The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2016

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on double-secret probation right now, so not an autobuy, but still an autoread)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

-A-
Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Ashley, Jennifer Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage (Mac/Isabella)
Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Cameron/Ainsley) – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Duke’s Perfect Wife (Hart/Eleanor)
Ashley, Jennifer Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift (Ian, Mac, Cam, Hart)
Ashley, Jennifer The Seduction of Elliott McBride (Elliott/Juliana)
Ashley, Jennifer The Untamed Mackenzie novella (Lloyd/Louisa)
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Daniel/Violet)
Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess novella (Steven/Rose)
Ashley, Jennifer Rules for a Proper Governess (Sinclair/Roberta “Bertie”)
Ashley, Jennifer A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Ian/Beth)
Ashley, Jennifer Bodyguard (Shifters Unbound) novella (Ronan/Elizabeth)

The list has gotten SO VERY LONG, please click on the jump.

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Author Commentary & Tallies Shameful

Shortcuts:    

I have more lists over there on the right—>

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on double-secret probation right now, so not an autobuy, but still an autoread)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

2016 READING LISTS:

Recommended books are in bold.

The (Shamefree) Tally 2016

Last year, this list had only one book and it was an Outlander graphic novel. I am proud of that, although I do have two glorious historical costume books to read and review.

The (Shameful) Tally 2016

  1. Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
  2. Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
  3. Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
  4. Ashley, Jennifer A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Ian/Beth)
  5. Balogh, Mary Only a Kiss (Percy/Imogen)
  6. Balogh, Mary Only Beloved (George/Dora)
  7. Blake, Jennifer The Tuscan’s Revenge Wedding (Nico/Amanda)
  8. Bowen, Kelly Duke of My Heart (Max/Ivory)
  9. Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Us (Wes/Jamie)
  10. Bowen, Sarina Bittersweet (Griff/Audrey)
  11. Bryce, Megan To Catch a Spinster (Nathaniel/Olivia)
  12. Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon (Jameson/Amelia)
  13. Bryce, Megan To Tempt the Saint (George/Honora)
  14. Bryce, Megan  Some Like It Charming (Ethan/Mackenzie)
  15. Callihan, Kristen Idol (Killian/Libby)
  16. Charles, K.J. A Seditious Affair (Silas/Dominic)
  17. Chase, Loretta Dukes Prefer Blondes (Oliver “Raven”/Clara)
  18. Dee, Bonnie/Devon, Summer The Merchant and the Clergyman (James/Declan)
  19. Dee, Cara Noah (Noah/Julian)
  20. Elliott, Taryn and Cari Quinn Manaconda (Hunter/Kennedy)
  21. Florand, Laura Sun-Kissed (Mack/Anne, plus guest stars)
  22. Florand, Laura Chase Me (Chase/Violette)
  23. Frank, Ella Finley (Sunset Cove Series Book 1) (Brantley/Finn)
  24. Frost, Sosie Once Upon a Half-Time (Lachlan/Elle)
  25. Frost, Sosie Bad Boy’s Bridesmaid (Nate/Mandy)
  26. Garvis Graves, Tracey Heart-Shaped Hack (Ian/Kate) – Worst of the Year 2016
  27. Gray, Juliana The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match (Olympia/Penelope)
  28. Grey, R.S. The Summer Games: Settling the Score (Freddie/Andie)
  29. Harber, Cristin Sweet Girl (Cash/Nicola)
  30. Heyer, Georgette Venetia (Dameral/Venetia)
  31. Ivy, Alyssa Rose The Hazards of Skinny Dipping (Reed/Juliet)
  32. Jacobs, Mara In Too Deep (Lucas/Lily)
  33. James, Julie Suddenly One Summer (Ford/Victoria)
  34. Jordan, Lucia In Too Deep  (Crasher/Rayne)
  35. Kelly, Carla Beau Crusoe (James/Susannah)
  36. Kennedy, Elle The Score (Dean/Allie)
  37. Kennedy, Elle and Vivian Arend All Fired Up (Parker/Lynn)
  38. Kleypas, Lisa Marrying Winterbourne (Rhys/Helen)
  39. Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar (Luke/London)
  40. Lauren, Christina A Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short (Not-Joe/Perry)
  41. Lauren, Christina Beautiful Boss (Will/Hanna)
  42. Leigh, Eva Forever Your Earl (Daniel/Eleanor)
  43. Leigh, Eva Scandal Takes the Stage (Cam/Maggie)
  44. Lin, Jeannie My Fair Concubine (Fei Long/Yan Ling)
  45. McCoy, Katie Play Me (Jake/Ella)
  46. MacLean, Sarah The Rogue Not Taken (King/Sophie)
  47. McQuiston, Jennifer Her Highland Fling (William/Penelope)
  48. Milan, Courtney Her Every Wish (Crash/Daisy)
  49. Milan, Courtney A Right Honorable Gentleman – short story (Edward/Catherine)
  50. Novark, Anna Marie The Doctor Wears a Stetson (Cameron/Jessie)
  51. Parker, Lucy Act Like It (Richard/Lainie) READ ME!
  52. Reid, Penny Ninja at First Sight (Greg/Fiona)
  53. Reid, Penny Happily Ever Ninja (Greg/Fiona)
  54. Reid, Penny Grin and Beard It (Jethro/Sienna)
  55. Richland, Anna His Road Home novella (Rey/Grace)
  56. Riley, Sierra Guardian (Titus/Alex)
  57. Roberts, Holly S. Play: New Adult Sports Romance (Killian/Rebecca)
  58. Schurig, Rachel Ransom (Daltrey/Daisy)
  59. Shay, Kathryn In Too Deep (Gabe/Rachel)
  60. Stewart, Nicole Home for Three (Selwyn/Jack/Kess)
  61. Stone, Juliana Offside (Logan/Billie)
  62. Thorne, Sally The Hating Game (Josh/Lucy) READ ME!
  63. Valente, Lili Magnificent Bastard (Sebastian/Penny) BEST TITLE EVER?
  64. Verge, Lisa Ann Heaven in His Arms (Andre/Genevieve)
  65. Ward, Tracy Rookie Mistake  (Trey/Sloane)

