On the Hunt | Tracking an Epic Romance

On-The-Hunt B

 

Isn’t there no better feeling than finding a book that’s like magic in your hands.  A story that, from page one, sucks you in and holds you hostage.  One that when you get to the end and you can feel your heart squeezing, and your soul aching, and you just clutch the book to your chest because you know that physically putting it down would be like ripping off the toughest of band-aids.
I’ve felt that way about only a handful of books and the sad fact is that, despite rereads, I’ll never get that initial feeling again.  There is literally nothing like reading an epic story for the first time.  Nothing.
I want that feeling again.
This time I’ve decided not to wait for an epic romantic read to just fall in my lap.  I’m going to be proactive.  I’m on the hunt, tracking, and capturing as many of these elusive novels as I can.
The search continues.

 


Love LessonsMission: Find Epic Romance | Book: Love Lessons

Series: Love Lessons
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: August 4th, 2014 (Samhain Publishing)

I really thought I hit the nail on the head with this one.  I definitely came close.  From pretty early on I fell in love with Walter and Kelly, both individually and as a couple.  In particular I thought that their relationship was based in mutual respect and admiration.  Love Lessons was actually pretty angsty, and I generally hate relationship angst in a novel, but in this book the angst was handled really well.  Walter had a serious amount of baggage, and that definitely put a crimp in their relationship, but once they’d decided to be together Kelly held on as tight as he could.  He held on with as much love as humanly possible, reminding Walter how he felt about him as many times as it was needed.  I suppose that’s the key to an angsty book, for me.  It’s all about having two characters who fight to be together, despite all the curve balls.  In that way, Love Lessons actually reminded me of Understatement of the Year.

The only criticism I may have, and it is petty, is some of the verbiage and wording that the author used.  The one that was used the most often was calling an attractive guy ‘Talent’.  In the beginning I curled my lip, but toward the end it actually started feeling cute.  Like, ‘you’re money, baby!’ from Swingers.  It started to feel like Walter’s thing.  Hopefully, though, it doesn’t continue in the future books, because it’ll lose that cuteness.

Overall, loved.  Seriously, seriously, loved this book.  I can’t decide if it’s epic, but I can say it’s definitely a favorite.

Mission Status: Inconclusive
Final Analysis: So Emotional, with amazing characters and happy tears
Rating: A+

Zero at the BoneMission: Find Epic Romance| Book: Zero at the Bone

Series: Standalone
Genre: M/M Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: April 6th, 2009 (Dreamspinner Press)

I discovered Zero at the Bone while looking through Goodreads Listopia, and it had a really good rating with reviews by people I trusted.  It also had a good recipe, with the hit man falling in love with his target.  I mean, ultimately that’s what pulled me in.  I love a good story about the bad guy falling for the good guy.

As far at the romance went, the story was a slam dunk.  Ms Seville didn’t rush the love story, with neither man jumping in at page one.  There is no insta-love.  In my opinion there wasn’t even insta-lust.  Jack didn’t trust D, and D doesn’t trust anyone.  Anything less than that would have been completely unbelievable.

The only place I had a problem was in some of the dialogue, it felt a little shallow or false, and in the editing.  The book was waaaay too long.  It was like the print version of the Lord of the Rings movie.  Just when you think you’re at the ending you find that there’s still 10-15 more chapters.  It felt like the ending happened 6 times, and each time there was still more.  I admit to skimming the last couple chapters, and that right there is why I can’t say this book was a winner.

Mission Status: Failed
Final Analysis: Good story, romantic, but lacked editing
Rating: B-

Fatal ShadowsMission: Find Epic Romance | Book: Adrien English Mysteries (all 5)

Series: The Adrien English Mysteries
Genre: M/M Mystery
Publication Date: First book published May 1st, 2007 (MLR Press)

This series was good. I truly LOVE Josh Lanyon. I love how she writes such unique main characters, and I love that her focus is on mystery with a smoking hot romance as the secondary story. I love the way she writes sex scenes, and I love that the sex scenes aren’t overwhelming. I love how romantic her romantic scenes are, but yet they’re still believable. I love how she makes relationships hard.

What I would have liked though, is a little more time with Adrien and Jake as a couple. Holmes and Moriarity are still my favorite Josh Lanyon couple, and I think that’s because (like Vic and Jacob from PsyCop) we’re reading these great characters trying to make it work. It’s such a departure from regular romance novels, where the story is all about them trying to get together. These books were all about getting together, and very little about making it work. I would give anything for one more Adrien English story, one where Adrien and Jake are just a couple, trying to live together, trying to get past their histories, trying to move forward.

It makes me remember a scene in The Boy with the Painful Tattoo where Kit and JX (Holmes and Moriarity) visit Adrien and Jake at Cloak and Dagger, and even though I read that series first, in hindsight I loved getting that glimpse of their domesticity. I want to read a Adrien Englsih mystery like THAT.

Mission Status: Failed
Final Analysis: Josh Lanyon is one of THE BEST M/M writers.  This wasn't as good as others.
Rating: Range of A's and B's

Midnight RescueMission: Find Epic Romance | Book: Midnight Rescue 

Series: Killer Instincts
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: May 1st, 2012 

This isn’t the first Elle Kennedy that I’ve tried.  She co-wrote Him and Us with Sarina Bowen, and those are two of my favorites.  I also tried reading Claimed from the Outlaw series and really didn’t like it.  I thought maybe it was only because I just couldn’t do erotic Dystopia.  Killer Instincts has decent ratings, people seemed to like it.  I thought it was a good lead, at least.  (Be forewarned, there are small spoilers ahead.)

Unfortunately this was a bad avenue to attempt.  I’ve realized that it’s not a specific book, it’s Elle Kennedy’s writing style that just isn’t for me.  Her style is too heavy handed, and I get that other people may like that aggressive style but I’m not one of them.  Here’s an example, at the resolution of the story, Kane and Abby have reconnected and it’s the big kiss.  Should be stars and glitter and romance, right?  Elle writes, that they kiss and Kane even ‘slips her the tongue’.  Slipping someone the tongue implies that the recipient doesn’t want it.  It’s the unwelcome advances of a drunkard at the bar, not thee kiss between the hero and heroine at the end of a romantic novel.  It was such a turn off.  I also felt like the story had way too many plot holes.  I recognize that I compare all romantic suspense novels to Troubleshooters but for the story to be believable I can’t notice the stupidity of these so called world class assassins/mercs.  On what planet is it a good idea, when trying to rescue a group of children, to get yourself caught and tortured on purpose.  For days.  So tortured that you can’t even stand anymore.  It’s not.  It’s insane.

I also had a hard time with the perspective of the children.  I’m all for breaking up a sex trafficking ring.  What I don’t need is to read from the perspective of a 13 year old being sexually abused.  I felt dirty.  We all have good imaginations, I can surmise the horrors they’re facing.

So, overall, this was a bad choice and I don’t think I’ll be picking up another Elle Kennedy novel, sadly.  We can’t all be fans, I suppose.

Mission Status: Failed
Final Analysis: I've given up on Elle Kennedy.  Her writing style is just not for me.
Rating: D

Please note that the hardest part of going hunting is classifying some of these books as ‘fails’.  Normally I wouldn’t ever equate finding a good book as a failure, and beginning this feature has dropped some really good books in my lap.  Remember, I’m not hunting down good books, I’m hunting the very best of the best.  The books that shelve themselves in my soul.
Now here’s your mission, should you choose to accept it:  Send me recommendations!  I’ll do my best to choose some and read them, include them in my journey.  M/M, M/F, F/F, anything is a go.  Nothing is off the table.
Can you find my next Epic Romance?

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Comments 6

  • Thank you for these suggestions, Wendy. I strongly suggest you read Mark Calde’s latest story of love “Bascomville” if you’re craving a new epic romance page turner. It’s his fourth published novel and explores the myriad ways that men love and need women. The character development was so captivating that I found myself shedding tears of both joy and sadness as I tore through the pages. Based on your proclivity for epic romance, I know that “Bascomville” will elicit a similar emotional response for you. I feel that as a society, we still have a long ways to go in terms of the progress being made in relationships between men and women. This book provided the impetus to help me accept that women do indeed deserve more from their men, and Mark Calde does a superb job of delving into this emotional concept from the fresh point of view of Max Bascom. Max’s ongoing relationship with the girl next door, Janice, was uplifting and reminded me that I should never let loneliness drive me into the arms of a man who doesn’t revere and respect the women in his life. The conflicts in “Bascomville” are multi-layered in the sense that Mark Calde explores not only Max’s struggle to find love with Janice in addition to his strife to accept his family’s dysfunction, but also the inner battle he has with staying true to himself as he transitions into adulthood. It’s an epic tale for sure! http://bascomville.myshopify.com

  • I really think you would love “The Winner’s Curse” series by Marie Rutkoski – Fantasy/Romance/YA-I rarely reread books because too many books- but this trilogy is an exception. Rutkoski’s writing took my breath away.

  • I can offer you the name of a writer who wrote the two book series, resistance and Pay the Piper, by Mary Brock Jones. I loved both books!!!!

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