Most of us have certain stories we gravitate towards, like romance novels or stories with a happily ever after. Bu it’s a huge category and there are so many great romance books we readers tend to gravitate to certain themes. Or tropes as they are known. Romance novel tropes refer to a broad theme that speaks to the overall arc of the story. Like my favourite starting over in a small town. Or enemies to lovers, another favourite of mine. Reunited lovers. Friends to lovers. Or the grumpy sunshine trope which is very popular right now.
I wanted to share one of my favourite tropes: Starting Over in a Small Town:
A couple of my favourite books with Starting Over in a Small Town as a trope:
Kate Logan needs a safe haven, a place to start over after her modeling career disintegrates in scandal. But her hometown of Aspen Lake isn’t the sanctuary she hoped. Her vow of a low-key life is disrupted by a break-in and other strange happenings at her boutique. As the chair of Aspen Lake’s Gothic Revival Festival, she’s also drawn the ire of a religious fanatic. Kate is up to her stilettos in drama and intrigue including one sexy carpenter who’s determined to get in her way.
New to town, Seth Stone is seeking inspiration and solitude to concentrate on his art. Short on funds, he agrees to take on a second job restoring the damage to Kate’s Closet. Trouble erupts along with the desire to get to know Kate better. When he’s used as a pawn in a smear campaign against his gorgeous boss Seth fights back. But now the whole town is watching. Including the man determined to further his own agenda. Time is running out with nowhere to hide.
Until next time…
What are your favourite tropes whether it’s fiction or television?
It just so happens that Wednesday was #IReadCanadianDay. So, I’m extra happy to talk about Rachel Reid’s Time to Shine. Rachel Reid is one of my favourite authors and she hails from the lovely province of Nova Scotia.
For Landon Stackhouse, being called up from the Calgary farm team is exciting and terrifying, even if, as the backup goalie, he rarely leaves the bench. A quiet loner by nature, Landon knows he gives off strong “don’t talk to me” vibes. The only player who doesn’t seem to notice is Calgary’s superstar young winger, Casey Hicks.
Casey treats Landon like an old friend, even though they’ve only interacted briefly in the past. He’s endlessly charming and completely laid-back in a way that Landon absolutely can’t relate to. They couldn’t have less in common, but Landon needs a place to live that’s not a hotel room and Casey has just bought a massive house—and hates being alone.
As roommates, Casey refuses to be defeated by Landon’s one-word answers. As friends, Landon comes to notice a few things about Casey, like his wide, easy smile and sparkling green-blue eyes. Spending the holidays together only intensifies their bromance-turned-romance. But as the new year approaches, the countdown to the end of Landon’s time in Calgary is on.
I love Rachel Reid’s Game Changers m/m hockey romance series! Even though I’m not much into the sports. Her two books featuring Shane and Ilya will find a place on my favourite couples’ list for the rest of time. But the rest of the books in the series are excellent, too.
Time to Shine is not part of the Game Changers series but does feature hockey players. It also takes place over Christmas and there are some Christmas vibes but it’s not the main focus of the story. It’s also sweeter than her Game Changer Books which are spicy. So, so spicy!
Landon and Casey are perfect for each other in an opposites attract kind of way. Casey is laidback goof with no filter and Landon is quiet and intense. Casey is a forward for the Calgary Outlaws (a fictional NHL type team). Landon plays goalie for the Outlaw’s farm team. Landon gets called up to play for the Outlaws when the backup goalie gets hurt. They become roommates.
But playing professional hockey isn’t the only thing these two are managing. Landon is still grieving the loss of a close family member, as well as battling anxiety. Casey is terrified of the dark and being alone in his giant house. They become friends. Each helping the other navigate family and their mental health challenges. Then they become more as they figure out how to be apart when the backup goalie returns and Landon goes back to Saskatoon.
It’s got such sweet vibe. It’s about finding your place and finding your people and being accepted for who you are, quirks and all. Definitely recommend.
