Thanks to Valentine’s Day, it’s common to think of February as the month of love. Considering I’ve discovered my own love for the romance genre over the past couple of years, what better time than February to celebrate it?
This month I’m aiming to dedicate as much of my blog as I can to talking about, and reviewing, romance books, whether they’re contemporary romance, historical romance or romantasy, so I thought I’d start the month as I mean to go on and recommend three romance novels that I’ve really enjoyed!
If, like me, you spent a lot of time thinking romance novels weren’t for you, one of these might just be the perfect book to reach for this Valentine’s Day…
His Scandalous Lessons by Katrina Kendrick
He is London’s most notorious rogue
Richard Grey is renowned for his escapades in the bedchamber. But he’s hidden the truth for years: his wicked reputation is a public front to hide his political machinations. So when the prime minister’s daughter arrives on his doorstep with a scandalous proposal, he seizes the opportunity to gather information against her father, his corrupt political rival.
She is determined to escape her past
Anne Sheffield’s life is dictated at the whims of her domineering father. Considered an asset for her remarkable memory, Anne is privy to intelligence passed between the prime minister and his allies — and he’s determined to keep her close. Desperate to escape, she presents Richard with a trade: help her find, seduce, and secure a husband of her choosing in exchange for political information.
The arrangement is supposed to be simple: his help for her secrets. But sharing secrets can lead to dangerous consequences . . .
This novel was my very first historical romance, which I read back in 2018, and as Kendrick is the pseudonym of SFF author Elizabeth May, whose feminist rants on Twitter give me life, I knew I was in for a treat. Like pretty much all romance novels this one has its cheesy, melodramatic moments, but that’s part of the fun of the romance genre – it’s supposed to be an escape, and despite my worry that I wasn’t going to enjoy this book I soon found myself rooting for Richard and Anne.
Entreat Me by Grace Draven
Afflicted by a centuries-old curse, a warlord slowly surrenders his humanity and descends toward madness. Ballard of Ketach Tor holds no hope of escaping his fate until his son returns home one day, accompanied by a woman of incomparable beauty. His family believes her arrival may herald Ballard’s salvation.
…until they confront her elder sister.
Determined to rescue her sibling from ruin, Louvaen Duenda pursues her to a decrepit castle and discovers a household imprisoned in time. Dark magic, threatening sorcerers, and a malevolent climbing rose with a thirst for blood won’t deter her, but a proud man disfigured by an undying hatred might. Louvaen must decide if loving him will ultimately save him or destroy him.
And here we have my first foray into romantasy with this Beauty and the Beast retelling from an author who’s well known for her romantasy novels. I loved so much about this book – including that the main love story we follow is between two older people, both of whom have been married before, and their banter is brilliant. Louvaen is still one of my favourite romance heroines because of how sure of herself she is. This book is such a treat.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.
Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.
While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?
I love historical fiction and I especially love historical fiction that writes the queer community back into the past, so I was always going to love this book. I loved the discussions in this book about what counts as art, and how healthy the central romance is because Lucy and Catherine actually talk to each other when they encounter bumps in the road. This novel is so feminist and such a joy to read, and I can’t wait to read more by Olivia Waite!