Tag Archives: Genres

Announcing the winners of the 2017 Hugo Awards!

Last night, the winners of the 2017 Hugo Awards were announced at Worldcon 75, in Helsinki, Finland.  We talked a good deal about the Hugo Awards a few months ago, covering the really troubling “Puppies” and their attempt to hijack the awards (which are voted on at the Con itself), as well as the need to celebrate diverse books of all kinds, genres, and forms.

So it’s a delight to present this list of award winners, which highlights the diversity of the science fiction genre, and, hopefully, will provide you with plenty of ideas for your To Be Read pile!

In total, 2464 valid nominating ballots (2458 electronic and 6 paper) were received and counted from the members of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 World Science Fiction Conventions, and 3319 members of the 2017 Worldcon cast vote on the final ballot.

And the (literary) awards go to:*

Best Novel: The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (her second win in a row!)

Best Novella: Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

Best Novelette: “The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)

Best Short Story: “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales)

Best Related Work: Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Best Graphic Story: Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve 

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough

Best Editor, Short Form: Ellen Datlow

Best Editor, Long Form: Liz Gorinsky (editor with Tor Books and Tor.com)

A big, Free-For-All Congratulations to all the winners!

 

*A number of Hugos are awarded for materials that the Library does not stock, such as fan fiction, fanzines, and visual arts.  We nevertheless support and celebrate their achievements, and you can read the whole list of winners here. 

Found Footage Horror in Books?

It’s summertime, which means I’ve been indulging my love of horror novels, dear readers.   And I’ve found myself feeling a bit nostalgic…

…How many of you remember The Blair Witch Project?

Though it wasn’t the first “found footage” horror film–‘found footage’ being a sort of sub-genre where the film is presented as amateur video discovered after an event–The Blair Witch Project came along at precisely the right time, harnessing the power of the new technology that was the Internet to whip everyone into something of a tizzy.  Debates sprung up everywhere as to whether the events depicted in the film actually happened, what truly happened to the three young film-makers seen in the footage, and just what the Blair Witch really was.  I remember three people in Blockbuster video (yes, Blockbuster Video)  arguing together about whether the film was a ‘hoax’, and if so, what it meant for the horror genre as a whole that this film had so blurred the line between fiction and reality.

Because that’s what ‘found-footage’ does so well, and why it’s such a fascinating genre.  Found-footage creates a reality in a way that few other movies do.  It’s power comes from its incompleteness.  Real life usually doesn’t play out with a well-plotted beginning, middle, and end.  It’s messy.  There are plotlines that go nowhere.  And, in the end, we don’t get the answers to all our questions.

Horror as a genre allows us to deal with the unpleasant, the scary, and the overwhelming aspects of life in a safe way.  Found footage helps us deal with a reality where something are just un-knowable.  And for creatures whose brains are programmed to think in narrative form, that in itself is pretty terrifying.

Anyways, looking back on The Blair Witch Project today (not the sequel, for which I had such high hopes)…it’s a bit campy.  The plot doesn’t really hold up (they argue for 10 minutes out of an 80-minute movie about a map).  The steady-cam makes everyone a wee bit nauseous.  But what is does beautifully is harness our inherent terror of not knowing.  And even though ‘found footage’ is a tough genre to do successfully, especially with today’s passion for special effects and IMAX panoramas and computer generation, I don’t think that fear of not knowing has dimmed at all.  If anything, it’s probably gotten even stronger now that we have so many resources to look up anything we want, to know all we want…to dispel those shadows lurking in the corner…

But when that ability is taken away, when sentences end with ellipses or a comma, and not a period, when the camera is dropped and there is no resolution–it triggers something in our cave-brain that thinks in narrative to flip out and start climbing the walls.

And for those of you looking for a “found footage” fix in a book–there are any number of options from which you can choose.  Dracula and Frankenstein, the very foundations of the horror genre, are themselves ‘found footage’ of a sort, in that they are collections of media produced by the characters.  So let’s take a look as see how this genre has expanded and evolved–just don’t look too closely at those shadows in the corner……

The Supernatural Enhancements: We’ve covered this book here a few times before, but that’s because it’s so flipping good.  The plot centers around a twenty-something gentleman named A., who inherits a house in the backwoods of Virginia from an unknown relative who apparently died after jumping out of a window at the precise age that A himself is now.  Together with Niamh, a mute young woman who is a force in her own right, A sets out to discover the secrets of the house, and of his mysterious family.  The book is a mish-mash of letters written by A to his aunt, of transcripts of conversations between A and Niamh (who writes instead of speaking), and transcripts of video and audio recordings made inside the house.  And codes. So many, many codes.  Because A’s family has plenty of secrets, both fascinating and terrible–and while we learn a good deal of them, there is plenty in this book that is left up to the imagination, not the least of which is what precisely lives in the upstairs bathroom?

