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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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books: romance authors
children of dune - leto 1
Because so many people gave good recs in my post about Georgette Heyer romances, I'm going to toss out a few more of my favorites.


Anything by Amanda Quick. They're kind of repetitive, but they're lower in misogyny, most of the female characters either have careers or are bluestocking and scholars, the heroes tend to be decent guys in general outside of the Regency mold and some are illegitimate sons of the higher aristocracy, which is new and interesting for a hero. Some are also very gay positive--one heroine was raised by her lesbian aunt and her partner (this later plays into a second plot where she assists two female lovers) and another, though again, it's been a while, involved a male partners (I think; I went through a hard Regency period (and um, Star Trek profic) period when I was pregnant with Child and then again about eight years ago, so it's been a while). They're also a lot of fun, light, frothy, caper-filled, and weirdly hilarious and sensible. They also, from my memory, keeping in mind Georgette Heyer, lack explicit racism, but it's been a while (about eight years) since I read them, so the implicit I can't be sure of.

Most by Catherine Coulter. She tends to have a memorable plot, my favorite being The Wild Baron with its supernatural/religious/Holy Grail aspects and a heroine who is not a virgin. Yes, I know! There are also cat races, which is just cute.

For sheer wtf entertainment and horror, anything by Virginia Henley. She made me read about Eleanor, sister of Henry III, and the huge variety of sexual capers everyone gets up to, not always vanilla, always in purple prose, and Simon de Montfort wears a special black leather penis sheathe--yes, a sheathe--to protect his huge massive horse-like cock (seriously) during battle (seriously). Think about that one. It's the equivalent of a very purple Nifty story. This is porn. This is long ass porn. Sometimes, you will be surprised by a priest giving someone drugs and having sex in the confessional, then there might later be a threesome and you don't know how you got there and suddenly you're on Crusade in Italy and the cock sheathe is back. Dropping acid first might help.

Judith McNaught - the only reason I like her is that her plotlines, while predictible, tend to be fun, but it's very typical contemporary romance, albeit not purple and is very well written. There will be in this order a.) dislike b.) falling in love c.) a tragic and horrific misunderstanding and d.) someone groveling. For variety, women usually keep their careers or some kind of outside interest than keeping house.

Marsha Canham - it's been years since I read her, but I remember vividly she came after my nightmare with Virginia Henley and was a refreshing change from Jude Devereaux. Pride of Lions is set during--God, the Jacobean uprising? It's pre-Regency, there are kilts, and the plotline is fascinatingly complicated sometimes and has some small but interesting politics and historical facts.

Feel free to drop your recs in here if you have any.

Looking For This Book, Help?

There is this novel and I only remember a few things about it, so here they are; one, the practical, common-sense female character is not interested in the male character, who has issues, they get caught in the garden making out, her reputation is ruined when he in a fit of temper thinking she was trying to compromise him then says he compromised her, and she sent him a bill stating what income she expected since she was his mistress and he better pay the fuck up. Then they get married. I think she has a brother (don't they all?). The male character has a best friend who is blond and hot and is infatuated with a married blond woman who is super hot and they get a book of their own later after her husband died or something.

I know this is not unique, but I remember this one because it was actually really funny, especially her detailing out what income she expected and what kind of apartment to get her in her new position as mistress. She was one of the first Romance heroines I read without an overly large chest and who was surprisingly uninterested in marriage.

God, Why Was This Book Written?

And randomly, but okay: has anyone ever finished Maia by Richard Adams? I have tried for years and years and I only get halfway through before I am so bored it hurts me. I originally got it in my teens and was thrilled by the surprisingly unvarnished sexual content but then gave up when it became a sleep aid. I made it through goddamn Anna Karenina finally, so it's not like I don't know how to read just to prove I can damn well do it. Is it just me? Does it get like, really good in the second (endless five million page) half?

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Thank you for this. I'm putting this into my memories as I'm always (especially lately) looking for new books to read. :)

*g* I do that too when someone does a book rec post so I can keep up.

I think the book you're looking for is "Lord of Scoundrels" by Loretta Chase.

...you're like, magic. I think that's it! Just ordered it!

