Skip to content

Adele Buck Posts

“…and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

I don’t love James Joyce (the source of the quote), but I LOVE good, affirmative consent between partners. Give me a partner who waits for a yes and who will respect a no, and you HAVE ME.

So, being me, I decided to crowdsource a list of romances where nobody ever says anything like, “Your mouth says no but your eyes say yes,” or God forbid, “You’re wet therefore you want it” (this is so gross, I can’t even begin to grapple with it. I can highly recommend Emily Nagoski’s COME AS YOU ARE – it’s a fascinating look at female arousal and it is very clear on what differentiates arousal from consent).

I’m always open to more suggestions, especially in areas where recommendations are lighter (like paranormal and historical). Paranormal can be an especially tricky subgenre in my opinion, due to common tropes like fated mates and enormous power differentials when you’re dealing with humans and creatures like vampires or angels, so I’m always interested in authors who take the time to include good, affirmative (sexy!) consent in their stories. As always, if you’re interested in the other lists I’ve put together, check out the master List of Lists!

Contemporary

Erotic

  • Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller, Frisky Beavers series starting with PRIME MINISTER – currently FREE (Per KT Gilbert)
  • Anne Calhoun, LIBERATING LACEY (Per KT Gilbert)
  • Jeannette Grey, NINE KINDS OF NAUGHTY (Per KT Gilbert)
  • JB Rogers, THIRDS – Three linked short stories, each dealing explicitly with consent and protection. Also contains gender roleplay, voyeurism, and some D/s (with safewords!) (Per the author)

Historical

  • Samantha Kane, Brothers in Arms Series starting wtih THE COURAGE TO LOVE (Per KT Gilbert)
  • Courtney Milan, THE GOVERNESS AFFAIR (Per Janette Kirchner)
  • Sabrina Jeffries, THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION (Per Kelly Instalove)
  • Theresa Romain, SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER – Scandalous Ever After might be the most explicit at gathering consent, but it is always important for my characters (bc important to me; consent is sexy) (Per the author)

Paranormal

  • Merryn Dexter, Black Hills Wolves series starting with STOLEN KISSES – I don’t usually read PNR because it contains so much dodgy consent, but these are fated mate stories with GOOD CONSENT (Per me)
  • Jami Gold, STONE-COLD HEART – He tries to do the kiss-her-to-distract-her thing when she’s trying to kick him out and she… *cough* punches him and gives him a lecture about consent. 🙂 (Per the author and I AM HERE FOR THE PUNCHING!)
  • Nalini Singh, SILVER SILENCE – I talked about it my review because it was such a contrast to Slave to Sensation. Hero always wants explicit consent from heroine, does not push past her boundaries (Per Ana Coqui)
  • Nalini Singh, BONDS OF JUSTICE – There was a lot of consent in Bonds of Justice as Sophia was a Psy that couldn’t handle touch (Per Jennifer Porter)

Live at Lady Jane’s Salon NYC!

I had the great honor of being invited to speak at Lady Jane’s Salon during my birthday trip to New York this year. If you don’t know about Lady Jane’s, it’s a long-running (nine years and counting) romance reading series in New York, held at a bar called Madame X in the East Village.

Mr. B was on hand to meet, greet, and video, so if you’re interested in seeing/hearing a short excerpt of SLOW DRIFT, here it is!

Reading SLOW DRIFT at Lady Jane’s Salon, NYC from Adele Buck on Vimeo.

It’s all happening at the zoo

I do believe it, I do believe it’s true…

Or it’s happening at a farm, or a suburban home, a Manhattan apartment, or even outer space. The latest crowd-sourced list is of romances with pets. And after a bit of a slow start, I got ’em! So, if you like your adorable couples with a side of adorable animals, I got you:

Cats

Dogs

  • Kristen Ashley, ROCK CHICK REDEMPTION – Shamus the labrador (Per Amy Kathryn)
  • Jennifer Crusie, ANYONE BUT YOU – “Fred the dog is the best part of the book.” (Per Jen DeLuca)
  • Megan Frampton, WHY DO DUKES FALL IN LOVE –  only friend is his dog (Per the author)
  • Nicole Helm, ALL I AM – hero has “Six dogs, three cats, and one sheep with a limp” (Per me)
  • Laura Kaye, HARD AS IT GETS (beginning of Hard Ink series) – Eileen the 3 legged German Shepherd puppy (Per Amy Kathryn)
  • Sarah Morgan, The Manhattan series, beginning with SLEEPLESS IN MANHATTAN – Definitely the last three (I just read them so they’re fresh on my mind). Cute dogs abound! (Per Haley K)
    Nora Roberts, THE SEARCH and WHISKEY BEACH – Both feature dogs (Per Aislinn Kearns)
  • Cat Sebastian, THE LAWRENCE BROWNE AFFAIR – has a huge dog in it (Per Ana Coqui)
  • Jill Shalvis, ANIMAL MAGNETISM – That entire series is centered about an animal clinic (Per Zoe Ashwood)
  • Rebekah Weatherspoon, HAVEN and SANCTUARY – one dog in the first and 4 or 5 in the second (Per Jean Russell)

Hedgehogs

  • Laura Kinsale, MIDSUMMER MOON – heroine has a hedgehog (Per Elisabeth Lane)
  • Lucy Parker, MAKING UP – Reggie the Hedgie is adorable and spiny just like Trix, the heroine (Per me)

Rodents

Other

  • Amanda Bouchet, A PROMISE OF FIRE (beginning of Kingmaker Chronicles series) – heroine has an adorable horse (Per Alissa Davis)
  • Tessa Dare, WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT – Fluffy and Rex the lobsters will never not win the pet game (Per Fangirl Musing)
  • Nicole Helm, ALL I AM – hero has “Six dogs, three cats, and one sheep with a limp” (Per me)
  • Nicole Helm, REBEL COWBOY – a mystery llama who is appropriately named Mystery (Per Ruby Lang)
  • Eloisa James, WILDE IN LOVE – Sweetpea the skunk (Per Elizabeth Bright)
  • Laura Kinsale, FOR MY LADY’S HEART – heroine has a falcon. PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT – hero has a wolf. (Per Elisabeth Lane)
  • Lisa Kleypas, Hathaways Series (Starts with MINE TILL MIDNIGHT) – Beatrix has several pets (Per Elizabeth Bright)
  • Nora Roberts, BLACK HILLS – a cougar called Baby who acts more like a house cat to Lil who rescued him (Per Alex Carver)

Let’s play “Subvert the Archetypes”!

