Tag Archives: Genres

The Romance Garden!

Romance is everywhere, dear readers.  Love stories can be found everywhere–not only in romance novels.  We’re not just talking about “some of the characters are married or getting married” plot lines.  We’re talking about the kind of slow-burning, evolving, enriching love stories that romance readers know and love.  They just take place on the pages of a book that is shelved in mystery, perhaps.  Or science fiction.  Or thriller.   Indeed, there are a number of established romance authors who work across genres, and bring their skills in crafting relationships to any number of different books, stories, and genres.

So, perhaps you are a reader who would like more romance in your life, but aren’t really in the mood for a full-on romance?  Or perhaps the romances are your favorite part of other genre installments?  Here are a few suggestions for you from our genre experts for “Romance in non-romance genres”.  We hope you find some inspiration for your next romantic read!

Murder on Black Swan Lane: The author of this intriguing series, Andrea Penrose, also writes historical romance novels under the name of Cara Elliott, and she brings the same nuanced character development, insight, and chemistry to this tale of murder, international intrigue and…well…chemistry.  The Earl of   (fans of Elliott’s work will remember this name!) has been plagued by the satirical cartoons of A.J. Quill, an artist as brilliant as he in ruthless in skewering the hypocrisy and debauchery of the aristocracy.  But then the clergyman is found slain in a church—his face burned by chemicals, his throat slashed ear to ear—and Wrexford finds himself the chief suspect.  Charlotte Sloan has been using her deceased husband’s pseudonym, A.J. Quill, drawing cartoons in order to keep poverty from the door.  Having anyone discover her secret would be disastrous–until Wrexford discovers her.  Instead of revealing her, however, he offers her a deal—use her sources to unveil the clergyman’s clandestine involvement in questionable scientific practices, and unmask the real murderer.  This is a pair unlike in temperament, class, and outlook, but they work together beautifully, and Penrose expertly crafts the bond between them that will keep readers spellbound even as the mystery they investigate grows ever deadlier.  If you enjoy this book, be sure to check out the second–Murder at Half Moon Gate.  It’s even better, believe me!

What Angels Fear: If historical mysteries are your cup of tea, I cannot recommend C.S. Harris’ series featuring Sebastian St. Cyr more highly.  These mysteries are expertly crafted, the danger is real, and the history is delightful.  But at the heart of this series is a hero who has had his heart broken too many times, and has a huge amount of emotional growing-up to do.  And Harris makes him do it.  As a result, the long plot arcs in this series, featuring St. Cyr’s family drama, clandestine romances, and finally finding a real true love, are unpredictable, daring, and wonderfully fulfilling.  These stories have a bit more mystery in them than Penrose’s, but the romance, the angst, and the true love, are critically important, too!  In this first book in the series, St. Cyr is the prime suspect in a the brutal rape and murder of a young woman whose body is left in an ancient church.  Desperate to save his own skin, and ever-ready to settle old debts, St. Cyr sets out to find the true culprit–and nearly upends the reign of the Prince Regent in the process.

 

SecurityGina Wohlsdorf’s debut was by far and away one of the most unexpected, unpredictable, and strangely moving books I’ve read in a long time.  On the surface, this is a book about a hotel–the most secure, technologically-advanced, luxurious hotel ever built.  Security cameras, sound-recording devices, and a wealth of other high-tech devices have been installed to ensure that guests enjoy the ultimate in comfort, privacy, and security.  But when the security system is hacked, allowing a band of unknown, vicious killers into the building, the Manderly Resort becomes a slaughter-house.  Beneath the surface, however, this is a story about human relationships–specifically, the relationship between hotel manager Tessa and the man who has come to visit her.  And the security guard who watches it all.  To tell you anymore would be to ruin the surprise of this book, but if you are in the mood for something that will, quite seriously, provide you with All The Feelings, from fear to passion, from creeping terror to jubilation, this is the book for you!

