Posts Tagged ‘romance’

Used Bookstore Finds: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Yes, I read a 400-page book in a day. What’s your point?

(The smaller, mobile one is virtual again and it sounds like the bigger, mobile one will be soon, so my productivity has taken a nose dive again. Right in the middle of Nano. But reading generally is easy to stop and start again, so it’s easier to do around helping them than, say, writing.)

This book actually comes with a bit of a story.

Back in 2006, when the Spork Room was founded (which was a spin-off of the Nano thread with a side stop in another writing challenge), I noticed a lot of the other people in the community wrote romance. I suspect I’m down at the ace end of the spectrum, plus I grew up on scifi (which, for some weird reason, is apparently the natural enemy of romance), so I’d never read any romance, and decided I should give it a try, since so many of my friends were working on it.

So I asked for recommendations, and my dear friend Jules recommended Bet Me to me. I read it at the time, loved it, and have gone on to read more romance novels because of it.

(Agnes and the Hitman, co-written by Jennie Crusie and Bob Mayer, is my favorite.)

That time I just got it out from the library, but I did come across it at a used bookstore, and then it was mine. This is the first time I’ve read my own copy.

Title: Bet Me
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Genre: Romance
Publication Year: 2004

Pros: Great dialogue, characters you care about
Cons: A bit dated

I think what I generally like about Crusie’s work is that her characters exist in a fleshed out world, with friends and families and jobs, and each of them are treated like they are real and important rather than cardboard backdrops to the main characters. So not only do you get main characters to cheer on, but you get a host of great side characters as well.

Bet Me follows Min Dobbs and Cal Morrissey, who give a date a try as a result of a mean-spirited bet, and they both hate it and swear never to see each other again.

But that’s not how things go, of course.

If you haven’t tried a romance novel, I do recommend you give Crusie a try. They’re fun books.

See you next week!

WriYe and Romance

Afternoon, squiders. WriYe’s going well so far. I’m still remembering to check in, and through the challenges I’ve finished my serial story (which I’ve worked on almost every month since January 2009! It’s insane to think that it’s done), wrote a 4K short story, and started revisiting some of my universes which will help with longer projects moving forward (I wrote a Shards verse drabble this morning, which was very enjoyable and came really easily).

But now it’s February, which means there’s a new prompt up for the blog circle, so let’s get to it.

Is romance necessary in all fiction? Why or why not?

I wouldn’t say romance is a necessity. It can be nice, or it can be terrible (in the case where it’s forced in, or comes out of nowhere, or is just really badly written). I don’t mind romance, but I do think it needs to be done well and serve a purpose.

But a necessity? Nah. I’m perfectly happy to read about a group of friends, or siblings, or cousins, or any other relationship. It doesn’t need to be romantic in nature. And to have all stories rely on romance is, frankly, a little unrealistic and uninteresting. Some people don’t like romance, and plenty of people get through life without it showing up every time something exciting happens.


If you do have romance in your fiction, tell us about your favorite pairings. Why are they your favorite?

I am not great at romance (I suspect because I’m not a romantic person myself), but if I had to pick, I think Syvil/Chism from my story For Justice in the To Rule the Stars anthology (which you guys might remember me mentioning under its working premise, which was space princesses) is probably my favorite romantic couple that I’ve written.

Don’t tell any of the other couples, I guess.

Despite including romance in a lot of my stories, it doesn’t come naturally to me in most cases. I often have to go back through in the editing stage and add in things like significant looks, and feelings, and things along those lines. It’s a known issue.

What do you think about romance, squiders? Essential to a well-rounded story?

Promo: The Divinity Bureau by Tessa Clare

Good morning, Squiders! Today I’ve got The Divinity Bureau by Tessa Clare, a dystopian romance, for you.

Dystopian Romance
Date Published: September 21st, 2017
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Publisher: Asset Creative House
The Hunger Games meets Romeo and Juliet in a stunning debut about a forbidden romance between a young activist and a government employee for a corrupt bureau that controls the population by deciding who lives and who dies.


Roman Irvine is a disgruntled IT Technician for the Divinity Bureau, a government agency that uses random selection to decide who lives and who dies. In a world where overpopulation has lead to pollution, a crippled economy, and a world in crisis, he’s accepted the bureau’s activities as a necessity… until he meets April McIntyre.


April has every reason to be suspicious of Roman. He works for the Divinity Bureau, which sent her father to an early grave. But he’s also sweet and loyal, and unbeknownst to her, he saved her life. As Roman and April fall deeper in love, the deeper they’re thrust into the politics of deciding who lives and who dies. Someone wants April dead. And the bureau’s process of random selection may not be so random after all…


Tessa Clare is the author of The Divinity Bureau. When she’s not writing, she’s an entrepreneur, an activist, a speaker, and the Managing Director of Asset Creative House. Throughout her early career, she was a concession stand attendant, a busgirl, a barista, a player’s club representative for a casino, and an administrative assistant. She also spent years working as a manager for Vacasa, whose business model and revolutionary marketing strategies would later inspire the groundwork for Asset Creative House. The Divinity Bureau is Tessa’s debut novel about a forbidden love between a young activist and a government employee working for a corrupt bureau, set in a dystopian world.


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Review: The Duchess Quest by C.K. Brooke

Good morning, Squiders! Today I’m hosting a review tour for the revised edition of The Duchess Quest by C.K. Brooke. It’s the first book in the Jordinia fantasy series.

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YA Romantic Fantasy 


Date Published:
First Edition: October 2014
Second Edition: TBR 2017
Publisher: 48fourteen
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Love is destined to find her…

Dainy doesn’t know that she is the lost duchess of Jordinia, or that her uncle has organized a contest to seek her, offering her marriage hand as the reward!

Though at odds, three clashing rivals – a noble giant, a forester, and a thief – voyage together by woodland, plains, and sea to recover the lost royal, notwithstanding assassins and spies at their tail. Soon, Dainy is swept into a comically complex romantic triangle as her suitors compete to capture her heart.

Charmingly romantic and bursting with action, startling twists, and vivid characters, fans of Anastasia and The Princess Bride will adore this original yet timeless tale of swashbuckling adventure and unlikely love.



I really should stop reading these books like an editor, but it’s really hard. When I’m in editor mode is when I’m at my analytical, which is useful for helping clients make their books better, but less helpful when I should be reading for enjoyment.

Anyway, I’m giving this 3.25 out of 5. It fails a bit as a romance. It’s supposed to be set up as a love triangle (as mentioned above in the blurb) but it doesn’t function as one, since one side of the triangle is obviously never a real option. Dainy never gives him more than a second thought, so the story is lacking the tension that the supposed triangle would set up. Additionally, while the love interest is of the “rogue turned straight for love” archetype, he’s a little too despicable for the first half of the book, which made it hard to root for the romance because I was still hoping Dainy would come to her senses far longer than was intended, I’m sure.

The fantasy aspects work fine, and the different countries/locations read as believable. Many of the side characters are strong. I was especially fond of Selu and Bos. The book has a ton of viewpoint characters, some of which kill the tension in places (such as one point near the end in a betrayer’s viewpoint before the actual betrayal), but in general works well. Some of the plot twists are a bit predictable, but not distractingly so. (Also, the ones that you can predict distract from some other, more unexpected ones, so that’s well done.)

If you like romantic fantasy and are apparently more forgiving than I am about reformed rogues, you might like this book. There’s also a preview of the next book in the series at the end, which looks like it picks up pretty much from where this one ends.

About the Author

C.K. Brooke is an Amazon best-selling author of over a dozen romantic fantasy adventure novels and novellas for 48fourteen, Limitless Publishing, and Elphame Press. Her debut novel, The Duchess Quest, was selected as a Shelf Unbound Notable Indie Book of 2015 and received five stars from Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews & Awards Contest. Her fantasy novel, The Wrong Prince, is a 2017 Global EBook Award Nominee and her pirate romance, Capturing the Captain, is a 2017 RONE Award Nominee. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. Visit and subscribe for a FREE eBook!

