Saturday Smutty Six: “All I remember about this book is… (group edition)” with partial covers for Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small, Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James, Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas, To Catch An Heiress by Julia Quinn, Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught, and The Raider by Jude Deveraux

Saturday Smutty Six: All I Remember Redux: Two for One

In honor of our Old School reading this month, we decided to look at our reading archives and see what turned up. Unfortunately, we read these books so long ago, we don’t remember much. Luckily, this week we found some books that at least two of us read, so you’ll have just a little more information. Maybe we can interest you in these books based on what we do remember?

All I remember about this book is…

Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small

Erin: …Oh. My. God. Holly and I read this book twenty years ago and still remember all the highlights. Skye gets married and then ends up in a harem and then somehow gets back to England but then Niall is married and I have no idea how they manage to finally get married but I think Niall’s sex addict wife dies of the pox?

Holly: …there is so much sex in this book. The bit that stands out to me is Neil’s wife (who looks like Skye) (also, this is probably the only book in which I remember the MCs’ names, including books that I read last week) is a nymphomaniac who can’t get enough luvin’ from her husband so she starts working in a brothel and has a book of sex positions. Men come in, pick a position, and she’ll do them. She and another whore have a sex-off one night. She dies of syphilis. It’s very convenient because now Neil is free to finally marry Skye as husband #4. 

Also the scene where Skye’s amnesia goes away is very striking. Husband number #3 and Neil get in a fight at court and when Neil falls down she remembers *everything.* So much drama!!!!

Also also, Skye’s nails are always buffed to a beautiful pink.

Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James

Erin: …they have an interlude at a masquerade party and are parted for years. When they’re reunited, she remembers him, but he doesn’t recognize her, though they do fall in love and marry. When she says that the wedding night sex is better than before, he gets all ragey that she’s 1) not a virgin and 2) apparently had sex with his twin brother (she didn’t). Also the climactic moment is YIIIIIIKES because even though he said he was over the whole her sleeping with his brother thing (she didn’t and he wasn’t), when he gets home from a trip he finds out she’s pregnant, assumes it can’t possibly be his, and sends her off to the country where she nearly dies. It’s a lot. 

Holly: …I REMEMBER THIS ONE. Just that he gets all ragey, and then finally recognizes her when she appears at a ball in her masquerade outfit from the very beginning and he realizes it was her the whole time because of course he’s really been looking for his mystery whore for years.

Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas

Holly: …I was horrified at how *old* the heroine was (she’s 30). She hires a sex worker for a 30th birthday present to herself. (It seems, from the blurb, that there’s some mistaken identity stuff that happens, but I don’t remember that part.) She was curvy and had red hair so I pictured my high school principal and was horrified and did not enjoy the reading experience. Might like it better if I read it now that I’m not 16 anymore.

Erin: …I read this one, too! All I remember about this one was that she hired herself a delicious man treat because she was so old and things did not at all go the way either of them planned.

The Raider by Jude Deveraux

Ingrid: …he’s real hot at nighttime and during the day he’s disgusting and pompous.

Erin: …the hero returns to town and gets himself out of a pickle by pretending to be fat, stuffing his clothes with pillows, and has to keep up the charade whenever he goes out. The heroine thinks he’s ridiculous and disdains him, but he’s secretly a dashing spy attacking the British. Also something happens at a bucolic lighthouse-y spot at the dramatic climax.

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught

Holly: …the reading experience stuck out to me more than the actual book. I distinctly remember the chair I was sitting in when I read it (the blue armchair that used to be by the fireplace). My sister got it from her sister-in-law, who was a McNaught superfan. And my reaction was: what even is this utter rapey garbage? The titular Whitney is a doormat and the hero is terrible and leaves her in his country house and then thinks she’s cheating on him but she loves him anyways. 

Erin: …OMG he’s so sexy on the stairs! OMG, she’s so daring standing on the horse! OMG, her dad is terrible. Something about chess. OMG, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS MAN?! OMG, HOW IS SHE GOING TO FORGIVE HIM? I guess the baby scene at the end was kinda sweet?

Holly: Of course she stands up on her horse. That’s like, bodice ripper heroine behavior rule #23.

To Catch an Heiress by Julia Quinn

Ingrid: …I literally only remember that he thinks she’s a spy with a name that reminded me of Carmen Sandiego.

Holly: …so I’ve read the sequel literally 86 times so I know that it’s about Caroline and Blake Ravenscroft and Caroline collects words. There’s some stuff in a tower.

Have you read any of these books? Do you remember them better than we do? Let us know in the comments!

Review, TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Grumpy

March’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2022 was “Grumpy.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.

