Saturday, 3 January 2015

Feminist Romance Novels - a discovery of riches

Scotland loves new year - or Hogmanay as it's called here. It loves it so much it awards not one, but two bank holidays. That's one more than Christmas and it means that people can really party.  There are tons of traditions associated with Hogmanay. Cleaning out your house. First footing. Shortbread. Coal. Auld Lang Syne. Brisk walks on New Year's Day.

Confession: I am a terrible Hogmanay-celebrator. It's the memories of queues, I think. Queuing is known to be a great British tradition, but it's not one I embrace. Not when you're wearing heels. Not when it's sleeting. Not when you're waiting three hours for a taxi and paying twice the fare you normally would.  So this year we had a gathering at our house and there were no queues at all. 

I welcomed the New Year in the neighbour's front garden and New Year's Day well, there was no walk. New Year's Day was all about new authors - new to me that is. 

I welcomed the dawn of 2015 in fantastic literary company with two new-to-me authors, Sherry Thomas and Courtney Milan. And I came across them, in a 2014-ish sort of way, via Pinterest because of pin description which read: "9 Surprisingly Feminist Romances."

Well, I'm a feminist. And I love romance. The nine books cited included Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne, which has one of my favourite ever spy-heroes, and Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer, which has one of my favourite ever Heyer heroines. Also an Elizabeth Hoyt, which is frankly, always good. 

Immediately, I was sold. It was the work of a moment to check out the others on the list, starting with Sherry Thomas and Courtney Milan. And that's where I stopped, because I enjoyed them so much, I just wanted to read more. 

In the space of three days, assisted by some cat-related insomnia and a fair amount of laziness, I speed read my way through a great clutch of novels by both authors. They're great. 

Courtney Milan's heroines are outstanding - wonderful, empowered geeks enhanced by interesting, enlightened male counterparts. No two the same, no storyline repeated. Try the Brothers Sinister series, you won't regret it. I started with The Suffragette Scandal, whose ambitious and fiery heroine wants to eat the world alive, but that's actually towards the end of the series. The earlier books are just as good. Each one is outstanding, including the novellas. 

Sherry Thomas' delightful historical romances (she writes YA too) beautifully balance sensuality with sharp wit and warm humour. His At Night is funny and clever, with an edge, like Baroness Orczy having afternoon tea with Loretta Chase. Not Quite a Husband turns the loving-wife-wins-love-of-irascible-and-emotionally-remote-husband trope on its head with heart-warming dexterity; Delicious has the sensuality of Chocolat and the Cinderella magic of Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs 

So there's my 2015 gift to you: a clutch of recommendations. Greater love hath no blogger. Happy reading. 


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