We have yet to have given you a truly wonderful reading recommendation (I believe we did mention The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee which is a definite win), so I am here to remedy such a sad truth this very morn. In fact, I have a little treat for you found by way of the Smart Bitches- a whole smattering of free romance eBooks from Mills & Boon!
There are ten of them total and all it requires is a little of your time to read descriptions and decide which ones you'd like/download the necessary software to read them if you don't already have it. I have read four of them and will happily give you my opinions; I am debating whether I will read the other six (probably yes because I am a ridiculous person) because it creeps me out that all of the storylines center around babies/pregnancy.
I don't know what kind of escapist fantasy involves a squalling infant, but I'll take slightly rape-y Regency-era England historical romances over that shit any day, let me tell you. Which I suppose I just did. Anyway: onto the reviews!
SILENT IN THE GRAVE Okay, I'm a little confused as to why this one was even in the romance category because aside from one passionate kiss there is absolutely no sexy time. I mean, it is set in the late 19th century so for that time period seeing a man with his shirt mostly unbuttoned (NOOOOO THE HORROR THE HORROR!!!) was pretty scandalous for a woman of 'good breeding' etc whatever- but this book is actually good. Well-written, the characters are interesting, it's witty, well-researched and the clothing descriptions (especially if you are a sucker for costumes) will have you wishing you had some Poppins-worthy hats on hand yourself. And it's a mystery! I'm actually planning to acquire the next two in the series as well as this one, all in actual book format.
Overall grade: A+
Sexytime grade: C+ good sexual tension/build for future
Ridiculousness grade: B (sadly no one is a werewolf/faerie/vampire; fortunately nobody is a sparklepire)
DIAGNOSIS DANGER Much more in the vein of the traditional romance novel- everybody is extraordinarily good-looking and sexy and when they have sex IT IS THE BESTEST EVER WITH EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, OMG. I like the fact that the heroine is a redhead and a doctor- but she too has a weird obsession with babies. (If you want non-creepy babies, go for something like The Very Virile Viking by Sandra Hill. Far superior. And hilarious.) There is a murder-mystery plot happening as well, so at least our heroine has something to think about besides her devastating endometriosis. Best part of the book is her Polish mother butchering English, and the author's dedication to her parents for "taking the English language places it had never been before".
Overall grade: B-
Sexytime grade: B (includes over-the-top flowery language to describe their 'heavenly joinings' or whatever without actually describing much)
Ridiculousness grade: B+ (I think they at least take about a month before they sleep together. Must be a romance novel record.)
THE RAKE'S UNCONVENTIONAL MISTRESS I don't know how I read that other one before I realized that there was another historical romance in my midst, really. This one nearly lost me for two reasons: one, there is a lot of near-rape going on in this book. Some women like that kind of thing in their bodice-rippers, I do not. Creepy. Like babies. Second reason? JANE FREAKING AUSTEN MAKES A GUEST-APPEARANCE. WTF. Something about Shakespeare, maybe, being in a romance novel strikes me as hilarious. Austen? The Brontë Sisters? I just don't even know what to do with that. Aside from that, the book was well-researched though the supporting characters a bit cliché- your heros nearly always have to be, but you can have fun with the supporting. This author went for your standard meddling mother/supportive uncle/disapproving aunt/bubbly pretty younger sisters/rapey gardener's son. As far as the two main characters, I felt it was trying to be a re-rendering of Pride & Prejudice- at one point the heroine is even talking about how she should have seen the goodness in the hero but she had been 'too prejudiced'- how subtle. Darcy would kick this man soundly for being so rape-y. There are also two other instances of near rape by random other characters. It's lovely, really.
Overall grade: B+
Sexytime grade: A-
Ridiculousness grade: JANE FREAKING AUSTEN. A+.
THE PLAYER Oh sweet, sweet god. This one was AWESOME. Apparently it is also part of a trilogy, one I will be acquiring over the next few months, mark my words. Six-and-a-half foot tall, Irish-American former Army Ranger from Alabama with Deep, Dark Secrets? Our heroine was a Wall Streeter who had a heart attack at 26 so she rearranged her life to run a relaxation retreat for burned-out people? Her secretary is named TEWANDA? There is an ENGLISH MASTIFF? SOLD! And even better is the fact that our heroine is a "big girl"- the whole virginal theme starts to get a little weird after a while, with the Sexually Experienced Men Showing Them Things. She also almost psychically senses our hero's pain, which is pretty great. People jump out of rowboats into lakes in September in Maine. My favorite Irish whiskey is involved. The sex scenes are hot. There is of course conflict that you know will be resolved in a singular conversation considering there are only fifteen pages left in the book after that. This book is a win.
Overall grade: A+
Sexytime grade: A+ (you can't lose when the term 'impaled' is used)
Ridiculousness grade: A+ (TEWANDA, SERIOUSLY. Also the timeline for their romance is a single week. And our dear hero ROARS while in the midst of sexing his heroine. Hell yes.)
And there you have it. Go forth and read happy, kids!
ETA: My friend Andrew recommended the following article from the NYT about the path of life. My favorite excerpt, that describes how I feel exactly when people ask me if I ever want to have kids-
I have never even idly thought for a single passing second that it might make my life nicer to have a small, rude, incontinent person follow me around screaming and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life. [Note to friends with children: I am referring to other people’s children, not to yours.] But there are also moments when some part of me wonders whether I am not only missing the biological boat but something I cannot even begin to imagine — an entire dimension of human experience undetectable to my senses, like a flatlander scoffing at the theoretical concept of sky.
I'll be twenty-four next Tuesday and I'm definitely planning the purchase of my next car around the possibility of getting a mastiff in the next five years rather than the fabled Marriage and Children (sorry mom, sorry Crazy Aunt Alida). Mastiffs don't turn out all wrong if you home-school them and rarely do they go to college.