Erin Read: Always Only You by Chloe Liese (2020)

Bergman Brothers, Book #2

Why was this book on your TBR?

I really loved the first book in this series, and the protagonists of this one sound super interesting.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

The back cover copy doesn’t say it’s grumpy sunshine, but I thought it was? Plus it’s sportsy and we’re doing sportsy stuff this month on the blog. 

What are your thoughts on the book?

Wow, I could totally write a whole mostly gushing review about this book. (I mean, I can live without Shakespeare, and I have routinely thanked my husband for never speaking poetry to me, but I guess everybody’s not me.) I had read the first book in the series as an ARC, and I loved it, even though the protagonists were messy college kids who weren’t adulting all that well (which usually I don’t have a ton of patience for). But of course then how could I not be intrigued by the whole Bergman family? Plus my heritage is very Scandinavian, so I always like finding that in a good book. 

Anyway, I loved the pining virgin hero (Ren) who’s been biding his time until the object of his affections (Frankie) would not be off limits so he could ask her out (they work together). He’s the purest hero you can imagine. I liked that Frankie used being grumpy as a mask to protect herself from a world that takes her spoons. I mean, I didn’t like that she had to do that, but I liked that she found a way to protect herself and that the team still adored her and thought she was fierce. The story centers largely on how Frankie’s disability and neurodiversity impact her life and relationships, so it’s nice that Ren is a legit cinnamon roll. I also appreciated that this book was much more low angst than book 1 of the series (because HOLY ANGST, BATMAN!), but there was still plenty of natural tension between Ren and Frankie to keep things moving until the dark moment. It might be too gentle for some, but it was good for me. 

Buy Now: Amazon

Holly Read: Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James (2019)

The Wildes of Lindlow Castle, Book #4

Why was this book on your TBR?

In the before-COVID times, Erin and Ingrid saw Eloisa James give a talk, and snagged me a signed copy. 

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

I was feeling grumpy about saying yes to too much, so I figured I could take some inspiration on saying no. 

What are your thoughts on the book?

Unfortunately for me, my reading experience also aligned with the prompt: this book was making me grumpy.

Some backstory. Eloisa James was, for a while, my number one favorite romance author, but I was kind of “meh” on the numbers series, plus I got distracted by other things, so I had never read any of the Wilde books. So when I started reading this one, my immediate thought was that James’ character work was not as compelling as in her earlier stuff. (Plus it didn’t feel as dense and textured.) I don’t know if that’s my mindset right now and this was not the right time for this book, or if there has actually been a change in her writing.

The point is, I was six chapters in, and I knew a lot of facts about Betsy, but the contradictory mishmosh did not add up to a person yet. I’m DNFing for now, but maybe I’ll come back to this one day. Or maybe, next time I want a Georgian fix, I’ll reread the Desperate Duchesses again.

Sidenote: I reread Erin’s review, and I did not get the sense that Betsy declined the Duke because he was boring, but rather from a weird sense of competition that she would get and decline the most proposals to show the world that she was the awesomest.

Buy Now: Amazon

Ingrid Read: The Bun & the Gun by Vanessa Gray Bartal (2019)

Spies Like Us, Book #1

Why was this book on your TBR?

Someone recommended it online and their awkward, gushing review had me totally curious. 

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

I have serious obsession issues with characters who are grudgingly dragged into their happily ever afters, and this one looked particularly juicy.

What are your thoughts on the book?

HOLY cow. Holy mooing cow. I laughed so hard during this book, and then when I finished it I couldn’t fall asleep because my poor love struck, sighing self couldn’t cope with how adorable this couple was. 

Basically this very witty, smart, and completely bananas reference librarian (Maggie) is recruited by a sexy spy man to go work for a secret government agency and help catch the baddies. Ridge the spy man is the grumpiest boss ever and routinely makes everyone cry, but outside of work Ridge and Maggie are best friends. And what makes this book particularly adorable is that NEITHER OF THEM KNOW THEY’RE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER, but WE READERS DO. 

Maggie is determined to help Ridge connect with his other employees, and Ridge is determined to protect Maggie when a new op that depends on Maggie being in the field surfaces. Meanwhile, they’re cluelessly tripping over themselves with clever words and sexual tension. 

The only tiny thing I thought might dull the shine of this book for some people is that Maggie starts out 20 lbs overweight and loses the weight as she goes through training. But I really didn’t see a problem with it because she says very directly that she eats healthier now so she can run faster—the weight loss is a practical result of the necessary lifestyle changes required by her job and it’s not treated like Ridge didn’t see her until she was at a “hot weight”. Ridge is smitten with her from the jump. It’s treated as a simple fact and is a non issue from my read, but I could see some people feeling a prickly way about it.

