Suggestion Box

A collection of random things.

I Suggest You Read

Robin’s post on “Why We Read” (I’m catching up from vacation) and litlove’s on “Reading Slumps” (especially the final paragraph). Just because sometimes, I need to be reminded of all that’s good about reading.

Book Discussions

I’ve really been enjoying the book discussions here and the chance to consider books in more depth, even when the intensity of those discussions sometimes caught me off guard.

I can’t see myself setting up a “book club” with a monthly selection. I’m not that organized, and it’s hard to choose books that will draw enough people to get a discussion going. But I’ll definitely keep doing them when a book seems to be catching a lot of people’s interest, as we did for Back to the Good Fortune Diner (planned) or The Story Guy (spontaneous). I’ve enjoyed the Gaffney discussions, but so many longer-time romance readers have had their say on classics like that that they get less discussion than newer books.

I don’t want to give up writing spoiler-free review/reflection posts that are accessible to people who haven’t read the book yet, but I’m pondering making comments on those spoiler zones where we can discuss books in more detail.

Any suggestions about what you’d like to see in this regard–what books, what kind of posts, whatever–are welcome.

Romances Featuring Faith (Non-Inspirational)

When I read Gaffney’s To Love and to Cherish I commented that it was the first romance I’d read that explored the characters’ faith in a meaningful way, a way I recognized. (Miss Bates has made some great points about the whole series as a kind of “inspirational” romance). On Twitter people mentioned other such books, and of course I lost track of the titles. Suggestions are appreciated. I think they were all historical, but if you can think of contemporaries, I’d love those too. Faiths other than Christian, even better (I think I have a Jewish romance somewhere in my TBR).

Spies

Several years ago my husband and I went through a spy TV phase: it started with MI-5/Spooks (we ran out of steam well before the Richard Armitage Seasons); from that we found The Sandbaggers (excellent) and Callan, featuring Edward Woodward (somewhat overwrought). During the same period, we enjoyed political thrillers like State of Play (the BBC mini-series) and The State Within (mmm, Jason Isaacs and Ben Daniels . . . sorry, where was I? Also Sharon Gless as Secretary of State). Anyway, I was thinking of all that, as well as my long-ago reading of early Le Carré and enjoyment of John Buchan, as I read Helen MacInnes (I’m on my second, Pray for a Brave Heart, now).

The great thing about most of these, especially The Sandbaggers, is that they rely on tense psychological drama rather than a lot of action and special effects for their punch. That was a strength in the first MacInnes book I read, too.

I tend to like my spies in the past (I’d rather read non-fiction about the “war on terror”), but for the most part I’ve found Regency Romance Spies too silly–I did enjoy a couple of Joanna Bourne novels.

Is there fiction in this vein (with romantic elements or not) that I should be checking out? I’d take recommendations for viewing, too, since we haven’t found a show we both want to commit to recently–partly because I seem to be off TV.

Nerds

By this I really mean the romance version, which seems to encompass “guys with brainy jobs,” as in the AAR Special Title List “Nerds, Geeks, and Absent-Minded Professors.” Or maybe I just mean heroes who really are different from the off-the-shelf template. Here’s the vague train of thought that prompted this: I feel like with most of the nerd/smart guy/”beta” hero romances I try, once the couple gets romantic–in the sex, yes, but also in a lot of the romantic interactions between them–the hero reverts to Standard Alpha Sex God. The qualities that made him “different” are really superficial, like he’s a glasses-wearing scientist, maybe a bit shy at first. Clark Kent becomes Superman.

This risks sounding like “nerds should all be socially awkward, bad in bed, and endowed with squishy abs.” And obviously that’s its own problematic stereotype. Here are some books I liked that prompted this line of thinking: The Dangerous Viscount, by Miranda Neville, in which the bookish, painfully shy virgin hero transforms himself into a fake rake halfway through. And is, of course, good at sex right off the bat because he read a book. Or Delphine Dryden’s Theory of Attraction. I did think that Dryden successfully depicted a hero on the autism spectrum, and that clearly affected his interactions with the heroine. But then, he’s a Dom. And yes, that’s explained effectively too. At the same time, it means that the sex, while well drawn, is pretty much par for the erotic romance course (to me).

