My love affair with the romance novel started at age 14 and, decades later, I rarely stray from that when reading fiction. Sometimes, though, books are well-recommended or friends are so persuasive that I decide to venture out of my HEA world. In doing so I have discovered some books that I just adore, even if I don’t adore their genre.
A few years ago I was having a physical and the doctor asked what I was reading. I said “romance” with the little guilty look I used to flash when saying that (no more- romance is an awesome genre and deserves recognition as such). She responded that I had no reason to feel ashamed- her reading choices were mostly steampunk. I thought steampunk was clothing. I had no idea it was a literary genre. Am I the only one living under a rock there? She recommended Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. While I missed the relationship building that is my favorite part of romance, I did enjoy the humor and historical feel of the series.
When book club chose Gill McKnight’s The Tea Machine I picked it up with much less trepidation and the knowledge that I was going to be in for a fun ride- and it certainly is.
Radclyffe’s Justice series was another departure from my usual reading. Sure, there is romance in the books, but there is a lot of violence and blood. I don’t do so well with violence- in books or on the screen. I had, however, enjoyed many Radclyffe novels and there were a lot of recommendations out there for the Justice Series. It turns out that I can get past the violence to enjoy the story, many times, in fact, even on audiobook. The same thing happened with the Cantor Gold series. Crime novels are still not my favorite- but I will happily recommend Cantor Gold’s story to anyone. The characters will keep you enthralled and the plot is excellent.
Requiem for Immortals by Lee Winter. I was absolutely not going to read about an assassin. I like happy endings, not violence and mayhem, especially not when the heroine is perpetrating the violence. But there were some awesome reviews of the novel. I decided if it was too much I could put it down. Natalya was such a fabulous character, though, that I was compelled to continue. I swear half the time I was reading through squinted eyes because I didn’t want to look, but I had to know what happened. The next thing I knew I was through the novel and wanting to read it again. It’s on my list of favorite novels.
Then I ran into Tread Lightly. It’s an urban fantasy. What even is urban fantasy? Demons and such? No thank you. I will have nightmares for weeks. But Catherine Lane is a fabulous author. I love everything she has written. Of course I read it. It turns out I can get past the demons. The book turned out to be engaging and funny- and even has a bit of romance! Also, the wand is adorable.
Another genre I rarely read is science fiction. My son loves it. For over 20 years he has tried to get me interested. Sometimes I acquiesce. The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell, turned out to be everything good. Mostly, though, I find science fiction dull. It was with trepidation that I opened The Caphenon. I had heard great things, but I was expecting the usual sci-fi. I was wrong. I can say that. This book fixed my issues with science fiction- the characters were dimensional, the world was real, the language didn’t sound made-up. The story was exciting and the conflict intriguing. I have eagerly read the entire series more than once.
What about you? What has pulled you out of your usual genre, if you have one? What makes you take a chance on a book? What are your favorite out-of-the-comfort-zone books?