Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn

So I thought this was an especially interesting read given my sojourn into Grovel Porn last week. This was the opposite of that. The hero did mess up here, but his efforts at fixing his mistake made the entire book empowering for the heroine.

As illustrated above, I love those dramatic books where the dick hero crawls across broken glass to make up for his multitude of mistakes. I like the swooping emotions that come with hating the hero and then loving him. I enjoy my righteous indignation on the part of the heroine. “Maybe she shouldn’t forgive him!” It’s just so delicious to even comprehend.

But those books are fantasy. As enjoyable as the action flicks I adore where everything blows up – and just about as realistic.

There is something special, and rather magnificent, about an author that can do something without the tricks and smoke-and-mirrors of unrealistic, high-drama romance. I won’t call this book “authentic” bc pretty much all stories have to have some flair injected to keep a reader’s interest. No one wants to hear about the 890 texts my husband I exchanged in the beginning of our relationship. It’s mundane.

However, this is one of the most tangible portrayals of two smart, successful, and slightly-damaged people falling in love. You know when you read those sassy, snappy, successful gal-about-town falls for the businessman with a huge penis and a giant bank account but a million relationship hang-ups? And you think “this is entertaining, but this doesn’t really happen.” These people who are perfect except one-magnified-for-the-story-hang-up aren’t substantial.

Kit and Ben were concrete. This was Cerebral Porn at it’s finest. A smart, strong heroine – not in the cheesy that authors generally think are “strong women” because they bitch and bicker with the hero or have a super power or some one dimensional simplification of feminine strength.

Kit took care of herself. She got counseling. She voiced when men were pushing their agenda under a cloak of “looking out for her well-being.” She was strong in that she put herself first and, when she needed to, she made the grand gesture. From the first page to the last Kit and her dynamic with those in her orbit was refreshing.

I don’t think I’m right or wrong in liking either of these kind of books. Or in liking any kind of books. Someone asked me what I read this week, and then instantly dismissed my answer when I said “romance.” But when I look back on what I’ve read over the last month I’m proud. Proud of our community and our diversity. Proud to be a romance reader.

Jock Rule by Sara Ney

I was so excited for this book! The first one in the series was such an unexpected treat. So I was stoked for this. And then I read the blurb. And it says the guy is all BEARDY and DIRTY. And I pretty much look like that pervy wolf from the cartoons.

I have a thing for unattractive heroes. I don’t know why. Or how. Or when. But Sara Ney’s The Learning Hours is one of my favorite contemporary romances of all time. So I was sooooooo excited to see what she’d do this time.

The book was weird. Quirky. The pacing was different. A slow-burn, friends-to-lovers romance with absolutely no drama and two strange fun characters. I read it one perfect sitting smiling from ear to ear the entire time. I wish it had lasted forever. Sara Ney, not sure how you snuck onto the teeny-tiny list of favorite-contemporary-authors, but damn I’m glad you’re here.

The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders

I’m impatiently waiting for Mariana Zapata’s new book to hit my kindle. So I’m reading all kinda random books. I don’t wanna be caught up in an ARC when Luna arrives. But it’s been kind of fun reading a little recklessly. And it led to this super fun read.

When I saw a post in one of my online book groups asking for a good grovel I was all over it. A groveling hero is such a THING for me. And at least 2, maybe 3, readers responded with The Unwanted Wife. It’s free on KU so I thought “what the heck” and dove in. Score!

So at first the simple writing made me uncomfortable. And then the book started to seem so familiar. I realized that it had a lot in common with The Unfaithful Wife. Like a lot a lot. I had to stop and make sure I hadn’t read this book before.

But slowly it developed its own vibe. And I was HOOKED. I’m talking sport-fishing here. Sandro was forced to marry Theresa (unbeknownst to her). She is so into him – and he isn’t into her. Then she’s over it – but he’s acting a little different…

Dude spent a good hunk of the book groveling. It literally made my toes curl. This is the best grovel I’ve read that I can remember. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with something better. Just absolutely delicious.