I was thinking about archetypes the other day and how often romance adheres to them. But, for me, there’s a special thrill when I realize an author has decided to turn an archetype on its head. So I asked Twitter for recommendations. There wasn’t the immediate outpouring of recommendations like I had for the “Difficult” heroines list, but boy do these books sound GOOD.

I’ve done my best to organize them – where a book seems to land in more than one category, it’s repeated. Know another title that would fit? Leave a comment or chat with me on Twitter!

Celebrities and Athletes that Don’t Behave Badly

Tired of smashed guitars and sex with every groupie that moves? Some books for you.

Lauren Blakely – Female rock star – Far Too Tempting (Per me)

Kristen Callihan – NFL football player hero who’s a virgin – The Game Plan (Per Lisa Lin)

Michelle Hazen – Rock stars behaving well – A Cruel Kind of Beautiful and Playing the Pauses (Per me)

Kristina Mathews – Baseball star who isn’t a player – Better Than Perfect (Per the author) – ON SALE

Elsie Moody – an A-List Hollywood actor who ISN’T a manwhore or alpha-hole – Buzzworthy  (Per the author)

Lily Morton – both Asa (actor) & Jude (model) are much different than their typical character types. THEY’RE AWESOME too – Deal Maker (Per Em Wittmann)

Sarah Mayberry – Rodeo rider who isn’t a player – Tanner (Per me)

Flipping the “Experience” Script

Books that buck the idea that the more experienced partner needs to be older, male, or both.

Kristen Callihan – NFL football player hero who’s a virgin – The Game Plan (Per Lisa Lin)

Alexis Hall – m/m BDSM romance with older more experienced MC who is the sub and a young, inexperienced guy learning to be a dominant. – For Real (Per Ellie Reads)

Ruby Lang – brother is concerned about how his little sister will treat his (less experienced) best friend rather than the other way around – Clean Breaks (Per the author)

Theresa Romain – she’s the rake, he’s the virgin – To Charm a Naughty Countess (Per me – this one also has a home in my “Favorites” folder on my Kindle)

Sherry Thomas – Heroine is older & an emotionally distant doctor and hero is a beta sweetheart – Not Quite a Husband (Per Theresa Romain)

Date My Sister, Please

I personally grind my teeth at the “Don’t you dare date my sister, BFF.” If he’s such a dirty dog, why are you friends with him? It’s okay if he’s a jerk to any woman you’re not related to?

Lori Foster – where the brother was basically like “WTF took you so long? I’ve been trying to get you to date my sister for ages because you’re awesome and you two clearly are into each other” – Fighting Dirty (Per Heather)

Ruby Lang – brother is concerned about how his little sister will treat his (less experienced) best friend rather than the other way around – Clean Breaks (Per the author)

Tiffany Reisz – the brother doesn’t give a fig that his sister is sleeping with his best friend because she’s an adult who can do what she wants. Refreshing! – Her Halloween Treat (Per Christine Maria Rose)

A.E. Via – Best friend’s son trope. The dad support his son in wooing his best friend. The best friend have a talk with the dad first – Promises: Part I (Per Salimes)

Beta Dukes and Billionaires

They can’t all be super-take-charge alphaholes, right?

Manda Collins – Beta Duke – Duke With Benefits (Per the author)

Courtney Milan – Beta billionaire – Trade Me (Per Lisa Lin, also a favorite of mine)

Ailments that Just Are

No faux inspiration or special treatment.

Ruby Lang – hero with allergies – Acute Reactions (Per the author)

Theresa Romain – Hero has depression (in a historical!!) and explains it to the heroine as “this is me, this is what I face, it doesn’t have a ‘fix’”- Scandalous Ever After (Per Meghan Barbato)

Katie Ruggle – MC is an agoraphobic but she’s funny, flirty, and physically super strong – In Safe Hands (Per Michelle Hazen)

Catchall

Manda Collins – Vivacious wallflower – Wallflower Most Wanted (Per the author)

Elin Gregory – goofy, wiggly werewolf – Sheep’s Clothing – (short, Per the author)

Julie James – Twitter terrorist Kyle Rhodes is NOT some awkward computer geek – About That Night (Per Lisa Lin)

Alexa Milne – six foot plus rugby player with a liking for lingerie – Sporting Chance (Per the author)

Lucy Parker – Ex is a nice person – Pretty Face (Per Therese Beharrie)

Ainslie Paton – Homeless hero – Inconsolable (Per the author)

Gretchen Riley – good-times motorcycle series where the heroines ride and the heros are betas in bad boy wrapping paper – The Mutiny Dolls series, starting with Every Last Mile – FREE (Per the author)

Charlotte Stein – The bully becomes the best kind of cinnamon roll – Never Sweeter (Per K.T. Gilbert)

Licks by Kelly Siskind

New book alert! I do love Kelly’s books, and she keeps getting better and better. She’s got a new one coming out (seriously, I can’t keep up with this woman – I’ve read the first book in the series, need to read the second, and now I’m telling you about the third?) and it sounds awesome. I do love a good second chance romance…


36 hours is a short spell when racing the clock.

