Romantic Reading Diary – February 2020

I thought I’d try reading romance novels for the ‘month of love’. Afterall, it is the most popular genre of fiction, so I looked up a list of the top romance books on Goodreads. Oh dear, I couldn’t get past the covers. They either looked like bodice-rippers (so many Dukes…), 50 Shades knock-offs (featuring topless men) or fluffy rom-coms (showing cartoon couples). Maybe if someone can recommend a good one I’d give it go but instead I decided to pick books in genres I already read but that featured a prominent love story as part of the plot.

Son of the Shadows (Sevenwaters #2) by Juliet Marillier

“You bound him to you with your courage and your tales. You hold him to you now. You captured a wild creature when you had no place you could keep him.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Daughter of the Forest, the first instalment in this series. Like that book, Son of the Shadows features a romance, but aside from that there is political intrigue, the Fair Folk and the dramas of the next generation of the family.  Liadan, has ‘the Sight’ and her path as a home-loving healer takes a turn when she is abducted.  The setting is one of the best things about these historical fantasy books. The ancient forest in Medieval Ireland is brought vividly and beautifully to life brimming with Irish folklore.  This was very much up to the standard of the first book and I will read on because I love this world and those that dwell at Sevenwaters. 4.75/5

This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

“Red rarely sleeps, but when she does, she lies still, eyes closed in the dark, and lets herself see lapis, taste iris petals and ice, hear a blue jay’s shriek. She collects blues and keeps them.”

time war

This one is out there guys. It’s a sci-fi novella where two female agents (codenamed Red and Blue) battle on opposing sides of a war over the future, travelling up and down the time-line trying to make changes that thwart each other and give their side an advantage. This can be anything from a swift assassination to being deep undercover for decades in order to subtly nudge events in a certain direction. They start exchanging missives first as a taunt but these letters become increasingly elaborate and heartfelt as they fall for one another. The messages come in the form of anything from a bee-sting to the rings of a tree. The imagination on display is immense and the writing often dense and poetic as you can see from the above quote. You are thrown in at the deep-end and need to concentrate on every word: there is no ‘info dumping’ here but roll with it and you’ll be rewarded by the end. It would be a good one to re-read once you have the full picture. 4/5

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

“War is such a waste of women’s time.”

times converty
I thoroughly enjoyed the All Souls Trilogy which is a fantasy romance between a vampire and a witch. It was written by historian Deboarh Harkness and had a great section where they time travelled to Elizabethan London in order to escape the danger they were in. Time’s Convert comes after the events of those books and I was led to believe it centred around the relationship between two side characters, vampire Marcus and Sotherby’s art expert, Phoebe. However, the couple are apart for the vast majority of the book as Phoebe is not allowed to see Marcus for several months after becoming reborn as a vampire. We spend a far bit of the story following Marcus during the American and French Revolutions. I love historical fiction but these sections felt like they were taking me away from the current day plot (such as it was) and didn’t have a lot of relevance. It was nice to spend time with Matthew and Diana again and see their children but unlike the original trilogy, there were no stakes, no peril. It just felt like not much was really happening and sadly, I just wanted to be done with it towards the end. 2.75/5


Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

“If he knew, if he only knew that I was giving him every chance to put two and two together and come up with a number bigger than infinity.”

call me

The narrator of this book is Elio, a man looking back on a summer romance he had when he was seventeen with twenty-four year old college lecturer Oliver, who comes to stay at Elio’s family holiday home on the Italian Riveria. I say romance, while he eventually finds his feelings are reciprocated, this is very much a study in infatuation. Elio is idolising Oliver and the introspective detail did grate on me at the start. We come to see that Oliver is almost equally taken with the idea of Elio. While Elio covets Oliver’s self-assuredness and popularity, Oliver covets Elio’s youth and musical/intellectual accomplishments. That’s why it’s less a love affair and more about wanting to possess the other person in order to get close to the experience of being them. Hence why they call each other by their own name. It works on that level but I didn’t see it as the great love story others seem to connect with so intensely. Perhaps it’s best read when you’re closer to Elio’s age.  3/5

Do you have any romantic books to recommend?


Filed under Book Review

10 responses to “Romantic Reading Diary – February 2020

  1. Hamamelis

    I am glad Son of the Shadows scored a 4.75! I love that world too, very much. I am reading Miss Austen at the moment, which I think qualifies as Romantic Reading. It is lovely, some people reviewed it as dull, but that is exactly what I need at the moment!


    • I remembered you enjoyed Son of Shadows so I’m it’s good that we are on the same page (no pun intended haha).

      I think a gentle read can be perfect when that’s what you’re in the mood for. If you’re busy or feeling stressed it can be the ideal remedy. I found that when I had new year anxiety, Where the Forest Meets the Stars fit the bill even though it wasn’t the kind of thing I read normally.


  2. Jillie

    Thank you for your reviews, and you may have tempted me with Son of Shadows, which appeals on several levels – healers, medieval setting and Ireland!

    Sadly This is how you lose the Time War would be far too much for my weary brain to cope with, but I always admire authors who can create such complex worlds and situations!

    Reading really can offer a temporary escape from the stresses of our every day life – I just wish I had the energy to do more. I guess it’s a case of dipping in and then being carried along by the gentle current.


  3. Hey tara,
    I’m bummed that you didn’t get swept away in Call Me By Your Name. I loved it so much it took only three sittings to get through it and out the other side.
    Maybe emotionally i am stuck around Elio’s age. That would explain a LOT!
    Portia xx


    • Hahaha! You’re too funny Portia. I’m always getting crushes so don’t know why he irritated me. Maybe it was wishing Oliver was crippled so he’d never leave him 🙂


      • Maybe it was a little too close for comfort then?
        Crushing is all kinds of wonderful and awful in equal measure. I do it all the time too. Like a labrador pup at the pound, anyone gives me kindness and attention and I’m basically theirs for life.
        Hu8gs and love.
        How are you all coping over there with Covid 19?
        Portia xx


  4. Not my genre exactly, but as ever I am mighty impressed at your reading rate. Which if anything is going to be record busting this year. And mine, maybe. 😉 Either that or the house will be entirely draped in dishcloths and scarves.


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