Top Ten Underrated Books in the Romance Genre

This week’s meme from the Broke and the Bookish focuses on ten authors or books in a genre of our choosing. So for this Top Ten Tuesday, I wanted to share some of my underrated picks from the romance genre. Romance novels have a stigma that I’ve never understood: sure there are some hellaciously bad ones but the same can be said of straight fiction and you don’t see me turning my nose up at an entire genre because of it.

Anyway, as I climb down off that soapbox, I’d love to tell you about some of my favorite underrated romance novels. I haven’t heard many people talking about these of late, possibly because they’re not super recent releases but these are all books I would recommend if you’re looking for a weekend romantic read.

*As usual, all links lead to Goodreads*

The Sheik

The first captor-captive romance novel.

1. The Sheik by E.M. Hull

I feel like I talk about this book a lot, though maybe not here. I found Hull’s infamous novel at a small bookstore that had it on display claiming it as one of the first romance novels ever. That combined with the fact that this novel inspired the Rudolph Valentino short film that cemented his career as a sex symbol made me pick up The Sheik. It’s not a perfect novel by any means but if you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey, then this novel is about fifty times better than that. And Diana, the heroine, is significantly more feisty and hates her love interest for a significant portion of the book so the emotional drama is more satisfying too.


Mona Lisa Awakening (Monère: Children of the Moon, #1)

2. Mona Lisa Awakening by Sunny

This one gets its spot on this list because for so long I dismissed this book when I passed it on the shelves for one reason or another. When I actually read Mona Lisa Awakening I quite enjoyed it. Not my favorite series of all time but it was full of intriguing characters and concepts, so I’d happily return to the series. Compared to, say, The Merry Gentry series, this novel gets underrated but if that’s your kind of romance read, give this book a whirl.

Date Me, Baby, One More Time (Immortally Sexy, #1)

Britney Spears reference for the win!

3. Date Me, Baby, One More Time by Stephanie Rowe

I had forgotten how much I adored this novel until I went combing through my virtual shelves to write this post. A wonderful paranormal series with quirky humor and great character building. Kind of like a lighter version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in book form. Same brooding romance. Same level of puns and pop culture references. Not enough love for this book and its three follow-ups. All are solid. Read them.

Crimson Kiss (Crimson, #1)

4. Crimson Kiss by Trisha Baker

This is another book I feel as though I talk about a lot. Baker straddles the line between romance and horror with the strange love affair of Meghann and Simon, because frankly Simon’s psychotic and you’re rooting for Maggie to kick his ass the whole time. It’s their journey through the series as a whole that becomes more about the romance. Baker is reportedly reissuing her novels–YAY–since they were out of print and is also adding to the series. So now is a good time to check out the Crimson books if you’re interested in a more horror-driven romance read.

Bond of Blood (Texas Vampires #1)

5. Bond of Blood by Diane Whiteside

Two words: vampire cowboys. Maybe not for everyone, but why not combine two of the most sexy romantic character tropes to great effect? Another solid series that just isn’t talked about enough for my liking. Whiteside does a great job of weaving the books’ stories and characters together in a way that feels fluid, which is always satisfying for a series reader.

Private Pleasures (The Channel #1)

6. Private Pleasures by Bertrice Small

One of Small’s only contemporary romance series, which is why I think it gets a bit overshadowed. Really interesting concept though: women can tune in to “the channel” which allows them to live out their sexual fantasies with no repercussions. Of course, there are real life heroes for the women to fall in love with, and there is a darker side to “the channel” that develops throughout the series, which is interesting.

The Demon's Daughter (Tale of the Demon World, #1)

7. The Demon’s Daughter by Emma Holly

I adore Emma Holly as a general rule, but my favorite of her series are the ones set in this demon world. The demons, or Yama, have futuristic technology but have a very Victorian class system in place. It’s a hard system to explain without going into depth or getting rather steamy, so I’ll leave it with when humans and Yama interact, good things happen.

