What I read in March – a wry confession

Not too long ago, I wrote about how I had set this wild goal for 2014 to read fewer books and to think about them more.  I want you to know how well I’m doing on that goal.  Are you ready? I read the following books from March 1-31. (Click on any of the covers to learn more about these books.)  Oh, and I’m listing them in the order in which they were read, from March 1 through to March 31.

That’s 22 books (9 novellas, 13 full-length novels). Maybe I jinxed myself when I so publicly stated my goal. Maybe it was just a coincidence that I ended up binge-reading several authors (Sarah Mayberry, whom I started reading in February, Charlotte Stein, Cara McKenna, Laura Florand, and Maisey Yates). Maybe I just really wanted to read during the month of March, and I should get off my own back.  Either way, I think we can conclude that I spectacularly failed at my goal last month.

But, OH, you guys…. I don’t even care, because some of these books were just so damn good.  If you’ve not read Charlotte Stein (and you’re in the market for erotica), you should do yourself a favor and pick up Control. That book is simply beautiful. And Penny Reid’s Neanderthal Seeks Human will probably make my list of favorites for the year. And Unexpected was, well, unexpected — a contemporary, Oregon-set, cowboy-secret-baby-almost-engagement-of-convenience story that not only worked but also managed to fill me with hand-clapping, bouncing glee?! — and incredibly good (MissB: if you’re reading this, I think you’d love it.). And I really can’t wait until my bestest reading buddy Kim picks up Once Upon a Billionaire, so I can find out if she likes it as much as I did.

And don’t even get me started about those two Laura Florand books (or the one I just finished a few hours ago)… I didn’t think I could like a book better than I liked The Chocolate Touch but then I read The Chocolate Rose and realized maybe there could be a tie in my affections. But then I read The Chocolate Temptation (which I really want Tasha to read) and realized that, really, there’s no way to pick a favorite, and the best thing to do about it is just read all the books over and over and over again, the way my bestest friend in the whole wide world cycles through The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

So, there you have it. I may have failed at my goal, but I WON AT ALL THE OTHER THINGS. Stay tuned for future posts discussing these very books in greater detail. And happy Friday, everybody!

 

What I’ve been reading lately – you know, when I’m not watching the Olympics

99% of the time, I am not a sports fan.  I don’t care about any of the big sports in my country, I don’t play any sports myself, and I live in a kind of expectant terror that my daughters will develop an interest in soccer or softball or — God help me — basketball.  But then the Olympics come around, winter or summer, and all of that changes.

I don’t like sports, but goddamn: I love the Olympics.  So I’ve been glued to the TV and mobile app, mesmerized by the snowboarding (the men’s and women’s slopestyle events were AWESOME!), the skiing (who knew alpine skiing was so damn exciting? And the moguls? Holy crap!), the figure skating (Yulia Lipinitskaya and Yevgeny Plushenko: ’nuff said), the short-track speed skating (I could write some fan fiction about that Canadian guy who won gold in the 1500), the luge, the ski jumping… And I am beyond thrilled that women’s ski jumping will debut at this Olympics.

So, yeah… I haven’t been reading so much, but I did manage to spare some attention for a pair of books that made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions and had enough draw to capture (and hold) my attention away from men’s biathlon and men’s alpine downhill, respectively.

First up is Maisey Yates’s Crazy, Stupid Sex. 

The blurb, according to Goodreads:

How to Land the Hot Guy 1.0

A multimillionaire by the age of 27, app developer Evie James is clueless when it comes to hooking up. So she does what any self-respecting geek-girl looking to get laid would do: she programs her own app for landing a hot guy. After a few failed attempts at making contact, beta testing leads her to Caleb Anderson.

Caleb is used to female attention, but finds himself attracted to Evie because of her unique brand of awkward. A master of one-night stands, he’s more than happy to show her what she’s been missing in the bedroom. But he quickly discovers that one night with a woman like Evie will never be enough for him.

So, yeah. Crazy, Stupid Sex is basically Ryan Gosling + geek girl = LURVE fanfic, and it’s enormously entertaining.  Here’s a quick list of the things I loved about this book:

  1. Believably successful lady character.
  2. Excellent dialogue that incorporates ubiquitous geek references (the Doctor, LOTR paraphernalia, gaming enthusiasm, social awkwardness) with snappy wit.
  3. A unicorn burrito.
  4. References to a sex tip list, which is pretty much the only thing that comes to mind when I think of Cosmo.  Thankfully, Yates opted not to explore some of the more strange Cosmo sex tip offerings, such as using your feet instead of your hands and smearing food all over yourself and your partner.

I could have handled a slightly less angsty hero, a lot more sucking up at the end, a female friend for Evie, and a smidge more showing than telling, but I would still be happy to read this book a few more times just for the sheer fun of it.  Besides… it was more interesting than the men’s biathlon, and that’s really saying something.

And then there’s Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz.

The blurb, according to Goodreads:

Wanted: Adventurous, open-minded man willing to try anything…
As a popular sex blogger, Beatriz gets paid to have orgasms. So being on deadline the week of her sister’s wedding isn’t as rough as it sounds. There’s just one hitch: Bea’s assignment is to write a review of a sex position manual, but she doesn’t have a plus one to play with.

The good news: Ben, the one who got away back in college, is also attending stag–and he’s as temptingly gorgeous as ever.  The bad news: Ben turned down Bea’s offer of graduation night sex five years ago.  The best news: He’s not planning on making the same mistake twice.

A red-hot retelling of Much Ado About Nothing for people who love Shakespeare but thought his plays could use a few more sex scenes.

So, when I say, “Erotic retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing,” you probably don’t think, “Awesome!” But you should, because, in the hands of Tiffany Reisz, it is.  Misbehaving translates the comedy of errors as a contemporary erotic romance and shines with wit and clever plotting.  As much an adaptation as a retelling, the book draws together elements from the original and creates something new that feels both authentic and original.

And it’s damn funny.

The sex scenes are classic Tiffany Reisz.  You won’t find any dripping petals or creaming or turgid manhood here.  Reisz acknowledges the awkwardness and the sexiness of real sex and calls attendant parts by their real names.  Personally, I prefer that approach to literary sex, because if I have to be reading about people getting it on, I’d rather do so without the distraction of strange euphemisms, the linguistic tip-toeing that transfers a feeling of junior high prurience onto my reading experience.

The bottom line is that this book is so much more interesting than men’s downhill alpine skiing, and that’s really saying something.  (For reals: incredibly fit men wearing spandex suits and skiing down a mountain at 80 mph is pretty damn interesting.)  So, when I say, “erotic retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing,” you should really say, “Hell yes.”

Crazy, Stupid Sex and Misbehaving were both released on Feb. 11, 2014 by Cosmo Hot Reads, an imprint of Harlequin.  For more information about the books, click on the cover images above to visit their respective pages on Goodreads.  For more information on the authors, check out Maisey Yates’s and Tiffany Reisz’s websites.  And, if you’re on the Twitter, you should seriously be following these two.  They are hilarious.  (For the lazy, here are the links for Maisey and Tiffany.)

*FTC Disclosure – I received e-galleys of these books from Cosmo Hot Reads from Harlequin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My gushing about Olympic awesomeness was a bonus.*