contemporary romantic


CAROL, part one

To conclude this series of Pride 2017-related posts (though certainly not the end of gay-relevant content on this blog), here’s a two-part post on Todd Haynes’s exquisite 1950s-set lesbian romance Carol (2015). Last year, Carol was voted the best LGBT film of all time in a poll that featured over 100 critics and was compiled to mark the 30th anniversary of London’s lesbian and gay film festival, BFI Flare. There are many qualities worth celebrating in this film: the sublimely modulated lead performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the richly atmospheric period detail and mise-en-scène, Haynes’s deft invocations of classical Hollywood genres (melodrama, film noir, women’s pictures). But most importantly, as the following quote reminds us, Carol’s uncommonly uplifting and affirmative take on same-sex love represents a quietly radical step forward for LGBT narratives in cinema.

Happy Pride!

“In the years since Brokeback Mountain, we’ve seen Best Picture nominations for The Kids Are All Right and Dallas Buyers Club – though in both of those cases, the primary audience surrogate was arguably a straight man (Mark Ruffalo in Kids, Matthew McConaughey in Dallas) – and the slightly Sapphic Black Swan. And, of course, there was Milk and The Imitation Game, both stories about gay men who met with tragedy… Spoiler alert: Carol’s protagonists fall in love, consummate their passion, and encounter some difficulties – it’s the early ‘50s, after all – but do not die for/from being gay. Such a declaration sounds stark, but an astonishing number of films about gay life have seen their characters come to some sort of a tragic end, as if comporting to the old Hays Code, where characters must be “punished” for their “sins.” Ultimately, Carol’s most transgressive quality is its refusal to engage in such shenanigans; this is a film about full-blooded gay lives, not tragic gay deaths. Maybe Oscar voters weren’t sure how to deal with that?” — Jason Bailey, Flavorwire (January 2016)

if I have died by your hand
one thousand times,
I would willingly do so

little by little,
I have crept in your shade
I have donned your colors– ochre,

when santa barbara daisies
push up against the bloom
of your oak, I ascend to

bury me now, in fertile land
where songs rustle, caught
from my waist,

in your hand.

// la petite mort

the 1975 - somebody else

new release from one of my favourite bands. the band have been nothing but ambitious so far with their new songs indicating a complete change in direction of their musical style. their very laid back, post-modern, electronic, over-romantic sound is really fitting well in my life. the album ‘i like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ is out on feb 26th, roll on!


Celebrate black history month by watching the works of these 10 history-making directors

6 to 10:

Euzhan Palcy

Best Known For: Being the first black woman to direct a movie for a major studio in 1989, bringing Marlon Brando out of retirement to act in her film A Dry White Season and directing him to an Oscar nomination.

Notable Works: Sugar Cane Alley (1983), A Dry White Season (1989)

Forthcoming: N/A

Darnell Martin

Best Known For: Being the first black American woman to direct a movie for a major studio in 1994.

Notable Works: I Like it Like That (1994), Cadillac Records (2008)

Forthcoming: N/A

Gina Prince-Bythewood

Best Known For: Her commercially successful contemporary romantic dramas. 

Notable Works: Love & Basketball (2000), Beyond the Lights (2014)

Forthcoming: I Know This Much is True, An Untamed State

Dee Rees

Best Known For: Her indie Sundance smash Pariah, her film Mudbound being the highest seller at the 2017 Sundance film festival.  

Notable Works: Pariah (2011), Bessie (2015) TV

Forthcoming: Mudbound (2017)

Angela Robinson 

Best Known For: Her campy early 00s classics like D.E.B.S. and Herbie Fully Loaded as well as having the highest box office gross for a movie directed by a black woman with Herbie Fully Loaded.

Notable Works: D.E.B.S.(2004), Herbie Fully Loaded (2005)

Forthcoming: Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (2017)


Adam Driver’s perspective on love stories in media

Interviewer: “The F Word often explores the muddy waters of contemporary romantic relationships and it can be hard to take on that terrain in an original way – in a creative way. I think this movie does it well. Do you think, despite the pitfalls, and beyond fluffy Rom-Coms, love and relationships are still important subject matter for filmmakers and TV creators to take on?”

Adam: :Oh yeah. Always, always. I always feel relationships and those dynamics are always – there’s so much room for complexity and two people’s philosophies bumping together. You know, I don’t think it’ll ever go away.”

