What I’ve been reading lately — the books that surprised me edition

I’m back!  (Did you miss me?)  I’ve got some nifty things lined up for this month, but right now I want to talk about the books I’ve been reading lately. I’ve been reading some random stuff, and I’ve been really surprised by how much I liked some of it.

I’m starting with the one that surprised me the most.  Actually, it’s a trilogy, and I simply cannot believe that I liked these books: they’re by Maya Banks.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m not a fan of her books.  (I hated Rush, and I was alternately Whaa?? LOLZ!! and meh about books 1-3 of the Sweet Series. Then I finally stopped buying and reading her books — for a few months.  Then my buddy Kim emailed me and told me that In Bed with a Highlander was actually pretty good. So I bought all three books and hoped she was right.)

You know what?  Banks’ brand of crazy actually works set in medieval Scotland, and these books are a fun, wild ride.  They also involved some unexpected feminist elements (that women and men are not monolithic; that sometimes the assiduous desire to “protect” a woman places her in greater danger than allowing her to protect herself; that healthy relationships are based on a sense of partnership) that pleased me.  The basic plot of each of the three books is the love story between their respective heroes and heroines, but spanning over all three books is an intrigue plot involving revenge, treason and impending war. My favorite book is the second one, Seduction of a Highland Lass, because it was full of forbidden love and because Alaric, the hero of that book, was the least alphahole of the bunch.

I had to include that video, because I watched it before I read the books, so I thought of the video every time “trews” were mentioned in the books (every time the male characters undress).  Anyway, I just had to share the love.

So. Choose-your-own-adventure erotica exists.  I read Charlotte: Prowling for Enchantment, and I shocked the hell out of myself when I realized I liked it.  A lot.

You need the blurb.  Here’s the version from Goodreads:

Sail away on a moonlit adventure! It’s the readers who guide Charlotte’s romantic fate in the Dare to Decide series’ next interactive erotic ebook. From the mermaid beach to the fairy ball, you steer Charlotte’s passions with the click of a link.

Finally, it’s Charlotte’s time for a sexy single’s cruise, the kind of trip Gram would have loved. Umbrella drink in hand, she finds herself with a choice…a tawny Viking of a man beckons from across the bar, while a leather-clad rocker gets tossed at her feet. Neither man is as human as he seems…but then again, neither is Charlotte.

Before she knows it, Charlotte’s dodging curses and negotiating extraordinary pleasure. The elder tales warned us against trusting a pretty face…do you dare to decide where Charlotte goes next? Find your way through the eleven mysterious, magical endings.

I loved Choose Your Own Adventure stories when I was a kid.  There’s something so thrilling about being able to make choices for the characters and reading about the consequences.  About a month ago, I got an email from NetGalley highlighting the Dare to Decide series, and — despite my worry that CYOA erotica would focus on sexual rather than story choices (dare to decide: a tepid backrub or hawt anilingus?) — I rushed to request the series.  I’m glad I did, because my worries were unfounded.  There is so much story here, and there’s a huge amount of variation between the different story tracks.  And, you know what? This book is just damn fun to read (and very cleverly edited).  It provided exactly the experience that I so loved about CYOA stories 25 years ago but with more eroticism.  I can’t wait to read more.

Surprising, right?

*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley of Charlotte: Prowling for Enchantment from Pocket Star via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I purchased the other books mentioned in this post.*

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