 

WeA classic science-fiction/dystopian novel, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s 1921 novel (inspired by his own experiences during the Russian Revolution and Civil War) predates George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, and does it will chilling insight and stunning imagery.  But even as this book tells the story of a “world at harmony” in a totalitarian state where no one has names or individual identities, it’s also a love story.  Like all other citizens of One State, D-503 lives in a glass apartment building and is carefully watched by the secret police, or Bureau of Guardians. D-503’s lover, O-90, has been assigned by One State to visit him on certain nights.  But then, D-503 meets I-330, and his whole life is turned upside down.  And not only his life–1-330 is the leader of a revolutionary group determined to bring humanity and bird song back to the city in which she lives.  Though the results of this book aren’t specifically happy, this is a book that validates and celebrates the power of love in all its forms over and over again.  And in that way, it’s a truly powerful love story.

 

Until next month, beloved patrons–may you love all that you read!

The 2018 Hugo Award Nominees!

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’, to describe a group of people who share a cultural bond over their love of a particular genre–in this case, weird/science fiction.   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.

Since 1993,  Worldcon committees have had the option of awarding Retrospective Hugo Awards for past Worldcon years (1939 onwards) where they had not been presented.  This year, the retrospective awards for 1943 were also announced, which you can read here.

The Hugo Award Trophy, via The Hugo Awards

We’ve discussed at length the problems inherent in the awarding of the Hugos, and several attempts over the last few years to sabotage the process by the groups known as the “Sad Puppies” and the “Rabid Puppies.”  However, as we also noted, saner heads prevailed, the Hugos produced an optimistically diverse and inclusive group of winners last year.  It’s a trend we can only hope will continue, as access to as many types of stories, by as diverse a group of humans as possible can only benefit us, and our imaginations.

So, without further ado, here is a curated list of Hugo Award nominees, with links to the titles available at the Library.  You can read the full list here.

Best Novel

Best Series

Best Graphic Story

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Blade Runner 2049, written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, directed by Denis Villeneuve
  • Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele
  • The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson
  • Thor: Ragnarok, written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi
  • Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins

There are two other Awards administered by Worldcon 76 that are not Hugo Awards:

Award for Best Young Adult Book

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Congratulations to all the Hugo Award Nominees!  We’ll check back in when the winners are announced

The Romance Garden!

Well, you wouldn’t know it from looking out the window, beloved patrons, but it is most certainly calendar Spring, even if it’s not actually Spring outside.  But that is just another reason why our literary garden, filled with books about true love and changing fortunes and changing lives, intrigue and romance, is so terrific.  So join us as our genre aficionados offer you their picks for the month, and we hope you’ll find a new book (or a new genre entirely?) to savor until the warmth of the sun gets the real flowers to growing again!

Bridget: A Good Day to Marry a Duke by Betina Krahn

It isn’t often that books make me giggle out loud, but Betina Krahn’s outlandish sense of humor, and utterly delightful characters had me snickering from the first scene right up to the heartwarming finale.

Daisy Bumgarten’s disastrous debut among New York’s privileged set meant that her chances of finding a husband close to home were ruined.  So, determined to help and provide for her sisters, the plucky Nevada native sets sail to England, hoping to make a good a match as possible across the pond.  Once there, everything seems to be going to plan, and Daisy is taken under a countess’ wing and offered comprehensive lessons for a duchess-to-be.  But when the notorious Lord Ashton Graham, a distraction of the most dangerous kind, determines that Daisy’s feisty façade hides devious plans, and determines to reveal every one of them.  The two butt heads in the most dramatic–and unexpected–fashion, but when a plot threatens to show up Daisy as unworthy of the aristocracy, will Ashton be her worst detractor? Or the nobleman she needs most of all?

As much as I loved the arch humor in this book, I also loved the characters.  There were plenty of opportunities to make either Daisy or Ashton into caricatures, but they remained three-dimensional, wholly empathetic characters throughout this story.  And I adored that Daisy wasn’t afraid to call out macho posturing and covert misogyny whenever it appeared.  All in all, this was a sensational opening to Krahn’s Sin and Sensibility series, and I for one can’t wait for more!

