July 9, 2014

Review: Summer Rain Anthology


Cover description: blue background, a man and a woman kiss under an umbrella he is holding.
Source: Review copy provided by one of the authors. 

This review is going to be long, so let’s jump right into it.

*****

Redemption by Ruthie Knox tells the story of two unlucky people punished by the economy (as well as some unwise and bizarre business decisions) and how they come together and find solace in each other.

Basically, this novella is a unicorn, also known as a doom-and-gloom small-town contemporary. Blink and you’ll miss the magic of two miserable people whose future is uncertain, falling in comfort with each other. It has a hopeful ending that doesn’t promise much to either reader or characters, but that perfectly fits the tone of the story.

Grade: 4

June 11, 2014

This is How Disorganized Blogging Looks Like: Links, a Movie Review and Current Reads


Source

Guys, I have reached that stage of disorganized blogging where not only do I stop stressing about not having anything resembling a schedule, but I also say fuck it! and write a random post about random, non-romance stuff, just because.

Should you worry about this? Well, if you weren't worried that one time I announced a new feature and never came through with it*, then you shouldn't worry now.

June 5, 2014

Criminals and Heartbreakers


Image description: blue card with an illustration of a medieval couple. He is wearing an armor and she seems to be speaking to him. The caption reads: You're not my hero. You're an asshole.
Image Source: Someecards

Jane’s insightful review of The Devil’s Game by Joanna Wylde sparked a though-provoking twitter conversation about cracktastic reads, reader consent, and violence in Contemporary Romance. I was happy just silently following the discussion, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about violence in contemporaries, so I thought I should share those thoughts --which are in no way fully formed-- with you today.

June 4, 2014

That One Time I Finished a Serial and Liked It: The Kraken King, Parts V-VIII by Meljean Brook


Cover description: Building similar to The Big Ben, but smaller. Two hot air balloons, one orange, one blue, float on the foreground. It looks like it's about to rain.
Last month I was over at Dear Author guest reviewing the first half of Meljean Brook’s first serial, The Kranken King, and today I’m guest reviewing the second and final half.

Reading this serial was an interesting, choppy experience. I received surprise ARC’s of the first four installments back in May, but I didn’t get the two final parts until last week. So I did get to read the serial as a serial, but not in the way it was intended (although obviously there’s no right or wrong ways to approach a serial). This didn’t really affect my enjoyment because I really liked each part, so not knowing when or if I would be getting early review copies only increased my anticipation. I’m very happy with the final product, and I feel like it was money well spent (I pre-ordered all the parts months ago), but as much as I loved TKK, I haven’t changed my mind about serials, even though I’m more willing to read them as serials (as opposed to just waiting to read all the parts at once), so I guess there’s that.

I hope you enjoy my vague, gushing, slightly repetitive review. And if you decide to try the book, come back and let me know how you liked it!



May 20, 2014

General Thoughts on Some Current Reads


Today I don’t have a proper review ready, but I do have things to say about the books I’ve been reading, so you get four mini-reviews for the price of one.

***** 
Claiming the Duchess by Sherry Thomas

Cover description: Soft pink background that looks like wallpaper with a flowery print. On the foreground there's a woman wearing a period dress that looks suspiciously like a wedding dress. She's holding a pink bouquet.
Romance has the bad habit of using prequel novellas as samples, which usually backfires because novellas aren’t easy to write and they end up working as samples of bad writing. But I like Ms. Thomas’ books, so I was more than happy to read this prequel novella.

I really liked most of it, but the short length really hurt the story, because at its core there’s an act of deception and betrayal that needed more than one paragraph for the climax and ending to be satisfying and to do justice to a heroine that deserved much better. On top of that, the novella (or short story) ends around the 50% mark and the rest is promotional material, so having the book unexpectedly end when you think there’s still half of it to go, doesn’t make for the best reading experience.

April 30, 2014

Review: Love, in English by Karina Halle


Note and spoiler warning: This is the longest review I’ve ever written, so here’s the TL;DR version: Love, In English gets a NOPE in every language. If you still feel like reading the review, keep in mind that there are visible and unannounced spoilers all over it.

It's a picture of a woman with her hair on her face, and the picture is in purple and hot pink tones. I’ve heard so many great things about Ms. Halle’s books that it was hard for me to resist her first standalone Contemporary Romance.

Our heroine is Vera, a 23-year-old student who decides to spend the summer teaching conversational English in Spain. The program, which looks a lot like a retreat, is a great deal because she gets to stay in a fabulous hotel and all she has to do is spend the day speaking English with people who are mostly fluent. There is a lot of partying and sex, so it’s not the most professional environment ever, but it’s a good forced-proximity setup to justify our main characters falling in love.

The first day, Vera meets 38-year-old former soccer superstar, Mateo. She is very attracted to him and the feelings are mutual, but Mateo is married and has a young daughter, so she fights the feelings as best she can. However, the more time they spend together, the more they like each other and it’s no surprise when they fall in love. Actually, it is a surprise, because these two have nothing in common. Although he is going through an early midlife crisis and she is reckless, immature and has managed to convince herself that she’s a lonely, tormented soul, so I guess their eventual affair makes some sense, but not in the way it was intended.

April 24, 2014

Guest Post: Writing in Color by Jill Sorenson


Open book with a pen in the middle. The words "Guest Author" on top of the image.
Credit: Jain Basil
ETA: There was some wonky formatting that made it look like the last paragraph was Jill's, when in reality it was part of the Jeannie Lin quote. I apologize for the confusion it might have caused.  

Jill Sorenson, one of my favorite Romantic Suspense authors, is here today to talk about her experience writing multicultural romances and about what we can do, whether we are authors or readers, to put our money where our mouth is and help to no only make the genre more diverse, but to bring attention to the diversity that already exists. 

*****

As a long-time regular in Romanceland, I’ve participated in many discussions about race. Whenever the subject comes up, I see the same types of comments. Readers call for more diversity but seem unaware of the multicultural romances already published. White authors of multicultural romance are praised and mentioned more often than authors of color. White authors who don’t include characters of color express concerns about getting the details wrong.

The fear of being criticized for racism or cultural appropriation is strong—and it’s not unwarranted. Portrayals of non-white characters are scrutinized on a different level because stereotypes of minorities are incredibly common and damaging.
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FTC Disclaimer

The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.