Jilly: Cold Comfort Reading Recommendations

cold-comfortDo you have a favorite book or author you always read when you’re feeling under the weather?

I’ve been out of sorts for a day or two, but during Friday night I hatched out the mother of all colds. I’m not properly ill, just the usual—head full of cotton wool, sandpaper throat, sneezing the house down—and feeling very sorry for myself.

I had a couple of possible posts in mind for today.

My first topic was the preponderance of gratuitous sex scenes in the mainstream romantic fiction I’ve been reading lately. I love a well-written sex scene, but I expect it to follow the same rules as any other scene–it should be particular to the characters and it has to move the story. Two people repeatedly having a good time together, however inventive they may be, does not of itself move the story forward. It takes up pages of real estate that could better have been used to make the relationship and eventual HEA between the H&H unique and unforgettable.

The alternative was to discuss a romance I just started. It’s standard paranormal romance, not erotica. I’ve only read a chapter or two, but it’s a continuation of a series so I’m already familiar with the characters. I’m reading on, because I like the author, but I’m filled with trepidation because there’s a huge gap in age, experience and status between the H&H. He’s mid-forties, a good guy in a dominant leadership position. He’s freaked out to find himself head over heels in lust with a nineteen year-old girl who’s part of his community. She’s smart, strong and uniquely talented. She totally has the hots for him. He’s determined not to act on his feelings, though clearly that will change. The whole community sees what’s going on and the general vibe seems to be that she’s an adult and capable of making her own choices and that makes it okay. I find that I’m not comfortable with the setup, but I can’t pinpoint exactly what is squicking me out. It’s not as though he’s a slimeball who abuses his position of dominance. I know very happy couples in real life who met and married in similar circumstances. I bet I’ve read similar stories in the past, maybe without even noticing. I love Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades, and that seems like a pretty direct parallel. Plenty to think about and discuss.

That was my plan, but honestly, my brain is so fogged I can’t begin to write a sensible post on either of those topics. Sorry, though if you have thoughts based on the ramblings above I’d be interested to hear ’em. There’s a good chance I might return to either or both of these topics in the next week or two. Today, all I want to do is curl up under the quilt with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book.

When I’m feeling this sorry for myself I usually default to Ilona Andrews’ Kinsman books, especially Silver Shark, or a Georgette Heyer or Loretta Chase (probably one of the Carsington series). I want something kind, with humor, community and a satisfying ending.

I’d love to find a recommendation or two to add to my Cold Comfort reading list. Do you have any suggestions?

6 thoughts on “Jilly: Cold Comfort Reading Recommendations

  1. Have you ever tried Darynda Jones? I checked out something of hers a couple of years ago and couldn’t get into it, but last week I tried again with one of her series and found it to be really engaging. It was amusing, the protagonist had friends and relations, and there was a hot demon lover. It’s a series, so the question of just who the hot demon lover is and how he’ll fit in isn’t resolved, but they end on an up note. The name of this book is First Grave on the Right. Oh—it’s a mystery, too.

    • I read that book a few years ago, Kay, and enjoyed it very much. You summed it up perfectly! I read the next four books in the series and then wandered away because for my taste there was too much mystery and not enough hot demon lover. It felt like about 5-10% overarching HDL story–mostly at the beginning and end to keep the reader tied in–with a mystery in the middle. I enjoyed the mysteries and the community, but I wasn’t willing to invest so much time and energy (years!) to find out how the series turns out. I’m happy with that decision, as the series is still going – the upcoming book is no.11 and it’s not finished yet.

      The books are hugely popular so clearly many, many readers disagree! Maybe when the series is all wrapped up I’ll buy the box set and treat myself to a binge-read 🙂

  2. Bujolds, Crusies and Heyers are my go-tos when I’m sick. I want a story I’ve read a zillion times with a happy ending. I’ve been under the weather this weekend — not actually sick, but if I didn’t have stuff that I didn’t HAVE to do, I could have easily spent it under the covers.

    I’ve discussed the age-difference thing with friends on a reading list (possibly, it was the very same story you are reading!). It’s a very common thing for older men who are “grooming” to tell a young lady how mature she is, and she can make up her own mind, and all that stuff. I was the target of this once, but fortunately, I was “mature” enough that I knew I didn’t want to start a relationship with this guy (who also was divorced, lived out of town, and wasn’t particularly sexy to me). To his credit, no meant no, and he didn’t push too hard. But it’s awfully flattering to think one is so “mature”, and if one is a bit of a nerd anyway, it’s easier to exploit this old guy desperate for sex than to try to carve out a relationship with someone who might be closer in interests and social power, but may lack confidence to woo or be wooed.

    Anyway, the age difference thing was very squicky for me, but one of the other ladies on the list knew at a rather young age that her older fella was The One, and she’s now been married decades.

    I think what redeemed it for me was that the hero was squicked out, but allowed himself to be persuaded by her passion and his own passion/adoration was ignored until he was sure she was strong and intelligent enough to know her own heart. Overwhelming passion is one of the things I really like in a romance story — I love it when people do something just a bit stupid because of love. I have a tricky threshold, because not every stupid act of love is acceptable.

    For many reasons, a 30-year-old and a 45-year-old is a much better fit for me than a 15-year-old and a 30-year-old. Age does matter. But it seems to matter less as the characters grow older.

    Here’s another one to throw out: how about a 45-year-old virgin with a 30-year-old rake? Does it matter if the genders are switched? I think it would have to be handled very carefully, but in the right context, it could be very hot. In the wrong context, it’d feel more like some sort of wish fulfillment on the part of the author . . . . Everything depends.

    • A story I’ve read a zillion times, with a happy ending…is exactly what the doctor ordered!

      I think the age difference was squicky for me because at the beginning there was a lot of the hero’s POV, and his feelings were overwhelmingly physical/lustful. He wasn’t comfortable with that, and I felt the same. We were told the heroine was special, powerful, and old beyond her years, but at the beginning it wasn’t evident from her actions. I could see no reason for them to belong together except that they had the hornypants for one another. I remembered Michael Hague saying in an RWA workshop that *chemistry* is not a compelling reason for the H&H to be uniquely suited.

      As the book developed the heroine’s secrets were revealed and she became a stronger and more interesting character. I duly became less squicked, but I never truly got to the stage of wanting the hero to get over his reservations. I didn’t really buy her superpowers or their HEA, but by the end at least I wasn’t grossed out.

      Yes, a 30-year-old and a 45-year-old would on the face of it work much better, assuming both have sufficient life experience to make informed choices.

      Re. age difference and gender switch–one of my favorite Crusies is Anyone But You, another guaranteed feelgood comfort read. Jenny deals with it very cleverly. At the beginning the heroine thinks the hero is cute but dim, as well as far too young for her. Of course he’s not dim at all, as we finally understand in one of the best scenes of competence p0rn I’ve ever read. It’s hot and hilarious and brilliantly well-written. And now I have to go and re-read that novella 🙂

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