Reviews of Pre-2016 Reads (More to Come)

  1. Lilley, R.K. In Flight (James/Bianca)
  2. Bryce, Megan To Wed the Widow (George/Elinor)

Name Tally June 27, 2015: Simon (9); Alec/Alex (8); James (8); Michael (8); Sebastian (7); William (7); Robert (6); Daniel (5); Jack (5); Benedict, Charles, Colin, Duncan, Edward, Gareth, Harry, Ian, John (4); Andrew, Blake, Gabriel, Jackson, Julian, Lucien, Marcus, Phillip, Phin/Finn, Rhys, Richard, Stephen, Tristan (3); and only one David.

Author Commentary and Reading Lists for 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 (416 books between February 2012 and January 2, 2016)…

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L’Amour et Chocolate Series: Sun-Kissed by Laura Florand

While it can be read as a standalone novella, Sun-Kissed was, for me at any rate, purchased so I could visit again with my favourite characters from Florand’s fantastic L’Amour et Chocolat series. Each featuring a world-renowned chocolatier/patissier and an American woman, the collection includes one of my favourite romances off all time: The Chocolate Touch. As the pretext for Sun-Kissed is the wedding of that novel’s couple – Dom and Jaime – and I really wanted to read more Florand, I surrendered and launched my money at Amazon while waiting for her to publish her next book.

Mack Corey, father to Jaime and The Chocolate Thief’s Cade, is the president of a large chocolate corporation *cough*Hershey*cough* and hosting his younger daughter’s wedding to Dom Richard at the family’s Hampton estate. His neighbour and frequent social companion, Anne Winter, is a lifestyle maven *cough*Martha Stewart meets Anna Wintour*cough* shepherding the festivities and terrifying the staff. Friends since before his wife passed away, Anne and Mack’s relationship is the subject of speculation amongst their guests, but they have not been romantically entwined despite their close bond. At least not until now when Mack decides to makes his move.

Anne is divorced with one grown son and, here’s the Martha Stewart-y bit, spent time in jail for insider trading. Guarded and intense, fear of her own emotions is what stops her from agreeing with the rightness of Mack’s suggestion that they become more to each other. The two court and spark through the wedding celebration and follow-up events before moving on to their together ever after and becoming an official team.

I’ve read a few romances with older protagonists, such as Mary Balogh’s lovely Only Beloved and Juliana Gray’s The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match which features an actual geezer, and since love is love, there is something very sweet about people who have been through life’s wringer and find a quiet, heartfelt, and passionate bond.

