Ravenous (Siren Publishing Classic)

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The tenative final standings: Erotica 1. Murder by Design, Jade Falconer, Phaze, [link] 2. Dommemoir, I. Frederick, Fanny Press, [link] 4. Only Pleasure, Lora Leigh, St. Martin's Griffin, [link] 5.

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Spell of Appalachia, Molly Wens, eXcessica, [link] 6. Kerce, Ellora's Cave, [link] 7. Rise Of The Darkness, C. Milson, Lulu, [link] 2. Cursed, Jeremy C. Shipp, Raw Dog Screaming Press, [link] 5. Angels of the Mourning Light, Frank E. Bittinger, iUniverse, [link] 6.

Brown, Coscom Entertainment, [link] 9. I read until I could not keep my eyes open, slept a bit, woke up at four a. Then I read the teaser for book two, because it was right there and I still wanted more. And have you seen that cover? Romancelandia is due for a serious epidemic of dress envy as this series continues. Tempest by Beverly Jenkins Avon Books: Regan is that rarest of creatures: She can shoot, drive a mail coach, and muck out animal stalls. She can bake, and cook, and help a shy, traumatized stepdaughter heal from a legacy of grief and abuse. Does she sound too perfect?

It reads like liberation — like you have a champion there on the page, a vision of strength and hope and heart who cannot help but fight to make the world a better place. There will always be a part of me that wants a psychic dragon or magical horse I can ride around on while it tells me how brave and special and loved I am. I picked up A Certain Magic because the front cover promised winged horses and the back cover promised dragons.

It has been a long bummer of a winter and I thought something fuschia-tinted would be just the thing. We did indeed get dragons — an adorable, clumsy, loveable baby psychic dragon named Padborn and a big, sinister bastard named Dragon Father — but instead of winged horses, there was a lot of weird sorcerer sexual politics. Readers looking for something at the precise midpoint between Anne McCaffrey and Laura Kinsale will thrive on the whackadoodle nature of the story; readers looking either for gritty realistic fantasy or for consistent magical systems are straight out of luck.

Let me sum up as succinctly as I can:. Sorcerers are men who can augment their powers by having sex with women, consensually or otherwise. This can kill the woman. Galienes are women who are magically bonded to dragons. They also unlock their powers through sex presumably with men, though this is never explicitly stated and this sex hurts absolutely nobody. Hero Galen is a sorcerer who has sworn off sex after killing the woman he loved pro tip: Again, who would turn down a psychic baby dragon?

While the dragons watch. Ayla and Jondalar vibes , anyone? They argue a lot about the proper uses of force in self-defense and to stop evil, which is by far the most interesting part of the book. The weirdest thing about all this sex magic is how not-tawdry it feels. Masturbation is a perfectly natural urge. Jealousy is toxic, sexual manipulation frowned upon even the dragons get scolded for this , and rape is objectively evil and will turn the land into a grim, corrupt wilderness which could explain Westeros — hey-oh! My teenage self would have adored this book; my grown-up self can see all the flaws, but feels a little wistful at the incredible story that almost, maybe, could have been if the author had done just a few things differently.

Romance series, like mystery series, tend to be chains of standalone episodes. This structure also means that savvy romance readers will start the series on the watch for heroes and heroines of future books. Hence the term sequelbait, referring to a secondary character who will probably or hopefully get their own complete romance in volumes to come. Occasionally, though, authors can use those same expectations to set up a grand and glorious punch to the heart.

Four heroes, but only three books, because she flat-out killed off one of the sequelbait —for very solid story reasons, so that after the initial surprise there was only the rush of satisfaction and Ah, yes, should have seen that coming. It was a bold and brilliant move, and it still leaves me breathless to think about. The great thing about sequelbait is it suggests that, in theory, anyone can be a heroine.

Side characters are not less important overall, they are merely less central from a limited perspective. Everyone has the potential for a happily ever after. In practice, however, sequelbait is often identified because the markers of romance hero- and heroine-dom can be very narrowly defined: Whole sections of romance refuse to allow queer characters at all looking at you, inspirational romance. Romantic suspense author Suzanne Brockmann has received much vocal praise for including gay romance arcs in her popular Troubleshooters series; she has also received plenty of critique from queer romance authors and readers pointing out that she includes those arcs as secondary novellas and subplots, supplemental stories rather than full standalone books alongside the straight couples.

