By Veronica Scott
Special to the Daily Record
When I was a kid, I used to love playing bingo games. The randomness of the letter and number draws and the exciting possibility of winning — right up until the moment someone else always did (this was at family parties and community socials where the prize was a small toy or other gag gift, not organized gambling) — made it a favorite.
Today, as an adult, I look forward to The Ripped Bodice Bookstore’s annual Summer Romance Bingo. For the fourth year now, they’ve created a bingo “card” with tropes or odd offbeat themes a reader might find in romances in general. The object is to find and read a book in enough categories to score bingo over the course of the summer.
It’s an amusing exercise to take their bingo card of categories, which were created with more classic romances in mind, I’m sure, and identify science-fiction romance titles that satisfy the requirements for readers. I recently asked the members of The Science Fiction Romance Brigade on Facebook, who are authors and avid readers, to recommend books. Authors were allowed to recommend their own titles and I included some of mine where applicable. Some categories were hard to fulfill and others were almost too easy.
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As the Ripped Bodice Bookstore notes on their rules page, “You can interpret the categories however you want,” so we took a bit of license on a few to make SFR fit a general romance trope. In cases where we found that to be necessary, our adaptation appears in parentheses behind the original category title.
To be clear, we’re NOT playing bingo here, merely providing a list of reading suggestions. Hop over to the Ripped Bodice Bookstore site if you want to enter their reading contest, which runs through Aug. 31.
Many of the books were suggested for more than one category, however, I only listed each title in one category to keep the list as unique as possible. It makes for a fun reading list and a different lens with which to view SFR.
I’ll only include a few of the categories here and a subset of the suggestions, which were collected for each. The book suggestions were listed in the post in no certain order. To see all the books the SFR Brigade placed in each category, you can visit the original post on my blog.
Apple orchard (or other fruit):
“Shield of Winter” (Psy-Changeling Book 13) by Nalini Singh .
Veronica Scott comment: My favorite book in the entire series. I love her Arrows, those deadly Psy soldiers and the book does feature an actual apple orchard.
“Escaping Fate” (Veredian Chronicles Book 1) by Regine Abel.
Nominator’s comment: “…a ryspak orchard that plays a major role in her series. … it’s a fruit with medical properties.”
“Drago Stargazer, Alien Mail Order Brides Book” (Intergalactic Dating Agency) by Tasha Black.
Author’s comment: “Hero escapes to a peach orchard and three more books take place there.”
“Camron: A Badari Warriors SciFi Romance Novel (Sectors New Allies Series Book 7) by Veronica Scott
Author’s comment: The hero gathers berries for a favorite pie. …
Title is a pun (or clever wordplay or an inside joke):
“The Lady is Blue” (Atrapako on Eden Book 1) by Aurora Springer.
“Unchained Memory: Interstellar Rescue Series Book 1” by Donna S. Frelick.
“Duel Citizenship” (Department of Homeworld Security Book 7) by Cassandra Chandler.
“The Good, The Bad And The Cyborg” (Cyborgs on Mars Book 1) by Honey Phillips.
“The Ugly Dukeling: Cosmic Fairy Tales” by Bex McLynn.
“Kicking Ashe: Project Enterprise Book 5” by Pauline Baird Jones.
“A Tale of Two Colonies” by Aurora Springer.
Author comment: “… ‘A Tale of Two Colonies’ has human colonists and a giant ant colony. …” Veronica Scott comment: I think this one wins the category.
“Breathing Vapor” (Cyborg Sizzle Book 2) by Cynthia Sax.
Veronica Scott comment: Vapor is the name of the cyborg hero.
“Dark Arsenal (Cyborg Sizzle Book 13) by Cynthia Sax
Author’s comment: Nora, the ship’s system, tells some of the worst Dad jokes in the universe.
Example: “What did the offspring call its machine father?” “I don’t know.” Vicuska didn’t look away from her smiling cyborg. “What did the offspring call its machine father?” “Da-ta.” Nora delivered the punch line.”
“Night of the Demented Symbiots: The Dragonlings Haunted Halloween Book 2” (Dragonlings of Valdier) by S.E. Smith.
“Havik: Warlord Brides” (Warlords of Sangria Book 9) by Nancey Cummings and Starr Huntress.
Author’s comment: “The hero swears he has a sense of humor, he’s just bad at it.”
