Find it at your library!

Of course the day I’m reading a book with a prominent set of breasts on the cover is the day my boss asks me, “What are you reading?” as I saunter into the break room with my book.

Fortunately, there’s no shame in my reading game. I flashed her the cover with a smile and said, “It’s a lot like Game of Thrones.”

And I stand by the comparison. The Queen’s Bastard IS a lot like Game of Thrones--the TV show, not the books. You know how when you try to read the Game of Thrones books, you drown in extraneous junk about obscure characters who don’t matter? Yeah, there’s none of that here. Each scene is presented much the way it would be on the screen: the characters appear, stuff happens, and then we’re ushered smoothly on to the next scene. It’s like you’re an omniscient fly, somehow stuck to every wall in the castle right next to whatever shit is going down.

And lots of shit goes down. Belinda Primrose is, after all, a spy and assassin, as well as the unacknowledged bastard daughter of the queen. She’ll go to any lengths to protect her queen and by extension her country--up to and including sexing up and murdering her targets. I’ve seen some reviewers complain about her ruthlessness, but I have to wonder how many of those reviewers have watched a James Bond movie without batting an eye at 007’s promiscuity and cold-bloodedness. Mayhaps what really gets such readers’ tighty-whities in a bunch is the fact that the lusty murderer is actually a murderess? *sips tea*

Lord forbid a woman enjoy both her conquests and her line of work, amiright?

Anywhoodle, I love books that make me constantly question characters’ motives. Who’s on which side, who’s betraying whom, who’s lying, who’s cheating, who’s working for whom, who’s looking out just for their own interests, I love it all. That is this book from page 1, and it’s awesome. And there’s a sequel--excuse me while I go shove it into my face.

Find it at your library!

Nora Roberts’ books are like cookies made with Grandma’s recipe: sweet, satisfying, and positively foolproof. There is no more surefire pick-me-up or slump buster. Her books sell like hotcakes because she knows how to give people what they want, and she somehow manages to crank out more than one a year. I guess it’s no wonder she’s so good, with that much practice under her belt.

Come Sundown is the perfect escapist read, set on a Montana ranch and resort owned by the kind of family you wish you were a part of. Multiple generations live and work on the grounds, and everybody has a role that fits their nature perfectly. They’re joined by a handful of outsiders who quickly become like family as well. Sound like too much of a lovefest to be believable? Enter the second storyline: Aunt Alice left home years ago in a fit of teenage rebellion, but ends up being held captive by a kidnapping sadist just a few miles away from the family that alternately misses and resents her. The descriptions of Alice’s captivity and her treatment at the hands of her tormentor are hard to read (trigger warning for sure), but I could deal with it because I knew Roberts wouldn’t leave a girl hanging. That bastard would get what was coming to him, and I couldn’t wait to see it happen. In the meantime, there are delightful, gentlemanly cowboys to swoon over, the tough but feminine gals they fall for, and one very talented horse who steals the show.

This was my first time trying Nora Roberts in audio, and I highly recommend it, with one caveat: the family only has about three or four ideas as far as names for their children, and they just keep using those names over and over, generation after generation. Thus you get multiple characters (I counted at least three) named Rory, some characters for whom Bodine is a last name and another for whom it’s a first name, etc. It’s confusing, but if you focus up a little bit when each character is introduced, you’ll be fine.

As an aside, I never thought I’d find a barfight sexy, but Nora Roberts knows there’s something deeply attractive about righteous anger. Right on, girl.