Kelley: Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

If you’re looking for a historical romance that offers something different from the norm, Lisa Kleypas’ latest entry in the “Ravenels” series is a good choice. Dr. Garrett Gibson is the only female doctor in London, and Ethan Ransom is is a former Scotland Yard detective now rumored to be involved in darker work. The two come together just as Ethan finds himself involved in an extremely risky assignment that could endanger them both. Right away, we know this book isn’t about dukes and duchesses, or earls and countesses. Instead of balls, mansions, trips to the modiste, and lives of leisure, Garrett and Ethan give readers a glimpse into a London that has dark alleys, street food, flats, and meaningful work.

Garrett believed so fully in her calling that, knowing English medical programs would not accept female students, she went to France to earn her medical degree, even though she knew that attracting patients and overcoming skepticism would be an uphill battle when she returned to London. Her profession and education lead her to live a life more typical to a man than a woman, and Ethan Ranson is drawn immediately to her courage, smarts, and individuality. Both characters are independent and deeply dedicated to their careers, but where Garrett is science-minded and practical, Ethan is passionate and poetic, and those differences prove to be the things that make them stronger together than apart.

If you’ve read previous “Ravenels” books you’ll recognize some of the supporting characters in this story, but despite their appearances in the book, Hello Stranger has a very different feel than other entries in the series. As always, Kleypas offers characters with real depth, and a story line that keeps the pages turning. Happy reading!

Until next month, dear readers, enjoy!

Resolve to Read 2018: A Book of True Crime

As we mentioned here previously, we here at the Library are Resolving to Read (more…different….) in 2018, and tackling both Book Riot’s and Scholastic’s 2018 Reading Challenges.  In the hopes of encouraging you to broader your literary horizons along with us, here are some suggestions for books that fall within the categories of the various challenges.

Today’s Challenge: Book Riot 2018 Read Harder Challenge
Category: A Book of True Crime

“True Crime” is a rich and diverse genre, that taps into some of our most basic human tendencies: creating narratives to explain how things happened, providing closure to questions and events, and helping us understand what makes other people tick, and why they do what they do.  The lurid details that many of them provide only add to the appeal of these books that often combine superlative research and analysis with visceral violence.

The neat thing about true crime is how wide a scope it covers in terms of its material.  Fans of Law and Order or CSI might feel instantly at home in this genre, but there is room for a surprisingly wide array of interesting.  History, science, government, economics…all can form the basis of a sensational true crime book.  So even if you’re not a dedicated scholar of jurisprudence or police work, there is still a wealth of books for you to savor within this genre!

Via TED Talks

True crime is also a genre that is maturing and evolving constantly, and, as Book Riot points out in their list, is a field that is getting better as a result of more diversity among the authors and subject matter they cover.  So here are some of our picks for some sensational reads for your 2018 Resolution.  We made a point to select books that both represented the diversity in the genre, as well as the many different angles that true crime can take!

Truevine : two brothers, a kidnapping, and a mother’s quest : a true story of the Jim Crow SouthAt the heart of Beth Macy’s enormously wide-ranging book is the kidnapping of two young boys from the tobacco farm on which they lived and worked in 1899.  George and Willie Muse, both albino Blacks, ended up being sold to the circus, performing in sideshows around the United States, as well as in Buckingham Palace and Madison Square Garden.  Their popularity was a result of their skin color and the outlandish performances that were staged for them, presenting them as everything from cannibals from remote jungles to martians.  But even as Macy shares George and Willie’s remarkable story, she also tells the story of their mother’s quest to find them again.  This is a book that was decades in the researching and making, and is jam-packed full of details, not only about the Muse family and their incredible life stories, but also the history of the circus in the United States, the realities of Jim Crow policies and laws in the American South, and the travel narrative of Macy’s research, all of which combines to create haunting and memorable story.