The series whose books we see below are pushing back against much of this. Fantasy romance, like all fantasy, lives and dies on how deeply the reader can sink into the made-up world—and oh, how easy it was to tumble into this one. All the weight and swelter of a hot Texas summer plus magic!

Hero Roy is wry and weathered and loveable as only a soft-spoken cowboy can be. Cecily, our witch, makes magical prosthetics hands, spines, etc. This is a shout it from the rooftops kind of recommendation. The human body is a complexity of anchors and pulleys, but Cecily has devoted herself to understanding it, tailoring the tension and slack of each spell-thread until the prosthetic leg can bend and stretch gracefully. Love on the Tracks by Tamsen Parker Macmillan: Complicated by the intense and neverending pressure to perform, the ambitious career drive, the lack of time and privacy for anything like a social life, and the machinations of a meddling manager and an obsessively overprotective father.

Plus the real risk of death in competition for our heroine. This book has a great many pleasures: Sweet and sensual as good hot chocolate, with a lovely bright peppermint spike. While I believe the definitive review of this phenomenal book has already been written, allow me to add a little something to the conversation: Christmas night I arrived home from a day full of dinner with good friends and excited puppies and some exhaustingly painful family drama. Bed was a siren song. All I wanted was to read a chapter or two of something distracting while the cold sheets warmed up.

You see where this is going. Sore throat, exhaustion, even the soporific warmth of the mini-dachshund snuggling up against me like a living hot-water bottle—all these fell away under the spell of a true page-turner.

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I did not stop reading until that last chapter was finished. Her wardrobe had slowly evolved to clothes she could wash and wear and could be easily mixed and matched. It was more efficient, and she had tried to become as efficient as humanly possible. She wielded lists and journals and pens the way other people might wield swords. Me, I can never get enough stern, brooding sea captains in my fiction Wentworth, Ahab , and when you add in the promise of an adorable vicar hero I am sold.

Of course, stern Captain Phillip Dacre has a vulnerable side, and the playful vicar Ben Sedgwick secretly craves order and comfort and stability. This book gets off to a somewhat rickety start, but only until the reader realizes that this book has one of the most disorderly worlds a romance has seen in a long while. Landscapes shift with a thought, servants and children and gentlemen are dragons and devils and princes, the hands of the clock speed and slow in mischievous, irregular ways. The literary term is pathetic fallacy —and we even have a Romantic poet character around to blame it on—but analysis aside it really feels as if there is something quicksilver and alive at the heart of this book that refuses to be pinned down to commonplace realism.

Peace, Ben knew, was a series of small things, each insignificant but together making landmarks for a life. Lady Rogue by Suzanne Enoch: One of the more fascinating tropes in historical romance is the heroine in breeches, or cross-dressing heroine. Cross-dressing heroes, while not unknown , are much rarer.

Done poorly, this trope can shore up harmful gender essentialist stereotypes: Done well, it can be playful, subversive, even edgy—trans-adjacent, if not precisely trans-inclusive. This book plays no such games. In between blackmail, familial betrayal, and international espionage Kit begins exploring what it would mean to live openly as a woman: He watched as she strolled off in the direction of the punch bowl. The fact that she knew no one in the room, and almost nothing about the blue-blooded society she found herself in, presumably had no effect on her.

Apparently Kit Brantley was afraid of nothing. She was afraid of nothing, that was, other than whether her cravat was de trop. So now comes the end of this year of years, where the days have piled up like stones, each new one adding a fresh ounce of dread to the heap.

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Historical romance is the most obvious place to start talking about how romance novels engage with the concept of time, because being set in the past is their defining feature. You recognize a historical romance because shows you Then rather than Now. There are more than a few overlapping theories about why this happened, keeps happening, and will presumably keep happening for some time to come.


For one, the obvious influence of 19th-century genre originators: Jane Austen and Jane Eyre are both still wildly popular and much imitated. Possibly because of long family-based series with multiple generations? Bertrice Small and Stephanie Laurens come immediately to mind.

