Sunday, June 6, 2021

Measuring Up!

This is a thinly disguise brag post.

OK, it's not actually disguised.

Earlier this year, I saw a link to "The 27 Greatest Romance Novels to Read in Your Lifetime". OMG that's a hilarious title. The hubris! And yet, it was irresistible. I popped it into my "saved" articles on Facebook and just got around to reading it. Honestly, it's a great list! Here's the article, and here's my editorializing:

1. Pride and Prejudice,
by Jane Austen.  OK, it's like a law that you have to include this one in any romance list that claims to be canonical. I have tried more than once to get through this book and I just can. not. even. Basically I can only relate to the buffoonish father who wants nothing to do with society stuff and then I fall asleep. It's a no for me.

2. Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte. I saw a snip of a PBS production when I was in middle school and fascinated by all things miserable, so I did manage to read this one. But I was like 11 and I didn't really get it. Nor was I ever tempted to read it again. So yes, but also no.

3. Shanna
by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. YAAAAAAASSSS. I actually re-read this somewhat recently and could have sworn that I reviewed it here. Ah, good intentions.  This was literally the first romance I read that wasn't a category. Be still my heart. Yes, yes, and again yes.

4. Morning Glory
by LaVyrle Spencer. Oh yes. I went through a BIG LaVyrle Spencer phase, in real time when she was publishing. I agree this is the best of a really wonderful oevre. YES she deserves a pretentious French word.

5. Lord of Scoundrels
by Loretta Chase. Yes yes. So many good titles, but hard to go wrong with one that includes the heroine shooting the hero right in the first few chapters. 

6. Indigo
, by Beverly Jenkins. Not yet. I have a couple of Jenkins titles on my TBR and this is definitely high up there.

7. The Viscount Who Loved Me
, by Julia Quinn. Yep, Uh huh. Early readers of Alpha Heroes may recall several discussions of the whole Bridgerton series (here's the best overview), BEFORE Netflix and Shonda Rhimes got on board. (I mean, Netflix was mailing DVDs out at the time, remember that?)

8. Delaney's Desert Sheikh,
by Brenda Jackson. I have not read this one. A 30 book series you say? Hmmmmmm. Dare I? Certainly worth considering.

9. Dark Lover, by JR Ward. Oh hell yes. There are no less than 35 articles on this blog tagged with JR Ward, so uh, yeah. Yeah.

10. Bet Me, 
by Jennifer Crusie. Yep. Another favorite here at Alpha Heroes, and this title is often considered her best.

11. A Hunger Like No Other 
by Kresley Cole. This is the second book in the IAD series, but the first full-length one. I do like this series though I will admit that I am not 100% caught up. Hot sex, lots of mythology-based worldbuilding, and laugh-out-loud humor, this series is a yes from me.

12. Slave to Sensation,
by Nalini Singh. At this point, I'm thinking I need to call up the author of the article because we should be best friends. I love this series so hard and I'm still loving it. Fun fact, Hostage to Pleasure, the 5th book in this series, was the first ARC I ever got, reviewed here on the blog. 

13. Devil In Winter
, by Lisa Kleypas. OK yes, but with caveats - I know I've read this one but I don't really remember it. This doesn't mean a lot because there are hundreds of romances that I've read over the years and don't much remember. This is definitely a reader favorite but it didn't stand out that much to me personally. Maybe I should try a re-read.

14. Vision in White
, by Nora Roberts. Yes, I'm a Nora Roberts junkie. This is a lovely, super-duper extra romantic quartet. So, yes.

15. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
, by Sarah Maclean. I'm a little on the fence for this one. I really admire Sarah Maclean's voice of advocacy for the genre, but I've tried a few of her books, including this one, and they just didn't grab me that hard. Maybe? I feel like I could give this author another shot, idk.

16. The Duchess War
, by Courtney Milan. Oh hell yes. I even forced my slightly-snooty litfic-leaning bookclub to read this one. Chess champion heroine and reformist duke hero? I repeat, oh hell yes.

17. The Magpie Lord
by KJ Charles. In general, I am a little meh on m/m romance. I picked up a different title by the same author and remain a little meh. This author is much beloved, so I can't argue with the rec, but it's not for me.

18. Tangled
by Emma Chase. No idea! maybe I should try. It's a contemporary billionaire trope which I'm so/so on, but I won't rule it out.

19. Glitterland,
by Alexis Hall. Yes! This is a tear-you-up, rip-your-heart-out romance. A big part of my "meh" for m/m romance sub-genre stems from the fact that a lot of its early start was erotic m/m written by women, and seemingly for women. Much of it lacked authenticity and like a wallpaper historical, felt like a hetero romance with an extra penis and coming-out-of-the-closet angst for conflict (not to minimize those emotions- in this context I'm saying it felt rote). Not so with this book. Authentic and emotionally devastating. Big big yes from me.

20. Ante Up 
by Christina C. Jones. Not so far. Based on the track record of this list though, I might have to check it out.

21. An Extraordinary Union,
by Alyssa Cole. Very much yes. Not going to lie, this is a tough read. Back in the 80s when I was really diving into romance, the (American) Civil War setting were really appealing to me. Mostly Gone With the Wind inspired, they were all about genteel white southern women surviving the war. This one is... definitely not that. It pulls no punches about what slavery was like. An engrossing, important read that is also an amazing romance with an unforgettable heroine. Definitely yes.

22. Acting on Impulse
, by Mia Sosa. I haven't read this one. I did read "The Worst Best Man," which got rave reviews, but I thought it was just OK. I couldn't put my finger on what didn't work for me though. I guess I'll say I'm on the fence for this title, but it's not high on my list.

23. Hate to Want You
by Alisha Rai. Yes yes! The article incorrectly refers to this book as Rai's debut, which it is not. Rai has a number of erotic titles that precede this trilogy.  The Hate To books are Rai's debut with Avon though, and they are STEAMY. Come for the diversity and that GORGEOUS cover, but stay for the off-the-charts chemistry. Oh yeah.

24. Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan
. Meh. I'm not big on New Adult or sports romance, so I'm not feeling super inspired by this one. Call it a "probably not."

25. The Kiss Quotient
by Helen Hoang. Definitely yes! often called the "reverse Pretty Woman" story, with a hired-escort hero and a wealthy, non-neurotypical heroine. A truly lovely and tender romance. (I reviewed this for RT in 2018 and rated it a Top Pick). Yes from me!

26. Red, White & Royal Blue
, by Casey McQuiston. Surprise, yes! despite my usual meh on m/m, this was a delightful fantasy about two princes - one literal, one American - navigating an enemies-to-lovers relationship in the public spotlight. Imagined in a near-future where gay relationships are a little more common but still politically delicate, the characters make this one sing.  So -- yes.

27. A Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics
, by Olivia Waite. Uh. I read this for a bookclub but I honestly don't remember a thing about it. I didn't hate it. Most of the bookclub enjoyed it. I hate to end the list on a whimper but here we are.

So if you're following along, that's 19 read, 3 probably not, 4 maybes, and 1 definite need to read.

What do you think of this list?


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