January 15, 2019

Introducing The Romance Backlist (and A Farewell)

Image description: plain red and blue text that read "Introducing the Romance Backlist".

Long time no see! It’s been *checks calendar* way over a year since I last wrote something, and I can’t express how sad that makes me. The evil combo of exhaustion and shitty life events became this epic burnout that ended up with me ghosting my own blog. This place was a labor of love and yearning for connection with a community that’s given me a lot throughout the years, and a deep wish to give something of myself to the genre that changed my life. And now eight years have gone by and not only have I made the connections I craved, but they have surpassed every expectation and wild hope I had. So it was really hard to come to the realization that I no longer could, or even wanted to, keep up with the blog, even if I still saw myself as a blogger/reviewer. But I also love the genre and love talking about all the books, and I’m proud of the way this blog made me a better reader, so when I had this sudden idea that I could start fresh and change the dynamic and talk about books again, I felt the same excitement and joy I had all those years ago when I first started to blog.

There’s been a lot of talk about the state of traditional blogging and reviewing. I don’t have the answers to the issues nor do I want to get into it now, but we all want to talk about books, we all want to discuss the genre, and we all want to maintain that sense of community, which is why I believe that blogs are (still) viable resources and places to gather and connect. And also, I want to do this for myself, because I really love it. So I’m going for it and instead of picking back up where I left, I’m moving on to a new blog that will have a similar essence, but with some pointed differences. I will only feature books that are at least one year old, so no new releases. I will write reviews, kind of, but they won’t be as structured as what I used to do, more like musings about the genre and the way each book fits within it. I want to experiment a bit, see if there’s an audience for a blog that won’t cover anticipated releases (please, let there be an audience for it!). I want to look back a bit, maybe revisit old favorites, or do whatever! I could’ve done that here, and it’s incredibly bittersweet to say goodbye to Romance Around the Corner, but I really like the idea of starting from scratch and see how the experience I’ve gathered these past few years shapes this new site. And mostly, I just want to know what it feels like to have a blog whose name isn’t a mouthful! The Romance Backlist won’t be a prolific blog, simply because I can’t keep up. I haven’t flexed this muscle in a while, and I had forgotten what it takes to write a blog post, but I want it to be consistent, so my initial goal is to write one post each month, which doesn’t sound like much, but at this point it’s the only realistic commitment I can make. We’ll see how it goes. If you go there now, I have a post up giving more details about the blog and the plans I have for it.

As for Romance Around the Corner, well, it will stay up for as long as Blogger allows it, but I’m saying goodbye for now. I’m thankful for every person who read, commented, subscribed, and emailed. I have met so many amazing readers and authors that I still can’t believe my luck. Even better, I get to talk about romance novels every day, and that’s all because of this blog and the community that welcomed me. It’s been an absolute blast, and I can’t wait to see what the new blog brings. I hope you join me! (*threatening voice* you better join me)

Housekeeping Note: if you're reading this on your email because you subscribe to the blog, and you want to keep up with the new blog via email, you will have to subscribe again (go to this link and click on the "subscribe" link at the top of the page). Same goes for those who want to follow the new blog that way.

July 11, 2017

Review: Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Cover image description: a man wears his Navy dress whites and the background is a beach.
Have I ever told you how much I love Suzanne Brockmann’s books? I’ve been a fan for over ten years. The ride has been bumpy, but I still get so excited every time there’s a new release, and I always, always, manage to derive joy from them even when the characters are doing God knows why. And this book, oh, you guys, this book is a sight to behold! I don’t know how it manages to be so restrained and focused while at the same giving in to the worst urges.

The story reminds me a lot of The Unsung Hero, the book that launched the series all those years ago. It makes sense, because it’s not quite a spinoff like Do or Die was, but it features all new characters and only the smallest cameos by old characters. So it reads closer to book 1 in a series than to book 17. It has a secondary plot that involves a teenager, and although we do meet a bunch of new SEALs, there’s no obvious sequel bait in sight or the beginning of a romance that’s left dangling so it can be stretched forever and ever throughout books to come. The only thing missing is a World War II subplot, which seems weird because there’s enough groundwork there to make me wonder if it was originally planned or even edited out. The suspense subplot is inconsequential and it involves domestic white guys as villains, so I can’t even complain about the faceless, Fakestani brown terrorists Brockmann—and military romance in general—loves. The book stands alone so well, that I’d dare say it makes for a good entry point for new readers who don’t want to bother with a long series. When I say the book shows immense restraint, I mean it.

