What I just finished

A ridiculous amount of m/m romance. In the past week, I've read seven novels, four novellas, and one short story. I don't know; it just kind of...happened. In rough order from best to worst, and cut for length:

Enlightenment trilogy (Provoked, Beguiled, and Enlightened) - Joanna Chambers. Historical set in Georgian Scotland. Highly principled lawyers are one of my weaknesses, and unsurprisingly I fell in love with the protagonist of this trilogy. And after something of a rough start, the other lead grew on me eventually. This is a highly social series; it feels as though the primary purpose of almost every plot point is to further develop the romantic or familial or friendly relationships. This isn't to say that nothing happens; several quite dramatic events occur during the course of the series. But imo the overall feel of the story is much more relationship-driven than plot-driven. I'm sure it's not to everyone's taste, but I loved it.

Wanted, a Gentleman - K. J. Charles. Historical set in Georgian England. A race to Gretna Green by two men drawn into reluctant partnership. I could've adored this story if it were longer and if it read a little less like a pastiche, but even as it is, I enjoyed it immensely. Possible Yuletide fandom.

Poacher's Fall and Keeper's Pledge - J. L. Merrow. Historical set in post-WWI England. Very tropey, with a ton of h/c and tragic backstories and angst and misunderstandings, and well-written enough to be rather delightful if you're in the mood for that sort of thing.

Unnatural (Enlightenment companion novel) - Joanna Chambers. Historical set in Georgian England. I liked the characters and the (too brief for my taste) bits about natural history. Unfortunately, the constant timeline jumping really messed with the pace of the story, and--possibly related to that--the one lead's indecision and his angst over his internalized homophobia began to feel very repetitive midway through the book.

Hard Tail - J. L. Merrow. Contemporary. The protagonist--recently laid off and his marriage failing--moves home temporarily to manage his brother's bike shop. His brother's employee is out, cute, and astonishingly accident-prone. The predictable storyline is partly saved by the distinctive and often hilarious first person narrative voice and by a few interesting characters. It's marred by the fact that, despite the awesome voice, I didn't really like the protagonist much, and in particular I found his tendency to see innuendo where none was intended tremendously annoying.

To Love a Traitor - J. L. Merrow. Historical set in post-WWI England. In theory, this book is right up my alley, but I kept being thrown out of the story. The big problem is that the protagonist falls way too quickly for the man he suspects of betraying his brother during the war. But that problem is compounded by a stream of smaller continuity errors. More than once, the protagonist will come to a conclusion, and then ten pages later he'll think or say something that makes absolutely no sense in light of what he's just concluded. It's a shame; this book could've been really enjoyable had it been better edited.

Labyrinth - Alex Beecroft. Historical set in ancient Crete. Not exactly m/m since one of the leads is non-binary. Another story that could have been good with a little more effort, but that misses the mark. There are two main plotlines: a political conflict between the Cretans and the Greeks living on their island, and the protagonist's need to decide on a gender and thus a life's path. Both are compelling plotlines, and their resolutions are particularly interesting, but the way they're intermingled throughout the story is completely nonsensical. Urgent and time-sensitive events relating to the political conflict are routinely ignored so the characters can instead talk at length about the protagonist's gender identity. Add to that a bit too much tell-not-show, and the result is a sadly uneven novella.

"Seasons Pass" (Enlightenment #1.5) - Joanna Chambers. The other lead's POV on certain key events in the series. Fairly insubstantial. Despite where the short story falls chronologically, I recommend saving it for after Enlightened (Enlightenment #3). There are some revelations that I think are more effective when encountered in that order.

His Client - Ava March. Historical set in Georgian England. I only finished this book because I became rather fond of Jasper, the prostitute main character, and I wanted to see how he found happiness with the client he was unrequitedly in love with. The answer is: as a result of the least persuasive epiphany ever. The client doesn't even know who Jasper is, given that 99% of their conversations revolve around the client's needs and problems and heartaches. (Sidenote: Jasper has terribly low standards when it comes to falling in love with someone.) March even manages to make the crossdressing sex scenes boring. Such a disappointment.

What I'm reading now

It's a secret. :-)

What I'm reading next

Hugo nominations are due in a little over two months, and my current ballot contains exactly one novel, one novella, and one novelette. (At least I'm good on short stories.) So very soon I need to start reading SFF published in 2016, and lots of it. If anyone has novella or novelette recs to share, I'd be appreciative.