Laura Florand’s Catalogue gives an overview of her published works of which I recommend many. I adore her particular brand of romance. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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I don’t know who this is supposed to be. Anne is about fifty.

 

The Barker Triplets: Offside by Juliana Stone

Offside is a contemporary romance featuring triplet sisters facing real world problems in a small town. Domestic reality elements aren’t something I particularly look for in a book, though the billionaires aren’t either because, apparently, there is no pleasing me, but Juliana Stone provides a middling romance with some above average charm and a wry, realistic sounding voice.

“But Billie… she had him wanting to circle the room and piss in all the corners like a dog marking his territory. What the hell was up with that?”

From Amazon: When hockey phenom Billie-Jo Barker returns home and decides to play in the local Friday night hockey league, all hell breaks loose. Not because Billie’s talent is in question, but because Billie is a woman. And though these are modern times, some of the local guys still have a problem letting a girl into their ‘men’s club.’ Soon, Billie is at the center of a small town battle of the sexes, with everyone choosing sides. Her sisters. The townsfolk. Her friends. And yet, the only person whose opinion she cares about doesn’t seem to care much at all. Logan Forest, the man who broke her heart when she was eighteen and the man she now shares the bench with ever Friday night. 

Offside  moves along with Logan and Billie finding their connection and is complicated by a Wrong Body in the Dark subplot and her familial relationships. In case it is something you wish to avoid in your escapism, please note that Billie’s father is sliding into dementia and it takes a risky and distressing turn. I admit I don’t really want to watch his continued descent in the books that follow for Billie’s two sisters. Nor was the world, however natural the writing, compelling enough for me to return to.

The novel contains the casual sexism that is found in so many of these books: “Most women he knew – or at least the ones he’d dated – spent every minute evaluating their performance, tilting their head just so…”. What sets the heroine apart in these stories does not need to be that she is better or less a sexist female stereotype than the women around her. It is the responsibility of the author to create the unique connection that sets the heroine apart. It only needs to be her. He wants her.  Stone does acknowledge that factor, but/and the casual sexism is unnecessary and annoying.

I have added the putting other women down to raise the heroine up on my list of Romance Novel Tropes That Need to Be Put Out of Their Misery.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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BTW, her hair is black.

The Winston Brothers Series: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

One of my romance compatriots and I have agreed that with this second entry into her Winston Brother contemporary romance series, Penny Reid has been moved back from triple secret probation to double secret probation, maybe even single overt probation.  Baby steps.

A family of seven children, the Winstons live in rural Tennessee. The lone sister, Ashley found a partner in a novel I like best for the siblings so far, Beauty and the Mustache, and her brother Duane has had his time at bat with Truth or Beard which was a disappointment. In this entry, older son Jethro works as a forest ranger in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and finds his partner when she gets lost on the back roads looking for her cabin. Jethro, as do his brothers, has a beard. Along with unfortunate names, it’s one of through lines of the series. Six lumbersexuals looking for love and, I have decided, all versions of this gentleman:

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This must be what heaven looks like.

Sienna Diaz, all hail a POC heroine!, is a zaftig and very successful comedian and actor. Refusing to conform to Hollywood beauty standards and thriving professionally, she is delighted to meet Jethro and more so when she realises that he doesn’t know who she is. Jethro is aware a movie is shooting nearby and becomes tasked with handling any filming challenges brought on by the local wildlife. He also ends up driving Sienna to and from the set and they grow closer in the process.

Reid does an excellent job portraying how well Sienna and Jethro simply fit and are comfortable together. He was wild in his youth and not just in a reckless way. The choices he made in his younger years had negative repercussions for himself and his family which is something he is still trying to atone for. As a result, Jethro holds himself to a very high personal standard, including a vow to keep it in his pants until he is, at the very least, engaged. He and Sienna manage to enjoy themselves in other ways.

Inevitably, Sienna’s public life intrudes on the relationship, complicating it and bringing unwelcome attention to Jethro. As these challenges are resolved, the reader can also see how the next couple of books will line up. I’m looking forward to Cletus’s book the most as he is the odd one in a family of non-conformists and that sets the bar pretty high. I didn’t pay for Grin and Beard It, I read it on loan, but I do wish I had my own copy, and will likely buy one when it goes on sale. Penny Reid is back from the brink of being given up on and I truly enjoyed this entry in the Winston Brothers series.

