Tag Archives: romance

Narrelle’s summer reading reclist

While not everyone gets a break over summer, it’s always a good time for a reading recommendations list. And given I managed to read (as of 24 December) 159 books and novellas in 2018 (let’s see if I can make it 160 by NYE), I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you!

Seasonal delights

I don’t generally make a point of reading seasonal tales, but I’ve read a few that delighted me in different ways this year. If you’re looking for something a little different, may I present:

Merry Happy Valkyrie: A Holiday Novella by Tansy Rayner Roberts. It’s Christmas, Jim, but not as you know it. Norse mythology, Tasmanian snow in summer, secrets and a movie studio making Xmas schmaltz. What could possibly go wrong apart from, you know, everything? TRR never fails to be delightful, and she’s particularly and vividly charming with this gorgeous story!

Unchaining Krampus by JP Reedman. It’s Christmas. It’s a fairytale. It’s horror and demons and goblins and self rescuing princesses. It’s a hoot.

Christmas Miracles of a Recently Fallen Spruce by Brandon Witt. I discovered this author through the Facebook MM group I haunt. It was cute and a lot of fun to follow Paxton Peterson’s meticulous planning all go to ruin through a snowmobile accident and the delicious advent of a handsome neighbour.

The Miracle of the Lights by Cindy Rizzo. Christmas isn’t the only festival that can fall this time of year. Rizzo’s sweet story is about two Hasidic Jewish girls in love, losing each other and finding each other during Hanukkah in New York City.

Patreon Novellas

One of the reasons my count is so high is that I’ve been reading lots of wonderful shorts and novellas from the writers I support on Patreon. I love Seanan McGuire‘s fantasy work and every few months I get a new one.

Another joy is the work of Tansy Rayner Roberts – and I’ve sung songs to her before in this blog. For those who listen to podcasts (I never had time) Tansy podcasts many of her books before releasing the ebook, so you can get in ahead. A recent absolute gem is Tea and Sympathetic Magic, a sassy, smart, funny, brilliant regency-style story of. Well. Tea and sympathetic magic. Read an excerpt on Tansy’s website.

I don’t restrict myself to her Patreon stories – I’ve also this year loved to pieces her Creature Court prequel Cabaret of Monsters (backed through a Kickstarter), Girl Reporter (the latest in her superhero series), the  and all the parts of the Belladonna University series.

Basically, you will never go wrong with a Tansy Rayner Roberts story.

Young Adult fiction

This year I finally got to Ellie Marney’s Every series, and tore through Every Breath, Every Word and Every Move. Set in modern Australia, the stories are a clever reworking of Sherlock Holmes influences while also being their own thing entirely. Of course I love them.

Alex Marchant (who edited the recent Richard III collection, Grant Me the Carving of My Name) first came to my attention as the author of the very fine Ricardian YA adventures The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man. I’m looking forward to a third in the series, and recommend the first two very highly.

Romance! Adventure!

I’ve adored Emily Larkin‘s work for a while now and loved The Spinster’s Secret, My Lady Thief and Primrose and the Dreadful Duke.

In a similar vein, I’ve discovered Erica Ridley – more sassy Regency heroines, thank you!

Rohase Piercy’s My Dearest Holmes was recently re-released, after being one of the first officially published Holmes/Watson love stories, back in 1988.

A twist on canon-era Holmes/Watson has just come out from Improbable Press – K. Caine’s A Study in Velvet and Leather. Holmes is a queer woman, Watson is a queer man: bisexuality is a thing, and so is BDSM in the Victorian era. I loved it.

Non-Fiction

I also read some wonderful non fiction –  the account of the Burke and Wills expedition is thoroughly examined in The Dig Tree by Sarah Murgatroyd.

Vikki Petraitas’s The Frankston Serial Killer is an account of the murders that took place in Frankston in 1993 – compassionate and thorough, with a focus on the women who died and their families and communities.

