I’m still trying to catch my breath from reading Conference Cupid by Eden Elgabri. The sex and the romance is a huge whirlwind that left me wanting even more. But I’m still not sure why I liked it so much.
Devin Barnett can’t believe it when he sees his old high school crush walk into his hotel for the romance writers conference. She’s just as beautiful as he remembers, but he doubts she will recognize him. After all, he was just a skinny nerd in high school. He certainly never would have entered her radar. But maybe he can finally have her.
One day I found myself in a library with some time to kill. It sounds like heaven, right? Except it wasn’t. I found myself staring blankly at rows and rows of books with nothing but indifference.
I used to love starting new books. It was exciting to go into a store or library and hunt for a hidden gem to curl up in a nearby armchair with. Or to finally start that book I got three years ago that I’ve been dying to cross off my TBR list.
But after reading mediocre book after bad book after slightly-good book, I approached new books with indifference and sometimes dread. I had a horrible case of book burnout. It took a lot of time reading some old favorites (hello, Harry Potter) to get over it.
But there’s another way to stop falling into a book slump and that’s to read books you know are good. Which is why I’m pleased to introduce the Lover’s Quarrel Ultimate Reading List.
This free PDF book is a list of romance novels that are free, over 50,000 words, and rated 4 stars or higher by me. This list will get updated all the time as I read more books that fit the criteria.
Get Lover’s Quarrel Ultimate Reading List today when you subscribe to my mailing list. You’ll get free books sorted by genre and you’ll see highlights from my reviews so you know which ones you’ll like the best. It’s a short list now, but it will get updated as I find more books to add.
Mark Calde is the author of Bascomville. You may remember it from his book spotlight and my review for Bascomville. Today, I am pleased to have him for an interview on Lover’s Quarrel. It’s been awesome working with him and I wish him the best in future endeavors and I hope we do get to see a sequel to Bascomville someday.
Tell us what Bascomville is about.
Bascomville is a literary romance that functions on several levels. It is the story of Max and Janice, who begin as childhood friends and gradually fall in love. It is the story of Max’s family and how he relates to them. And finally, it delves into the notion that, for better or worse, we each create our own special universe.
The characters all appear very real. Did you base any of them off people you know?
As a writer I try to be observant of the people I come into contact with, whether casually or on a more consistent basis. My characters often embody the traits I observe in others and in myself, but I avoid slavishly copying someone I know, as that hampers the creative process.
Max and Lily discuss what “normal” means. What does it mean for you?
For me, and the thesis I try to exemplify in the book, normal is what each of us make it. There is, in my view, no test-tube version of normal. It can’t be quantified or objectified. What’s normal for one person may be far out of another’s comfort range. If we all behaved in the same way and liked the same things, life would be a tremendous bore!
If we all behaved in the same way and liked the same things, life would be a tremendous bore! — Mark Calde
Out of all of your novels, which was your favorite one to write?
While each of my novels has been its own unique journey, I’d have to say that my fondest memory is of my first, Shadowboxer, a suspense novel published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Your first book is rather like your first kiss. It’s an experience that can’t be duplicated and remains with you forever.
What does a typical writing day look like for you? From idea to final draft, what is your writing process?
These are interesting questions because I’m rather an atypical writer. First of all, I have to know where I’m going, where the story is going to end. The road to that end doesn’t have to be totally in place but the destination does. Next come the names of the main characters. Those are very important to me and help me to visualize the characters. Also, I don’t do a lot of drafts. I prefer to think about a chapter a great deal before I write it, and I often wind up doing the actual writing in the evening. Of course, I hit dead-ends from time to time and have to backtrack, but largely my first draft of a book is about ninety percent of the finished product.
What are some of your favorite books?
My two all-time favorites that I’ve read several times each are The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I never fail to be inspired by the characters, the themes and the wonderful storytelling.
Keep searching for that one book that will speak to you over and over again. And when you find it, never let it go.
Are you currently working on any writing projects, or have any planned for the near future?
I would very much like to do a sequel to Bascomville. I believe Max and Janice have more of their story to tell. Also, I’m making notes on what I hope will be a young adult series. It’s something I’ve never done and I like the prospect of a challenge. We’ll see if I’m up to it!