Regardless, this book was brimming with witty banter and Maggie was fantastic. Five stars, take my money, next book in the series, please.

Buy Now: Amazon

Want to join us in tackling your TBR? April’s prompt is Location, Location, Location.

Recommended Read, Review

Anthology Review: Mistletoe Christmas (2021)

Heat Factor: It’s deeply satisfying and has well-paced burn-y bits

Character Chemistry: Oh my god, the chemistry in all four of these love stories almost killed me. Killed me dead.

Plot: The Revelry is a major social event at the Duke of Greystoke’s country estate. Anyone who is anyone, is there. During this event, four couples find their way to happily-ever-after while getting through social hurdles and failing marriages, and dashed dreams…sigh.

Overall: This has to be the absolute best anthology I’ve read to date based on how many times I cried, and laughed, and laugh/cried, and scared my children with my book feelings.

Continue reading “Anthology Review: Mistletoe Christmas (2021)”

Review: Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James (2020)

The Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book #5

Review of the Wildes of Lindow Castle, Book #4

Heat Factor: They get married at about 70% and have a ton of really polite sex

Character Chemistry: I like the sparring partners thing they have going on. I am not excited about polite sex.

Plot: Shy young lady decides to woo proper vicar away from his terrible fiancée and intrigues the disdainful duke, who is clearly perfect for her, in the process

Overall: I put this book in timeout for a week because I was really worried about the black moment, but I needn’t have been

Continue reading “Review: Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James (2020)”

Saturday Smutty Six: Historical Romance Series We Want to See on TV

Whether you’ve already binged all of Bridgerton or are watching it slowly to savor every moment or are still unsure about this whole watching romance novels on TV thing, I think we can all agree: it was about damn time. In a recent interview with the NYT, Shonda Rhimes remarked that she was surprised more romance novels haven’t been adapted to television. After all, “Romance novels really lend themselves to the TV genre. They’re visual; they’re well paced; they have great plots.”

Shonda, we are right there with you. And now that Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series is getting the star treatment, let’s keep that momentum going! Here are six other historical romance series that we’d love to see adapted to television.

Note: We stuck with historical romances here to give us some parameters. And because we love costume dramas. Click the titles to go to the series’ Amazon pages.

The Brothers Sinister by Courtney Milan

This series has ALL THE DRAMA! Aristocracy! Fashion! Class conflict! Suffrage! Workers’ rights! Scientific discovery! (I mean, sexual reproduction?!?! GASP!) Uptight old men who make excellent villains because they refuse to GET WITH THE TIMES! And I know they’re not going to put in on TV, but the protagonists of the first book having awkward sex because they’re both virgins is also absolutely a draw.

The Loyal League by Alyssa Cole

Honestly, who doesn’t want to watch a TV show about Union spies during the Civil War? Even better, the books in the series are really well-paced; the tension ratchets up as the story progresses and the stakes get higher, so they would work really well in an episodic format. Bonus points for whip-smart characters who have wide-ranging conversations about things like poetry and privilege. But really: I’m in it for the spies. Kicking ass. In costume. 

Spindle Cove by Tessa Dare

On Monday… A comedy, if you please. Spindle Cove is a quiet seaside haven for women who just don’t quite fit in…until the militia moves in, and prompts a battle of the sexes. But these fierce women get up to all kinds of hijinx and take no prisoners as they seek to live their best lives. Bonus points: there’s a crossover with the Castles Ever After series, so the show need never end!

Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James

Thanks to The Queen’s Gambit, chess is having a moment – so why not tap into the sexy side of that chess energy? But with way more elaborate costumes, because holy cow are Georgian clothes something else. Powdered wigs for days! We will admit that not all of the books in this series are created equal, and therefore propose a focus on the dueling chess matches (and the sort of but not really at all love triangle) played between Jemma, Elijah, and Villiers, as their complicated relationship grounds the rest of the series. 

Laird’s Fiancees by Julie Garwood

For the Outlander fans who are really bored now that Claire and Jamie are in North Carolina, Julie Garwood’s highlander books are excellent Ye Olde Hottie MacScottie fare. Please see: Highlanders with tree trunk thighs, enormous swords, mysterious villains, clan alliances and rivalries, and lots and lots of plaid.

The Lotus Palace Mysteries by Jeannie Lin

And something for the mystery crowd! How about some edge-of-your-seat absolutely gripping murder mystery romances? Which happen to be set in the pleasure quarter of the capital city of Tang Dynasty China. We’ve got lots of cross-class forbidden romance stuff going on as characters from all walks of life interact in the liminal space of the pleasure quarter, which you know makes for all kinds of fun possibilities.