All right, my liebchens, it’s Wednesday, I’ve already done #1lineWed on Twitter, I have a chat with my fabulous critique partner, Vicki, at two, writing must be done, articles pitched, so you’re getting this ramble because that’s how I roll.
Thanks to friend and reader Mary W, I got the idea to talk about some of the books I’ve read, recently or otherwise, that do suit my tastes. Much more fun to enthuse over something I love than whine about trying to find more of it. Here’s the thing about that; some of the time, it finds us, so all that looking can, in those cases, be the same as smashing our heads against a brick wall in hopes of getting through it, when, if we’d kept on walking a few more paces, we could have found the door, garden gate, etc.
This was going to be a video post, but the cold sore that showed up overnight is not terribly photogenic, so you’re getting this instead. All righty, disclaimer aside, let’s jump into this.
Skye O’Malley, by Bertrice Small
(the book, not the kitty)
This is my all time favorite historical romance novel, big, bodacious, sprawling over years and continents, with one kickass heroine who doesn’t let boys boss her around. Doesn’t let Queen Elizabeth I boss her around either, for that matter. An instance of amnesia actually working in fiction, lots of grit and adventure, from sixteenth century Ireland, England, Algiers and the high seas, to the political machinations of a woman making her way in a man’s world on her own terms, this gets my story blood pumping.
As for romance, Skye has more than one love in this book, and I am okay with that. Niall, her first love, and the hero of the book, is my favorite, and that final scene where the two of them and their friends literally do ride off into the sunset, well, that’s my all time favorite romance novel ending, ever. Yes, I can recite it from memory. Much bigger in scope than is currently in vogue, and I miss that scope, this takes Skye from her birth to her HEA (for this book; eleven others follow, chronicling Skye’s family’s adventures) and set the bar or the larger than life heroines I prefer.
For those keeping track of that sort of thing, yes, this is a sexy book, but please don’t think that’s the whole point. The character shine here, as people of their time, and if you don’t want to stand up and give Skye, Niall and company a fistpump at the end, well, I don’t know if we can be friends. (Okay, we probably can, but I would hold it against you. I am bribable with gummi bears, though, so you may still have a shot.)
Sword Dancer, by Jennifer Roberson
Oh good gravy, this book. I resisted reading it for ages (E, how long did I avoid this one?) because I’m not into a lot of fantasy, but, trust me, this really really is a romance. Famed warrior Tiger can be matched by no man, but (fantasy readers, you know where I’m going here) that’s kind of moot because Del is no man. From the first time the two meet, in a desert cantina, the chemistry crackles between this Southron (sic) alpha male and Northron (sic) woman who is so very much his equal and opposite that following them through seven (so far) very thick books is not nearly enough. I also know the last line of this seies by heart. It was everything I …er, he dreamed when he slept at night, among the salset. :happy sigh:
My copies are in storage, but I have written about the series for Heroes and Heartbreakers, here. Yes, there’s magic in this book, and it’s told in first person, from Tiger’s POV, but this gal found it very easy to slip inside his head. Tiger thinks he’s tough, and he is; he earns a living with his sword, fending off challengers, but the challenge he didn’t expect was to find a woman who can do what he does…and more. Del needs Tiger’s help to find and free her enslaved brother, This relationship has a lot going against it. They’re literally from two different worlds, and each gets a chance to see exactly what the other has had to overcome in their hometowns, not to mention some huge challenges destiny throws their way. I won’t give away their secrets here, but if you want a ride or die couple in your romantic fiction, Tiger and Del are it. This really does read like a powerful historical romance set in a place we don’t know yet, so if you’re hesitant about fantasy, this is good place to start. Ms. Roberson has also written some excellent historical romances, so, y’know, precedent has been set.
Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
Not historical romance, this one, but, well, kind of, sort of, in its way. Set in the 1980s, we could call this a period piece, because the fabric of the time is essential to the romance and shapes it in a way that one would collapse without the other. It’s standalone, too, which is one thing I sorely miss in today’s market (though I find more standalones in YA than historical romance; what’s with that?) and absolutely everything revolves around the love story.
Eleanor and Park, high school students, meet on a school bus. Eleanor is hard to overlook. She’s fat. She has big, curly, red hair. She dresses funny. Park doesn’t want the trouble, but when he sees how badly she’s getting picked on, he reluctantly lets her share his seat. Then he notices she’s reading his comic book over his shoulder. He holds the book open wider so she can see. Swoon, right? He gives her the book, and other books, makes her mix tapes, becomes the one pure and true and good thing in her life. Eleanor needs that, as her home life is a crazy free fall of chaos with her abusive stepfather and her gaggle of siblings who look to her more than their parents for stability. Park’s family has romance cred already, as his dad loved his mother enough to go back to Korea for her, and he knows what love looks, feels, and sounds like. He knows he’s found it with Eleanor, and he’s willing to fight for her, literally and figuratively.
The course of teen love never does run smooth, even though both know this is the real thing, and both must make a heartrending choice when Eleanor’s home life escalates. I do count this as a happy ending, and I like to think I do know what those mysterious three words in the book’s ending are. I will fight those who disagree, because, yeah, that is the hill I want to die on when discussing this book. I’ve written about Park and my other favorite YA book boyfriends for Heroes and Heartbreakers here.
That’s all the time I have for today, so I shall leave you here and scarper off to Georgian England for a while. What books can get you squealing like an excited fangirl/boy? Can you tell anything these three books or their characters have in common? Know a good cold sore remedy? Drop a line in the comments and let me know.