Romance, Comics, and History

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Romance Writer Weekly

I was blessed to come from a family of readers, and to grow up in a house stuffed to the brim with books. There was the Dickens collection on the mantelpiece, the books on history and historic fashion on either side of the stereo system. The cookbook collection, and the Godey’s Ladies Book. My dad’s science fiction books, shelved with books on astronomy and railroads. My mother’s collection of old Disney comic books, which expanded to the Marvel Comics both she and I read. (I collected Thor, The Defenders, and X-Men. Mom had The Avengers, Doctor Strange, and Tomb of Dracula.) Somewhere along the line, I began to pick up Barbara Cartland romances, easily read in an afternoon. There was no rhyme or reason to the family reading patterns. We’d dive into whatever caught our fancy. My habits haven’t changed over the years, and since I married a man who has his own love of history, science fiction and comic books, there’s no been pressure to do otherwise.

So what have been reading of late? I’m a judge for the inaugural Vivian Awards, so I’m still reading those books, which need to be finished by the end of March. Outside of that, I have a few romances I’ve read and enjoyed in recent weeks. There’s Spoiler Alert by Olivia Date. Picture one of the actors of a GoT-like TV show working out his frustrations with the show’s scripts in fanfic. Then his closest on-line fandom friend, who has absolutely no idea who he is, even though she beta-reads his fics, winds up dining with the actor who is one-half of her favorite ship: him. There are moments I wanted to smack Marcus Caster-Rupp up one side his head, but he has believable reasons why he wants to keep his secrets, even if I don’t agree with them. As for April, I understood her all too well because I’m known more than one woman in fandom she reminds me of, including the family who doesn’t appreciate what she does. I found the pair charming and delightful and when I discovered the sequel, All the Feels was available for pre-order, I hit the buy button. If you’ve read fan fiction, or torn your hair out of the direction of your favorite romantic ship, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

There’s also Acting Up by Adele Buck, which all my sweet spots. Friends to lovers, with the “mean girl” from college returning to haunt the pair, I swallowed this in about a day, something I don’t do that often at this point in my life. I get Paul and Cath. They’re friends who work as a team, director and stage manager, and when they face up to their feelings, it’s easy for them to slide into romance. Even so, they worry about what crossing the line will do to their friendship and if the risk it worth. This is not high stakes “OMG, the world will end!” emotions, but warm and wonderful, leaving a smile on my face. This is another one which had me hitting the pre-order button for the sequel, which comes out next month.

I’ve acquired some new history volumes as well, mostly for research. Sue Wilkes Regency Spies, because almost everyone who writes in this time period has a spy at one point or another, along with Tim Clayton’s The Secret War Again Napoleon. The real barn-burner is Reports of Cases in the Court of Exchequer in the Time of King George I (1714-1727), because I’m one of those people who enjoys reading about vicars squabbling over whether or not a mill owes him tithes. 

If you’d like to do some research of your own, the site JSTOR.org is a great resource for academic research articles. Catering to those affiliated with universities, they are currently offering free accounts for non-affiliated researchers which allow you to read 100 articles a month. I’ve been delving into smuggling along the Kentish Coast during the Napoleonic Wars and discovered a good deal I didn’t know. I don’t now how long this structure will be in place, but all you need is an email address. 

For pure relaxation, I’ve been spending my lunch hours curled up with Marvel Unlimited reading all the issues in Jonathon Hickman’s X-Men run and the related X-Books. I’ve been following this team since the Claremont Era began, and Marvel’s subscription service, which has only a three-month lag behind what’s on the newsstand at this point, allows me to enjoy the stories both old and new. I’ve caught up to the most recent issues available on the service, so I’m going to do something I’ve resisted for years. Since we also subscribe to DC Universe Infinite, I’m going to dip my toe in the some of the various iterations of Batman and the Legion of Superheroes. My husband’s a big fan, and he’s prepared a reading list. It may sound silly to subscribe to a service which has a three to six month lag behind the release date, but this allows us to enjoy the comics from both publisher for less than what we could potentially spend in two weeks at a comics shop. Plus, we don’t have to worry about storing long boxes, something we’ve both wrestled with at various points in our lives. 

My choices might be a bit unorthodox, but I’d love to hear what you read that might be slightly off the beaten track. Then, see what Claire Brett is reading these days.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy.