Kissing Books

Romance Novels For Hillary and Green Card Marriages

Well, folks. We’ve had quite a couple weeks. I thought it was going to be pretty quiet, and then things just started coming out of nowhere. Zoom, pow, indeed. Get ready; it’s gonna be a long one.

Sponsored by A Duke in Shining Armor, by Loretta Chase

The seventh Duke of Ripley will never win prizes for virtue, but even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride. All he’s trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia and return her to her bridegroom. The bookish and bespectacled Olympia is bent on getting away from her puzzling marriage to a rakish duke – but is even more puzzled when the world-famous hellion the Duke of Ripley is trying to do the honorable thing in returning her to her intended. Whatever his motivations, she has no intention of making this an easy chase…

We’ve all probably seen the HRC pullquote about romance novels by now; let’s talk about the reactions we’ve seen:

What this whole thing going on, author Melissa Blue had some words for romancelandia. And there was so much truth, I’d love to see a broader response to her question. Why do we get up in arms immediately upon an outsider’s opinions (especially a high profile one), but spend so little time as a greater community combating the toxicity within? I have no answers, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.

In related (but not completely connected) news, there are going to be more Rogue Anthologies! And guess what? They’re taking submissions. Have you been looking to publish your resistance romance? Now’s your chance.

Courtney Milan was at the forefront of one of the lastest #metoo conversations, discussing her experience as her non-romance alter ego Heidi Bond, who had do deal with a horrible human being who took her habit of reading romance novels as an in for sexual harassment. No good. Disgusting, actually. But she had more to say earlier this week.

And to wipe that image from your mind: shared without comment. Just pure joy.

Also, if you haven’t read this Shondaland article in celebration of A Hope Divided, you should get on that pretty much immediately.

Bad news: there’s been some dissent among the romance world about the Netgalley blurb for the latest Kristan Higgins book. A few authors have sent her imploring tweets to rethink the book, while others have expressed support for her telling this story. She herself has put out a statement.  I don’t believe in censoring work, especially that which I haven’t read, but I’m moving forward warily with this one. I’ve never read any of her stuff; how does she approach the underrepresented? We’ll see. Her statement leaves me hopeful, but as I said before, I’m still wary. 

Good news: Book Concierge is back! (Though NPR and I are going to have to chat about how few romances are in their “Love Stories” category.)

In movie news

PassionFlix has reopened their Founding Member level. Support the platform, get a couple years free? Plus some other pretty awesome perks? Good deal. Also, you get to watch The Trouble With Mistletoe when it releases.

If you’re not down for another movie subscription, that’s okay! PassionFlix has put their first two original features, Hollywood Dirt and Afterburn Aftershock on Amazon to download! Check them out.

And okay. The Spirit of Christmas might not be a book, but it is definitely a happy place in this current state of ridiculousness. I was introduced to it by that same Melissa Blue mentioned earlier (re-recommending something originally recced to romancelandia by Rebekah Weatherspoon) and I watched it pretty much immediately. Romance ghosts are a tropetonite of mine, and the Prohibition-era costumery? Oh my. On the fence about a slightly ridiculous, but utterly wonderful holiday romance? Read this article.


Jill Shalvis’s Chasing Christmas Eve is 1.99. Gotta read at least one of those every holiday season, huh?

Tracey Livesay’s Along Came Love is 99c! If you adored Love on My Mind but haven’t gotten to Livesay’s other books yet, now is definitely the time.

Who wants A Royal Christmas Wedding? We won’t get one this year, but you can read about one for 1.99!

If you’ve been meaning to read The Bollywood Bride, now would be a good time. It’s 2.99 right now!

Over on Book Riot…

Romeo watched Love Between the Covers and was fascinated. He had to do more research.

Romance mysteries? Yes, please!

I have been remiss in the whole holiday romance thing, but Alison is here to help!

Oh hey, more royal romances!

Bears. That’s a thing we like.

Want some good BDSM? We got ya covered.

And of course, more #romancenovelsforhillary.

Oh oh! Also! We’re giving away a stack of 20 books based on our favorite books of the year (did you see that post go up on Tuesday?)! You’ve got a whole month (until 1/14) to enter!

A few recs

Christina Lauren

Holland works on the biggest show on Broadway. Sure, she’s a merch vendor and takes photos, but she’s just as much a part of the show as her uncle, the great creator Robert Okai. When a key musician walks off, leaving Robert in a serious bind, Holland has the perfect recommendation: this mesmerising street musician she goes out of her way to experience on a regular basis. After a masterful audition, everyone’s in agreement that Calvin is the best man for the job. There’s just one tiny problem: he’s long overstayed his student visa. Holland wants to do something for her uncle, and so comes up with the harebrained scheme that could allow Calvin to stay in the country. She’s already got the hots for him, so why not marry him?

When I got to the last line, my only word was “Kyooooooooooooot!” There’s a nuanced story here, and it’s great to watch both of these people become their best selves.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
Mariana Zapata

Of course, once I finished Roomies, I wanted more books about marriages of convenience. The first one I picked up was this one. And I’m gonna warn you, like most of Mariana Zapata’s books, it’s a big-ass sucker, so you might spend the rest of your December reading this one.

Vanessa is a PA. Her client is a Canadian football player (playing in the US) whose nickname is The Wall of Winnipeg. The nickname, from what I can tell, is twofold: the man is so big he has to get his clothes tailored. He is also pretty much an emotional wall. So when Vanessa has saved enough to go off on her own, with the time and stability to continue her graphic design company, she gives her notice and goes her way, not looking back. But just a month later, he starts showing up, asking her to come back. Eventually, he realizes she would be perfect for a little problem he has: if she marries him, he won’t have to worry about his work visa running out.

So how’s that gonna go? I don’t know, I’ll tell you in January.

Up next: I don’t know if I’ll be done with green card marriages when I’m done with Vanessa and the Hulk, but I just came across Operation Green Card, which is the most recent Bluewater Bay book, and I am all about it. A gay Russian man worried for his safety and a wounded American vet get married. They don’t know each other, but they’re gonna get to know each other now. With the backgrounds of each of the characters, it’s probable that we’ll touch on some serious, but I’m also looking forward to what I hope will be some pretty adorable stuff.

Bonus rec: If you get through these and want more forced exposure, Alexis Daria’s Dance With Me just came out! And it’s almost as good as Take the Lead. Almost. Millimeters away.

Finally, new and upcoming releases!

It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian (THAT COVER THO—it straight up looks like The Sound of Music)
Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai (OMG SOOOO GOOD)
West Coast Love by Tif Marcelo
Right Here, Right Now by Georgia Beers
The Hookup by Kristen Ashley (12/19)
The Art of Running in Heels by Rachel Gibson (12/26)
A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev (!!!!!) (12/26)

Also, Rebekah Weatherspoon has been talking about this holiday novella she couldn’t help writing, and it doesn’t have an Amazon link yet, but it has a blurb on her website! Keep an eye out!

Okay. *wipes forehead* That was a lot, but we’ve got plenty to get us through at least some of the coming holidays. Catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

Royals, Rockstars, and Holiday Romances

How’s it going? Thanksgiving is over and now we can firmly settle into the winter holiday spirit. Do you read holiday romances? I haven’t read a lot, but the ones I have read have been enjoyable. And there are plenty that continue to be added to the list. I think the only ones I’m probably going to get to before the holidays are over are Lori Wilde’s Cowboy, It’s Cold Outside and story trio The Perfect Present. Maybe I’ll be able to sneak in The Trouble with Mistletoe before the movie premieres on PassionFlix. 

