TBR Challenge: Tiny House, Big Love (Love Unscripted #2) by Olivia Dade

tiny house big love

This title may be purchsed from Amazon

On camera. Up close. In denial–but not for much longer…

After a relationship gone bad, Lucy Finch is leaving everything behind. Her old home, her old job, her old insecurities. Even Sebastián Castillo, her protective but intensely private friend of almost twenty years. Before she moves halfway across the country, though, she has one last request for Seb: She wants him to help her choose a tiny house on cable television. And maybe during the filming process, she can discover once and for all whether his feelings for her are more than platonic…

Sebastián would rather do anything than appear on HATV. But Lucy needs him, and he can’t say no. Not when she’s about to leave, taking his heart with her. Hiding how he feels with a television crew watching their every move will prove difficult, though–especially when that crew is doing their sneaky best to transform two longtime friends into a couple.

Tiny spaces. Hidden emotions. The heat generated by decades of desire and denial. A week spent on camera might just turn Lucy and Seb’s relationship from family-friendly to viewer discretion advised…

Rating: B+

Tiny House, Big Love is the second of Olivia Dade’s Love Unscripted books, both of which feature contestants taking part in different reality TV shows.  In this story, the show is Tiny House Trackers, in which the participants are looking to buy – you guessed it! – a Tiny House.  I have to stop here to confess that I had no idea a Tiny House was something other than “a very small house”, and had to look it up so I could understand what the heroine was actually looking for!  It’s a quick and entertaining read, the two leads are endearing and the mutual longing they feel for each other just leaps off the page, although the short page-count left me wanting to know about more of both their backstories.

Massage therapist Lucy Finch is about to take a promotion which will require her to move around the country a fair bit, and rather than finding temporary accommodation each time she moves, she’s decided to buy a Tiny Home that she can take with her wherever she goes.  Her friend, Allie, a real estate agent, encouraged her to apply to appear on the show and she’ll be the one finding Lucy three homes to view – with the expectation being that she’ll choose to buy one of them at the end of it.  Lucy asks her best friend of over twenty years, Sebastián Castillo, to be on the show, too, to help her make her choice.

It’s clear from the off that Sebastián and Lucy have long had feelings stronger than friendship for each other, but have never acknowledged the fact or acted on them.  They’ve been friends since high-school, when Sebastián, bullied because he was small for his age and because he was an immigrant, not only faced off his own bullies, but hers as well.  They kept in touch after Sebastián  moved away, exchanging loads of letters, postcards and emails; but now he’s back in Marysburg, Lucy is about to leave, and she’s wondering, somewhat wistfully, if they could ever have been more to each other than friends.

Sebastián would rather have teeth pulled without anaesthetic than appear on television, but he can’t refuse Lucy’s request for help, and agrees to appear with her on Tiny House Trackers.  He’s an intensely private person and years of bullying have left him scared to let himself be vulnerable and with a thick outer shell of implacability.  He keeps his emotions buried and under lock and key – but because he buries them doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel them deeply;  he’s determined not to give anything away in front of the cameras – or Lucy – as to the truth of his feelings for her, because he doesn’t want to influence her decision to move away – and because he doesn’t think he could handle rejection.  He’s the strong, silent type, but he shows his affection for Lucy in a hundred little ways and he’s a lovely hero – caring, protective and supportive with every bone in his body.

Lucy’s last boyfriend was a douchebag who knocked her confidence in her own judgement, and she’s still second-guessing herself more than she used to.  She’s strongly attracted to Sebastián, but his inscrutability gives her no clue as to whether he feels the same, and she doesn’t want to risk making a move and ruining the most important relationship in her life.  Sometimes she thinks he’s attracted to her, but then whatever she sees in his face is gone, leaving her wondering.

Lucy and Sebastián are likeable and endearing and make an adorable couple – although I admit I did sometimes want to shake some sense into Sebastián and tell him to wise up (but he more than makes up for his reticence in the end.)  They’re real people with real problems who struggle, but grow and learn how to make things work.  Their move from friends to lovers doesn’t feel rushed, and the aforementioned longing and UST is incredibly well done. The scenes they film for the show as they tour the houses on offer are a hoot –

The last thing she needed was either a deep-woods pot shack, a dick-festooned bus, or an Oregon Trail enthusiast’s fever dream.

