Time for my list of favourite Kindle romances. Now, for me, Kindle romances are something very specific. They have a flavour that is half-way between fanfiction, and books you find on shelves. Mills & Boon can be close, but the lack of sex in Mills & Boon stops them from being the same. And sure, Kindle romances can be found in print too, but when you see a Kindle romance, you know.
I specify as well Kindle romances. I have no experience of Kindle thrillers or what have you. Kromances, as I shall henceforth call them, are defined by the lack of censor, the fact that they come straight from an often amateur author to the audience with no editors or publishers or agents in between. Kromances don’t work to a framework or a mold other than what the author has already read.
Sure, some Kindle authors make their living from their writing. They are professionals, and they have agents, and editors, and publishers like Ellora’s Cave. I’m thinking of Ruby Dixon, Laurann Dohner, Evangeline Anderson… These people must be rolling in it. They publish often, and their works are hugely popular. Some of the big names get other authors in to help them because they can’t meet the demand on their own. They make it a business.
My experience is not that. I have a day job, and I write when I can, and I proof-read my own books (often poorly). I send everything I write to my best friend for her to read, just in case, but while she is a smarty brain, she is not a professional author or in the publishing business herself. My books help support me, and I am often dumbfounded by the amount of money I make, but it is all capricious and unpredictable. Saving is important. I haven’t bought myself a car or anything.
But back to the subject at hand. Kromances are, or can be, pure id. That’s why I like them. It’s like jamming a straw straight into your lizard brain and just consuming. I can’t put them down, even when they’re not very good. Does he get with her? Of course he does, but I still need to see it. And sometimes, I am rewarded with something truly bonkers, but that is a topic for another time.
Below are my favourite Kindle romances. I must admit that I haven’t read The Last Hour of Ghann by R. Lee Smith, that pillar of the genre. I just couldn’t get past that ceremony scene in the sample, and found it difficult to even understand what was going on. So as far as R. Lee Smith is concerned, I am lacking in my education.
- Transcendence, by Shay Savage.
This is the song my soul sings. Caves? Language barriers? Male POV? Survivalism (if that’s the word I’m looking for)? This book is a grab bag of all my favourite tropes, and it’s well-written.For those of you who don’t know – though I suspect anyone reading my blog knows what’s out there – it’s the story of a young woman, Elizabeth, who is transported back through time into the Stone Age, where she is found and carried off by caveman Ehd. It is told entirely from Ehd’s point of view, and he is at such an early stage of human development that he actually can’t talk, can’t understand the concept of language, so he thinks she’s just making noise.
Beh, as she comes to be known, quickly becomes Ehd’s reason for living, as Ehd is the sole survivor of some cataclysm that killed the rest of his tribe, and surviving alone is too unrewarding to be worth the effort. There is a big emphasis on sex, or as Ehd thinks of it, “Putting a baby inside her.” He quickly decides Beh’s company is worth more than her body after she repeatedly refuses him, and when they do start sleeping together, “Putting a baby inside her” becomes like a euphemism, where Ehd is not necessarily trying to procreate every time. He was raised to think that it is a man’s duty to give his mate a baby, and he does not want Beh to think he is a bad mate.
Frankly, it mystifies me that Shay Savage has not written more caveman books, because I bet they would sell in their thousands, so popular is Transcendence. It’s years old, but it’s almost required reading for sci-fi romance connoisseurs.
- Venomous, by Penelope Fletcher.
This is the other giant of the genre. This is the jewel in the crown of alien romance. Everyone’s read it. It is also another example of the author not writing a series of them despite the financial potential. Alright, she’s writing a sequel called Thunderclaw, but until it hits, it’s no sure thing. It’s been years. I heard her huband has to screen her emails because of the amount of not-very-nice enquiries she gets about it from thirsty fans.Venomous is the story of a woman, Lumen, who is offered as a reward in gladiatorial games between a mix of alien species being held as slaves on an asteroid mine. Her presence triggers the hero, Venomous One, to develop his gender, which is male. This means she is his mate, basically. So he kills everyone and wins her. Venomous is a scaley alien, classic. Their first sexual encounter that night is definitely dubious consent. Lumen agrees under duress. Venomous does not understand because their translators aren’t playing nice, and in his culture it’s obvious they belong together.
Eventually, Lumen and Venomous escape the asteroid mine and go to live on his planet. They pick up several other males in the process, until Lumen ends up with at least three alien husbands. The world-building is good, but the civilised bits are not as good as the survivalist bits. I prefer the living-in-a-cave, us-against-the-world stuff.
- Tell Me It’s Real, by TJ Klune.
Now, critically, this is not about aliens. It’s about two humen men. The hero is Paul, a cuddly, neurotic, sarcastic man, who believes himself to be beneath the notice of anyone with any redeeming qualities. One night, he meets Vince, who falls instantly in love with him and pursues him relentlessly. Vince is totally hot, but not the brightest spark there ever was. He is, however, earnest and loving. But Paul believes that Vince is playing some sort of game with him, and can’t believe that Vince genuinely wants to be with him.