Sponsored by Ever After Box, a book box for romance readers

Ever After Box is a subscription book box for romance readers that delivers romantic reads and unique gifts centered around a fun theme each month. Each box contains at 1-2 print books, one or more ebook download plus 3-5 gift items. Items include exclusive designs, author merchandise, cool product finds and more. Check out our monthly plans and special packages at:

Currently ships to US and Canada only. Additional shipping charges apply for Canada.

Let’s start out with some stuff going on in the romance world!

Alyssa Cole’s A Hope Divided is out this week, and she told RT Book Reviews all about Civil War era medical science.

Alisha Rai + Shondaland = FIRE.

Publisher’s Weekly is also diving into the romance commentary. While it’s great that more publications are talking more about it, we have to ask: what’s the use? Maybe they’re saying something new to readers who don’t read or read about romance, but to us? The same song and dance with no new point of view. But they’re bringing three important topics to the eyes of people who don’t seek romance out, so more power to them.

Posted without comment.

Have you heard about Book+Main? I downloaded the app and did some messing around, but the jury is still out. I did have to turn off the notifications though; they got a little ridiculous.

The day the last KB went out, Sarah MacLean announced her favorites of 2017. I support her choices. Mostly.

Did you think we were done with A Gronking to Remember? Apparently not.

Did you like Ready Player One, but wished it were just more awesome? This new book is just what you asked for.

Have you checked out PassionFlix yet? See what some other love people have to say.


Okay, enough of that. Deals! (These are November deals so hop on them pretty much now.)

Five books for 3.99? If you like Coleen Coble and haven’t tried the Aloha Reef Collection, here’s your chance.

Heather Graham’s Come the Morning is 99c right now.

Secret Santa Baby by Robin Covington is free for the time being.

K.M. Jackson’s Romancing the Fashionista is 1.99.

Over on Book Riot

Did someone say free? Yes, please and thank you.

Know what’s better than a holiday romance? A holiday romance anthology. And we’ve got a few for you.

Thanksgiving may be over, but these are definitely families you want to hang out with year round. Also, there’s a bonus family in the comments! (Definitely checking that series out.)

Fantasy? Romance? Let’s put them together, shall we? (But I veto “romantasy” just out of principle. Please, can we not?)

I’m gonna try a thing. Are you planning any reading projects for next year?

Harry and Meghan: something out of a storybook, right? Well, here are some storybook romances for you, with royalty and everything.

Okay, recs!

A couple weeks ago, someone at BR started a conversation about active military and veterans in romance. From what we’d seen, there were more suspense thrillers with these leads than something less…stressful. I couldn’t think of any that I’d read that didn’t have at least one person actively trying to kill one of the protagonists.

And then lo-and-behold, there I was reading a couple of them.

When a Scot Ties the Knot
Tessa Dare

This book opens with the greatest letter montage in modern writing. Maddie has severe anxiety and can’t deal with crowds or people. So when her first season comes around, she invents a sweetheart, determined to avoid all of the people and confusions that comes with being out. She holds onto the pretension for years, writing the Scottish captain as he fights the French. Then, guilty and in need of forward motion, she kills him. Except.


That Scottish army captain? He totally exists. And now he’s discharged from the army with a ragtag group of soldiers, in need of a fresh start in a Scotland that’s been ravaged by English landowners. He’ll marry her, as long as he can set up on her land. What could go wrong, right?  

Hillbilly Rockstar
Lorelei James

Country music sensation Devin McClain has a problem. He could ignore the written threats and some of the weird things that have happened, but now, a threat had made its way into his private space. If his agent and tour promoters were insisting on him having a security detail, the least he could do is have a say. What he’s not expecting is for his severe, former military bodyguard to go all Miss Congeniality on him, especially if she’s going to be sharing the close quarters of a tourbus with him for the next four months. But as Devin and Liberty get to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry. And even though Liberty knows getting involved with a client is the last thing she should be doing, what starts as regular sex to help with those post-show endorphins can easily turn into something else.

His Road Home
Anna Richland

So many people have told me to read this book, and I finally picked it up. I am so glad I did. It’s the best kind of punch to the heart; the story gives the warmest fuzzies at times while not holding back on some of the harder stuff. Reynaldo Cruz is a Special Forces soldier unsure what to do when an Afghan warlord offers him one of his daughters. When a friend saves him by claiming that he is already engaged, Rey has to get creative to show proof. When that creativity goes public thanks to an equally public act of heroism that leaves him with a career-ending suite of injuries, Grace Kim, his fake fiancee, enters his life. The two don’t get off on the best of feet, what with the whole act of deception that put them together. But when they start to get along, boy do they get along. I have to use that word that I love using with this one (cause it’s so effing true): this story is darling.

Also: while the author is (I believe) a white woman, she approaches having a Mexican-American hero and a Korean-American heroine in a respectful way. Okay, so his mom is an undocumented “tamale lady” and her parents own a Chinese restaurant, which is super stereotypical but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ it still didn’t feel like othering or punching down. You decide.

Currently Reading:

Lesson That Taught Love
GL Tomas

I’m only partway through this book, and it’s in severe need of a runthrough by a copyeditor, but the story is so compelling that I can’t bring myself to stop. I was first drawn to it by the cover. Do you see that cover? I have a thing for books that look like they’re going to have black cowgirls. Okay, so this one doesn’t have that, but I can still appreciate a good cover. So, the story. Beck and Kit are from a small town in the mining hills of Kentucky. Beck went away for college but came back when her mother got severely ill. Kit didn’t go to college; he joined the army instead. A career-ending head wound has left him with bad hearing and a traumatic brain injury, so he’s back in town to help his mother, who is afflicted with MS, and be the grown man no one in town knew him as when he was that stupid asshole football player who won hearts and stomped on them just as quickly. He might not be that boy anymore, but he’s got to convince Beck that he’s changed. But only after both of them deal with their own issues.

Okay. That’s a good number of books and career-ending injuries for now.

Finally, new and upcoming releases.

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole
A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase
Undercover Attraction by Katee Robert
Roomies by Christina Lauren (12/5)
Dance With Me by Alexis Daria (12/12)
It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian (12/12)

And holy mother, that’s plenty for the next couple weeks. Pardon me, I’m off to drown in amazing books until Christmas.

Catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

Heartbreak, Viking Romances, and Upcoming Releases

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty stuff for you to read while trying to avoid big family gatherings by hiding in the upstairs bathroom.

But first, Romancelandia!

Kirkus has released their best of 2017, including their favorite romances.

Sponsored by Right Where We Belong by Brenda Novak.

A moving story about rebuilding your life when you’ve got nothing left to lose, from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak. Savanna Gray’s “perfect” life unraveled when her husband was arrested for attacking three women. She seeks refuge in Silver Springs, at a farmhouse that needs a little TLC. Familiar with the struggle of starting over, Gavin Turner steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse. Unwilling to repeat past mistakes, Savanna resolves to keep her distance. But it’s hard to resist a man whose heart is as capable as his hands.

Not to be outdone, Amazon has also listed their best romances of 2017.