I didn’t feel, reading these books, that the hero’s difference really altered basic romance templates, especially around depictions of sexuality, and that disappointed me. Is there such a book? I don’t even know exactly what I’m asking for. But I want it. I think in part it is the opposition of the sexes that a lot of romance seems to set up, the way so many heroes conceive of women as an exotic, incomprehensible Other. Yes, gender matters, but when I look at the men (and women) in my own life, gender is often the least meaningful way to understand the differences and similarities between us. And many of them seem to think of women as just, you know, people. Like them. But in m/f romance gender difference so often seems front and center, as if it were the thing that draws us to a romantic partner, the kind of complementarity that makes another attractive. (Still not sure I’m making sense).

Of course, with my giant TBR, I shouldn’t be asking for suggestions of any kind, except for “Go away and read!

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30 Responses to Suggestion Box

  1. Pingback: Suggestion Box | ChristianBookBarn.com

  2. Miss Bates says:

    Firstly, thank you very much for the nod to Miss Bates’s commentary. I wish I had some wildly great suggestions for you regarding “non-inspirational” but with religious content. Any titles that treat faith, most especially other than Christianity, but even Catholic or Orthodox Christianity would suffice, would be so very welcome to me as well. Barbara Samuel’s A BED OF SPICES has a Jewish character, but I couldn’t vouch for the minor or major role that Judaism plays in it because it’s still in the TBR pile. As for spies, I did enjoy Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, though I’m sure you’ve read these. I am probably one of the few people who was bored by the Joanna Bourne books … sorry.
    I went through a Spooks/MI-5 phase as well and also gave up on it before the Armitage seasons. I cancelled the cable subscription this summer and now live without TV at all. I haven’t missed it and have so much more time to read! I am watching, in snippets, season one of The X-Files and that’s been very amusing. Mulder and Scully are glowingly beautiful and I’d forgotten the sexual tension between them, that’s fun. I tried to watch Homeland, but couldn’t get into it, though so many rave about it. It’s one to try out.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      I discovered the X-Files when I was a newlywed and had just moved to Vancouver, and since the early seasons were filmed here, it was part of getting to know the city for me (AND I once walked past David Duchovney on the UBC campus).

      I did like a number of the Pink Carnation books.

      I should say that *general* fiction treating faith seriously, in a way I find interesting/recognizable, is pretty thin on the ground too. It seems to be a category of human experience most mainstream writers today won’t touch with a 10-foot pole, or will only satirize. This strikes me as sad, since it is still a part of many people’s lives.

      • Miss Bates says:

        Ah, The X-Files … Mulder and Scully … and you got to see David Duchovny at his dishiest, not the dissipated character he plays in that new series, Californication. So, I’m allowing myself one bitty moment of envy here. Did you notice that Scully wears a tiny gold cross throughout the series: is that meant to be ironic since she’s the rationalist?

        On another note, at least where Miss Bates lives, religion is still a part of many people’s lives, especially new immigrants, especially Muslims (don’t know any romance novels with a Muslim character, despite all the sheiks in HPs!), but for those who’ve been in here a while, their religion is like reading romance. One sheepishly acknowledges it, but tries to not to talk about it too much, or be too overt.

        When I look at the overflowing shelves, there’s not much there in the fiction section that treats religion. There’s a lot in the non-fiction shelves. Quite a while ago, over ten years actually, I read Kathleen Norris’s THE CLOISTER WALK & AMAZING GRACE & liked them. When I want a real dose, I read Dostoevsky’s CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (also, one of the great detective stories); or I love Emily Dickinson’s ambivalent relationship with God in her poems, such as “The lightning is a yellow fork … ” She’s not the sweet “hope is the thing with feathers” that she’s made out to be:)!

      • Liz Mc2 says:

        I really liked those Kathleen Norris books when I read them, too. Like you, I tend to turn to non-fiction for “religious” reading.

        I’m someone who doesn’t talk much about my own faith/has been embarrassed to do so (you can see I’m practicing more lately–but it’s easier on the blog somehow). I am not interested in being preachy or evangelizing and for a lot of people, any discussion of these things can come off that way.

      • Miss Bates says:

        I’m so glad you read and enjoyed the Kathleen Norris books. When I was doing grad work in religious studies, I also liked reading Rosemary Radford Ruether and loved Caroline Bynum, both of whom wrote about women and religion. But I don’t do that kind of academic reading anymore! ‘Nuff:).

