Judge a Romance by Its Title



One of my favorite things about romance novels is their titles, the punnier the better. To celebrate the underappreciated art of titling, I have enlisted the help of my colleagues at the Parker Library to set forth a list of ten romance titles which range from “Hee, hee” to “Oh no she didn’t”


burning downBurning Down the Spouse

Dakota Cassidy

I learned here that you really can’t go wrong with a Talking Heads reference in your title. More than one person mentioned LOVING that. The plot sounds fun too. Frankie is recovering from a marriage that went all-too-wrong all-too publicly. Now she is broke and working as a temp chef for a Greek restaurant. On the upside, her boss looks like a Greek god.

 rake hard placeBetween a Rake and a Hard Place

Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe

Also available as an eBook

I would make a joke about this being a “groaner” but that seems too far.  This is a Regency era romance, with a bit of suspense on the side for good measure. Lady Serena has a sort of pre-marriage bucket list – go to a gentlemen’s club, smoke a cigar, dance this newfangled and scandalous thing called the Waltz. During her adventures she runs into Jonah Sharpe, who has been tasked with ruining the lovely Serena. Oh the rakish adventures that must ensue . . .

art seducingThe Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf

Molly Harper

Reason number two to give this a try? The synopsis claims a “snooping Outsider comes to Grundy to
investigate rumors of lycanthropic shenanigans in the area.” Lycanthropic shenanigans? Count me in. I love a good shenanigan. Reason three? The alpha is a harried female werewolf, the outsider a hunky academic. I haven’t read a lot of lycanthropic romances, but I have a sense that usually the boy is the alpha. Way to go with the role reversals, Ms. Harper.

scot Some Like it Scot

Donna Kauffman

This is contemporary, but with many features beloved by all – the need for a fake marriage, family duty, a castle in Scotland. Let’s see how these two do at keeping this arrangement “strictly business” shall we?


kiss the earlKiss the Earl

Gina Lamm

The title is lovely, don’t get me wrong, though I do tend to break into that song from The Little Mermaid when I see it. But THE COVER! My immediate thought was, “Wow, take that Colin Firth.” Take that indeed. This is a time travel romance where a woman finds herself tumbling back through time and into the arms of her own Mr. Darcy. Don’t get too excited, Austen fans, the Darcy here is name Patrick Meadowfair and he is about to kidnap our time traveler for, I promise, a really good reason.

crouching tigerCrouching Tiger, Forbidden Vampire

Kerrelyn Sparks

Also available as an eAudio

 If you like your vampires ex-Marine, this is for you. Russell isn’t thrilled about being undead. In fact, he is on a vengeance quest to kill the vampire who turned him. Enter Jia, who is hunting down the same vampire for reasons of her own. Can the two join forces, take down a common foe, and not fall in love in the process?

animal attractionAnimal Attraction

Jill Shalvis

Also available as an eBook and eAudio

Here is another one where the cover is maybe a bigger part of the “attraction.” The cat? The no shirt? Yeah, I guess I’m that kind of sucker. This is part of Jill Shalvis’ Animal Magnetism series, where vets and other animal lovers take center stage. Jade Bennett is taking a temporary break from her high powered Chicago life in Sunshine, Idaho. Working for the local vet, who if the cover is to be believed is hot and generally shirtless, she is certain NOT to get terribly emotionally involved, right?


howl for itHowl for It

Shelly Laurenston

Also Available as an eBook

 And the awesome here just keeps going with the publisher description . . .  They hunger for your pleasure. They growl for your touch. And in these sizzling stories by New York Times bestselling author Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden, these sexy wolf shapeshifters are lust at first bite . . .

 mai tai'dMai Tai’d Up

Alice Clayton

Clayton is also making a play for animal lovers. Here you get Chloe (opening a pit bull rescue) and Lucas (a local vet). Both are licking proverbial wounds and certainly not interested in anything long term. Short term and possibly kinky? Serve a few Mai Tai’s and let’s see.


below the beltBelow the Belt

Jeannette Murray

Sometimes a simple title can pack a wallop. (I know, I know, I really shouldn’t try the whole humor thing.) Marine Corps Boxers star in this first in a new series. She’s a trainer with big dreams. He’s an ex-Marine bent on hiding his injuries.


There are more, and how . . . but these were some that tickled our fancy. I would love to hear more great titles. And I mean “great” in a very loose sense of the word, of course . . .

Amy H.



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Rainy Day Reads

So. Much. Rain.

However—when you are spending your spring day(s) inside and you suddenly have cancelled plans and extra time on your hands, why not escape with a book? A little rain on the roof, a tasty beverage within reach and a book in your lap just about defines “cozy”. Here’s what some of us have been enjoying with the rainy days:

Mrs grantI am currently reading Mrs. Grant and Madam Jule  by Jennifer Chiaverini.  It is about Julie, the wife of Ulysses S. Grant, who continued to keep a black slave, Madame Jule, even while her husband was in the Union army before and during the Civil War.

~Jan @ Louviers/Philip S. Miller


I just finished It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane, a funny and very clever romanticit's not me comedy that begs to be put on the big screen.  Delia Moss proposes and her guy says yes!  Happiness and champagne for maybe 20 minutes, then boyfriend/fiancé mistakenly sends a text meant for the “other woman” to Delia.  Delia escapes to London, where she begins to understand that she needs to believe in herself.  A great group of supporting, quirky characters make this a very fun story.

~Deb M. @ Philip S. Miller

sagaWhen it’s raining outside, I like to binge read through a great series. This time it’s Saga, a (very) adult graphic novel series that’s wildly entertaining and imaginative. It tells the story of a young couple from opposite sides of an interstellar war, on the run from both sides, with a new baby in tow. DCL has the first four volumes, so binge away!

~Kimberly @ James H. LaRue


QuietI’ve been listening to Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  I have learned how much the introvert perspective adds to the success of organizations and society.  I have been surprised by some of the famous people and leaders who were introverts.  We often think that an important characteristic of a good leader is to be “outgoing”, but that is not necessarily true.

~Paula Mc. @ Philip S. Miller

I have been compulsively reading The Royal We by Heather Cocks, which reimagines the Royal weromance of William of Wales and Kate Middleton — WoW becomes Nick and an American called Bex takes Kate’s place. It has that great voyeuristic sense of looking into a world that is so off limits, and takes me back to the days when I fantasized about how I would be irresistible to famous and powerful men if only they knew I existed . . . though I never aimed any higher than Sean Astin.

~Amy H. @ Parker

bredtoKillLefties take note! Bred to Kill launches two detectives compelled to uncover the link between a killer gene tied to an unsolved murder, left-handedness, and ancient history’s Cro-Magnon. As Darren Aronofsky optioned Frank Thilliez’ precursor novel Syndrome E for the syndome escreen, this is a worthy follow up with returning world-weary characters Franck Sharko and Lucy Hennebelle.

~je @ Lone Tree



Rock with wingsI am reading Anne Hillerman’s latest book, Rock With Wings, continuing the stories about Jim Chee, that her father began.  Since it takes place in the very dry state of New Mexico on an Indian reservation, it does make you forget the rainy weather here. And it’s a very good book.

~ Nancy B. @ James H. LaRue


Just finished listening to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. This one added to station eleventhe dreariness of the weather because it’s about life on earth after a flu epidemic has wiped out 99% of the population.  Very well written, very vividly described, and it does end with some hope!

~ ndw @ Philip S. Miller


bartenders tale


I am reading Ivan Doig’s The Bartender’s Tale.  It is the story of a bartender, a single father, told by his son.  It takes place in Northern Montana in the 60′s, and contains great characterization.

~Mary B @ Lone Tree


hunting ground


Since it feels like we’re in Seattle I read Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs.  Most of the story takes place in Seattle.

~Gail B. @ Parker


Dead Wake by Erik Larsen on audiobook is a good listen.  Even though you know the  dead wakeoutcome of the RMS Lusitania, Larsen does a good job of building suspense and weaving heart-rending details, until you feel as if you were friends with of many of the passengers.

man called ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman  is a great listen, too. Ove is a curmudgeonly Swedish gentlemen. This story is filled with dark humor and poignant stories.


