Dust and Desire: Archaeology and Adventure Romances

Dust and Desire: Archaeology and Adventure Romances

Sun, sand, mysteries from times long past... There’s just something so inherently romantic about archaeology. Sure, it’s a lot of tedious digging, but it’s also a field where each discovery changes the way we think about ourselves and our history. And there’s nothing sexier than a hunky guy who is also smart and passionate about his work. I first became obsessed with archaeology romances when I read Elizabeth Peters’s Crocodile on the Sandbank. While the Amelia Peabody series is definitely a mystery series, the first book is also a romance. A newly wealthy spinster travels to Egypt and meets a surly (but quite handsome) Egyptologist. Together, they uncover a mystery set among the tombs of Amarna. Elizabeth Peters earned a Ph.d. in  Egyptology, which gives her authorial cred, but she’s also Barbara Michaels, who wrote romantic suspense novels filled with gothic elements. For me, the interplay between Emerson and Amelia are what kept me reading the series.

Many of the archaeological romances are historicals set during the 19th century or beginning of the twentieth. Perhaps my favorite one is Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke. We usually think of travel and exotic lands when we consider archaeology, but this book is set in England, about an excavation on English land of old Roman ruins. What is so fun about this book is that it combines the archaeology plot, a workplace romance, and an ugly duckling story.


Reading Snapshot

Currently Reading: Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope PĂ©rez
I suspect I'll be reading this one in fits and starts because it's a grim book and not what I normally read. Since I've criticized the whiteness (and blandness) of the current district reading list, I'm making an effort to broaden my kidlit horizons as well.

Also Reading: About That Kiss by Jill Shalvis

The second book I purchased this year, despite vowing not to. But it's Jill Shalvis, so I'm giving myself a pass. She's an almost local author, and her books are always that perfect combination of sexy and funny. They make me smile, and sometimes, that's exactly what I need.

Up Next:  Covet by JR Ward
 I've long ago abandoned the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and I remember the disappointment about this book when it came out. BUT... It's still sitting in Mt. TBR, and I thought I'd give it a shot before donating it.
Audio: All About Love by Stephanie Laurens

I started listening to my absolute favorite Stephanie Laurens book last week: A Secret Love. I'm a sucker for a enemies-to-lovers/boy next door romance, and this is the best historical version there is IMO.

But...once started, I had to finish the Bar Cynster, so here I am listening to Lucifer's story. No one writes not-quite-purple sensuality like Laurens. No one.


Review: It Started with a Kiss by Ella Quinn

Format: Mass market
Pub Date: April 2017
Publisher: Zebra/Kensington
Length: 362 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Received a signed copy at RT 17 for free

This is the weirdest book. Admittedly, it's been a LONG time since I read a non-paranormal romance or romantic suspense book where the majority of the conflict was external. But what makes this book weird is that every time the book starts to build the slightest bit of tension, the author undercuts the issue by solving the problem almost immediately.

All of that works to make this story a bit of a mess, with 5 different mini conflicts and no overarching tension to keep the story moving. It was a slog.


Review: The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires by Molly Harper

Format: Mass market paperback
Pub Date: August 2012
Publisher: Pocket
Length: 356 pages
POV: 1st person, past
FTC: Received for free at RT Booklovers Convention (provided by the publisher/author)

Having finished a meh book by Molly Harper, it makes perfect sense to immediately pick up another one, right? It does if you're me.

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires is only peripherally related to the Half Moon Hollow series of the previous book I reviewed. It's also 80 pages longer, which I really think might be my issue with the last book. It was too shallow. The extra page count for this one allows for explanation. I did NOT get the same sense of backstory-itis I did with the last one. Everything felt fully explained.

 I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed the byplay between Iris and Cal, but I also enjoyed the larger cast of characters, particularly Iris's younger sister Gigi. I think these types of humor-filled books work best when characters can play off each other. What was such a relief was the our main character is independent, smart, a businesswoman, and entirely capable of taking care of herself. Even in dangerous situations. In fact, she saves herself AND Cal on multiple occasions. So refreshing to have competence really highlighted and valued. We get a lot of that for heroes, but not for heroines.


Reading Snapshot

I've decided I need a place to keep track of what I'm reading and what's coming up next. I do a lot of rereads, and short of making a *shudder* spreadsheet, I don't have a way to keep track since I'm not on Goodreads. 

Currently Reading:

It Started with a Kiss by Ella Quinn


 I've been reading this all week, and I'm about halfway through. The conflict is nearly entirely external, and the main characters have acknowledged their feelings less than 1/3 of the way through. I have a horrible feeling we're leading up to a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING which I think is a shame. There's very little tension. I'm not sure I'd have made the same choices the author did, although it is a relief to read about a good, decent man who doesn't have to be reformed.





Up Next:

Wrong to Need you by Alisha Rai

I broke my book buying hiatus for this book. I resisted for a month. And yet... I loved Book 1. Rai is one of the very few authors who can get me to read a sex scene without skimming. It's an underrated skill, because she is a master at moving the plot forward with her scenes.









On Audio:

Soulless by Gail Carriger

 I've listened to this book several times before, and it never fails to make me giggle. It has echoes of Amelia Peabody here (the parasol in particular), but Carriger has a pretty strong writing voice, and the attitude more than the story keeps me listening. The narrator, Emily Gray, is excellent.

Caveat: Looks like Hachette has acquired the rights from Recorded Books and this particular imprint isn't available. I listened to the excerpt on Amazon, however, and it's the same recording with the same narrator. Just not with the Recorded Books cover art.

Review: Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper

Format: mass market
Pub Date: August 2016
Publisher: Pocket
Length: 278 pages
POV: 1st person, past tense
FTC: Received for free at RT Booklovers Convention

I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging, carving out time to fire up the ole computer and sit down to write. I missed it this last year when I somehow ended up so busy I wasn't even reading. Which, predictably, made me more than a little cranky. A reading Amber is a happy Amber.

I've been better about reading lately, but not so much about reviewing. My one goal that I managed to keep this last year was reading more from my TBR and less from new releases. I get distracted by the shiny, when I have rooms full of unread print books and I don't even know how many ebooks.

One book I picked up at the last RT was a Molly Harper book. Now I'd read some of her earlier books and liked them. They were light and silly and easily consumed. I had not read any of her newer books, and this one is clearly part of an ongoing series.


Welcoming 2018

If you're like me, much of 2017 was lost in a fog of rage at what is happening in DC. I lost so much productivity to it. At times, it was debilitating, and I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to read.

Complicating matters were the massive volunteering and soccer mom obligations from last year. I feel like I didn't read nearly enough, and I know I didn't visit this blog enough to post more than a handful of times.

I've decided to keep the blog, if only to reclaim some time for me and my hobbies. I started painting last year, which is something. I'm going to try to write some non-fiction this year and maybe work myself up to fiction. We'll see. I'm also going to try to finally figure out my camera.

I want to get back to reading...what books are YOU looking forward to this year? I've missed so many in the last year so ...what books did YOU read that you'd recommend?