And weirdly, Kirkus has the more diverse list :shrug emoji:

Did you know NPR has a romance column? Guess they’re joining in on the fun! And hey, I’ll support anyone who wants to talk about Hamilton’s Battalion.

Heroes and Heartbreakers, Macmillan’s romance vertical, is officially going dark in the very near future. We’ll be sad to see it go; they’ve been doing Good Work for a long time, and have made our lives a little brighter talking about everything from Alisha Rai’s favorite grand gestures to speculations about Olicity. While they’re shifting their focus to social media and other outlets, the people who write for the blog have also had to pivot as well. In the meantime, you can still find Wendy’s Unusual Historicals lists going up on her personal blog, The Misadventures of Super Librarian, and Suzanne (Cerestheories) is broadening the spectrum at Love In Panels to include romance coverage on top of the romance comics she’s been so lovingly and diligently reviewing.

In happier news, the RT Convention agenda has been posted! It’s not complete, but you can get a look at what they’ll be talking about in Reno. Are you heading up there next Spring? Or maybe you’re holding out for RWA in Denver—their schedule isn’t out yet, but they have announced their featured speakers list, and it is definitely nothing to sneer about.

Have you watched the most recent Fifty Shades Freed trailer?

Do you agree with Sarah MacLean’s WaPo picks for the month? (Shh. I’ve only read one of those…though one of the others is hanging out on my bedside table crying for me to pick it up.)

And speaking of Sarah MacLean: she’s announced the title for the first book in the Bareknuckle Bastards series! It’s so exciting (also, it’s coming out on my birthday)!

Have you read any books by #romanceclass authors? Here’s an interview with Jay E. Tria, who sounds like someone I’d love to be friends with. Also, her book, You Out Of Nowhere, is going on the TBR immediately.


Lorraine Heath’s An Affair With a Notorious Heiress is 1.99!

Looking for some chilling romantic suspense? Kendra Elliot’s Hidden is 99c

Want to read more Rose Lerner after catching Hamilton’s Battalion? In For a Penny is 99c as well.

Rogue Affair, the follow-up anthology to Rogue Desire, is 99c right now, too!

Over on Book Riot:

Have you tried Audible’s new romance package? Erin’s got 6 reasons it’s awesome.

With Thor: Ragnarok now out will all those Asgardian pectorals and The Vikings still going strong, you know we had to start thinking about Viking Romance. Yeah, that’s a thing.

Want more lesbian romance? We’ve got some of those for you to try out, too.

I’m sure if you’ve read this newsletter long enough it will be no surprise that I think you need to read these books before the next one comes out. Soon. (Not included in that list? Illegal Contact, because Down By Contact isn’t out until January but HOO DOGGIE I just finished it and man will you want it. More on that later.)

And don’t forget about our bookstore giveaway! How many romances can you get with $500 to your favorite bookstore?

Book Recs!

I was in a particular mood recently, and noticed that two of the books I’d decided to pick up had a similar, but relatively uncommon, theme. They were both books that took place in an alternative now: it was still this day and age, but something had been changed in the past to make the laws of the land work a little differently. The way each author approached this was really interesting, and it was also the first time I’d read either of them, so bonus!

The Future Chosen
Mina V. Esguerra

In this alternate now, laws have been written so that no two members of the same family can be politicians. And it’s not even “at the same time”…it’s while any other member who has been a politician is alive. This doesn’t work in the eyes of Lourdes and Andres, who have been groomed since birth to be rising star politicians in each of their families. But from the time they meet in the school program designed for future leaders, they know there is something special between them. They still hide, because they should be studying, but they won’t be doing anything illegal until one of them gets elected. It’s when they’re both running for office that things get dicy. The love between Lourdes and Andres is sweet, and you can see it as it evolves through school and adulthood. And man, the tangles they get themselves in. (TW for mass shooting early in the book.)

I Love You Subject to the Following Terms and Conditions
Erin Lyon

This hilarious, frustrating book takes place in a US where people don’t get married; they sign. Partner contracts are for seven years, and couples can decide to re-up or just let it run out. Or they can breach, which is a lot of what Kate has to deal with when she ends up taking a job in Signing Law at her uncle’s firm—the last thing she ever wanted after coming out of law school, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kate had been in a loving relationship, ready to just let her contract roll over, when her partner pulled a fast one on her, leaving her alone and in need of a better paying job. Now, he wants to try again, which is fine and dandy, except she’s also got this friend—a “contract killer” who only dates signed women, who she also might have a tiny crush on—and this other friend, who has a pretty big crush on her. Drowning in men, Kate just wants to move on with her life, but all kinds of things get in her way.

As I said, this book is hilarious and compelling. It’s also not a standalone which I didn’t know when I started. So maybe save this one for after the New Year, when you’ll be closer to the release of Unconditionally.

Read Harder Bonus: Debut Novel

How about some new and upcoming releases?

Citywide, Santino Hassell

Snow Falling, Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Yes, that’s what it says on the cover)

Highland Dragon Rebel, Isabel Cooper

Anyone But You (Best Friends Sibling Anthology)

Bodyguard, CD Reiss

Set the Stage, Karis Walsh

A Hope Divided, Alyssa Cole (11/28) (!!!)

Wrong to Need You, Alisha Rai (11/28) (!!!)

That’s plenty, right?  catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

Audible and Chill?

Well, Halloween’s over. I am sort of proud of myself for not acquiring All The Candy. I didn’t see any romance heroes or heroines in my Instagram scrolling; did you dress up?

And now it’s time for NaNoWriMo! Lots of romance novels have been born in November over the years. Are you writing one? Or just looking forward to reading them?

Sponsored By 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You, by Vicki Grant

Inspired by the real psychology study popularized by the New York Times and its “Modern Love” column, this contemporary YA is full of humor and heart. It explores the interactions between Hildy and Paul, two random strangers in a university psychology study, when they ask each other the 36 questions that are engineered to make them fall in love. Told in the language of modern romance–texting, Q&A, IM–and punctuated by Paul’s sketches, this clever high-concept YA will leave you searching for your own stranger to ask the 36 questions. Maybe you’ll even fall in love.

It’s mostly fun stuff this week!

The film adaptation of Afterburn/Aftershock premieres on Passionflix this weekend. I still haven’t read the book. But I’m probably gonna watch it anyway. That trailer is hot.

Dance With Me! On Spotify!

:scream emojis:

Entertainment Weekly is continuing their romance coverage, and the October edition is definitely more diverse than their first run out of the gate. And I must say, I support those choices.

Want to support a Kickstarter? How about this queer romance comic?

I…I’m sorry, what?

Do you watch Jane the Virgin? If you’re caught up, you know about Snow Falling. Well, guess what.

It’s early November, which means it’s definitely time for end of year Best Ofs to begin. Publisher’s Weekly already announced theirs, and their romance grouping includes some Book Riot favorites!

And speaking of “best of,” Goodreads has opened voting for their Goodreads Choice awards. I enjoyed a couple books in the romance section, but I am wondering why some of my favorites of this year are going to have to be write-in entries.

Where are you going to be on December 2? If you live anywhere near Culver City, you should be here.

And if you can’t be there, you can still order signed copies.

I want to be sure to acknowledge the passing of Miranda Neville. She touched a lot of people in romancelandia and will be missed.


