The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

I love a storyline where childhood sweethearts are torn asunder, and then the dude returns all super dark and angsty. Which is exactly what happened here…not really.

Dougan and Farah meet in an orphanage as kids. They have the sweetest little baby romance. Then Dougan ends up in prison. And dies. Ouch, right?

“‘I’ll teach you that, as well,’ she promised. ‘ Right after I teach you to read. Love is quite like reading, I expect. Once you know how, you can’t ever imagine not doing it.'”

17 years later Farah is tossed into the path of a tortured criminal named Dorian – who had been imprison with Dougan. Dorian is a hot mess – physically and emotionally, but he thinks Farah is the cat’s meow bc in prison Dougan was all “Fairy is the perfectest, sweetest, prettiest little angel in the whole world.” But then Dorian is all “No, I can’t love you. I’m awful and will taint you.” And Farah is all “your issues have issues, but I think I like it!” Meanwhile assassination attempts and long-buried secrets and self-torture and torture of others and shenanigans.

“‘That’s what you’re too blind to see. I don’t want to change. I like being the Blackheart of Ben More. I relish making the imbeciles that run this empire into my puppets. I feed on the fear of others. I love to crush my enemies and outwit the police. I am not a redeemable hero, Farah…'”

In short, all the reasons I read romance in one perfect package. With a great writing. I’ll be blowing straight through this series – see you on the other side of the Byrne-binge!

Loving JT Geissinger’s Wicked Games Series For Its Heroines

Despite being a voracious reader my entire life, I’m relatively new to the romance game. I only started reading romance about 10 years ago – and got serious about them within the last five years. The reason? Heroines.

I’m 37. I have a Doctorate. I’m seeking my Masters currently. I have little in common with an awkward teenager torn between a vampire and a werewolf. And any man attempting to tie me up and spank me is likely to end up dead or in jail. Again and again I’d get 10 or 20 percent into a book to find that while the heroes shine, sparkle and conquer the heroines simper, worry and make ONE STUPID DECISION AFTER ANOTHER. Literally, these women exist to do dumb things – allowing the hero to save them and show off his awesome skills.

Over the last few years I have become the pickiest of readers. I only get recommendations from the most trusted of sources, and I’m quick to shut a book down if I realize quickly that the heroine makes me feel squicky or aggravated.

Which brings me to this series by JT Geissinger. These are the first books I’ve read by her. And they were wonderful. Each of the heroes was uber-masculine, charming and sexy. But I fell in love with the heroines. Each with issues, but each so incredibly strong and sassy and never-say-die. All of the books were action-packed, and the heroine was always in the thick of it. They may have possessed a different skill-set than the hero, but Geissinger is an author who values both brains and brawn. If you’re tired of feeling marginalized by frail, willowy heroines who run up the stairs when they should be running out the front door then may I suggest you give JT Geissinger a try?

The Rollercoaster That is Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles

I was unimpressed with Book 1 (Poison Princess) because of a wimpy heroine and seemingly meandering plot, but I was hooked by Book 2 (Endless Knight) and in love by Book 3 (Dead of Winter). I ended up reading this after I requested cajun heroes from one of my book groups – it turned out that this was YA, post-apocalyptic and a love-triangle. Talk about 3 strikes and you’re out. Generally for me love-triangle is a death knell, and the other 2 only blow my skirt up when I’m in the mood. Little did I know that I’d be wandering into my favorite series of 2017.

It is frivolous. I get that. But I love that while this book wrings all of these emotions out of me – it does it in this terribly gentle way. Yes, my heart is broken 5 times a book – but it hurts so good. There’s that fine line between emotional manipulation and let’s-have-some-fun. Kresley Cole walks it perfectly in this series, and I could not be more excited for the final book in 2018.