Do you have an Andrea? You should! Every book lover should.
Andrea works at my local Borders. On the days when she happens to be working and I happen to be browsing, it is a scary and wonderful thing – wonderful for my reading experience, scary for my budget.
Andrea loves romance, historical romance, romantic fantasy, romantic suspense, and most of the cross-over genres. Happily, her tastes align really well with mine and she reads everything. If I ask her who’s new and good, she’ll rattle off 3 or 4 names that I haven’t heard of. If I tell her I’m tired of historicals and I want something more contemporary, or paranormal, or fantasy, she’ll have something for me. About a year ago, I confessed that Nora Roberts’ Circle Trilogy had finally dragged me kicking and screaming into the realm of vampire romances, she talked me into reading JR Ward—I did not go willingly!-- and you all know how that turned out.
Over the years, she has introduced me to--among many others-- Loretta Chase, Stephanie Laurens, Christine Warren, Susan Anderson, Lois McMaster Bujold, CL Wilson, and of course, JR Ward. She has never, ever steered me wrong. So if she tells me I should read something, I read it.
Most recently, she suggested Grimspace by Ann Aguirre and Clockwork Heart, by Dru Pagliassotti. The first is more space-opera-ish than I usually read, but fun nevertheless. It reminded me a lot of Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books in terms of the pacing and the way the romance develops a bit over several books—well, I hope; the 2nd book is due out soon, with available excerpts and word is she has a contract for books 3 and 4.
Clockwork Heart is a bit more steam-punky, though it isn’t a typical speculative/ alternative earth history. It takes place on its own world, where the technology takes a couple of different twists from ours, primarily around a lack of semi-conductor technology and the use of a lighter-than-air metal called ondinium. Combined with a strict caste-based society, there’s an intriguing whodunit mystery along with a lovely romance. Both characters turn the assumptions of their castes upside down, and have a bit of a struggle to be able to truly *see* each other. The book has some interesting things to say about power structures and bigotry and the masks we wear with each other.
Andrea also recommended Joanna Bourne but they were stocked out. It’s next on my list though, because if Andrea says I should read it, (say it with me) I’m gonna read it!