A Suffragette Scandal continues the Brother’s Sinister series, with Frederica (Free) Marshall and Edward Clark. Free runs her own newspaper which she prints with her own printing press, employing a group of likeminded women to discuss issues pertaining to women and women’s rights. Most of the book focuses on Free campaigning for women’s right to vote in England.
Edward Clark is a damaged hero with trauma and betrayal in his past, but I found him warm, funny and open, despite his cynicism about the world. I really respected Free as a character, partly because it was clear that Edward respected her immensely. The relationship was not two halves becoming a whole, but two complete people finding a complimentary person to share their life and passions with.
The dialogue was very witty and at times endearing. I often found myself laughing out loud. And I ended up gobbling up this book over the space of a weekend.
This is a great book, not just because it is a well-written romance, but because it became more than that for me. I urge you not only to read the book, but to read the author’s note at the end. Why?
Because this book reminded me to be more grateful for my right to vote safely in elections at all levels. A right that women, much like the women in A Suffragette Scandal, fought for at great risk to themselves. A right that not all women today can enjoy, safely or otherwise.
If you are looking for an urban fantasy that is different to all the others, stop what you are doing and read The Line. I’m all for ass-kicking, leather-wearing paranormal bounty hunter/detective/insert occupation here heroines who save the world with nothing but a big gun and their wits. But there is something so fresh and different about The Line.
So you can can catch up, I’ll put the blurb here:
Mercy Taylor, the youngest member of Savannah’s preeminent witching family, was born without the gift of magic. She is accustomed to coming in a distant second to the minutes older, exquisite and gifted twin she adores. Hopelessly in love with her sister’s boyfriend, she goes to a Hoodoo root doctor for a love spell. A spell that will turn her heart to another man, the best friend who has loved her since childhood.
Aunt Ginny, the family’s matriarch, would not approve. But Mercy has more to worry about than a love triangle when Aunt Ginny is brutally murdered. Ginny was the Taylor family’s high commander in the defense of the bewitched line that separates humankind from the demons who once ruled our realm.
A demon invasion looms now that the line is compromised. Worse yet, some within the witching world stand to gain from a demon takeover. Mercy, entangled in the dark magic of her love spell, fighting for her sister’s trust, and hopelessly without magic, must tap the strength born from being an outcast to protect the line she doesn’t feel a part of…
It’s been compared to Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries (or True Blood) series but it is completely different. However, if you liked the Sookie Stackhouse books, you’ll definitely love The Line.
The thing about this book is that while it’s a contemporary paranormal fantasy, the plot is driven by family drama. Magic is just a tool some of them use, in the same way a wealthy dysfunctional family would use money. Mercy is a little more grounded because, for some reason, she doesn’t have any magic.
The other great thing about The Line is the skill that the author has used in crafting the many layers of this novel. And it’s a debut! In The Line, everything is connected, time and space can be manipulated and there are a lot of characters. But I very quickly got a sense of the world of Witching Savannah, as well as the Taylor family. The characters were different from each other, fully formed and not caricatures - this was no cut and paste job. I was really impressed with how quickly the author made me feel at ease with the world and characters. I began to feel like I was watching a fly-on-the-wall reality television show - Real Witching Clans of Savannah.
There were several great twists and I’m forcing myself not to give them away. The build of the story was even; the ending came about naturally and completed the first arc of Mercy’s character. I’m really interested to see what happens in the next book in this series because shit is about to get real.
For those who enjoyed my #RT14 buttons… http://t.co/12rZHIVdh0 …
I thought you might enjoy a little more of that scene from Looking For Trouble with my naughty librarian and her biker engineer.
Looking For Trouble is out on July 29th, but the good news is that it’s up on NetGalley right now! https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/show/id/47441
Review away! Or just enjoy this little snippet for now. Hope it whets the appetite. ;-)
“I guess nice girls like this,” he growled.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“What else do they like?”
“I don’t—” He brushed her clit and she drew in a quick breath. “I don’t know.”
“Oh, I bet you know. You just can’t say it. Because you’re shy.”
“Yes.” He barely heard her this time. The delicate, innocent pink of the panties was getting darker under his touch as her wetness soaked through the fabric. That was getting to be one of his favorite sights.
So excited for this! Librarian + biker + Victoria Dahl is my holy trifecta of hot.
So I just finished this urban fantasy called Pale Demon - it’s Book 8 in a series called The Hollows by Kim Harrison. It’s freaking amazing. Rachel Morgan is a witch just trying to get by and do the right thing…but she always seems to get hit by the wrong end of the stick. Think of it like a cross between Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (she just released book twenty or twenty one WHUT!) and the Anita Blake paranormal series. Except unlike the Anita Blake series, which seemed to lose much of the plot after the first six books.
But in the Hollow’s series - shit is just getting real and everything’s connected.
I noticed, though, that the way I imagined the main antagonist - the demon Algaliarept, or Al - has changed over time. He was first described as a ruddy Englishman so I imagined something like this:
But in around Book 6 something changed and I started imagining him like this:
And then he was described as obsidian and started seeing Idris Elba:
Am I right, ey? So when the thing happens in Pale Demon I was like, OMIGOD.
It’s got me thinking - has this happened to anyone else? Has your image of a character ever changed over the course of a series?