April 25, 2017

Two Mini Reviews of Two Very Different Books: Alex, Approximately by Jen Bennett & King’s Captive by Amber Bardan

Alex, Approximately by Jen Bennett
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

I haven’t written about Bennett’s books on the blog, but over a year ago I binged the whole Arcadia Bell series in one week (it’s only four books, so it’s a manageable binge that I highly recommend) and it was one of the most glorious weeks ever. I have many happy book moments in my life, and that week is on my top ten. I just loved those books and I wish I could read them again for the first time. Anyway, she’s an auto-buy author for me, and I’m impressed by what an eclectic and flexible writer she is. Alex, Approximately is YA, and that maybe isn’t your thing, but her adult books are great as well, so I hope you take a look at those.

April 24, 2017

DNF Review: His Custody by Tamsen Parker

Cover description: close up to a man and a woman embracing. She's wearing a lacy black bra, he's shirtless.Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Content Warning: graphic descriptions and discussion of self-harm. 

Keyne is a happy, privileged 17-year-old girl whose life changes abruptly after she becomes the sole survivor of an accident that kills her parents, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s parents. The two families were incredibly close, and now the only survivors are Keyne and Jasper, her boyfriend’s older brother who wasn’t on the boat that day. She has an aunt and uncle, but they are sketchy and she only feels safe with Jasper, so thanks to the magic of creative liberties, Jasper is awarded custody. He is 32.

A couple of days before I saw this book on NetGalley, I re-read Craving Flight. Ms. Parker is an incredibly talented and compelling storyteller. Her voice is lovely and although BDSM Romance isn’t my jam, I loved that book. I guess I was in the right mood to make the wrong decision, because I did not pay attention to the blurb. So, disclosure, I’m not the best match for this trope, but also, Jesus Christ, book, go sit in a corner and think about what you’ve done.

Where do I start? I already told you that Jasper ends up Keyne’s guardian, a position he’s utterly unqualified for. First, he’s a billionaire workaholic with an unstable personal and professional life. Second, he’s a drug user and an alcoholic, but he kind of quits those through the mighty power of the alpha male’s willpower--a willpower that isn’t mighty enough to keep him from lusting after, and eventually fucking, his underage ward, but more on that later. And he also has a girlfriend who, of course, is vocally against his decision to take care of Kayne, yet she’s nothing but a soon-to-be ex, so she goes away to join Romance’s Army of Evil Exes of Books Past, and next Christmas she will come back to remind us that internalized sexism is alive and well in our genre.

November 3, 2016

Review: Ready to Roll by Suzanne Brockmann

Cover description: the black silhouette of five shirtless men stands against a sky background, with the title written in huge red letter in the middle of the cover.Petty Officer First ClassIrving “Izzy” Zanella: 
Oh, yeah. I remember BUD/S training Hell Week as clearly as yesterday. 
I went in with a barely healed broken rib—and a playlist of music, well, (in an old man voice) back then, my children, when I was but a wee tadpole, we called ’em mix tapes. (normal voice) And I made a few especially for Hell Week.
Oh, yeah. I remember reading this novella as clearly as yesterday (it was yesterday).

I went in with barely controlled expectations, because I’ve been burned by this series before and the self-published novellas have been more miss than hit, but I’ve been reading Ms. Brockmann for years, so even at $6 (did I say it was a novella?) I couldn’t resist. (smiles sheepishly at the camera)

And, yeah, you’re probably wondering what is happening with this review, so now you know how I felt reading this book. Yeah. (shrugs)

October 6, 2016

Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Content warning: child abuse, rape, domestic violence, discussions of suicide. 


I started this book two weeks ago, because I saw a review written by a critic whose opinion I value and respect, saying it was one of the best books of the year. Then I saw other reviews, both positive and negative, that made it sound a bit sketchy, but curiosity killed the cat.

The story is pretty engaging, but then we see where it’s headed and, yeah... This is a book about an abused, neglected little girl who progressively becomes dependent and romantically and sexually involved with the only adult person (other than the grandmother who dies early on in the book) who ever shows her love and care, but more importantly who understands her. This is a girl so traumatized that she won’t eat when people are watching, won’t speak, and can’t stand to be touched. And this man, Kellen, sees what’s going on and works around it to the point where she talks to him, lets him touch her, and even eats in front of him.

September 28, 2016

Review: Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Cover description: Kate stands against a red, fiery background with a lion just behind her.
Source: review copy provided by the publisher.

Warning: all the spoilers for previous books AND this one, so avoid if you haven’t read the book or don’t want to know. I have not marked the spoilers, so proceed with caution. 

First, yes, I’m still alive! This blogging mojo is not coming back no matter what I do, but I’m not quitting even if that means one review every three *cough*or six*cough* months.

Second, I’m feeling lazy, so I’m not going to describe the plot. Plus this what, book 9? So I’m sure at this point anyone interested in the book knows what’s up.

Let’s get to it! I didn’t love this book, I’m not sure I even liked it, but bad Ilona Andrews is still pretty good, so I’m not saying this thing was good, but it wasn’t terrible either.
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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.