Category: Romance

A Noble Masquerade, by Kristi Ann Hunter

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An absolutely terrific Regency romance for all ages. Such a wonderful blend of adventure, chemistry and sheer fun that I didn’t even miss the steamy bits. Lady Miranda is used to writing her thoughts in the form of a letter to her older brother’s best friends, whom she has never met. When one of the those letters is suddenly posted by her husband’s new valet, chaos ensues.

This was remarkably good, and the central love story is deeply satisfying. Miranda is an older, unwed sister to a beautiful younger sister, and her insecurities and frustrations about remaining ladylike make her wonderful to read. Highly recommended, for 16 and up.

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

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This is another dark YA dystopia, this one set in a bleak world divided into the Reds and Silvers, where the reds (who bleed red blood) are the underlass to the Silvers, who bleed silver blood and have special powers. When Mare, our heroine, a teen girl slated for conscription into the ongoing war, is swept abruptly in the Silver world, she suddenly has the potential to make extraordinary change.

This has wonderful world building, but the unrelenting grimness becomes oppressive well before the end of the book. That said, it still kept me frantically turning pages as the plot drove forward with some truly terrifying political intrigue. For 16 and up for violence.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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Cassandra Clare begins a new Shadowhunters series, and she is in top form. Without the burden of exposition that slowed her first series, and back in the present-day, unlike her second series, she introduces us to new characters and the plot takes off from there. Fighter Emma Carstairs nearly storms off the page, and her best friend and fellow fighter Julian is well-drawn also, as a young man who has shouldered too much responsibility for too long.

Y’all know I am not a fan of fictional teenagers meeting and falling for someone they will love forever, but Clare’s tales are compelling enough that I roll with it. Recommended for 16 and up for (non-graphic) teen sex and some rock-n-roll violence.

 

 

The Glittering Court, by Richelle Mead

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Our heroine is a countess in a fictional country who risks being betrothed to a man she despises. Her solution sends her on an adventure she could never have imagined to the other side of her world. This book had some echoes of The Selection, but I thought it took us in a very different direction, one much more filled with adventure and with a romance that carries danger and risk to both partners. I liked our heroine’s growth over the course of the novel, and her independence is hard-fought. I know there is more to this series, but this one is nicely self-contained. For 16 and up.

Once a Soldier, by Mary Jo Putney

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Handsome Brit Will Masterson has fought against Napoleon and is ready to head back to England when he is sent to analyze the situation in a small (fictional) country that is open to invasion by roving bandits. While there he meets tall and opinionated Athena Markham, who has been working there as an aide to young princess Sofia.

While this novel has a couple of steamy scenes, but Putney is much more interested in the adventure of the historical era and the threats to her fictional nation. It makes for a nice slow-boil romance and some great supporting friendships that more than pass the Bechdel Test. Excellent read, for 18 and up.

 

Heartless, by Marissa Meyer

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As an origin story for one of the darkest characters in Alice’s Wonderland, this book has echoes of Gregory Maguire. But it sucks you in as a lovely romance starring Cath, a character you quickly care deeply about. And when it becomes more and more grim, it simply broke my heart. So while it was well-written and a good read, it was not what I wanted for any of the characters involved. For 16 and up who don’t mind a journey to the dark side.

 

The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski

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Kestrel is a 17-year-old general’s daughter, and the path before her is clear. She can join the military or get married. And she doesn’t want to do either. So when she buys a slave, a native of their conquered land, she doesn’t expect to find a third path, but she does. And that choice changes everything, as her understanding of what it means to be conquered pulls her the opposite direction from her duty to her father.

This book did not go where I expected it to, instead, it pulled me in multiple directions as surely as the story does its lead character. This is not a stand-alone; it will propel you into the next book. For age 16 and up for now. (One of my pet peeves in when early books are appropriate for a certain age, then later books in that series are definitely NOT appropriate. Looking at you, Sarah J. Maas!)

 

Unending Devotion, by Jody Hedlund

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This Christian romance is set in the lumber camps of forested 1883 Michigan. Lily has arrived in Harrison, Michigan to check this town’s brothels, liberate who she can, and free her sister, who has disappeared into sexual slavery. She never expects to meet Connell, a local businessman who has kept himself pure, as she has.

What I liked about this novel was the genuine history of the era’s lumber camps, which eviscerated the forests of an area and moved on, and the taverns and brothels which sprang up to service the “shanty boys” who worked as lumberjacks. The lead romance is fine, and both characters do mature and grow over the course of the novel. For fans of this genre only, 16 and up.