– and I loved that we’re shown Lucy slowly re-learning to assert herself as she works through the selection process and reaches her decision.  I also liked the way the main story is framed with chapters from the PoVs of two of the production assistants (who really deserve their own story, because there are serious sparks there!)

Tiny House, Big Love is a delightful contemporary romance with lots of gentle humour and awesome friends-to-lovers pining.  It’s short, sweet, sexy and well worth a couple of hours of anyone’s time.

All The Feels (Spoiler Alert #2) by Olivia Dade

all the feels uk

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Wealth. A starring role on the biggest show on TV. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s hounded by old demons and his future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren, the former therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over a handsome but impulsive actor shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time she spends with Alex, the harder it is to hold on to her professionalism, and her heart . . .

When another scandal lands him in major hot water, and costs Lauren her job, Alex becomes determined to keep his impossibly stubborn and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. On a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves . . .

Rating: A-

Olivia Dade’s All the Feels is a terrific follow-up to last year’s Spoiler Alert, a charming, thoroughly entertaining read that, for all its outward lightheartedness, tackles some knotty issues in a sensitive but down-to-earth way.  We met Alex Woodroe briefly in Spoiler Alert and he charmed me completely, so I’ve been eager to catch up with him in his own book ever since – and I’m happy to say that All the Feels is just as enjoyable and sharply observed as its predecessor.

Like his best friend Marcus, Alex has been playing a lead role in the hit TV show Gods of the Gates for the past seven years.  The similarities to Game of Thrones – in the sense that the showrunners have run out of books to adapt and are going it alone (and fucking it up) are obvious – and like Marcus, Alex has become very disenchanted with the writing and the storylines given to his character, Cupid, and for similar reasons.  But there are other reasons for his discomfort that nobody else knows about, reasons related to past trauma and overwhelming guilt that have begun to affect his – already erratic – behaviour.

When the book begins, Alex is in big trouble; he was involved in a bar fight the previous night and the showrunners have had enough.  He’s always been a bit of a loose cannon, but this is too much, so for the rest of the shoot, he’s assigned a minder, someone to go wherever he goes, to keep him in line and who will report back on his behaviour.  Needless to say, Alex is not at all happy about this; but worse is the fact that nobody has asked to hear his side of the story – everyone assumes it happened just because he’s Alex, and getting into trouble is what he does.

Lauren Clegg is a former ER therapist who desperately needed a break from her job and decided to go to Europe for a much-needed vacation.  The Gods of the Gates showrunner is her cousin (a total dickhead who was always awful to her when they were kids and whom she’s never liked) so while she’d never in a million years have gone anywhere near the GotG set in Spain if it had been up to her, family pressure finds her accepting the job of “babysitter” to the show’s bad-boy star.

They don’t get off to a great start.  Alex resents Lauren’s presence and thinks she’s judging him, and Lauren expects him to be a self-centred spoiled brat, but it doesn’t take long for her to realise that he’s nothing like that at all, that he’s kind, smart and funny, an unpretentious, generous man who is well-liked by cast and crew – all things that are completely at odds with the image that’s so often painted of him in the media.  Once the shoot has wrapped, Lauren accompanies Alex back to his LA home where she’s to live in his guesthouse for the next few months, and over the weeks and months a genuine friendship develops between them as they share meals and long walks – and Alex introduces Lauren to his love of fanfic and obsession with the Great British Bake Off.

Their romance is a lovely slow-burn, full of affection and humour and honesty.  The grumpy/sunshine trope here is turned on its head with happy-go-lucky Alex as the sunshine to Lauren’s more sober, level-headed personality, and it works really well.  Alex talks a mile a minute (seriously, he never stops!) and a lot of his chatter is peppered with good-natured jibes and banter – and I’ll say now that he is NEVER intentionally cruel (and if he’s accidentally so, he’s mortified) and that Lauren very quickly sees it for what it is and doesn’t take anything he says about her shrewishness or killjoy tendencies to heart.

