Review

Review: Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas (2021)

The Ravenels, Book #7 

(a.k.a. The Wallflowers, The Next Generation, Book #3) 

(a.k.a. The Devil in Winter Epilogues, also Book #3)

Erin’s reviewed the whole Ravenels series: Book #1 | Book #2 | Book #3 | Book #4 | Book #5 | Book #6

Heat Factor: These are some horny Victorians

Character Chemistry: It’s totally insta-love, and it was written lucidly enough that it worked for me

Plot: “We’ll never work because of an unequal match” + “Why is someone trying to murder me?”

Overall: I re-upped my membership in the Bad Decisions Book Club for this one and read it in one sitting. No regrets.

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Review, Recommended Read

Review: The Lord I Left by Scarlett Peckham (2020)

The Secrets of Charlotte Street, Book #3

Heat Factor: I’m way too prim and proper to tell you how smouldering this gets, but it burns

Character Chemistry: I have never been so distraught thinking that two people were doomed to be apart in my entire life, honest truth

Plot: Alice learns that her mother is at death’s door and accepts Lord Lieutenant Henry Evesham’s invitation to deliver her home as quickly as possible despite his role as an evangelical reformer tasked with investigating the sex worker trade and recommending changes. This is nuts, because Alice is currently a housekeeper in training to be a whipping girl at a house of pleasure in London…

Overall: Look, take everything you thought you knew about sex work and faith and romance novels about the above and just toss it out the window because this book is about to shake you to your BOOTS, I’m telling you

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Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Wintery Romance with Snow-Melting Relationships

We want snow and steam, yeah baby. 

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

Well, the setting is rural Alaska at Christmastime, so there’s plenty of snow, certainly. But this one gives readers the warm fuzzies because Reed and Erika have a relationship on fire, but it’s a vacation fling. They have to decide what’s more important – the lives they were so invested in before, or a new one they could build together.

Love in the Stacks by Delilah Peters

This erotic holiday novella about two librarians getting snowed in at the library is super hot. And Ben and Poppy spend a lot of time talking about what they find sexy (read: dirty talk, but also communicating about boundaries and consent and desire), which makes everything hotter and adds emotional depth to what would otherwise be a simple sexy rumpus. 

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday

Think Hallmark Christmas Special, except with sex and profanity. Seriously. There’s a hot chocolate festival, for goodness sake. However, it’s not all tropey hijinks (though there is a lot of that), but also a thoughtful story of two deeply sad and lonely people finding love and joy in their lives. 


Whiteout by Adriana Anders

How about some danger banging…in a shack in the middle of Antarctica. It’s so cold in most of this book that it’s literally too dangerous for Ford to remove his penis from his pants lest he risk some serious frostbite, but don’t worry: the sexual tension is off the charts. Plus: there’s only one sleeping bag!

The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

Things start off on the wrong foot, but when Nina and Max end up stuck in Max’s house for several days after Nina’s caught in a snowstorm in the small town Colorado mountains, they both end up turning their lives inside out so Nina’s vacation romance can be something more. Fair warning: Max is a bit of an alpha-hole and this book is really long, but if you like that, check it out.

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

What could be colder than an ENTIRE PLANET OF ICE??!? How about an entire planet of ice that is ALSO TRYING TO MURDER YOU?!?!? (Now that’s cold.) Luckily, Vektal is here with his big, blue, sexy, protectory energy, and once he takes care of the nurturing, all he wants to do is eat Georgie out. Bonus: it’s the first book in a very long series. 

Review

Review: Hot Rabbi by Aviva Blakeman (2020)

Heat Factor: They have sex (a good bit of it), but it was more focused on the emotional connection and the kissing and touching than on the arousal and orgasms

Character Chemistry: Just because there’s an instant connection and attraction doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing from there!

Plot: Shoshana has a lot of emotional baggage associated with the synagogue. New hot rabbi single parent David would like to date her. 

Overall: This story has a lot of good energy. Definitely a good one for people who like their protagonists to be checked in and thoughtful.

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Smut Reporting

Impotent Ministers

Back in the spring of 2013, when I was still a starry-eyed graduate student who thought I’d be a superstar academic (ie, before I discovered that I loved school but didn’t love research), I presented a conference paper called “Impotent Ministers and Harem Girls: Reading Religion in Romance Novels.” 

My original plan was to dust it off and throw it up on the blog, since we’re talking about Men of God this week, but, uh, there are a couple of bits in there that I find cringeworthy, now that I’m fully immersed in Romancelandia. Like, I was convinced that my very unscientific survey of traditionally published regency romances in the past five years was indicative of trends across the genre as a whole, which really points to how myopic I was about what the world of romance entailed. I also referenced Fabio. [cue the pitchforks]

I also decided that, for the purposes of the blogosphere, I’d stick with a narrow focus, and just talk about impotent ministers here. Maybe I’ll bring out the harem girls another time. 

So here’s a marginally revised excerpt from that conference talk. Even with the caveat that my data is outdated and my sample unrepresentative, I still think there’s some interesting stuff going on with the way romance novels depict religion (religious people, actions, and spaces). Note that most of the characters I discuss are secondary characters; I’m, for the most part, not analyzing the heroes, but the characters around the margins. 

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