Is there anything else you want to share with my readers?
I firmly believe that books, especially fiction, are an essential ingredient to making whatever time we have been allotted both meaningful and enjoyable. Well-written, well-plotted fiction can illuminate our lives. It can teach us, it can entertain us and it can make us think. And sometimes it can change our lives. So please, keep reading. Keep searching for that one book that will speak to you over and over again. And when you find it, never let it go.
What’s the one book that speaks to you over and over again? Let us know in the comments!
Bascomville got a spotlight because Mark Calde was generous enough to donate to The Borgen Project, a nonprofit fighting global poverty. Learn how you can get your book or blog spotlighted on Lover’s Quarrel here.
Sometimes you need to go and revisit the classics or discover some new classics. These are five books that are in the public domain, so you can find them for free. They are perfect when you need some old-fashioned romance.
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
This classic is one of Austen’s best-known works. It has humor, romance, and a healthy dose of reality. Headstrong Elizabeth Bennet wants happiness for herself and her sisters. And that does not include marrying Mr. Collins, no matter how much he courts her. She enjoys the company of a handsome soldier named Mr. Wickham and tries to avoid the handsome, rich, and completely intolerable Mr. Darcy. But when she learns the truth of Darcy’s past and his intentions, she finds him not as intolerable as she thought.
When the Norman king gives Pagan the Rivenloch keep and a daughter of the current laird for a wife, he knows it’s too good to be true. Not only is Rivenloch’s laird suffering from dementia, but the two oldest daughters are not content to take on house-making duties like most women. Instead they are skilled fighters who command Rivenloch’s army. It isn’t long before Pagan realizes why the king chose him for Rivenloch. Only the strongest, most hardened men could conquer the Warrior Maids of Rivenloch.
Deidre isn’t about to give up her power to some Norman, even if he is supposed to be their ally. She’ll marry him to spare her sisters, but that doesn’t mean she’ll make it easy for him. She’ll conquer the Norman before he realizes it.
This book took awhile to get good, but I have to admit, both Pagan and Deidre have very realistic reactions and feelings considering the situation. Pagan comes from a very misogynistic society, so female warriors are unnatural to him. And Deidre sees Pagan as another enemy invading her territory and taking control. But their irrationality them makes them unlikeable at times.
I liked them, then I didn’t. Then I liked them again. Pagan’s devout honor and chivalry is admirable. Although he thinks in terms like “taming” and “conquering” Deidre, he would never actually force her or hurt her in any way. Nor does he want women to fear him. Seeing Miriel, the youngest sister, scared of him made him feel sick. Despite his flawed yet historically accurate upbringing, he does see the value in Deidre and Helena knowing how to fight after learning about the dangers they faced. But there’s so much misogyny in him. He actually thought Deidre would prefer having a man protect her than protecting herself, and he forbid her from sparring.
Of course, Deidre resents all the changes Pagan makes to Rivenloch, even though they were changes that desperately needed to be made. She also has deeply misguided views about sex and men. She planned to control Pagan through his lust by withholding sex, even denying her own desires. During this time, she considered him beating her and forcing her, but the idea that he would commit adultery never occurred to her, even though she repeatedly told him that she would never want him. However, I did enjoy watching Pagan’s massive ego get checked.
They drove me crazy, even though their emotions were realistic. However, after they put their absurdities aside and started working together, the story immediately improved. I loved them working in harmony and the fight scenes at the end were fantastic. Lady Danger is lame at first, but is worth the wait. Medieval romance fans will enjoy this book. Read it for free on Smashwords.
Just a reminder that you can save the world and promote your book or blog until the end of time now. Learn all about it here. And please tell me what you thought of this review down below. Have a great week, everyone!
It was obvious to everyone but them they were all wrong for each other. Riley is a free-spirited boho writer and Shawn is a magnetic and charismatic rapper, riding the highest crest of his career. She doesn’t understand his world and he sure as hell doesn’t understand hers. And what’s worse, while he’s never committed to any woman before, she’s committed to someone else. Still, they can’t stay away from each other. Along with frequent clashes of their equally strong wills, Shawn and Riley will have to face down opposition from friends, family and one extremely motivated groupie, if they want to forge a commitment that will last the test of time.