December 19, 2012

2012: A Year in Books | Blogging

Credit: George Deputee
Warning: this is going to be the sappiest post of the year. I'll try to keep the cheese at bay as much as I can, but I can't make any promises. Also, don't forget to check our Best Books of 2012 list.

This is the last post of the year and I’m going to use it to tell you how grateful I am for your support. When I started the blog I expected it to be a lonely experience, but after almost two years I can tell you that the sense of community and friendship has made this one of the most enriching, less lonely experiences of my life. I look forward to seeing reading what 2013 brings.

December 18, 2012

2012: A Year in Books | The Best

2012: A year in Books | The Best
Winter Berries by Michelle Buntin
This year I tried to choose books that were both the best and my favorites (although “best” is still quite subjective). The end of the year is plagued with awards, but most of the time the winners are the popular books and not necessarily the best. I want this list to reflect entertainment but also quality, because one of the reasons this year was less than stellar, was because of the rise of many books that were more unfinished product than anything else. And one thing I wish 2013 brings is higher standards. I believe quality and entertainment aren't mutually exclusive, and all the books on my list should reflect that.

December 17, 2012

Review: Aftershock by Jill Sorenson

Aftershock by Jill Sorenson
Source: a review copy was provided by the author.

This year Romantic Suspense has been lackluster, and with a few notable exceptions, I feel like it needs an infusion of new and innovative ideas. Jill Sorenson is one of those exceptions. Her stories may not be new, but they certainly are refreshing, and Aftershock takes it a bit further into the novelty territory. It’s not a perfect book, but I’m glad to see an author taking risks in a sub-genre that has become a bit stale. 

I can’t tell much about the story without spoiling it, but the basic premise is that there’s devastating earthquake in San Diego, and a group of people get trapped under a collapsed highway. They barely have water, half of them are injured, and not all of them are good guys. Lauren, our heroine, is an EMT, and the hero, Garrett, a former Marine. They have a lot to worry about, yet find the time to fall in love.

December 16, 2012

Winners! Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun and Aftershock by Jill Sorenson

The winner of Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun is: Anonymous

The winner of Aftershock by Jill Sorenson is: Maureen

The winner of Risky Christmas by Jill Sorenson and Jennifer Morey is: Heather Coulter

Congratulations! I've already emailed Anon and Maureen. Heather, please email me you mailing address at 

Thanks everyone who participated, and to Jill Sorenson, Anne Calhoun and Fatin, Anne's publicist, for providing the books and making the giveaway possible.

See you all next week!

December 14, 2012

Review: More Than Words by Karla Doyle

I discovered this book thanks to Liz’s cone of shame post (don’t click on that link, though, too many tempting books). When I saw dirty Scrabble and rock star hero, I was sold. I mean, how many of you stopped reading this to go and buy the book? The lure of the dirty Scrabble is irresistible and I’m weak. So I got it, and loved it until about the middle mark, then I didn’t love it as much. Here’s why:

Calli was assaulted two years ago, and now suffers a paralyzing fear to go outside once it’s dark. She spends the days working on her sex shop, and the nights doing nothing. But one day she logs into an online game of Scrabble designed to meet people and even flirt. She ends up playing a great game with a charming man name Travis. But when he decides to meet her, things get a bit tricky. But just a bit, and that’s part of the problem.

December 13, 2012

Review: Romancing the Holiday Anthology by HelenKay Dimon, Christi Barth and Jaci Burton

Source: a review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Carina Press’ Holiday Anthologies have become a tradition for me. This year they published three: Erotic, Sci-Fi and Contemporary, which is the one I’m reviewing today. To be honest, this is my least favorite of all their anthologies, although it still is a fairly competent set of novellas.

The first story is We'll Be Home for Christmas by HelenKay Dimon. I loved her previous novel, Lean on Me, and this novella is part of that series, so I was really happy to read it.

December 12, 2012

This post is just an excuse to have something go live on 12/12/12 at 12:12

Completely random, but funny nonetheless.

This is the last time we’ll get to see a cool date like this one, unless we become vampires, which, if Romance is any indication of reality, could happen. I just hope that if it does happen, I become a vampire right now, when I’ve yet to eat my weight in Christmas candy. 

