Romancelandia is never short of drama, but recent shenanigans have really taken the cake. I mean, they’ve grabbed the cake with both hands and stuffed it into their piehole while maintaining defiant eye contact. There’s crumbs and icing all over the shop. Half the cake is now on the floor. What a bloody waste, eh?
One of the latest scandals revolves around Kindle Unlimited and authors who are apparently scamming the system. I’m talking about bookstuffers, writers who dominate Amazon’s hot 100 lists with poorly-edited, often ghost-written short stories packaged with other, recycled material for maximum profit. That’s where their name comes from: these authors stuff their books to bursting with utter nonsense and get paid for every page read.
There’s a lot of material online explaining the problem further — but that’s not what this post is for. No indeedy! We are in a sunshine-and-rainbows-only zone, my friends. I’m here to uplift your day with positivity and great sex scenes. Basically, I am the Kissing Fairy. Mwah.
As a KU reader of many years and an author whose books are available in KU, I’ve watched its reputation go down. There’s a growing number of people who see the Kindle Unlimited badge as a sign of poor quality, unethical behaviour, and general rubbishness.
But I swear on my extensive wig collection, those stories are not the only thing you’ll find in KU. The service actually holds a ton of shiny gems, and I’m here to tell you all about those gems because THE PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW! Whether you’re interested in a membership or you just want new books and authors to buy, I am the Kissing Fairy and I am here to help.
Below you’ll find a list of amazing books that are in KU, along with mini reviews where I tell you exactly why they’re amazing. And, in the interests of objectivity, I haven’t even included my own books. But if I did, I would put every single one of them in, because I rock. Ahem. Let’s begin.
Feels Like Summer by Six de los Reyes
#RomanceClass is an amazing community of Filipino writers and readers, and most of the authors involved put their books in KU. Six de los Reyes is one of those authors, and Feels Like Summer rocked my world. Or shook it to its core. One of those.
This book is built around tropes as old as time, from the rock star hero to the it’s-just-sex arrangement to the prickly heroine—but Reyes plays with those tropes until they’re wicked-sharp and new again.
Why You Should Read:
- There’s a ‘quick, kiss me so my ex doesn’t know I’m single!’ moment.
- But the ex is not a one-dimensional Evil Woman.
- Representation of painful periods and menstrual health issues.
- Possibly the funniest book on planet earth.
Pas de Deux by Lynn Turner
Once upon a time, I was a dancer, and nothing makes me happier than music and movement. I’ve always loved the idea of combining my passion for dance and my passion for books, but I learned long ago that it’s impossible to translate such a physical language into a literary one. It just doesn’t work. The feeling of dance cannot be captured on paper.
Unless Lynn Turner writes it, in which case it works beautifully.
Okay, let me stop being dramatic: I’m sure there are other authors who can also describe a dance in such a way that you feel the music in your bones, experience the elation of hitting every beat, and are moved by the music and raw connection between every character on stage. But Turner’s the only one I’ve found in my long and desperate search, and she just does it so damn well. For that brilliance alone, Pas de Deux is a must-read.
Why You Should Read:
- Every goddamn word, moment, breath between the hero and heroine is sexy.
- He thinks she’s all wrong for the leading role in his show—until she becomes his muse. AH THE ART, THE PASSION, THE PROVING-MEN-WRONG-NESS. Love it.
- There’s also a very intriguing suspense plot, with the mystery beautifully interwoven throughout the book.
Pestilence by Laura Thalassa
Controversy alert! A lot of people cannot stand this book, and I completely get why. I agree with all of their complaints. I think they’re totally right. But I am also absolutely in love with Pestilence. Just thinking about it as I write this is giving me heart palpitations. It helps that the story is a combination of post-apocalyptic and fantasy, aka completely unrealistic from the get-go.
The hero is literally Pestilence, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The heroine is a plucky firefighter who tries to kill him, but he’s un-killable—so she ends up as his mistreated prisoner, dragged along while he roams the world spreading disease and death. Peak romance, am I right? In the end, he stops the whole ‘murdering everyone’ thing, because that’s the power of love!
But the apocalypse isn’t over just because one horseman’s been dealt with. The next horseman, War, is coming… and I, for one, cannot wait for that murderous motherfucker’s HEA.
Why You Should Read:
- The set-up and universe is unbelievably cool, for one thing.
- The heroine is an ABSOLUTE BADASS and the hero is a tortured celestial virgin. Yay!
- The captive romance trope is so hard to pull off, but if you love Beauty and the Beast-esque stories without Stockholm syndrome, this one’s for you.
His Cocky Valet by Cole McCade
That killer title is courtesy of #cockygate, another recent Romancelandia scandal. If I recall his Twitter feed correctly, McCade was inspired to write the book after one Finglewafter Hoopascoop tried to trademark ‘cocky’. Long live King Petty, because this book is fantastic.
It also contains a much-needed trigger warning for, amongst other things, consensual co-dependence in a D/s relationship between an older employee and his younger employer. As long as that’s something you can read, you’re in business. I cannot describe to you how painfully sweet, astonishingly sexy and achingly romantic His Cocky Valet is, but I can certainly try.
Why You Should Read:
- A well-handled age gap with heavy daddy vibes is so hard to come by, these days!
- The writing. The pure, brilliant writing, delivering gems such as a kiss that tastes like ‘still-burning embers’.
- The general lack of realism. It’s better than real, okay? This book is not realistic, and I, like many people, enjoy that in a romance. Pick it up for some good, old-fashioned contemporary escapism.
(Please note – this book includes humiliation and some potentially dubious consent. Please read the book’s content warnings and tread carefully.)
The Midwinter Mail-Order Bride by Kati Wilde
Fantasy romance is hard to come by, which is a damned shame, because it’s my favourite subgenre of all time. The Midwinter Mail-Order Bride more than scratches my itch with its eighties-style barbarian heartthrob and his white-haired witch of a wife-to-be. If that all sounds absolutely wild, good. It is wild—or WILDE! Ha, pun—and I adore it beyond reason.
I’m actually struggling to describe how great this story is, so I’m just going to write a really long list now. If in doubt, list it out!
Why You Should Read:
- The heroine is a regular badass who gets shit done through sheer force of will. My kinda woman.
- The hero basically led a socialist revolution, escaping slavery to murder his oppressive overlords! MY KINDA FELLA.
- She is delivered as a mail-order bride but HE TRIES TO RETURN HER! But then…
- HE DOESN’T WANT TO RETURN HER!!!
- The world and mythology is amazing and it has a cool magic system. I know people argue about whether magic needs systems, but we’re not gonna do that.
- The sexual tension… is so… constant… I suffocate… beautifully.
- Also, it deals with a dynamic of parental abuse that isn’t often highlighted, and I appreciate that.
I wish I could tell you guys about even more amazing KU books — because there are plenty! — but this will have to be it for now. Five is a nice, solid number to get you started, and most of these authors have extensive backlists. Once you crack through the scummy, bookstuffing shell of KU’s hot lists, you’ll find the sweet, brilliant centre of fabulous and affordable books hiding beneath. You are now armed, comrades! Go forth and prosper!