What I'm Reading: Old Favorites

Sometimes, even when the TBR pile keeps growing (but it was on sale!), you just want to read a book that you already know is going to hit all the right buttons. I one hundred percent do not understand people who read a book once and then never again. How do you leave your imaginary story friends behind? Don't you want to relive their adventures?

So even though I know I have a bunch of good new books waiting for me, I've been rereading for the last couple of weeks from two vastly different series that I love to bits.

In the last few days, I picked up A Discovery of Witches again. This is the first book in Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy and some might find it a slow start, but holy fuck, I love these books. They're a delicious blend of paranormal and history and romance and yeah, catnip city. I'm pretty sure I discovered the series based on an 'if you liked Outlander' type list, and while they share some elements, they have basically nothing in common in style or tone (or the author shitting on romance novels and romance readers in spite of happily taking our money. Looking at you, Gabs). That's a positive selling point for me.

This is one of those series, that when I discovered that my sister-in-law was also into it, it was the final 'fine, I guess you can marry my brother, welcome to the family.' (I already liked her, us liking the same books just made her more awesome.) And then we fangirl squeed together. I'm still sad we didn't get to go see Deborah Harkness do a reading last Halloween. Stupid day jobs ruining our fun.

The story opens with Diana Bishop, brilliant historian of science, coming across a bewitched manuscript in Oxford's Bodleian Library, which it turns out, has been long-missing and may hold the keys to understanding existence. Adventures ensue. Oh, and Diana is a witch, the super hot geneticist she meets late one evening at the library is a vampire and there are daemons running around, too. It's basically supernatural nerds chasing a book and falling in love. Sold!

It's been optioned for TV, with Harkness doing some of the script writing. And she's working on a new book that sounds like won't be a continuation of the series precisely, but it will exist in the same universe, with the same cast of major characters. I am so there for both of these things. 

For something much, much quieter on the adventure front I've also been dipping into M.Q. Barber's Neighborly Affection series.

If the shirtless dudes on the covers didn't tip you off, this is an erotic romance series, heavy on the erotic. But I swear I'm not only rereading it for the sexy parts. It's actually a really nice depiction of a dominant/submissive dynamic that is all about nurturing and support. Henry might be the cuddliest Dom I've yet read. Bonus, if you like that sort of thing, you have an MMF menage situation in which the two men have an emotional and sexual relationship with each other, outside of and beyond their relationships with Alice. Both are enthusiastically and openly bisexual, and the sex they have with each other isn't (only) for Alice's titillation. It's hot and well-done.

I say it's quiet because a large portion of the action (heh) takes place within a single apartment. These are not people wrestling with literal demons or outside forces trying to keep them apart, but people coming to terms with their own issues. There's some outside angst that comes into play later in the series, but even the 'villain' just forces them to address what's going on internally. Alice doesn't believe in love. Jay has a whole back story that it would be too spoilery to get into. Henry...Henry actually has his shit together and is mostly supporting those two through their stuff.

So yes, ignore the cheesy covers and enjoy a quiet, little romance (with a lot of explicit sex, but hey) in which people learn to feel their feels and use their words, and live with trauma. 

Both series are like comfort food for me in very different ways, and exactly what I need while I'm trying to wrap up a first draft and don't want to get too heavily invested or too heavily influenced by the style of another writer. 

Sionna Fox