So yes, I just wanted an excuse to post something at 12:12, and this is what I came up with: nothing. But remember that Jill Sorenson is doing a fun Q&A today, and giving away her new book, and one of her oldies. We also have an Anne Calhoun giveaway, the price is Breath on Embers, her latest novella, not Anne the person, we’re not that type of blog.

Last week I told you that this would probably be the last week of blogging for the year, but it was a lie. I’ll still be around next week with reviews and probably the Best of 2012 List. This week is all about novellas, if stop by tomorrow, you will see why. Sorry Nath!

I hope you have a fun day. If you buy a lottery ticket, don’t play 12 12 12 12 12, because that’s just silly. See you tomorrow!

Interview & Giveaway: Jill Sorenson

Interview: Jill Sorenson
Image Credit

Jill Sorenson is a friend of Romance Around the Corner. She's a great person to talk --or Tweet-- to, and on top of that, she’s a fantastic writer. She’s been here before as a guest reviewer, and I’ve reviewed her books, but today she’s putting her author hat on and answering some of our questions about her new book and her writing process. So please, let’s give her a warm welcome!

Hello, Jill! Welcome to Romance Around the Corner. 

Q. First things first: tell us a bit about yourself and your books. What is it about Romantic Suspense that appeals to you as a writer, and I assume, as a reader?
Jill Sorenson

JS: Hi Brie! Thanks so much for having me. I live in San Diego with my family, I like twitter, and I write romance. I think RS appeals to me because I love conflict and tension. I’m drawn to that rollercoaster feeling, the drop in the pit of your stomach during a climb. Danger heightens emotions and arousal. Whee!!

December 11, 2012

Review: Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Source: a review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Note: this review contains spoiler for The Sweetest Thing. 

As you guys know, I’m a fan of the Lucky Harbor series, even though I think the original trilogy has been the best. When I saw that this novella was about a secondary character from the original series, I couldn’t wait to read it. And for such a short story, I was pleasantly surprised.

If you’re familiar with the series, or if you have read the second book*, you will know that Mia is Ford and Tara’s daughter that Tara gave up for adoption, just to be reunited when she was a teenager looking for her birth parents. In this book we get to see her get her HEA.

Mia is madly in love with Nick. Now that she’s almost finishing college and thinking about starting to establish her life, she wants to share it with him. But his life wasn’t easy, and he’s not outspoken about his feelings. But Mia is confident that he’s finally going to tell her that he loves her, and feels like it’s time to meet the parents. Not her real parents, but her birth parents, Ford and Tara, which makes no sense, because as far as I know she had a great relationship with her parents, but I’ll try not to nitpick. Anyway, she’s expecting a love declaration, he gets scared, and she breaks up with him. Then he realizes his mistakes and follows her to Lucky Harbor where the actual story takes place. The rest, I’m sure you can imagine.

Review: One Hit Wonder by Elyssa Patrick

There was a lot of hype surrounding Ms. Patrick’s debut novel, As You Wish, but unfortunately I had to DNF it because the hero was a widower, and you know how I feel about those. But I liked her voice, and when I saw that she had a new story out, I was happy to give her a second chance. I’m glad I did.

One Hit Wonder is a novella about a has-been pop star and the assistant who secretly loves him. It’s short, sweet and entertaining, exactly what one would expect from reading the blurb. You can pretty much guess what happens, but that’s fine because the real star of the story, what makes it good and fun, is the hero. 

Damon had one hit when he was a teenager, and that was it. He’s rich thanks to that one song, and he’s completely happy and content with it. Of course he wants to be more than that, and it’s in the middle of staging a comeback, but in the meantime he’s happy singing the same song over and over, and dancing on demand. There’s no angst, no feelings of failure or regrets, no demons to battle, nothing. This guy is as uncomplicated as it gets. And the reason why there’s no drama is because he’s confident and self-aware. Damon was a breath of fresh air in the middle of a sea filled with tortured characters, and as I said, he’s the reason you should read this novella.

