TBR Challenge, The Preacher’s Promise by Piper Huguley

This month’s theme for the TBR Challenge hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian is “favorite trope.” My choice of trope was easy–marriage of convenience is easily my favorite, because I like watching a couple that’s stuck together and has to figure out how to make that a good thing. (This type of plot is more plausible in historical romance, so for me the contemporary version is where the couple has to work together to solve some kind of problem or mystery, as often happens in romantic suspense). The trick was finding a book with this trope in my giant e-TBR, in which browsing descriptions is not easy.

After some poking around I came up with The Preacher’s Promise by Piper Huguley, the first in her Home to Milford College series–which I now realize is an actual series following the same couple. It was in my TBR because I read the prequel novella, The Lawyer’s Luck, several years ago.

The setting of The Preacher’s Promise is unusual for historical romance: a small African-American Georgia town during the Reconstruction. The preacher of Huguley’s title is Virgil Smithson, the town’s mayor/preacher/blacksmith. Virgil purchased his freedom before the Civil War, but as a free man he had to leave Georgia and was unable to earn enough to return and purchase his wife’s before she was sold to Alabama and died, a tragedy he can’t forgive himself for. Now he wants to set up a school for his town, and writes to Lawrence Stewart, an African-American lawyer and abolitionist in Ohio, asking him to come. But the letter arrives after Lawrence’s death, and the teacher who comes to Milford is his daughter Amanda, left destitute by her father’s death and bent on escaping his former law partner’s suggestion that she solve her problems by becoming his mistress.

Virgil wants nothing to do with a female teacher, who can’t safely and properly live alone in the teacher’s house. But Amanda is determined not to be sent back. In steps Mrs. Milford, former plantation owner, with a solution: Amanda and Virgil must marry! Continue reading

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Milkman, by Anna Burns

Milkman won last year’s Man Booker prize. I’ve been reading it on and off for a while. Not because I didn’t like it, but its long sentences and paragraphs and stream-of-consciousness, tangential structure were too challenging when, say, I’d been reading student papers much of the day. Now I’ve finished it and I loved it, and I won’t have time to do it justice but wanted to get down something of my love before the next set of papers to grade comes in.

Janine’s Goodreads review captures what I loved about the book. You could just go there. But I’ll add some thoughts of my own. Continue reading

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TBR Challenge: The Spy Who Tamed Me, by Kelly Hunter

This month’s TBR Challenge theme is “Series.” Kelly Hunter’s The Spy Who Tamed Me is part of a series in the loose romance sense: the characters are related and appear in each other’s books, but each book stands alone fine and has its own romance couple/plot. In fact, as Hunter herself notes, the West Family books “were scattered across various Harlequin lines and imprints as lines consolidated and morphed. Finding and following this series through to completion is not for the faint of heart!” Find them I did, though (except for the prequel novella), and followed–here and there, over years–the Wests to their conclusion in The Spy Who Tamed Me.  Continue reading

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Recent Reading: January (and some February)

I will skip the laments about not blogging more regularly and get to the book talk. It has been a pretty good reading year so far! I feel I should be reading less from the library and more from my TBR, but it was ever thus.

Some poetry: 

  • Rae Armantrout, Itself  These poems were pretty baffling, but I enjoyed the experience of bafflement. If you read a bit about Armantrout and the Language poets you might see why.
  • Billy Ray Belcourt, This Wound is a World  Part of my goal of reading more Indigenous writers this year. These poems insist on embodiment in the face of erasure, on desire as resistence to alienation.
  • Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings  I read this after Oliver’s death, which made me realize how important she was to many of my friends. I liked her deep attention to the natural world and thought she mostly avoided sentimentality while writing about themes that risk it, but I’m not a new devotee.

Continue reading

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TBR Challenge: Snowspelled, by Stephanie Burgis

This month’s TBR Challenge prompt is “We Love Short Shorts,” always a gentle introduction to the Challenge.

I’m pretty sure I had Stephanie Burgis’ novella Snowspelled in my TBR because of Ana’s review. I like fantasy with an alt-Regency setting, and this sounded fun.

And so it was, a good balance of romance and fantasy, with enough background to make some sense of its world but leave me wanting to read more about it.

Clarissa Harwood lives in a world where men do magic and women do politics. Her mother was a leading member of the Boudiccate, the elite circle of women that governs the country. But rather than following in her mother’s footsteps, Clarissa has fought to study magic at the Great Library. While she finally succeeded and was top of her class, Snowspelled opens four months after an event that took her magic (what that is isn’t clear at first, and I don’t want to spoil it). Now Clarissa has been persuaded to attend a house party where the Boudiccate has gathered for a winter solstice ceremony, and where she will encounter her ex-fiancé Wrexham, himself a powerful magician. Continue reading

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