I am not known to read or enjoy romance novels...but I do. I love a good historical romance now and then. I especially like when the book I choose slowly builds into a lovely subtle romantic relationship full of chivalry and nobility with a dash of heroism and lots of spunky-heroine-falls-in-love against their will with the-dashing-hero-caught-in-her-web of bewildering feminine wiles. Deborah Harkness does it right in "A Discovery of Witches", what I believe is her first novel published this year and already in the library. But I'm buyin' it for the bookshelf, 'cause I'm gonna be readin' it again and again and again...
My new favorite thing to find in books is a house that is "bigger on the inside". Akin to the Tardis from Dr.Who fame, you get a normal looking house on the outside, that has way too many rooms to fit the footprint on the inside. AND ADDS ROOMS as the occasion warrants. I love that! The house is taking care of your guests before they even get to your house. Or in some cases before you even know they are coming.
I also love a genuinely ancestral home, full of ghosts from your past. Great-great grandma's and spectral uncles and somehow nephews all crowded together for now and eternity. "A Discovery of Witches" has both of these working for it. If you've ever seen the movie "Practical Magic", that house is what comes to mind, particularly the kitchen/still-room area. Love it!
The story is a truly interesting mix of alchemy, biology (there's vampires! and witches! how did they get there? how did we get there?), lovely settings of English college towns and New England countrysides, with a dash of romance (swoon! a vampiric Mr. Darcy who practices yoga?!) and intrigue. Heaven!