I have been enjoying romance a lot more lately than I have in years and a while ago I downloaded a bunch of very different romance novels off NetGalley to figure out what might work for me. While I did choose the books partly because of their titles (some of that will become clear once you see the actual titles), I did also try to download a variety of typical subgenres to get a better feel for what I might like – and in that sense this was a success. I also read some truly, truly awful books, but I did really enjoy the process. I am at a point in my life where I just want to read whatever strikes my fancy and as it turns out, right now that is very often romance books – there is just something soothing about the genre that works as an antidote to my ridiculous worklife. It is so wonderfully predictive!
I will only be writing the miniest of mini reviews for these books because I don’t have all that much to say about these books individually.
The Bastard by Lisa Renee Jones
This book is absolutely compulsively readable in a way that I found stressful but also entertaining. I bought the second book in the series the second I finished this one but then DNFed this at the half-way point, once I woke from the fugue state the book caused. I do very much not like books that play with consent apparently. The main couple were angsty and horrible to each other and I don’t want to read about this type of relationships when I am supposed to root for them. The book does what it sets out to do but just is not for me whatsoever.
The Sheikh’s Pregnant Lover by Leslie North
I admit it, I only requested this because of the title – and because apparently this is a big subgenre, this “pregnant by a super rich man after a one-night-stand”. This one was hilarious but not on purpose and super did not work for me. I have many thoughts on the fetishization of cultures the author isn’t part of but would like to leave that to other people more qualified to write about this. But god, what a perfect title.
The Playmaker by Cathryn Fox
If somebody had told me I would enjoy a Hockey romance I would not believed it. But I really really enjoyed this. It’s hilarious, the main character has a wonderful best friend, the consent is always explicit, and the writing style is readable. I thought the ending was way over the top but in general I had a lot of fun with this one.
Lady No Says Yes by Jess Michaels
I used to read a lot of historical romance when I was a bit younger but haven’t in years. I enjoyed this for what it was but I don’t think I will be making a proper return to the genre. Again, I appreciate the explicitness of the consent and the way in which these two characters communicated. The book is a tad short and as such I didn’t really build any deeper connections to the characters. It is however well-written enough that I am sure my lukewarm reaction has more to do with who I am as a reader than with anything else.
A Son for the Texas Cowboy by Sinclair Jayne
This is one where I can see that it is objectively ok-written but just a subgenre I do not appreciate at all. Apparently cowboys don’t do it for me (I cannot say that I am surprised) and I also did not enjoy that the main character kept her son with her ex a secret from said ex.
Distracted by Belinda Wright
I do not like books about people pretending to be something they are not (as a general rule, not only in romance) and given that the main female character lied about her job the moment she met the main male character, this book was never going to impress me much. I did not find it very well-written either and I skimmed a lot of it in the end. The endless descriptions of the main characters’ work days did not help my boredom much.
So, what did I learn about my reading? I need consent to be explicit and cannot deal with characters that are properly awful to each other. I enjoy reading romance more when the main storyline is a SFF one, something I assumed before but now know for certain. I do not want to read about cowboys, but apparently can deal with hockey players as long as the book is well-written enough. I like the men cocky but nice and have no patience when they try to tell the women what to do with their lives. I like romance novels that are funny a lot more than those that are angsty. Apparently I should stay away from books with grumpy looking dudes in suits on the cover but half-naked men are fine. Nobody uses their words and it drives me insane. I am glad I don’t live in a romance novel.