~Debra W. @ James H. LaRue



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Road to Romance Hits Bollywood . . . Through Exotic Michigan


Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

 I have been seeing this everywhere. The ALA named it as the top romance for its 2015 Genre Reading List, NPR named it a top book for 2014, and it won a RITA for best debut novel. It has also been a consistent top seller on the romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. And my friend Gail just can’t say enough good things about it.

 And it is fun – if you like romances where food plays a central role (and I know at least one person whobollywood affair does), you will love this. If you want to read a romance that isn’t about yet another generic couple and gives a glimpse into Indian Culture, you will love this.

 Dev tells the story of Mili and Samir. Married at the age of four, Mili hasn’t set eyes on her husband in over two decades. Tired of waiting for him to return to the village and start their marriage, she heads to Michigan to study. Little does Mili know that, back in India, her “husband” is now happily married to someone else, expecting a child, and shocked to learn that his childhood marriage was never annulled. The husband does the most logical romance novel thing to do: he asks his super hot, super persuasive, super uninterested-in-romance brother Samir to follow Mili to America and demand a divorce.

 Bollywood Affair provides an interesting mix of the genre standards – misunderstandings, lies, attempts by the main characters to convince themselves that they are not falling for each other, confusion over why they can’t stop thinking about each other, near loss . . .you get the gist.

 But Bollywood Affair also has a wonderfully exotic sense to it. Mili and Samir are very much products of their Indian upbringing and many of their cultural references stem from that. It sometimes seems as though bright colors and spices infuse the whole novel. You also get the sense that Dev tries to heighten parts of the plot to give the whole novel the feel of a Bollywood movie, which is very fun.

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Mystery Monday: Anthony Award Nominees for Best First Novel

MysteryMondayBannerWhile mystery series are great to read, it’s nice when you discover a brand new author.  The following books have been nominated for Anthony Awards this year for Best New Mystery Novel:

Blessed Are the Dead by Kristi Belcamino: Gabriella Giovanni is a San Francisco crime reporter investigating the disappearance of a young school girl who disappeared on her way to the bus stop.  Yet in her quest for justice, Gabriella’s passion becomes an obsession in the hopes of finding out more about the earlier murder of her own sister.   How much of her life is Gabriella willing to risk to solve the case? To catch this killer, it looks like Gabriella must risk it all.

Ice ShearIce Shear by M. P. Cooley: A new thriller for fans of Breaking Bad and the Sons of Anarchy.  Danielle Brouillette, who recently married the son of the head enforcer for the Abominations motorcycle gang, is found impaled on a spike of ice in the frozen Mohawk River.  Since she was killed before she was impaled, why stage the victim this way?  June Lyons, an ex-FBI agent, who now works for the small town Hopewell Falls PD is going to find out.  Expect twists and turns in this story about a corrupt town fueled by meth labs.

Invisible City by Julia Dahl: Rivka Mendelssohn is found naked and hanging from the cage of a scrapyard crane in her husband’s scrapyard.  Soon after, a group of Hasidic men take the body, disturbing the crime scene and evidence.  Rebekah Roberts, fresh out of college,  works for a bottom feeding tabloid and takes on the task of figuring out what really happened to Rivka– a story that the police won’t touch.

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens: Joe Talbert needs to interview a stranger and write a brief biography for his college English class.  He decides that the perfect place to find a subject for his paper is a nearby nursing home where he meets Carl Iverson, a Vietnam Vet with only a few months left to live.  Carl is also a convicted rapist and murderer.  But as Joe explores Carl’s life, he soon realizes that the crime and Carl’s valor in Vietnam just don’t add up.  The wrong man has been convicted.  Don’t protagonists understand that digging up the truth also digs up danger? This is a well written, character-driven mystery.

Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day: It’s hard to get back to “normal” when a stranger shoots you and you keep asking yourself “Why?”.  Amelia Emmet is a Chicago sociology professor who does research on violence and then she is shot.  Though she is slowly recovering, her use of painkillers is increasing and everything else is starting to fall apart.  Nathaniel Barber, a graduate student wants to write his dissertation project on Amelia’s attack.  The answers that Amelia and Nathaniel discover will take them both through their blackest hours.