December 10, 2012

Guest Author & Giveaway: Anne Calhoun

Guest Author: Anne Calhoun
Image Credit

Breath on Embers was one of my favorite Erotic Romances of the year, and Anne Calhoun one of my favorite authors. So today I’m very happy to welcome her to the blog. The story is set in New York, and the city features prominently, almost like a secondary character. She’s here to tell us more about it. 

Location, Location, Location – Columbus and Manhattan
“You know who lives here?” he asked as she was about to walk out. Without waiting for her response, he added, “People who want to feel alive.”
“I should go back to Columbus then,” she said.
“Is that a possibility?”
She shrugged as she wrapped her scarf around her neck. “I don’t have a plan one way or the other,” she said truthfully. Right now her only plan was to get through the holidays. Life in January was impossible to imagine.
She had the door open before he spoke. Like Erin, he liked to get the last word in. “Maybe you should stop fighting the city.”
BREATH ON EMBERS, my current release through Carina Press in the RED HOT HOLIDAY anthology, is set in Manhattan, specifically on the Upper East Side and in Midtown. This is a setting I know well. My husband and I moved to Manhattan in the late summer of 2001 and lived there until 2006. I would have stayed for the rest of my life but by the end we had a toddler and an apartment that seemed to be shrinking as he grew. I know people raise kids in the city, but we didn’t want to do that. So we moved back to the Midwest.

December 7, 2012

Sport Romances and Hyping Next Week

Hey, guys!

I couldn’t finish today’s review, and I was thinking that I almost managed to blog every single day of this week (Saturday and Sunday don’t count *grins*). But then I remembered that I have a new post on Heroes and Heartbreakers and that I forgot to tell you about it, so it counts as an extra day of blogging.

This time I’m talking about Sport Romances, why they are so appealing and I wonder about the lack of sport player heroines. So head on over there and let me know what you think!

Next week is probably going to be the last week of blogging before I go on my Christmas break (although I’ll have a review or two for the week of the 17th), so I’m going to make it count. Anne Calhoun and Jill Sorenson will join us and there will be giveaways, and I’ll have a couple of roundup posts including my Best of 2012 list. Can you believe the year is almost over?

Have a fun weekend, and see you next week!

December 6, 2012

Review: Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun

Source: A review copy was provided by the publicist.

Anne Calhoun is one of my favorite Erotic Romance writers, and as usual she delivers a great story with interesting characters. Breath on Embers is a novella that you can get as part of Carina Press’ Red Hot Holiday anthology, or separately.

Thea’s husband died two years ago and grief has been her relentless companion. She became a loner and pretty much isolated herself from everything except music and a firefighter named Ronan. For the past nine months they have been lovers but nothing else. But of course you can’t share your body for so long and not develop feelings, which is exactly what Ronan did. And that’s when things get interesting.

This is a very introspective, quiet and melancholic story. Thea is sad and doesn't want to feel anything. She uses her iPod as a way to detach herself from her surroundings, and her only human contact is with a guy she uses for sex. She doesn't want to let go of her husband and only allows herself some physical relief but not an emotional one.

December 5, 2012

Genre Wants that I Hope Become Gots: A Christmas List of Tropes, Stories and Characters


Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, we can all agree that December is the perfect time to do two somewhat related things: ask for stuff and complain. So today I made a list of all the things I wish to see in Romance, especially after a year that’s been quite naughty, but not in a good way. 

The first thing I want to see is readers demanding quality and being more critical of poorly written and edited books. I understand that sometimes books are so entertaining and engaging that we’re willing to overlook their technical issues, especially if they were self-published. But here’s the thing: forgiving mistakes because the book was self-published is offensive, because it means that we equal poor quality to self-publishing. And that is most definitely not the case, or it doesn't have to be. And when we give those books free passes, we create a vicious cycle. So now we have a bunch of poorly written books experiencing huge success in detriment of everyone. It lowers the standards as evidenced by the fact that the big publishers purchasing those books don’t see the need to improve and refine them. So is up to us to demand the quality we deserve. 

December 4, 2012

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This series flew under my radar and I only discovered it this year after I read Janine’s review of Bitterblue, the third book in the series. It seemed to be a favorite of many, so I decided to read the first book. It was exactly what I was hoping it would be.

Katsa lives in a world where some people have an enhanced ability, or grace. They are known as gracelings, and in Katsa’s kingdom these people are treated like tools. She’s graced with killing, so her uncle, who happens to be the king, uses her as his personal enforcer and executioner. People fear and avoid her, and she hates herself for the things she’s done. 

As a way to atone and even revel against her uncle, Katsa created the Council, a secret organization in charge of helping people. During one of their missions they rescue an old man from his kidnappers, but by doing so they uncover a mystery that will lead her directly to danger, but also freedom. That night she also meets a man named Po who’s graced with fighting. He helps her break free and see herself under a different light.

December 3, 2012

Review: Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

First things first: Wallbanger must be the most unfortunate book title ever. At least I don’t associate the word wallbanger with anything good, especially not when it comes to books. So based on the title and the fact that it’s a former Twilight fan fiction, I wouldn't have read it if not for some reviews that piqued my interest. My overall impression includes a lot of mixed feelings, although I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun while reading it.

The plot is quite simple: Caroline Reynolds moves into a new apartment, and every night her next-door neighbor, Simon, has loud sex with a different woman (hence the wallbanger part). Tired and orgasm-less for months, she confronts him, and hilarity ensues. There’s also a cat, a bunch of minor romances between her friends and his friends, and a very slow-building romance that surprisingly takes the time to establish a strong friendship first.

November 27, 2012

Review: The Girl with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir

This book is almost entirely told from a cat’s POV. If that didn't send you running the other way, you’re probably getting it now, just like I did when I first heard about it. It sounds a bit wacky, and it is, but it’s also funny and unique. 

Max’s human is Melody. He’s worried about her because she keeps bringing men to their home, men that just spend the night and leave. Thus Max does what any cat would do and pees on the men’s clothes so they know that they are not welcome. But he also knows that Melody hasn't been happy since her husband died two years ago. So he decides to take matters into his own hands --or paws-- and goes out in search of a mate for her. What follows is a bit of an oddball romance that includes a mystery, kitty shenanigans, Ellen DeGeneres and cupcakes.

November 22, 2012

Winner: The Waiting Room

The winner of our lightning giveaway was ClaudiaGC. Congratulations! I've already emailed you.

To everyone else who was part of the contest, thank you. And to those who celebrate it: Happy Thanksgiving!

See you next week.

November 21, 2012

New Adults and an Unrelated Giveaway

Hello, guys!

I have a new post on Heroes and Heartbreakers, this time about New Adult. Have you heard that term before? I bet you have. One of the reasons I wrote the post was because I've seen a lot of negativity and cynicism directed towards New Adult, and even though most of them are quite valid, I wanted to talk about it in a positive way, because I feel that it has a lot of good things to offer. It’s a very new label that’s been misused in order to exploit it, but there are a lot of great stories being told, and that’s what I was trying to convey in that post. 

November 20, 2012

Review: Rescue My Heart by Jill Shalvis

Source: A review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

I’ve been a fan of this series since the first book, and as usual, the most intriguing character always gets the last book. The anticipation was high, and unfortunately the book wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be. But it was entertaining, and the hint to a new couple brought me back to the place I was before reading the book: anticipating the next entry.  

Adam and Holly used to be lovers a long time ago, but he left her because they were too young, to save her from himself, etc. The being too young was reason enough to me, but we need more to justify so many years of not moving on. So as you probably can guess, especially if you have read the books, once he comes back he ignores her while she gives him the evil eye (which is Romance code for “I want to have dirty sex with you, but I totally don’t love you anymore so don’t get any ideas”). We know that they should just talk about their unresolved feelings, but Adam is suffering from PTSD and is trying to avoid any type of human contact.

November 15, 2012

Review: The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne

My Historical Romance kick continues with a book I've been meaning to read for a while. Last year the final book in the series was published and blogland went crazy with love. It seemed like the hero was a favorite character of many, and he was finally getting his book. But I don’t like reading books out of order so I put it on hold. 

What finally convinced me to start the series was the lack of spoilers. Every single review mentioned how great the story was, and how giving away the details would mean ruining the book. For such a popular book, I’m surprised that I couldn't find spoilers anywhere. I had to know what happened, so I did the next best thing: I read the book.

Annique is a French spy charged with a very important secret. It’s so important that everyone wants it, and by everyone I mean the British, the good French and the bad French. When the book opens, she’s been captured by the bad French and about to be tortured. There she meets a set of British spies and helps them escape. But of course the spies know who she is and decide to keep her for themselves. These are good spies, though, so instead of torturing and raping her, they will fall in love with her. Or at least one of them does, our hero, Grey. What follows is a game of cat and mouse in which each character tries to one-up the other.

November 13, 2012

Review: All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey

Source: A review copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

The Kowalski books keep getting stronger. This new trilogy almost feels like a different series, maybe because it features a new set of brothers living in a different town. I’m very glad because it keeps the books fresh. This new installment also features a role reversal in the main couple, and a heroine that pushes some genre boundaries, or at least has a set of goals that are quite uncommon in Romance.

Ryan Kowalski left town and never looked back. But unlike the typical Romance hero, wanderlust had nothing to do with his decision. The real reason he never came back was because the woman he loved married his best friend, and it was too painful for him to live so close to them. He did make a last effort to lure her away, but she shut him down because she was truly in love with her husband. So right there you have the role reversal: the hero is the one suffering from unrequited love, and she never saw him as anything but a friend. He became successful in his profession, whereas her personal life imploded.

November 12, 2012

Can a Bad Romance Be a Good Romance? Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox - No one makes me less unhappy than you.

Dysfunctional relationships are a dime a dozen in Romance. They make the journey entertaining and the emotional payoff sweeter. Damaged characters mean internal conflict, so the story can focus on its characters and their path to the happily ever after. It’s certainly not the only type of relationship portrayed in the genre, but it is one of the most common. We usually see these people falling in love and finding emotional stability in each other. Some of them have to redeem themselves, some have to grovel, but in the end we know they are going to be happy, and that they deserve it. 

But sometimes I find a romance that, regardless of how much I want to see the characters happy, is so dysfunctional that the idea of them together makes me uncomfortable. Books like that never work for me because bad romances make bad Romances. But is that always the case?  Can a damaged relationship with deeply flawed characters still be a good book and a good representative of the genre? Ruthie Knox’s newest story, Room at the Inn, is a perfect example of a bad romance that thoroughly worked for me as a reader. I’m sure I liked it, but I wonder why, and if liking it is enough to make it good.

November 11, 2012

Winner! A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan

The winner of A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan is Elena.

Congratulations! I've already emailed you.

Thanks to everyone who participated and to Sarah for providing the book, and doing the interview.

Happy reading everyone!

November 7, 2012

Giveaway: A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan, who's visiting today, has offered a paperback copy of her new book to give away to one lucky reader of Romance Around the Corner. For a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment with your email on this post, or on Sarah's interview. Comments made before this post went live also count, so Rebe and Debbie are in. This giveaway is open to all.

About the book:

Money, charm and sensual skills don't make up for a heart colder than ice… 
Wild parties, wanton women, relentless work—nothing helps tycoon Lucas Jackson escape his dark and haunting past. Arriving at his rural castle in a snarling snowstorm, he craves only complete isolation.… But it seems oblivion can take an unexpected and highly intoxicating form! 
Personally delivering the vital file left on her boss's desk, secretary Emma Gray starts to seriously regret her dutiful overtime mission. She never expected the dark side of the usually controlled Lucas could generate such a primitive, powerful—and entirely inappropriate—reaction.


  • Winner gets one copy of A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan.
  • Giveaway open internationally.
  • Ends 11/11/12
  • For more details read our Giveaway Policy.

Interview: Sarah Morgan

Interview: Sarah Morgan
Image Credit: Florin Gorgan

ETA: Sarah is giving away a copy of the book, more info here.

Sarah Morgan is here! I've been a fan for a long time, so today is a special day. Let’s give her a warm welcome, and once you’re done reading the interview, go read her books.

Hello, Sarah! Welcome to Romance Around the Corner. 