“Bane” (The Ladyships Book 2) by Bex McLynn.
Nominator’s comment: “Heryon makes endless bad jokes/wisecracks in Bane.”
Ice cream is mentioned:
“Lobo” (Stargazer Alien Mail Order Brides) by Tasha Black.
Author’s comment: “Hero becomes friends with the man who drives the ice cream truck.”
“Tesla” (Stargazer Alien Barbarian Brides) by Tasha Black.
Author’s comment: “Heart-broken alien hero learns how to drown his sorrows in ice cream.”
“Blaze: A Qurilixen World Novella: Intergalactic Dating Agency” (Galaxy Alien Mail Order Brides Book 3) by Michelle M Pillow.
Author’s comment: “Ice cream has an adverse effect on my aliens…”
I kept one category for myself to provide the answers. This is the ‘free box’ in the center of the bingo square and is the Happy Ever After category. To be a romance of any type, the book must contain either a Happy Ever After or a Happy For Now ending so this square applies to all romances. I picked the books which have my personal favorite or most memorable HEA endings, including one or two from my own backlist where I was particularly pleased with how the ending flowed.
Happy Ever After:
“Caressed by Ice” (Psy-Changelings Book 3) by Nalini Singh.
The Arrow hero and the Changeling heroine have to fight so hard throughout the entire book to bridge their differences. I re-read this one at least once a year. So good.
“Star Cruise: Songbird” by Veronica Scott.
I got to write a rock star romance, which is one of my favorite genres, and the concert at the end just really epitomizes the romance between the worn out rock singer and the soldier/bodyguard she’s come to love.
“Cyborg” (Galactic Gladiators Book 10) by Anna Hackett
The setup here was a classic romance heartbreaker — the two main characters were held in a cell together early in the book by supreme bad guys, fall in love, she gets pregnant, he’s rescued (she’s not) and develops amnesia so he forgets her and doesn’t believe they could be having a child — a lot to overcome here and I just really lost myself in the plot of this book. So good. Normally, the amnesia trope is one that sets my teeth on edge but the author did such a skillful job with the characters, I was totally drawn in.
“Dark Horse” (Class 5 Series Book 1) by Michelle Diener.
This is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi romances, with some fresh concepts and I relished the human heroine and how the situation unfolds between her and the alien military officer who really has to fight the enemy, his own people and his dedication to duty in order to help Rose save the interstellar peace and many lives. And I haven’t even mentioned the super intelligent artificial intelligence embodied in a deadly war ship, who only listens to Rose.
“Refugees” by Kim Fielding.
I read this recently, a charming M/M sci-fi tale with a sweet romance at its heart. It was like a “Twilight Zone” episode but with an actual happy ending.
“Undying” (Valos of Sonhadra Book 7) by Tiffany Roberts.
Oh my gosh, the setup for this story established an impossible situation, where the alien hero’s touch killed anything and everything but of course he and the human heroine fall in love, so how can there ever be a happy ending? But the author pulls it off and I loved it.
Heart Change (Celta Series Book 8) by Robin D. Owens.
This was the first Celta book I ever read and I was so entranced by the world the author created I had to go back and read the entire series and every book issued since. Just the telepathic, opinionated, arrogant “famcats” (pets) alone make the series fun, but then there’s also sentient houses, a lot of lore and tradition — and the romance between a grizzled warrior and a highborn lady he’s assigned to guard.
“One Fell Sweep” (Inn Keeper Chronicles Book 3) by Ilona Andrews.
This series is so much fun. I am continually entranced by the concepts, not least of which is the romance between the keeper/guardian of this amazing inn and the soldier she meets in the first book. The path of true love doesn’t run smooth but it runs deep and is well worth the journey to read.
“Mach One” (Cyborg Cowboys of Carbon County Intergalactic Dating Agency) by Elsa Jade.
I enjoyed the concept of the cowboy cyborgs, frankly. This one stays on my mind, which says a lot, as many sci-fi romances as I read in a year.
Barbarian’s Beloved (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 18) by Ruby Dixon.
No one writes like Ruby. She brings something fresh to each book in this long running series but this was my favorite, with a heroine who suffers from anxiety and her believable efforts to survive on the desolate planet. Her barbarian was also impressive and again believable in his efforts to help her and defend her when others were critical or dismissive.
For the entire expanded list of recommendations made by the SFRB members, visit the original blog post.