Tag Archives: kresley cole

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Couples

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

This list is my favourite romance novel couples and there is a separate one for my favourite heroes and heroines as individual characters. If I put them in order, I’d never get this list published, so they aren’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date novella  CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him
Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Dukes Prefer Blondes  – LOVE THEM
Cole, Kresley Dark Desires After Duska guilty pleasure THUNDER SEX™!
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Dare, Tessa Any Duchess Will Do
Duran, Meredith Fool Me Twice
Florand, Laura All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Kiss
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch – Top 5 romance and couple
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Heart Whoops! One of my least favourite couples.
Florand, Laura Chase Me
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Garwood, Julie The Gift – Old School
Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess
Kelly, Carla The Lady’s Companion
Kelly, Carla Marrying the Captain
Kennedy, Elle The Deal
Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm
Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of You
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Again the Magic
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Love in the Afternoon
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Lauren, Christina Dirty Rowdy Thing
Linden, Caroline One Night in London
Long, Julie Anne Like No Other Lover
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Long, Julie Anne A Notorious Countess Confesses 
MacLean, Sarah One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
McNaught, Judith Almost Heaven  OLD SCHOOL
Milan, Courtney The Duchess War
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  IF YOU READ ONLY ONE…
Parker, Lucy Act Like It
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Natural Born Charmer
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Reid, Penny Beauty and the Mustache
Spencer, LaVyrle Vows
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC
Willig, Lauren The Seduction of the Crimson Rose 

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

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So You Want to Read a (Historical, Contemporary, New Adult, Paranormal) Romance …

Alternatively: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

This recommendations list is gleaned from at least 80 authors and over 500 books.

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

Looking for something specific? Here’s a list of authors I’ve read enough to see thematic consistencies and it’s hard to go wrong with these writers:

Tessa Dare – FUN, bring your willing suspension of disbelief, on double-secret probation right now
Laura Florand – contemporary romances set in France, great intensity
Talia Hibbert – contemporary romances set in England
Carla Kelly – lovely Regency romances, often military-themed
Lisa Kleypas  – the gold standard, also writes contemporaries
Julie Anne Long – extremely clever and funny
Courtney Milan – The very best currently publishing, one for the pantheon.
Lucy Parker – great romance, great fun
Julia Quinn – An excellent place to launch your reading. Start with The Bridgertons.
Sally Thorne – Only two books, but the linked one is a CLASSIC!

I lovehate Jennifer Ashley’s sincere romance mired in tortured heroes and overwrought plotting.

This list is an edited version of my Complete Reading List by Author. Reviewed books are linked.

Mallory, a frequent commenter, asked me to make a personal Top 5 list. I tried. I couldn’t do it.

CLASSICS

  1. Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous – historical
  2. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date  – new adult novella
  3. Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrelshistorical
  4. Gabaldon, Diana Outlanderhistorical
  5. Heyer, Georgette Venetia (Dameral/Venetia) – historical
  6. Jenkins, Beverly Indigo  – historical
  7. Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm old school, historical
  8. Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of Youhistorical
  9. Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter  – historical
  10. Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke – historical
  11. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter – historical novella
  12. Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  – historical
  13. Montgomery, L.M. The Blue Castle – historical now, but not when published
  14. Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton  Bridgerton Book 4 – historical
  15. Thorne, Sally The Hating Game – contemporary

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The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I just hated them so much! I recommend none of them.

There can be no doubt, Kresley Cole would have more entries had I continued reading her novels.

Sarina Bowen, Penny Reid, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips have the dubious distinction of being both on this list AND my recommendations list.

