If you haven’t heard, The Ripped Bodice is putting on an awesome reading challenge this summer. And there are prizes! You can click the link to their site for an explanation of the rules, plus a printable copy of their bingo board. Or! You can check out their helpful tweet:
We’re playing along in our Goodreads group and offering suggestions when we can. You can also follow The Ripped Bodice on Twitter for reading recs. However, for those who aren’t fans of social media (I don’t blame you), we thought compiling a list of recommendations here would be helpful. Plus, any suggestions from the Bitchery are always welcome.
In the suggestion list, we’ve left off a couple of the easier categories like the Romance Novel Free Space, Elaborate Proposal Scene, Rake or Rogue in the Title, and Conflict Could Be Solved With One Conversation. I feel like those might be way easier to find.
For the recs, we’re pulling from books that have been mentioned here on SBTB, are well-known, or have been recommended to us!
Georgette Heyer! We have some recommendations from an older Heyer sale post.
Plus, I highly recommend you check out some of Carrie’s reviews. She frequently reviews classic romances.
Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson ( A | BN | K | iB )
Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon ( A | BN | K | iB )
Heroine named Rachel
This one is tough to search for and you might have to get lucky while searching through your TBR!
From our GR group:
Mclaudia suggests To Have and To Hold by Patricia Gaffney ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). She also says it’s a great book, but advises that readers check reviews for issues around consent.
Three suggestions by Willaful:
Archangel by Sharon Shinn ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
Twelve Days by Teresa Hill ( A | BN | K )
Cat used the All About Romance site and found Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery ( A | BN | K | G | iB ).
A hint of magic
I’m interpreting this as romances that aren’t full on fantasy or paranormal. Let’s go with magical realism!
I can’t recommended Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen enough ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au ). It’s on my Keeper Shelf.
For an option with more of a central romance, there’s A Little Night Magic by Lucy March ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au ). I also think the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews would qualify; the series starts with Magic Bites ( A | BN | K | G | iB ).
Rag and Bone by KJ Charles ( A | BN | K | G | iB ) has hints of magic too.
The easiest way to mark this square off is to go dragons!
I started the Dark Kings
series and I’m enjoying it. Dragon shifters who own a scotch distillery! The first book is Darkest Flame
by Donna Grant.
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au ), Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken( A | BN | K | G | iB ), The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe( A | BN | K | G | iB ) are all great dragon shifter romances as well.
Or you know…take a page out of Elyse’s book, get crazy with it, and read Passions of the Wereshark!
The obvious recommendation for this would be the Call of Crows series, which Sarah loves! The first book is The Unleashing ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au ).
Elyse has also read and enjoyed romances with vikings. There’s The Warlord’s Wife by Sandra Lake( A | BN | K | G | iB ) and a time travel romance titled Beautiful Wreck by Larissa Brown( A | BN | K | iB )!
Hero has a pet that’s not a dog or cat
This one can be a bit tough, especially to find specific suggestions. Characters who work with animals in some capacity are a good lead! Oh and…horses!
Shacking Up by Helena Hunting – hero has exotic pets!
Mr. Ridley by Delilah Marvelle – raven pet! ( A | BN | K | iB )
Hero smells like some kind of tree
It’s hard to pinpoint a book that I know for certain has this, but some general tips are to gravitate toward books with outdoorsy heroes! To help narrow things down, Google Books will sometimes let you search inside books for terms and phrases. I frequently use this for a “word hunt” challenge I do on Goodreads.
Some potential leads for outdoorsy, tree-scented heroes or books recommended in our GR group:
Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
All I Am by Nicole Helm ( A | BN | K | iB )
After going through past reviews, queer YA books seem to be easier to find than NA, so we’d love some suggestions from that genre.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
Draw the Line by Laurent Linn ( A | BN | K | iB )
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Dreadnought by April Daniels ( A | BN | K | iB )
Thanks to our Goodreads group for these suggestions:
The Wrong Kind of Compatible by Kadie Scott ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au ), which Sarah loved and I believe is on sale!