House of Leaves: Another old favorite here, and one that very well might take the found footage tale to a whole new level.  Mark Z. Danielewski’s book, ostensibly, is about a family who buys a house that turns out to be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.  And not in a fun, TARDIS-kind of way.  This is a house with a mind of its own, and it’s quite easy to get lost forever.  But if that wasn’t enough, this is a found story about a found story–and, as such, this book is a chilling maze of footnotes, as the multiple layers of storytellers all work through their own issues with this tale–and reveal just how badly this house has affected them all.  This is one of the few books that can make citations scary.  Read it on a beach.  In the sunlight.  Probably, read it outside.  It’s just safer that way.

We Eat Our Own: This is a story less comprised of found footage, and more about found footage–specifically, about the first new found-footage horror movie, the Italian Cannibal Holocaust, which was widely believed to be a ‘snuff’ film when it was first released (a subsequent trial revealed that the human actors all survived, though the scenes of animal brutality were indeed real).  Kea Wilson’s novel follows a nameless, struggling actor in 1970s New York who gets a call that an enigmatic director wants him for an art film set in the Amazon…not because of his talents, but because he so closely resembles the former star who is unable to complete the film.  The conditions on-set are terrible–the atmosphere is so damp that the celluloid film disintegrates, the director himself seems near madness, and there are strange rumors on set about the goings-on in the village around them.  This book is less about Cannibal Holocaust itself than it is a book about violence, and what is does to people who cannot escape it.  It’s a twisty, twisted, thought-provoking, bizarre story that skips perspectives with dizzying ease, and ends with a scene as ambiguous as The Blair Witch Project itself.  Try it, and tell me what you think is going on!

The Romance Garden!

And so we come once more to a new month, and a new sampling of our genre experts’ favorite selections from their romance reading.  We hope you enjoy–perhaps in your own summertime garden?  Or someone else’s?  Or the beach?  Or the mountains?  There is no where that Library books cannot travel!

Joseph Farquharson 1846-1935 Scottish painter

Bridget: Lady Clare is All That by Maya Rodale

It’s been a while since I found a romance that really worked for me, so it was a treat to come across Maya Rodale’s newest book and remember all the things I love about her romances.

Lady Claire Cavendish is a mathematician, even if no one finds brains attractive in a woman.  She has come to England to find a man–a specific man–another mathematician.  But instead, she finds the handsome, beguiling, and infuriating Lord Fox.  Fox has been nursing his ego ever since his fiancee jilted him.  So when he is offered a bet that he can transform Lady Claire, Society’s roughest diamond, into its most prized jewel, he figures it is the perfect way to divert his attention.  He never bargained on his subject being a real, actual–and fascinating–person.

Maya Rodale is one of those writers who really thinks about the romances she is writing, and the journey on which she sends her characters, so this Pygmalion-esque plot had a lot of depth, and a lot of transformations (though not the kind that either character imagined).  I loved that Claire never bothered to hide her brains, and that Fox, even though he hadn’t a clue what she was talking about, loved her for it.  All in all, this was a really fun, diverting, and heartwarming romance about loving someone both because of, and regardless of their looks.

Kelley: Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen

Regency Romance writer Kelly Bowen is back with the third volume in her “A Season for Scandal” series. Angelique Archer is the unfortunate sister of a thoroughly debauched marquess. Since the death of both of their parents, the Archers find themselves on the brink of financial ruin, and Angelique knows for certain that her brother will do nothing to remedy the situation so she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Given her strength in mathematics and skill at cards, Angelique tries her luck at a gaming hell that allows masked women to attend anonymously. The success she has at the vingt-et-un table allows the Archers to keep up appearances, but it also attracts the attention of the gaming hell’s owner Alexander Lavoie. Alexander is initially attracted by Angelique’s mysterious beauty, but that attraction becomes something much more when he witnesses her quick mind, independence and resourceful nature firsthand.

A romance that includes mystery, a taste of London’s underworld, and a surprising plot twist, Between the Devil and the Duke is not your traditional Regency, but I think my favorite aspect of this book is that Alex and Angelique’s “happily ever after” is refreshingly different as well. However, if you want to know what happens, you’ll have to read the book. No spoilers in the Romance Garden! Happy reading!