I liked Alex and Lauren immensely.  Alex has ADHD and has worked incredibly hard to manage it while also achieving professional success in a demanding, stressful career that often makes the condition that much more difficult to live with.  The portrayal of his ADHD is extremely well done, and while I know it’s a condition that affects people in many different ways, its portrayal here is effective and consistent.  Despite being one of the most famous actors on television Alex is refreshingly down to earth, and I loved seeing his joy in the simplest of things, his delight in his favourite fanfic tropes and his acceptance of and willingness to be a part of fan culture.  The scene where Alex geeks out at the fact that there is Only One Bed at the hotel he and Lauren are at is priceless – not only does this book use the trope, it has a character who is aware of it and adores it!

Lauren is plus sized and petite (fat and short, in her words) and is comfortable and content with that, even if the rest of the world isn’t.  I liked that she has decided not to allow others to define her, or to become upset by things she can’t control, but was saddened by the way she arrived at that position, simply because she learned that telling her parents about the cruelty of the insults levelled at her when she was a child upset them – so it was better not to say anything and remain as unobtrusive as possible.  And as an adult, that ‘lesson’ has turned into a kind of self-abnegation, Lauren putting her own needs and wants at the back of the queue and deciding that she’s not as important as everyone around her.

… she’d spent decades giving away pieces of herself, because she didn’t matter. Not as much as everyone else. She’d given herself away at work with every overtime shift she took, every holiday she worked in place of a colleague, every time she chose to ignore her increasing misery and work harder,  She’d given herself away to her parents, who’d leaned he would drop everything to help them at an time, no matter what they wanted… Eventually she’d given so much of herself away, there’d been almost nothing left by the time she boarded that flight to Spain.

Alex’s fury at Lauren’s obvious lack of care for herself and her statements that she’s unimportant finally start to wake her up to the fact that she’s let herself ‘disappear’ for a long time, so part of her emotional journey in this book is learning that she’s worthy, she’s allowed to put herself first, and that she’s important, too.  Alex’s story arc is a heart-breaking one in which he has to learn to let go of the guilt and responsibility he’s been carrying around for years about a situation over which he had no control.  I appreciated the novel’s emphasis on self-worth and learning to love oneself, and the way those things are emphasised in the journey taken by both characters.

As in Spoiler Alert, there are some entertaining vignettes between chapters in the form of snippets of Alex’s fix-it fanfics, and group chats and texts involving Alex and other cast members which are frequently hilarious.

All the Feels is absolutely delightful, a fun, sweet and sexy read overflowing with good humour and witty banter that doesn’t shy away from addressing some heavier undertones in its exploration of the issues that have shaped its two leads.  I enjoyed it very much and am more than happy to recommend it.

Teach Me (There’s Something About Marysburg #1) by Olivia Dade (audiobook) – Narrated by Kelsey Navarro

teach me

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Their lesson plans didn’t include love. But that’s about to change….

When Martin Krause arrives at Rose Owens’s high school, she’s determined to remain chilly with her new colleague. Unfriendly? Maybe. Understandable? Yes, since a loathsome administrator gave Rose’s beloved world history classes to Martin, knowing it would hurt her.

But keeping her distance from a man as warm and kind as Martin will prove challenging, even for a stubborn, guarded ice queen. Especially when she begins to see him for what he truly is: a man who’s never been taught his own value. Martin could use a good teacher – and luckily, Rose is the best.

Rose has her own lessons – about trust, about vulnerability, about her past – to learn. And over the course of a single school year, the two of them will find out just how hot it can get when an ice queen melts.

Rating: Narration – B Content – B

Book one in Olivia Dade’s There’s Something About Marysburg series, Teach Me is a sweet, uncomplicated, low-drama romance between rival history teachers, both of whom are divorced and in their forties. I enjoyed the story – and the performance by new-to-me narrator Kelsey Navarro – although I can’t say it bowled me over like last year’s Spoiler Alert did.

