TBR Challenge Review: “Lovely Rita” Month Saw Miss B. Read Marion Lennox’s HER ROYAL BABY


“Romance narrative has a sister-soul in melodrama: exaggerated protagonists and antagonists and centred on evoking and portraying emotion.” That’s so exactly right.

Originally posted on Miss Bates Reads Romance:


Charming cover: check out Tammy’s flipflops!

Miss Bates is content to return to her neglected TBR Challenge! Check it out chez Wendy here. This month’s theme was to read a nominated, or winning Rita title. Because Miss Bates is pathetically slumping along to Ros’s Summer Big Fat Book read-a-long, she chose a category romance. They’re short and she’s already behind the BFB, and summer reading piles litter her apartment and slow down two e-readers. (Way too much time on Twitter for Miss B.; also lolling, gazing at sunbeams, and sleeping in. It’s a feline life.) Reading Rita winners was one way Miss Bates segued into romance: their annual nominated and winning title lists provided tried and true romance reading as Miss B. figured out what she liked and didn’t in the genre. (Shudder PNR.) It was with nostalgia for her early romance reading days that she looked at titles…

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Christmas. Books.

My husband made the most incredible find at the used-book rack in the giftshop at his work. I mean THE MOST INCREDIBLE.


The Sheik and the Christmas Bride


Now, my husband didn’t know this when he bought it, but I have been on Book Depository looking for Christmas Sheikh romances, because to me that sounded like a thing that should exist. I mean, the local grocery stores have broken out in tangerines (from Tangiers) and dates and figs, and when I was a child I associated Arabian Nights with Christmas for some reason (it seemed to be one of those books you got given illustrated versions of at Christmas).

So…sheikh Christmas romances. That should be a thing, right?

It is, but barely. Searching permutations of sheikh/sheik and Christmas brought up one result (the one my husband just bought me, because he is a genius and also knows me way too well). Sheikh/sheik plus “desert” gave me four. and

Why isn’t this more of a thing? I mean, I understand *real* sheikhs don’t have anything to do with Christmas, but romanceland-sheikhs seem barely to have heard of Islam, let alone practice it. (Although THAT is also on my romance-novel wish list, if anyone’s listening.)

In non-desert-related Christmas-romance-novel news, I have gone overboard a little.


It’s a thing I do.

Also I finally found time yesterday to wrap the books for the Advent calender of books. Ours aren’t as fancy as the ones on Pinterest, but we really loved doing it last year, so I thing it’s officially a tradition for us now.


This house is full of books.

Like, crazy cat lady levels of full, only with books instead of cats. Admittedly the books are easier to shelve (though at this point not MUCH easier, because we are running out of shelves).

Part (okay most) of the problem:


Yeah, I know. I love books, okay? Also I don’t spend on much other “entertainment” stuff right now, and we next-to-never eat out, so this is where my entertainment budget has been going.

But between my urge to step back from reviewing new releases for a while, and my even greater urge to get through some of my TBR pile and clear some shelf space, I’ve reached a decision: I’m going to try to go six months WITHOUT buying books.*

This will also give me more time to work through my stack of Old School Romances, and maybe review a few of those for a change. (No one will show up on my doorstep for reviewing something ten or twenty years out of print, right? Right??)

*Except for the children’s Scholastic Book Club orders.

Well, UGH.

I don’t often update this blog, but this morning I have something I need to communicate, and it’s a bit of a policy statement. I apologize in advance for the sheer pomposity of that.

As you may already have read, the Guardian recently published a piece in which an author writes lightly and amusingly about stalking someone who gave her a bad review. No, really, that really happened. There’s a good list of links at Love in the Margins.

Obviously I don’t ever want to be stalked by creepy authors. I realize the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim: I’m not a well-known or prolific reviewer, and I can usually only find the energy to review books I enjoyed, not the ones I hated. But, you know…if the atmosphere surrounding book reviews has gotten so entitled and toxic that some authors think this was justified (and they do: there are people praising the stalker on Twitter), then I have no interest in participating.

No, honestly, I just don’t. Take your much-wanted stars and shove them somewhere in need of light, because I’ll no longer be providing them for any authors I don’t already know/trust/have reason to believe are sane. So the list of things I’ll be bothering to review just shrank considerably.

But the more important thing I wanted to say is this: I don’t Google myself, look for mentions of myself, or even read reviews of my stuff anymore. If you are reading anything I’ve written, you can talk about it (or not) however and wherever you want to: I promise not to whine, stalk, complain, or even look. You are allowed to have opinions of my work! Even negative ones!

So this is my one and only comment: Thank you for taking the time to read me. I’m delighted if you enjoyed the read, and sorry if you didn’t, but either way I’m not comfortable responding to reviews. I hope you understand, and that you know I’m making this decision with a lot of respect and affection for the world of readers.

I went on a spree.

A shopping spree, not a killing spree; I feel it’s important to make that distinction.

Don’t these look lovely? I swear I would frame books and hang them on my wall of I could figure out how. The covers are like little, irresistible jewels.

They have that new-book glow.

They have that new-book glow.


Things I Own

Publication date: 1983.

Shown: sand, sun, palm trees.

Shown: sand, sun, palm trees.


…camel, pyramids. SUBTLE.

Not pictured: the hero’s amazing clothes.

…Craig looked comfortable in white shorts and a blue terrycloth shirt. (p. 208)

Isn’t terrycloth the stuff bathrobes are made out of? You can get SHIRTS in that?