If I like the Brothers Sinister series, what other books might I like?
November 14, 2014 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Due to a desire to curb my spending, I've been reading a lot more public library e-books lately, and so have discovered that I actually enjoy (some) romance novels. I am way into Courtney Milan's Brothers Sinister series--what other books might I like?

What I like about these books is that they're well-written, and that the romance isn't the /only/ thing going on--they all have important social issues (radical politics, voting reform, women's suffrage, women being allowed to be educated, medical ethics, etc) featured pretty heavily, as well as nice friendships between the characters. I've never really read any romance novels before (besides like my mom's Danielle Steels and Jayne Anne Krentzes when I was a kid), and I HATE basically every YA romance book I've ever read, so I'm not sure where to start. The historical setting is nice, but not necessary (I also enjoyed Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Heroes Are My Weakness). Sex must be VERY consensual--no rape or dubious consent. Can you all recommend some books to a romance newbie?
posted by leesh to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yeah, Courtney Milan's pretty great. I'm a romance reader, and I'm also a romance editor. So I've got, like, a million suggestions for you. But reading is seriously personal business, so YMMV.

First of all, you could ask this same question over at Smart Bitches Love Trashy Books, for their "Help a Bitch Out" feature.

You could follow Courtney Milan on twitter and see who her author pals are, and which books she's talking about. A few days ago she was recommending A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR by Sonali Dev. (I haven't read it.)

For 99c you could check out this ebook bundle that features Courtney Milan + a bunch of other authors -- it's definitely positioned as a gateway drug to help you discover new authors.

And just generally speaking, some authors/books I really, really love right now: Victoria Dahl, Jenny Holiday, Ruthie Knox, Tessa Bailey, Tessa Dare. I'm also totally adoring a brand-new author named Kate Canterbary.

You could set a small budget -- say, $20 -- and discover 20+ new authors via 99c or free e-books.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:51 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm also a fan of the series (full disclosure, Courtney Milan is also a friend), and two places to start might be with her other books and also with the book recommendations listed on her website. Also, Tessa Dare is the name that keeps coming up over and over and over again in this context.
posted by willbaude at 12:00 PM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: Yay, romance novels! I really like the Brothers Sinister series too, but they also feel pretty singular to me, even compared to Milan's other books. I'll third the rec for Tessa Dare; her books feel fluffier, more frivolous, and even more fantastical to me than the Brothers Sinister series, but I think they often do hit on a lot of feminist political touchstones, and I was quite charmed by Any Duchess Will Do in particular.

Cecilia Grant would be my next recommendation; in her books, social issues inform the shape of both the story as a whole and the romance in particular, and she's one of the best prose stylists currently working in the genre. My favorite of her books is A Gentleman Undone, but all three of her novels are really good. The sex between the protagonists is always consensual, but they're also not HAPPY! LUST! LOVE! YAY! kind of sex scenes. She writes bad sex like no other, but makes it work in the context of the characters and the story. There is a lot of focus on character growth in her work.

Sherry Thomas is also a pretty fabulous prose stylist. I do find a lot of her plots and situations ridiculous/over-the-top, and her plotting feels quite different from Milan's, but her focus on the women in her books comes across in a feminist way similar to Milan's. My favorite book of hers is His At Night, but I've heard good things about her most recent releases, too.

(Other historical romance authors I like, who I'm not sure are super-similar to Milan but you might still like: Jeannie Lin, Kate Noble, Caroline Linden.)

In the contemporary romance subgenre, Victoria Dahl's books tend to feature awesome women, very consensual sex, and great friendships/other relationships. My favorite of hers is Bad Boys Do. She's also written some historical romances, but I liked those less than her contemporaries.

I don't think Sarah Mayberry could write a bad romance if she tried, and part of what makes her my favorite romance author is that the romances between the characters are always set in the greater context of the characters' lives. My favorite of her books is All They Need, but I also liked her most recent self-published release, Satisfaction.

I also really love the romances and partnerships that Farrah Rochon writes, and she rocks at writing groups of friends and family members. Her New York Sabers series is my favorite of her books.

I tend to find most of her books a bit too purple-prose and look-at-this-obnoxious-manly-man! for my tastes, but I loved, loved, loved Laura Florand's The Chocolate Touch for reasons that collide with what you liked in Milan's books: developing a very consensual sexual relationship (in this case, between two people who also want to keep their personal boundaries firmly in place), interesting relationships between all the characters, and some important social issues written into the text and into the characters' lives (namely, the heroine is a former labor reform activist in the chocolate industry).
posted by mixedmetaphors at 12:44 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Names generally bracketed with Courtney Milan for historical romance --

More "serious" in tone:

Sherry Thomas
Cecilia Grant
Meredith Duran
Joanna Bourne

Generally "lighter" in tone:

Tessa Dare
Sarah Maclean
Miranda Neville
Kate Noble
Eloisa James
posted by artemisia at 2:32 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare are pretty much the only two romance authors whose books I am careful not to miss.
posted by jeather at 3:31 PM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: Rose Lerner? Her historical novels involve a lot of thoughtful commentary on class distinctions. The setup of her most recent book features a really fascinating loophole in nineteenth-century British election law. Also, her heroes tend to be decent human beings, rather than jerks redeemed by their love for good women.
posted by yarntheory at 5:08 PM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: Courtney Milan is definitely my fave, but I really like Mary Balogh and Mary Jo Putney, as well. I mix the two of them up on the regular, though, so can't remember which ones write which books.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:05 PM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: Grace Burrowes can get repetitive but I quite like her work. She touches on a number of emotional and political areas but not as explicitly as Milan.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:08 PM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: A bit more fluffy than Milan: Julie Anne Long
posted by meijusa at 8:50 AM on November 15, 2014

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