Monday, June 20, 2011

A Mini Romance Binge

Okay, so the first book in this list isn't a romance, but it does have some love and some sex, so it's not totally out of place.

'The Tempering of Men' is the (unexpected) sequel to Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear's 'A Companion to Wolves', which I loved when I read it a few years back. It helps that I'm completely fangirly-smitten over both of these authors individually. Combining their rather spectacular storytelling skills on anything makes that work not just a must-read, but a put-everything-else-aside-and-read-it-now. Thankfully, 'Men' lived up to the promise of 'Wolves' or I would've probably been pissed that I had put other books on hold so that I could get to this one. The only disappointment I had with 'Men' is that it is very obviously only the start of a story arc. There is (I hope, anyway) a sequel somewhere down the road that will pick up and finish the story started here. (If not, I may get all petulant and decide to never, ever read another book by either author ever again.) I love the world that Monette and Bear have created, with its roots in Norse myth and history and I'm glad that they've decided to explore it further. I only wish that 'Men' had had more of an ending, or that the third book was just around the corner.

'Blood of the Wicked' by Karina Cooper is the first book in a new post-Apocalyptic paranormal romance series. It's set in New Seattle and has something to do with witches and a sorta religious organization that's hunting them and...I don't know. The world-building on this was not really very strong. There was an earthquake and Seattle fell into a chasm and was rebuilt as some towering something that looks like a great chrome and glass wedding cake. But, I have no idea where the witches came from or the guys who are hunting them. There's no real explanation for why the witches are viewed as evil and in need of extermination. There's not even a strong enough religious element for me to draw comparisons to the hysteria surrounding the Salem witch trials. The action was okay, as was the love story, but without a strong, logical world in which to set them, the book as a whole just didn't quite work.

'Just One Season in London' by Leigh Michaels is an historical romance set during--you guessed it--one Season in London. It revolves around the three members of a family that has fallen into financial disarray so that at least one member of the family must marry money to save the family from poverty. There are three love stories intertwined in this book--those of the mother, daughter, and son--and the way they weave in and out of one another is very well done. Dividing one book between three stories led me to expect that at least one story would be short-changed, but I didn't feel that any of them were. I found I actually liked the changing perspective because it meant that I never had a chance to get bored with any of the couples.

'The Bride Wore Scarlet' by Liz Carlyle had an amazing title, that, as far as I can tell, had nothing to do with the contents of the book. It's a paranormal historical in the vein of Amanda Quick. And, unlike the Karina Cooper, the world-building here was solid. I understood the secret society at the center of the plot and how it related to other, similar societies around the world and I understood the mission the hero and heroine were on and why they were on it. I liked the hero and heroine, and I liked them together. I liked that the heroine had all kinds of skills, but never felt Mary Sue-ish. I didn't realize until I was well into the story that it was the second in a trilogy. I think I'll track down the first, and keep an eye out for the third.

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