Beverly Jenkins’ Forbidden is 99 cents right now! While the hero and his sister were featured in a previous Jenkins novel, this is still a great entryway into her work. You’ll want to read it all.

Rachel Gibson’s Simply Irresistible is also 99 cents! Funny hockey romance with awesome women doing things? Thanks, I think I will.

I love Cat Sebastian’s books. The Ruin of a Rake is 99 cents. Yes, it’s the third in a series, but it’ll be a good excuse to read the  others too 😉

J. Daniels’ Four Letter Word was kind of a shock to the system, but I enjoyed it so. It’s 2.99 right now!

Over on Book Riot…

Want free romance audiobooks? Here’re a few places to find them.

Laura doesn’t care about your straight romance. Queer is where it’s at for her. (PS, be sure to read the comments for some recs!)

Oh! And have you seen our new site layout? ROMANCE HAS ITS OWN TAB!!!

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I can gush about books.

Do you read Santino Hassell’s Boroughverse? He just released a freebie, Third Rail, that whets the appetite for his upcoming collection, Citywide. It’s hella sexy, but it also includes a lot of character exploration that made me fall in love with Chris. So in love. If Raymond Rodriguez didn’t exist, Chris would be my favorite in the verse. It sets the scene for the first story in Citywide, in which Chris comes to term with his feelings for Jace and Aiden after several hook-ups with the couple. That’s right. M/M/M HEA coming through. I love the Boroughverse.

Wilde in Love
Eloisa James

It’s been a while since I’ve read one of James’ novels, but picking up Wilde in Love reminded me why I loved the ones I read years ago. I made it through the first 3/4 of the book in a single sitting, and found myself excitingly picking up my copy as soon as it was light enough in my bedroom to read early the next morning. While the title might hint at an Edwardian setting, it’s a Georgian novel, set just before the American Revolution. But don’t worry, there are a lot of winks to Oscar Wilde, including characters named Chasuble and Prism, witty parlor exchanges, and a play at the center of it all. Willa Ffynche is one of the belles of the Season, but she’s not delighted to be at a house party where The Infamous Lord Wilde will be the center of attention. Alaric Wilde has spent the last several years traveling the world and publishing his adventures, but it’s really the play Wilde in Love (which he did not write) that has made him the beloved and pursued of the ladies of England. But he finds Miss Ffynche is who he really wants to spend time with.

Also, there’s a pet skunk. And she’s the cutest thing ever.

Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances
Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole

I know, I know. I already gushed about this one. But I actually finished it and seriously, if you haven’t read this already, you need to. (And it’s finally out in print!) As I mentioned two weeks ago, Rose Lerner’s entry is just great. But I hadn’t made it to the others yet, and they are…so wonderful. You could say they amaze and astonish. They smash every expectation.

Okay, I’m done.

The Pursuit Of… is Courtney Milan’s contribution to the trio, and it follows a black soldier going home after Yorktown and his unlikely companion, a former British officer. While Henry is severely talkative, John is more introspective, and a great amount of the story is the same. But the author’s familiar style matched with her customary attention to detail and research make the story damn near perfect. And her author’s note is sheer perfection. That Would Be Enough takes place in the 19th century, as Mrs. Hamilton’s maid/secretary and the granddaughter of Elijah Sutton (of Be Not Afraid fame) take a long journey towards love (mostly because Mercy is being stubborn). Alyssa Cole’s writing is amazeballs as usual, and can we talk about the whole historical fiction featuring two black women in love?

Okay, how about some new and upcoming releases?

The Sea King by CL Wilson

The Texan Duke by Karen Ranney

Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Highland Dragon Rebel by Isabel Cooper (11/7)

Snow Falling by Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Caridad Pineiro) (11/14)

That’s probably enough for now, huh? In the meantime, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

Diversity in Romance and More Christian Grey

It’s a happy week for romance! It’s a nice change, right?

Let’s start with a link rundown of all the awesomeness you can read and see:

Queen Bev appeared on Shondaland last week. Like, could it get any better? (Also, she shared that there is now a Slayer of Words notebook. I feel like this is the perfect thing for NaNo. Right?)

Sponsored by All The Wind In The World By Samantha Mabry

Sarah Jac Crow and James Holt have fallen in love working in the endless fields that span a bone-dry Southwest. To protect themselves, they’ve learned to keep their love hidden from the people who might use it against them. When a horrible accident forces them to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch, the delicate balance of their lives begins to give way. April Genevieve Tucholke, author of Wink Poppy Midnight, says, “Mabry’s lyrical writing sizzles with the same heat as the relentless desert sun.” Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, All the Wind in the World is a breathtaking tale.

She is also still promoting the GoFundMe for the production of her first film adaptation, Deadly Sexy.

I’ve already raved about a couple of these folks, so go ahead and let your heart asplode with an interview.

Entertainment Weekly published their first romance column, and a lot of us noticed that it was pretty…white. But Maureen heard us and has made a great effort to do better.

I have been feeling this shirt recently.


Passionflix released their Afterburn/Aftershock trailer. Excited?

And speaking of excited, how do you feel about the announcement of the sequel to Grey, Darker? I’m kind of tired of Christian and Anastasia, if we’re being honest, but I know some people are pretty excited. (You do you, am I right?)

Also, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is finally out in theaters! It’s not playing everywhere, but you might be surprised to find it near you. It’s a darling, multi-pronged story that includes a beautiful display of a true love story.

Do you like bookstores? Don’t forget, you could win $500 to the bookstore of your choice.

Know what else is awesome? Deals!

Tawna Fenske’s At The Heart of It is 1.99

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle is 1.25 right now.

You can get a whole Shelly Laurenston bundle for 2.99. That’s four books.

Not a deal, but just a reminder that Take The Lead is 3.99. All the time. You want it.

Over on Book Riot:

We’ve got the rundown on The Ripped Bodice’s study of diversity in romance publishing. I gotta tell you. It’s pretty bleak. We need to do better.

Trisha calls your escapism, and raises it with badass heroines. I totally feel her. There are some awesome women in this pool.

The day after the last KB went out, Trisha Brown wrote about the bigger picture with that anathema article and the stuff that happened after. Her article is great, as it the slug 😀

On National Coming Out Day, Amanda pulled together some great bisexual characters in romance. Way to represent!

She also has some frustrations with first-person jacket copy (yeah, y’all, she’s been busy this week!).

Harry Potter Erotica? We got that.

Carolina responded to the response. Damn right.

And Laura gave us the drop on why romance’s predictability is the best.

His Perfect Partner
Priscilla Oliveras

After finishing Take the Lead a couple weeks ago, I was on a total dance high. This one was right next to it in my kindle app, and I pretty much moved on to it immediately. While it’s not focused on the dance like Take the Lead, our lead, Yazmine, is a dance teacher in a Chicago suburb who has a run-in with Tomas, the workaholic father of the darling Maria, one of Yazmine’s students. When he finally shows up for a father-daughter dance rehearsal (after missing several), Tomas and Yazmine can’t deny their chemistry, but neither is in a place for a relationship. As the pair get closer, against both of their wills, Tomas reveals what Yazmine nicknames his “Perfect Partner Plan”, which she doesn’t see herself anywhere near.

This novel is sweet and super sensual, but is surprisingly low on sexytimes. But when you’re reading it, you don’t particularly care; you’re stuck between devouring the story and wanting to slap both Yazmine and Tomas for being so stupid. Basically, the perfect romance.