  1. Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
  2. Barrett, Jo Nothing to Commend Her (Magnus/Agatha)
  3. Bennett, Sawyer Alex: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel (Alex/Sutton)
  4. Berg, J.L. When You’re Ready (Logan/Clare)
  5. Blair, Annette Jacob’s Return (Jacob/Rachel)
  6. Blake, Jennifer The Tuscan’s Revenge Wedding (Nico/Amanda)
  7. Bliss, Chelle Throttle Me – Men of Inked Book 1 (“City” Joey/Suzy)
  8. Bowen, Sarina The Fifteenth Minute (DJ/Lianne)
  9. Boyce, Elizabeth Once a Duchess (Marshall/Isabelle)
  10. Brogan, Tracy Highland Surrender  (Myles/Fiona)
  11. Butler, Eden Thin Love (Kona/Keira)
  12. Callihan, Kristen Idol (Killian/Libby)
  13. Cole, Kresley A Hunger Like No Other  (Lachlain/Emma) VILE
  14. Cole, Kresley Macrieve  (Uilliam/Chloe) VILER
  15. Darcy, Norma The Bluestocking and the Rake (Robert/Georgiana)
  16. Dee, Cara Noah (Noah/Julian)
  17. DiPasqua, Lila Undone (Simon/Angelica) *Worst of 2013*
  18. Dune, Lyla Low Tide Bikini (Brock/Sam)
  19. Ford, Rhys Sinner’s Gin (Kane/Miki)
  20. Foster, Melissa Sisters in Love (Blake/Danica) a. God b. Awful
  21. Garvis Graves, Tracey Heart-Shaped Hack (Ian/Kate) – Worst of 2016 Contender
  22. Goodger, Jane When a Duke Says I Do (Alexander/Elsie)
  23. Harber, Cristin Sweet Girl (Cash/Nicola)
  24. Hawkins, J.D. Insatiable 1 and 2 (Jax/Lizzie)
  25. Jackson, A.L. A Stone in the Sea (Sebastian “Baz”/Shea)
  26. Johnson, Julie Not You, It’s Me (Chase/Gemma)
  27. Kell, Amber Attracting Anthony (Silver/Anthony)
  28. Lee, Jade Wedded in Scandal (Robert/Helaine)
  29. Lilley, R.K. In Flight (James/Bianca)
  30. Long, Andie M. The Alphabet Game (Gabe/Stella)
  31. Mabie, M. Bait (Casey/Blake)
  32. Malone, M. Tank (“Tank” Tanner/Emma)
  33. McNaught, Judith Once and Always (Jason/Victoria)
  34. Merrow, J.L Muscling Through (Al/Larry)
  35. Michaels, Jess An Introduction to Pleasure: Mistress Matchmaker (Andrew/Lysandra!)
  36. Novark, Anna Marie The Doctor Wears a Stetson (Cameron/Jessie)
  37. Pamfiloff, Mimi Jean fugly (Maxwell/Lily)
  38. Phillips, Susan Elizabeth This Heart of Mine (Kevin/Molly) WORST HEROINE OF 2014
  39. Reid, Penny Elements of Chemistry (Martin/Kaitlyn)
  40. Reid, Penny & L.H. Cosway The Hooker and the Hermit (Ronan/Annie)
  41. Roberts, Holly S. Play: New Adult Sports Romance (Killian/Rebecca)
  42. Schone, Robin The Lady’s Tutor (Ramiel, The Bastard Sheikh/Elizabeth)
  43. Singh, Nalini Rock Addiction (Fox/Molly)
  44. Stewart, Nicole Home for Three (Selwyn/Jack/Kess)
  45. Vale, Vanessa Their Kidnapped Bride (Kane, Ian, Emma) Worst of the Year 2016
  46. Ward, JR Dark Lover (Wrath/Beth)
  47. Wylde, Anya Penelope (Charles/Penelope) *Most Inept of 2013*

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Romance Authors and Their Themes

The link in the author’s name will take you to either a summary of their catalogue or a relevant review.

Carla Kelly – People are inherently good and their kindness will surprise you.

Caroline Linden – Fortune favours the bold.

Cecilia Grant  – Live life on your own terms and be willing to accept the consequences.

Christina Lauren – Find someone with whom you can be your true self and who calls you on your bullshit.

Courtney Milan – Only you get to decide who you are. Fear is a waste of energy.

Jennifer Ashley – Love heals all wounds.

Julia Quinn – Marry your best friend.

Julie Anne Long – You must be willing to be emotionally vulnerable to find a true partner.