Until next month, dear readers!

The Romance Garden!

And so we come to the opening of a new month, dear readers, and a mid-week holiday!  Don’t forget, the Library will close at 5pm today (July 3), and will be closed for Independence Day!

A mid-week holiday is the perfect time to indulge in a good book, and today, our genre experts have a few new suggestions for you to keep your heart fluttering and your imagination fired up.  We hope you enjoy!

Bridget:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

When I teach history, one of the things I try really hard to impress on my students is that people haven’t changed all that much–what’s changed, is the way we tell stories, and who the heroes and heroines of those stories are.  Mackenzi Lee reinforces this lesson is a hug, bawdy, over-the-top novel that is full of the kind of characters who normally get overlooked in history books.

Henry “Monty” Montague may have attended the best boarding schools, and raised to be a proper English gentleman, but there is nothing in his world capable of taming him.  He’s flamboyant, reckless, and more than willing to dally with women and men alike.  But Monty knows his time is limited–after his Grand Tour, he’s supposed to be settling down to his familial obligations, which he is wholly unsuited to do.  He’s also harboring a crush on his best friend, Percy, who is traveling with him, which just makes everything more complicated. But Monty decides to make the best of what time he has and, with Percy and Monty’s sister by his side, sets out for the wildest Grand Tour that Europe has ever seen.

And what a ride it is!  The action in the middle part of this book get a wee bit absurd, but this book is so grand, and so enthusiastic, and so adventurous that any traditional trip around the continent would just seem silly.  Instead, we get pirates and manhunts, and derring-do a-plenty.  We also get a wealth of fascinating characters who embody a number of identities not typically seen in any book, let alone a historical.  But Lee’s historic notes at the back of the book justify her choices, and help us realize how vital it is to tell the stories she is.

And best of all, this is a smashing good romance that deals with self-acceptance and loyalty and passion, and is just the kind of book to sweep you off your feet–and off on the adventure of a lifetime!

Kelley:

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J.Maas

With A Court of Mist and Fury, Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series leaps from a mediocre read to a strong and engaging romantic fantasy that will leave readers eagerly seeking out the next volume when they finish this one. This book picks up where the first left off, with Feyre engaged to Tamlin, High Lord of the Spring Court, but suffering from depression, due to events from the first book, which is exacerbated by the overly protective and controlling nature of her high fae fiance.

For the first part of the book, Feyre is forced to divide her time between two of the Fae courts of Prythian, Spring which she considers her home, and the Night Court, where she must visit one week each month after being forced into a bargain with the court’s high lord, Rhysand. While she reluctantly visits the Night Court, Rhysand gives Feyre opportunities to master her newfound fae powers, and she finds herself feeling less powerless and less accepting of the restrictive life Tamlin imposes on her. When those restrictions cause her to reach a breaking point, Rhysand arranges for her rescue, and brings her to stay at Night Court as long as she wishes. Throughout the story, war looms on the horizon, and Fayre may be the key to winning the battle for Prythian.

The romance that develops between Feyre and Rhysand is one of equals who empower each other. Despite their mating bond, a fae connection between two people that goes deeper than an ordinary marriage but can be rejected by either party, Rhysand always makes sure that Feyre knows that she has choices and is powerful in her own right. Despite their magical and physical power, Rhysand and Feyre are both vulnerable and in finding each other they find comfort for the lonely parts of themselves. In addition to intensely romantic, their courtship is fun- Rhysand’s flirtatious nature and Feyre’s foul mouth are pure gold in the world of romance banter. Pair all of that wonderful romance with some fantastic world building, and I can easily say this is the best romantic fantasy I have read since A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet.

A disclaimer for those who read the first book in the series and found themselves disappointed: Having read the first volume, A Court of Thorns and Roses,  and been completely disappointed by the last third of the book, which in my opinion felt like a Hunger Games rip-off, I was reluctant to continue the series. In the end, the good reviews and readily available status on Overdrive won out,  A Court of Mist and Fury went on vacation with me, and it turned out to be the kind of book that made me wish my plane ride was just a little bit longer.

Until next month, beloved patrons–happy reading!

The Hugo Awards and Puppies

The nominations for the 2017 Hugo Awards were announced in April, dear readers, and anticipation is steadily building over which  novels will win.