Contact Links: ( Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | YouTube | Goodreads )

Purchase Links
 *FREE on Kindle Unlimited*

Giveaway: Free eBook of The Last Empress: A Jordinia Prequel Novella to anyone who joins the V.I.P. Readers Club at:


Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Under Her Protection Now Available!

Turtleduck Press’s new anthology, Under Her Protection: Stories of Women to the Rescue, is now available! Go here or here to purchase this collection, or here for more information!

This anthology was a joy to write for, and I’m actually already planning a novel based off my story for it. I think you’ll really enjoy it too, so go give it a look!

Under Her Protection cover

Familiarity Breeds Like (and Eventually Hate)

You know when you hear a song on the radio and it’s not really amazing, but you listen to it anyway because it’s too much work to change the station? And as time goes on, you hear it more and more, and at some point you find yourself singing along, enjoying every minute of it.

And then, eventually, it reaches over-played hell and you think you might set something on fire if you have to listen to that same damn song over yet again.

While music is the most obvious example, this cycle repeats itself for every medium. Let’s look at it from a reading standpoint. You pick up a new genre. You think it’s pretty good. Not amazing, maybe, but pretty good. There’s something that resonates.

The next step? You seek out similar books. That cozy mystery really got the ol’ thinker going, so you search out more cozy mysteries. That epic fantasy – wow. What will those crazy speculative fiction writers come up with next? Or that romance you found where the main conflict is not that the two main characters spend the entire book thinking that the other hates them because they can’t hold a conversation?

You get my point.

Someone old and dead (Socrates, maybe?) once said that every story in the world has already been written. It’s not that hard to find variations on something you like. Sure, there may be the rare gem out there that stands alone, but even then there may be less shining knock-offs that scratches where it itches.

But eventually? Burnout. You’ve got the mysteries solved before the first chapter is over. The old boy meets girl story has you yawning, and if you see one more elf – especially one that distrusts dwarves – you may scream.

And then you move on to something new.

But the good news? Usually a little time away from something you used to love is all it takes to rekindle your interest again. And then you’ll be back to your favorite genre, and singing along in the car.

Giving Romance a Chance

You know me.  I like to follow social trends in the oddest ways possible.  (Preferably with landsquid and plesiosaurs.)

Since it’s the Day Before Cheap Chocolate Day, I thought I’d tell you about how I recently became a fan of the romance genre.  Poor romance gets a bad cop much of the time, considered a stereotypical genre of bare-chested male models and fainting heroines.  That was certainly my opinion of it.  I’ve been a scifi/fantasy girl as long as I can remember (scifi forever, fantasy since 6th grade) and I’d always kind of prided myself on not being a girly girl.  It probably didn’t help that, for a friend’s graduation from high school party, we were each asked to bring a romance novel along and they were then read aloud with appropriate melodrama.

I was brought up by mystery/scifi readers.  The only person who read romance was my sister, which really was reason enough to not go near the genre.  (I love my sister.  Really I do.  And I don’t just say that because she might read this.)  So I never had anybody championing the cause of romance to me.

Cue joining the online writing community a few years back.  Many of my friends write romance.  As they were people I respected and liked, I assumed the genre could not be as bad as I was led to believe and asked for some recommendations.

Things I have learned:
1. Most romance has a plotline besides just True Love (if they even go the True Love angle at all).  Murder!  Archeology!  Mystery!
2. There’s plenty of romances out there with strong, funny, sassy female protagonists.  These are not people who need a man or need to be rescued. 
3. When done well, it is an immensely satisfying read.

Let’s face it, everybody thinks about love/romance at some point.  It’s inescapable.  Even people who are not interested in looking for a partner still at some point have to think about that decision.  It’s something that we, as living, thinking creatures, have ingrained into us.  Partnership!  Love!  Being able to rely on another person through thick and thin!