This is such a good response to people’s negative reactions to romance in stories – and in particular I’m referencing this idea that Reylo “doesn’t need to become romantic” and the negative reactions the greater fandom has had to the idea of romance in the new Sequel Trilogy.

When it’s written well, love stories are a compelling way to talk about philosophy and psychology of people and characters. Love is a part of the human condition – is a part of often great storytelling.

Please stop saying we “don’t need it to be a love story” when more often than not a comment like that is missing the point

@trueloveisrarelyafairytale got me thinking about covers, so I went investigating my library and cloud to find some of my absolute favorite covers. Okay, so there are ton of bare chested males in my cloud, like OMG row after row full of abs, pecs, and vee’s. I think authors, especially beginners in contemporary romance, choose this option a lot because they attract a lot of attention. And if you appreciate the male form, which I do, there are some truly gorgeous male chests out there lol! 

If I love an author, I buy them in paperback and five of these bad boys are on display. Last night I highlighted favorite series covers, so here are a few of my favorite males…

1) “Calico” by Callie Hart is the only one I haven’t read and therefore don’t own in paperback. But the striking contrast between the white background and the black illustration sucks me in. Plus, I think that’s Franggy Yanez under all those branches and I can’t resist his covers (see #6). I’ve heard really good things about this author and need to check her out soon. 

2) If you’re going to embrace the naked male cover, why not go all the way like River Savage’s “Hetch”. Even though you can’t really see anything, for me, it’s a really high impact cover with him completely nude, soaked, and breaking apart thanks to the cool artistic effect. I gave this one 5 stars, its the beginning of a new series for her, but she also has a really good MC series. 

3) “No Pants Required” by Kim Karr plays with angles. Her hero isn’t straight on, which gives us some definition as well as a glimpse of that haunch and side butt. I’ve seen pants dropping lower and lower so side butt may be the new “vee”. I can’t find my review, but I’m pretty sure I gave this one 4 stars. To be honest, I bought it just for the cover lmao!

4) Anything by T.M. Frazier is an instant paperback must-buy. She is an incredible writer, does dark very well, and Bear, her hero in “Lawless,” is larger than life, which this cover shows off marvelously. I am a sucker for tattooed guys, beards, and bad boys in my books…combine them all together I’m mush. You have to read King and Tyrant first, but all are 5 star reads.

5) I’ve just discovered this Penny Reid series, but already read the first two and am eagerly anticipating #3 with Cletus Winston, who is hands down my favorite romantic lead yet and I haven’t even read his book. I adore him! Anyways, the first book is “Truth or Beard” and what caught my eye first was the cover. It’s quirky and unlike anything out there, which led me to pick up book one. The series is high on sweetness, comedy, and quirkiness, but not too hot. So far I’ve really enjoyed this series. 

6) Behold the beauty of Franggy Yanez, the cover model of Brittainy C. Cherry’s “The Air He Breathes.” It has been the first and only book I’ve read of hers so far and I absolutely f’ing loved it (5+ stars) and I hope it hasn’t ruined me for her other books. I cried like non-stop with this one, like ugly cry, baffle the husband and children kind of cry - “why do you keep reading it if it makes you sad?”  I bought it based on the blurb and reviews, but the cover is one of my all-time favorites. Franggy is a model/photographer and has become like the Fabio of our generation. I own at least five other books that I’ve never read yet just because he’s on the cover. 

So that’s my list of favorite male covers. Tonight was easy as there are a lot of covers to choose from. I’ll be back tomorrow with some of my favorites featuring women. 

Do you have some favorites? I think I’ve established I’m a cover whore and will buy a book just for the cover, so feel free to enable me. Let’s get some feedback going @mfred, @mariaslozak, @sunnysaysbookreviews, @sunburstpearls, @bibliophilestyles, @brenda-is-reading and anyone else who wants to play along. 


Small space: A romantic yet contemporary nest for two in NYC. (via AT)

A piece from the book “The Universe at Heartbeat” by Nicola An

Copies ship worldwide through Amazon and other major online booksellers.