Wilde Thing (Wilde Series, #1)

8. Wilde Thing by Janelle Denison

When I first started getting into romance novels, this was one of my first reads. And it still stays with me. Bad-boy P.I. helps feisty barista traverse the world of high-class escorts to find a missing cousin. I do realize how ridiculous that sounds all together, but, holy cow, is it so much better than that. There’s a whole Wilde series, but this first one is honestly the best of the bunch.

The Royal Treatment (Alaskan Royal Family, #1)

It’s like a raunchier Princess Diaries.

9. The Royal Treatment  by MaryJanice Davidson

Set in a world where everything is the same as ours, except for the fact that Alaska is its own country with a royal family. Imagine all the quirk and verve Mia Thermopolis would have as an adult and that is stranded American tourist Christina Krabbe, who gets handpicked by the King as a fit mate for Prince David. Laugh out loud funny and just the right amount of sexy.

Nerd in Shining Armor (Nerds, #1)

10. Nerd in Shining Armor by Vicki Lewis Thompson

If you have one last beach weekend, take this book with you. The premise is somewhat ludicrous but the writing and the characters make up for it 100%. Genevieve has a crush on her sexy boss and it seems like a dream come true when he invites her to Maui for the weekend. But then the plane crashes, her boss mysteriously disappears, and Genevieve is left stranded on an island with the firm’s IT guy, Jack. Sparks fly and suddenly being stranded isn’t such a bad thing. Really cute little book that doesn’t get talked about often enough.

Have you read any of these? What do you think? Underrated or overrated?

Really? Must I Read These?

This week’s Broke and the Bookish meme centers around the books that you get recommended the most often but haven’t yet read. Despite my slightly snarky post title, I appreciate recommendations from friends and fellow readers. It’s led me to some amazing reads over the years i.e. The Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon or A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. So these are the books that I’ve been told I MUST read but haven’t gotten around to reading yet for one reason or another.

*All links and pictures lead to*

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

1. Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus by Dr. John Gray

I remember being told from the time that I was a teenager that as a woman I needed to read this book. That reading this book would change my life and the way I look at relationships. It’s just always seemed a tad cliché. And it was definitely a book that revolutionized dating in the 1990’s. At this very moment I am trying to make headway on this book. I’m about thirty pages in and it’s like pulling teeth. Gray’s vision of what makes men and women tick seems a tad dated. I still plan to push through but so far I remain unconvinced that this is a book I need to read.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

2. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

So many people have recommended Mary Roach to me. Not just Stiff but some of her other works as well: Bonk, Gulp, or Spook. She’s a reputedly amazing non-fiction writer who turns her well-researched interests into fascinating reads. I definitely want to tackle at least one of Roach’s books but other things always seem to slip past her on the TBR list.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

3. World War Z by Max Brooks

I know for a fact that this novel has appeared in at least one of my TBR posts for Top Ten Tuesday in the past two years. And I genuinely mean to read the darn thing! It always seems like the time is never right. I have a painfully vivid imagination and I had to stop watching “The Walking Dead” because it was giving me nightmares. So I anticipate another round of that with World War Z. Tons of friends have read and loved this book, so I want to give it a chance. I’m just scared.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I’m not a YA snob, per se, I’m just very picky about what I read in the YA genre. Mostly because there are so many adult fiction pieces that I’m dying to read that the YA gets put off till that ever-present “later.” That being said, there are too many of my friends who tell me I must read this book for me to be squirmy about it for much longer.

From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies

5. From Reverence to Rape by Molly Haskell

This book has been mentioned in every film course I took in graduate school. I NEED to read this book. For my academic life and because it sounds really interesting.

The Dream of Scipio

6. The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears

My friend, Clara, handed this to me at our library’s annual book sale and said I needed to read this. Everything was $1.00, so I didn’t question her. It’s sitting on my shelf right now taunting me.

Lunch Poems

7. Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara

One of my favorite professors in college loved Frank O’Hara. Not a class would go by without him telling us that we all needed to read Frank O’Hara. My apologies, Dr. Babbitt, but I still need to read Frank O’Hara.