        I agree totally with what you’ve said. It can and does come across that way and it can and does make people uncomfortable, which I’d hate to do as well. Though when I’m asked about my religious faith and practice, I’m amenable to discussion. In Quebec, where I live (at the opposite end from you!), which has seen, at least in the Quebecois population, such a huge shift away from what was, rightly so at times, a monolith in the Catholic Church, that there are intolerant reactions against new immigrants and their faith and practices.

  3. Janine Ballard says:

    While I think it’s great that you offer a place to discuss books with spoilers included, I love your spoiler-free reflections posts so I’m glad these won’t go away.

    Romances featuring faith:

    Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale (Quaker heroine)
    A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel (this one has a Jewish hero)
    One Perfect Rose or Uncommon Vows by Mary Jo Putney. The former has a hero who is dying, and the latter is a medieval with light paranormal/spiritual elements and has protagonists who nearly became a monk and a nun. I’m not sure how it would hold up today, but I remember it as a book that was rich with symbolism.
    Several of Sharon Shinn’s books, but most especially Jovah’s Angel (archangel heroine, atheist hero).
    Heaven’s Fire by Patricia Ryan — the hero is a cleric, the heroine an illuminator (illustrator) of religious manuscripts, and the setting is unusual too, medieval London
    Sunshine and Shadow by Tom and Sharon Curtis — a contemporary; this may have been the first romance with an Amish heroine
    In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer Fleming — this is the start of a mystery series with a heroine who is an Episcopal priest and a hero who is the chief and police, and married. Nonetheless feelings develop. I only read this first one, but it was good.
    The Veiled Web by Catherine Asaro — SFR with a Muslim hero

    It’s been a while since I read most of these and I don’t know how I’d feel about them today, but I do recall enjoying them. I believe Mary Balogh also had a trad with a vicar hero but I’ve never read it and I don’t know the title. Also, I can think of other books with Jewish protagonists besides A Bed of Spices but their faith isn’t a significant part of the story. Let me know if you want titles along these lines.

    Spies:

    I had lunch with Donna Thorland this week and I read her Revolutionary era historical novel, The Turncoat, before meeting up with her. Even though historical fiction isn’t usually my genre of choice, this book had enough romance in it to hold my attention, and I ended up liking it quite well. The heroine is a spy for the Americans in occupied Philadelphia.

    I loved Anne Stuart’s contemporary spy novel Black Ice. Loved it, but again, haven’t read in a while. The dead bodies pile up in this book, and as usual for Stuart, the villains are over the top and the heroine not as strong as the hero. But I adored it for the spare, almost poetic prose and the cynical yet weary of his deadly work hero.

    Loretta Chase’s Your Scandalous Ways had a spy hero sent on a fool’s errand which put him in the path of the courtesan heroine.

    Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series has been recommended to me a number of times, but I haven’t yet read them. These are epistolary, too.

    Also, take with as much salt as you prefer, but two of my CPs have each had a book with a spy hero — Meredith’s Written on Your Skin is my favorite of her books, and Sherry’s His at Night, which manages to be both her funniest book and one of her darkest, for me.

    Nerds

    You picked a tough category there. I think I know Nerds well in real life, being the daughter of a physicist and the spouse of an engineer, and I find most romance genre portrayals of them insulting. Scientists, in particular, have this way of being portrayed as ditzy, and that really annoys me since IRL they are too logical to be any such thing. I can’t think of a book that fits the bill you’re looking for. Maybe you should write it?

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Thank you! I knew you were one of the people who had made recommendations. I really like the JSF series (though I have some issues with it) as a cradle Episcopalian whose dad became a priest, I recognize a lot about it.

      And I did find the Shinn’s Archangel really interesting. I’d read another one.

      The book in my TBR is BROOKLYN LOVE by Yael Levy–if I remember the description right, the characters’ faith does play into it.

      I agree with you about the portrayal of nerds/scientists. I suspect it’s hard to do well if one is not familiar with people in those roles or has no grasp of scientific method/basic science, etc. One thing I loved about Lois McMaster Bujold’s FALLING FREE was the engineer hero who really felt/thought like an engineer, and who used that in the way he acted heroically. I would like to see more of that.

      • Janine Ballard says:

        Thinking further about the spy novel recommendations, I haven’t seen any of those shows but the Donna Thorland might be closest to what you’re looking for — it has some similarities to the one Joanna Bourne I read (though I like it better than the Bourne).

        I should add that Black Ice is my favorite Stuart by far. Her books tend to be hit or miss for me.

