A few years back, some friends and acquaintances ran a podcast about lesbian romance novels called The LadyLike Book Club (delightful tagline: "Hello, lesbians and friends of lesbians"). It's dead for the time being, but I enjoyed it a lot — their enthusiasm is infectious even if you're not already invested in the genre, and they're all just very funny, charming people in general. If you do the podcast thing, their archives are totally worth a listen.
Anyway, I read a handful of the books they covered, so I figured I'd post them in a batch.
Oddly, these were the first category romance novels I'd ever read; I'd always meant to follow up on some of Candy's recommendations, but had never gotten around to it.
Books I Stopped Reading: Colette Moody — Parties in Congress
Dec 21, 2013
I couldn't get past the prose and style — the dialogue was just wrong, and I couldn't deal. (The plot and setting had problems too, but if I'd been having more fun on a paragraph-to-paragraph level I could have gotten over those.)
Books I Stopped Reading: Alison Moon — Lunatic Fringe
This was another one where the prose just ejected me. Which was a bummer, because I was getting interested in the characters and plot! But it just wasn't fun to read.
But where Parties in Congress just clunked, this had a more depressing kind of badness: it was overwritten in that distinctive way where you can see the outline of a really tight novel through the haze. A committed editor could probably have improved this book 400% without breaking anything. Sadface.
K.E. Lane — And Playing the Role of Herself
June 15, 2013
I don't actually remember a whole lot about this one, but I do remember enjoying it. There was a bizarre out-of-nowhere twist near the end that I wasn't into, but when it was just the characters interacting it was a lot of fun.
Rebecca S. Buck — The Locket and the Flintlock
July 5, 2013
This was excellent! Just really well put-together. The conflicts made sense, there was intense chemistry between the leads, the historical texture was superb (I learned some things about the Luddites?!), and the prose was solid. Also, as they say repeatedly in the episode, this is the one that most closely fit the stereotypical model of a capital-R, capital-N ~Romance Novel:~ Regency England, elaborate costuming, dashing robbers, the whole shebang.
D. Jordan Redhawk — Broken Trails
Sept 16, 2013
If you're going to read just one of these, this is the pick (although Locket is a very close runner-up).
There's a thing this book does, which made it really satisfying to read but which I'm having a hard time describing. (And especially describing in a way that doesn't sound awful.) Like, basically: the external conflict is that the protagonist signs up for the Iditarod (a nightmarish, icy ultramarathon with dogs), then spends a year training for it, then does it. But Redhawk does one of the best jobs I've seen at depicting routines in an enjoyable way, and using them to show the protagonist's gradual leveling-up (and occasional setbacks).