2,160 minutes is an eternity for old friends to fall in love… 
 
August Cruz is the only man I’ve ever loved. 
He’s the one who got away. 
He’s the one I totally screwed over. 
 
Now he’s standing on my doorstep, nine years later, but he’s not the only thing that turns up. My mother’s lost diary is in my hands, and it might lead me to my father. A possibility I wished for one year ago, at my last birthday. 
 
I have 36 hours to fulfill that wish. 
I have 36 hours to drag August on a wild scavenger hunt. 
I have 36 hours to protect my heart before I lose him again…because there’s something he’s not telling me. 
 
LICKS is a full-length, standalone Sexy Second Chance Romance with a swoony Happily Ever After, releasing April 4th!

Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

Lucy Parker’s MAKING UP

At long last, Lucy Parker’s cover for her third London Celebrity book has been revealed. And it is stunning.

I’m not usually one to squee over covers. I can appreciate a good one, I will sometimes blink like hell at a bad one, but covers don’t usually inspire me with the desire to run around like a maniac and yell, “IT’S SO GOOD.”

But this one does.

And I’ve also had the great good fortune to read it already (shh. Don’t kill me). She’s flipped her usual script here: instead of giving us a grumpy hero, she’s given us a grumpy heroine (hence her inclusion into the list of prickly heroines). And Trix’s prickliness is earned. The reason for the enmity between Leo and Trix is revealed so skillfully. Oh, just pre order MAKING UP already. Please.

And if you haven’t read the other two books in the series (ACT LIKE IT and PRETTY FACE), what are you waiting for? (Oh, and by the way, I’m jealous of you that you get to read them for the first time).

MAKING UP’s cover can be seen at HEA USA.

Tidying Up the House at Hag Corner

Okay, so yesterday’s FESTIVAL OF LOVE FOR “DIFFICULT” HEROINES has spilled over into today and the librarian in me is looking at the list in all of its jumbled, dysfunctional glory and thinking, “This needs to be organized. Now.” So, now! New and improved! Subgenres! Ordered by author’s last name, then title if there are more than one!

NB: All recommendations are tagged with the name/Twitter handle of their recommender. If one person seems to have the same taste as you do, you can control-f search to see if they’ve rec’d more than one. One of the conversations that was spawned on Twitter off of this is how, as with any subjective judgment, different people have different definitions for “difficult” (which I’m using as a sort of helpfully vague term for a list of characteristics that result in certain readers see the heroine as “being mean” when other readers see her as enforcing her boundaries, taking no shit, or other similar actions).

The long (and getting longer), non-exhaustive list of difficult, prickly, cranky, etc. heroines of romance:

Contemporary

  1. Jewel E Ann, JACK & JILL series, (Per KT Gilbert)
  2. Sandra Antonelli, DRIVING IN NEUTRAL – I wrote a heroine who did a not very nice thing when she was angry. She regretted doing it: made apology, but I still got flack for writing her that way–even though her rection was utterly human. I like unlikable, imperfectly mannered heroines. (Per the author)
  3. Lexxie Callahan, THE FALL OF THE RED QUEEN – She is the villainess in books 1 and 2 of the series and gets redeemed here ( with a hero who is willing to look below the surface)
  4. Andie J. Christopher, DUSK UNTIL DAWN and BEFORE DAYLIGHT – Maya from Dusk Until Dawn threatens to light the hero on fire in scene one. And Laura in Before Daylight is super mean. It’s not a coincidence that they’re my favorites. (Per the author)
  5. Jessica Clare, THE TAMING OF THE BILLIONAIRE –  In which a disabled sarcastic cat lady heroine is EVERYTHING. There’s some great stuff about her personality having nothing to do with her disability. (Per Tabs)
  6. Alyssa Cole, A PRINCESS IN THEORY – Ledi is both guarded and vulnerable in the best possible ways, and completely consistent with her history. (Per me)
  7. Jennifer Crusie, AGNES AND THE HITMAN – Agnes keeps hitting people with her cast iron pan (it’s hilarious). (Per Zoe Ashwood)
  8. Olivia Dade, DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION – She’s prickly and determined and sure of herself, and she’s not willing to compromise her most crucial values. (Per the author)
  9. Victoria Dahl, CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH – meet Grace “rage-nugget” Barrett. (Per me)
  10. Lauren Dane, DRAWN TOGETHER – She is prickly, bitchy and full of sharp edges and the hero loves her just as she is. (Per Ana Coqui)
  11. Six de los Reyes, FEELS LIKE SUMMER – Jett is sarcastic and commitment-phobic and can’t do relationships because she’s outwardly ~emotionally closed~ but she falls in love and she’s my favorite (Per Amanda)
  12. Mina V. Esquerra, BETTER AT WEDDINGS THAN YOU – So scarily competent and DGAF. (Per Geri)
  13. Mina V. Esguerra, LOVE YOUR FRENEMIES – Kimmy was the “evil girl” in My Imaginary Ex but she got her own book in Love Your Frenemies, where she remains her prickly self. (Per Chachic)
  14. Laura Florand, CHOCOLATE KISS – she’s really prickly (for good reason, too!) about Phillipe! (Per Kate Clayborn)
  15. Nicole Helm, NEED YOU NOW (Per Maisey Yates)
  16. Talia Hibbert, A GIRL LIKE HER –  Prickly autistic webcomic artist heroine, hot cinnamon roll hero (Per Alexa Rowan)
  17. Talia Hibbert, THE PRINCESS TRAP – She’s just not here for your BS and I LOVED it. (Per Jen)
  18. Julie James, JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE (Per Jenny)
  19. Laura Kaye, HARD TO LET GO (Per Alexis Daria)
  20. Julianna Keyes, IN HER DEFENSE (Per the author)
  21. Juliana Keyes, TIME SERVED – She’s an accomplished surgeon who comes across as cold and unemotional (to protect herself from getting attached to patients and due to a bad marriage) and meets a man who is the opposite (Both per Christine Maria Rose)
  22. Ruby Lang, PRACTICE PERFECT series (Per Kate Clayborn)
  23. Roni Lauren, BY THE HOUR – Elle’s the HBIC with a boatload of issues and i love her (Per Lisa, seconded by ally)
  24. Sarah Mayberry, THE OTHER SIDE OF US – oh, Mackenzie, you guarded, scarred treasure. (Per me)
  25. Tamara Morgan, CONFIDENCE TRICKS and THE REBOUND GIRL (Per Lillie)
  26. Courtney Milan, TRADE ME – Tina let’s Blake know she’s having none of his shit from the jump. (Per me)
  27. Molly O’Keefe, BETWEEN THE SHEETS
  28. Molly O’Keefe, BURN DOWN THE NIGHT –  one angry, prickly lady that needs to be your list.
  29. Molly O’Keefe, INDECENT PROPOSAL (All per Ellie Reads)
  30. Lucy Parker,  MAKING UP – Trix is guarded and prickly and all kinds of wonderful. Go forth and pre-order! (Per me)
  31. Tamsen Parker, PERSONAL GEOGRAPHY and ON THE BRINK OF PASSION (Per the author who also says her entry in the ROGUE DESIRES antho qualifies)
  32. Roan Parrish, SMALL CHANGE – She’s absolutely bloody furious throughout. (Per KJ CharlesZoe Ashwood, and KT Gilbert)
  33. Ainslie Paton, INSECURE – a big bank CEO candidate heroine (per the author)
  34. Susan Elizabeth Phillips, AIN’T SHE SWEET (Per Jezz de Silva)
  35. Alisha Rai, A GENTLEMAN IN THE STREET (Per Tamsen Parker)
  36. Alicia Rai, HATE TO WANT YOU (Per Liz Lincoln)
  37. Penny Reid, BEARD IN MIND – Some of it is due to her OCD, but I think she’d be prickly and a bit antisocial in any case. (Per Karen Kiely)
  38. Layla Rene, TEQUILA SUNRISE (Both per Cat Sebastian)
  39. Dorothy F. Shaw, DEFENSIVE HEART – Review quote: “Sonja is uptight, a work-a-haulic [sic], a single mother, and quite a few years older than James. She tends to shut down people and be very standoffish.” (Per the author)
  40. Maggie Wells, PLAY DATES – the heroine chooses a “non-traditional route” (Per the author)
  41. Maisey Yates, SMOOTH-TALKING COWBOY – I knew…I had to do some work to make her likeable because she just appeared so PRICKLY. So I had to figure out why. (Per the author)
  42. Mariana Zapata, FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE – It took me a while to get her. But I loved her in the end. Plus it’s about ice skating yey!

