These are strange and scary times. While we all look for comfort where we can, I thought I’d take some time to talk about comfort reads, and what I’ve been reading over the past few weeks.
It’s interesting because when people say comfort reads, I think they usually refer to specific books. I know Jenica at Firewhiskey Reader and I have talked about it before, and she has a stack of go-to books that she turns to to feel better. I’m not a big rereader, even though I’d like to start doing it more, so I don’t really have certain books I always pick up in times of stress.
I’ve come to realize in the last few weeks, though, that I have a comfort genre, and it’s historical romance. Historical romance is my first love of the romance genre, and while I enjoy a lot of contemporary and paranormal romances, historical romance is still my favorite.
It took a while for me to read when I first started staying at home. I’m in the middle of a coding bootcamp, and I’m supposed to graduate next week and start job hunting. Great timing, huh? We went remote in early March, and it was really hard (and still is) to adjust to our new reality. At first I didn’t do any reading at all, just obsessively reading the news. But gradually I realized that was only making things worse, and I forced myself to unplug and sit down with a book.
That book was a historical romance, and frankly, that’s about all I’ve been able to bring myself to read since then. Some fantasy romance, too, but basically it has to be something I can sink into quickly, that I already know the beats of, and that I know will have a happily ever after.
So it turns out, in times of comfort, I just sink into historical romance! Oddly enough, though, I don’t have a ton of historical romance I’ve been meaning to read. I’m actually pretty caught up on my favorites, and I think the bulk of what I read for historical romance throughout the year is actually new releases from those favorites. In fact, I read the arcs I had that were being released soon, plus the two historicals I had sitting on my kindle, and then I wasn’t quite sure where to turn. Fortunately Twitter came through, and I now have a whole list of books checked out from the library and a massive TBR I’m ready to tackle!
Some of the arcs I’ve been reading lately that I’m excited for other people to get their hands on include The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath, First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn, and The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham. All three were excellent, but First Comes Scandal really hit the spot for me. My review is already up for the new Lorraine Heath (which is out now!), but keep an eye out for my other reviews in the coming weeks.
Some other historicals I’ve been reading include The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne and His at Night by Sherry Thomas. I’m really glad I finally picked up my first Kerrigan Byrne, because one of my friends is a HUGE fan of hers and I’ve been meaning to read this book for years. This one is a marriage of convenience with a powerful criminal and a lot of angst, and it definitely won’t be my last from Kerrigan Byrne! And despite loving Sherry Thomas’ My Beautiful Enemy and enjoying everything else that I’ve read from her, I still haven’t dived into her backlist yet. I’m really glad I started correcting that with His at Night, because it was so good! The heroine is trying to escape her abusive uncle and traps the hero into marriage, little realizing he’s pretending to be an idiot because he’s working undercover for the government. I can’t wait to read more of her backlist.
I have tried a little bit from other genres, though they’re all still romances. Hold Me by Courtney Milan is a contemporary (I have to keep up with my reading project with Jenica!), and Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven is a fantasy. Hold Me is excellent, and you’ll hear more about it in an upcoming blog post, but I have to admit to being pretty disappointed by Phoenix Unbound. There was just so much rape at the beginning of the book that I almost put it down, and while I liked the world and the writing style, I never fully got on board with the heroine falling in love with her kidnapper. But I liked it enough that I’m excited for the sequel? Make of that what you will.
After seeking recs from Twitter, I wound up buying and checking out a WHOLE bunch of books. I am officially fully stocked! One of the clear favorites on Twitter was The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne, which I’d forgotten a friend from my bookclub highly recommended, so I was happy to have an extra push to pick it up. I’ve since read this one, and I’m pleased to report that it was excellent! It’s a spy historical, and while it also had a kidnapping element that I couldn’t fully get behind, I still really enjoyed it and am excited to continue the series.
Some others that I’ve picked up include The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne (the sequel to The Highwayman), Like No Other Lover by Julie Ann Long (my book club is a huge fan of this series and I’ve been meaning to try more), To Resist a Scandalous Rogue by Liana de la Rosa, As You Desire by Connie Brockway, and A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen. I also have a hold on Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, which I read back in high school/college, but have no recollection of and apparently need to reread, and I’m hoping to read Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses books and continue with Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinsister series, plus I want to reread Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaways books. I also kind of want to look into Suzanne Enoch since I love the Scottish puns in her book titles, and the publisher Forever made one of their debut historicals, A Good Duke is Hard to Find by Christina Brittan, available for immediate download, so I’m excited to give that a try!
I’m also trying to make sure and support indie bookstores with everything that’s going on right now. There are a bunch of books I was planning to pick up at KissCon, but since that’s been pushed back to August, I figured I’d go ahead and buy some of those books now and get other things at KissCon. So I ordered a signed copy of Crush the King by Jennifer Estep from her local bookstore, Malaprops. I also placed an order at Love’s Sweet Arrow for The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite (such a good book!) and The Prince of Broadway by Joanna Shupe (fuck yeah Florence!), as well as Kiss of Snow and Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh. I figured now’s a great time to finish building out my Psy/Changeling collection! I also preordered Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai and First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn from The Ripped Bodice, and rounded out my order with Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas and Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. I’m sure I’ll be ordering more in the coming weeks!
So yeah. It’s been a lot lately, as I’m sure it has been for everyone, and while I’m very much not looking forward to job hunting in the coming weeks, I’m grateful my husband and I have been able to work remotely and maintain strict social distancing, especially as New York’s caseload gets higher and higher.
What books have been helping you cope the last several weeks? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!