–Carol W., Mystery Monday, Debut Novels

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The Road to Romance



I am on a road to romance. I started reading romance when I was twelve, was forced to be a closet romance reader at thirteen, and emerged from the closet when I started working as a librarian and discovered that few of my colleagues were willing to give romance much of a go. Now I am on a more literal road. In July, I will head to New York City to attend Librarian Day at the Romance Writers of America Conference. I will hear Jude Deveraux speak, attend a panel on Romantic Suspense, and meet loads of well-read romance fans and authors.

I must prepare! And, as a 21st Century woman, I must blog about it! Feel free to guide me as I attempt to become a more well-rounded romance reader. Tell me your favorites and I will share what I am enjoying in return.

First up? Truly, by Ruthie Knox

trulyMay has just – somewhat spectacularly, somewhat violently, and really very publically – dumped her NFL superstar boyfriend. Desperately trying to escape the paparazzi and return home to Wisconsin, she leaves her Manhattan apartment via a back door and is promptly mugged. Suddenly, she is trapped. She has five dollars in her pocket, no ID, no phone, and no friends in New York. Drowning her sorrows in the one beer she can afford, she meets Ben, whose vibe is misanthropic, but who offers her a lifeline – a place to stay and some time to think about what she wants to do next.

Knox does a great job with the characters here and works that toughest of setups – one where romance blossoms in mere days – with genuine charm. She captures both May and Ben at a moment where they are open to change, and gives them plenty of room to get to know each other in a condensed time frame. She offers contrast in the form of May’s sister, who is about to marry her longtime beau and is facing serious doubts. How long does it take to get to know someone? To know that you want to spend a lot more time getting to know them – and through them yourself? The characters have a nice depth and it is fun watching them get out of their own way because they want each other that much.

To sum up, with Truly you get good banter, two strong characters, and some nice family side characters for color. It is the first in a new series that will be set in New York, and I am looking forward to seeing who will fall in love next.

~Amy H.


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Mystery Monday: 2015 Anthony Award Nominees

Mystery MondayThe Anthony Awards committee just announced their nominees for 2015.  This award is named for Anthony Boucher who was one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America.  The award winner will be announced at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery convention which will be October 8-11th in Raleigh, NC.   You’ve got plenty of time to read each of these nominees and see which one you think will win.  Here are the nominees for Best Novel:

Lamentation by Joe Clifford: Life is not a bed of roses for Jay Porter.  He is trying to eke out a living and work out some kind of relationship with his former girlfriend and their 2 year old son.  Then he gets a desperate call from his drug addicted brother Chris who needs his help.  Of course Jay decides to help his brother out which plunges him into a dangerous situation that may cost him everything he holds dear.

Secret Place by Tana French: This title may sound familiar.  We’ve reviewed this book before because of the huge amount of buzz generated about this mystery.  Set in Dublin, Detective Stephen Moran joins forces with abrasive Detective Conway to solve the year old murder of a boy on the grounds of an all girls school.  How involved in the murder is student Holly Mackey and is her father, Detective Frank Mackey covering things up to protect her?  Part of the Dublin Murder Squad series.

Long Way HomeAfter I’m Gone by Laura Lippman: This stand alone novel by Lippman takes a look at what happens when a man with several women in his life, abandons them to avoid going to prison on a gambling conviction.   Through the chapters we learn what has happened to his wife, Bambi, his 3 daughters and his mistress, Julie. Decades later, Sandy Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective, who supplements his income solving cold cases, interviews Bambi and her daughters while trying to figure out what happened to Julie.  Is one of them a murderer? An interesting examination of how the absence of Felix altered each of their lives.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny: Armand Gamache is happy, retired and living in the village of Three Pines after a distinguished career as the Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Surete du Quebec.  He has finally found a peace he never thought he would be able to enjoy.  Then Armand’s neighbor implores him to help discover what has happened to her estranged husband, Peter– a man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell his soul and may have done just that.

Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan:  In this third tale with characters Ryland and Brogan, reporter Jane Ryland is investigating the foreclosure crisis and unscrupulous bankers.  Boston police detective, Jake Brogan, has a man in custody who claims to be the Lilac Sunday killer– a murder that happened twenty years ago.  But why confess now? Nothing is as simple as it seems.  It turns out that there is more than one way to rob a bank and there are too many people willing to commit murder to make sure that their plans succeed.

