Have you ever gone to bed and right around the time you should be turning off the lights to go to sleep, decided instead to start a book, promising yourself you’ll only read the first chapter? And then cue to 4 hours later, you’re holding your ereader in one hand and forcibly keeping your eyelids open with the other hand because you’ve only got 50 pages left and you must know how the lovable fools in your book plan to make their way back to each other. No? Just me? Alrighty then.
But, if you HAVE done the aforementioned, you might be a member of the BDBC. The BDBC, short for the Bad Decisions Book Club is when we make questionable to downright very, very bad choices with regards to our reading. I often take to twitter to complain that a book made me join the BDBC and for this year, I chose it as my #RomBkLove theme.
If you’re a member of the BDBC, you may have done one or more of the following:
- Started a book right on the cusp of your bedtime and justified to yourself that you can absolutely put it down after JUST ONE CHAPTER.
- An hour into the book, looked at the clock, and decided maybe you don’t really need to shower before you go to work in the morning.
- Halfway through the book, stated firmly to yourself, “no, I will just finish THIS chapter and then call it a night.”
- With less than a 100 pages left of the book, wondered if your toddler can actually just figure out their own breakfast.
- Two chapters away from The End, seriously questioned just how much coffee is too much coffee.
- Finished the book, sighed with delight and then looking at the time, calculated that you had less than 3 hours before your alarm would go off.
Listen, reading great books sometimes requires great sacrifice and no one knows this better than the members of the BDBC. Who needs a solid 8 hours of sleep when you can read your way to a HEA? Well rested mornings pale in comparison to the high of knowing the fictional lovers you were despairing over the night before found their way back to each other. (Doctors will no doubt disagree massively with me on this but maybe if they read some of the books on my list, they might be willing to reconsider).
So, what books forced me into the BDBC? When I looked at the list of books that had driven me to sleepless nights and dark circles under my eyes, there really wasn’t a common theme other than the fact that they were all romances that grabbed me right from page one. Sometimes, it might take me a while to get into a book but BDBC books hook me from the first paragraph and don’t let go until the very last page.
Take for example, Beverly Jenkins and her Destiny trilogy. Every single book in that trilogy is a delight but book #2, Destiny’s Surrender, is my absolute favorite. The book opens with Billie, who makes her living in the oldest profession in the world, orgasming while having sex with her client, Drew, who also happens to be the hero of the book. Talk about a gripping opener. How is anyone supposed to put that book down? And 6 chapters in, when Billie shows up on his family’s doorstep with a baby in tow, on the eve of Drew’s wedding to another woman (!!!), well, that’s the moment I threw in the towel and admitted there was no way I was getting any sleep that night. Watching the fierce Billie go head to head with Drew all the while trying to take care of their little boy was quite the wild ride and there was no way I was getting off until the end.
Another late night marathon reading session was fueled by Sidney Bell’s This is Not the End. A polyamorous love story between Anya, a former fashion model turned photographer, Zac, her husband and the frontman of highly popular rock band, and Cal, his long time best friend and bandmate. The book is broken up into 3 sections, each of them focusing on a different character’s POV. I started the book and immediately lied to myself that I would only read Anya’s part and then go to sleep. But then I met Cal, quiet, reticent, with layers of painful secrets. Still waters run deep, as the saying goes and Cal owned me. There was no way I could just go to sleep without knowing all of Cal’s deepest secrets. And Zac really had the shortest POV of the book, a perfect end to a really beautiful love story about acceptance and belonging and there was really no point in stopping after Cal is what I’m trying to say.
And since we’re throwing around blame here at authors who have robbed me of sleep in the past few months, let’s talk about Roan Parrish and her Small Change series. I read the two books in this series back to back, which meant back to back late nights and I have no regrets. Well, except for the part where I accidentally poured coffee into my cereal bowl. The first book, Small Change, focuses on tattoo shop owner Ginger and sandwich shop owner Christopher. She’s prickly and scarred from emotional wounds inflicted by her family. He’s charming and sweet, with his own baggage to carry. I’m a sucker for a nurturing, cinnamon roll hero who just wants to take care of the heroine and Christopher’s wooing of Ginger by way of elaborate sandwiches definitely sucked me right in. The second book, Invitation to the Blues, focuses on Jude, Christopher’s brother, and Faron, an painter/tattoo artist who works at Ginger’s shop. It’s a difficult but beautiful book, with one of the best mental health reps I’ve ever encountered in a book and I could no more walk away from Jude than Faron could.
Finally on my list, When Tara Met Farah by Tara Pammi. Don’t let the title fool you, it’s not a memoir, it’s only one of the best sapphic romances I’ve ever read in my life. Tara, 19, a high school failure (her words, not mine) is struggling to find her way in this world. Farah, 23, a graduate student staying with Tara’s family, is struggling with parental loss and hiding away from the world. I’ll admit, at first, the choice to alternate chapter to chapter from Tara’s 1st person POV to Farah’s 3rd person POV threw me but 3 chapters in, the book owned me and the rest of my night. Every word of this book is tightly packed with emotion, nuanced and poignant, and the narrative choices the author makes really work because of who each of these characters are. I’m very excited because this is the first in a brand new series and I have a feeling the second book in this series will also leave me dazed and sleep deprived.
So, there you have it: a few of the books that made me lose sleep, literally, in the past few months. There are many, many more that have robbed me of sleep over the years but I figured limiting my list to books I’ve read in the current year was a good way of narrowing it down. I’d love to hear what books have made you lose sleep? Was there a connecting theme to those books? Or did they just happen to hook you from the very first line?
On week days, I have to get up at 4:30 AM because of my job (I work at an “early school”—our first intake bell is at 6:55 AM, and I don’t like to feel rushed in the mornings, so I get up early enough to be leisurely), therefore a book has to be absolutely un-put-down-able for me to make it a BDBC. As it happens, I had a recent almost-BDBC and another actual BDBC reading experience—and they were both Roan Parrish books (the first, but certainly not the last, Parrish books I’ve read). The almost-BDBC was IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE, an m/m romance between a new college professor and a local handyman in rural Michigan. I loved it, but did finally make myself go to sleep. (By the way, Ginger & Christopher from SMALL CHANGE are supporting characters in IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE.) But I really joined the BDBC with Parrish’s next book in the series, OUT OF NOWHERE, where the homophobic and awful brother of one of the heroes from IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE is revealed to be deeply closeted and struggling with many issues. It’s the sign of a good writer that they can take a character who seems irredeemable in one book and find a way to be him sympathetic in another. Yes, I stayed up all night reading that one! I was a zombie the next morning, but the book was worth it.
Also, Tara Pammi writes a lot for Harlequin Presents. WHEN TARA MET FARAH is a real change of pace for her.
I too have been a member of the BDBC. I try very hard NOT to start a new book when I read in bed because it’s very easy to “just one more chapter” away another hour or two! I recently read and enjoyed Sidney Bell’s This is Not the End, and I was sorely tempted to just keep reading.