First, let me commend this essay
on saying "I don't usually like X but" about works, especially when X is a socially-marginalised genre. (and compare to e.g. "but you're not like those other
women / politicians / sf fans", all of which I have been on the receiving end of, and all of which gets old really fast)
Last week, when I said The Siren
by Tiffany Reisz was "Surprisingly good S&M romance", I was totally doing this. To a lesser extent I was also doing it when I said "But this is a Courtney Milan billionaire novel so I couldn't wait to see what she did with it."
Let me rephrase. Both The Siren
and its direct sequel The Angel
are both engaging, page-turning, hot, romantic novels that happen to feature BDSM and polyamory. The Siren
has a protagonist who is learning about BDSM, which is a good device for explaining things to the reader who doesn't know much. The Angel
develops several of the characters from The Siren
further and has a sweet m/m first-love romance too. I suspect I could happily marathon the rest of the series and maybe I will after I've done more Hugo reading.What I've read
:The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher
. This has a retold-fairytale feel, but I wasn't quite sure which
fairy tale: it's a bit reminiscent of Bluebeard but not in the details. Rhea the miller's daughter gets engaged to the local mysterious lord, who turns out to be a nasty piece of work with magical powers, and a bunch more wives no-one seems to know about. I loved the storytelling and the women-working-together plot and the hedgehog.Women Destroy Fantasy!
which is really a collection of short stories and non-fiction essays and I should probably talk about that in more detail separately. One of the (Hugo-eligible) shorts, and one of my favourites, was also by T Kingfisher: The Dryad's Shoe
. It's a really nice Cinderella retelling, and reminds me that I never got around to writing about Ash
by Malinda Lo which is a much creepier Cinderella story.
There are a great many "further reading" recommendations in Women Destroy Fantasy!
many of which I have taken note of.Toad Words and Other Stories
by T Kingfisher. This is a collection of stories, pretty much all retold fairy tales, and this time I actually recognised all of them (except the poems; I'm not good at poems). My standout favourite was Boar & Apples
, which you could also call "Snow White and the Seven Wild Boars".
I've been playing with a free trial of Scribd, which mostly meant I indulged in rereading a bunch of Jennie Crusie
's funny romance books: Strange Bedpersons, Anyone But You, Getting Rid of Bradley, Charlie All Night, Manhunting
. I note that I am now squarely in the age-demographic of most of Crusie's heroines, which I wasn't when I first discovered her ten or so years ago. Also that dogs can be strangely vital to romance.
I read another Tessa Dare, a novella called How to Catch a Wild Viscount
which was apparently her first published piece. I didn't like it nearly as much as One Dance with a Duke
so I'm still a bit undecided about this author.
I had preordered Worth the Risk
by Claudia Connor after enjoying her first book, Worth the Fall
very much. I didn't like this one nearly as much. I finished it, so it's better than a lot of stuff, but I was disappointed. It had a lot of the tropes I really dislike: a controlling dominant very rich hero who can't communicate, plot being driven by 2D Nasty Characters Being Nasty, a great deal of Manly Macho Men being Macho, while Good Family Women herd children around and gossip and obsess over babies.
I really didn't like the way women in this book were either Good Family Women or Nasty Shallow Women. There was a bit of that in the beginning of Worth the Fall
but I had managed to forget it. The things that I particularly liked in Worth the Fall
were: slow romance developing out of connection and communication, the conflict of "you cannot carry on with the career you have and be the kind of partner you want to be in this relationship" feeling like a real no-one's-fault dilemma, no enormous financial disparity between the two characters. In Worth the Risk
, none of these apply and in most cases the opposite is true. What 's next
I still have samples of two sf novels to try, and ceb
has kindly lent me Kaleidoscope
for more short story goodness. There's also another T Kingfisher novella I haven't bought yet ...