The greatest thing I’ve found about reading over the years is the wonder of going to a new place, whether it is the next state, another country or a different time. Every book read broadens the singular experience of a reader, in ways that aren’t always easy to discover. This fact has proved true over and over again in my recent reading. Whether I’m reading about millennials in Colorado trying to figure out how life works or reading a story of high society in Sydney, there’s always a story to uncover that I’d never experience if I weren’t a romance reader.
One of the main things we do at our book club meetings (and remember I attend over seven each month) is to talk about our recent reads. Thankfully, I read at least one book a day, so I usually have lots of fodder in my report to the group during the “name game.” This week, I’ve been reading about “inking” and piercing and high-stress business. Really! It’s been a whirlwind of information to mull over. I also happen to be a reader who takes the stories into my sleep. In my dreams, characters get a chance to really develop active lives past the pages of a book. Does this happen to you as well?
Welcome to my world.
I recently decided to pick up a Harlequin romance; it’d been some time since I tried one of Margaret Way’s books, so I went for it. The English Lord's Secret Son brought back so many memories of reading during college when I first discovered Mills & Boons and then Harlequin romances. Oh, yes, the first romances I discovered were big bodice rippers—Kathleen Woodiwiss and Shirley Busbee books. The allure of travel, of Europe or Australia, has always been appealing; I was sure I’d graduate from college and go off for a year around the world. I longed for lands far away from rural Pennsylvania, and my reading frequently to contemporary romances because of this. Sydney seemed exactly the kind of far-away setting I longed for. Unfortunately, The English Lord's Secret Son wasn’t what I expected. The high-society setting wasn’t as sophisticated as I was anticipating, although there were bits about the modern business environment. Also, the story about a secret baby wasn’t what I wanted to read. I did get an exciting chapter about visiting a private island on the Gold Coast, though, so I won’t count the book as a total miss for me.
So, after reading a book by an old favorite, I thought it was time to read a story in a hot, contemporary genre. Fortunately, I had the set of Jay Crownover’s Marked Men trilogy to check out. If you’re looking for fast-paced and emotional reads, Crownover delivers. The trilogy is being released in paperback from William Morrow beginning October 22nd with Rule, followed by Jet on November 19th and Rome on January 7th. To describe each book by their leading men: bad-boy tattoo artist; bad boy musician; troubled ex-soldier. All three are hot guys with TONS of baggage. Fortunately, they each get a girl to pair up with in relationship bliss. What appealed to me most about the series is the world of “inking” and tattoos.
I had to actually refer to Wikipedia to figure out some of the tattoo-related terms used in the books, especially in Rule. A little background story for you: Rule’s twin brother died in a car accident while on the way to pick up a drunk-to-oblivion Rule. Of course, he blames himself for his brother’s death and, as an identical twin, he also has a huge feeling of loss. Rule was the quintessential “bad twin” who started getting tattoos to differentiate himself from Remy the “good twin.” Rules story includes lots of over-the-top drunkenness, sex with any woman who showed interest and a difficult relationship with his parents. But Rule managed to create his own family of sorts at the tattoo shop where he is a master artist. As with all good romances, a potential mate enters the picture, and in Rule’s case, Shaw London may turn out to be his soul mate. Their relationship takes a lot of work though, and their story is filled with ups and downs. I devoured this story quickly and couldn’t wait to read the next book, Jet.
If you’re a fan of The Voice, you may get a kick out of this book with a rock star main character. Crownover takes a talented hard rocker, Jet Keller, and gives him a woman to fall in love with who is totally country in Jet. Ayden Cross has left a hard life behind in Kentucky and she’s finishing up the education she wants for a better future. One thing she doesn’t need is a rock-’n-roll guy to “rock” her boat. But Jet is not all that he seems. The paperback is on sale November 19th. You should definitely add it to your reading list and pick it up when television gets boring.
The third book in the Marked Men series is Rome. Back home as a hero from Afghanistan and retired due to his injuries, Rome may not be covered with tattoos but his marks are scars both external and internal. Finding his place in the world after 10 years of being a warrior is proving not to be easy. I found some of his actions unsettling due to the truth behind them. Crownover is maturing as a writer and she brings the story home in a very satisfying manner. I love the colorful pixie-girl Cora Lewis. I also can’t wait for Rowdy and Nash’s stories to be told. Oh, pretty please!
So, in my reading this week, I’ve gone from the boardrooms and private islands of the ultra-wealthy in Australia to a college town in Colorado. I already know a bit about love, but my experience is enriched with new stories outside of everyday life. And truly, isn’t that what a good book is supposed to do? Especially a romance.
It’s down to two weeks and we’d love for you to meet some of the best romance authors around at our Readers & ’Ritas Weekend, November 8th through 10th. A few tickets are still available and we’re filling up the neighboring hotel block, but there is still a spot for you! Join Alexandra Allred, Mary Burton, Shannon K. Butcher, Connie Cox, Tracy Deebs, Nikki Duncan, C.J. Ellisson, Karen Erickson, Lorenz Font, Felice Fox, Morgan Fox, Winnie Griggs, Liliana Hart, Candace Havens, Sherri Hayes, Lorelei James, Missy Jane, Tonya Kappes, Diane Kelly, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jenn LeBlanc, Jade Lee, Roz Lee, Heather Long, Dianna Love, Sylvia McDaniel, Emily McKay, Nancy Naigle, Michael Schneider, Terry Spear, Sasha Summers, Liz Talley, Sherry Thomas, Kay Thomas, Vicki Lewis Thompson, and Jaye Wells. You can find more information at Readers-n-ritas.org. We can sit and talk about romance books, as t’s always a great way to spend time. And perhaps enjoy a margarita or two?
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.