The Hugo Award is the the longest running prize for science fiction or fantasy works, having been established in 1953.  Up until 1992, the award was known simply as the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, but was subsequently named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.  Gernsback was also responsible for creating the idea of a ‘fandom’.   When readers wrote into Amazing Stories, their addresses were published along with their letters.  As a result readers began to become aware of themselves as fans, and to recognize their collective identity as devotees of the science fiction genre–not bad for 1926.

But “fandom” has its downsides, as well, as few institutions know this better than the Hugo.  See, the Hugo Award nominees and winners are chosen by supporting or attending members of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, with attendees providing nominees, and then the whole group voting in a runoff vote with five nominees per category (unless there is a tie).  For each category of Hugo, the voter may rank “No Award” as one of their choices. Voters are instructed that they should do so if they feel that none of the nominees are worthy of the award, or if they feel the category should be abolished entirely.

If Jeopardy! recognizes a Thing, it is a Thing.

Anyway, back in 2013, author Larry Correia began speaking with other sci-fi writers (all of whom had been nominated for Hugos, but hadn’t won), and saying wouldn’t it be great if Correia’s novels were nominated for the Hugo Award in order to “poke the establishment in the eye” by nominating “unabashed pulp action that isn’t heavy handed message fic[tion]”.  That led to the beginning of a not-so-covert voting bloc that attempted to get Correia’s work Monster Hunter Legion nominated.  The bloc called themselves the “Sad Puppies” after a commercial for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal, showing, you guessed it, Sad Puppies, after a blog comment that equated puppy sadness with “boring message-fic winning awards”.  And just so we’re clear here, Correia explained what he meant by “boring message-fic winning awards” in an interview with Wired:

He felt that the Hugos had become overly dominated by what he and others call “Social Justice Warriors,” who value politics over plot development. Particular targets of Puppy derision include two 2014 Hugo winners: John Chu’s short story, “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere,” in which a gay man decides to come out to his traditional Chinese family after the world is beset by a new phenomenon: whenever a person lies, water inexplicably falls on them; and Ann Leckie’s debut novel Ancillary Justice, whose protagonists do not see gender.

The movement was taken over in 2015 by Brad Torgerson, who explained, in the same Wired interview about

“…what he called “the cognitive dissonance of people saying, ‘No, the Hugos are about quality,’ and then at the same time they’re like: ‘Ooh, we can vote for this author because they’re gay, or for this story because it’s got gay characters,’ or, ‘Ooh, we’re going to vote for this author because they’re not white.’ As soon as that becomes the criteria, well, quality goes out the window.”

So the Sad Puppies coordinated, and tried to influence the Hugo nominations by presenting a whole slate of books en masse.  They weren’t terribly successful.  Seven of the twelve 2014 nominees made it to the final ballot, one nominee each in seven categories, including Correia’s Warbound.

Then, in 2015, the “Rabid Puppies” emerged.  And this where things went from generally xenophobic and unwelcoming to flat out virulence.  The “Rabid Puppies”, were led by a man named Theodore Beale, but who goes by the name Vox Day, which is a bad attempt as “Vox Dei”, or “Voice of God”.  Day is the only person to have been kicked out of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in its nearly fifty year history for horrid, racist remarks he made, and posted, directed at N.K. Jemisin (you are welcome to look them up yourself, should you wish).  He delights in being known as “the most despised man in science fiction”.   Anyways, in both 2015 and 2016, Beale published a slate of nominees, mostly conservative writers and people from his own publishing house, and told his followers to vote them. In 2016, they nabbed over 60 nominations, with four categories dominated by Beale’s picks.

Just to give you an idea of how significant this was

And authors responded.  In 2015, “No Award” was given in five categories, meaning that a majority of voters decided that not giving out an award was better than awarding a Puppy pick.  Some categories did award Hugo’s to authors that Puppies had selected, ut they were authors like Neil Gaiman, who was popular enough to win anyway.  In 2016, a number of authors declined their nominations, including Brian Sanderson who wrote a blog post regarding the issue.  In part, Sanderson said:

I didn’t like the way many of the Puppies talked. They could be belligerent and argumentative, using tactics that felt more likely to silence opposition instead of provoke discussion. In addition, they associated with people even worse…Some leaders in the movement verbally attacked people I respect and love…These awards are supposed to be about the best of sf/f. We are not supposed to vote or nominate simply for our favorite writers, nor choose things just because they advance our viewpoint. (Though things we nominate and vote for can indeed do both things.) We are to examine pieces outside of authorship and pick ones that represent the best of the community…I felt that the slate the Puppies were advocating was dangerous for the award, and against its spirit.