The Poisonwood Bible

8. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This is probably the only book on my list that I have no interest in reading but that everyone seems to recommend. I’ve picked it up at the library dozens of times but the synopsis always turns me off. People can tell me I need to read this book all they like, I don’t WANT to read it.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

9. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

It seems like all the writers I know swear by this book, or at least respect it. Bird by Bird has served as many a muse and validation for my writer friends, and who doesn’t want a little bit of that in their life? I just haven’t gotten around to picking it up for myself.

The Catcher in the Rye

10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Somehow I escaped reading this in high school and college. Not a clue how I managed that, but it seems to shock most people that I was never required to read any Salinger. Then these same people tell me I need to read it because it was really quite good. Honestly, I’d like to read it because I think I’ll understand more allusions to things in pop culture. Sometimes that’s reason enough.


So who has read what? Tell me in the comments below. Your words might just be the ones that push me over the edge on reading one of these bad boys!

Books in My Beach Bag

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I love a good TBR list so I couldn’t resist. This week’s Broke and the Bookish meme is about the top ten books that will wind up in your beach bag. As I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to read this summer, I’ve realized that most of these do not come off as typical beach reads. But that’s what makes these lists fun.

All pictures and links are from/lead to



Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: One of my best friends, Brittany, is obsessed with this series and it was a bone of contention in our friendship that I had never read the original text, though I was acceptable friend material for having seen and loved the movies. Well, girlfriend, I am finally reading the book. She is stoked. I haven’t taken this one to the beach yet, but I’m definitely enjoying the read thus far. Above and beyond the fun films, Crichton has such a cinematic language that it’s easy to see why his books so often get adapted for the screen.


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: I picked this one up at my library recently and still need to start it. But it seems like a perfect beach read with the mystery of unveiling another person’s life story. It’s been out for a bit now, but I just never got around to reading it. Now is the time! Have any of you read The Thirteenth Tale? Is it any good?

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,  #1)

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: This is another friend recommendation. My friend Clara told me that the premise was right up my alley and that the translation was beautiful. Now her description of the plot differs somewhat from what Goodreads is telling me. From an amalgamation of both descriptions, it seems like a story about a boy who chooses a forgotten book from a bookstore and when he falls in love with the author’s writing, the boy tries to find more of the author’s work. Mystery unfolds as the boy discovers that someone is destroying all the copies of the author’s work. I’m intrigued and am looking forward to this one for sure.

The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son

The Film Club by David Gilmour: I’m pretty sure that I’ve had this book on TBR lists in the past and I still haven’t managed to read the darn book. I fell in love with the book at a Barnes & Noble after doing the first page test and suddenly finding myself plopped on the ground and on page ten. Despite that initial draw, this poor book has languished on my shelves ever since. It’s a nonfiction memoir about a father struggling to reach his rebellious son. The son doesn’t want to go to school anymore and at his wit’s end, Gilmour agrees that the kid doesn’t have to go anymore if and only if he sits down and watches movies with his old man three times a week. The memoir covers the three-year span that he and his son go through this “film club.” Gilmour is a highly humorous and emotive writer, so his stories really captivate.


Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters: This anthology of poetry is about the residents of a small town–Spoon River–who tell their stories in verse from beyond the grave. The personality of the town and its inhabitants is supposed then is elaborated through these afterlife reflections. It’s such a compelling concept for a collection and I can’t wait to dive in. Poetry in general is a great beach read because it’s so easy to consume.


A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin: I have been waiting till the summer months to dive into book four of The Song of Ice and Fire Series. These books are so time-consuming and huge that I like being able to dedicate solid reading time to them before I begin. Because if I don’t dedicate time to Martin’s books, they tend to take my time anyway. I can’t tell you how many nights I have lost to Martin and this series compelling me to just read one more chapter. So very worth it though!


