From the Reference Desk, reader's advisory

From the Reference Desk

Please enjoy some romantic reviews…

lauren reviews

Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues to be delightful. The second book, A Duke By Default, follows the adventures of Portia Hobbs, best friend of Ledi (who starred in A Princess In Theory) as she leaves behind New York and continues her quest to build a life free from her past mistakes. The book kicks off with sass and assertiveness, and it rollicks merrily along towards the end with all the ups, downs, and loop-de-loops of a roller coaster. Bonus: not only do we get Portia’s point of view, we also get Tavish’s. If you like second-chance romances, smart, capable characters aware of their flaws, and contemporary romance that not only riffs off the tropes but emphasizes the obligation of those in power to serve the people, read these. Also, Tavish’s family is multi-cultural and fabulous, and the author has so many delightfully geeky jokes in the book. (Book 3 is slated to star Ledi’s cousin Nya and the prince who comes to help Tavish deal with being a duke. All signs point to another good story on its way…and hopefully more books after that, because there are multiple other major supporting characters I’d love to read as main characters.)


I Thee Wed by Celeste Bradley is a historical romance. However, we get a heroine who is not the only woman with a degree in her family (historically accurate), an antagonist with sadly realistic villainy, and a hero who yearns for orderly quiet only to find that he misses the chaos of his family and needs to use a social script to function in most situations. Between science, bewildering feelings (neither main character is initially pleased by the disruption of attraction), and Orion’s youngest sister Atalanta, who is a force to be reckoned with and equally at odds with society’s expectations as her brother, there’s always something happening. Plenty of drama, yes, but in the end there’s happiness to spare.

From the Reference Desk, reader's advisory

From the Reference Desk

Please enjoy a series spotlight…

lauren reviews

Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling books offer a hefty dose of suspense, careful world-building, and the comfort of knowing that not only do the bad guys get what’s coming to them but that there’s a happy ending for the main characters.

While the overall arc builds towards one consistent turning point, the individual books mainly dwell on the relationships and how those involved handle the issues facing them in classic paranormal romance fashion. (Yes, there are those with psychic powers, people who can change into leopards, wolves, and other creatures, and regular humans in this future-set series. This will either intrigue you or you’ll stop reading. Either reaction is fine.)

Knowing that there is comeuppance is a great comfort to readers, because Singh does not shy away from portraying the worst of human nature as well as the best. The villains, most of whom are otherwise outside the reach of justice, do wind up either checkmated or excised from the world. Her heroes and heroines are, more often than not, haunted by the past and are healing from traumas, but also possessed of the ability to not only survive but to grow in the aftermath. In this sense, the books hew to romantic suspense guidelines.

The setting is futuristic, but mildly so; most changes are technological, such as cars being able to hover as well as drive on wheels, and the power sources being primarily solar and hydro-electric. Most of it is, if not actively possible now, at least theoretically possible within our lifetimes. For all that shape-shifters may be considered fantastic, Singh places both the Psy and the Changelings on a continuum from humans.

Although the series can be read in order, it isn’t strictly necessary. If you’d like to start with a taste, we have a short story collection, Wild Embrace. If you’d prefer to dive  into the action, we have book 10 and books 12-15, plus the first in the Psy-Changeling Trinity,  what the author refers to as ‘season 2’. Should you prefer to begin at the beginning, our neighboring libraries have the rest; you can either take a short trip over and register your RML card with them before checking out a stack or you can ask us to get them for you via inter-library loan. (Having started with what we had and then going back to read the rest, I can vouch for the effectiveness of each method.)

Do read the summary of each book to decide if it’s right for you. They are usually upfront about potential issues, and if that doesn’t give enough information, the first few pages usually will. If you love romantic suspense and thrillers, give these a try, ideally in your coziest reading spot with something to sip when you need a pause in the action, and possibly something to fan yourself with when things heat up between the main characters.