The Fact of a Body : A Murder and a Memoir:  Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s genre-bending book was highlighted by many as one of the best of 2017…and for good person.  Intensely personal, unflinching in its dedication, and absolutely gripping, this is both the story of a child murderer named Rickey Langley and the Marzano-Lesnevich’s personal history.  On her first day at work for a New Orleans defense firm, Marzano-Lesnevich was shown a video of Langley.  Though staunchly opposed to the death penalty, watching that tape, she explains, she wanted to see this man dead.  As a victim of child abuse herself, the reaction in an understandable one.  But as Marzano-Lesnevich wades deeper into her own story, trying to navigate her sense of betrayal, not only at the family member who perpetrated the abuse, but the family members who did nothing concrete to stop it.  This book succeeds best when Marzano-Lesnevich deals with personal issues.  Her exploration of Langley isn’t quite as searing, but this is still a book that will hold the interest of devoted true crime readers and those readers who love memoirs and family dramas, as well.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer: For more than ten years, an unknown predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he committed ten murders. The person then disappeared, and has eluded capture even since.  Three decades later, true crime journalist Michelle McNamara, resolved to discover the identity of the person she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.  Her research is staggering in its depth and insight, and the energy that she invested in this case brings her story to life.  Michelle, sadly, passed away while writing this book, and it was completed in her memory by her lead researcher.  Though there isn’t the closure of a perpetrator at the end of this story, it’s almost more memorable for being open-ended.  This is a book that forces the reader to reckon with the aftermath of violent crimes, and to peer into the lives of people who are forever defined–and forever damaged–by their involvement with this case.  This is a book that is already being hailed as a classic in the true crime genre, and offers plenty of goodies for readers who revel in clues and conspiracies.  The introduction by Gillian Flynn only adds to the appeal.

Midnight in Peking: Paul French’s riveting book focuses on the unsolved murder of a British schoolgirl in January 1937.  The mutilated body of Pamela Werner was found at the base of the Fox Tower–a place that, in local superstition, is home to the maliciously seductive fox spirits As British detective Dennis and Chinese detective Han investigate the mystery only deepens and in a city on the verge of invasion rumor and superstition run rampant.  This is not only the story of a single investigation, but of on an extraordinary time: In 1937, a clash between Chinese and Japanese troops outside Beiping triggered the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and would lead to Peking being renamed Beijing.  This is a story of the last chaotic days before the outbreak of that war, and the way that international journalists covered not only the murder of Pamela Werner, but also the land in which she was killed.  French is and analyst and commentator on China and North Korea, and that expertise shines through in this book that is as much a political history as it is a true crime tale.

The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in ParisOn the morning of November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a desperate seventeen-year-old Jewish refugee, walked into the German embassy in Paris and shot Ernst vom Rath, a Nazi diplomat. Two days later vom Rath lay dead, and the Third Reich exploited the murder to unleash Kristallnacht in a bizarre concatenation of events that would rapidly involve Ribbentrop, Goebbels, and Hitler himself. But was Grynszpan a crazed lone gunman or agent provocateur of the Gestapo? Was he motivated by a desire to avenge Jewish people, or did his act of violence speak to an intimate connection between the assassin and his target, as Grynszpan later claimed? Jonathan Kirsch’s book is part true-crime legal drama, and part historical detective work that digs to the roots of a nearly-forgotten story that has huge implications for our understanding of the Holocaust and Nazi occupation of Europe.  His concluding meditations on the nature of resistance (which may or may not be relevant to this story–you’ll have to decide for yourself) are really thought-provoking, and add another dimension to an already compelling book.

 

Until next time, beloved patrons–good luck with those resolutions!

Awards Season: The Bram Stoker Awards!

It’s awards season this year, and we at the Library are thrilled to bring you all the winners–not just from last night’s Academy Awards, but from this year’s Bram Stoker Awards, which were handed out this weekend in Providence Rhode Island!

Each year, the Horror Writer’s Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the horror novel to beat all horror novels (and Free For All favorite), Dracula. The Bram Stoker Awards were instituted immediately after the organization’s incorporation in 1987.  The first awards were presented in 1988 (for works published in 1987), and they have been presented every year since. The award itself, designed by sculptor Steven Kirk, is a stunning haunted house, with a door that opens to reveal a brass plaque engraved with the name of the winning work and its author.