Penny Reid’s Catalogue:

Knitting in the City Series
Neanderthal Seeks Human – Strangely compelling
Friends Without Benefits – Meh
Neanderthal Marries Human – More strangely compelling
Love Hacked – Pretty darn good
Beauty and the Mustache – Really liked it
Ninja at First Sight – Cute-ish
Happily Ever Ninja – Nope

Winston Brothers Series
Truth or Beard – too much comeheregoaway
Grin and Beard It – please see above

Other
Elements of Chemistry – Frustrating, young adult romance
The Hooker and the Hermit – Loathed it, it made me stabby

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author orAuthor Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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True North Series: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

Good lord, I need a few minutes alone with this cover.

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If I may take another moment, I should like to express my profound approbation for the return of facial hair to mainstream men’s fashion. All hail the lumbersexual!

The first book in Sarina Bowen’s new True North series, Bittersweet hits a lot of great notes, but doesn’t quite live up to her best work in her justly loved Ivy Years Series. The hero and heroine of this contemporary romance are two people trying to sort out their lives. One is tied down, the other at the end of a quickly unraveling rope.

Audrey Kidder is in Vermont looking for local sources of fresh farm products for the restaurant conglomerate she works for. Her career is not going well and this is both her last chance and a set up for failure by her employer. She needs to purchase their upcoming harvests to stock Boston eateries while convincing the farmers that the survival pricing she offers is fair. Her first stop is the Shipley Farm which, she quickly discovers, happens to be owned and run by someone she knew at university. Bowen seems to enjoy young characters weighed down with responsibility and Griff Shipley was saddled in his early twenties with the role of family patriarch. He and his widowed mother run the farm and work together to help his siblings have a solid future. Griff had been very interested in Audrey during their few encounters at university, but other than a couple of hookups, he had been unable to get her attention. He’s not sure he wants it now, but she is no longer blissfully unaware of his appeal.

Griff and Audrey come together as she is trying to figure out what she wants her place to be in the world.  She’s bright, energetic, cheerful in counterpoint to his wry, quiet, practicality. They make a great couple and, as is often the way of things in contemporary romance, Audrey is also able to find a surrogate family to depend on and take some of the disappoint in her own away.

Characters are introduced in Bittersweet as Bowen sets up the series. She is a fantastic writer and I look forward to purchasing her books for years to come. The True North series (which is such a tease as it is not set in Canada a la “true north strong and free”, or,  I suspect, she and fellow author Elle Kennedy are Canadian,  and it’s a reference just for those of us from that home and native land) looks promising and I hope she can capture some of the lightning in a bottle as she did in previous works. She is an author to watch.

Let me again recommend Bowen’s new adult romance collection The Ivy Years Series and suggest you buy the box set, including the classic novella Blonde Date, but skip The Fifteenth Minute entirely. Working with Elle Kennedy, she has published a two installment M/M romance called Him and Us, although each works as a standalone read. I suggest you check them out as well.

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Waiting for Clark by Annabeth Albert

Are you sitting down? Please do so.

Are you braced? It might be an overabundance of caution, but get ready.

Annabeth Albert’s contemporary romance novella Waiting for Clark features two gay men…

That’s not the part you have to prepare yourself for. This is:

Annabeth Albert’s novella Waiting for Clark features two gay men who are gay for the entirety of the book. Not questioning, not confused, not “gay for you” in that way of LGBT romances written, I suspect, for women. The heroes are both gay. Straight up gay, if you’ll excuse the pun.

FINALLY!

Aren’t you glad you sat down?

Plus the cover is what The Kids Today refer to as “adorkable”:

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Bryce and Clark were roommates in university who couldn’t quite get their timing right. They were never single at the same time or their academic and professional pursuits pulled them in opposite directions. This left both of them hurt, disappointed, and guarded. Dressed as Batman and needing a Superman to fill out his superhero roster at a Comic Con style convention, Bryce finds himself facemask to spandex with his former roommate.

Clark and Bryce find that they are still tremendously attracted to one another, each is the one that got away, and, when Bryce provides a place to stay, they are at last in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, having been disappointed before, Bryce will take some convincing that Clark is not going to leave him heartbroken again.

Related in the present and flashbacks, Waiting for Clark moves quickly to its resolution, including the magnificent term “volcano scene” to describe the kind of go-for-broke conversation people have when they are about to die. I vote that it enter the lexicon and supplant the expression “come to Jesus” for such talks. Please submit your ballots in the comments.

