Bargain Basement Book Club :: Romance

July 2nd 2013

BBBC #2 :: July 2013

Need something to read but are short on cash? The Bargain Basement Book Club have waded through the dollar bins of Sydney’s secondhand book stores so you don’t have to. Whether they come up with pearls or discarded old boots, they’ll help you discover the treasures that await in the murky depths of the literary world…

The quivering members of the Bargain Basement Book Club stared, longingly, at Daniel’s empty seat.

“How can we do this without him?” Nikki cried desperately as Jess bit her lip to calm the angst that had risen with solemn intensity from below.

A heavy bang on the door made Nikki squeal, both with fear and secretive delight.

The hinges bulged, desperate for their release which came suddenly and ferociously. The door exploded open and there was Andrew, dressed like a lumberjack, his wet hair falling provocatively into his eyeballs.

“I’m here for the romance, ladies,” he said.

“Oh my…” Jess managed, before fainting.


‘A Man Like Jake’ by Kristina Logan

Reviewed by Nikki Brogan

I wanted my first time to be special. I’d almost given in to Mills & Boon once before but it just hadn’t felt right, not like this time. Who would have thought that a trip to the library for a short-term non-fiction fling would result in my very own romance (novel) with A Man Like Jake?

Plucked from the library’s bargain bin of rejects, A Man Like Jake was vulnerable. Without warning he’d been thrust from the loving embrace of his home, tainted with rejection stamps across his opening pages. After paying the asking price of twenty cents, I took A Man Like Jake home and hoped that sparks would fly…

The instant that prim Maggie Gordon caught Jake Holister’s eye, all he wanted to do was kiss her socks off. So he did. Of course, he sure as heck didn’t anticipate falling for the happy homemaker! So now to Logan’s love story… good girl Maggie is unexpectedly swept off her feet by a handsome, leather-jacketed stranger. After some quick pash-time on page two, it’s on for young and old. Author Kristina Logan wastes no time at all.

Despite their differences, Jake and Maggie are insatiably attracted to each other. Both with their fair share of emotional baggage, it’s obvious from the get go that things are about to get complicated; she’s obsessed with the idea of making a permanent home for herself, whilst he’s constantly on the run from his past.

OTT sexual tension runs hot throughout. Amongst elaborate and slightly disturbing descriptions of Maggie’s prized phallic veggie plants, it’s really the verbal exchanges between the pair that get most heated…

He placed his hands either side of her face and kissed her on the lips, long and slow and so deeply she almost forgot that kissing him was not what she’d had in mind.

“Jake, stop. I want to talk.”

“Women always want to talk.”

“Think of it as foreplay.”

Jake sat back on his heels and shook his head. “I can think of a lot of other things I’d rather do as foreplay.”

So they talk. And kiss. And then talk some more. For a mid-90s, slightly clichéd love story, A Man Like Jake is entertaining and quite the afternoon delight. Swoon!



‘Passionate Surrender’ by Sheryl Sage

Reviewed by Andrew Pople

In the world of bargain basement romance novels, men do not own shirts. The shirt budget was allocated, but when massive overspending was discovered in the frivolous adjective department it had to be cut.

Special exemption was, however, given for descriptors such as tender, passionate and roguish. Cast a careless eye over the Romance shelves in your average seconds store and you’d be forgiven for thinking there is a formula to all this. Which brings us to Passionate Surrender by Sheryl Sage…

I liberated Passionate Surrender from amidst a veritable cornucopia of similar titles at charity bookstore, ‘Mulga Road Books’ in Oatley. At four dollars I could solace myself that perhaps someone would find relief from my purchase; relief that I feared would be denied our protagonists Tristen and Genevieve!


This gem of a trashy romance has all the elements of addictive, un-put-down-able fiction. I realised this as it dawned on me how familiar this story felt…

Reading like an outtake from George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, …Surrender transports us to a generic, lords & ladies version of England’s history. There we meet Tristen Sinclair (imagine a long, lost Lannister cousin, exiled from Casterly Rock for rejecting the family tradition of ‘keeping it in the family’).

Embittered by a failed marriage, shrouded in secrecy, Tristen is as brooding as he is muscular. This dutiful knight will fight and die for his king, but only reluctantly will he consent to the king’s request that he marry!

Enter Genevieve, the feisty, capable heiress to whom Tristen is betrothed. Part Emmeline Pankhurst, part Princess Merida from ‘Brave’ and all Jane Eyre, we just know that Genny is the warm cocoa that will melt Tristen’s frosty heart.

Genny is capable and alluring, loved by all the castle’s inhabitants but deeply suspicious of the fate of Tristen’s previous bride. Cue endless tense misunderstandings, interspersed with lusty longing after a glimpsed thigh or creamy bosom as Tristen and Genny do everything bar pull each others hair and meet behind the keep to make-out. It’s all about delayed gratification here and Tristen’s sword remains sheathed long into the narrative.

Interestingly, Amazon reports that customers who checked out … Surrender also viewed ‘What Pooh might have said to Dante and other futile speculations’, which leads me to believe this romance could be metaphysical farce of the highest order. Either way, the surrender is passionate with all tongues firmly in cheek.


’50 Shades Darker’ by E.L. James

Reviewed by Jess Hamilton

“Oh, Ana, what you make me feel,” he murmurs and kisses me passionately with fervent ardour. I kiss him back, dizzy with the delicious feeling of him buried inside me. He stares down at me with adoring wonder… he is gloriously naked. My inner goddess is doing a triple axel dismount off the uneven bars.”

If, like me, you never read Fifty Shades of Grey, think Mills and Boon, handcuffed to a bed in a psychiatric ward. A perfect romance.

Anastasia, who suffers from her own split personality disorder (constantly battling with an acrobatic ‘inner goddess’ and a Burberry-clad ‘subconscious’) is swept off her feet and strapped into bed by an implausibly rich and good-looking sadist, Christian Grey.

Like every woman’s fantasy, Christian communicates to Ana through the deep, heartfelt lyrics of Beyonce and Nelly Furtardo. He whispers poetry to her while sailing his luxury catamaran. He can make her ‘explode magnificently, mind-numbingly, into a million pieces’ in less than three minutes. Oh my…

He also likes to beat her up a bit and controls everything from where she works to how she dresses and when she eats. It’s soooo hot.

“Why, oh why, have I fallen for someone who is plain crazy – beautiful, sexy as fuck, richer than Croesus and crazy with a capital K?”

The Fifty Shades trilogy is like the Gangnam Style of erotic fiction, somehow holding the record for the fastest selling paperback ever. Turns out a romance-themed Bargain Basement Book Club was the excuse I didn’t know I was looking for to get in on the word-porn that has become acceptable to read on a peak-hour train.

The book only set me back $3 from Oxford St Vinnies, but to be honest, I feel a bit ripped off. There are more passionate tears and declarations of love in Fifty Shades Darker than whips and gags and I found myself skimming, not to the sex scenes but through them, in search of some kind of plot.

All in all, this is a good book to take to bed on a lonely night. That being said, if you’re really that lonely I’d skip pages 100 – 450, or you’ll risk ending up in a psych ward yourself.


We’re leaving these books where we found them, with a little somethin’ somethin’ inside from FBi for those who seek them out. Got a suggestions for next month? Send it to

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