So, I’ve read five books that come out in January, all of which have been beyond incredible. It’s been an embarrassment of riches over here. All five qualify as romances in the broad sense of the word: There’s a happily ever after at the end, and the love story is an integral part of the book (although in all cases, the love story is not the only part of the book). Of course, not all of them are marketed as romances–but that’s another matter entirely.
The interesting thing is that while I love all these books, the heat level varies wildly from nearly no sexual content in one of them, to an erotic romance involving multiple partners. If you’ve been wondering what to read this January, look no further.
In order of heat, from lightest to hottest:
- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford.
This is the novel with little sexual content, and this book is about so many things–love between races, the Japanese internment (and I can’t help but think of the parallels in this time), patriotism, and families on all levels. I loved this book. I have wanted to read this book since I read about it on Kristin’s blog, and reading her editorial letter about this book is what convinced me I wanted her as an agent, because if she could make me long to read a book that much, I figured she had to be the best at what she did. You don’t want to ask what I did to get an advance copy, but I will be buying extras when it is released for my mother and for a former boss, who will both appreciate it.
- Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles.
Even though this book was released almost a week ago, it took me forever to find a copy of it. My local Borders was out within two days, and when I special ordered it, they couldn’t get another copy right away–it turns out that this book is going into a second printing. This is a Young Adult novel, but there is a sex scene. It’s central to the whole book, though, and it takes place (mostly) off screen. This book is so beautifully written, and even though I didn’t think I would like the heroine (she is perfect and a cheerleader), Simone made me fall in love with her in the very first chapter. (Full disclosure: Simone is also one of my agent’s clients and a member of my RWA chapter, but I swear I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t love the book anyway.)
- Marrying The Captain, by Carla Kelly.
Carla Kelly is a new-to-me author. As in, how on earth is it that I have never read a Carla Kelly before now? In any event, Marrying the Captain is a Regency. The sensuality is fairly light (although there are sex scenes), but the tension is beautiful, and the character development, the slow build up in this novel, is fantastic.
- Talk Me Down, by Victoria Dahl.
Damn. I’ve really loved all of Victoria’s awesome historicals, but Talk Me Down just took everything I loved about those books up a notch. Her heroine was wounded–both because of fairly recent events involving an ex, and also because she kept everyone at a certain arms’ length. This book contained one of the most poignant and beautiful love scenes that I’ve ever read. If you’re wondering–it’s the photographs. You’ll know it when you get there.
- Stranger, by Megan Hart.
I’ve heard a lot about Megan Hart, but just never got around to reading her until now. This book was incredible–think, kick me in the gut awesome. It was dark and edgy without being about abuse or any other truly unthinkable things. I fell in love with the heroine right from the get-go, and I ached for her to be happy. This book is an erotic romance–there is a lot of sex, including sex with strangers–but it is also an incredibly emotional read. One of the things I’ve noticed is that sometimes, authors try to inject emotion into their books by making everything larger than life. He’s not just ticked, he’s furious. She’s not just jealous, she is smoldering with desire. I find that this emotional magnification doesn’t work for me. In fact, it usually has the opposite effect. It leaves me feeling disconnected from the characters, as their emotions are too large for the events of the day. Megan Hart gets that, and I think one of the most powerful things about this book is how the heroine understates her emotion. The effect for me, is magnificent.
There aren’t many months out there where, in the first two weeks, my reading material is this incredible. So you tell me: What are you reading, and is it this awesome? Because I’m almost afraid to read anything else, for fear of breaking this streak of perfection. And now that I’ve looked up all these books on Amazon to link to them, I notice that two of them are agent-brothers and sisters, and the other three are all from different imprints of my publisher. That was entirely unintentional, and I’m guessing that when I do this again next February (and I will do it again!) hopefully I will have greater variety.