Rose Owens has been teaching for more than twenty years, and despite the constant frustrations that come with the job (too much admin, school politics etc.) she loves it and is utterly dedicated to helping her students be the best they can be. She’s especially proud of her success in recruiting students to the AP program (and here I have to say that all the talk of AP students and Honors students lost me – the UK system is completely different – but I think I got the gist of it) who might not ordinarily have gone on to study history at a higher level. Just before the beginning of the new school year, she learns that a number of the classes she’d expected to be teaching have been assigned to someone else (a new – male – teacher), and she’s devastated at the news as well as intensely worried about the survival of the AP program, as the change in her teaching groups will mean that not as many students are likely to follow her from Honors into AP next year. But Rose absolutely refuses to let anyone see how upset she is; she’s long since learned to keep her feelings to herself and present a calm, friendly and slightly aloof demeanour to the world.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

My 2020 in Books & Audio

2020, huh? I don’t think I need to expound on that particular dumpster fire except to say that I feel lucky to be someone who has managed to read/listen to books pretty much as normal throughout it all. Books – and writing about them – have provided a much-needed escape from everything going on “out there”, and there have been times this past year when I don’t know what I’d have done without them.

So, what was I reading/listening to in 2020? Well, according to Goodreads (which shows an average rating of 4.1 stars overall), I read and listened to 269 books in total (which was 30 fewer than 2019) – although I suspect that number may be slightly higher as I sometimes forget to mark any re-listens I do. But just taking the new reads/listens, I listened to almost as many books as I read – 52.9% ebook and 47.1% audio, according to this new spreadsheet I’ve been using, and almost three-quarters of the total were review copies.

Of that total there are 77 5 star books, 152 4 star books – by far the biggest category – 36 3 star books and 6 2 star books. (Books sorted by rating.)

The 5 star bracket includes those titles I rate at 4.5 but round-up (which I equate to A-); the 4 star bracket (B) includes the 4.5 star grades I don’t round up (B+) and the 3.5 star ones I do round up (B-), the 3 stars are C+/C/C- and so on.  Of the 77 5 star ratings, only around 17 are straight A grades in terms of the story (in the case of audiobooks, sometimes a 4 star review will get bumped up because the narration is so fabulous), so the rest of that 77 are A minuses or audiobooks where A and B grades combined to rate a higher overall total. Looking back at my 2019 Books & Audio post, those numbers are fairly consistent, although I didn’t have any one stars or DNFs in 2020, which isn’t a bad thing!

The books that made my Best of 2020 list at All About Romance:

Reviews are linked in the text beneath each image.

As usually happens, I always have a few “also-rans”, books I could have included if I’d had the space:

If you follow my reviews, you’ll already know that in 2020, I awarded more top grades than ever to a single author, which isn’t something that’s ever happened before; sure, I give high grades to some authors consistently (Sherry Thomas, KJ Charles and Meredith Duran spring to mind) but those have been one every few months or per year – not nine in a single year! So, yes, 2020 is, in my head, the Year of Gregory Ashe 😉  I could have chosen any number of his books for these lists as they’re all so very good.

Sadly noticeable by its (near) absence on these lists – historical romance.  I said in my 2019 post that the amount of really good historical romance around had been declining for a while, and although there were some excellent  historicals around in 2020, they were fairly few and far between. Many of the best came from Harlequin Historical – Virginia Heath’s Redeeming the Reculsive Earl is a lovely, funny and warm grumpy-reclusive-hero-meets-breath-of-fresh-air-(and neuroatypical) heroine, while Mia Vincy continues to demonstrate her mastery of the genre with A Dangerous Kind of Lady, a sexy, vibrant, not-really friends-to-lovers story in which the leads embark on a difficult journey of self-discovery while coming to realise how badly they’ve misjudged each other. The “modern” historical is a term being coined for novels set in the more recent past, and Asher Glenn Gray’s Honeytrap, the love story between an FBI agent and Red Army office that spans thirty-five years, would proibably have made my Best of list had I read it in time.  Annabeth Albert is a big favourite of mine; Feel the Fire is book three in her Hotshots series, a second-chance romance that just hit the spot.

Audio

When I struggled to read something – which fortuantely, didn’t happen often – I could usually find something in audio that suited my mood, plus the fact that there are still back-catalogue titles coming out of books I haven’t got around to reading means that audio is always my preferred method of catching up!  I listened to a lot of pretty good stuff over the year, but for my 2020 Favourites for AudioGals, I stuck to titles to which I’d given at least ONE A grade (usually for the narration) and nothing lower than a B+.

