By Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, LLC, Atlanta
In a year where two ebook romances won the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards in head-to-head (maybe that should be heart-to-heart) competition against print titles, 2012 was an even better year for ebook romance. And with more to choose, there are even more to love. Choosing five, or even five-ish, wasn’t easy. Full disclosure: Ruhie Knox’s About Last Night is my fave!
Archer, Zoë. Skies of Fire. eISBN 9780062109149.
Archer, Zoë. Skies of Steel. eISBN 9780062109156.
Rosso, Nico. Night of Fire. eISBN 9780062201089.
Rosso, Nico. Night of Steel. eISBN 9780062201102.
ea. vol: Avon Impulse. (Ether Chronicles). EPUB $1.99. STEAMPUNK ROMANCE
A world war in the years just before we fought ours but different. This world war uses a metal called telumium and a fuel made from soya called tetrol, but, oddly enough, some of the same players appear. So typical of steampunk—familiar, yet not. Airships but also air-bikes, air-trikes, and air-horses, oh, my! And something that’s unique to this steampunk world, the Man O’War, which is a cyborg controlling an airship and seemingly vice versa. Still, with a world war come spies and secret ops and all the romantic suspense possibilities. There are also all the options for world-spanning action: military operations in Europe, town-killers, ether-powered cowboys in the U.S. West, and rogues bringing “modern” technology to the Middle Eastern tribes. Indiana Jones has nothing on them. (Skies of Fire, Xpress Review, 3/30/12; Skies of Steel, Xpress Reviews, 10/19/12
Heldt, John A. The Mine. John A. Heldt. (Northwest Passage, Bk. 1). eISBN 9781476096735. EPUB 99¢. TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE
The Mine is one of those stories that sneaks up on you and sweeps you off your feet. It reminds me a lot of Jack Finney’s classic Time and Again, in its sense of a man falling in love not just with a woman but also with a time, a place, and a way of life. Joel Smith starts the story as a cocky boy/man on a last adventure before college graduation. He bumps his head in an abandoned mine and wakes up in 1941, in America’s last golden summer before Pearl Harbor. He’s afraid to change things, but he has to find a way to survive in a world he only knows from history books and baseball statistics. Thinking he can’t go back, he falls in love and makes a life. Then he discovers that he can return to the present and is faced with a terrible dilemma. He can leave behind all that he has come to love, or stay, knowing that if he does, he may change history. This one haunts.
Knox, Ruthie. About Last Night. Loveswept: Random. eISBN 9780345535160. EPUB $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
About Last Night was my starred review in LJ’s Xpress Reviews way back in April, and I never forgot it. Knox’s contemporary romance is a funny and charming (also gloriously hot) tale about a bad girl trying to be good and a good man who needs to let his bad side out to play a little more often than his straight-laced upper-crust family can tolerate. Cath, the good-bad girl, also has one of those dream jobs—assistant to a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Knox had me at “hand-knitted straitjacket.” Her terrific “sex into love” romance will make readers laugh out loud. And finish in one sitting. (Xpress Reviews, 4/20/12)
Pape, Cindy Spencer. Moonlight & Mechanicals. Carina: Harlequin. (Gaslight Chronicles, Bk. 4). eISBN 9781426894527. EPUB $4.99.
Pape’s “Gaslight Chronicles”series (Steam & Sorcery; Photographs & Phantoms; Kilts & Kraken) is set in a steampunk world that deviates from ours at two key points: Charles Babbage’s difference engine was built (and worked!), and the Knights of the Round Table were not only real, but their descendants are still defending the monarchy and, by extension, the realm, in this alternate Victorian England. In Moonlight & Mechanicals, we have possibly the ultimate steampunk romance, between a werewolf police detective and a female engineer who grew up fighting vampires. The detective is, of course, a member of the Knights. And the heroine has had a crush on him ever since he saved her life. He just believes that he isn’t capable of being a family man. She’s just planning to tinker with him until she proves different. And they save the Queen! (Xpress Reviews, 11/12/12)
Vane, Victoria. The Devil’s Match. eISBN 9781771018470.
Vane, Victoria. The Devil You Know. eISBN 9781771018043.
Vane, Victoria. The Virgin Huntress. eISBN 9781771018289.
Vane, Victoria. A Wild Night’s Bride. eISBN 9781771011310.
ea. vol: Breathless Pr. (Devil DeVere). EPUB $3.49. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
The “Devil DeVere” series is a variation on the rake’s progress, or the rake’s reformation, except that is doesn’t start with said rake as the main character—a device that is amazingly clever on Vane’s part and allows her to circle in on DeVere without revealing too much at the outset. In the first two books (Wild and Virgin), DeVere is the puppet master, rearranging his friends’ lives. But in the background, readers catch hints that there’s more to him than the debauched reprobate they see. By the time we find out his story, we’re invested. The series is erotic and sexy, and sometimes you want to shake the characters until their teeth rattle, but it is absolutely marvelous. This one should be read with bonbons. And a fan!