For more poetry by Nicola An, check out instagram @nostalnick or visit facebook page Infinitely, Nicola An

Only Love Only Light

Thank you

Night three of my favorite book covers, inspired by @trueloveisrarelyafairytale, and tonight features six lovely ladies - four of which I own in paperback, one in e-book, and one I just like. First, finding female-only covers in Contemporary Romance was hard!! So many of my books are males or couples, and I did notice a few trends. So here we go…

1) “Good Wood” by L.G. Pace III and Michelle Pace: This husband and wife duo are such a great writing team. “Good Wood” is the start of the Carved Hearts series (4 books). I was expecting a sweet, down-home romance in the heart of Texas. I didn’t expect the story to be so tender and poignant, it had me reaching for the tissues multiple times. It was just a very charming balance of humor, emotion, and love and I devoured this series. Also, Jensen Ackles was a major inspiration for Joe and who doesn’t love him. I rarely like faces on covers because so often they don’t match what is in my head, but this cover model is spot-on for Molly, she is absolutely perfect as are the other covers. The Pace’s built such a great world I wanted to pack up the family and move to Austin…5 stars

2) “Fire Down Below” by Debra Anastasia: This is a two-parter followed up by “Fire in the Hole.” I think it’s best to just copy and paste part of my review… ‘I’m not giving it five stars for being the greatest book alive, but because I will never ever EVER forget it. It is lewd, crude, positively filthy, and I f’ing loved every minute of it.’ I read this book in a day, I don’t do that. It takes me a while to read, but I dropped everything for it, bought it in paperback, and then ordered book two in e-form. The leads, pharmacist Johnson Fitzwell, and Dove Glitch, meet when Dove has a case of the “fire down below” cue the Gynazule jokes. My favorite part was Duke, her crazy-ass neighbor, who I have pictured in my head as Adam Driver-like during his “Girls” days - Duke steals every scene he’s in. The cover is tame compared to everything that happens in the book but very effective for a totally off-kilter book…5 stars (it’s rated 3.5 on Good Reads - make sure you read the warnings before you proceed).

3) “American Queen” by Sierra Simone: I just finished book two, “American Prince,” earlier this week and it continues on the story of Greer Galloway, President Maxen Colchester, and Vice President Embry Moore. There have been two major cliffhangers, so its best to read back to back (the final book “American King” just came out). I personally love this series - she has become a must-purchase-in-paperback author for me. It handles Dominance/submission and m/m very well as well as a polyamorous relationship IN THE WHITE HOUSE - very high quality erotica here! Looking at the cover, you can’t tell what’s inside the book and that’s my favorite kind of cover. But it’s so striking, regal, and elegant befitting the First Lady…5 stars for both 

4) Scrolling through my cloud, I found Jade West’s “Sugar Daddies” and was blasted by that very erotic cover once again. She writes pure unadulterated smut. I believe I bought this when it was at 99 cents to try out her writing and have read a couple more since then. Yes, there are Daddy references, and yes, there are two of them. I pulled up my review and my only quibble was that the leads are named ‘Rick’ and ‘Carl’, which for my Walking Dead brain, was too much lol! The inside was just as hot as the cover, which features another trend I’ve been seeing - closely cropped women while men usually have much of their upper half exposed. Covers for women usually zoom into body parts like lips, legs, backs, or zoom into clothing, typically corsets, bras, gowns, etc…4 stars

5) First off, I don’t own “The Selection” by Kiera Cass. I don’t read a lot of YA and I know nothing about this series. But whenever I see this cover in the stores, I want to snatch it up. It’s just so pretty!!! I researched it again for tonight and the other covers are just as pretty. If you’ve followed this blog long, you know that I’m a sucker for a lavish ball gown, so this cover screams “BUY ME.” If you have read them, please let me know what you think. Enable me!!

6) Sweet Addiction by J. Daniels: I have read a few of her other books, but not this one yet. Who knew I had so many books with lips on the covers? I found like five other titles with lips, so I guess lip covers are trending (again with the super-cropped female). I love the frilly, super-feminine cover; I found a lot of pink covers in my collection so clearly I gravitate toward them…4+ stars per Good Reads 

Again, this was really fun to do. I always enjoy sharing books that I love while reminding myself of some that I still need to read. Tomorrow I think I’m going to do some darker reads, which is my absolute favorite genre. The ones I saved so far are new to me, so I need to do some research! Thanks to everyone who liked and reblogged - last night was my most notes ever, so that’s really cool, thank you! Also thank you to my fellow bibliophiles - I know we don’t read the same genres but I always love picking through your blogs: @mfred, @brenda-is-reading, @mariaslozak, @bespectacled-phoenix, @trueloveisrarelyafairytale, @bibliophilestyles, @sunnysaysbookreviews, @sunburstpearls