Book 18 of 52: How to be a Wallflower by Eloisa James

Romance novels always involve some kind of conflict. Without it, why would we read the 300 or so pages about how the two leads get together?

There’s usually some sort of external force the characters unite to fighting against. And while there’s some of that in Eloisa James’ How to be a Wallflower, it’s not heavy. Instead, James focuses on the relationship between the leads: Cleopatra Lewis, who inherited and now runs her father’s “commode” business (as in, yes, toilets); and Jacob Astor Addison, an American looking to poach London’s best costumer designers for the chain of theaters he owns in the U.S.

The conflict? Themselves. Cleopatra’s mother had engaged in a series of short affairs with actors (often married actors) and left her daughter to clean up the mess, and it’s skewed her views of sex, marriage and love. Cleopatra also knows that if she marries, her business becomes property of her husband, which may sound ridiculous, but remember that in the U.S. married women couldn’t get credit cards in their own names until 1974.

Jacob had intentions of proposing to a family friend when he returned to the U.S. because the pairing made logical sense – until he met Cleopatra. […]

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Book 14 of 52: My Kind of Earl by Vivienne Lorret

Last year, I did a friend a favor and in turn she gave me some romance novels by authors I’d never read of before. I like regency romance (the era you see in Bridgerton, which is based on the also popular romance series that I read early during COVID). So when I saw My Kind of Earl by Vivienne Lorret in the pile, I said sure why not. I picked it last week for a practical reason: I was traveling to New York City to run the NYC Half Marathon and wanted a book I could fit in my purse.

And…it’s fine! It’s about Jane Pickerington, an inquisitive single aristocratic woman working on a book about scoundrels. She meets Raven (yes just Raven) in a brothel because she snuck in for research.

As you might imagine, they fall in love. Of course there are twists and turns along the way, including but not limited to Raven, an orphan, realizing that he may be the long lost grandson of an aristocrat and hence eligible to join “society.” That would make him a candidate for husband for Jane…….or does it?

The book is solid, but not quite for me. I don’t like the virgin/guy who […]

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Book 9 of 52: The MacGregors: Serena and Caine

In my post about Station Eleven, I wrote about two groups of people, those who ran towards pandemic fiction at the start of COVID, and those who ran far away from it. I was 100% in the latter group. Reading wise, that meant delving into genre fiction: crime, thrillers, suspense, and of course romance.

You might think that these are different, and they are, except in one way: I know what’s going to happen at the end. Just like I know Detective Bosch in Michael Connelly’s books is always going to figure out who did it, I know that, in a romance, the two leads are going to have a Happily Every After (known in romance circles as an HEA).

I craved predictability in my reading, whether it was about solving a murder or matters of the heart (and in some romances, you can have both!)

Romance, as you might already know, is maligned despite it being a publishing powerhouse. According to an article in Fortune Magazine, romance made up 18% of adult fiction sales from March 2020 to March 2021, and was the second most popular publishing genre in that span (a share that, yes, grew during the pandemic). I […]

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