So that was 2020 in books and audio.  I’m incredibly grateful to those authors and narrators who continued to provide me with such great reading/listening material through what has been an incredibly trying time for all of us;  I know some who have really struggled to get words on a page this year, and I just want to say that you’re worth waiting for and I’ll be here whenever you’re ready.

As for what I’m looking forward to in 2021… more of the same, really – lots of good books!  There are a number of titles I know are coming up in the first part of the year that I’m really excited about – the third Lamb and the Lion book from Gregory Ashe – The Same End – is out at the end of January, and I’m also eagerly awaiting new adventures with North and Shaw and Theo and Auggie. Then there’s book three in KJ Charles’ Will Darling Adventures, Subtle Blood, at least three (squee!) new books from Annabeth Albert, including the fourth Hotshots book; and a new instalment in Jordan Castillo Price’s long-running Psycop series (Other Half) due out in January, although I’ll be waiting for the audio because Gomez Pugh’s incredible turn as Victor Bayne is well worth waiting for.  (I really must catch up with JCP’s ABCs of Spellcraft books, in audio, too!).  There’s a new book in Hailey Turner’s  Soulbound series coming soon, a new instalment in Jay Hogan’s Southern Lights series, and later on, I’m hoping Josh Lanyon’s The Movie Town Murders will be out this year – I need more Sam and Jason! – and I’m looking forward to new books in her Secrets and Scrabble series.  I’m looking forward to more from Lucy Parker, Loreth Anne White, Garrett Leigh, Rachel Reid, Roan Parrish… There are new books slated from many of my favourite authors and narrators, and I’m looking forward to another year of great reading and listening.

I’ll be back this time next year to see if my expectations were fulfilled!

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

spoiler alert uk

This title may be purchased from Amazon

Marcus has a secret. While he may be the star of the biggest show on TV, he’s also a prolific fan fiction writer. Through his stories, Marcus releases his frustrations with the show, but if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.

April has secrets of her own. A hardcore fan of Marcus’s show, she’s long hidden her fanfic and cosplay hobby from her ‘real life’ – but not anymore. When she dares to post her latest costume creation on Twitter, her plus-size take goes viral. And when Marcus asks her out to spite her critics, truth officially becomes stranger than (fan) fiction . . .

On their date, Marcus quickly realises that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. But with so many secrets between them, can they ever stop hiding, or will a match made in fandom never make it in real life?

Rating: A

Olivia Dade’s Spoiler Alert is a warm, witty and gorgeously romantic romance that captivated me from the very first page and didn’t let me go until the very last.  Featuring two superbly crafted and incredibly relatable protagonists, a unique premise and an engaging secondary cast, it’s a fabulous tale of acceptance and self-discovery, of healing and growth, all wrapped up in a beautifully developed , sexy love story.  I haven’t read anything by Ms. Dade before (although I’ve been meaning to), and what really drew me to this particular title was that fact that it’s set in the world of fandom and, specifically, fanfiction.  As a former fanfic writer and reader (a looooong time ago now!), so many of the issues and attitudes the author explores in the story really resonated with me.

Marcus Caster-Rupp is the star of one of the most successful shows on television, an epic-fantasy story based on a series of novels called Gods of the Gates that is, in turn, based loosely on Virgil’s  Aeneid.  When the book opens, Marcus – who has played the role of Aeneas for the whole of the show’s seven-year run – is filming his final scene.  The role has made him a huge star, and for that he’s grateful – but that doesn’t mean he’s blind to the weaknesses and failures in storytelling in this final season that are likely to lead to howls of outrage from all corners of the Gods of the Gates fandom.  A fandom in which he’s actively participated for the last couple of years as Book!AneasWouldNever, excising his frustration with the way his character was being written by writing fix-it fanfiction.  During that time, he’s formed a close online friendship with a fellow writer named Unapologetic Lavinia Stan (ULS,) whom he’s nicknamed Ulsie.