Kresley Cole – Misogynists need love, too, baby. He only hurts you because he loves you so.

Laura Florand – Sincere love gives you the courage and freedom to embrace your true self and someone else’s. You are braver than you know.

Lisa Kleypas – Make your own life and your own luck. Hard work is rewarded. To find a true partner, you will need to leave your comfort zone.

Lorraine Heath – Damaged people finding strength in each other and themselves to persevere and succeed. B-list author.

Loretta Chase – Find someone who challenges you and life will never be dull.

Mary Balogh – Broken people finding someone to fit their pieces to and moving forward with their lives.

Tessa Dare – Life is an adventure! Be bold.

Suggestions are always welcome.

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

 

 

 

 

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

HISTORICAL Romance

  1. Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess  – enjoyable
  2. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright  – fantastic
  3. Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith – fun, bring your willing suspension of disbelief
  4. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart  – such fun
  5. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong – very good
  6. Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess – nice version of a common trope
  7. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter CLASSIC as a novella and of the genre

CONTEMPORARY Romance

  1. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date CLASSIC new adult, a perfect novella
  2. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary, wounded soldier coming home

PARANORMAL Romance  – Not my cup of tea, but it could help you determine if it is yours.

  1. Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Foreverplenty of THUNDER SEX™!

I also have a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance.

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

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
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

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

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
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 probation right now actually)
Laura Florand Though she stopped publishing.
Talia Hibbert
Lisa Kleypas   The Queen for a very long time. Her back catalog is very deep and strong.
Julie Anne Long  Historicals only
Courtney Milan  The. Very. Best.
Lucy Parker Delightful. witty contemporaries
Sally Thorne Because her debut was just that good!

-A-
Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Albert, Annabeth Save the Date (Randall/Hunter)
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)
Ann, Jewel E. When Life Happened (Gus/Parker)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
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“He’s going to cut firewood? Aren’t they above the treeline?”

“He’s going to cut firewood? Aren’t they above the treeline?”

My thoughts when the RAGE DEMON went out to cut wood for the cabin he was sharing with a VALKYRIE because apparently the geographical inaccuracies regarding the flora in the Yukon are more important than the mythical fauna in a paranormal romance.

The Immortals After Dark Series: MacRieve by Kresley Cole

I read about 50% of MacRieve, but you’ll see why I’m counting the experience as a whole book, maybe two.  I think the judges will allow it. I read it to see what could be so bad on the “Kresley Cole Is Atrocious” scale that my friend said it was best left unread. The heroine, Chloe, thinks she is a human, but learns she is actually transforming into an immortal succubus whose sustenance comes from ejaculate. You read those words correctly and in the right order. Chloe is a succubus who feeds on ejaculate. Consumption is non-orifice specific. If the ejaculate comes from an unwilling male, she will sicken and die as it changes into “venom”.  She got very sick about two-thirds of the way through the book. It didn’t take me that long.

The werewolf hero, Uilliam, has childhood sexual abuse trauma associated with an exploitative succubus (which is apparently not a redundant statement), so he hates the entire species. Chloe is his fated mate, he is drawn to and disgusted by her simultaneously. He really freaks out whenever she takes his precious bodily fluids. She shows remarkable forbearance and forgiveness. There is a dissertation’s worth of repellent, sexist themes in this book: the ejaculate issue; the transition of a woman into a monster with sexual awakening; a woman sucking the life out of a man, a literal succubus; a man being sexually drawn to, but also reviling the object of his affections because a relationship will imprison him and take his power; forgiveness of male mistreatment because he can’t help it; the saintly, redemptive female; lessons in love that not all succubi (women) are the same, you just need to meet the right one; and so on. Revolting and misogynistic elements masquerading as a love story. How very repugnant, Ms. Cole.

The (Shameful) Tally and reviews for other books in the Immortals After Dark series: The Warlord Wants Forever; A Hunger Like No Other; No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Needs at Night’s Edge; Dark Desires After Dusk; Kiss of a Demon King; Deep Kiss of Winter; Pleasure of a Dark Prince; Demon from the Dark; Dreams of a Dark Warrior; Lothaire; MacRieve; Shadow’s Claim.