Romance authors often start writing to be part of a conversation — they respond to a book that moved them, or correct a book they think could or should have gone differently. So the setting, once established, gets reinforced by later writers. At some interesting point whole sections of this woven net of texts began to drift away from historical reality and became a shared imaginary world probably around the time Heyer started inventing her own Regency slang to catch plagiarists.

The existence of this shared world means an author can choose to blithely set aside the realities of 19th-century populations many fewer dukes, many more black and brown and queer people and handwave matters of plumbing and dentistry and STI rates. More understandably, there is the attractive public pomp and performance of aristocratic marriage, which is currently flooding my timeline with engagement photos and delighted anticipation for a new princess bride.

American-set historicals, it seems to me, especially lately, engage with the past very differently. The chronological borders here are expanding, too — edging back into Hamilton territory and forward into the hedonism of the Roaring Twenties — but most are still set during the latter half of the s. Particularly around the Civil War and the colonization of the American West origins in Laura Ingalls Wilder, Margaret Mitchell, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and, according to this persuasive essay series, Indian captivity narratives.

If the majority of British-set historicals keep historical events at a polite distance, American-set historicals use the past very deliberately as a mirror turned back toward the present. Admittedly, this is at least partly due to my own reader bias as an American. America in the 19th century was a work in progress in a way England was not and had not been for centuries.

Are there really readers who can enjoy both equally without some gold-metal mental gymnastics? Which is not to say the American-set historical romance does not have its own particular problems of idealization and erasure. And we are currently living through a time where the failures of bootstrapism and capitalism and the wholesale plunder of natural resources are staring us all right in the face — so mining towns and lumber camps and railroad expansion have lost their luster of progress.

And of course, because romance is a multi-headed hydra, all of these generalizations have exceptions. Seared by Suleikha Snyder self-published: The mini-trend has passed, as they always do, but thankfully not before Suleikha Snyder got her hands on it. Hotter and more playful than her Bollywood romances, this book walks right up to the comfort line, stops long enough to wink at you, then sashays boldly forward into WTF territory.

Improbable amounts of sex. This book has heard of realism and wants nothing to do with it — every encounter is intense, mind-melting, over-the-top, and damn near perfect. Naya is a submissive but not at all a docile one, and Lock is definitely a dom who needs bossing around every now and again. The arguments are heated. The chemistry is palpable. And the food puns are exquisite.

But his eyes were unchanged, and his mouth still fought smiles like a knockout was imminent. Ewan McCall is a Union army interrogator, currently held in a Confederate prison. Marlie Lynch is a free black woman, the unacknowledged daughter of a wealthy white slave owner, who with her white sister brings food to the prisoners and smuggles information in and out, of course. They are only feet apart, but the necessity of silence forces them to write to one another rather than converse. This part could have gone on for another thousand pages and I would have treasured every word.

For her part, Marlie has been betrayed in large and small ways by everyone she ever trusted, and guards her heart with a fierce and furious pride. There is a whole living world inside this book; it feels less like something I read and more like something I inhabited, or devoured, or dreamed. What it means to be a good person, what it means to love someone, what you can and cannot control, how to deal with a personal and political history built on pain and loss — Ewan and Marlie set all these questions to boil, distilling them down to their essences in search of a life pointed toward truth and goodness.

And love, though the word only hovers lightly over the text, letting the sheer devotion and bravery of the characters do all the heavy lifting. It is an astonishing, glorious read from which I may never recover. She should be quiet and unassuming, given the secret she held two flights of stairs away, but apparently her rebellious side had begun to bloom, like a nightshade that unfurls when shrouded in darkness.

This longish novella, just shy of a full novel, stretches backward and forward in time to show us the Dunsford marriage as it rises, falls, and ultimately rises again. Marriage-in-trouble romances are hard to get right because they have to be more inwardly focused than other romance types: All this against a s background of Jell-O molds, cocktails, and crinolines.

It had been like playing a part — but he knew all about that.

