Hello, loverlies! After being quiet–at least on NW Book Lovers, as I certainly haven’t been quiet elsewhere–I am back for a new adventure. Turning Pages has gone into semi-retirement to make way for…The Bodice Riffer! (Thanks to our own Brian Juenemann for that pun-derful title.) Each month(-ish, because I’m still me), I’ll give you the rundown on new and upcoming Romance titles, plus share a backlist favorite or two. So, now, when you’re looking for books to help build your Romance collection, you have one more place to go to for ideas.
I was going to be super-thematic for November and do a list of Romances to be thankful for, but that started to feel cheesy and would have ignored some new October and November releases that deserve a little attention. And while I have no problem with cheese (it is a food group, after all), there’s plenty of time for that later. (Just wait until you see what I have on tap for December. You should probably start humming carols now.)
Here, then, are some of the Romance releases from October and November that would look really pretty on your shelves and even prettier being brought to the register.
Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan is my number one pick, even though I have yet to read it. It’s tops on my wish list, though because her RITA Award-winning Long Shot was hands-down one of my favorite books I read this year. Her stories aren’t the kind that I am normally drawn to, but the emotion that she puts on the page is incredibly intense and realistic and that is something I have always been drawn to.
Angel in a Devil’s Arms is the second in Julie Anne Long’s Palace of Rogues series. I’ve been a fan of Long’s books for several years and after her foray into Contemporary, I was thrilled to see her return to Historicals with last year’s Lady Derring Takes a Lover. What I most adore about this series is the female friendships, which are equally as important as the romantic pairings. And the maid, Dot. I love Dot and hope that she gets her own Happily Ever After.
Faker is the debut novel from Bend, OR author Sarah Smith. It’s a workplace romance, which can get squicky, but Smith avoids the boss/subordinate dynamic that can make these stories so problematic. I love that Smith chose to set her book in a testosterone-heavy work environment and really show what it takes for a woman to survive and (try to) thrive in such an environment.
Other notable releases in October include: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren (needed more grovelling), The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller (eccentric inventor, independent woman, and a ghost in Gilded Age New York) and Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory (kudos for two protagonists over 40).
My number one pick for November is Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. This is a sweet, funny rom-com that also has a lot of depth and, dare I say, gravitas. It deals with heavy-hitting issues like invisible disabilities and emotional abuse in a way that never drags down the delight of the core love story. It is, or is very nearly, the ne plus ultra of contemporary romantic comedy.
Lyssa Kay Adams’s The Bromance Book Club has one of my favorite premises of the year. Several members of a professional baseball team have a secret book club where they read Romance novels to learn how to treat the women in their lives and this first in the series focuses on a struggling married couple, which is one of my catnips. This is one of those Romance novels that also has a lot of appeal to non-Romance readers, in much the same way that Jasmine Guillory’s novels do.
The Romance market right now is dominated by Contemporary Romance, especially rom-coms, but I am a die-hard fan of Historicals, so I am going to do my best to feature at least one every month. For November, my pick is a book I have not yet read, but really, really want to. The Beast of Beswick by Amelie Howard is a Beauty and the Beast re-imagining and I am a sucker for a fairy tale-inspired story. I can’t wait to dig into this one.
Also publishing in November is Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher (a millennial take on the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). And coming in December is Blitzed by Alexa Martin (a football Romance from the wife of a former NFL player).
I’m also going to include a “Backlist Gem” with each of these rundowns. My first Backlist Gem is Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jaluluddin, a Pride and Prejudice-inspired “clean” Contemporary set in Toronto’s Muslim community. Another one of my favorite things is what I call a “longing” book; the kind of book where the protagonists are kept apart for some reason or another and the tension just builds…and builds…and builds and the reader can just feeeeel it and the reader feels the same sense of relief and satisfaction as the protagonists when they finally, finally get together and Ayesha at Last has that longing in spades. Be warned, this is a book that you will not be able to put down until you’ve turned the last page, so plan your sleeps accordingly.
To close out, I want to offer a little Bookstore Romance Day update. There’s not a lot to report at this time, but we have a lot of things we’re working on and I’ll share them with you as they get confirmed. To keep connecting independent bookstores with Romancelandia throughout the year, we have launched a quarterly Book Club and our first titles–The Bride Says No by Cathy Maxwell and Once Ghosted, Twice Shy and Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole–are being discussed in November. The next titles will be announced on November 18th, with discussions to happen in February.
I’ll be back in December with a list of Holiday-themed Romances to give you a nice dose of happy escapism during the stressful season.
Billie Bloebaum is a bookseller at Third Street Books who has been reading Romance for more than three decades. She is the founder of Bookstore Romance Day, which will be celebrated for the second time on August 15, 2020. She probably has cookies.