Historical

  1. Nita Abrams, THE SPY’S BRIDE – (Per July)
  2. Mary Balogh, SLIGHTLY SCANDALOUS (Per Maida Maltby)
  3. Kimberly Bell, A DANGEROUS DAMSEL – Dierdre…the smack-talking, man-robbing heroine. Difficult for sure, though Hannah, the heroine of the preceding book, isn’t exactly a shrinking violet either. (Per CL Polk)
  4. Joanna Bourne, THE BLACK HAWK (Per July)
  5. Kate Canterbary, THE SPIRE – She’s difficult and so scared and I adored her. (Per Kini, who says the entire Walsh series also qualifies)
  6. Loretta Chase, THE LION’S DAUGHTER (Per July)
  7. Alyssa Cole, AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION – Elle is too busy being a badass Union spy to have time for your nonsense. (Per me)
  8. Jenny Frame, COURTING THE COUNTESS (Per Jenny)
  9. Cecilia Grant, A GENTLEMAN UNDONE (Per Jenny)
  10. Cecilia Grant, A LADY AWAKENED – Martha “just nut and get it over with” Russel (per Kimberly Bell)
  11. Laura Lee Guhrke, SCANDAL OF THE YEAR – Julia is difficult prickly and I loved her so much (Per Lisa Lin)
  12. Jennifer Hallock, UNDER THE SUGAR SUN – People hated my heroine, Georgina Potter, when she got single-minded and driven (aka stubborn). (Per the author)
  13. Elizbeth Kingston, FAIR, BRIGHT AND TERRIBLE (Per Cat Sebastian)
  14. Laura Kinsale, FOR MY LADY’S HEART – prickly, mercurial, and so brave (Per Sarah Howes)
  15. Lisa Kleypas, IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN (Per Maida Maltby)
  16. Sarah MacLean, DAY OF THE DUCHESS (Per Mary Lynne Nielsen)
  17. Courtney Milan, THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY (Per Katie M)
  18. Karen Ranney, THE LASS WORE BLACK (Per Elle Keck)
  19. Sherry Thomas, PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS (Per Maida Maltby)
  20. Maggie Wells, PLAY DATES – the heroine chooses a “non-traditional route” (Per the author)

