ROMANCE ARC#3: Speculative Romance (5/24/22)

WHEN: May 24, 2022; 9:45am to 12Noon

WHERE: This is a Virtual Zoom meeting sponsored by the Tewksbury Public Library.

Contact: Leane Ellis;  

Please sign-up for next meeting using the MLS CE Calendar.   Or by contacting Leane Ellis.

We are studying Romance over the first 5 months of 2022. This month we are delving into Speculative Romance ; in January 2022, we studied Contemporary Romance, and in March, Religious/Gentle Romance.

Our next topic is Romance Arc III: Speculative

Assignment:  Everyone reads the benchmark: Kit Rocha’s Deal with the Devil: #1 Mercenary Librarians (2020). Please also read a Choice title in this category either from the suggested lists below on our blog, or one that you choose yourself; and then post a review on our blog under Submit Choice Titles.

Other genre terms used within the broader term Speculative are Fantasy, Alternative Reality, Paranormal, SF or Futuristic, and Time Travel Romance.

For appeal, please focus especially on Tone, Character, and Setting.


Link to Sourcebooks Casablanca Rating Guide

NOTE: The NE RA RT did do an overview [Romance (3/23/10)] and a study of Romance through the lens of Diversity [9/24/2019]


EMMA Awards — Award for Excellence in Diversity in Romantic Literature

RWA (Romance Writers of America): The Voice of Romance Writers                                                      RITA & VIVIAN Awards

THE SWOON AWARDS (SWOONIES) is a reader-based and reader-hosted award celebrating the romance community’s favorite romance novels of the year.


Romance/Appeal Terminology for Sex Handout

NOVELIST/LIBRARY READS Crash Course in Romance

ROMANCE RA RESOURCES: MLS—Genre Overview Romance Vimeo

Southeastern MA RA RT Paranormal Romance (2/03/16)

Metrowest MA RA RT Fantasy/Paranormal Romance (1/08/18)

Western MA RA RT Paranormal Romance Handout (9/14/21)

ARRT: GENRE STUDY: Romance (5/21/19)

The Ripped Bodice: The State of Racial Diversity in Romance Report 2020

Print/PDF Bibliography  (Available on Google Group) 

Bouricius, Ann. The Romance Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Guide to Love in the Stacks. ALA, 2000. p.3-21.

Higgins, Kristan.” It’s Not the Sex”. Publishers Weekly, August 17, 2015.  p.76.

Ramsdell, Kristin. Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre. LU. 1999. p. 3-15, 17-20, 23-29, 261-265, 289-292

— . 2nd ed. 2012. p.312-318, 329, 348, 353.

Rodale, Maya. Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. Maya Rodale, 2015. p. 15-31, 66-67, 82-99, 174-183 plus all tables.

Saricks, Joyce. G. with revision by Krista Biggs. “Getting Up to Speed in Romance,” NoveList. EBSCO. 2020 (10/31/21)

Wyatt, Neal & Joyce G. Saricks. “Romance.” The RA Guide to Genre Fiction. 2019. 3rd ed., ALA, p.191, 215-226.


Alex                                                                                                                                                                  Title: The A.I. Who Loved Me (2020)
Author: Alyssa Cole
Appeal Factors: Frame
Summary/Thoughts: Originally created as an Audible book performed by a-list actors, this work may have lost some of its zest in its translation to print. The story feels a little like Talia Hibbert’s ‘Brown Sisters’ series meets Martha Wells’ “Murderbot Diaries’ but lacking the character development of the former and the rich frame of the latter.

Trinity Jordan is recuperating at home from a mysterious incident that has left her feeling a bit adrift- despite being surrounded by smart appliances and AI personal assistants that provide up to the minute mental health assessments, she still can’t quite get back to feeling normal. Her strange attraction to her mysterious next door neighbor Li Wei is even more confusing. It turns out, Li Wei and Trinity have a history that nether of them can remember because, essentially, they have both been re-programmed by their employer, the sinister privatized branch of government called the Hive.

