I liked all of these to varying extents.
How's THAT for a cop-out review?!?!?!?!
No, seriously, I keep meaning to write about them, but then I forget which one I've written about or not, so here's my list of books on various tables throughout the house. (Well, the ebooks aren't truly cluttering the tables, but they're on my mind. Brain clutter.)
Rebellious Desire by Julie Garwood
A fun reread. I distinctly remember reading the let's-retire-from-the-waltz-and-kiss-on-the-balcony scene. Doesn't seem "believable" now, but I enjoyed the memories of enjoying the book.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I have a lot to say on this book. I keep meaning to write a post about it, but get so tangled up in political matters that I can't seem to get to it. Beth wrote very clearly about how this is, in her point of view, NOT a romance. I agree with her great post, which includes tons of spoilers, especially the business of there being an undercurrent of pedophilia or sexual manipulation in that one character trains the other to love him, but I do think Niffenegger has grasped on an interesting theme in relationships: it is rare to have both people have the same level of self-awareness or knowledge at the same time in a relationship. (Oh my God. Grab an editor. That's one hell of a sentence.)
I know in my marriage, there are times when I'm in a self-reflective mode, and Dear Butcher is more active or demonstrative. Or there are times when I can feel him trying to puzzle out intentions or consequences of a decision, and I'm trying to just get something done. I wouldn't say that this difference of attitude causes fights; it's just something I notice from time to time as we're trying to live together and raise children together. Sometimes we're completely in "the Zone" together, and the world just clicks. But that's rare.
Time Traveler's Wife made me think about the stereotype that two people meet as young innocents, completely unschooled in the wants and needs of the other person. Together they learn about the other, they grow closer and more aware of each other, and together they become more able to communicate and operate as a loving partnership in the world. Yet that may be as impossible to achieve as the other stereotype in Romances: the shared orgasm. In truth, there are times when one partner simply isn't ready to deal with an issue, or isn't as self-aware as the other. Then that partner can suddenly catch up, or even surpass the other in self-knowledge or intuition. The two partners are constantly shifting in their own knowledge of the relationship, and it is very rare to have both individuals on the same plane of responsibility or self-awareness.
So, I agree with Beth, this is not a Romance, but it certainly made me think about a complexity in loving relationships.
Country Pleasures by Rosemary Laurey (Samhain eBooks)
Meant to write about this for Angie's TBR challenge. I read it in time, just never wrote about it. Sob. Wall of Shame.
Ummm. Contemporary. Ummm. Couple has met and has had sex before the book even starts. The rest of the story is Rob Castle trying to convince Jenny Lee to give up her fast-paced urban lifestyle and stay with him on the farm. I almost liked it, but the guy doesn't seem to do much farming for a wealthy (Ha!) farmer. Meh.
Learning Charity by Summer Devon (Samhain eBooks)
ALSO meant to write about this for Angie's TBR challenge. I read it in time, just never wrote about it. Sob. Wall of Shame. Again!
Eliot Stevens, a wealthy American in Regency London, needs to find a well-bred lady so that he can gain acceptance into society. He hears a rumor of a lady turned prostitute, and seeks her out. Charity has been orphaned and turned out of her uncle's house. She services men, but does not enjoy it. The book consists of a long conversation, interrupted by sexual interludes, between Eliot and Charity. He tries to draw her out, she tries to stay hidden from him. It really worked for a short book--staying essentially in one room bound the action well.
One teeny eeny problem I had, and I KNOW it's an effect of the construct of the short story, is that Eliot declares at the end of the story that he had decided to ask Charity to marry him within a few minutes of meeting her, almost before he met her, because she was a fallen lady. Yeah, OK, I know it's just the HEA thing, but I kind of sort of didn't go along with that.
BUT, I like dialogue--lots of dialogue. I like convincing sex--lots here too. So overall, very highly recommended.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (eBook)
Had to reread this. What a GREAT story. Just perfect.
Mapping the World of Harry Potter Edited by Mercedes Lackey.
A series of critical articles about the HP series, up to and including the Half Blood Prince. Very good essay by Joyce Millman entitled, "To Sir, With Love" which explores why Severus Snape immediately became such a sexually potent target of BDSM fan-fic, and how that has subtly changed his character as the books and movies develop together. Doug, take note.
And I have another post to go on the topic of Books I Should Have Written About Sooner.