Paranormal & Dystopia/Post Apoc/Fantasy & SF

  1. Ilona Andrews, BURN FOR ME – 1st in the Hidden Legacy series. So determined to make her own way, she only accepts help from the hero when she absolutely needs to. (Per Chachic)
  2. Ilona Andrews, CLEAN SWEEP, ON THE EDGE, BAYOU MOON, and FATE’S EDGE – I tend to consider their kind of interaction a different trope, anti-damsels. Hero wants to rescue and they aren’t here for that. (Per Ana Coqui)
  3. Suzanne Brockmann, BORN TO DARKNESS (Per Jezz de Silva)
  4. Lois McMaster Bujold, PALADIN OF SOULS – Ista is cranky and acerbic. Also smart and a great leader. (Per me)
  5. Kristen Callihan, WINTERBLAZE (Per Lillie)
  6. Kresley Cole, KISS OF THE DEMON KING – She’s prickly, vain, and a powerful sorceress. Hands down my fav heroine. (Per Ainsley Wynter)
  7. Megan Crane, EDGE OF CONTROL (Per Maisey Yates)
  8. Lauren Dane, GODDESS WITH A BLADE (Per Lillie)
  9. Molly Harper, THE ART OF SEDUCING A NAKED WEREWOLF – bites the hero in the ass when she’s a wolf. (Per Zoe Ashwood)
  10. Thea Harrison, SERPENT’S KISS & KINKED (Per Jezz de Silva)
  11. Heather Rose Jones, THE MYSTIC MARRIAGE – Histrom with alchemy, f/f, and you get two incredibly difficult heroines for the price of one! Antuniet is cold and obsessive, Jeanne is manipulative and shallow, and it’s *perfect*. 🙂 (Per KJ Charles)
  12. Shelly Laurenston, BITE ME – Vicious. Mean. Loves honey. Is sort of apologetic for hiding naked in your cupboards and falling asleep but not really. It’s comfy in there. (Per Tabs)
  13. Katherine McIntyre, FORGED ALLIANCES – Sierra, the wolf alpha in my shifter series. Relentlessly dominant. (Per the author)
  14. Kate Pearce, SOUL SUCKER (Per Lillie)
  15. Kit Rocha, BEYOND PAIN (Per Lillie)
  16. Nalini Singh, BRANDED BY FIRE -Mercy has to fight for Riley and others to see her as an equal. She can get pretty ‘prickly’. (Per KT Gilbert)
  17. JR Ward LOVER MINE & LOVER UNLEASHED (Per Jezz de Silva)
  18. Deborah Wilde, THE UNLIKEABLE DEMON HUNTER – Its right in the title! (Per Jocelyn Adler)

Romantic Suspense

  1. ML Buchman, TARGET ENGAGED (Per Jezz de Silva)
  2. Carolyn Crane, BEHIND THE MASK – She is tough and determined, taking not sh*t from anyone. Not sure difficult is the right word for her though. (Per Ellie Reads)
  3. Stephenie Meyer, THE CHEMIST (Per Jezz de Silva)
  4. Sharon McKenna, ULTIMATE WEAPON – Tamara is a former femme fatale assassin who makes jewelry as weapons. She’s prickly af. Love her. (Per Ainsley Wynter)
  5. J.D. Robb, NAKED IN DEATH – Eve Dallas is like the patron saint of difficult heroines. 40+ books and she’s still her glorious cranky self. (Per Tabs)
  6. Nora Roberts, CHASING FIRE (Per Jezz de Silva)
  7. L Setterby, BREATHE – a kinky romantic suspense with a sarcastic, prickly heroine. (Per Alexa Rowan)

Young Adult

  1. Kristin Cashore, GRACELING (Per Suzanne Krohn)
  2. Miranda Kenneally, THINGS I CAN’T FORGET and STEALING PARKER, Both heroines get slammed for very different reasons (one is too preachy, one too slutty). (Per Elizabeth Bright)
  3. E. Lockhart, THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS (Per Jen)
  4. Sandhya Menon, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Per me and Suzanne Krohn)
  5. Elizabeth Scott, HEARTBEAT and BLOOM (Per Elizabeth Bright)
  6. Nicola Yoon, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR – The heroine doesn’t believe in love (she prefers science) and is so great. I cheered for her so hard. (Per Suzanne Krohn)

A Home for “Difficult” Heroines

NB: If the list below gives you hives because it has absolutely no organizing principles, I have also posted it by subgenre.

A couple of days ago, I tweeted a thread that began here:

It led me to further discussions and the reminder that while a lot of readers want their romance heroines to be “nice” all the time, there is a pocket of us (sometimes known among ourselves as “Hag Corner”) who really appreciate a prickly, “difficult,” abrasive heroine. Someone who will stand up for herself, or screw up, or get angry. Or all of the above.

So, because I wanted my mentions to be a complete mess, I asked for romance recommendations where the heroine is this type of woman. And oh, man, did I get them. So with joy and glee I present it to you, complete with buy links in case you too like a woman who doesn’t default to “nice.” Oh, and I’m including recommenders’ twitter links, too, in case you also want to follow some like-minded people.

I started with some of my favorites:

  1. Victoria Dahl, CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH – meet Grace “rage-nugget” Barrett.
  2. Sarah Mayberry, THE OTHER SIDE OF US – oh, Mackenzie, you guarded, scarred treasure.
  3. Courtney Milan, TRADE ME – Tina let’s Blake know she’s having none of his shit from the jump.
  4. Alyssa Cole, AN EXTRAORDINARY UNION – Elle is too busy being a badass Union spy to have time for your nonsense.

And now for…THE REST OF THE LIST:

  1. Roan Parrish, SMALL CHANGE – She’s absolutely bloody furious throughout. (Per KJ Charles, Zoe Ashwood, and KT Gilbert)
  2. Jennifer Crusie, AGNES AND THE HITMAN – Agnes keeps hitting people with her cast iron pan (it’s hilarious). (Per Zoe Ashwood)
  3. Lauren Dane, DRAWN TOGETHER – She is prickly, bitchy and full of sharp edges and the hero loves her just as she is. (Per Ana Coqui)
  4. Kate Canterbary, THE SPIRE – She’s difficult and so scared and I adored her. (Per Kini, who says the entire Walsh series also qualifies)
  5. Ruby Lang, PRACTICE PERFECT series
  6. Laura Florand, CHOCOLATE KISS – she’s really prickly (for good reason, too!) about Phillipe! (Both per Kate Clayborn)
  7. Alicia Rai, HATE TO WANT YOU
  8. Eliza Madison, INK OR TREAT (Both per Liz Lincoln)
  9. Molly Harper, THE ART OF SEDUCING A NAKED WEREWOLF – bites the hero in the ass when she’s a wolf. (Per Zoe Ashwood)
  10. Ainslie Paton, INSECURE – a big bank CEO candidate heroine (per the author)
  11. Mina V. Esguerra, LOVE YOUR FRENEMIES – Kimmy was the “evil girl” in My Imaginary Ex but she got her own book in Love Your Frenemies, where she remains her prickly self. (Per Chachic)
  12. Roni Lauren, BY THE HOUR – Elle’s the HBIC with a boatload of issues and i love her (Per Lisa, seconded by ally)
  13. Kresley Cole, KISS OF THE DEMON KING – She’s prickly, vain, and a powerful sorceress. Hands down my fav heroine. (Per Ainsley Wynter)
  14. Alisha Rai, A GENTLEMAN IN THE STREET
  15. Amy Jo Cousins, GIRL NEXT DOOR (Both per Tamsen Parker)
  16. Tamsen Parker, PERSONAL GEOGRAPHY and ON THE BRINK OF PASSION (Per the author who also says her entry in the ROGUE DESIRES antho qualifies)
  17. Sarah MacLean, DAY OF THE DUCHESS (Per Mary Lynne Nielsen)
  18. Talia Hibbert, THE PRINCESS TRAP – She’s just not here for your BS and I LOVED it. (Per Jen)
  19. Jenny Frame, COURTING THE COUNTESS
  20. Cecilia Grant, A GENTLEMAN UNDONE
  21. Julie James, JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE (All per Jenny)
  22. Laura Kinsale, FOR MY LADY’S HEART – prickly, mercurial, and so brave (Per Sarah Howes)
  23. Elizbeth Kingston, FAIR, BRIGHT AND TERRIBLE
  24. Layla Rene, TEQUILA SUNRISE (Both per Cat Sebastian)
  25. L Setterby, BREATHE – a kinky romantic suspense with a sarcastic, prickly heroine. (Per Alexa Rowan)
  26. Penny Reid, BEARD IN MIND – Some of it is due to her OCD, but I think she’d be prickly and a bit antisocial in any case. (Per Karen Kiely)
  27. Mina V. Esquerra, BETTER AT WEDDINGS THAN YOU – So scarily competent and DGAF. (Per Geri)
  28. Joanna Bourne, THE BLACK HAWK
  29. Loretta Chase, THE LION’S DAUGHTER
  30. Nita Abrams, THE SPY’S BRIDE – (All per July)
  31. Mariana Zapata, FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE – It took me a while to get her. But I loved her in the end. Plus it’s about ice skating yey!
  32. Nalini Singh, BRANDED BY FIRE -Mercy has to fight for Riley and others to see her as an equal. She can get pretty ‘prickly’.
  33. Jewel E Ann, JACK & JILL series, (all per KT Gilbert)
  34. Cecilia Grant, A LADY AWAKENED – Martha “just nut and get it over with” Russel (per Kimberly Bell)
  35. Kimberly Bell, A DANGEROUS DAMSEL – Dierdre…the smack-talking, man-robbing heroine. Difficult for sure, though Hannah, the heroine of the preceding book, isn’t exactly a shrinking violet either. (Per CL Polk)
  36. Kit Rocha, BEYOND PAIN
  37. Kate Pearce, SOUL SUCKER
  38. Tamara Morgan, CONFIDENCE TRICKS and THE REBOUND GIRL
  39. Kristen Callihan, WINTERBLAZE
  40. Lauren Dane, GODDESS WITH A BLADE (All per Lillie)
  41. Laura Kaye, HARD TO LET GO (Per Alexis Daria)
  42. Dorothy F. Shaw, DEFENSIVE HEART – Review quote: “Sonja is uptight, a work-a-haulic [sic], a single mother, and quite a few years older than James. She tends to shut down people and be very standoffish.” (Per the author)
  43. Julianna Keyes, IN HER DEFENSE (Per the author)
  44. Courtney Milan, THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY (Per Katie M)
  45. Lexxie Callahan, THE FALL OF THE RED QUEEN – She is the villainess in books 1 and 2 of the series and gets redeemed here ( with a hero who is willing to look below the surface)
  46. Juliana Keyes, TIME SERVED – She’s an accomplished surgeon who comes across as cold and unemotional (to protect herself from getting attached to patients and due to a bad marriage) and meets a man who is the opposite (Both per Christine Maria Rose)
  47. Jennifer Hallock, UNDER THE SUGAR SUN – People hated my heroine of Under the Sugar Sun, Georgina Potter, when she got single-minded and driven (aka stubborn). (Per the author)
  48. Sandra Antonelli, DRIVING IN NEUTRAL – I wrote a heroine who did a not very nice thing when she was angry. She regretted doing it: made apology, but I still got flack for writing her that way–even though her rection was utterly human. I like unlikable, imperfectly mannered heroines. (Per the author)