Seriously…

Connie Willis pulled out of presenting a prize, saying her presence would “lend cover and credibility to winners who got the award through bullying and extortion”.

But instead of giving up, or giving in, the majority of science fiction writers voted…and in the end, all four categories for works of fiction went to women, three of whom were women of color, which is pretty terrific, considering that in 2007, there was only one woman nominated at all.

It’s truly disheartening that, rather than supporting the evolution of the genre, or welcoming new authors…or publicly addressing perceived issues with the nominations process in a manner that would allow debate and discussion, a small group of disaffected people would not only attack a valued and deeply significant institution, but would take such delight in it.  Correia’s original argument was that the Hugo had become classist, discriminating against perceived ‘low-brow’ authors (we’re going to tackle this tomorrow), and while there is a very valid discussion to be had about class and ‘literature’, there is no call to punish other authors–to insult other authors, to attack other authors–because the market around you is changing.  The fact is, it’s no longer 1926, and the kind of privileged literature that could use science fiction as a vehicle for racist, sexist, and generally xenophobic messages has long passed, and the genre has grown and developed too much to go back.   And why would we want to, when there are so many other incredible worlds, fascinating ideas, and strange new futures awaiting us in the pens of new authors who are, and will continue, to bring a new worldview to the page?

After the 2016 season, the rules for the Hugo were changed in an attempt to prevent the Puppies from “breaking” the Hugo any further (George R.R. Martin claimed the award had been “broken” by Beale and his pack).  And this year’s nominations seem to be pretty straightforward, with the Sad Puppies not mounting a recognizable campaign, and the Rabid Puppies succeeding in securing only one ludicrous nomination among a spectrum of titles that have been both commercially successful, and diverse in terms of content and their author’s identities.

So maybe this year, there is hope for the Hugo.  I sincerely hope so.  You can read the full list of nominees here.

The Romance Garden!

Many patrons over the weekend were bemoaning the fickle nature of springtime in New England, and the general inability to get any productive gardening accomplished in the face of Mother Nature’s ill-humor.

We can’t fix the weather, sadly dear readers, but there is one thing we can do, and that is promise you plenty of reading material (as well as viewing material, listening material, etc…..) to get you through these less than sunshine-filled days.  And there are few books that are quite literally designed to make your days a little happier than a romance novel.  Which is why our genre experts are back for a round-up of their recommendations for your reading pleasure.

And just a silly note to keep you smiling: We feature “women reading” a lot in this particular series of blog posts, and it’s tricky to find new (and attributable) art sometimes.  So here, if you’re interested, is the MFA’s online gallery, entitled “Women Reading“.  Enjoy!

And so, without any further ado…

Bridget: I Dared the Duke by Anna Bennett

I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy (Oscar Wilde)

Anna Bennett’s new book may have some familiar tropes–the innocent lady governess (of sorts), the notorious, ne’er-do-well Duke, and the “battle of wits” between them.  What really surprised me here, however, was how much this book ran counter to traditional tropes, giving us a heroine with backbone and confidence, and a hero whose thin veneer of misogynistic bluster barely hid a smart hero who knows when and how to apologize.

Miss Elizabeth Lacey is the middle girl in a family of wallflowers.  As such, she has become a companion to the Dowager Duchess of Blackshire–the grandmother of one of the more notorious Dukes in England.  And upon their first meeting, Alex, the Duke of Blackshire, he of the handsome face, the mysterious burns, and the dark reputation, more than lives up to his reputation, bursting into the house and promptly firing Beth.

Alex knows exactly what people say about him, and he doesn’t care.  But someone wants him dead, and until he can unmask the villain, he refuses to take any chances–he needs to get his Grandmother out of London and hidden safely away before any harm can befall her.  But it seems he must match wits with the most cunning and determined woman in London in order to succeed.

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this romance.  There was something Jane-Eyre-esque about Beth’s relationship with Alex, where they both saw each other from the first as humans, and their class and positions of power fell away when they were together.  I really appreciated that Alex’s Grandmother was not a plot point, but a living, breathing human character who I really came to care for over the course of the story.  And Bennett’s writing was spot on, providing a book that was genuinely funny, emotional, and suspenseful by turns, making this an ideal bit of reading fun.

Though I’ve not read much by Anna Bennett in the past, I know I’ll be placing a hold on her other books soon!