De-lurking to say: the book you're looking for is (I'm almost certain) Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. If you haven't read them, I highly recommend her later novels as well (with the exception of Captives of the Night, which continues the sub-plot of the hot blond friend's obsession with the married woman).

She refers to her most recent books as the Fallen Women series, which sums up nicely some of the ways they depart from Regency (and Romance) tropes.

Brilliant. I'm adding her to my next month's book orders. thouh I'm ordering Scoundrels right now because i read that like, fifteen years ago and weirdly, have been on LJ ten years and never thought to ask anyone about it. *excited*

Also, for 'looking for this book' help (if your f-list is not Obi Wan Kenobi-like), try Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which has a 'help a bitch out' section for questions just like this.

Judith McNaught has also written period romances what with her Westmoreland Dynasty Saga & sequels. Way back when I also read some novels from Andrea Kane and didn't find them bad.

Read anything by Maggie Osbourne. She mainly writes historical romances about the American West. Her heroes are decent men, the heroines are three dimensional and flawed, the sex is hot, and there is a definite feminist bent. Start with Silver Lining. It’s a beautifully-written novel. You’ll ball your eyes out at the plight of a woman called Low Down.

Penelope Williamson: Read almost anything by her, but especially The Outsider and Heart of the West. She specializes in love triangles between complicated men and women. The woman is truly torn between two worthy men. Another great thing about her novels is that if the women have previous sexual experience with someone other than the hero, they usually enjoyed it . In most romance novels, past sex is always bad sex. Heart of the West is technically a romance novel, but my God, I’d say that it’s the bet one I ever read. It is absolutely epic, spanning 15 years of the characters lives. In it, a young unhappy Eastern girl meets the cowboy of her dreams, runs off to the prairie with him, and then falls in love with his brother. The secondary characters are amazing. One is a Chinese bride mail order and the other a prostitute who become the heroine’s best friends. You see their lives, too. In The Outside an Amish widow falls in love with a gunslinger. Wiliamson also has a feminist bent.

Tom and Sharon Curtis: Yes, a husband and wife writing team. I cannot recommend everything by them, but Sunshine and Shadow and The Windflower are amazing. Sunshine and Shadow is a modern day Amish/Non-Amish romance written in the 1980s. In The Windflower, set in the 1600s, a girl is kidnapped by a pirate. Neither novel is anything like a typical model of these cliched plots. Really beautiful stuff.

Elizabeth Hoyt: She has this Prince series that’s just wonderful.
Pamela Morsi: Start with Courting Miss Hattie and read from there. Has a truly plain Jane heroine. Also features amazing secondary characters.

Not quite in the same vein as Regency romance, heh, but I adore Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters series (The Unsung Hero is the first of like fifteen books). They are totally romance novels, but EVEN BETTER, the guys tend to be Navy SEALs and there is shooting running and explosions and getting lost in the Indonesian jungle (and, for some reason, often B plots related to WWII) and generally pretty kickass ladies, too. (Alyssa is the best.) PLUS, she has a gay couple! Their story spans a couple of books--Hot Target, Force of Nature, and then All Through the Night for dessert--and the FBI agent half of that couple is a minor character in a lot of the other books; he is SO gay and SO awesome.

Brockmann and Heyer are pretty much the only romance authors I've read, but I may be taking advantage of this and your previous post and picking up some others. :D

Butting in to agree that I love the Troubleshooters series! I'll go now *slinks off*.

I remember reading Maia many, many years ago. Umm. Decades ago, actually. I enjoyed it well enough at the time, but not so much that I've ever wanted to pick it up and re-read it (and I'm a big re-reader). Make of that what you will. :)

I also have to rec LADY OF THE KNIGHT by Jackie Ivie. Set in the Scottish Highlands in the 1300s, a girl whose clan was slaughtered disguises herself as a man to become a warrior and get revenge.

Okay. First, this is the slashiest novel of all time. Unlike most woman-disguised-as-a-man novels, the heroine maintains the disguise for the majority of the novel and the hero falls for her anyway.

The heorine is also a better fighter than the hero, and he spends much of the novel jealous of her skills!

I cannot recommend anything else by Ivie, but this was her debut and an amazing one that a slasher would appreciate.