I just finished the first novella in Hamilton’s Battalion, Rose Lerner’s Promised Land. She has set a seriously high standard for the other two and I can’t wait to dive in and finish it. In Promised Land, Rachel has made a life for herself as the soldier Ezra. Now, years into her service, she is at Yorktown with Colonel Hamilton, and they’re looking to the end of the war. This could all be destroyed, however, by a man she sees walking through their camp, who she is sure is a Loyalist spy: her husband, Nathan. Her husband, who thinks she is dead.

Oh dear.

Y’all. Just read it.

That’s all I’ve got for you, but how about some upcoming and new releases!

Crazy in Love, Crystal B. Bright
One Summer Night, Caridad Piniero
Hooked, Cathy Yardley
Sightlines, Santino Hassell
Duke of Desire, Elizabeth Hoyt
Til Death Do Us Part, Eliza Daly
Eyes Like Those, Melissa Brayden
Tangled in Time, Barbara Longley (10/24)
Changing Colors, Elyse Springer (10/23)
Pulled Under, Lisa Renee Jones (10/24)
The Sea King, CL Wilson (10/31)
Wilde in Love, Eloisa James (10/31)

That’s probably enough for now, huh? In the meantime, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

Join the Romance Resistance

I don’t even know where to start today, y’all.

The world still sucks, and we still have romance. I had this whole section written about the NYT article that came out last week and some awesome people’s responses to it, but I’d rather just skip to the happy parts. You want my opinions on the other stuff, hit me up. Let’s look at the good stuff in romancelandia.

Sponsored by Amazon Publishing

Anything But Love by Abigail Strom

Socialite Jessica Bullock can’t catch a break. After a lifetime of chasing perfection, hoping to please her parents, all her hard work is set to pay off. But on her wedding day, her fiancé leaves her high and dry. Humiliated, she finds her calm, cool facade beginning to crumble…until an unexpected wedding guest, her childhood best friend and crush, offers to help her pick up the pieces.

Some authors got together to do something for disaster relief. Will you donate? 

Jezebel interviewed Alisha Rai and she has some bitching things to say.

We’ve got a Romance Resistance going on. And there are so many books on this list that I haven’t managed to read yet. Why are there so many books?!

Want to lift someone up? Support this start-up publisher of inclusive speculative fiction and romance. They’re gonna go places, if we can help them reach their goal!

This is romance adjacent, but I know we’ll all love watching Idris Elba read erotic fanfiction about himself. Oh my.

In adaptation news, Passionflix is chugging along with original projects, including The Trouble With Mistletoe, and their most recent addition to their streaming collection is Somewhere in Time. I LOVE THAT MOVIE. (I’ll admit I haven’t read the Matheson, though it’s been on my list for years. I imagine it’s just as good but does it have Superman and Dr. Quinn? NO. It does not.)

Have you tried out this Jane Austen game? I don’t know how I feel about it.

How about this podcast? I feel like romance readers would enjoy it. It sounds fun!

Okay, enough links. DEALS!

Hot Cop by Laurelin Paige is 1.20 right now.

And you can get Rochelle Alers’ The Inheritance for 2.99.

And hey, it’s hockey season! Get in the mood with Changing Lines.  

Mariana Zapata’s Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin is 1.99, too, if you’d rather have rock stars in your life.

Over on Book Riot:

I know I said I wasn’t gonna talk about the article but Amanda.

Erin loves Chesapeake Shoresfor people who love it just as much. And she’s got some book recs .

I was wandering through a nice, long list of time-travel romance and noticed there are very few with black leads. I knew exactly why.

It’s a bit of old news now, but did you know Google Search will now reveal if the ebook you’re looking for is available at your library? Unfortunately, it looks like it’s only for libraries that have OverDrive, but it’s still handy!

Okay, now, a couple recs.

The Duchess Deal
Tessa Dare

This book. This book just made me so happy from start to finish. Even during the part I was vocally exclaiming about punching Ash in the face, I was still enjoying the crap out of myself. Let’s go with the opening scene between our hero and heroine: Khan, the Duke of Ashbury’s loyal, long-suffering, droll butler, informs him there’s a woman at the door wearing a wedding dress. Ash thinks that’s just perfect, as he’s just written the words “I need a wife” in a letter to his solicitors. So when the woman who arrives is a seamstress asking to be paid for her labor after the woman with whom he just broke off an engagement never picked it up, Ash leaps on the case. He can pay her…or she can marry him.

With a hook like that, can you see where I was just thrilled? Close proximity, getting to know each other, sex in the library—it’s like Beauty and the Beast but without the whole forced imprisonment thing. Though the concept of marriage of convenience as its own type of long-term jailing is briefly touched upon. And I’m going to tell you: you’re going to be in love with Khan by the end. I know Tessa is working hard to get this series going, but I would not cry if she decided “hey, I think I’ll write a Girl Meets Duke 1.5 novella all about Khan.” (hint hint nudge nudge)

Take the Lead
Alexis Daria

THIS BOOK, y’all. I have no idea why I was crying at the end of this book. Well, actually, I do. It was an emotional rollercoaster and the feeling and the dancing and the resolution and even the acknowledgements got me all in my feelings. I felt very fragile and vulnerable and couldn’t pick up another book for several days.

So what’s it about? Gina is a professional dancer on The Dance Off, and we meet her as she’s headed to Alaska with a camera crew to meet her new celebrity partner. He’s a giant, lumbering, gorgeous wild man whose family has a reality tv show about living in the bush, off the grid. Think Ryan Hurst in Outsiders, but a little better groomed. And with way fewer issues. If you’ve seen Dancing With the Stars, you know the process: dance competition, eliminations, behind the scenes rehearsal footage. Apparently showmances are also a thing on competition shows, and the producers want it to look like Gina and Stone (yes, that’s his real name) are it for the season. Gina doesn’t want to fake a romance, since it never goes well for the woman involved, but their chemistry has other ideas. This is Alexis Daria’s debut novel and boy…I can’t wait for more from her. The feelings just jump off the page; the dance scenes are vivid. This is definitely going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship…between Alexis and my wallet.

And if you’re looking for romance by Latinx authors, here are seven more!

That’s it for recs this week, but hey how about some new and upcoming Releases!

His Perfect Partner, Priscilla Oliveras

Drop Dead Gorgeous, Juliet Lyons

To Love a Scandalous Duke, Liana De La Rosa

An Unsuitable Heir, KJ Charles

Her Dream Come True, Jamie Wesley

The Love Experiment, Ainslie Paton

One Summer Night, Caridad Piniero

Sightlines, Santino Hassell (October 9)

Hooked, Cathy Yardley (October 10)

Hamilton’s Battalion, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole (October 17)

Crazy in Love, Crystal B Bright

Not to mention it’s getting to be that time: all the winter holiday books are coming out! Maybe we’ll have a look at a couple soon. I’m gonna try to read The Trouble With Mistletoe before the Passionflix release, but otherwise, I’ll wait until after Halloween to start thinking about holly and snow.

That’s probably enough for now, huh? In the meantime, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

Romance Recs for Bi Visibility Week

Well folks, the world sucks. At least we have romance.