What makes this book a favourite is that it is so funny. The funniest Kindle book I have ever read. Paul is one half of a comedic duo with his best friend Sandy, also known as the drag queen Helena Handbasket, who, as a man, is meek and unassuming, but as a queen is ruthless and demanding, fierce and glorious. Paul also owns a two-legged dog named Wheels. Paul’s grandmother owns a parrot called Johnny Depp who constantly accuses Paul of molesting him.
It is also sweet. Vince is sweet. He’s a sweetheart, with abs and a jockstrap. A precious flower who must be protected at all costs. It’s all about Paul learning to value himself and open his heart to real love. Then there’s the sequel, The Queen and the Homo Jock King, about Sandy and Vince’s brother, Darren, who started off on the wrong foot and have been feuding/pining for the last seven years. It is just as funny as the original.
The only downside is the sex. There’s not enough of it, and it’s not as raunchy as you want it to be. This is true of both of the above books, and another TJ Klune book I’ve read. They get you by the heart, or the funny bone, but you’re left a little wanting in the bedroom department.
- The Omega Series, by Eileen Glass.
Eileen Glass… My relationship with Eileen Glass is complicated. She’s my nemesis, but she doesn’t know it. I have never contacted her in any way, never even reviewed her work. I love and hate her in equal measure. Let me explain why.
I first became aware of Eileen Glass when I had an idea for a kromance about vampires, and searched to make sure it hadn’t already been written, because I wanted to read it if it had. And guess what! It had! Eileen Glass was writing it as a serial called Sire & Childe, released like two weeks earlier. Imagine my chagrin. I felt cheated by fate. I read the first two instalments, then stopped because it seemed to be heading for a male breast-feeding kink I didn’t care for. I read her other series Arrie & the Wolf though.
So she and I got off on the wrong foot because she wrote my book before I could. That’s my first reason for declaring her my nemesis. My second reason is that she only writes serials, wringing me for so much money. Every instalment is released for around £2, then drops to 99p. I am always dying for her next instalment, so she gets about £10 a book out of me. Compare that to most Kindle books that sell for less than £3, and you’ll see why I hate her. She has me over a barrel.
Because she writes my own mind better than I ever could. Take, for example, her Omega series. This series has eight instalments already and isn’t finished. That’s £16 for less than an entire book. But it is the best A/B/O I have ever read. Hands down. The best, by a significant margin, and I used to read a lot of Teen Wolf fanfiction.
A/B/O stands for Alpha/Beta/Omega, and refers to a trope or dynamic seen most often in werewolf fiction. Some people are naturally either Alphas, Betas, or Omegas. Alphas and Omegas are naturally, irresistably drawn to each other, with Betas living average lives in the middle.
Eileen Glass gives me better than what I want. Sometimes I think she is an alternate universe me. If we were ever in the same room together, only one of us would emerge alive. She is so good. I am so jealous. And I hate her for being so canny as to make me pay through the nose for my fix. She’s got me good and hooked. I wish I knew how to quit her but I DON’T.
Her Omega series is about Liam, an Apha werewolf who isn’t the Alpha of his pack because he doesn’t want the responsibility, so instead he serves his pack as a kind of road warrior, chasing down rogue wolves and beating them up, basically. Then he happens across Skye, an Omega wolf on the run from all the Alphas trying to claim him after fleeing from his wild pack. Liam takes Skye for himself, but he’s determined to be nice about it because he wants them to fall in love, and he takes things slow and doesn’t molest Skye at all, because Skye is terrified of him.
Liam is just a big puppy. A Saint Bernard puppy who’s too big to play with any of the other puppies and is sad about it. Skye is like a wolf with a thorn in his paw, suspicious and scared and flighty. So far this series has been amazing.
I’m going to stop there. These are my favourites. I could name more, but I don’t want to start combing the back catalogues for anything of note. I like the Ice Planet Barbarian series by Ruby Dixon. I love the New Species series by Laurann Dohner. Marie Dry’s alien series, starting with Alien Mine. The Toll by Jeanette Lynn was good but so much filler, oh my God you could cut 60% of that book. How to Walk Like a Man by Eli Easton is about a dog who can turn into a man, like a reverse werewolf, and he is adorable. Truth or Beard by Penny Reid is good too, and the only hetero romance between humans in ths post I think.
The Devil’s Lady by Deborah Simmons is a good historical romance. Same for Castaway Dreams by Darlene Marshall. Hold by Claire Kent appealed to my survivalist, prison-protection tastes. Carolyn Jewel does great historical romance. The Irish Bride by Alexis Harington. The Ravencliff Bride by Dawn Thompson is good Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre type stuff. The Demon of Darkling Reach by P.J. Fox is about a Medieval noblewoman who takes her sister’s place in marrying a nobleman who is obviously, literally a demon, and I respect the ending so much. Grim by M.K. Eidem is good alien romance too.
And that’s the end of my honourable mentions roll-call. Let me know how you feel about any of the books I’ve mentioned! Someone suggested a post on the music I listen to while writing. Would that be something you’d be interested in?