Until next time…
Let me know some of your favourite Canadian authors!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s been hard to focus this week. Some many awful things happening in the world. So much suffering. But making a donation to the Red Cross made me feel proactive, like I was able to help in some small way. There are many trusted charities and aid organizations doing the hard work in places torn apart by war or natural disasters. If you are able, any amount helps.
Let’s take a bit of a breather and talk about books. Or one book, in particular. Sarah MacLean’s Knockout, Book 3 in her Hell’s Belles series. If I wasn’t a huge Sarah MacLean fan, I’d have picked this book up for the cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?
With her headful of wild curls and wilder ideas and an unabashed love of experiments and explosives, society has labeled Lady Imogen Loveless peculiar…and doesn’t know she’s one of the Hell’s Belles—a group of vigilantes operating outside the notice of most of London.
Thomas Peck is not most of London. The brilliant detective fought his way off the streets and into a promising career through sheer force of will and a keen ability to see things others miss, like the fact that Imogen isn’t peculiar…she’s pandemonium. If you ask him, she requires a keeper. When her powerful family discovers her late-night activities, they couldn’t agree more…and they know just the man for the task.
Thomas wants nothing to do with guarding Imogen. He is a grown man with a proper job and no time for the lady’s incendiary chaos, no matter how lushly it is packaged. But some assignments are too explosive to pass up, and the gruff detective is soon caught up in Imogen’s world, full of her bold smiles and burning secrets…and a fiery passion that threatens to consume them both.
I have been waiting for Imogen and Tommy’s book and it did not disappoint. I loved it, as I’ve loved every book in Sarah MacLean’s Hell’s Belle series. An immersive story in a skilled writer’s hand is a grand thing and MacLean has plenty of skill in both storytelling and the writing craft. Imogen likes to blow things up. It’s Tommy’s job to maintain law and order. Too bad the Hell’s Belles are bent on making his life difficult, especially Imogen. Chaos ensues.
The book is a roller coaster. Part of the reason I love MacLean’s books is they read like a historical romantic suspense. And you all know, I love a good romantic suspense. Imogen and her gang are intent on helping women who have nowhere to turn in times of trouble and to keep one step ahead of those trying to stop them. MacLean’s ability to bring a modern perspective to the Regency era is a huge draw. She also brings big action, huge emotion and exquisite detail to this story. Definitely recommend.
Until next time…
Are you finding it hard to focus these days? What are you doing to stay focused? Or escape from it all?
I hope everyone survived Thanksgiving. Our fridge is full of leftovers. I tried a recipe for waffles that used leftover stuffing that was delicious. Definitely recommend trying one of the many recipes out there.
When Joanne Shreve’s former student, Val Masluk, writes the biography of acclaimed novelist Steven Brooks, Val once again becomes part of Joanne’s life. The biography is already raising troubling questions about Brooks’s past, and the wedding of Brooks’s daughter and Joanne’s son is scheduled for the day before the biography is published.
Both Joanne and her former student are haunted by memories of the seminar that led to the deaths of two people and the murder conviction of a third. The publication of the Brooks biography poses a threat not only to the future of the man and woman about to be married but also to the futures of those who love them. Joanne is certain that the threat is rooted in either her past or in that of Steven Brooks. The collateral damage caused by exposing that link will bring pain to both families, but life has taught Joanne that the only thing worse than knowing is not knowing.
The Legacy by Gail Bowen is a mix of reflection and complex family dynamics. On the cusp of Joanne’s youngest son’s marriage, fans are treated to a look into what’s happening in Joanne and Zack’s personal life. One of the best things about the Joanne Kilbourn mystery series is Bowen’s ability to make Joanne a mature, three-dimensional woman with an active life full of all the activities usually associated with much younger protagonists. The Shreve family’s day to day is intertwined with a slow burn of a mystery involving their future daughter-in-law’s father. What follows is a complex web of past and present happenings that end in a page turning resolution. Definitely recommend.