How amazing is this?!

The Stoker Awards specifically avoid the word “best”, because it recognizes that horror itself is a genre that is constantly moving, changing, and pushing its own boundaries (and can often be very specific to a place, or a generation).  Instead, it uses the words “Superior Achievement”.  The categories of award have changed over the years, as well, as the genre has evolved, but since 2011, the eleven Bram Stoker Award categories are: Novel, First Novel, Short Fiction, Long Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction Collection, Poetry Collection, Anthology, Screenplay, Graphic Novel and Non-Fiction.

We’ll have some more information regarding Stokercon, the annual meeting of the Horror Writers of America from one of our library staff who attended part of convention, but for now, let’s celebrate the winners (and maybe find some new books to enjoy?)!

Here is a selection of the nominees and winners of the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards, with links to the Library Catalog in the title of each book where applicable:

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Winner: Ararat by Christopher Golden

Also nominated:

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen & Owen King

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Ubo by Steve Rasnic Tem

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Winner: Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen

Also nominated:

In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson

What Do Monsters Fear? by Matt Hayward

The Boulevard Monster by Jeremy Hepler (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Winner: The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

Also nominated:

The Door to January by Gillian French

Hellworld by Tom Leveen

The Ravenous  by Amy Lukavics

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Winner: Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy and Octavia E. Butler

Also nominated:

Darkness Visible by Mike Carey and Ethan David Arvind

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

The Black Monday Murders by Jonathan Hickman (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Monstress Volume 2 by Marjorie Liu

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Winner: Get Out by Jordan Peele

Also nominated:

The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor

Stranger Things: MadMax (Episode 2:01) by Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer (Season 2 isn’t available yet, but once it is, we’ll have it for you!)

Twin Peaks, Part 8 by Mark Frost and David Lynch

It by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Winner: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of the ’70’s and ’80’s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix

Also nominated:

Horror in Space: Critical Essays on a Film Subgenre by Michele Brittany (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror by Kinitra D. Brooks

The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History by Stephen Jones (access this title via ComCat–check with your friendly reference staff!)

Where Nightmares Come From: The Art of Storytelling in the Horror Genre edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson

 

Check out all the winners of the 2017 Bram Stoker Awards here!

The Romance Garden

A Gentleman Reading In A Garden by Carl Spitzweg

It may not be gardening weather quite yet, dear readers, but it is time for a visit to our romance garden (because every mind needs a little dirt in which to grow).  To celebrate the approach of March, our Library’s romance readers bring you some of their top selections to help you find a new literary love–or to begin exploring the genre for the very first time!  Feel free to drop by the Library to get more suggestions on romance novels–or any other types of novels–soon!

Bridget:
Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

The writing duo that is Christina Lauren has certainly cornered the market on angsty/adorable romances, and this stand-alone tale about careers and quarter-life crises is yet another feather in their already-well-decorated hat.

When Carter and Evie meet at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, it’s one of those things that could either go colossally badly…or shockingly well.  Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire. But when their two agencies merge–causing the pair to vie for the same position–all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals–so why can’t they act like it? Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human?

I loved that this book allowed both Carter and Evie to be silly, smart, career-driven, and in love without judgement.  Though it takes a while for them to wake up and realize what they really want and need out of life, their chemistry together is so pitch-perfect that it’s well worth the wait to see them find their happy ending!

Kelley:
The Rogue is Back in Town by Anna Bennett

After one scandal too many, Lord Samuel Travis finds himself in a desperate situation when his marquess brother kicks him out of the house with nothing but the clothes on his back. In order to get back in his brother’s good graces, Sam must reclaim a house that is currently occupied by Miss Juliette Lacey and her scientifically brilliant but mentally scattered elderly uncle. What seems like an easy assignment proves impossible when Sam meets extreme resistance from Julie who wants to protect both her uncle and her family’s home.