SM: Hello and thank you for having me!

Q. First things first: tell us a bit about yourself and your books.

SM: I trained as a nurse and worked in the ER for a while, but always wanted to write. I suppose I like fixing people, but it’s much easier to fix them on paper! When I was at home with children I started writing Medical Romances for Harlequin, which was a logical choice given my background, then moved on to Harlequin Presents. 

Now I’m lucky enough to write full time. I live near London, which is a very cool city (cool in every sense, including the weather!). I love the buzz of the South Bank, the theaters galleries and museums. I have two boys and we have spent so many wet Sundays gazing at the Egyptian Mummies in the British Museum and dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum. It’s no coincidence that one of the first stories I wrote featured a family of dinosaurs.

I love walking, mountains, snow, Christmas, horses, my mountain bike, meeting up with family and friends, laughing, cooking, the smell of fresh coffee, opera, Paris, CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Homeland and, of course, reading.

November 6, 2012

Review: A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran

I’m on a Historical Romance kick for the first time in years, and I plan to take advantage of it for as long as it lasts. So I will be reviewing all the Historicals I read. I feel like I’m catching up on some highly praised stories and authors that I missed when they first were published. So you probably will be seeing some favorites. 

A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal served as a reminder of how great the sub-genre is. I bought it after Mean Fat Old Bat reviewed it. She is an experienced reader who just recently discovered the genre, so her take on Romance is fresh and interesting.

Our heroine is Nell. She’s very poor, works at a factory under inhuman conditions and has an evil stepbrother who wants to whore her out. But she knows how to read and is very proud, so regardless of how desperate she is, she won’t compromise her honor. And she’s quite desperate; her mother is dying and needs a doctor, but there’s no money to pay for one. Her mother tells Nell to search for Lord Rushden, her real father. She’s surprised to hear the news, but ends up writing to him, begging for his help. But when her mother dies without any response from the Lord, Nell decides to kill him. What she doesn’t know is that Lord Rushden died months ago, and the new bearer of the title is a distant relative with a black reputation who’s just as desperate for money as she is.

November 5, 2012

Review: Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp

Have you seen the United States of YA list? It’s a map with a book representing each state, and Knights of the Hill Country was Oklahoma. I liked what I saw, so I decided to read it. I enjoyed it, although it’s far from a perfect book.

The story is very simple: Hampton lives and breathes football. Everyone, including himself, thinks that being a football player is all there is to him.  No one bothers to see the boy behind the talent because he wins games and that’s all that matters. He’s rapidly becoming the star of the team, even outshining his best friend and quarterback, Blaine. But his new status also forces him to see beyond the football field. It gives him some insight into what he wants and the tools to stop being so passive.  

November 2, 2012

FeedBurner and Email Subscribers

Hello everyone!

Move over, FeedBurner.
There's a new Sheriff in town.
There have been some rumors that FeedBurner will disappear. FeedBurner is the tool we use to send our daily emails to those who subscribed. So far I haven’t seen any difference, but because is better to be safe than sorry, I've decided to move our mailing list to MailChimp. If you already subscribed, you don’t have to do anything (although you might receive today’s email twice). The content will be the same, but with a slightly different look.

If you wish to subscribe, just click on the button under the “Subscribe by Email” label.

This is just a screen cap, so don't click on it!

Or just add your email here:

* indicates required
Email Format

Remember that you can unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you for reading, and if you have questions, just let me know.

Review: Lean on Me by HelenKay Dimon

Lean on Me by HelenKay Dimon
Source: A review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Lean on Me is a short and sweet small-town Contemporary Romance, in which the small town is more intrusive than cute. 

Cassidy Clark’s dream was to leave her hometown behind and become a climber. She managed to accomplish just that, but in the process severed her relationship with almost everyone in her life. Things got even more complicated when after an unfortunate incident she made some pretty awful comments about her town, and she went from hero to villain. So when the end of her career --and a scam that left her broke-- forces her to go back, she has to redeem herself in front of family, friends and the man whose heart she broke years ago.