Kelley: My Fair Duchess  by Megan Frampton

In the world of historical romance novels, there are a few things that readers can almost always expect to find: a trip to the modiste, at least one ball and possibly a house party, scandalous behavior on a carriage ride…. You see where I’m going with this. But for readers looking for something a bit different, Frampton’s latest “Dukes Behaving Badly” novel offers a pleasant surprise: the “duke” behaving badly is a duchess!

After her father’s death, Genevieve learns that he fought to have the title passed to Genevieve if his sons predeceased him. The scenario was unlikely at best, so when Genevieve becomes a duchess, she finds she is entirely unprepared to take on the role and duties that come with it. A concerned  letter to her godmother leads to the arrival of Archibald Salisbury, “Archie”, a war hero and steward who just happens to be the disowned son of a viscount, and therefore the perfect person to teach Genevieve what she needs to know to navigate society and manage her estates.

What I loved about this romance wasn’t just the unconventional title inheritance; it was the way that Archie and Genevieve challenged each other to confront the challenges in their lives. Archie admires Genevieve and loves watching her grow confidence and embrace her position of power as a duchess. In turn, Genevieve becomes the bridge that brings Archie to take steps to mend his relationship with his family. The two encourage each other to embrace who they were born to be, but at the same time it’s clear that they will do things their own wonderful way.

Until next month, beloved patrons–may all your books have happily ever afters!

 

The Romance Garden!

It seemed for a day or two that spring had finally sprung, dear readers, but it seems our hopes for our gardens may have been somewhat premature.  Thankfully, here in our Romance Garden, it’s always perfect weather, and the time is always right for a little romance.

And here are our genre aficionados’ selections for the month to help you find just the right romance to keep you going until the weather sees fit to cooperate once again!

Claude Monet, Lady in the Garden

Bridget:
Under the Wire by Helenkay Dimon
I’ve made my love of Helenkay Dimon’s stories quite clear in the past, and that adoration has only been confirmed by her Bad Boys Undercover series.  As usual, Dimon creates fascinating, complex plots, and deeply meaningful, complicated relationships among her protagonists.  Best of all, she clearly delights in subverting genre stereotypes in her books, ensuring that readers are always going to be kept on their toes.

In this fourth novel (more or less a standalone), Reid Armstrong, one of the elite operatives working for the security agency known as Alliance, is eagerly looking forward to a well-earned vacation.  That is, until he hears that his former fiancée has disappeared while on a top-secret scientific expedition.  He knows he blew his chances with Cara’s heart, but he isn’t about to turn his back on her.  When Cara wakes up alone in a destroyed camp, she knows that she is still a target.  And when Reid appears on the scene, it seems the danger has only increased.  Even if they manage to get home alive, being so close to the man she still loves could break Cara’s heart for good.

I loved the way that Reid–as stoic and apparently unflappable as they come–has his world turned upside down by Cara, and that, despite all his alpha-male tendencies, he isn’t afraid to let her shine all by herself.  Their adventures full of action and high-stakes tension, but Dimon certainly doesn’t skimp on the emotions here, making for a book–and a series–that readers will love.

Kelley: 

The Danger of Desire  by Sabrina Jeffries
A quick look at her website tells me that author Sabrina Jeffries is pretty prolific, but somehow I never managed to find my way to one of her wonderful romances until a trip to the library led me to the third book in her Sinful Suitors series, The Danger of Desire. Thankfully, reading the third book first was no problem, and being as I enjoyed the book so much I fully expect that I’ll be headed back for the first and second installments.

Our hero is Warren Corry, the Marquess of Knightford, a notorious rakehell who spends his evenings at cards and in brothels. Despite appearances, prone to horrifying nightmares, Knightford’s night life is less glamorous than it seems.  Our heroine is Miss Delia Trevor, a woman determined to avenge her brother’s death and ruin by disguising herself as a man and playing cards at a men’s club in order to uncover the identity of the man who cheated him. Delia’s dangerous game is uncovered by Knightford and the two quickly discover that they enjoy each other’s company even when they are at odds.

Being as my non-romance reading is often pretty dense, I tend to look for romances that are light and fun with plots that keep the pages compulsively turning. I like my heroes flirtatious and quick witted and my heroines independent and up for adventure. If there are some quirky and charming family members, or in this case aloof and selective cats, all the better. The Danger of Desire delivered on all of those things making for a lovely afternoon of escape reading. The resolutions of the book’s two primary conflicts are a bit oversimplified, but overall I would highly recommend it. I, for one, will definitely be checking out more of Sabrina Jeffries’ books in the future. Lucky for me, there are a lot of them!

Until next month, beloved patrons–happy reading!