Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: (More) Romance Blogs Holly Reads

Look, I’ve come to discover a love of the blogosphere! And I want to share that love, because these folks are doing great work.


Roses and Thorns

File this one under: books I am never going to read, but I find fascinating to read about. Roses and Thorns is not exactly a romance blog, though Elizabeth does sometimes review romance novels—rather, it focuses on kink and fetish books. I keep claiming that I don’t read other people’s reviews, but maybe that’s just not true…

Check out: Her review of Claiming the Clean Freak by Daniel May. I am absolutely never going to read this book, but I found it very interesting to read about. 


Romance Fiction Has a History

Steve Ammidown is an archivist by training who is chipping away at the thankless (but important!) task of recording romance fiction history. Look, I’m a nerd, so I read nerd blogs! 

Check out: Steve’s profile on David Wind, who published dozens of romances in the 1980s under several different (female) pen names. (PS: If you don’t already, Steve is definitely worth giving a follow on Twitter


Regency Reader 

Have I ever mentioned that I’m a nerd? The Regency Reader does have book reviews (regency romances only, of course), but I live for the extras. The advertisements! The old beauty recipes! The old food recipes! Posts frequently highlight primary sources, so if you want to look at a bunch of old fashion plates and pretend that you’re at a fancy faux-French dressmaker, this is a great place to start. 

Check out: Regency Fashions: Full and Walking Dresses (1805), which serves to highlight the fact that not enough historical romance heroines have fashionably dressed hair, due to a dearth of silver leaves on their heads. 


Joyfully Jay

Joyfully Jay focuses on LGBTQ romance. This is a long-running blog (more than ten years!) and has a half-dozen reviewers writing for it. I admit that I don’t keep up with this one actively, but it’s an awesome resource for finding queer books that are off the beaten path, as they cover a ton of self-published books.

Check out: This comprehensive list of their favorite virgin heroes. I gotta applaud Jay and the team for going back and updating their old lists to add more titles as they come out, because that seems like an awful lot of work. Plus, I have a soft spot for those sweet virgin heroes (probably due to my deep and abiding love of When the Duke Returns by Eloisa James).


‘Nathan Burgoine

I’ve never read any of Burgoine’s books (Erin has! You can check out her review of Village Fool here; she liked it!) but that doesn’t mean I can’t read his blog. Since this is an author blog, he obviously posts updates about his upcoming books, but also highlights book sales, posts short fiction pieces, and writes the occasional essay. I’m honestly mostly in it for the essays, because they’re thought-provoking and make me examine my responses to queer romance. 

Check out: The Shoulder Check Problem. This essay is old-ish (or ancient in internet years), but it’s what brought me to Burgoine’s blog in the first place. Just read it. Trust me.


Teach Me Tonight

“Romantic Fiction from an Academic Perspective”? Tell me more! Ok, so I keep up with Teach Me Tonight to assuage my minor sadness about washing out of academia. I swear, one day, once my kids stop waking up in the middle of the night and yelling about it, I will do a deep dive into the academic world of romance novels, because it seems like it’s really burgeoned in the last ten years. For now, I have this blog to track new publications and conferences—plus, it’s an excellent go-to spot for recaps of Important Romancelandia Drama. 

Check out: When did “romance” become love story + happy ending. If you’re not Very Online, you may not know that there’s a kerfluffle in Romance Twitter basically once a month about what counts as a genre romance. I assume that Laura Vivanco wrote this piece, which looks at books published in the first half of the 20th century to determine when love stories began to be marketed as romance, in response to one such kerfuffle.


PS: Want more romance blogs to love? Here’s the first list I put together!

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Sexy Xmas Novellas to Put You in the Mood

Christmastime’s a-comin’ and sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up to get you through that visit with your in-laws.

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered, with six sexy Christmas novellas. These quick reads deliver on the sexytimes and the romance joy. (And half of them also deliver on sexy Santas.) What are you waiting for?


Santa Claus is Going to Town on Me by ML Eliza

Holly hates Christmas—until she meets Claus. And his magical Christmas sex toys. Is this book chock full of sexy Santa rumpus? Yes, yes it is. But it also includes surprisingly thoughtful bits about grief and joy and desire.

Mistletoe Madness by Rebecca Norinne

Previously published as The Roommate Situation

That awkward moment when you hear some weird sounds coming from your hot roommate’s room so you go check on him and walk in on him masturbating. Especially awkward: Mikayla has a huge crush on Nick, but is terrified of making the living situation weird. What’s a girl to do? (Masturbate as quietly as possible, that’s what.) Nick and Mikayla have a really sweet and supportive dynamic outside of the bedroom—and once they get over the pining, the physical chemistry is off the charts.