The Immortals After Dark Series: Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole

“I’m out. I just can’t with Kresley Cole for one more second,”  I said, and yet here I am with more Fangin’n’Bangin’™. I’m not proud. I am deeply and appropriately shamed by my conduct. Self- recriminations take place on the full and half hours. Rationalizations are on the fifteens and forty-fives. I always promise myself the current Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark paranormal romance will be my last, usually while reading it. It goes like this:

Why am I reading this? Trehan’s an assassin and he lives in a library. That’s pretty cool. I have a degree in English. Why am I reading this? Bettina is in her early twenties and Trehan is 900 years old. What could she possibly have to offer him? Which one is this? Shadow’s Claim. He’s wearing black leather pants. I do so love a good-looking man in black leather pants. I should re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God. Trehan lives in a secret vampire realm. Wait. There’s a third, hitherto secret, vampire group in Cole’s novels? There are the Hoarde, Forbearers, and now Dacians.  I bet the Dacians were an afterthought to extend the series. Kresley Cole is a paranormal romance savant. Bettina is a half-sorceress, half-demon, jewelry designer, princess, and heir to her realm, her powers have been stolen, plus she’s a virgin who can’t drive. I would kill for a good historical romance right now. Bettina has agreed to a tournament for her hand in marriage. One of her suitors is a pus demon. Is she having a panic attack? How many of these have I read? Did I just gasp? Cole is really good at the battle scenes. I don’t hate this nearly as much as I should. Bettina is guarded by a Sylph-phantom-thing that inhabits handy objects for want of corporeal form. Is Bettina a Disney princess? The Sylph is watching her bathe and talking about onanism. No on the Disney princess, check mark in the voyeurism column.There is something appealing about how devoted the heroes are. Is it over yet? I wonder if Caspion’s character will get his own book later. Ignore the jejune spelling. Trehan’s wearing a leather trench coat. I have a leather trench coat. Love scene THUNDER SEX™. Won’t all of the pop culture references work against the books over time? Wow, I am actually bored with the love scene THUNDER SEX™. Of course, Bettina’s a virgin. It’s like a 1970s romance novel up in this book.There’s the intense, powerful, older alpha male captivated by a naive, seemingly powerless, immature woman for no reason other than the urgings of his Id and the plot. There’s the Big Misunderstanding that can be cleared up with one simple conversation.  Kresley Cole is old school. Lothaire? I read part of that book. It was the same as this part of this book. Who are these people? Is this an epilogue?  Oh, it’s a preview. It’s over. Never again.

 

The (Shameful) Tally and reviews for other books in the Immortals After Dark series: The Warlord Wants Forever; A Hunger Like No Other; No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Needs at Night’s Edge; Dark Desires After Dusk; Kiss of a Demon King; Deep Kiss of Winter; Pleasure of a Dark Prince; Demon from the Dark; Dreams of a Dark Warrior; Lothaire; MacRieve; Shadow’s Claim.

 

Fangin’n’Bangin’™ – Dark Desires After Dusk & Kiss of a Demon King from Kresley Cole’s The Immortals After Dark Series

[clapping twice and pushing back from the Kindle]

I’m out. I just can’t with Kresley Cole for one more second. Thank you again to Malin and Alexis for the free books. Maybe even a thank you to Kresley Cole for some of the THUNDER SEX™, but my sojourn in paranormal romance is at an end. This is going to be a smush review. If you add up the portions of the Immortals After Dark series novels Dark Desires After Dusk andKiss of a Demon King that I actually got through, it equals more than one book, but less than two.

