Since the Romantic Times Convention in May, I’ve read two books by authors I saw there.
First was Vivi Andrew’s Naughty Karma. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Vivi before and I was able to chat with her again at RT. She reminded me of our shared love for a particular anti-hero and our mutual aspiration to write darkly complicated characters. That fun chat inspired me to buy her book and I devoured it on the plane ride home.
Naughty Karma is the last book in the Karmic Consultants series but the first I’ve read. Vivi seamlessly introduced everyone and I was perfectly comfortable in the world, but I had clearly missed out on great character development of the secondary personalities, many of whom had their own books—and boy are they quirky compared to your average PNR (yay!). If you are looking for a new series, you may as well start from the beginning, but this book totally stands alone.
The love story is hot and compelling and fun, and while what I read felt light and effortless, the depth of world-building and vision for the book was profound.
Because of my chat with Vivi, I knew about some of her goals with the hero, but I was even more delighted to learn his name was Prometheus, a self-interested warlock who sells magic charms to the masses. He is pitted against Karma, who can see the future, and who is profoundly concerned with right and wrong. From the moment you learn their names, you can see what kind of story you’ll get—opposites attract sexiness + skillful play with symbolism = a deep conflict of values. Vivi does not fail to deliver. Vivi’s world is fresh, as is her characterization, and I will definitely be picking up more of her books.
Second, I listened to Meljean Brook’s Riveted, the third in her Iron Seas series. I’ve listened to all three of those books via Audible, rather than read them with my eyeballs, and while they’ve had three different narrators, I’ve enjoyed all three performances very much.
Meljean Brook is pretty much the author I swoon over, and so getting to hear her talk (and have my picture taken with her) at RT was thrilling. It was great to hear her talk about world building. The scope of her world is huge, but each story zooms into a view of one region with exquisite detail. Her books have so much texture to them, so much crisp description, so much to sink your teeth into. When this is married to her exquisitely well-developed characters, her books become some of the most vivid and enjoyable romances I’ve read.
Lastly, apart from The Iron Duke, which perfectly executes the quintessentially conflicted romance arc, the other Iron Seas books have very fresh sorts of romance. I particularly enjoyed the dynamics between the stoic Yasmeen and the frivolous Archimedes, who just wants to fall in love, in Heart of Steel, but by the end of Riveted, I was weeping and completely in love with the devoted David Kentworth. I haven’t read her latest, The Kraken King yet, but I do look forward to it!