So bizarre, but one of my friends was hanging out while I was putting away a stack of books just two days ago, and asked about the very same book in even vaguer terms than you used, and I pulled out Lord of Scoundrels and she's currently borrowing it to re-read. Weird coincidence is weird.

I do recommend Loretta Chase just about everything, (I actually liked Captives of the Night mentioned in another comment, but it's definitely a YMMV thing) and the Carsington Family series has a couple of books that top my list of favorites. One of them has a divorced woman, another has a young lady who had a child out of wedlock when she was very young. All of her heroes are clever and reluctantly sweet (if sometimes in weird ways) and always, always, always deeply respectful of the heroines and their minds, abilities, desires, and so on. Mr. Perfect has a hero who is much less intelligent than the heroine, and totally okay with that, because he has other strengths.

Other romance recs: Jennifer Crusie. My favorite ever Crusie was Bet Me, but the first one of hers that I read, Welcome to Temptation, comes close. They're clever and heartfelt and hilarious, and no one writes banter like Crusie. Seriously, I could read just three pages of some unnamed novel and know it was hers, she's that distinct. Also just about any of the newer works by Mary Balough, who is the only writer I can think of where I can read three of her books in a row and all of them are capable of moving me to literal tears. This is a good thing, I promise. Oh, oh, and Jayne Castle, who is the pseud of Jayne Anne Krentz that she uses when she's writing her future romances, which are silly and essentially brain-candy but a whole lot of fun nevertheless.

Urban fantasies that are also romances, Kelley Armstrongs's Women of the Otherworld series. For the most part you can pick up just about any one of them out of order, too, because they're a linked series with a whole wide cast of heroines who all get their own stories, so it's basically an endless supply of awesome first-time romances with the occasional established relationship story thrown in for plot continuance.

Oh, and Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff. It's a little... odd, not really the usual kind of romance, by which I mean it's got a certain amount of falling in love really fast and in stressful circumstances and living happily ever after, but it's also got characters who are mostly bisexual and have a lot of sex while pwning the universe with magic, and occasionally with magic pie. I mean, it's never fully stated, but even at the end of the book it's pretty heavily implied that along with the fairy-tale romance of the two main characters, the heroine is also going to continue sleeping with her wanderlust female cousin because monogamy is sort of a general guideline for her family. It's... definitely unique. But in a good way.

Oh my god, I have to stop now before I get completely out of control.

Not sure if you're into lesbian historical fiction at all, but you might want to check out Sarah Waters. Tipping the Velvet is my absolute favourite, but all of her stuff is worth a read.

Actually, I'd love some, but I literally have no idea where to start for that one. Which you have done now, so thank you!

my favorite being The Wild Baron with its supernatural/religious/Holy Grail aspects and a heroine who is not a virgin.

I read that! It was pretty good actually.

Anything by Amanda Quick.

Yes! I second that. Her stuff is a lot of fun.

I really liked Julie Garwood's historical romances, at least the ones not set in the West. (Some of my favorites are The Bride, The Secret, and Saving Grace. And I think I read Honour's Splendour about 10 times when I was in junior high. ;-) )

I second Julie Garwood!

Jayne Castle has some truly interesting, fantasy, scifi romances. Her regular writing name is Jayne Ann Krentz and they are good, not great, but they are all contemporary.

I second Suzanne Brockmann, her stuff is awesome, and usually treats women right, her female characters are rarely stupid, or at least for more than one book, and start out that way as one single, secondary character. Great save by her by the way, grins.

Linda Howard rights some interesting romances, with great tension between her characters, she is too is contemporary, and she is starting to drift into the romance/adventure, mystery thing. Her older stuff is just straight romance, and to tell you the truth the woman knows how to write a sex scene. Maybe that sounds bad, but so many of them bore me when it comes time for some interesting het, but she does not. Her books are steamy, wry grin. Good luck. -SB

Hee! Amanda Quick is one of her pseudonyms.

Maia... the most interesting thing about it is the world. The second half is even duller than the first. It's all blah blah, she's super and amazing blah blah. I found the world and the politics mildly interesting, but other than that, no.