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Episode 47 - Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

Happy lunar new year!  We rang in the Year of the Ox with Butterfly Swords , which was Jeannie Lin's first book.  It won the Golden Heart Award back in 2009 and started her illustrious career. Ai Li is to be married to the powerful and hawt Li Tao, a scheming jiedushi.  When she discovers his treachery and his murder of her brother she escapes to warn her father, the Tang Emperor.  Except her father isn't really all that fussed about it?  She's helped along the way by Ryam, Noted White Guy.  They travel all around China meeting people and running away from people and hitting people with swords, which is delightful. There's really no content to be concerned about in this book (it's a more recent book!) - if you dig action packed historical romances there won't be anything in here that's an unpleasant surprise.

Episode 6: "Bewitching Hour"

Witch, please!

Celebrate Christmas with us with Bewitching Hour by Anne Stuart, the kind of book where you know going in that there's gonna be a blizzard and the roads aren't the only things getting plowed.  Sibyl is evidently a witch who's a secretary for other witches and Nick is a skeptic about everything except dowsing.  There's also a haunted house that nobody ever mentions again and a late-game crime caper.  I don't even know, y'all.

Note: this is one of those crazy vintage books that has been redone (evidently now there is no wifi in the haunted house that isn't really) and if you buy the current edition or the Kindle copy that's the one you're getting.  If you want to read the same 1986 version as we did, you'll want to order an old used copy - which you can also do from Amazon, just make sure you're looking in the used results. It also has a far more hilarious cover - what is it with that? Are publishers embarrassed?  Because look, you're reading a book where everybody is really into dowsing, do you seriously think you're fooling anybody on the subway?

The new editions still include the world's clumsiest tag line:  "Something's coming.  And it involves a man."  Is that... is that supposed to be double entendre?  Because it sort of misses.  It's almost like one of those hair salons that has a name that doesn't make sense but it also isn't a pun.  Do better, y'all.

What else should you be reading?

Books about witches that aren't strictly romances:

Cover of Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman: the movie is fine and all but the book is special.  Seriously, it's so great - all magical and shit.

Cover of Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: ditto (look I love Miyazaki as much as anybody does but he was totally wrong for Howl's Moving Castle, I love that book and I will fight you.)  I read it when I was a kid and I promise you it still holds up.

Cover of Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor: okay, I confess, I haven't read this yet.  It's on the stack.  But Nnedi Okoafor is amaaaaazing and I'm looking forward to it.

Christmas romances that aren't about witches - I must confess I had to ask colleagues for these and it turns out that I don't know anybody who reads current romances who also reads Christmas stuff.  I got recommendations for books by authors my RA experts read and enjoy, or books that come highly recommended by reviewers:

Once Upon a Winter's Eve, Tessa Dare
A Wallflower Christmas, Lisa Kleypas
A Christmas Promise, Mary Balogh

The Trouble with Mistletoe and Chasing Christmas Eve, by Jill Shalvis
A Madaris Bride for Christmas, Brenda Jackson
All Through the Night, Suzanne Brockmann
Sleigh Bells in the Snow, Sarah Morgan
Yule Be Mine, Lori Foster
A Tiara Under the Tree, Carolyn Hector

I'm Your Santa, Lori Foster et al
All I Want for Christmas is a Duke, Valerie Bowman et al 

Nora Roberts This Shit Up:
Holiday in Death, J.D. Robb 

Actually, Amazon tells me that I did, in fact, purchase Holiday In Death in 2011.  Did I read it?  Was it a gift?  I honestly have no idea.  I did read the first four or five J.D. Robb books?  I don't even know how many I read.  They're fun, don't get me wrong, but they don't exactly stick in your mind like a sandspur if you know what I mean. 

Talk to us: do you read Christmas romances?  Give us some suggestions!

Musical guest!

We hope you enjoyed Valentine Wolfe's version of "In The Bleak Midwinter".  Valentine Wolfe is a  duo based in Greenville, SC who make "Victorian chamber metal".  You'll see them live if you go to just about any horror, sci fi, or steampunk convention in the Southeast, and you can catch them on Spotify, buy their albums at Amazon, and follow them on Facebook.  They're great musicians and, incidentally, really nice people - they performed at my wedding.  Their most recent (holiday!) album is Winternight Whisperings, but we played something from The Ghost of Christmas Past:


  1. On the subject of witches in romance fiction, I've been searching for a book for years and years. I don't know the title of it or the author, which I know makes the search nearly impossible, but I figured if anyone would recognize this it would be you guys. A woman marries a rich man and comes back to his family's estate where his evil aunt is a witch and sends her back in time where she makes a pact with a Satanic coven, promising to give them her first born child in return for teaching her the magic to return to her own time. Meanwhile, the witch (who was actually the birth mother of her hunky nephew) uses magic to seduce him. Eventually the couple is reunited. There was even a sequel which dealt with the witch having stolen the couple's daughter (which I guess fullfilled the wife's pact with the coven), and twenty odd years later they all come together again. This book was probably published in the 80s but could've possibly been from the 70s. I would be thrilled if I could find it again.

  2. Okay, this is evidently a tough one. A colleague thinks it's possible it could be The Witching, and then the sequel is The Spawning, by F. Ravenswood. I can't find much information about either of these, does it ring a bell?


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