It was a happy coincidence that Sheila wrote about Fifty Shades of Grey on Friday (while I agree with her assessment, I cannot stop reading the stupid series. Those books are like the worst kind of junk food. Andy Capp Cheddar Fries, maybe?), because today, I have a few suggestions for some romance series that actually have a little substance to them. And all of them are perfect for lounging by the pool this summer.
Historical Romance, or I Love to Swoon:
Tessa Dare‘s Spindle Cove series is set in a seaside haven for society ladies who don’t quite fit into proper society. Populated with widows, spinsters (most in their late 20s – the horrors!), and supposedly ruined women, the small town allows them to exist without judgement. So far, we’ve met Susanna, the headstrong daughter of an inventor who works for the military, and Minerva, a genius archaeologist. The third book, featuring orphaned musician Kate, is due out in August. I love that Dare lets these quirky, wonderful characters shine in her series.
Grace Burrowes is five books in to her expected eight about the large Windham family. The first three in the set focus on the brothers of the family – Gayle, Devlin, and Valentine – and the remaining have been about the girls – Sophie and Maggie, so far. Also, not one, but two of the siblings are recognized “by-blows” (each has a less than awesome biological mother, so they’re doing okay). With so many characters, Burrowes does an admirable job of giving each distinct personalities with obstacles to overcome on the road to love.
Contemporary Romance, or Modern Love is Rough
Louisa Edwards is a recent discovery of mine. A former food critic, her two overlapping series follow chefs in New York. The first series is set at a newly opened restaurant, where head chef and co-owner Adam falls for a critic, celebrity chef Devin gets his ego checked by a Southern Belle, and Wes, a line cook, finds himself challenged by a chemist. I really loved that each book is connected not only by the restaurant, but with a great arc about the relationship between sous-chef Frankie and a young waiter named Jess (I wish more romance writers put this kind of effort into their gay characters). I’ve only read the first book in the second series – about chefs at an old-school steakhouse who are trying to give their restaurant a boost by winning a national cooking competition – but I’m very much looking forward to reading the next two. (For the foodies out there, Edwards will make you super hungry from her descriptions. Luckily, she includes a few recipes in the back of each book.)
Lori Foster has written a lot of books. For the sake of brevity, I’ll go with her most recently completed series, the aptly named “Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor.” The heroes in these books are all professional mercenaries with a special interest in stopping human trafficing rings. It’s helpful to kick things off with the short story “Ready, Set, Jett,” in the Guy Next Door collection. Book one is about defacto leader, Dare; book two picks things up with the very intense Trace; book three follows Trace’s sister Alani and the goofy-but-still-hot Jackson; and book four wraps things up with outsiders Spencer and Arizona. This series is a little darker than some others, but that’s what helps set it apart.
Hopefully, some of these will provide a nice alternative to Fifty Shades of Grey. What junk food books are you reading now?