(As an aside, I never watched Game of Thrones, but I recall many a complaint that the showrunners screwed it up once they ran out of source material and that the final series was … er, not good. Gods of the Gates seems to have experienced similar problems *wink*)

Geologist April Whittier (who is, of course Ulsie) has never told any of her RL friends or colleagues about her love of cosplay or her fanfic, aware that one slip of the tongue or one stray photo taken at a Con could damage her professional reputation and see her “devolve from an experienced professional into a silly fangirl”. But she’s about to start a new job which has a completely different culture and where she won’t need to hide that part of herself, so on her last day at her old job, she decides it’s time to throw caution to the wind, and she posts a picture of herself in costume on a Twitter thread.   Returning to it a few hours later, she’s not surprised to see a lot of really cruel, fat-shaming comments  but IS gobsmacked to see that she’s just been followed by none other than Marcus Caster-Rupp – and not only that, he’s ASKED HER OUT ON A DATE.  On Twitter.  Of course, she wonders if it’s just a publicity stunt, but after exchanging a couple of DMs – in which Marcus assures her he absolutely does want to meet her – April agrees to have dinner with him.

Not long after meeting Marcus. April senses that there’s more to him than he usually allows the public to see. In the media, he always comes across as nice but dim, taking care to talk about his exercise routine or diet or grooming products, but never himself.  But some of the things he says, the vocabulary he uses during their conversation, point to his being anything but dim, yet each time April tries to get him to talk about himself or his work, he deflects.  But when he does at last open up a bit, he’s articulate, interesting and takes little to no credit for any of his achievements. Which is, again, surprising for a man known for being vain.

Marcus thought April was gorgeous as soon as he saw her picture, but is even more bowled over by her in person.  He’s always been drawn to intelligent, accomplished and passionate women, even as he knows he can never be enough for them – whether he’s the fake him OR the real him.  But he’s completely smitten with April; she’s smart and funny and direct, and he realises if he’s going to get a second date (and he really really wants a second date), his pretty-but-dim act isn’t going to cut it.  He’s going to have to show her something of the reality behind the veneer. The question is – how much can he safely reveal without possibly compromising his reputation and his career?

Both Marcus and April are expertly drawn, empathetic characters who have struggled under the weight of parental expectations for pretty much their entire lives.  April is a wonderful heroine; she’s  clever, witty, successful, confident – and (I’m using the author’s words) fat, and sick to the back teeth of well-meaning friends and partners subtly and not-so-subtly ‘encouraging’ her to lose weight. She likes her body and doesn’t feel she has to answer to anyone about it – and the worst fat-shaming she’s been subjected to has been from her own parents; a father who has basically ignored her since puberty and a mother who is forever sending her diet and exercise tips.  And Marcus – who is a completely swoonworthy hero – is the son of two academics – teachers – who failed to recognise that he was dyslexic and couldn’t understand why he never seemed able to learn the way they thought he should.  Reading about the way they treated him broke my heart – he’s worked so hard and achieved so much, finding ways on his own to overcome his difficulties with written communication, and yet all they can do is snipe at his choices – they even published an article criticising Gods of the Gates from a classicist’s point of view – tell him they hated the show and thought he was wasting his time. They live in their own little bubble and nothing he’s achieved is important to them.  Marcus’ character arc is amazing; he’s buried his true self so deeply as a method of self-protection that he’s almost unable to find a way out – until, that is, he finds something – someone – it’s worth risking the truth for.

With baggage like that, it’s no wonder that both Marcus and April make missteps in the early days of their relationship, but they’ve both able to take a step back and think about what happened in a mature way, and aren’t afraid of apologising when they get something wrong.   It’s true that it’s easy to see the major conflict in the story coming a mile away, but that didn’t in any way detract from my overall enjoyment of it, or the impact of the serious issues the author tackles throughout the book.  And she addresses all of them – fat-shaming, body positivity, dyslexia, toxic parenting, acceptance and personal growth – in an appealing, totally non-preachy way that feels completely organic and true to her characters.

Spoiler Alert is a fabulous read that works on every level.  Olivia Dade explores the dynamics of fandom and social media really well, the chemistry between the leads is sizzling from the start and the writing is sharply focused and insightful. I loved the little snippets of fanfic (and scripts of some of the terrible movies Marcus made on his way to stardom) that were included between chapters – and kudos to the cover artist for properly depicting a luscious, curvy heroine.

If you read my reviews regularly then you’ll know I don’t read a lot of m/f contemporary romance – I made an exception for Spoiler Alert and I’m glad I did.  It deserves to be on every romance fan’s keeper shelf.