From the Reference Desk, reader's advisory

From the Reference Desk

With February approaching, please enjoy some reviews of romantic fiction…

lauren reviews


The description sounded fabulous – two devoted older siblings, each determined to do their best for beloved younger siblings, match wits and fall in love. Which was accurate…to a point. Alas, the Duke has a serious issue with thinking he ought to behave and then promptly giving in to his desire to kiss the heroine. In fairness, the heroine is equally inclined to be kissed; as a reader it got irksome for them to be forever going ‘I shouldn’t’ and then doing exactly that. For those seeking a heroine who takes her responsibilities and promises seriously, this is recommended, as long as one doesn’t mind frequent, steamy scenes.


Lisa Kleypas gives us a dissolute hero whose turn to self-control makes a marked difference in his appearance and a heroine who is happy to call his nonsense exactly what it is. Be aware that the hero has some serious issues stretching back to his childhood, and blackmail is conducted by multiple characters.
Lorraine Heath’s story centers around a man with a misplaced sense of responsibility, a love that never faded, and the woman whose heart he broke. There is, of course, a happy ending.
Megan Frampton has a grand time with a faux engagement turning real, a heroine who delights in coming up with plausible definitions for words, and a house party. The commitment-phobic hero, his mama who just wants him to travel less often, and Lady Sophronia (and the prospect of chickens hanging before her) all prove charming.
Vivienne Lorret offers up a scientific Duke, his Marriage Formula, a lady who is (theoretically) only at his house party to support her friend, and a definite zing when the two meet. Bonus points for discussion of actual innovations of the time.
This book was on my To Be Read list for a long time, and I really thought I’d love it. I was half-right: Dimple and Rishi are both brilliant, awkward, and determined to do things their own way. While Rishi starts off making a terrible impression on Dimple, he does eventually manage to win her over – not exactly surprising, since he very much wants to make her happy. The eventual plot twist is delightful. Now, for my major issues: Dimple frequently hits Rishi, hard enough to hurt him, and completely disregards his wishes in order to do what she thinks is best for him. Both of these are major relationship issues, and took the book from a fun read to a disappointment. Though it was good to see an #OwnVoices book and I am still glad that it’s available to our patrons who might wish to see themselves in the hero and heroine, I can only hope that Dimple stops these behaviors as she matures so that they could have an actual happy ending.
From the Reference Desk

From the Reference Desk

Occasionally one of our counterparts in non-fiction will come across a fiction book they can’t wait to tell everyone about.  This happened recently, and we decided to start a new series of blog posts.  Please enjoy this collaboration…

lauren reviews


The back cover promises a heroine possessed of strong opinions and intelligence, as well as a hero who needs to work to win her over, and for once it wasn’t exaggerating. Though they share a past together (presumably mentioned in another book), and the hero is no slouch himself in intellectual matters, they start off the book on the wrong foot. Seeing them gain a deeper appreciation of each other is the main attraction here, though the hero’s dog is definitely a major player.
Note that the heroine is involved in providing a safe place for street children and suffers from some trauma due to one of them ensuring she could not interfere with the murder of the nightmare figure who abused a number of them. The living antagonist in the story is also a man to whom others are there to be used, and he does attempt to kidnap and rape the heroine in revenge for the hero and heroine making sure he could no longer easily cheat at cards and fleece people of substantial sums. She manages to successfully fight back and humiliate the villain, so it is ultimately a triumph, but not something all readers are able to read.

Jacket (1)

Available through MyMediaMall, this set of three novellas linked by a shared beginning and ending offer a lighter romance overall than Ashford’s most recent book. All three of the sisters are tossed into situations rife with potential problems and instead find comfortable, pampered lives for two of them – and even the middle sister’s theoretically disastrous heartbreak and departure from her job is salvaged by the loving interference of her sisters and their unlikely fairy godmothers (no magic, here – just wealthy, kindhearted women who use their privilege to do good). Some readers may find the final hero’s exasperated comment to his fiancee to cross a line of ungentlemanly behavior; others may be fine.

Jacket (2)

Technically a juvenile book (you’ll find it in our Youth Department), this Newberry winner is nevertheless an excellent crossover read for those who enjoy fairy tales, villains who get their comeuppances, and happy endings. There’s plenty of magic and foreboding, along with multiple points of view, but kindness and caring win the day in the end against a most insidious and selfish evil-doer.