Romance, plus.

There is some excellent storytelling going on over in the romance genre nowadays, as I was telling my friend Janice in book club last month. I started recommending titles to her and then I thought, why not just tell everybody?

Anything for YouThis may be the best romance novel I’ve read in, I don’t know, the last five years? It has everything you could possibly want and then some: a complicated, totally believable heroine, one of the sexiest heroes walking around fiction on two legs, terrific dialogue, a plot with a couple of truly hair-raising reveals, the best brother-sister relationship I’ve ever read (two, actually), and one of the best ensemble casts ditto. And then there is Davy, the FAS brother Jessica is parenting. Higgins pulls no punches here, making the entire novel un-put-downable from beginning to end. Closed door, mostly.


Read this for Jake’s relationship with the six kids. Funny and poignant, and very much open door.

Good Boy

The hero is so damn delightful, but his mom, oh, his mom. Great dialogue, too. Door way open.


A lost-and-found relationship where the hero is a recovering addict, which Bowen handles superbly without letting it take over the storyline. Door open.

Crazy for You

One of the scariest villains you will ever read, all the scarier because Crusie puts the reader in his head and we get to watch his obsession with the heroine increase one completely rational–to him–step at a time. Shiver. Closed door.


There is a lot going on here besides the central story of two star-crossed lovers.



Another recommendation by Smart Bitches Trashy Books, I’ve just finished this fifth and final book in Higgins’ Blue Heron series. Set in a small town in upstate New York, the heirs and friends of the Blue Heron vineyard fall in and out of and back into love and eventually live happy ever after. Romance novels of the closed door variety, there is some very nice characterization here, some big ass horse laughs and some seriously tear-jerking moments (I’m thinking especially of Lucas and Bryce and Joe’s relationship in Waiting On You, which has little to do with the romance and which part of the book I found most compelling). Manningsport is definitely a place you want to get back to. One caveat: I did find all of the heroines’ mania over having babies a little trying, especially Honor’s eggs talking to her in The Perfect Match. Right, no woman can be truly complete without babies, what was I thinking.

My favorite is this one, Anything for You, where the narrative is told in flashbacks, a literary conceit I usually find annoying but here was hooked in from the getgo. Connor O’Rourke has been in love with Jessica Dunn since he was twelve, but Jessica comes from the wrong side of the tracks and carries a load of family baggage that has to be read to be believed. It is believable, though, every word all the way through, and the secondary characters, especially Connor’s twin Colleen and Jessica’s brother Davey (I beg your pardon, Connor, Dave) are interesting enough to carry the narrative by themselves. There are some reveals you don’t see coming and I always love that. Nothing is forced here, this is a very well plotted book that begins with one proposal and ends with another, where everything unfolds in a natural, inevitable manner, and I always love that, too, probably because I so seldom find it.

There is a lot going on here besides the central story of two star-crossed lovers. This is what having a relative with fetal alcohol syndrome is like and boy it is not easy, the perils of co-dependency, finding the strength for forgiveness not only for others but for yourself, and one of the better illustrations of the problems of extended families I’ve ever seen, also the farthest thing from easy. There is Jordan the bartender with a tendency to drop glassware whenever she sees Connor (Oops, Connor thinks, that’s right, he’s not supposed to look directly at her), and the hilarious scene where Connor is left on his own to raise enough from serious money people to start his own brewery and ends up drinking a little too much of his own product. I loved the “twin speak” between Connor and Colleen, too.

Yep, this one stays on my Kindle. Recommended.