I’m not even going to bother with plot summaries. They’re always the same, only the kind of  immortal creatures changes. The beings in Desires After Dusk andKiss of a Demon King are brothers. One of them is a deposed King, the other is his heir. Deposed King’s mate is a sorceress. Brother Heir’s mate is a Ph.D. student and unbeknownst-to-herself Valkyrie halfling and mystical Vessel. I know.The brothers are rage demons with horns that straighten when stimulated and skin that flushes red, I think it was red, when strongly aroused. The demons doona “mate” like Cole’s absurd Scots-brogue-spouting werewolves; or get “blooded” by their “Bride” like her Estonian “I vant to suck your blud” vampires; they “attempt” their prospective mate. That means bang. They have to bang their prospective mate to confirm she is The One.  Said demon’s bite immobilizes his beloved during the final portions of the rather intense consummation. It’s a whole fangy-roofie-banging thing. Always with the fanging, biting, and banging in these books. “Fangin’n’Bangin’™”. There’s an apt sobriquet for paranormal romance…

IMMORTALS AFTER DARK:
COME FOR THE FANGIN’N’BANGIN’™, STAY FOR THE THUNDER SEX™!

What I Actually Enjoyed About This Series:

  • Kresley Cole has impressive organizational skills. These intersecting novels had to have been plotted out well in advance and have potential for an endless series. This is evidence of a keen marketing intellect. Kudos for that.
  • The writing style is consistently flip and breezy. It goes well with the general ridiculousness of the stories. The pop culture references in the midst of hand-to-hand combat can be a bit jarring, but overall it works.
  • I am not good at allowing people to take care of me, so I can appreciate the appeal of a great big, protective hero in one’s escapist literature. The dominance/submission aspects not so much.
  • In a reversal of the stereotypical man dragged to the altar, it is consistently the women who resist a long-term relationship. The hero’s reaction is always simply “MINE.” The heroine’s reaction is “Not so fast, caveman. I want to be sure you are worthy of me”.

My Qualms:

a. Each successive novel upped the ante on the scarring backstory. Cole started pretty high up on the trauma scale and the glimpses I’ve seen of later books tell me it manages to get worse. The phrase “blood slave” went by. [shudder]

b. The heroine/hero height differences are farcical and completely impractical. Each of the women is tiny. The men are all at least 6’6″ and the demons are almost 7′ tall.

c. The women in these books are powerful illusory beings, but they can also be pretty vapid. Sure, she’s an immortal who can gut you like a fish, but what woman doesn’t want a rich guy to take her shopping? Amiright, ladies?  The Valkyrie characters are particularly discomfiting, living life as an endless slumber party. They are catty, extremely acquisitive, and can be easily distracted by jewelry even during battle.

d. The immortals are frozen in age at the height of their power. For the men, this seems to be consistently in their mid-thirties. For the women, it’s twenty-five at the latest. If the men are meant to be uber-masculine, what does this say about their female counterparts? Best to change over while everything is still perky in a bikini, I guess. The women’s sexuality is also problematic. They are adults in full and healthy possession of their sexuality, but while they are active partners in the THUNDER SEX™, the narration always clarifies at some point that the women have had few partners because, hey, they’re not sluts. Heaven forfend, they should have THUNDER SEX™ notches on their bedpost. Even in a Fangin’n’Bangin’™ book, sexual empowerment is conditional.

e. There is a clear indication that the couples will be frozen in the wild sex honeymoon phase for all time. Is that necessarily a good thing? It all seems like an immature fantasy of a relationship: He’s big and strong and loves my ass, plus he buys me shiney things, and he’s a great lay. I’m the luckiest immortal in the world!

But who am I to judge, if that’s what someone wants when reading for escapist entertainment? It’s pure snobbery on my part. The main differences between this and the romance I normally read is the more primal nature of the character types and pair bond. If Fangin’n’Bangin’™ is what you enjoy, have at it. I’ll be over there in 19th century England with men whose horns are strictly metaphorical.

The (Shameful) Tally and reviews for other books in the series: The Warlord Wants Forever; A Hunger Like No Other; No Rest for the Wicked; Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night; Dark Needs at Night’s Edge; Dark Desires After Dusk; Kiss of a Demon King; Deep Kiss of Winter; Pleasure of a Dark Prince; Demon from the Dark; Dreams of a Dark Warrior; Lothaire; MacRieve; Shadow’s Claim.