        I also thought of another romance-y spy novel — Daughter of the Game by Tracy Grant (later reprinted as Secrets of a Lady). I had some problems with it and didn’t read further in th esereis, but I thought it was worth reading.

        I’d be really curious to hear your thoughts on Jovah’s Angel. It’s a quieter book than Archangel so it may be up your alley.

        I have never heard of Brooklyn Love. I liked a lot of Alisa Kwitney’s chick lit with Jewish New Yorkers. The Dominant Blonde was my favorite, and the most romantic. After that I’d recommend Sex as a Second Language which has spies in it too.

        I need to look up Falling Free.

  4. Liz Mc2 says:

    Um, that ping-back is interesting (what does their Google alert look like?). I hope a whole bunch of strangers don’t show up to recommend inspirationals to me. They generally don’t appeal.

  5. Thank for that link to litlove. I just love this quote: “…but before long [a reading slump] takes on an independent life inside of the reader, activating some kind of hostage situation in which we lose access to our ability to take pleasure in reading.”

    I know you’re not looking for non-romance recs when it comes to exploring characters’ faiths, but this post and discussion reminded me how much I enjoyed Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I was so surprised, actually, since I usually shy away from books like this (or books I consider to be like this). It was a very moving account of an older/elderly man who is a minister and whose health is failing. (Set midcentury, perhaps?)

    I’m looking forward to the spy recs, as well, given I love spies and yet…so often the execution is not exactly what I want. That said, I did enjoy Janine’s two recs, Written on Her Skin and Hers at Night. Enough that I occasionally think of rereading them.

    I also enjoy the Bourne movies, but those seem a little more action-oriented and fantastical than what you’re interested in.

    Very interesting stuff in your “Nerds” section, but I don’t have any recs, alas. I think when I’m looking for heroes who vary from the norm, I sometimes turn to m/m, not always successfully mind you. But because there are two of them, sometimes one hero is allowed a little further outside the box. (I don’t want to suggest that m/m doesn’t have its own templates. And since I can’t think of nerds in m/m either, I’m not sure how useful this musing is.)

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Oh, I’ve had Gilead on my shelf for ages! I started it once but wasn’t in the right mood. I need to try again. (In fact, I was looking at it last night thinking “Obviously I should read that if I want a book about faith.”)

      And I meant to say that I really enjoyed that Sherry Thomas (and the Duran, but I remember less about it).

      Good point about m/m sometimes allowing for different model heroes because there are two.

  6. I’m actually writing a novella right now with a scientist hero (a historical; he’s a neuroscientist who can’t draw, she’s the artist he hires to illustrate his work) and you’ve given me a lot to think about here. I never intended him to be good or bad at sex–they were just going to have sex, like two normal people that aren’t particularly bad or great at it. :)

    I find it very difficult personally to read romances with scientist main characters, because the authors so often get the little details wrong. I set one aside just yesterday because of this. I also get really sick of the trope that scientists are socially awkward virgins (and scientist and nerd are not interchangable terms)–scientists can be charming and sexually experienced too!

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Yes, I realize that I conflated a lot in that passage, in part because Romanceland often does (scientist=nerd=socially awkward=bad sex [except that in Romland it doesn't mean that last]).

      I would love to see more romance characters who have brainy jobs–academics, engineers, scientists, etc.–who actually feel “right.” And also more characters who feel different from the standard in the ways they relate to each other romantically. Those categories don’t have to go together, of course, but so often it is the nerd/scientist/etc hero who is presented as refreshingly “different” and then turns out to feel at base very much the same to me. (It’s not really bad sex I’m thinking of, but what about tentative or awkward sex the first time? A couple who has to get to know each other in bed as well as out of it? A hero who asks the heroine what she likes rather than magically knowing? A heroine who takes the lead? All those things are rarer than hen’s teeth–maybe not so much the latter, these days). Maybe my real issue is that almost ALL romance seems to head for fantasy-land when it comes to sex scenes, so there’s often a sameness to them that erases the individuality of the characters; ANY hero and heroine could be doing this stuff. I CAN think of exceptions, certainly, and those often turn out to be books I love.

      I think it can be really hard to get a scientist character right if someone has no experience (I’m not a scientist, but I am an academic of sorts, and they’re often wrong). Pop culture is SO full of stereotypes about such characters, and it’s easy just to grab onto them instead of creating a fully realized person.

