her and wanted her to find her happy. And so it seems did her aunt who has arranged to do some matchmaking from beyond the grave.
In Hibbert’s first traditionally published romance, she continues to highlight prickly heroines and the sweet heroes who are determined to love them. Although I only had a mild appreciation of her novellas I found myself loving this novel wholeheartedly, more than living up to the anticipation and hype. The novel felt fully satisfying and complete, establishing, building up and then resolving a full story. Hibbert's use of situational humor and word play cushions the heavy themes she addresses in this story such as ableism, abandonment, domestic abuse and mortality.