Ravenous Siren Publishing Classic Brown Aubrey (PDF files/ePubs)

These days he glided through life. Maybe that was the secret: Discovery of Desire by Susanne Lord Sourcebooks: The steps for reading this book are as follows. Oooh, what a pretty cover! Is that a blurb from Courtney Milan? Seth Mayhew spent years hunting orchids in the jungles of Brazil: Turns out the translator has gotten himself engaged to a venture girl mail-order bride from England, a poised and pretty problem-solver named Wilhelmina Adams.

There are so few coincidences in romance. The sense of place here is phenomenal, a tropical port city so vividly rendered that you can all but feel the humid sweat on the back of your neck. All these charms aside, this book is an excellent example of how to confront the evils of racism and colonialism while still staying firmly in your lane as a white author. But he fell a little bit in love with her anyway.

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Like many writers, I often imagine plot as a physical shape: We talk of enemies-to-lovers or marriage of convenience tropes as though they are ready-made vessels waiting to be filled. As though what we pour in there — which is to say, the fluid stuff of character — does not affect the nature of that shape.

Edgar Downes is a wealthy self-made man whose father is insisting he take a genteel bride before Christmas. He has his pick of docile, well-behaved prospects, but becomes entangled with a woman who is both irresistible and totally unsuitable as a marriage prospect. An unplanned pregnancy compels them to wed, emotions develop and are revealed, a happy ending arrives just when it seems least likely. I came looking for sparkles. Hell, so do the secondary characters, fresh from their own recent and fertile romances: Expectation is shattered when we meet the Lady Helena Stapleton, a well-traveled widow of thirty-six.

She shows up late to the ball in a red satin gown and a mocking smile, bangs our hero like a drum, and sends him home with nary a cuddle. Her attitude toward her surprise pregnancy is less secret baby and more get this facehugger off of me. She is bitter, brilliant, cynical, sharp-tongued, and, of course, emotionally scarred.

She is clear-eyed enough to see the shape of the holiday romance crystallizing around her, but stubborn as she is she has to be dragged toward her happy ending under constant cursing protest. She does not want to be dragooned into happiness. She would rather be left alone. Her presence changes the nature of her story, even though all the plot points came along in the usual order. She had feared it this year and sworn to resist it. The image we are looking for is chemistry: You can also peruse the Kissing Books historical archive. People will tell you romance is anti-feminist. Others will tell you that romance is definitely, strongly feminist.

The weird part is: Fictional happy endings were a panacea, a way of soothing the symptoms without actually curing the disease. This theory would seem to explain the existence of wilder, crueler heroes who are often out-and-out rapists: These anti-heroes are tamed by love — more or less — or else their heroines learn the virtues of resilience and capitulation to forces larger than themselves. The happily ever after here is that the heroine is permitted to survive. Even foundational romances with strong feminist subtexts can be read in less than revolutionary ways.

She wiggled her arms and tried to escape the cotton material she wore. Her mounds rose and fell with each ragged breath. She took a step back and reached behind her.

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Bailey looked surprised. She nervously swiped her tongue across her upper lip. Ah yes, she was hungry for it, dying for a taste of him, and yet all he could do then was stare back at the woman who had come on so strong, the young woman who wanted to give him everything, but at what cost? Is that what you think? Earth-shaking, wall-rattling, body trembling sex. Ragged breaths resounded around them and the dry humping turned more explicit. The quickly established tempo was driving him insane as the boards slammed against the stall in what resounded like a sex-filled rhythm.

They took turns giving and taking, touching and kissing. He held her arms at her sides, studying those gently sloping firm curves, curves which could lead him anywhere, even straight to hell if the wrong person found out about this. She tucked her hands behind her back and finally unhooked her bra. He bracketed his arm around her waist and forced her to arch in his arms.

Nick then ducked his head and disposed of all doubt. He ignored those second thoughts of pushing her away. He pulled the first tight nipple between his teeth and licked the peak, loving the way she whimpered as he crossed over a threshold of trust and savagely went at her like a man without a conscience, a man without any fear of consequences. This woman wanted a lesson in hard loving, good loving.

She yearned for a ravenous lover who would give her precisely what she craved. Sign In 0. Erotic Romance. Mainstream Romance. See More. General Fiction. Heat Rating: Sextreme. Soon, the two are grinding out their passionate fantasies. Unbeknownst to the couple, the entire episode is caught on camera.