Back to Old School, Dueling Review

Back to Old School: Pirate Week

Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey (1990)

Heat Factor: It’s your standard old school fare—a couple of relatively descriptive scenes and then a bunch of interludes that fade to black.

Character Chemistry: Antagonism leads to love. 

Plot: Georgie is dressed as a boy but James knows she’s a woman. So he’s seducing her. And then they’re forced to get married. 

Overall: Slow. Then bonkers.


versus


Captured by Beverly Jenkins (2009)

Heat Factor: There’s a lot of blue balls, and then it’s just balls to the wall.

Character Chemistry: It was “NO!” Then, “YES, let’s do it.” Then, “Let’s get married!”

Plot: Dominic steals Clare away from her mistress and shows her a life of freedom, but Clare can’t rest easy until her children have also been freed from slavery.

Overall: High stakes, low tension. Very historically juicy.

Continue reading “Back to Old School: Pirate Week”
My First Smut

My First Smut: Romance books for everyone!

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, romance reader G. got hooked when he picked up his first Kristen Ashley.


First romance novel you read:

The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

How old were you?

50+

How’d you get your hands on the book?

Amazon Kindle

What was the reading experience like?

Good

What made the experience special?

The style and subject of writing.

What role does smut play in your life?

As a male, I love smut, but I also love romance. There is a time and place for everything.


Thanks for sharing your story, G!

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us an email or fill out our questionnaire and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.

Back to Old School, Dueling Review, Rant, Recommended Read

Back to Old School: Hottie McScottie Week

The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux (1980)

Heat Factor: It slipped in. Consent optional. Do you need consent if you’re married?

Character Chemistry: He is large, grumpy and swarthy, and she is fair, smol and pure. How can they not fall in love?

Plot: One damn thing after the next, caused by miscommunication and stupidity.

Overall: They’re mad at each other, but they don’t know why they’re mad at each other, and they won’t stop doing dumb things to each other.


versus


The Bride by Julie Garwood (1989)

Heat Factor: It’s the sexiest one we’ve read so far in the Old School read-a-thon

Character Chemistry: It’s The Taming of the Shrew, but who’s taming who?

Plot: Jamie’s like, “You told me to handle it! So I handled it.”

Overall: This book is absolutely delightful.


Content Note: These books contain rape, ablism, and racism and we discuss this content in our review. Also, sorry, Ranulf of The Black Lyon is not actually a Hottie McScottie, but he’s got highlander energy.

Continue reading “Back to Old School: Hottie McScottie Week”
My First Smut

My First Smut: Love on a boat

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, author Samantha SoRelle talks about reading queer Age of Sail books.


First romance novel you read:

Ransom by Lee Rowan

How old were you?

I was in college

How’d you get your hands on the book?

I’d read an earlier version of the novel when it was online-only and so when it came into print I HAD to get my hands on a copy!

What was the reading experience like?

Amazing! I’d grown up with the stereotype that romance novels were silly books filled with nothing but purple prose and ridiculous euphemisms, so to read something that was so unabashedly GOOD and filled not only with (wonderfully written) romance, but also adventure and suspense just blew my mind.

What made the experience special?

I had a lifelong interest in the Age of Sail, and it never occurred to me that that could also be combined with my love of romance, specifically gay romance.

What role does smut play in your life?

I’m a proud author of books that include quite a lot of smut, because I write the sort of romance novels that I like to read. And the ones I like to read are QUITE steamy! I think smut is not only fun to read on its own, but can be a key part of developing characters and telling a story.


Bio:

Samantha SoRelle grew up all over the world and finally settled in Southern California when she soaked up too much sunshine and got too lazy to move. When she’s not writing, she’s doing everything possible to keep from writing. This has led to some unusual pastimes including but not limited to: perfecting fake blood recipes, designing her own cross-stitch patterns, and wrapping presents for tigers. She also enjoys collecting paintings of tall ships and has lost count of the number of succulents she owns. She can be found online at www.samanthasorelle.com, which has the latest information on upcoming projects, free reads, the mailing list, and all her social media accounts. She can also be contacted by email at samanthasorelle@gmail.com, which she is much better about checking than social media!


Thanks Samantha! We look forward to reading Samantha’s latest book, His Lordship’s Return, a M/M historical mystery romance. Watch this space for a review coming soon!

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us an email or fill out our questionnaire and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Elizabeth Hoyt

Looking for a new author to try out? Here’s everything you need to know about Elizabeth Hoyt, whose books include The Leopard Prince, The Maiden Lane series, and Not the Duke’s Darling.


What She Writes: 

Historical M/F romances set in the Georgian period (mid- to late-1700s). Frequently occurring tropes include cross-class romance and morality chain.

What Makes Her Unique:

While Hoyt’s books, like many historical romances, feature the British aristocracy, she also writes about London’s underbelly. Many of her characters live and work in the slums of London, so the world she creates in her series feels bigger than those of other historical romance novelists. Within this setting, she writes epic, sweeping romances with utterly ludicrous, tropey plots.

Writing Style:

Dual-POV in the third person, with occasional scenes from the perspective of a secondary character or the villain. Most books include a short fairy tale, told in snippets at the beginning of each chapter, that highlights a theme of the central relationship (The Leopard Prince and The Serpent Prince do not; instead characters tell each other a fairy tale that highlights a theme of the book). The explicit fairy tale connection signals to the reader that the stories play in the realm of fantasy and wish fulfilment, which is underlined by the over-the-top plots and characterizations. Her books lean towards suspense plots, so expect some bloodshed and acts of derring-do. Also expect some gender essentialism: male characters are dark and hard (even the morally upright ones), female characters bring light and softness.

Why We Love Her:

Her books are utterly cracktastic bonkerballs romances. Her plots might be ludicrous and tropey, but she leans all the way in to the nonsense, which makes them so much fun to read.

How we feel when we’re reading:

She Might Not Be For You If:

You find plot-heavy romances tedious, or morally grey protagonists don’t work for you. Avoid these books if you prefer your romances without violence. Also note that a few of the multi-book arcs involve really dumb secret societies (Lords of Chaos in the last few books of Maiden Lane, Wise Women in Greycourt).

Notable Quotation:

“This is who I am, Séraphine. Naked, with blade and blood. I am vengeance. I am hate. I am sin personified. Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villain.” 

And he laid his lips over hers and pushed his hot tongue into her mouth and kissed her until she couldn’t breathe and it was only later that she found the bloodstains on her dress.

Duke of Sin

Content Warnings:

Many of her books include sexual violence, bloodshed, child abuse, and the grim realities of poverty. Not to mention some of the worst Bad Dads of Romance we’ve encountered.

The Bottom Line:

If you like your historical romances to have that Old Skool feeling, but without some of the troubling or abusive dynamics between the hero and heroine, Elizabeth Hoyt hits the spot.

Start With:

Wicked Intentions. Just be prepared to immediately read the rest of the twelve-book Maiden Lane series.