I’m an amateur student of medieval manuscripts, an editor and proofreader, a choral singer, a lapsed engineer, and passionate about sunshine and beaches. In addition to reviewing books for All About Romance, I write a column on books for Happy Ever After by USA TODAY. Keira Soleore is a pseudonym.
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran Ghachar, Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
These days, I greatly enjoy traditional Regencies, which means I'm constantly haunting used bookstores, the public library, and Amazon looking for old Signets and Fawcetts, among other publishers of the 1980s and 1990s. Wish these trad Regencies would make a comeback in a big way.
In addition to those, my personal library shelves have heaps of books by these authors:
Mary Balogh Jo Beverley Joanna Bourne Connie Brockway Meredith Duran Jo Goodman Georgette Heyer Eloisa James Laura Kinsale Lisa Kleypas Michelle Martin Julia Quinn Jodi Thomas Joan Wolf Joan Smith
My 2017 favorite non-romance is We Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama.
My 2016 favorites were When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris.
My 2015 favorites were Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.
My 2014 favorites were The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
Books by these authors number among my most memorable treasures:
Jane Austen (gen fic) Enid Blyton (children's) Alexandre Dumas (gen fic) C.S. Harris (mys) Kazuo Ishiguro (gen fic) Pico Iyer (non fic) P.D. James (mys) Dalai Lama (non fic) Richard Lederer (non fic) Elizabeth Peters (mys)
What I Love in a Romance
I enjoy the Marriage of Convenience trope the most, because I'm interested in how two people negotiate a marriage, given their myriad backgrounds, experiences, hopes, disappointments, and dreams. It's not "why" two people get together, so much as "how" two people stay together in a relationship that has mutual affection, respect, consideration, dedication, and support.
I also enjoy the Friends to Lovers trope, and again, my interest here devolves to interest in how they negotiate a marriage given their mutual history.
I like to see characters behave with maturity, dignity, integrity, and empathy. And I like seeing their love gradually unfold on the page.
I enjoy reading about characters who do "work," who have passions and interests that they assiduously pursue in the story, and who have lives beyond simply malingering at the other's feet. Work makes people interesting.
What I Hate About a Romance
I'm usually open to many things, because in the hands of a talented author anything can work. But these are the things that are usually a turn-off for me:
Silly misunderstandings that could easily be cleared up by the characters sitting down to a heart-to-heart.
One character queening it over the other with snarkiness to make the other look foolish.
Plots that are filler to simply throw characters together for sexytimes.
Fake emotional dialogue that serves as a plot device.
Historical inaccuracies, anachronisms, and Americanisms.
A Bit More About Me
I came to romance in my teens via Georgette Heyer. I still have that copy of These Old Shades. It's tattered and yellowed and much-loved. And my love of historical romance was cemented.
Over the years, my interest in romance has waxed and waned, but there has never been a year when I didn't read any romance. These days, I do read some contemporaries, but historicals and I have an enduring HEA.
In addition to romance, I also read mysteries, particularly British police procedurals, general fiction, general nonfiction, memoirs, poetry, and children's fiction, particularly picture books.