We have things like this bit of amazingness to look forward to. I mean, we have to wait until March, but in the meantime, we get to look at all that sexiness anytime we want.

Sponsored by PageHabit – Get FREE SHIPPING on your first box with code “RIOT”.

PageHabit offers a monthly ROMANCE book box curated and annotated by acclaimed authors for the most diehard bookworms. Each box comes with an exclusive, author-annotated new release, a written letter from the author, a bonus short story, fun bookish goods and instant membership into an active online book community of over 20,000 members. Take a peek at our past featured authors and titles; September’s featured book is perfect for those who like their romance novels with a side of crime.

Get FREE SHIPPING on your first box with code “RIOT”.

And we have romance bookstores! It’s never not the time to remind you that The Ripped Bodice exists, and they have a Patreon! (Also, if you ever have the opportunity to make the pilgrimage to Culver City, take it. They are so nice and the store is wonderful. And yes, you will be overwhelmed with choices and paralized by indecision. It’s a store almost completely comprised of romance. The hard choices will be made and you’ll be wandering back and forth for hours.)

Also, PassionFlix has officially launched! Not only can you watch some old favorites, but their first original, Hollywood Dirt, has launched! And if you’re like me, you might want to read the source material.

Have you seen Danielle Steel’s desk? Oh my wow.

It’s time for a new round of Avon Addicts! It’s a bit of a harrowing process, but you get some serious goodies if you’re selected.

Have you watched the Fifty Shades Freed trailer yet? 

Dudes. Bluewater Bay is ending in December after over 20 books. Twenty. How did I look up fromBurnt Toast B&B and see that there were suddenly a score more books?

PS. What do you collect? I’ll bet it’s not these. (PS, Rebecca Romney is one of my all time crushes and now I need to start some kind of romance collection that will win me this award just so I can meet her.)

Tweet thread of the week: Olivia breaks it down.

Over on Book Riot

Get recommended by awesome authors: we just launched our newest podcast, Recommended! Listen to interesting people talk about books that matter to them. The first episode has authors Samantha Irby and Robin Sloan pitching two all-time favorites. Go find out what they are in Episode 1. Episode 2 is available too!

Google Search will show you ebooks available in your library now. Have you tried it out?

And don’t forget, you can always check out the Romance/Erotica tag on the Book Riot site to go back and read stuff you might have missed, all the way back to the start!

How about some book deals?

Stay Until Dawn by Jamie Pope is 1.99 right now!

Bella and the Beast by Olivia Drake is 2.99.

Loretta Chase’s Dukes Prefer Blondes is 1.99.

The second book in Rachel Van Dyken’s Curious Liaisons series, Cheater’s Regret, is 1.99.

Carla Burgess’s romantic comedy Stuck with You is 1.99 too!

And now, recs!

It’s Bi Visibility Week, but I have trouble making choices, so you get this instead of my regular two or three recs.

Santino Hassell: Illegal Contact, Sunset Park

Whether you’re into football players or foulmouthed potheads, Santino Hassell can write the bi hero of your dreams. I lean quite a bit further towards Raymond Rodriguez, but both heroes claim bisexuality and have some wonderful times falling in love.

Elyse Springer: Thaw and Heat Wave

These two books in the Seasons of Love series are fabulous stories of women in lust and in love, and Thaw gives us some bonus ace rep.

KJ Charles: A Fashionable Indulgence, An Unnatural Vice

KJ Charles does historical romance spectacularly, and takes us into a London world most Regency authors don’t go for. These two are books in different series, but are equally entertaining. An Unnatural Vice is the second in a series, but you can read it on its own; that said, An Unseen Attraction is also great and features an Indo-British hero.

Rebekah Weatherspoon: So Sweet

Take a fat, sex positive heroine, give her a sugar daddy, and watch the flames. It’s the first in a novella trilogy, so get ready for all the sweet sexy fun.

Cat Sebastian: The Lawrence Browne Affair

While also the second in a series (and you should definitely read The Soldier’s Scoundrel), you can definitely enjoy this on its own. Georgie and Radnor are just wonderful.

AM Arthur: Hot Licks

I know, you say. Jess keeps telling me to read books in the middle or at the end of a series. But thing is, this is one of my favorite same-sex OT3s, and features a demisexual hero and a pansexual hero.

Alisha Rai: A Gentleman in the Street

Goddamn, this book. Akira Mori is the shit. She’s confident, rich, talented, and open to pretty much anything in the bedroom. And Jacob Campbell is into all of that.

Megan Mulry: the whole Regency Reimagined series (starting with Bound to Be a Groom)

These books are cotton candy, hot chocolate, and good pho all wrapped in awesome, sexy stories.

New and upcoming releases!

Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa

Sizzling Desire by Kayla Perrin

The Heat Between Us by Cheris Hodges

Covet by Yolande Kleinn

The Scoundrel and the Lady by Robin DeHart

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale

His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras

In Her Court by Tamsen Parker

That’s probably enough for now, huh? In the meantime, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

#RWAstrong and Historical Fantasy

Happy September, lovers! Did you get any time off for reading over the long weekend (if you got a long weekend)?

Just a couple days after our last chat, Romance writers clapped back hard when one of their own spoke disparagingly about diversity and “social issues” in romance novels. As I am personally not a member of Romance Writers of America, I have not seen the remarks, but I got the jist from several authors I follow, primarily on Twitter. Ann Aguirre makes a clear statement, as does Olivia Waite, and the #RWAstrong tag will give you a little more. I haven’t read any books by the author, but this isn’t inspiring me to seek any out.

Sponsored by The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury has continued to seek justice, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. But now he is needs an heir – and a wife to produce one. When seamstress Emma Gladstone appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides immediately that she’ll do. His terms are simple: they will be husband and wife by night only, and once she’s pregnant with his heir, they never need share a bed again. But Emma is no pushover, and once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love.

In happier news, PassionFlix went live this past weekend! Have you tried it out? So far it doesn’t have a whole lot of movies, but looking at romance author Alessandra Torre’s favorites, I think she and I should be BFFs.

Speaking of romantic movies, though: have you watched The Incredible Jessica James on Netflix? No matter what your life looks like, it’s just what you read right now. I promise.

Do you read a lot of British-set historicals? What do you look for to determine whether it’s a Regency or a Victorian? Heroes & Heartbreakers has a nice little primer. Though I’d also add: trains.


Close Enough to Touch is one of my favorite Victoria Dahl novels (though when you’re wandering through Jackson, how do you pick a favorite?) and it’s 1.99 right now!

Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend (which is apparently now also a Bollywood movie) is 1.99!

Twice the Growl by Milly Tayden is 99 cents! And if you come to the end of that wanting more, there are way more in the series (for not a bad price).  

Sabrina Jeffries’ The Pirate Lord is 1.99 right now. It’s a classic!

Signs of Attraction by Laura Brown is 99 cents right now. It’s an #ownvoices contemporary featuring two characters with hearing loss.

Over on Book Riot…

It’s the week after Labor Day! For a lot of folks, it’s back-to-school time (though where I live out in the desert, they’ve already been back in school for a month. A MONTH). So how about some romances to get you in the school zone?

I didn’t mention it in news, but the New York Times books coverage desk is pulling even farther back on romance. Amanda Diehl had words.

But we know what we like, so how about some excellent self-published romance?