Both Laura Lippman and Louise Penny have won Anthony Awards in the past for their brilliant mysteries.  (In fact, Louise won Best Novel in 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010. Can she do it again in 2015?)

–Carol W.

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Thomas McGuane Brings Montana to JHL Branch

Set in his accustomed Big Sky country, with its mesmeric powers, Thomas McGuane’s new collection of stories is a welcome addition to his body of work. His unique way with words and the comic genius have inspired comparison with Twain and Gogol.

crowfairCrow Fair: Stories shows how the ties of family can make for uncomfortable binds. A devoted son is horrified to discover his mother’s antics before she slipped into dementia. A father’s outdoor skills are no match for an ominous change in the weather. Complications arise equally in the absence of blood ties, as when lifelong friends on a fishing trip finally confront their deep dislike for each other, or when a gifted traveling cattle breeder succumbs to the lure of easy money. McGuane is as witty and large-hearted as ever—a jubilant, thunderous confirmation of his status as a modern master. Crow Fair is recommended by Lisa, and here you can                          sample an excerpt.

Other titles by Thomas McGuane are available at DCL.

Meet Thomas McGuane at the James H. LaRue Library on Monday, March 30th at 7pm. Register here.


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JHL Book Lovers Welcome Publisher Reps

HarperCollins and Penguin Random representatives were on hand at the James H. LaRue branch on February 17 for another Book Lovers event. How lucky for everyone who attended and heard about the publishers’ new favorites, along with a few from 2014 for good measure! See the list here.

JHL staff offered some of their recent picks, too. Here’s a sampling.

 Endangered (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C J Box

endangeredJoe Pickett had good reason to dislike Dallas Cates, even if he was a rodeo champion, and now he has even more—Joe’s eighteen-year-old ward, April, has run off with him. And then comes even worse news: The body of a girl has been found in a ditch along the highway—alive, but just barely, the victim of blunt force trauma. It is April, and the doctors aren’t sure if she’ll recover. Cates denies having anything to do with it—says she ran away from him, too—and there’s evidence that points to another man. But Joe knows in his gut who’s responsible. What he doesn’t know is the kind of danger he’s about to encounter. Cates is bad enough, but Cates’s family is like none Joe has ever met before. Recommended by Lisa.

Meet C.J. Box at the James H. LaRue Library on Thurs. March 12th at 7 pm. Books will be on sale at the event. Register online or by calling Lisa at 720-348-9522.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

girlontrainRachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then Continue reading

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Mystery Monday: Three Graves Full

MysteryMondayBannerThree Graves Full

It’s always fun to explore brand new titles being published, but from time to time it’s also nice to explore older books that you may have missed.

Imagine that you’ve committed a murder and buried the body at the edge of your property in the backyard.  You’re on edge of course because you worry that the neighbor’s snoopy dog will discover the remains.  You ask yourself, “Did I bury the body deep enough?”  Then imagine your surprise when a landscaping team that you’ve hired discovers a different body that’s buried in your front yard!  Not only that, but a second buried body is discovered.  That’s the sticky situation Jason Getty finds himself in Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason.

Will Jason be charged with three murders?

This book was named a Library Journal Best Book of 2013. Recommended for fans of the Coen brothers and Gillian Flynn.

Also by this author, Monday’s Lie–a tale where the female protagonist finds out that her husband isn’t quite who she thought he was.

– Carol W.

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An Outlandish Event with Diana Gabaldon

1The engrossing  and beloved Outlander series has won thousands of fans worldwide for author Diana Gabaldon, ever since the first book was published some twenty years ago. Her compelling characters are finely drawn, with a practically perfect highlander named Jamie Fraser and an intrepid and resourceful Claire Randall at the center of a whole cast of fascinating people from two very different time periods. The eight-title series, with it’s unique blend of history, romance, adventure, and yes, time travel, is now enjoying renewed popularity - due in part to an award-winning Starz television series that launched last year.  I would go so far as to say Outlander has reset the bar for cable television productions, with it’s gorgeous Scottish locales and fabulous sets and costumes. But here is the best part of all!

Now you can be part of the adventure! See Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, on Thursday, April 30, at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.

Books will be available for sale courtesy of The Tattered Cover Book Store; Ms. Gabaldon will sign one book per person. Get your tickets here.



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