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The Rec League: Pragmatic Meets Flamboyant

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http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/recleague.pngWe were super tickled by this request sent in by Anna:

This might be a vague question, but it’s for a library patron! I am looking for books with a similar relationship dynamic to Howl’s Moving Castle (not necessarily in a fantasy setting!) where the woman is plain, pragmatic, and reserved and the man is flamboyant, charismatic, and more conventionally attractive (same-sex pairings and queer and non-binary characters with similar dynamics welcome, just not straight pairings where the woman is fanciful one). Any leads?

A Fashionable Indulgence
A | BN | K | AB
Sarah: I am wondering if some Heyer’s would qualify. Definitely Anna Cowan’s Untamed, published in 2013. ( A ) The hero is a bi cross dressing duke, and while there are some Plot Inconsistencies I think the dynamic would work here. And wouldn’t The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune also work for this request? I think so, but I’m going to ponder more.

Claudia: Yeah, I feel there are a good amount of books showing this dynamic but immediately coming to mind is Mary Balogh’s Heartless. The book is a little dated, fair warning. Oh, another one would be K.J. Charles’ A Fashionable Indulgence, which has My Fair Lady overtones — long-lost frumpy heir and chic dandy tasked with making him into a gentleman fall in love.

Sarah: Yes. Also, I love this request – this is a fun one!

Catherine: Ooh, I love this request, and this dynamic but can I remember any books that fit it? Not so much…

Speaking of Balogh, what about A Summer to Remember? Lauren is the quiet, conventional well-behaved one, and Kit is definitely flamboyant and charismatic.

I wonder if The Duchess War or The Countess Conspiracy, by Courtney Milan, would fit here? The dynamic for both of these novels certainly starts that way, though it doesn’t entirely finish that way, especially in the Countess Conspiracy.

The upcoming Olivia Dade novel, All the Feels, looks like it will have that dynamic, too. I am absolutely positive I’ve read more books in this category recently but I just can’t think of them…

A Summer to Remember
A | BN | K | AB
Maya: I HAVE ONE!!!!! What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken! ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) Gwenvael the Handsome falls in love with Dagmar Reinholdt aka the Beast. Dagmar is described as plain (but brilliant) and Gwenvael definitely thinks his looks will let him get away with anything.

Susan: This library patron knows what’s good and I respect them for it

Jeannie Lin has written a couple of these – her recent short story Tale of the Drunken Sword, and her novel The Lotus Palace both have very reserved and practical heroines paired up with heroes who cover their competence with a solid layer of flamboyance.

I feel like T. Kingfisher MUST have written romances like this because I don’t think she’s ever written a female lead who wasn’t sensible and pragmatic – Catherine, do you have any ideas?

Catherine: The thing is, her heroes are also generally sensible and pragmatic, rather than flamboyant. I mean, comparatively, yes, Istvhan is more flamboyant than Clara in Paladin’s Strength (and he certainly plays that role well at the end), but yeah. I don’t think flamboyant heroes are Kingfisher’s style.

Susan: Ah, that’s true!

A | BN | K | AB
Catherine: On the other hand, getting back to my traditional brand, Laura Florand does this in A Crown of Bitter Orange – Tristan being the flamboyant, charming, extroverted perfumer and Malorie being the contained, quiet accountant.

Susan: Apart from that, possibly Jordan L. Hawk’s Hexbreaker – it’s a historical shifter romance with soulmates, and I believe the protagonists are a beat cop trying to keep his head down, and a cat shifter who’s incapable of not being the centre of attention. Or maybe Silver in the Wood, where the protagonist is content to be a Wild Man in the woods not talking to anyone about his past or any magical goings-on, and a love interest who really would LOVE to talk to him about all of those things.

Which titles would you suggest? Let us know!

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