Time again for Billie Bloebaum, Powell’s Airport book buyer, matching readers to books – a dying art that I can’t get over.
Amy writes: The last book I read that I really, really loved was “Sugar Queen” by Sarah Addison Allen.
Billie: My first impulse is to go with Alice Hoffman or maybe ‘Like Water for Chocolate’ or ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ or ‘Chocolat’, but to find a good romance novel with a touch of magical realism that doesn’t veer into schmaltz is more of a challenge.
‘The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes’ by Crusie, Dreyer, and Stuart has that touch of magic in a contemporary setting. Gwyn Cready has written a couple of charming novels about women being transported into books through various magical means.
Leigh writes: My primary reads are UF, SF, YA, and romance, but in any genre, I like love stories and attraction. I’m working on a paper about the role of romance in the tv show Battlestar Galactica for a romance panel at PCA 2010, so I like the blending of genres.
What I like in Contemporary: I liked all your past recommendations—Victoria Dahl’s “Talk Me Down”, Erin McCarthy’s “Flat-Out Sexy” (and “Hard and Fast”), and Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me”. I own about 6
Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, the Chicago Stars series, among others, and I can’t seem to get enough. Wit, humor, and extreme sexiness are all huge draws.
Dislikes in Contemporary: Silliness. A lot of Crusie’s other work just seemed to get very implausible in a zany romcom way, and I’m not big on zany. Some SEP’s do this, too. I’m also not a fan of vanilla ness—Nora Roberts is good, but after awhile the sweet love stories start to blend together. We need spice with the sugar!
Likes in Historical: Adored “Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase, most of the Bridgertons and some others by Julia Quinn, and just about everything Lisa Kleypas has ever written. I like authors who manage not to make sedate historical settings boring, and who know how to make the most of the incredibly complex social rules of the time. Good dialogue a must, too.
Dislikes in Historical: The extremes: over-the-top wildness (too many kidnappings, faintings, convenient grievous illnesses, etc. I also will not read amnesia or secret babies) and tepid, ho-hum storylines populated by characters who I can’t remember the day after I’ve read them.
Likes in Paranormal: *cringes* Here’s where all my carefully articulated taste goes out the window. I’ll allow near-endless amounts of cheese, corn, and assorted WTF to appear in my paranormals. I own all 7 of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books, God help me, and I will buy more, like the crackhead I am. I like vampires, but /lovelovelove/ werewolves and other animal shifters. “Bitten” by Kelley Armstrong is great, Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress books are to die for, P.C. Cast’s Goddess books are sent from above, and Rachel Vincent’s werecat books are also delish. Pack dynamics, soul mates, wars and violence, immortals—I eat it all up like candy.
Dislikes: Rape-y heroes, overly harsh, kick-butt heroines and overly submissive ones. I used to like Christine Feehan’s Carpathians, but they got too cartoony, even for me. The Kresley Cole I tried (Sebastian and Katarin?) had a heroine who was cold and unsympathetic, in my view. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s work is reliably fun, but gets repetitive. Repetitive. Repetitive.
Likes in UF: Great, unique worldbuilding with lots of sexual tension! Love Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Vicki Petersson, Richelle Mead, Ann Aguirre, Nalini Singh.
Thank you so very much! I know this is a way-detailed list, and at times contradictory. I would love to get some good recs from a reliable source, and this seemed like a great opportunity.
Billie says: Have you read all three Richelle Mead series? If you like the Succubus books, then I’d recommend Jackie Kessler’s succubus series. If you like the ‘Vampire Academy’ books, then P.C. and Kristin Cast’s ‘Marked’ series. If you like the Urban Shaman books, then Caitlin Kittredge’s ‘Nocturne City’ novels would probably appeal. (SB Sarah: Also, Jill Myles’ Gentlemen Prefer Succubi new book might appeal, too.)
If you’re into were-sex, then I’d suggest Keri Arthur. The books aren’t consistently well-written, but I like the world and characters enough to forgive any shortcomings in the prose. And, there’s a horse-shifter, so, y’know…
I’d also recommend you try Kim Harrison. The first couple of books were decent UF, but the characters and storylines have gotten darker in later books and there are real consequences to be faced for the characters and nobody is safe.
On the contemporary side—Jill Shalvis! Seriously, I have now un-officially appointed my self Jill Shalvis’s pimp. I don’t read a lot of contemporaries, but I feel I can comfortably recommend her books to pretty much anyone.
If you’d like to be book matched, send me an email at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom with “Book Matcher” in the subject line. I can’t promise that every inquiry will be matched but so long as Billie’s willing to check out my inbox, we’ll keep matching the books. Thanks, Billie!