Since it’s a huge part of life, it makes no sense to ignore it.  Sure, there are those shirt-escaping lunkheads out there and the stupid, dependent women, but, like any other genre, there is good in with the bad.  I’ve been able to identify the portion of the genre I like (spunky female protagonists, perhaps with a bit of a fantastical twist) and have gained many a good read out of it.

Let’s keep with the V-Day trend.  Favorite romance (or book with a strong romance subplot)?  Mine’s Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.

Why Genre is Like Root Beer

When my sister and I were little, whenever we went out to a restaurant where you could get your own soda, we would mix a variety of them together.  Sometimes it tasted good, sometimes it tasted horrific, but what remained true, no matter what, was that if you added root beer, the whole thing would taste like root beer.  It didn’t matter how many other kinds you put in, or how little root beer was actually added, it was root beer.

(I swear this is not totally random.  I had root beer with lunch.)

Genre is like root beer.  I think we can all agree that most genre stories are not wholly a single genre.  Romance subplots are found all over the place.  A story can have a murder or a car chase without being a mystery or a thriller.  Something can be set in the past without necessarily being historical.  Heck, even speculative fiction elements like ghosts crossover into other stories.

Last year, I read Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie and Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters within a few weeks of each other.  Fast Women was categorized as a romance, and Crocodile on the Sandbank was a mystery, but if anything, I would have reversed the two.  Both stories have a female protagonist, a main mystery plotline, and a strong romance subplot.  So what pushed one into romance and one into mystery?

Every story has a root beer – a genre, that once it’s added, no matter what other elements are also included, overrides everything else to be That Genre.  I think sometimes it’s arbitrary.  Sometimes, perhaps it is a marketing decision. 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what the root beer is.  We’ve got dozens of sub and cross genres popping up these days, but they’ve still got to be shelved somewhere.  I think we can all agree that a story with elves would have a hard time marketing itself as anything other than fantasy, no matter how small a part they play.  Something with aliens is going to be slotted as science fiction.  But what do you do with a story that’s based in the real world, with love and mystery and a hint of the supernatural?  Where’s the root beer in that?

I’m currently working on a story where I’ve yet to identify my root beer.  I’m calling it a scifi mystery in my head.  Yeah, I know.  Good luck pitching that when the time comes.  What do you consider an Absolute when it comes to determining genre?  What do you think about sub/cross genre specifications?

What did I read in 2010?

In 2009 I started keeping track of what books I read, what genres they were, and what I thought about them.  I have weird bouts of organization like that.  2009 was so much fun that I repeated it for 2010 and intend to do the same in 2011.

I thought you might find this information interesting.  I also have weird bouts of egotism.

Total Books Read 2010: 51
Change from 2009: -5

Of those:
17 were Fantasy
7 were Mystery
7 were Science Fiction
4 were Thrillers
4 were Nonfiction
3 were Romance
2 were Historical Fiction
2 were General Literature
1 was Horror
1 was Steampunk
1 was Young Adult
1 was Graphic Novel
1 was Satire

Genres that went up/were added: Science Fiction, Nonfiction, Thriller, Steampunk, Young Adult, Satire, Graphic Novel
Genres that went down/were removed: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, General Literature, Horror, Epic Poetry, Humor, Adventure

The biggest trend I noticed is that I read a lot more science fiction this year, so it took numbers away from fantasy and mystery which tend to be my main reading genres.

35 Books were mine (9 were Kindle e-books)
14 were from the Library
2 were borrowed from Friends/Family

Average Rating: 3.31 (out of 5)

Top Rated: (Ignoring Agnes and the Hitman and Howl’s Moving Castle which were rereads)
Hound of the Baskervilles (5)
Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre (4.5)
Stories of Your Life and Others (4)
Crocodile on the Sandbank (4)
The War of the Worlds (4)
Leviathan (4)
The Book of Lost Things (4)