Sleigh Bells Ring by Jodie Griffin

Erin: Hahahahahaha OMG this story takes every famous little phrase from Santa holiday mythology and makes it filthy. Sugar plums. Rudolph’s nose. I’m dead.

Holly: Look, do you want to read reindeer shifter BDSM erotica, or don’t you? 

PS: Blame Erin for this one.


Santa’s Helper by Shae Sanders

A divorced mom takes her kids extra far to see the only Black Santa in the area, only to discover his son—her ex flame—has taken over the role. It’s playful and then it’s hot. *fans self* I liked that this book features a mom who is not the custodial parent of her children and has a generally positive co-parenting agreement with her ex.

The Naughty List by Ellie Mae MacGregor

This is a really short, hot book with a sexy, gray-haired Santa with tree-trunk thighs. It’s totally entertaining. If you’re looking to check boxes for older protagonists, lube use, sexy consent, and other excellent sex-partner things, this is your book. See also:

A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas by Jackie Lau

You know, I just really appreciate that Jackie Lau gets all the tropes right out there in the title. Greg Wong agrees to drive his high school sweetheart, Tasha Edwards, home for Christmas. Of course they end up snowed in in a hotel room with no heat and only one bed. I wonder how that could possibly turn out? (Hot. It turns out hot.) Bonus points for a buttoned-up hero who gets fabulously unbuttoned for sex.

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Erin’s Reading Roundup

I read way more books this year than I’ll review, and some of them were a ride. Good ride, wild ride, whatever. So as we wrap up 2021, I figured I’d do an “Erin Read” Saturday Smutty Six roundup. Share the wealth and all that. 

Without further ado and in no particular order:

Beverly Hills Dragons by Meg Ripley

Folks, I’m pretty sure that Holly found this series for me when I was on a dragon binge last winter and it is wild. There are plenty of questionable goings on in these books; HOWEVER, they are about dragon shifters falling in love with their nannies and they are all set in the 80s. Are they paternalistic as hell? Yes! But they are also absolutely bonkers! Blue eyeshadow! Perms! Crimping irons! Scrunchies! Denim jackets! Ridiculously OTT climactic moments! I can’t exactly recommend them, but I totally kept reading them because what even is this?

His Human Nanny by Michele Mills

My reading totally took a turn for the weird this year because sci-fi smut is often just endlessly entertaining, which is how I happened on the Monsters Love Curvy Girls series. I don’t recommend it as a fat positive book, and once again we are contending with a lot of paternalistic themes (hi, sci-fi romance!), BUT this alien looks like Darth Maul had a baby with satan. The heroine faints the first time she sees him. So naturally when they start living together and she starts taking care of his children who can literally breathe fire, she begins to find Daddly alien hella hot. Why would she go back to earth when Daddy has a forked tongue and a prehensile tail?

Seducing My Guardian by Katee Robert

This whole series is all about: come for the taboo sexytimes (which is most of the text), stay for the emotional depth. Katee Robert is really good at using sex to communicate what’s going on emotionally. Strictly speaking the heroine of this story is 25, so this is probably not suited to readers who are looking for straight-up taboo guardian smut, but there is a significant age gap. So, if you’re not looking specifically for guardian/ward taboo, then may I show you this very sexy book featuring two people who have been pining for each other for years who then reenact their one meeting per year as it might have been if they’d caved to their desires?

Press Play by Ash Dylan

This one is also very much about the sexytimes, on account of: roommates who have been secretly in love with each other agree to make a sex tape – as friends, of course – for a local adult film contest. She can get her directing mojo back and he can get over his ex. Except that they’re really using the experience to get closer to each other. Not suited to readers who need well-edited books; this book would benefit from some editing. But it’s a really interesting premise with characters who are really afraid to take a leap. And the way he holds his hand out to her has lived rent free in my brain since I finished reading.

Guarding Temptation by Talia Hibbert

So there is a plot in this story (and it’s like “Yay! Get it, Nina!”), but all I cared about was that it created a forced proximity situation so that these characters could resist all their feelings by having really hot sex without even touching each other. And then with touching each other, sure, but bottom line: the buildup of the sexual tension in this story is lit. And of course it’s written by Talia Hibbert, who always uses words so well. A delightful novella. 