Heat Wave by Merry Farmer ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
I’d also recommend the Slices of Pi series by Elia Winters, with the first book being Even Odds ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). Most of these recs are contemporary or erotic romance. Maybe we can get some historical romance suggestions with nerdy elements!
Baking/Sweets described in delicious detail
Baker characters seem like an easy why to mark off this square!
Buns by Alice Clayton
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand ( A | BN | K | iB )
Plus, there’s a huge list of romances where the character as a dessert-related profession.
Person in uniform on the cover
Characters who work in law enforcement or are firefighters!
Playing with Fire by Kate Meader ( A | BN | K | G | iB ) – I enjoyed this one and it has a firefighter heroine.
Unfortunately, a lot of the romances who have uniformed characters don’t feature uniforms on the covers. Just lots of dirty, white tank tops, it seems. Or shirtless dudes with guns, which isn’t exactly work appropriate. Also…I think a sports uniform would still qualify.
Melissa in the Goodreads group suggested The Captain’s Kidnapped Beauty by Mary Nichols ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). Which brings up a point that military uniforms also work!
Heroine inherits a business
I’m definitely stuck on this one, as most of the things I think of, there’s no inheriting going on for the heroine. I also think this is something more common in historical romances.
What do you think? Any suggestions?
Non-Regency set historical
Ah! An Extraordinary Union
by Alyssa Cole! It was a previous book club pick and was much loved by us and the Bitchery. ( A
The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match by Julianna Gray is one that fits and Sarah loved. ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
Most books by Deeanne Gist would probably fall into this category and I definitely recommend reading Tiffany Girl.
American historical romances seem like the easy way to tick this box off.
Sub-genre you’ve never read before (honor system!)
A lot of our readers pick up romances across the genre, myself included, which makes meeting this category rather difficult. Some suggestions aside from the typical subgenre labels (historical, inspiration, paranormal, etc.) could be menage romances, rockstar romances, or motorcycle club romances. Think of niches!
Heroine taller than the hero
We recently did a Rec League on tall heroines. Many of them aren’t necessarily taller than the hero, but tall in a general sense. However, there might be some suggestions lurking in the comments.
Heroine smells like a food item
See the “Baking/Sweets” category! A heroine who works in food will probably smell delicious.
Suggestions from the group:
Pretty Face by Lucy Parker. The heroine smells like vanilla because of her perfume.
My Best Friend’s Ex by Meghan Quinn ( A | BN ). More vanilla smells!
Nuts by Alice Clayton ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
So far, I’ve seen this interpreted two ways. The hero can be broke as in poor. Or he could be broke as in “broken.”
For the former, a historical seems best given how money often plays into romances with marriages of convenience or class differences.
For the latter, dark contemporaries would be the way to go, especially with anti-hero or mafia characters.
I interpreted as the first option, but I’m finding that it’s much easier to find a Rich Hero/Poor Heroine story than the reverse.
Character on the run
Characters can be on the run of the law, a terrible ex, or maybe is just a runaway bride!
Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders ( A | BN | K | G | iB ) could fit for this category too. Be warned that this romance is rather dark.
Sins & Needles by Karina Halle ( A | BN | K | iB )
A book in Anne Bishop’s The Others series ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au ) as the main character is in hiding.
Beach read, set in a beach town
Jude Deveraux’s Nantucket Brides series is cute and light. It also has some ghosty elements. ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Au )
Mary Kay Andrews does a lot of beach-setting books as well!
Goodreads has some great lists, including Jane Austen retellings in adult and young adult categories.
Some individual suggestions:
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund ( A | BN | K | G | iB | Scribd ) – a YA, scifi novel based on Persuasion.
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick – based on the Emmy-award winning YouTube series. ( A | BN | K | G | iB )
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Riguard ( A | K | G | iB | Scribd ). It spawned this bananas awesome guest review!
The Sight Unseen anthology just came out, where the authors of each story are kept secret. Sarah did a recent podcast with some of the authors. ( A | BN | K | iB )
The Knitting Diaries ( A | BN | K | G | iB ) is a sweet anthology that Elyse liked!
Gambled Away ( A ) is an anthology with historical settings across the world.
Whew! Are you playing along this summer? What categories have you stumped and what would you recommend for other readers?