Dudes. Casey has come to realize that she just…doesn’t like erotica. Do you? (I don’t read much of it myself, actually; I tend to go for erotic romance. Which I read…a whole lot of.)

Santino Hassell tries to read an hour a day. What else did he have to tell us?

And don’t forget, you can always check out the Romance/Erotica tag on the Book Riot site to go back and read stuff you might have missed, all the way back to the start!

Finally, there’s book recs!

I was in a historical fantasy mood (and someone recommended a really interesting sounding one) so I started my weekend with Highland Dragon Warrior, the first in a very promising prequel series to Isabel Cooper’s Highland Dragon series. Instead of the 19th-century setting of the first series, Highland Dragon Warrior is set in the time of Braveheart, when Scotland is fighting for its own sovereignty. The titular dragon warrior, Cathal, is home from foreign wars, looking over the family keep, when Sophia, a Jewish scholar and alchemist (alchemist!) arrives with one request: a few of his scales. He offers to grant them, if she helps him out with a mystical problem he’s having. His friend is dissolving. Dissolving. Sophia takes up the challenge, and her awesomeness and fortitude are what will keep you turning pages until you reach the very end (at which point you will be grasping for Highland Dragon Rebel, which takes place twenty years later, features a badass dragon warrior, and unfortunately has none of Cathal or Sophia except in passing mention).

Snowspelled is a brief but jam-packed novella set in a very different kind of Alternate England. In Angland, humans and elves have created a pact that allows both worlds to reside in peace. Women control the nation—being the more prudent, level-headed ones—and men deal in all things magical. But Cassandra is a rare being, able to wield magic and one of the best in her class at the Library—but a bad choice made it so she could no longer practice. The pain of losing access to her magic led her to break things off with her fiance, but a snowed-in house party puts them into constant contact. Add to that a really bad agreement with an elf, and all kinds of fun can happen in a week! The compelling plot and the effortlessly diverse world kept me smiling and sighing in this single-sitting read. (Thanks, Stephanie, for sending me a copy!)

I haven’t come across any historical fantasy by an author of color (if you know any, send them my way) but I did recently finish this fabulous self-published historical romance set in the Spanish Caribbean in the 19th century, A Summer for Scandal. It’s got some awesome Pride and Prejudice vibes and features two author protagonists: one wrote a novel and is now publishing and writing for multiple journals—one in his own name, one a gossip rag very much not in his name. The other protagonist would love to publish a novel, but has settled for anonymously publishing a best-selling, scandalous serial. Throw them together and let the sparks ensue. And the scandal, of course. (I will warn you; there are some typos. I am a firm believer in copyediting, but whatever, I don’t care. It’s otherwise fantastic.)

How about some new and upcoming releases?

Sanctuary, Rebekah Weatherspoon

When the Scoundrel Sins, Anna Harrington

My Fair Lover, Nicole Jordan

The Betting Vow, KM Jackson

Her Hometown Girl, Lorelie Brown

Pitch Please, Lani Lynn Vale (9/8)

That’s probably enough for now, huh? In the meantime, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

Smash the Patriarchy, Read Romance

Well, the total eclipse of the heart has finally happened, and now we can move on with our lives (and hopefully, with our eyes intact as well).

Sponsored by The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury has continued to seek justice, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. But now he is needs an heir – and a wife to produce one. When seamstress Emma Gladstone appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides immediately that she’ll do. His terms are simple: they will be husband and wife by night only, and once she’s pregnant with his heir, they never need share a bed again. But Emma is no pushover, and once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love.

Looking for ways to drop your well earned money? Here are a few things you can try:

  • The Ripped Bodice now has a Patreon! Support them from afar (and get a few perks) and keep the love alive whether you can get to the brick and mortar shop or not.
  • Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has all kinds of new merch, including the awesome Slayer of Words t-shirt, mug, etc., proceeds for which will go to Doctors Without Borders, Beverly Jenkins’ charity of choice
  • They also have these excellent “Smash the Patriarchy, Read Romance” mugs.

In other news, there is apparently going to be a romance anthology based on Alexander Hamilton’s battalion coming soon. You will definitely hear from me when there is more to share.

In…less exciting news, there has been some discussion about a forthcoming book announced by Carina Press in which an educator starts a romantic relationship with a student. The publishing company has since announced that they will be reviewing the book for sensitivity, but a lot of people think it shouldn’t even have gotten past the pitch phase, what with the whole high school teacher/student thing, even if the student is not a minor. I’ve been known to pick up taboo, but I am personally not down for that particular one (probably in part because I have worked at a high school and that is not a level of trust I could see any of my teachers breaking). What do you think?

Bustle has been recognizing Romance Awareness Month, and has been posting some pretty awesome articles, including this one in romance authors’ own words.

Speaking of romance authors’ own words, the daily posts on the Read a Romance Month site are great for anyone, whether you’re a romance reader or not. They’re particularly great when you need something heartwarming and pick-me-up-y.

Over on Book Riot:

Erin recommended a few historical romances for people who get tripped up by the language and terminology in historicals.

Danika wrote about how Harry Potter helped guide her on her own queer journey, courtesy of Draco/Harry fanwork.

Rachel pulled together a fantabulous list of things (more things!) you can add to your collection in a special romance edition of Book Fetish. (PS–NSFW!)

And finally, while it’s not directed at romance readers, we could all do more to support our favorite authors. Here’s a quick list of things we can do!

And now, recs!

I’ve been in a sort of “real American heroes” mode, recently, so here are a few recs of books featuring military men across American history!

Be Not Afraid
Alyssa Cole

Named for the words allegedly said by Crispus Attucks, the man of African and Wampanoag descent who shed the first blood for the Revolution, Be Not Afraid tells the story of Elijah and Kate, two people on opposite sides of the American Revolution for very different reasons. Elijah fights for the Patriots, having made a deal with his owner to fight in his stead in exchange for land, livestock, and freedom. Kate, on the other hand, is one of many enslaved people who have taken the Brits up on their offer to manumit them if they join their side. The love story is brief but heartfelt, and my only issue with the story is just that—it’s TOO SHORT. It was written as part of a Revolutionary anthology, For Love & Liberty.

Through the Storm
Beverly Jenkins

When we first meet Raimond Le Veq and Sable Fontaine (if you’ve read Forbidden you might be familiar with the latter), the pair are on separate paths. Raimond is a high ranking officer in the Union Army (confusing white soldiers to no end) and Sable is ready to be free. Fate throws them into each other’s paths as they each serve the Union in their own ways, until they meet again after the war. Their situation in New Orleans is incredibly different from where they found themselves in battle, but Sable takes to the Gens du Colour society—and the Le Veq family in particular—like a pro. If only the pair could get over themselves enough to make their love work.

North To You
Tif Marcelo

This one goes a bit of a different route than the historicals. In San Francisco, Camille Merino runs a food truck that is a culmination of her dreams. While checking out a food-centered event, she literally runs into an old flame, and the heat is still there. Drew Bautista is in town on leave from the Army, ready to help his family rebrand their restaurant. He’s hoping that this month will help restore his relationship with his father, who has never accepted that he joined the Army instead of the family business. Every relationship in this book is magical, from siblings to parents to friends, and there are recipes for Filipino food in the back matter. Just so you know.