Thank you to ECW Press and Netgalley for gifting me with an ARC.
Until next time…
What’s everyone reading these days now that the nights are longer and cooler?
For those of you who want the opposite of last week’s book recommendation. Follow the Swallow Home by Annette Bower falls solidly in the gentle romance genre.
Published: 2023 Soulmate Publishing
Categories: Contemporary Romance / Small Town Romance / Gentle Romance
At a crossroads, Keanna Dixon packs her car and hits the road. She stops in the small town of Regina Beach, where she pitches her tent after deciding to stay awhile. At twenty-five she’s ready to put down roots and this little town may be the perfect place to do it.
Keith Campbell, at thirty, is happy with his independent life. Computers are his playground, racquetball his sport, and his thoughts are not concerned about love or family. But with the unexpected responsibility of caring for his five-year-old deaf nephew, he finds himself on a ranch, because of a pony.
Keith knows all about apps and blogs, and he hopes his research will assist him in showing Keanna that he is her home.
The story revolves around Gerry, a young boy who has lost his hearing and who is grieving the loss of his father. When his mother is called back into service and sent overseas, his Uncle Keith steps in to look after him. He meets Keanna, who has experience within the deaf and hard of hearing community, when his nephew starts to feel overwhelmed and she offers to help them adjust to new circumstances.
The main characters, Keanna, Keith and Gerry are well developed and you really get to know who they are. Keanna and Keith have different approaches to solving challenges. But they listen to each other and they find a way to work together. The quaint resort town of Regina Beach is the perfect setting and a lovely look at life in a rural Saskatchewan. You are introduced to many examples of this as Keanna and Keith get to know each other.
Follow the Swallow Home fits perfectly into the gentle romance genre. You find tenderness in the timely arrival of a little teddy bear that gives Keanna someone to talk to as she searches for connection within the small town. You find it in sticky notes Keith places around their rooms to help his little nephew. You find it the baking of cakes, and the offering of apples to horses, and in all the little things this community does to take care of each other. It’s what you find within the pages of an Annette Bower book. Gentle stories about real people connecting with each other and their surroundings. Definitely recommend.
Until next time…
It’s the first day of fall! Who’s happy to see the season change? I’m definitely looking forward to slightly cooler temperatures.
I haven’t read many thrillers lately. But I was offered this ARC from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press and because I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump I decided to mix it up.
*This isn’t my usual book recommendation. This is definitely a thriller/mystery. It involves an investigation into a teenager’s murder. So, if that’s not your thing…
Published: October 31, 2023 by St. Martin’s Press
Categories: Thriller / Suspense / Mystery
One girl murdered…another one missing…and a medical examiner desperate to uncover the truth in When I’m Dead, the latest Black Harbor mystery by acclaimed author Hannah Morrissey.
On a bone-chilling October night, Medical Examiner Rowan Winthorp investigates the death of her daughter’s best friend. Hours later, the tragedy hits even closer to home when she makes a devastating discovery—her daughter, Chloe, is gone. But, not without a trace.
A morbid mosaic of clues forces Rowan and her husband to question how deeply they really knew their daughter. As they work closely to peel back the layers of this case, they begin to unearth disturbing details about Chloe and her secret transgressions…details that threaten to tear them apart.
Amidst the noise of navigating her newfound grief and reconciling the sins of her past, an undeniable fact rings true for Rowan: karma has finally come to collect.
I was immediately absorbed by this atmospheric page turner. Holy Moley. Black Harbor reminds me of Gotham City. It has that kind of vibe. The story is told from three points of view: Rowan who’s the medical examiner; Axel, a homicide detective and Rowan’s husband; and Libby, the awkward teenager who lives next door.
The night of the high school play, a teenage girl is found murdered. Rowan and Axel are called to the scene only to find the victim is their daughter’s best friend. Things escalate when they realize their daughter is also missing. What follows is a desperate search along a twisted path for their daughter as well as answers to unexpected revelations that come to light.