      • Gen Turner says:

        The worst offenders are ones that use the role of “scientist” as a shorthand for a a specific kind of Other, with all the stereotypes you mention. And use a scientist’s long work hours and detailed knowledge of their subject as evidence that he or she is on the autism spectrum, when in reality, those traits are absolutely required to be a sucessful scientist.

        The hero is an MD, not a scientist, but Courtney Milan’s A Kiss for Midwinter is a science-type hero that I really liked. He reminded me a lot of the MDs I’ve worked with and how they view the world.

      • Liz Mc2 says:

        Oh yes, he’s a great example! I liked how his medical knowledge shaped his social attitudes (he was logical rather than emotional/ideological about female sexuality).

      • Janine Ballard says:

        My friend Karen Wheless who recently passed away was a longtime romance reader as well as a chemist. She used to lament the stereotypical scientist heroes with me, but one nerd book she often recommended highly was Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ early novel Hot Shot, set in silicone valley. Apparently one of the heroine’s husbands (can’t recall if it was the hero) was based on Steve Jobs. I haven’t read this and I have bad memories of the scientist heroine in SEP’s Nobody’s Baby But Mine (she epitomized the problems I have with scientists in romance), but SEP’s early books are very, very different from her later ones so I’ve always wanted to give Hot Shot a read.

  7. victoriajanssen says:

    Nina Abrams has both spies (Napoleonic era) and Jewish characters, though it doesn’t go into faith in the way you were requesting. The first one is A QUESTION OF HONOR. I enjoyed her whole series, except for the last book, which felt very rushed and random. I haven’t seen anything new from her in a long time, alas, unless she is using a different name.

    I loved “The State Within”! Have you seen the adaptation of “The 39 Steps” with Rupert Penry-Jones? It’s a bit silly, but fun.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Yes, I have seen that 39 Steps. Agree. I know Buchan is awful in many ways but I first discovered him as a teen and I still find his books enjoyable comfort reads, even as I cringe over the racism, sexism, etc. (I think I have only read the Dick Hannay books and Prester John).

      • Kathryn says:

        If you think you might be interested in 50s – 60s spy thrillers, you might try Alistair MacLean (Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, Ice Station Zebra). A whole bunch of his books were made into movies and they have a very mid-20th century cold-war vibe of when men were men and women were womanly sidekicks/love interests. Loved them as an uncritical teen and from what I can remember there were actually very mild romances and no killing off of the woman once her purpose in the plot had been served (unlike James Bond). And my favourite spy movie is Notorious with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman — although I think that Grant doesn’t grovel enough for being such a “fat-headed guy, full of pain”.

  8. Kathryn says:

    Nerds: Several of Connie Willis’ science fiction books about a group of English academics (mostly historians) time travelling have nerdy heroes and light romances (but some of them are also serious and sad, e.g., The Doomsday Book). These also are send-ups of academic life — complete with the underfunding of time machine project, departmental infighting, overbearing donors who want their way, etc. Probably the best one to start with is To Say Nothing of the Dog.

    And I’ve heard really great things about Chemistry for Beginners by Anthony Strong (it’s not classified as a romance but rather as general literature). In fact now that I remember it, I think I’ll see if I can track down at my library.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Oh, I keep seeing the Strong book in my library audio collection and wondering about it. Glad to hear something positive.

      And I have read To Say Nothing of the Dog and keep meaning to read more Willis.

      I *knew* I shouldn’t ask for suggestions.

  9. Kathryn says:

    Faith and some romance:
    I second the Shinn’s Samaria (angel) series — although I find that not all the books are successful. Each book takes place in an important historical moment that has implications for how that culture develops religiously, culturally, etc. And yes one of things that happens in these books is the interplay between science and faith (so it’s twofer of nerds and faith). Another book of Shinn’s that is about faith is Wrapt in Crystal, a stand alone book that is set on planet where there are two very different religious communities of women. A series of murders occur in these communities and an Interfed Agent, who is male, is sent to investigate and of course is drawn to one of religious.

    I’m more ambivalent about Bed of Spices — I think it was Jessica @ RRR who wrote a good review about some of its more problematical elements. Unfortunately RRR is offline so can’t confirm that is where I saw the review. But I imagine that she definitely can let you know what she thought.

    Hmm more Connie Willis — well as I mentioned above the Doomsday Book is wonderful, if sad. It is very directly about faith and the problem of evil since the time-travelling historian heroine is accidentally sent to England in 1348, the year the Plague comes. It has a very slight (more implied than actual existing) romance that ends sadly. Haven’t yet read All Clear and Blackout, the other two books in this very loose series about time-travelling historians.

