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I’ve loved The Lord of the Rings books since I was a kid (I stole my older brothers’ copies when I was 10). Read them again and again. And then the Harry Potter books came out when I was an adult. And they’re sweet and fun, and they talk about magic and friendship. I loved them for a long time; neglect certain faults because sweet, fun, magic, friendship. And I loved Hermione, because I was like that when I was 11 – I was the kid who asked the teacher for extra homework and waved for each answer. But even before the author turned out to be a raging transphobe, I had stopped reading them; the big hate bugged me first, then people pointed out other issues, and there are big plot holes.
I went from my first love of science fiction to romance. I just need a guaranteed happy ending – and that’s the definition of this genre. It was a gradual shift – first Parasol Protectorate steampunk/fantasy/romance by Gail Carriger: Victorian London with vampires and werewolves; balloons that go far beyond what happened in the story, and other gadgets. If you haven’t read it, even if you don’t think steampunk is your thing, you should give it a try. And then Ilona Andrews: the Texas couple wrote a lot of paranormal romance. Shapeshifters, vampires (not like the classic Bram Stoker type), other dimensions and planets…. And they always make me laugh at bad things. The Innkeeper series is awesome; a sentient, interdimensional hostel in a small town in Texas…. And there’s an offshoot with the innkeeper’s sister and a vampire planet, and the most awesome little girl in any reality, ever. And why the word “repercussions” is absolutely hilarious.
But mostly now, I read Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare. I started reading Courtney when I found out she had worked for Alex Kozinski. And there was the RWA stuff. I checked his books at the library, and I kept checking them, and checking them. They are really good. Steamy, feminist historical romance. And I love her postscripts – she points out where she strayed from the story and how it could have turned out that way. And she talks about racism and puts on scientific stuff. In Devil Comes Courting she writes about the true history of the transpacific telegraph and some scientific things that could have happened. Also brings colonialism, racism, the aftermath of war and survivors’ guilt. I have re-read his Brothers Sinister series several times. Fun, joyful, feminist. And she wrote Pride & Prejudice’s fiercest review ever – tying it to the news. You can download it here. Same with Tessa Dare, especially her Spindle Cove series – which I’ve probably read 4 times in the past 2 years. In fact, all of his series are excellent. Escape, with strong female leads and men who think they’re awesome.
And there’s Beverly Jenkins, who primarily writes historical novels with African-American characters. I read Rebel, set in New Orleans after the Civil War. A happy ending (again – there’s a rule about Romance, the ending has to be happy), but given the setting, not exactly heartwarming.
Set in the past or elsewhere — I want to get away from the world, but happy, healthy, did I mention feminist?, and happy. So, do you have a good distraction? Does reading distract you? Would any of your distractions work for me?
Speaking of happy distractions:
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