Rare Danger by Beverly Jenkins

I know it looks like it, but I didn’t only read sexy books this year! This book does have sex in it, but not a lot. There’s too much going on for danger bangs here! First of all, this story is kinda bonkers – he shoots a missile at a vehicle from a helicopter AND they are both like, “why yes, marriage” after about a minute – but it also features a middle-aged couple, exciting intrigue (International theft! Forgery! Murder!), and Detroit. I absolutely loved that Jasmine was perfectly happy to have the life she wanted – which was exactly the life she had, no partner required – so her relationship with Torr was solely rooted in the happiness it brought them to be together.

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Saturday Smutty Six: I’ll Feed You to Show You My Love

I mean…the name is in the title. No further explanation needed. These books are obviously delicious.


Just Like That by Cole McCade

Total “AWW” moment when grumpy and standoffish Fox leaves breakfast in the oven for Summer the morning after. If acts of caring are your love language, Fox totally delivers. 

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Katrina shows she cares for all of her close people by feeding them, but Jas is special because she’s secretly been in love with him for years. Jas, who doesn’t even like breakfast but has also secretly been in love with Katrina for years, shows his love by eating her food every day, even though he doesn’t like it. 

Bidding for the Bachelor by Jackie Lau

Brian makes Cedric elaborate breakfasts before he leaves the apartment every morning so Cedric can focus on writing his novel. The moment that Cedric is eating Brian’s food and realizes that he has feelings for Brian is *chef’s kiss*. Any Jackie Lau book has solid “I’ll feed you to show my love” energy, but this one was totally charming.


Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

The great thing about the feeding dynamic in Real Men Knit is that it’s mutual—Kerry and Jesse both quietly make sure there’s food for the other person as they work together to save the yarn shop they love. It’s the small moments of caring that make up a relationship, and Kwana Jackson delivers that dynamic in spades here. 

You, Me and the Sea by Elizabeth Haynes

This book is full of hunger–hunger for connection, hunger for vengeance, and hunger for healing. So there’s that. But what REALLY did me in was the way Fraser silently leaves delicious, hearty meals for Rachel as they go from awkwardly living and working together to falling deeply in love.

Make It Sweet by Kristen Callihan

When he’s sidelined by a hockey injury, Lucien turns to elaborate food preparation (esp. baking) as a form of therapy. When Emma comes to hide away at his grandmother’s house, his baking goes next level as he creates little treats to please her and avoids things she doesn’t like. And the honey pie moment… Reader, I gasped.

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Coffeeshop Romances

To cap off our week of Donut romances (reviews here, here, and here), we put together a list of coffeeshop romances!

Coffeeshops are magical places where people from all different walks of life come together to build community. What better place to set a romance novel, amirite?


Trouble and Strife by Laura Kinsey

Elizabeth and Sidney meet in Elizabeth’s chocolate shop when he holds meetings with his criminally-minded lieutenants there. What better place to take care of business than a place where you can eat delightful bonbons, right? Elizabeth and Sidney are really kind and gentle with each other, and while Sidney has some baggage to deal with, this low-stress romance hits the spot.

Ice Cream Lover by Jackie Lau

Is an ice cream shop a coffee shop? In this case, I would argue yes, because Drew only orders coffee when he brings his niece to Ginger Scoops—because he hates ice cream. When he falls for Chloe, the owner, both hilarity and heartfelt moments of connection ensue. Bonus points for an excellent grumpy-sunshine dynamic that involves rainbows, unicorns, and, of course, ice cream. 

Village Fool by ‘Nathan Burgoine

It begins and ends at the coffee shop. Owen has had a totally cute crush on his physiotherapist since they met, but he’s too shy to do anything about it except for continuing to work out at the gym so he can keep seeing Toma. Toma gets just the push he needs to ask Owen out when an April Fool’s prank gets out of hand.


Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

After watching Evie try and fail for a spilled coffee meet cute in their coffee shop, Ben isn’t entirely sure he wants himself or his daughter around this mess of a woman. Evie uses the coffee shop as a safe space as she tries and fails to get her life on track, and makes friends along the way. Bonus points for being a real rom-com.

Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley

The coffee bar in Indy’s used bookshop is the center of action in not only Rock Chick, nor the whole of the Rock Chick series, but in many other books Ashley’s set in Denver. Instead of cozy coffee house vibes, you’ll get quirky characters and a ton of bonkers goings on. Content notes: Lots of alphaholes and violence, among other things. I recommend looking up CWs.

Bossy by N.R. Walker

Instead of being set in a coffee house, Bossy centers on Bryson opening up a Singaporean kopi shop when he returns home to Australia instead of joining the family business. After falling in love with the Singaporean coffee shops while living overseas, Bryson is excited to open the shop and achieve success on his own, and Michael supports him 100%.