These Ain’t Your Mama’s Romance Novels

Fabio Cover Art Breezy Afternoons

Since I was a really young child, I’ve been a voracious reader. You know the type. A book in my hands, on my phone or in my headphones anytime I’m not writing or doing any tasks that require a lot of concentration and thought. As a young teenager, after I finished all of the R. L. Stine, Sweet Valley High, Christopher Pike and other such novels that passed as Young Adult in the 90’s, I graduated to whatever my mom and dad had laying around the house. By the time I was an adult I’d blown through most of Stephen King’s early stuff, Dune, Lord of the Rings and Anne Rice’s entire non-erotic catalog. And, romance novels.

A woman in a dress that probably weighed more than her with ample cleavage showing and a LOT of feathered hair would be looking into Fabio’s eyes. The tropes within were formulaic, and when done just right, provide perfect escapism after a long day. I’m not much of a TV watcher. I love really great TV but I love books more, so if I have a choice, I’m reading. TV is more of a social thing for me.

I never bought my own romance novels, nor did I check them out from the library. Me? Naah. I’m a reader of literature. I’m looking down on you from up here with my library of very thick leather bound classics!

Over the last six months though, through chatting with a friend with a fun enthusiasm for the entertainment value of these novels, I’ve been hooked. For the first time since my teenage years I’m blowing through three or four of these a week. Digital books and services like Kindle Unlimited have really caused an expansion in access to books by new writers with new ideas – taking the same old romantic tropes and writing them into modern life, fantasy genres and world-building with some of the best sci-fi authors I’ve read. Many of these books are fairly short for novels and can be read in a couple hours so it is easy to get carried away with a series and binge for a week.

I’m not sure if I’m going to take the time to review or even talk about the books that I like the most, but the one that kicked off this recent obsession is Fix Her Up, by Tessa Bailey. A combination of several popular romance tropes and excellent smut writing, I was basically hooked. So, be warned. You may read this and end up reading like 100 romance novels before Christmas.

My favorite and most guilty pleasure category of romance novel is “reverse harem.” Yeah – it is what it sounds like. One woman, usually “not like the other girls,” will somehow find herself with five or so boyfriends that usually live with her. None of them mind sharing, no, not at all! They all just want her to be happy. As for them? She’s enough for all of them. I mean, it’s so unbelievably … smutty. And yet, here I am, having read two full series this month alone.

Curse of the Gods by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

If you are like me, and the first thing you did when you heard the existence of a romance genre called “Reverse Harem” you went to google and typed in “best reverse harem books,” well, welcome. You’ve found your people. The Curse of the Gods is noted by other blogs as the genre’s best offering. Most of the books I started in this genre were no good, mostly because this isn’t exactly the type of book picked up by mainstream publishers, even if many of their regular literature is more explicit in content.

The series takes place at Blesswood, a school where adult Sols go to school to become Gods and the Dwellers, the lowest caste, serve them. Sols are seen as all powerful in their physical world and never pay attention to the Dwellers but of course, this one girl gets the eye of the five brothers that cause the most trouble at the school. She gets deeply involved with their shenanigans, and it turns out she isn’t what any of them thought. Yes, it’s a trope. Yes, its fantasy – and I couldn’t put it down.

Each of these books is available to read for free with Kindle Unlimited. If you’d like to sign up for a free trial you can read them for free or pay $10 a month until you finish. I finished the whole series in just a few days and wish I could read it again for the first time. If you’d like to buy the entire series instead it’s available on Kindle for $21.95.

If you’re new to Kindle Unlimited and want to try a free trial you can do so by clicking here:

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Book 1: Trickery

Willa Knight: Dweller. Slave. Non-magical being.

In Minatsol, being a dweller means that you are literally no better than dirt. In fact, dirt might actually be more useful than Willa. Her life will be one of servitude to the sols, the magic-blessed beings who could one day be chosen to become gods.

At least her outer village is far removed from the cities of the sols, and she won’t ever be forced to present herself to them… Until one small mistake changes everything, and Willa is awarded a position to serve at Blesswood, the top sol academy in the world—a position that she definitely did not earn.

Under the sudden, watchful eye of the gods, she will be tasked to serve the Abcurse brothers, five sols built of arrogance, perfection and power. They are almost gods themselves, and under their service she is either going to end up sentenced to death, or else they are going to ruin her so badly that she will wish for it.

Either way, she is in trouble.

Book 2: Persuasion

Willa Knight: Dweller? Bad-ass? Notorious pet to five magical beings?

In Blesswood, there are rules, and someone is trying to teach her how to follow them. The only problem is Willa. Which shouldn’t be anything new, since she has been a problem since birth—something her pseudo-sister Emmy would agree on.

So it definitely shouldn’t be new … but it is.

Because things are starting to happen that have never happened before.

Things are starting to get …chaotic.

Book 3: Seduction

Willa Knight: Dweller? Sol? Accidental evolutionary hiccup?

Willa has never been a particularly useful dweller: she isn’t very good at chores, she isn’t very good at worshipping, she isn’t very good at not having opinions, and she isn’t very good with rules—but none of that matters anymore.
The rules are changing.
The dwellers are trying to make their own way in the world, and Willa can’t seem to help getting tangled up in their plans.
Luckily, she has the Abcurse brothers to help her out—until she doesn’t, and suddenly she’s alone again in a world on the brink of chaos. With the Abcurses gone, she’ll have to rely on her wits, and her sister Emmy, to stay under the radar and survive.
Because someone wants her dead.

But, really, what else is new?

Book 4: Strength

Willa Knight: Dead? Alive? Damned to a state of eternal bad luck?

Willa and the Abcurse brothers are back, and more determined than ever to stick by each other. Unfortunately, Staviti has other plans, plans that threaten to change the natural order of the worlds—though nobody really understands why. His agenda may very well affect all beings on Minatsol, even those that thought themselves safe in Topia. Even Willa-invincible-Knight.
Unsure with her new place in the worlds, Willa must follow the Abcurses to their new post: Champions Peak, a secluded mountain far from civilization, where the most powerful sols have been summoned to hone their abilities through direct contact with the gods.
There is a chance that she might survive her time on the mountain, but it seems like staying alive amidst the powerful occupants of the Peak is the least of her concerns.
Her real problem is staying on the mountain at all.

Book 5: Pain

Willa Knight: The saviour of both worlds, or the destruction of everything?

Sometimes history lies, and the tales of Minatsol and Topia are no different. Since the birth of Topia, Staviti has woven a web of deceit around the truth of Creation, striving only to maintain his power while destroying anything that gets in his way. Now, Willa and the Abcurses are determined to strip back the layers, to uncover the truth, and to understand the true nature of the two worlds before it’s too late.
The only problem?
Any wrong step in their quest to restore balance might have terrible repercussions. Every single being—living or dead—might have to pay the price.

Bonus Standalone or 4.5 in Curse of the Gods: Neutral

Emmy was born a dweller and she expected to die as a dweller … until Willa changed everything. Now she has no idea of her path, and she certainly wasn’t prepared for what would happen after her death. Caught in the middle of a war that threatened to prove much more significant than anyone had ever expected, there is only one person who can help her … but his terms are steep.

Cyrus was born out of necessity: a being of light, brought to life with a singular purpose. Time has changed him and the recent events have unsettled him … but a certain transformed dweller is about to do much worse than that. She is about to turn his existence upside down.

Topia is giving them no choice: they survive together, or the war is lost.

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