Dear Aaron
Mariana Zapata

Do you like the slowest of slow burns? This is the book for you. At nearly five hundred pages, it’s the longest of the book recs this week, though the first half is written correspondence—letters, emails, IMs, etc. Ruby has “adopted” a soldier for letters and care packages, having learned from a sibling that Army life is pretty lonely. Aaron is deployed somewhere—she isn’t sure where. After a rocky start, the pair easily outstrip the assigned one email a week and maybe a care package, and even without prose, their feelings for each other are apparent to the reader (even if they aren’t quite as apparent to Ruby). If you like hopeless characters who just need to talk to each other (and eventually do), this is your story. Zapata also doesn’t shy away from including talk of deployment, military life, and the necessary life decisions that might come up as a soldier.

Currently Reading:

The Unsung Hero
Suzanne Brockmann

Okay, so there are 20 Troubleshooters books, and I’ve had the first one for years. Being still in the mood, I decided to try it out. Navy SEAL Tom Paoletti is on leave after a head injury on the job, and there’s no better place to spend some of it than with his granduncle, Joe. Of course, time with Joe means time with his BFF Since The War (double-yew, double-yew, eye, eye), Charles, who has terminal cancer. Tom can’t help but hope that he might run into Charles’ daughter, Kelly. So far in my reading Brockmann is primarily setting the scene, with Tom having spotted an international terrorist while on recovery leave, but I hear there’s going to be some shenanigans, so here’s looking at you, kid.


Are you ready for a new segment of Kissing Books? Here are a few choice books that are currently deal-priced on Amazon!

CD Reiss’s Bombshell is 1.99 right now! I don’t usually go for nanny/single father, but this one was so fricking sweet.

A Bollywood Affair, by Sonali Dev, is 2.99 right now. It’s the perfect blend of angst and “aww” and will set you upon the path of reading everything Sonali has out right now—which at last count is only at three, but there’s another coming out next year.

180 Seconds by Jessica Park is 1.99. (Okay, this is the last famous person/not famous person deal.)

And if Through the Storm wasn’t enough Civil War/awesome women doing awesome things for you, Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union is 2.99!

How often do you find Gilded Age romance? Joanna Shupe’s Magnate, the first in her Knickerbocker series, is 1.99.

Recent and Upcoming Releases:

And finally, some books that have recently come out or are coming out soon:

Heat Wave, Elyse Springer

Spectred Isle, KJ Charles

The Duchess Deal, Tessa Dare

Mr. Big, Delancey Stewart (8/29)

My Fair Lover, Nicole Jordan (8/29)

Breakfast in Bed, Rochelle Alers (8/29)

Deacon, Kit Rocha (8/29)

Sanctuary, Rebekah Weatherspoon (8/29)

Okay, so that’s a lot. I’ve got to get back to reading, and I’m sure you do, too.

In the meantime, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

Kissing Books

What You Missed at RWA, Romance Recs, and More

Happy August! How’s your reading life!

Happenings in Romancelandia

So much has happened since our last talk. The RWA conference concluded, the RITAs were announced, and Beverly Jenkins, Slayer of Words, made us all bawl on our computers if we were relegated to watching the live stream of her Lifetime Achievement acceptance speech from home.

Sponsored by Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

After his father’s stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his longtime friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea. . . . But not kissing Max is easier said than done.

Will Jill follow her heart, and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

Also, Andrew Grey got the Centennial award for publishing one hundred novels. He’s the first m/m and also the first male author to have received it. How awesome is that! (Have you read his work? I’ll admit I haven’t yet, but man, I’ve got some reading to do!)

One thing we got as RWA-left-behinders was constant access to #notRWA. There were some awesome threads and conversations happening on twitter. These included:

For the complete list of #notRWA threads.conversations, check out this blog post by the fabulous Olivia Dade.

And for a little bit of the fun side of Twitter, this exchange leaves us…wanting. Wanting all the things.

Have you seen the cover reveal for Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory? I can’t stop looking at it. Wanna know something else? You can buy that dress. AND IT HAS POCKETS.

Speaking of cover reveals…Sanctuary is coming, and man. Drool. Droooooooool.

Over on Book Riot

Kate included an “ugly cry-o-meter” in her list of favorite friends-to-lovers romance.

Read about Susan Mallery’s thoughts on small town settings and more.

Do you like Jane Austen retellings? Read about a new Persuasion retelling.

How about some book recs?

One True Pairing
Cathy Yardley

You know what kinds of books I love? Books featuring super dorky characters. Books where one of the protagonists is a famous person and the other is not. Books that take place around fan conventions. Books where the connection is fast and intense, but still believable. You know what One True Pairing is? ALL OF THESE. While it’s the second book in Yardley’s Fandom Hearts series, this can still be read as a standalone (and man, I still haven’t read Level Up). Hailey and Jake are one of my favorite couples of recent recollection. Jake is a sweetheart who just loves his stupid Supernatural-reminiscent cable fantasy show and wants to be a part of it, but he needs something to keep him interesting to the public and the producers. Good thing Hailey is there offering to be his pretend-girlfriend, and their chemistry is already off-the-charts hot. Hailey comes equipped with some of the greatest friends and family around, which makes this adorable read even better.

Beyond the Rules
Anna Del Mar
(August 14)

I finally stopped ignoring the call of Opal Carew’s ridiculously punny titles and read Drilled the other day, which was fun in its own way, even though occasionally it felt like it was originally written as a two-person relationship and then Carew decided to split her billionaire into two. After that few hours of fun, I was still in poly mode, and decided to try an author I hadn’t read before.

Enter three ex-Navy SEALs and a hacker. The three military men, Zar, Tanner, and Aiden, live in a gorgeous, secluded home in the wilds of Montana, and Nina has just crashed her plane trying to escape some baddies. She’s pretty banged up, and the three nurse her back to health, all the while agreeing that she might be the one they’ve been waiting for. They made a pact while still in the military, and sharing every aspect of their lives is the central part of that pact. And well, it looks like Nina might be the one they could all fall for. Her commitment issues might have something to say about that. This book is long, but characters are well developed, and relationships are as well. I tend not to connect as well with polyamorous relationships in which everyone involved isn’t one big puppy pile of love, but the three men have a different kind of relationship, and I could appreciate that (and they’re not brothers, if that’s one of your squicks).

(I’d also like to include the fact that as I started reading this, my husband and I started rewatching The Last Ship and the Zar in my head is a yummy combination of Eric Dane and Adam Baldwin. The others I had to create on my own.)

Currently reading:
Illegal Contact
Santino Hassell
(August 15)

I’m not very far into this one, but so far, it’s got pure Hassell quality going for it. So far, it’s got the same feel as the Five Boroughs books as far as set in real life. But gosh, I hope it’s not going to be as real. (Legit: I was sobbing in the middle of Interborough the other day. Sobbing.) Even a book that starts with a star athlete in an ankle bracelet can be fun, right? Or at least a little light?

We’ll see.

And for some recent and upcoming releases:

Within a Captain’s Soul, Lisa A. Olech

Heat WaveElyse Springer

The Scandal of it All, Sophie Jordan

Permanent Ink, Avon Gale

Two Dukes and a Lady, Lorna James (8/14)

Unexpected, Jenny Frame (8/15)

King of Code, CD Reiss (8/21)

The Duchess Deal, Tessa Dare (8/22)

Okay, that’s it for me! Happy reading! (I know I’ll be.) In the meantime, catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!