I ventured to a local bookstore only to find myself overwhelmed with rows upon rows of books that all looked--and sounded--exactly the same. I know better than to think that every single romance book ever published is exactly the same as every single other romance book ever published, but it seems publishers are doing their damnedest to make sure readers can't recognize that fact.
Awash in a sea of partially-ripped bodices and stunning six-pack abs, I turned to my ultimate bookish resource for help: Twitter.
Lo and behold, Twitter didn't let me down. In no particular order--and no, I have not read all of these, or even any of these, so I can't speak to their quality--here were the feminist-leaning, bad-ass lady heroine romance books recommended to me (all title links to Indiebound.org and author names to author websites where possible):I want to take a smart, feminist, awesome, rocking romance book to read at the beach next week... any suggestions?— Kerry McHugh (@kerryamchugh) June 11, 2015
- Sarah Maclean's Rules of Scoundrels series (A Rogue by Any Other Name, One Good Earl Deserves Another, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover)
- I can say that I've read the first of this series, and rather enjoyed it, and that Maclean's writing is sharp and smart and never exasperating in its use of euphemisms for body parts.
- Anything by Rose Lerner, specifically called out as a feminist writer with fascinating historical detail
- Courtney Milan, especially the Turner series (the first of which is Unveiled). Other title recommendations for Milan included Proof by Seduction and Trial by Desire. Milan got multiple votes in this game.
- A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran
- Loretta Chase's Dressmakers series, which starts with Vixen in Velvet, and the Lord of Scoundrels series, which starts with
- Elizabeth Hoyt (I grabbed Wicked Intentions when I returned to the book store to pick up a few of these recommendations, though I haven't read it yet)
- A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
- Julie James (worth mentioning, I think, that James was recommended three separate times in this Twitter conversation)
- Victoria Dahl (also mentioned more than once)
- Ruthie Knox
- Delilah S. Dawson for steampunk romance (I grabbed Wicked as They Come for myself)
- Lisa Kleypas
- Julia Quinn (she also got multiple mentions, one of which was for Just Like Heaven in particular; my bookstore didn't have that, so I grabbed The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever)
- Erica Monroe
- Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James
- Tawna Fenske for contemporary romance
- Laura Lee Guhrke, especially her American Heiress in London series (I purchased--and read--the first of the series, When the Marquess Met His Match, which I enjoyed despite a slightly predictable ending)
Many (many!) thanks to Jenny from Reading the End and Olivia Kelly in particular for their many (many!) recommendations on this list--and to everyone else who chimed in on Twitter. Without you, I never would have purchased:
|My starter romance haul.|
What's missing? Who should I add to the list?
I'd love to include more stories by and about LGBT romances, for starters... any suggestions?