 

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

Magnificent Bastard by Lili Valente

Hands down, “Magnificent Bastard” is the best title I have ever heard for a romance novel, contemporary or otherwise. I’m going to start a list just so I can put this book at #1 and Manaconda at #2.

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These are for you, Lili Valente. Well done!

Joining the ranks of kissing book Sebastians, no pressure, it’s just the by-word for “ultimate hero“, is “Bash” Prince who runs an upscale romantic revenge business. For a fee, he will bring all of his hotness to bear on you in the presence of your ex to make that lousy jerk understands what he is missing, and dig up any malfeasance of which he is guilty just for an extra grind under your stiletto heel. Business is good and it couldn’t be done without his assistant, the one he has never met. Penny reveals herself when she needs her very own magnificent bastard to attend a family wedding with her and relieve the pressure of her awful mother who is marrying PENNY’S EX-BOYFRIEND.

Told almost exclusively from Bash’s perspective, and the man does not lack for confidence in himself, Magnificent Bastard is a marriage of convenience featuring a rake and a wallflower. Penny’s personal interjections into the story mostly take the form of the least professional, professional correspondence in the history of the world. It’s not often, or never really, that romances feature one of the words that I am not willing to speak out loud. It’s not an offensive one, but that the presence of emojis related to animals releasing bodily gasses takes a small, comic role in the book was a wonder to me. I don’t say that word, I don’t want to read it, and I don’t want characters in romantic situations including it in their texts, especially in so-called business interactions.

[insert non-ironic clutching of pearls here]

But enough about my hangups, how was Magnificent Bastard? It had some nice sizzle, a couple of funny moments, and the plotting was ridic. I’d use the full version of the last word in the previous sentence, but given the whole emoji situation, the shortened version seems apropos. Penny was sweet and Bash is so over-the-top pleased with himself and, hopefully, tongue-in-cheek vulgar (he refers to his wedding tackle as the “incredible bulk”) that it was mostly engaging, but devolved into silliness that the light tone could not overcome.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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Hammered Series: Manaconda by Taryn Elliott and Cari Quinn

I took great delight in telling people I had just bought/read a book called Manaconda. My husband very nearly injured himself with his frequent and violent eye rolling.

Contemporary romance characters often have supposedly glamourous professions and this Taryn Elliott and Cari Quinn series features rock stars which, it should be noted, is not the same as being musicians. Other occupations standing in for all those dukes and earls from historical romance include:

  1. successful actors
  2. professional football players
  3. professional hockey players
  4. billionaire business men (always non-specific and not particularly busy)
  5. former military elite force members (SEALs and the like)
  6. billionaire former military elite force member business men

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Hunter Jordan is the lead singer of a quickly climbing rock band called Hammered. Recently, he was interviewed and featured in Rolling Stone magazine. (Sidebar: Do you suppose the rest of the band was irked not to be included?) In the cover photo, Hunter’s jeans and pose conspired to reveal that he is in possession very impressive wedding tackle and is receiving a lot of attention for it. His record label is thrilled and has added an extra PR person, Kennedy, to his band’s support team.

Manaconda got off to a pretty good start with excellent sizzle between the leads and a playful use of the heightened reality in romances. Hunter and Kennedy are enormously attracted to each other, but she is career focused and doesn’t want to get involved. Hunter has his charms, mostly related to his efficacious use of the aforementioned prodigious reproductive organ and his work with animal shelters, and Kennedy succumbs to them. This good start was undercut by a repetitive structure finding them having an amazing night, things falling  apart, another amazing encounter, things falling apart, and Hunter desperately trying to win Kennedy back.  I have no objection to the spark and conflagration approach to romance, but I thought it showed a lack of effort to have Kennedy and Hunter come together and apart in exactly the same way twice.

Most significantly, Manaconda lost what I saw as an opportunity for wry social commentary. Hunter is mortified by the attention his mascupython is garnering, but at no point does he acknowledge that this is the kind of attention women get and have been told to take as flattering for (likely) the entirety of recorded history. Pity the financially secure, powerful, successful, good-looking rock star having to endure a few weeks of teasing for something every other aspect of the book, and culture, rewards him for.

This book inspired my list of Romance Novel Tropes That Need to Be Put Out of Their Misery  and contains four of them. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.