Love is a Mix Tape By Rob Sheffield: Another memoir that already sounds heartrending. It is about love lost and how Sheffield deals with his grief through music and mix tapes. As a former Rolling Stone journalist, the man knows his music but it goes beyond esoteric knowledge and reaches out to anyone who uses music for catharsis. I probably need to have the right mindset to read this book because it could emotionally destroy me. But is sounds so good. I’ll risk reading it in public anyway.


The Genius of the System by Thomas Schatz: Technically this one would be a re-read. This was one of my textbooks for a class on American Film History and I really enjoyed the chapters we read, so I’d like to go back and read the whole thing. Schatz is extremely well researched and has a way of making non-fiction read like a narrative tapestry. I’ll read this one with my pencil and post-its next to me.


The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger: This is another one of those books that has been on my shelf for too long. I think summer is probably the perfect time for some frivolous chick lit. Who knows, maybe I’ll like the movie better? I’m just such a fan of the Anne Hathaway/Meryl Streep  combo. That’s who I’ll be picturing for sure.


The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks: What makes this the perfect beach read is how thin the book actually is. You could easily get lost in this little book and read it all day in the sunshine. It may be another one of those books that requires a certain frame of mind or else a willingness to weep in public. But I’m finally going to commit to reading this tear-jerker.

These are the books I’m hoping to tackle this summer. And maybe they won’t make it to the beach, but they’re definitely at the top of my TBR list.  Enjoy!

Making My Way From A-Z

It dawned on me recently that I have not done a legitimate book post in a while outside of my occasional Top Ten Tuesday ramblings. Reading has always been a passion of mine and a tried and true method of relaxation. I usually read a little bit every night before bed, which can backfire on me when the book is too good and I cannot make myself stop turning the pages.

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of because it allows me to keep track of what I’ve read and what I want to read. About a year ago I joined one of the many online book clubs on Goodreads in order to get more current/trendy recommendations. The name of the group is called Bookworm Bitches (ladies only if you couldn’t tell) and I love that it allows me the freedom to interact with other readers without making it a requirement. The minute something becomes required, it becomes somewhat tedious for me. A weird quirk of mine, I know. A great example of this oddity was when I read Jane Eyre on my own and enjoyed it more because I read it for myself and not in a classroom. I’m just stubborn that way.

One of my favorite things that Bookworm Bitches does is host challenges for group members to participate in. There’s no real prize, except for self-satisfaction. This year I decided to participate in one of the timed challenges; the A-Z Title Challenge. The rules are pretty straight forward…

  • You have until the end of 2014 to complete your challenge
  • Include the date you completed the book next to your entry
  • Books can be fiction or nonfiction
  • Articles like “A” or “The” can be ignored when placing entries to easier get the right letters
  • The only exception is the letter X: a book with x anywhere in the title can count

So far I have completed eleven of my entries. I’ve really enjoyed completing parts of this challenge and am now constantly aware of what letters have yet to be filled in. Here is where I am right now. I’m also going to rate the books I’ve read thus far with one to five hearts to give you a sense of how I felt about my selections.

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (3/2) ♥♥
Bad Moon Rising by Sherrilyn Kenyon (2/16) ♥♥♥
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (1/15) ♥♥♥♥

Eleanor, Eleanor, Not Your Real Name by Kathryn Cowles (3/9) ♥♥♥
Freakonomics Revised and Expanded by Steven D. Levitt (2/8) ♥♥♥
Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame by Ty Burr (3/28) ♥♥♥♥

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman Currently Reading 

Skin Trade by Laurell K Hamilton (1/08) ♥♥♥
The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas Currently Reading 

The Vampire’s Bride by Gena Showalter (3/16) ♥♥♥
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (1/28) ♥♥♥

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (4/7) ♥♥♥♥
Zinnia by Jayne Castle (3/8) ♥

It’s such a fun challenge that I couldn’t help but share. And  I think my list reflects my reading habits rather honestly: a mix of romance, nonfiction, and lit. Obviously, I’m not near completion yet but it feels good to see the spots filled in. For all my readers out there this is a challenge I would encourage you to take on!

Any suggestions for what I should read for the missing letters?