With nowhere else to go, Sam takes up residence in the house and, while there, finds himself coming to care both for Julie and her uncle. In the meantime, Sam’s brother Nigel, the marquess, has other ideas about Julie’s future, and she finds herself in a tug of war between the brother who can amply provide for her but only wants her in his bed, and the brother who has no means to provide for himself let alone a wife but offers his heart.

As Julie comes to realize that she wants a more fulfilling life than a loveless marriage to a titled gentleman, Sam determines to make more of himself and seeks opportunities to make himself worthy of the woman he loves. A sweet romance complete with witty dialogue and a charming nutty professor with a romantic heart, “The Rogue is Back in Town” is a perfect Sunday afternoon read.

The Romance Garden!

It’s February, dear readers, and that means that we’re most likely going to be talking about romances a lot.  So what better way to start things off than a wander through our Romance Garden (because every mind needs a little dirt in which to grow).  Here, our genre aficionados share with you their favorite recent reads across the romance genre.  We hope you find something here that inspires you to try a new romance…or try the genre for the very first time?  Either way, we hope you enjoy!

Reading in the Garden. Susan Ricker Knox

Bridget:

Renegade Cowboy by Sara Richardson: I am not really a fan of cowboy romances, but this book, the third installment of Sara Richardson’s Rocky Mountain Riders trilogy was a rare, and really important exception.  The whole trilogy is pretty terrific, but you don’t need to have read through the whole story to fully appreciate this story.  Cassidy Greer has the world on her shoulders.  She lost her brother in a bull-riding accident several years ago.  As a result, she’s studying to be a nurse, and desperately trying to help and protect her mother, who is spiraling into alcoholic depression and dementia as a result of her grief.  So she has no time at all for her childhood crush (and her deceased brother’s best friend), Levi Cortez.  A top-ranked bull-rider, Levi has spent years hiding from the mistakes in his past, and his shame at not being there for the Greers.  Seeing Cassidy again is both a reckoning and, Levi realizes, a second chance.  But can he convince Cassidy to take a chance on him again?

There are a lot of aspects of this book that are downplayed for the sake of brevity, especially Cassidy’s mother’s mental and physical health conditions.  But having said that, the emotions in this story feel very real, and Richardson doesn’t give either her hero or her heroine and easy way out of their ingrained fears, or their awkward feelings.  This is a book about apologies and redemption and self-acceptance that was moving an insightful and honest in a way that I haven’t encountered much recently.  Even readers who aren’t a fan of ten-gallon hats or bull rings are going to find a lot to enjoy in this book–and the series, too!

Kelley:

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet: The third book in Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles is every bit as good as the first two volumes and a worthy end to the trilogy. In book three, as they rally and train an army to take the final step in uniting the Kingdom of Thalyria, we find Cat and Griffin married and awaiting the arrival of their first child. In order to conquer the final realm, Fisa, Cat will be forced to confront the self-serving and ruthless mother who subjected her to years of terror and abuse as a child.

Cat is a child of the Gods and as such her path is often influenced by powers greater than herself. In addition, she has been given great power of her own, but has never been able to successfully channel those powers at will. As much as Heart on Fire focuses on the romantic relationship of Cat and Griffin, the book is even more powerfully a romance about falling in love with yourself. Cat realizes that unless she learns to believe in herself and find herself worthy of the life and family she loves, she will never be able to master her magic and stand in her own power. Along the way, Cat receives steady encouragement, love and support from Griffin, and when she reaches the place she needs to be in order to face her mother and Fisa, she and Griffin become a confident and powerful team who will rule their people with strength and love.

Throughout this series, Cat’s growth as a character is dramatic, and it’s enormously fulfilling to see her step fully into her destined role as Queen of Thalyria. Along the way, there is of course plenty of danger, adventure, magic and romance. More than once we see Cat and Griffin torn apart with seemingly little hope of coming together again, and more than once we’re rewarded with heartbreaking and tender scenes as they are reunited. But most powerful of all, is watching Cat earn her wings as she embraces all of the good and bad parts of herself, and learns to let her light shine not just for herself and her family but for her kingdom.

Until next month, dear readers, we wish you plenty of literary romance to savor!