Transgender Warriors : Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman by the late Leslie Feinberg and Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century by Graham Robb are both a little difficult to get, not being available in ebook form, but I learned a huge amount from both of them for current and upcoming books, and I recommend them thoroughly.

That’s probably more than enough to be getting on with! If you have any recommendations of your own, please let me know in the comments!

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate at this time of year, my very best wishes to you all, and my hopes that this whole planet has a happy, hopeful, sunshiney new year.

Quintette of Questions: K. Caine

Today I ask five questions of Holmesian romance writer, K. Caine:

K. Caine

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how did you choose the title?

The title is A Study in Velvet and Leather– and surprisingly, this is one of the titles that I agonised over the least! The perfect title, for me, is evocative and visual, preferably has more than one meaning, and fits the style of the piece.

Because I was writing canon-era Sherlock for this work, I wanted a title that would evoke that genre. I was re-reading A Study in Scarlet at the time, trying to sink back into the wonder that is moving in with Sherlock Holmes—so that solidified the first half of the title. From there, it was mostly about picking words that were symbolic of the story.

Velvet and leather are two fabrics that represent the two prominent female characters in the book, so A Study in Velvet and Leather it was!

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

I didn’t need to think hard about the answers for this one—I already had my reference images downloaded! It’s definitely Tom Hardy for John Watson, with the same quiet feminism that he displayed in Mad Max: Fury Road. He’s got the right build for John, and it’s all too easy to imagine him with the moustache and the period clothing just quietly listening, watching Sherlock and trying to keep up.

And then Tilda Swinton would be my Sherlock Holmes—she’s got the sharp cheekbones, the piercing eyes, and the tendency to menswear that Sherlock shares, and there’s something about the intensity of her presence that’s both really unusual for women, and also very, very fitting for Sherlock as a character.

3. What five words best describe your story?

“Man in love, doesn’t realize.”

4. Who is your favourite fictional couple or team?

The gang from Leverage are everything that a team should be—the entire series is a showcase of exactly how good a found family can be, right from the very first episode. Throughout the series, we get to witness a group of different people with different interests—and sometimes, entirely different plans as to how to go about something—figure out how to work with each other instead of against each other, and how to support each other through tough jobs and the stresses and traumas from life having not been that particularly kind.

That’s the kind of thing I look for in my team or couple dynamics—mutual support, snark and wit, and the gradual developing belief that your team is always going to do their best to have your back, no matter what you’re going through, and even if you aren’t your best self at the time.

5. What song always makes you cry?

Hands down, it’s La Dispute’s Woman (reading). The song is evocative of the wistfulness that marks the majority of the book—that sense that you can be physically close to someone (even, dare I say it, roommates) and still feel as though you are continents apart, and the other person is forever out of your reach.

See the lyrics here.

About A Study in Velvet and Leather

Sharing a flat with Sherlock Holmes should not have posed a problem for John Watson–after all, Watson is gay, Holmes is a woman, and the arrangement is financially convenient. But when Holmes takes a complex case involving Irene Adler and a scandalous photograph, she turns to Watson for assistance.

The case leads them everywhere from the opera to a secret Victorian BDSM club, and Watson soon finds himself questioning his partnership with Holmes, his sexuality, and his understanding of himself.

About K. Caine

K. Caine is a queer writer from the Canadian prairies whose work encompasses multiple genres, including romance, erotica, horror, and speculative fiction. After having taken a decade-long break from writing entirely, K. Caine is back, and is completely engrossed in creating stories characterized by deep points of view, high emotional stakes, and layered foreshadowing.

Armed with a psychology degree, and more stories about glitter in strange places than are really necessary, K. Caine brings themes of feminism, sexuality, gender, non-traditional relationships, and mental illness into stories. A Study in Velvet and Leather is K. Caine’s first published book.

Caine has wild and varied ideas about what comes next, but is currently procrastinating on Twitter.

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