B*itches in Bookshops
This is my new favourite youtube video, partly because I love the song that it is a parody of and partly because these bitches can spit dem rhymes.
If I start humming this in bookshops, you know why.
I recently joined my new local library and sadly it doesn’t stack up to my previous library when it comes to romance. I did however find some historicals. I wasn’t familiar with Lavinia Kent, I might have read some of her work but if I had she didn’t stick, anyway I found a copy of Taken by Desire and I was sucked in but for reasons other than the usual. I was sucked in by the heroine’s need to control her life through her finances.
At 28 she is an unmarried heiress and she isn’t a virgin, forced into marriage to avoid the nefarious plans of her cousins after her inheritance. The hero is tall, dark and handsome with the requisite elements of mystery. And of course they have a past, although not romantic or sexual. Kent’s writing draws you in, I felt the anxiety the heroine felt which isn’t for everyone, normally it isn’t for me either but the other aspects of the story, and the coming to love evened it out. The hero and heroine’s conflict was also quite realistic, the hero was definitely a man of his time he tries to control the heroine through her money because when women married their money became their husbands and no longer theirs.
This book isn’t the kind of book to sweep you off your reader feet, its romantic and sexy but it is realistic. You will want to strangle the hero on several occasions but Kent somehow redeems him through sex if only momentarily.
You know that feeling when you’re reading a really good book and it’s like there’s a fist around your heart? Like your chest gets all tight and warm and you can barely breathe because of words?
Untamed by Anna Cowan had me there. The entire way through. I actually can’t even handle it. It’s like she flipped everything - every trope, every gender, every relationship. And it was a fucking beauty to behold. I feel truly privileged for having read this book. I swear to god, the next time someone bad mouths the genre, I’m going to hit them over the head with Untamed. Because it’s gorgeous. Utterly, over-the-top, darkly gorgeous.
I have never expected to fall in love with two characters who are so unlike the heroes and heroines that I usually enjoy. I like alpha heroes and bluestockings. But fuck, this has changed. Jude is heartbreaking and Kit blows my mind. They are so utterly perfect for each other but there’s this little discordance that messes it up and makes it that much more wonderful.
Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers because I need to get this out. Jude is bi. It’s not stressed in the book, and it doesn’t define him. It’s just who he is. He is charming and devastating and wicked to all people. And they fall into his hand, basking in his glow. But he’s so far from perfect. He’s damaged in a way that has made him a dick purely out of self-preservation.
Kit is the strongest heroine I have ever read. Physically, emotionally etc. She just kills it. She’s the protector and she’s the brave one. She chops wood, feeds pigs, takes care of her family. She is wild and UNTAMED and passionate and she needs Jude.
The secondary love story of Lydia and BenRuin is one that we’re more familiar with. Big burly hero from Scotland marries ice-cold vixen. But even then, it’s interesting and different and fascinating.
The casualness of the queer characters was fucking amazing. It was so positive and affirming but it didn’t revolve around that. It just was.
I’m going to review it at another time but at the moment, it’s 3am and I have work in the morning but I couldn’t not write down my thoughts. I’m just all fuzzy and warm and my head is a mess because of all the emotions. I’ll just say that the writing was fucking SPECTACULAR and I want to live it and breathe it. This book broke my heart then mended it again. Just perfect.
To the Editor:
I was dismayed to see that of the 15 authors asked to discuss writing about sex in the “Naughty Bits” roundup, none write romance novels — the genre best known for its naughty bits.
Romance holds a huge share of the consumer market, with more than $1.4 billion in sales in 2012, so the omission is surprising. The lack of romance authors is especially glaring when one considers that each week, the mass-market, e-book and combined best-seller lists compiled by The New York Times include dozens of books from this far-reaching genre: historical, contemporary, paranormal, erotic and new adult.
A romance novelist would have added a special perspective on the questions “Why is writing about sex so difficult?” and “What makes a good sex scene?” because writing about sex is a large part of what we do. And our readers — all 75 million of them — expect us to do it well.
Writing about sex is a challenge for the same reason sex is a challenge. Because it’s complicated. Because it doesn’t always make sense and it isn’t always perfect and it’s sometimes awful and it’s sometimes hilarious. But underneath all the clever wordplay, it’s about hope. Hope that someone will see us, and accept us, and perhaps — after all that — choose us. It’s the barest we will ever be. The barest a character will ever be. That’s why it’s difficult.
As for what makes a good sex scene, a romance novelist would have told you that when done well and with a skilled hand, the best sex scenes can at once arouse and empower. Sex on the page gives readers the freedom to explore their own sexuality, their own pleasures, their own identities. With hope. And without judgment.
I hope you will consider including the romance genre in your next “Sex Issue.”
The writer is the author of historical romance novels. Her next book, “No Good Duke Goes Unpunished,” will be published in November.
Read all of the letters to the editor here.
I also want to give Sarah Maclean a round of applause for succinctly expressing what romance is to readers and publishers, from a commercial and a writing perspective. This is what I try to say to people when I tell them I read romance or want to publish romance or -shock!horror!- write romance and they raise their collective eyebrows and say “What, like 50 Shades of Grey?”. Obviously there is (a lot) more to romance novels and her letter focuses on the sexy parts, but I think it’s a great start to a greater discussion (and acceptance) of romance in the literary community.