  49. Katherine McIntyre, FORGED ALLIANCES – Sierra, the wolf alpha in my shifter series. Relentlessly dominant. (Per the author)
  50. Molly O’Keefe, BURN DOWN THE NIGHT –  one angry, prickly lady that needs to be your list.
  51. Molly O’Keefe, BETWEEN THE SHEETS
  52. Molly O’Keefe, INDECENT PROPOSAL (All per Ellie Reads)
  53. Karen Ranney, THE LASS WORE BLACK (Per Elle Keck)
  54. Kristin Cashore, GRACELING (Per Suzanne Krohn)
  55. Sandhya Menon, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Per me and Suzanne Krohn)
  56. Nicola Yoon, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR – The heroine doesn’t believe in love (she prefers science) and is so great. I cheered for her so hard. (Per Suzanne Krohn)
  57. Miranda Kenneally, THINGS I CAN’T FORGET and STEALING PARKER, Both heroines get slammed for very different reasons (one is too preachy, one too slutty). (Per Elizabeth Bright)
  58. Elizabeth Scott, HEARTBEAT and BLOOM (Per Elizabeth Bright)
  59. E. Lockhart, THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS (Per Jen)
  60. Maggie Wells, PLAY DATES – the heroine chooses a “non-traditional route” (Per the author)
  61. Laura Lee Guhrke, SCANDAL OF THE YEAR – Julia is difficult prickly and I loved her so much (Per Lisa Lin)
  62. Heather Rose Jones, THE MYSTIC MARRIAGE – Histrom with alchemy, f/f, and you get two incredibly difficult heroines for the price of one! Antuniet is cold and obsessive, Jeanne is manipulative and shallow, and it’s *perfect*. 🙂 (Per KJ Charles)
  63. Ilona Andrews, BURN FOR ME – 1st in the Hidden Legacy series. So determined to make her own way, she only accepts help from the hero when she absolutely needs to. (Per Chachic)
  64. Ilona Andrews, CLEAN SWEEP, ON THE EDGE, BAYOU MOON, and FATE’S EDGE – I tend to consider their kind of interaction a different trope, anti-damsels. Hero wants to rescue and they aren’t here for that. (Per Ana Coqui)
  65. Carolyn Crane, BEHIND THE MASK – She is tough and determined, taking not sh*t from anyone. Not sure difficult is the right word for her though. (Per Ellie Reads)
  66. J.D. Robb, NAKED IN DEATH – Eve Dallas is like the patron saint of difficult heroines. 40+ books and she’s still her glorious cranky self. (Per Tabs)
  67. Jessica Clare, THE TAMING OF THE BILLIONAIRE –  In which a disabled sarcastic cat lady heroine is EVERYTHING. There’s some great stuff about her personality having nothing to do with her disability. (Per Tabs)
  68. Shelly Laurenston, BITE ME – Vicious. Mean. Loves honey. Is sort of apologetic for hiding naked in your cupboards and falling asleep but not really. It’s comfy in there. (Per Tabs)
  69. Olivia Dade, DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION – She’s prickly and determined and sure of herself, and she’s not willing to compromise her most crucial values. (Per the author)
  70. Deborah Wilde, THE UNLIKEABLE DEMON HUNTER – Its right in the title! (Per Jocelyn Adler)
  71. Andie J. Christopher, DUSK UNTIL DAWN and BEFORE DAYLIGHT – Maya from Dusk Until Dawn threatens to light the hero on fire in scene one. And Laura in Before Daylight is super mean. It’s not a coincidence that they’re my favorites. (Per the author)
  72. Mary Balogh, SLIGHTLY SCANDALOUS (Per Maida Maltby)
  73. Sherry Thomas, PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS (Per Maida Maltby)
  74. Lisa Kleypas, IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN (Per Maida Maltby)
  75. Stephenie Meyer, THE CHEMIST (Per Jezz de Silva)
  76. Nora Roberts, CHASING FIRE (Per Jezz de Silva)
  77. ML Buchman, TARGET ENGAGED (Per Jezz de Silva)
  78. JR Ward LOVER MINE & LOVER UNLEASHED (Per Jezz de Silva)
  79. Susan Elizabeth Phillips, AIN’T SHE SWEET (Per Jezz de Silva)
  80. Thea Harrison, SERPENT’S KISS & KINKED (Per Jezz de Silva)
  81. Suzanne Brockmann, BORN TO DARKNESS (Per Jezz de Silva)
  82. Sharon McKenna, ULTIMATE WEAPON – Tamara is a former femme fatale assassin who makes jewelry as weapons. She’s prickly af. Love her. (Per Ainsley Wynter)
  83. Lois McMaster Bujold, PALADIN OF SOULS – Ista is cranky and acerbic. Also smart and a great leader. (Per me)
  84. Maisey Yates, SMOOTH-TALKING COWBOY – I knew…I had to do some work to make her likeable because she just appeared so PRICKLY. So I had to figure out why. (Per the author)
  85. Nicole Helm, NEED YOU NOW
  86. Megan Crane, EDGE OF CONTROL (Both per Maisey Yates)
  87. Six de los Reyes, FEELS LIKE SUMMER – Jett is sarcastic and commitment-phobic and can’t do relationships because she’s outwardly ~emotionally closed~ but she falls in love and she’s my favorite (Per Amanda)
  88. Talia Hibbert, A GIRL LIKE HER –  Prickly autistic webcomic artist heroine, hot cinnamon roll hero (Per Alexa Rowan)
  89. Alyssa Cole, A PRINCESS IN THEORY – Ledi is both guarded and vulnerable in the best possible ways, and completely consistent with her history. (Per me)

