It’s a funny time in the romance world. Lots of people are preparing for RWA and the first of the Christmas romance ARCs are out (!!!) for October releases. For me, I’m putting the last details together for the Read-A-Romance Month calendar {pshew…}.

So I’m just trying to keep up with my books, my kids (who are visiting during college breaks), my husband (who is changing jobs), and all the craziness of summer life, which is supposed to be more relaxed, but never is, is it?

Still - I get to read great books. No complaining here!

Back in March, when I did a Read-A-Romance Women’s History Month celebration, one of the authors recommended an upcoming debut, The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway, which released at the end of May. (I just love that cover!) If you like a little Gilded Age, a little Downton Abbey-style class and family drama, a little romance, and a lot of unexpected twists and turns, then you should check out this book. There’s also quite a bit of reflection on artistic freedom vs. practicality; the historical lack of opportunity for women in the arts, as well as in the business world, and their subsequent financial vulnerability; plus, any number of fascinating historical tidbits (like the fact that both morphine and cocaine were sold over the counter at the turn of the 20th century). Main character and first person narrator Ginny Loftin is an aspiring writer who is betrayed on a number of fronts, but manages to keep her optimism and determination without becoming foolish or unsympathetic. A charming and memorable debut.

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Another recommendation from March that I’m looking forward to is The Invitation by Lucy Foley (releases July 14), which sounds fascinating and like some cross between the terrific classic movie The Barefoot Contessa and the breathtaking novel Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (highly recommend!) In anticipation of the release, I listened to The Book of Lost and Found, which was a compelling read, though the historical star-crossed lover aspect was slightly undermined by character Alice’s lack of urgency in finding her lost love. However the scope of the novel and the interesting setting of Corsica made it worthwhile, and there’s some overall lovers’ redemption. (You can read the Kirkus review here.) Definitely looking forward to Foley’s next book.

I managed to squeeze in a listen of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Duke of Sin and it was fabulous. (Of course.) {happy sigh} I just love how Hoyt redeemed the seemingly irredeemable Duke of Montgomery and paired him with his housekeeper. If you’re a fan of the Maiden Lane series, you may have already read this. If you’re not, and you like historical romance, then you probably should get started on the series right away! (Plus, the teaser for the next title has a return of the Ghost of St. Giles. Who’s a woman. Very cool.)

I’m just diving in to Nine Women, One Dress by Jane Rose which I’m loving so far. (Kirkus reviewed it here.)

What are you picking up this week?

Happy reading! xo

Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer, book reviewer, romance advocate and founder of ReadARomanceMonth.comShe mostly writes about books and romance for NPRThe Huffington Post and Kirkus.