This book never lets up. Rowan and Axel are thrown into crisis mode and become unreliable narrators of sorts. That’s where Libby comes in. You never know what’s up with her but her perspective gives you a different take on the action and gives you a break from the turmoil enveloping Rowan and Axel.
Overall, it’s a gripping thriller with lots of dark twists and turns. The setting sets the tone. The well done characterizations bring the drama. It’s the perfect book to read come October 31st. Definitely check it out if it’s your jam.
Until next time…
What is it about fall that makes you want to read something a little more atmospheric?
Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.
But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away…because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.
With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.
She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.
Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom’s protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.
Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.
Look, if you’re looking for pure entertainment and escapism, this is the book for you. The action starts on page one and doesn’t let up until the last page. Also be warned, it ends on a cliffhanger. There will be five books in this series with the next one coming out in November this year. Thank goodness!
I loved it. I wish I could erase it from my memory and have the chance to read it again for the first time. I’ll probably read it again anyway. And I don’t do that often. There’s just something about this damn book. I don’t read young adult or new adult at all anymore. I avoid books written in first person point of view. (I’ve got to narrow things down somehow. There’s a lot of books out there.) This book is both those things. Like I said, I read it because of the hype.
But I love Violet. She’s smart and kind. She doesn’t blindly follow the rules. She doesn’t break them without cause either. Xaden. He’s ruthless. But he’s fair. And he’ll do anything to protect the people entrusted to his care, which is the sexiest thing ever. Also, anyone who knows me well, knows my favourite trope is enemies to lovers. Check. Violet and Xaden don’t like each other, they don’t trust each other. For very good reasons. But their chemistry is off the charts.
The dragons. There’s nothing kind or gentle about them. Their loyal to each other first. The place second. Their rider third. If the rider manages to earn it. If they don’t, they die. But there are a lot of ways to die in this book. Too many to count. Just like the tagline states: Ride…or die. It’s got strong Hunger Games and Divergent vibes. So, if you don’t enjoy that kind of thing…well, this might not be the book for you. But if you want to take a chance and have a summer fling with a book you might not normally read, this would be the book to pick. If you can find it. It’s selling out all over the place. Highly recommend!
I’m putting together this post as I listen to Mary Balogh‘s interview on the Fated Mates podcast. I highly recommend listening to it. Mary is so well spoken, so talented, and very passionate about the romance genre. She’s also a friend and a fellow member of my writing group. So, needless to say, this post is taking forever to write because I’m distracted by listening to one of my favourite writers, Sarah MacLean, talk writing with Mary.
I picked up this story for three reasons. 1) It got a lot of attention last year. 2) I was looking to end my reading slump. 3) It was available at the library. Usually I don’t pick books written in first person point of view. Or books that are rom-coms. Or books with yellow covers. But I’m so glad I did. It was delightful and just what I needed. It was heartwarming. A bit ridiculous. So sweet. And, at one point, I laughed. Like out loud. Definitely recommend. Especially if you prefer reading romances without sex scenes.
This gorgeous book was a heartbreaker, in the best way. Kennedy Ryan‘s writing gives you something different each time. In Before I Let Go, we meet Yasmen and Josiah Wade, whose marriage was supposed to last forever. But, as we find out, grief can rip the best of intentions to shreds. At the beginning of the story they have been divorced for two years. Moving forward means moving on from each other. But to do that they have to confront the grief that tore them apart. Sensual, angsty, and raw, this book has it all.
I’m going to leave you with another sneak peek at the first book in my Whisper Creek series. Charlotte has moved into her family home and has plans to turn it into a bed and breakfast. Four generations have lived in Darcy House, which was built by Albert and Louise Darcy in 1907. Rumours also swirl around The Darcy Diamonds. Jewelry given to Darcy brides on their wedding day and on the birth of children.