Tag Archives: alexis hall

Three Quirky Modern Love Stories: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade, Murder Most Actual by Alexis Hall, and Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches by Kate Scelsa

1 Jun

Romance novels often don’t get the respect they deserve. Just because there is a happily ever after doesn’t mean the stories are all the same. Here are three charmingly unique books which use fan fiction, true crime podcasts, and tarot cards to give unique spins to their couples’ romantic journeys.

Spoiler Alert
by Olivia Dade
Spoiler Alert feels a bit of wish fulfilment for anyone out there who has ever written fanfiction and dreamed that the actor or actress of their favorite TV show or movie might fall in love with them.  April Whittier is a successful geologist who likes to write fanfiction about a popular fantasy series.  When a picture of her cosplaying gets a negative comment on social media, the star of the show not only comes to her defense but asks her out on a date.  Complicating the situation is that Marcus Caster-Rupp isn’t just an actor, he is also a fellow fanfiction writer who has developed a secret online friendship with April.  I appreciate that Olivia Dade’s heroines aren’t the cookie cutter skinny girl on most romance books covers; April is beautiful, yes, but she also has lots of curves as does Robin who is written about in the next in the series All the Feels.

Murder Most Actual
by Alexis Hall

Murder Most Actual is a funny mystery novel that parodies Clue and will win over fans of the podcasters turned detective series Only Murders in the Building, but at its heart is the relationship between Hanna a corporate financier and her wife Liza, a true crime podcaster.  The two are near their breaking point, Liza’s new found success has led to them having less time together and their relationship has become strained.  A weekend at an exclusive Scottish hotel is Hanna’s attempt to try and patch up their relationship.  There is always something a little hard about watching a couple who was once head over heels in love hit a rough patch, but there is also something to me immensely satisfying to see them be able to work through their issues; happily ever after can happen, but sometimes it takes some work.  You can read another previous post I’ve done about Hall’s sweet romance Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake.

Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches
by Kate Scelsa

I had previously written a blog post about magical romances, but this book is less fantasy than about modern practitioners of witchcraft/neopaganism; perhaps the witches in the book have real powers, perhaps they just believe they do. Vividly set in Salem, Improbable Magic for Cynical Witches centers around Seventeen-year-old Eleanor who is coping with her mother’s chronic illness as well as the feeling of being an outcast. She works at a store that cashes in on the city’s historic ties to witchcraft, but isn’t a believer herself so doesn’t think much about a guide to tarot that arrives one day, until a beautiful girl named Pix and her friends show up at the store claiming to be real witches. I had made several visits to Salem when I lived in Boston for two years and the book felt very authentic to me from what I remember. I also liked the sweet way that Pix and Eleanor, both hurt from past relationships learned to trust each other. The interweaving of the tarot cards with the story was done in a fun and clever way. This book came out on May 31 and teens as well as adults will want to add it to there to be read lists. I received an advance copy of the book from NetGalley.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services

Two Sweet Romances for LGBTQ Pride Month: Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake and For the Love of Cake

30 Jun

I started off Pride Month, this June, with a post about Trans and Non-Binary Authors writing speculative fiction.  To end the month I thought I’d focus on two romance novels, I recently enjoyed, featuring bisexual protagonists both set in the competitive world of baking shows.

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake
by Alexis Hall
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is the first in Alexis Hall’s new Winner Bakes All series.  The series has as its backdrop a baking competition that bears striking similarities to the fan favorite Great British Baking Show.  Rosaline is a young single mom and amateur baker.  Her wealthy parents, despite being loving grandparents, are disappointed in how Rosaline has lived her life and what they see as her lack of ambition.  The baking competition is her chance to shine and set an example for her daughter about following her dreams.  It also gives Rosaline the unexpected opportunity for finding love when two very different fellow contestants catch her eye.  Rosaline is proudly bisexual and the book handles this in a nuanced way looking at issues of bi-erasure and prejudice.  Even though both of Rosaline’s love interest are men, her identity as a bisexual woman is never undermined. Interested in reading more books by Alexis Hall; I’ve written previous blog posts about some of Hall’s other work including The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, Looking for Group, and the Kate Kane Series.

For the Love of Cake
by Erin Dutton

Erin Dutton’s For the Love of Cake is also situated in the world of competitive baking although this show feels slightly more generic and is representative of many that air on TV or streaming channels.  It features some characters from one of Dutton’s previous romance novels, A Place to Rest.  Maya is the first winner of For the Love of Cake, who is tasked with both coaching and judging a competition with middle aged baker Shannon as one of the new contestants.  They find themselves fighting an attraction to one another which could spoil Shannon’s chance at a win and Maya’s career.  Maya is bisexual while Shannon, despite a previous marriage to a man, identifies as a lesbian, which causes a brief moment of friction between the two early on.  The novel despite having a sweet romance at its center also manages to examine a variety of social issues.

Love baking competitions? You can also check out a previous post which featured bake-off fiction and non-fiction that is sure to delight your palate.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

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