    And of course you already know Bujold, who tackles ideas about faith and religion very directly in her Chalion books. But questions about faith run through many of her books — in the Vorkosigian series, the person who talks the most about belief and faith is Cordelia, the product of rational, technologically-advanced, enlightened Beta.

    And then there is Madeleine L’Engle — whose books I bet you know. I haven’t read her adult novels for a long time, but my favourite was The Other Side of the Sun.

    I know that I must know some historical romances that look at faith and that are not overtly “inspirational”, but I can’t think of any of the top of my head. Perhaps those of Carla Kelly’s that are not written for an inspirational publisher? And I really can’t think of any contemporaries at all. It’s funny I know lots of sff and lots of mysteries that look at faith (all the way from the old Rabbi Small series to Kellerman’s Decker/Lazarus mysteries), but not so much in romance.

    Okay I’m going to go all nerdy medievalist here and totally off topic and second Caroline Walker Bynum–even though her books are all academic studies — but they are all so wonderful and amazing. My favorite of her books is Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women. A brilliant, ground-breaking book that is also pretty accessible to non-academics and people outside of medieval studies and is still relevant. My book group one year read books on food (ranging from literary works to foodie books to cookbooks). And I gave everyone a couple of chapters from HF&HF to read — they all found it fascinating and none of them are medievalists.

  10. TV-wise, I wonder if you’d like The Bletchley Circle. It aired on PBS a few months back, I think as part of the “Masterpiece Mystery” series.

    It’s not quite a spy drama – the protagonists are four women who worked as code-breakers at Bletchley Park during WWII. They’re struggling to adjust to the more mundane post-war existence until one of them, a compulsive puzzle-solver, starts spotting patterns in a local serial-killer case and rounds up the others to help her solve it.

    Not flawless by any means, but I loved the premise of using Bletchley code-breakers – who in real life weren’t allowed to tell anyone, even family, about the work they’d done until decades later – as heroines. There are all sorts of fascinating dynamics in play even before you get to the mystery they’re solving. And the actresses are all very good, and believable as brainiacs of varying style.

  11. Isobel Carr says:

    I’ll second The Bletchley Circle. It was wonderful.

    Also, I’m a HUGE Tracy Grant fan (disclaimer, she’s my plotting partner; I owe any and all real plot in my books to her). Her spy books and C.S. Harris’s St. Cyr mysteries are autobuys for me.

    On the scientist front, I’d recommend Heather Snow’s books. The marketing did them a TERRIBLE disservice by downplaying the brainy heroines to the point where those of us looking for those kind of books skipped over the series and those who bought them looking for romps at house parties were thrown for a loop.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Bletchley Circle sounds great.

      You are right about the marketing for Snow’s books. I read the blurbs (and I think maybe a sample of the 1st that threw me in some way?) and I thought, “not for me.” But if you’re recommending them, I’ll take another look. I know I talked about heroes in the post, but I’m happy to read scientist, etc. heroines, too.

      • Isobel Carr says:

        They’re very different with their scientist heroines. Doesn’t mean they’ll be to your taste though. But the “house party romp” marketing was just a disaster IMO. I try stuff all the time that I desperately WANT to work for me, but it just doesn’t.

  12. willaful says:

    I hate how nerds have become an in thing, and every writer thinks she can just slap some thick glasses on her character and voila. This book cover kind of sums it up: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12466116-nerds-are-freaks-too?ac=1

    Attachments by Rainbow Rowell is the genuine article. I also really loved How to Repair a Mechanical Heart, which is about fan culture — not exactly the same thing, but close.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Yes! I really liked Attachments and was thinking of that as a good example. Of course it isn’t really a romance, exactly.

      And I agree with everything you say here. Of course, it doesn’t help when people like me use the header “Nerds” when we’re really talking mostly about other stuff.

      ETA: Just looked at that cover. OMG. This is exactly my problem about how these “different” characters are not. And his nerdiness doesn’t appear to be a real facet of his identity or the story, from the blurb.

  13. Ros says:

    Not a romance novel but a historical novel featuring a romance (with a happy ending for the romance, though not for everything in the book) between two Jewish characters: The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory. I really liked the way that she addressed the issues of being secret Jews and the ghettoisation of Jews in Calais and the subtle contrast between two different Jewish families.

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