And as a bonus recommendation, I’ve read an ARC and can highly recommend Lucy Parker’s MAKING UP – Trix is guarded and prickly and all kinds of wonderful. Go forth and pre-order!

If you want to recommend more, please do so either in the comments or on Twitter!

ETA: Also, lordy. This is getting long. A more organized list coming later today (2/20/2018)!

Recipe-English Toffee

I’m not much of a cook. I used to cook, because I had to. But then I married Mr. B. He actually enjoys cooking and he’s much, much better at it than I am. So the cooking gradually became his domain. I clean up. The division of labor works.

And while I don’t cook (well, much), I do bake. Our Christmases are filled with julekake (Norwegian Christmas bread). I also make English toffee. Toffee is one of those things where, if you can make it, people look at you like you just got your Hogwarts letter. You’re a Wizard, Harry! They assume it requires candy thermometers and maybe some eye of newt.

In fact, toffee isn’t that complicated. It requires no special equipment. The ingredients are dead simple. I don’t even require a recipe, because it’s in my head. So here’s the contents of my head, in case you want to make it.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup salted butter (if you only have unsalted, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of salt)
1 cup semisweet tollhouse morsels
1 cup (getting the idea?) chopped walnuts

Equipment:

1 heavy-bottomed, medium size saucepan
1 metal spoon with a long handle
1 double-boiler or equivalent (I use a dollar store metal bowl over a smaller saucepan with about an inch of water in the bottom)
1 crappy 9×13 brownie pan (seriously, if you have a really good-quality, sturdy one, go out and get a cheapo from the grocery store or something. You want it to be fairly flimsy)
1 spatula
1 cold day. Unless you want your electricity bill to spike through the roof.

chocolate melting in double boilerPut the chocolate on to melt. You’re going to want to put it on very low heat (yes, there is a pot with about an inch of water underneath that bowl). If the water goes dry, you will end up with burned chocolate – no good!

Next, start to melt the butter in your medium saucepan over medium-high heat. I usually use the bowl of the spoon to carve the butter up into pieces so it will melt faster. Once the bulk  of the butter has melted, add all the sugar. And settle in. You are going to want to keep this moving the entire time until you have toffee. This takes between 15 minutes and forever (no, really – it takes about 15-20 minutes, I think. I don’t time it. I just stir until it’s done). It’s going to start out looking like grainy melted butter, then it’s going to morph a few times. The first time (maybe the first few times) you do this, you will be positive you’re getting it all wrong. Because it gets seriously weird.

the snot stageHere’s the first weird stage: It gets white-ish and fluffy, and frankly…it looks like snot. Soldier onward. Keep stirring. And make sure you’re getting the spoon into the corners of the saucepan so nothing is collecting there and burning!

blurry-ish photo of "brains" stageThere’s another stage it gets to at times where it looks rather like brains being braised in butter (yummy, huh?). If it gets like this, lower the heat a TRIFLE (very minute adjustment) and stir faster to reincorporate the butter. Sometimes this stage is skipped. I think it has to do with too much heat, but what do I know? I’m not Alton Brown.

Apologies for the crappy pictures. Turns out it’s hard to stir vigorously and snap a coherent photo at the same time. Who knew?

finished toffee still on the stoveYou will get to a point where you are SURE you’re done. It will be a light golden brown. It’s not quite there yet. You want it to be dark brown, maybe just the barest whiff away from starting to burn a little. If you have forethought, put a ramekin of cold water next to the stove, lift the pot off the heat, and drizzle a little of the mixture into the cold water (then set the pot down on the heat and keep stirring). The drizzle of toffee will set almost immediately and you can test it. It should set up nice and hard with a good snap.

If you’re me, you’ve been doing this for 30 years and know what you’re looking for, thank goodness, because you always forget to set up the ramekin with water and trust me, you do not want to stop stirring this stuff, not for a single minute, not even to step across the kitchen, fetch a ramekin and put water in it.

toffee in panPour the hot mixture (WARNING: THIS IS BURN TERRITORY. AND STICKY AS ALL GET OUT. DO NOT TOUCH THE TOFFEE AT THIS STAGE) into your crappy pan and tilt it about to get the liquid toffee more or less level.

toffee sitting outside in the cold

Put it outside to begin to set (putting this in the fridge will not make you a happy electricity customer, hence the requirement for a cold day).

When it has sat in the cold for a few minutes (depending on how cold it is outside), test its hardness. It should show a fingerprint, but without denting. If you try to spread the spreading chocolatechocolate on while it is still soft, you will have difficulties. The chocolate isn’t a ganache, so it spreads thickly. You want the toffee to be hard enough to stand up to the chocolate being shoved around on its surface. Spread half the melted chocolate until it’s more or less even. Then sprinkle half the chopped nuts. Set it outside again for a few more minutes. The chocolate doesn’t have to be completely set when you bring it back in again to do the other side, but it should be at least a little set. Invert the pan over some waxed paper and eject the toffee (this is why you want a one side of toffee chocolate-ed and nuttedcrappy pan – you want to be able to push on the bottom or torque the pan a little in order to get the toffee to release. And no, you don’t need to butter or otherwise treat the pan.)

If the toffee has broken up a bit, puzzle it back together as best you can (that makes chocolate spreading easier). Repeat the spreading of the chocolate and the nuts. Allow to cool. Break up with a chef’s knife and store in a cool, dry place (I use cookie tins lined with waxed paper). It keeps for quite a while. Also, save the crumbs to serve over ice cream.

Happy (yummy) holidays! You’re a wizard, Harry!finished toffee

 

Accidentally Relevant…

…Might just be the name of my new imaginary band. On New Year’s Day this year, sipping a glass of bubbly and chatting with my husband was commemorated with this tweet:

I thought about it a lot, I plotted (in my head-I’m not much of a “real” plotter), I created an academic librarian hero and a fly fishing guide heroine. I settled on the title, Slow Drift. I didn’t start writing it until a few days before my first Romance Writers of America conference in July, and I finished the first draft in late October. Four months of writing, about 80,000 words, and a good ten months from the idea to The End.

All the while, I was aware that despite my friends’ encouragement (there was a lot of, “Oooh! I’d read that!” on Twitter), I am an odd duck with a wide acquaintance of fellow odd ducks. I personally love it when a heroine has a nontraditional job (also heroes, but heroines even more so), and I love getting a slice of life view of a profession I haven’t done and haven’t seen in romance before. I’m aware that not everyone feels this way, which can make marketing hard.

So I was thrilled when Mr. Buck emailed me this article in the New York Times about women getting into angling. It touches on a lot of the themes I covered in Slow Drift, and it makes me cautiously hopeful that the book will find its footing in the publishing world.