So I’m off to Chicago and BEA (Book Expo America) today, then back in Madison to go to a concert my husband bought tickets for many moons ago, then back to BEA Friday and Saturday.

That means a lot of time in the car, so I’m queuing up some audio “reads” I’ve been waiting for!

I’m knee deep into Elizabeth Hoyt’s Sweetest Scoundrel (don’t you just love The Maiden Lane series?!) which came out last November, though I only just received it recently (both form the publisher and from Overdrive, in an odd twist of timing). Still, it’s a welcome timeline because it just helps me anticipate the release of Duke of Sin, which comes out in a couple of weeks! Haven’t we all been waiting to see who’d get paired with that naughty hero? Very cool.

As for Sweetest Scoundrel, she’s diving into some pretty deep emotional waters with Asa Makepeace and Eve Dimwoody, and I’m only about a third of the way in. For all the talk as to how historicals are dying (and we’ve been hearing that for 15 years now, right?), Hoyt and a handful of other authors are some of the best writers in the business these days and could likely keep historicals on the shelves just on their strength alone. (Kleypas, MacLean, Thomas, Dare, Quinn, Burrowes, and James would probably round out that list, though I’m sure I’m missing some. If you’re a historical fan and haven’t read any of those, I recommend checking them out!)

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I heard Hoyt speak in Paris, and she mentioned that there would only be twelve books in the series, and this is #9. Oh no! I can’t even bear to think about it. I’m sure she’ll come up with something equally terrific for her next work, but I am simply not ready to leave Maiden Lane. Will have to comfort myself with more books…Or rereads. Or re-listens.

Some other titles I’ve enjoyed recently:

Nana Malone’s Sexy in Stilettos – When sexy event planner Jaya Trudeaux takes a risk and lands a huge client for her family’s firm, not only does she not get credit for her boldness, she actually loses her job. A fateful meeting with Alec Danthers, the sexy stepson of a formidable businesswoman, opens the door to a new opportunity that will make or break Jaya, but she knows she has the skills and talent to be a success, if she can find the confidence. Alec is supportive, but also a distraction, and maybe the celebrated playboy isn’t someone to depend on in a crisis. Or is he?

Very fun and flirty, yet also emotionally dense, dealing with family issues and friction between wanting independence and feeling the desire to settle down. Malone is Romace_Bridgertondefinitely a contemporary author to pick up! (And I think it’s free on Kindle right now.)

Julia Quinn’s Because of Miss Bridgerton - Billie Bridgerton can’t stand her neighbor George Rokesby, despite being friends with all of his brothers. So why, when talk  begins to center on finding her a husband, the only one she wants is George? Quinn moves back a generation, into the Georgian period, but maintains her inimitable mix of minxish charm and writing elegance with the beloved Bridgertons. (And yes. There is Pall Mall, Bridgerton-style!)

Finally, I read Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a recent literary darling. This is a pick for my book club next month, plus I heard the author, J. Ryan Stradal, speak at The Writers’ Institute last month. Honestly, the book was delicious (pun intended) and his writing is exquisite. It read more like a series of short stories that wrapped up loosely in the end, rather than a full novel in the traditional style, but it was a lovely read. Not romance, but definitely a good, satisfying arc for the fascinating main female character. (However, the romance advocate/cynic in me feels that if this book had been written by a woman it wouldn’t get nearly the accolades this one has. And it probably would have been decried as too ‘something’ in the way books written by women often are, and similar books written by men aren’t. With all due respect to Stradal. It’s a beautiful book.)

Romance_nest Next in my Overdrive queue? The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. This has received rave reviews in lots of places, both literary and pop culture, so I’m looking forward to it.

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

And I just received an audio copy (through Audible) of The Moon in The Palace by Weina Dai Randel, so I’m excited to get to that one.

There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power.

A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor's attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.

(A quick note about supporting authors: If you love audiobooks like I do, be sure to find out what e-platform your library uses and request books through that platform. I’ve had so many books picked up by my library system just by asking for them. Also request in CD form if that’s an option. I’ve heard from some librarians that patrons request books all the time, but less so in the audio versions. This is a great thing for authors, so don’t forget about it!)

So – a kind of eclectic collection of books and information today! What are you reading, or looking forward to, this week?

Happy reading!