Though this book includes all the hallmarks of romance: steamy sex, an HEA and a central relationship between Li Wei and Trinity, the author doesn’t quite achieve the tension or chemistry required to make the central relationship a focal point of the story. The characters are struggling too much to individually recuperate from the mysterious incident and though the sinister nature of the Hive is hinted at throughout the book, Li Wei and Trinity don’t unite against their common enemy until the very end.

Frame will be the primary appeal for readers who enjoy speculating about a future of smart devices and appliances and the potential of artificial intelligence to affect our daily lives.

Title: Darkfever: Fever series#1 (2006)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Appeal Factors: Tone is light, even though the main character, Mac, is dealing with the death of her sister. Mac is the narrator and speaks to the reader in a conversational style. She is authentic and likeable. The book is set mostly in Dublin.
Summary/Thoughts: Mackenzie Lane travels to Dublin to investigate her sister’s unsolved murder, where she discovers that she is a sidhe-seer, someone able to see beyond the glamour that faes use to blend in as ordinary humans. The character of Mac is reminiscent of Sookie from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse mysteries and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – she is young and slightly superficial, but deep down she has an iron-willed strength. Not so much romance, but hints that there will be as the series continues. I found this a fun read and look forward to reading the second book.

Beth S.
Title: Hold Back the Stars (2017)
Author: Katie Khan
Appeal Factors: Dramatic tone, suspenseful, engrossing, romantic, sympathetic characters
Summary/Thoughts: This is the story of Carys and Max, a young couple floating in space with only 90 minutes to live unless they can find a way back to their ship. The book traces the story of their romance interspersed with the drama of their current situation as they run out of oxygen. The characters are sympathetically drawn, and the world-building of their future societies is intriguing. Will one sacrifice his or her life for the other or will they both perish? For fans of romance and science fiction.

Title: A Marvellous Light: The Last Binding#1 (2021)
Author: Freya Marske
Appeal Factors: CH/TONE/FRAME/SEX LEVEL-Yowser R Borderline Erotic
Summary/Thoughts: Superb Romantic Fantasy with excellent world-building in an alternative Edwardian London where the parts of the population have magic and it is a secret–not a new concept but nicely done here by a first time author. This intro into the world and two main CHs Edwin & Robin really is well conceived. The electricity between the two main protagonists as well as their contrasting individual struggles is described beautifully. Good 2nd CHs and even the bad guys have some depth. Tone and Pace combines with CH and Setting to make this a quick read with chapters that jump from cerebral discussions of magical theory to action. Humor is a constant endearing element. All will make me return to this world in a 2nd installment but what will truly fuel my desire to read more is the exquisite ST (Sexual Tension) and some of the steamiest, graphic love scenes I have ever read (and no wilting flower am I!). Now I react as the heterosexual female that I am and let me tell you: this is an unapologetic and detailed passionate gay love story woven into an intriguing world. Yowser! And I cannot wait to see what happens as the Story Line, adventure, and love affair continue. McQuiston-like Romance combine with Harry Potter magic world-building so if a reader likes both they may enjoy this, as well as fans of Zen Cho and V.E. Schwab.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement: RART-NE encourages all library staff to use leisure reading as a way to connect with the community, with a particular focus on reaching the underserved and promoting “own voices” authors. Throughout our discussions we will explore ways in which library staff can provide services, collections, and programming that puts EDI concerns at the forefront. Examples include but are not limited to, delivering the same information in different formats, advice on how to diversify your displays, and ways to include more staff voices in basic RA service [more voices leads to more equitable, diverse, and inclusive offerings]. Library staff attending RART-NE must be interested in allowing all staff [not just professional and/or public service staff] to participate in serving all populations, not just the ones most represented by staff or as identified in a local census.

Cancellation Policy: There is no plan to cancel a MA NE RA RT meeting since we will be meeting virtually using the Zoom platform sponsored by a group member for the foreseeable future. Leane will broadcast any cancellation or change to our meetings by 7:00am or before from the Google group, and post it on the group’s blog: Edited 5/09/22.