October 31, 2012

When Contemporary Romance Goes Wrong: Some DNF Reviews

After the Storm by Amy Knupp Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
Barefoot in the Rain by Roxanne St. Claire My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

Source: Review copies of the books were provided by the publisher through NetGalley. 

What follows is a list of some books I've been struggling to finish for the past few months. One is by a new-to-me author, while the rest are from authors I enjoy and series I love. The thing they have in common is how disappointing they were, and that all of them are Contemporary Romances. Instead of writing individual posts for each, I've decided to list them here because life is too short to waste it on bad books, and I already spent too much time on these.

October 29, 2012

Review: Tigerland by Sean Kennedy

Tigers and Devils is one of my favorite M/M books. It’s a story about love and friendship that every Romance fan should read. My love for that book is the reason why I was equal parts excited and weary when I found out that a sequel was in the works. The opportunity to revisit favorite characters is always welcome, yet there was always the possibility that the magic would be lost. I’m afraid to say I was right to worry.

If you haven’t read Tigers and Devils then you should read it first. Tigerland reads more like a long epilogue to the original than as a standalone, and new readers will be completely lost. The story is very simple; it follows the lives of Simon and Declan three years into their happily ever after. They are happy and their friends are struggling with their relationship, some handling it well, some not so much. But overall everything is fine. That is until Declan’s ex comes out of the closet and, well, doesn't really break much havoc in their lives.

October 23, 2012

Book Talk: Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook (A Long Post with Crappy Pictures)

Book Talk at Romance Around the Corner
Image credit: Horia Varlan

Important Note: this post is filled with very significant spoilers for the Guardian series by Meljean Brook. If you haven’t read the books, don’t read it (it won’t make sense if you’re unfamiliar with it, so you’re not missing much).

Today, our friend and fellow blogger, Nath, is joining us to talk about the last book in Meljean Brook's Guardian series (you can also find this post at Breezing Through). We're huge fans and can't wait to read the book, so in the meantime we're going to speculate all we can. 

Nath: If you've been around blogland in the past weeks, you’re probably aware that Ms. Meljean Brook finally unveiled the cover for her last book in her Guardian series, Guardian Demon. But the cover wasn't alone, we also got a blurb. Brie, being a huge fan of the series, was so excited that she shot me an email wanting to discuss and do some guesswork about what might be happening in this final installment. She also had the bright idea to share this discussion with fellow fans and have you join us! So feel free to add your two cents on the comments!!

October 22, 2012

Giveaway: Naughty & Nice Holiday Hop

Naughty and Nice Anthology

Loveswept and Romance at Random are celebrating the release of their upcoming holiday anthology, Naughty & Nice, with a Giveaway Hop. We wanted to be part of it because we are fans of the authors and can't wait to read the book.

The prices are*:
  • 15 NetGalley preview copies of Naughty & Nice by Ruthie Knox, Molly O'Keefe and Stefanie Sloane (International).
  • 5 Paperbacks of About Last Night by Ruthie Knox (US residents only).
  • A grand price of  $15 Gift Certificate to the winner's e-retailer of choice. (International)

October 16, 2012

Review: Sultry with a Twist by Macy Beckett

Review: Sultry with a Twist by Macy Beckett
This will teach me not to judge a book by its heroine’s name. I almost didn't read it because knowing nothing about the author, and with a heroine named Mae-June July Augustine, I didn't get a good first impression to make me want to read the book. But then I read a couple of favorable reviews and decided to give it a chance. I’m glad I did. 

You already know that our heroine has an unfortunate name, and she’s aware of it. But her name is also a reminder of her parents, who loved her very much, and represent the fondest memories of a childhood that became tragic when they died and she went to live with her strict grandmother.  But June wasn't the only one who ended up living there; Luke, her neighbor and friend, was abandoned by her mother and came to live with them. June was in love with him her whole life, but things didn't end well between them. She left the small town and swore never to come back. But those are the type of promises that come back and bite you in the ass, and that’s exactly what happens to June several years later.

October 11, 2012

Review: Fields of Gold by Dev Bentham

Source: A review copy was provided by the author.

This book’s premise was what caught my attention: a grad student lives and takes care of his boyfriend’s apartment and in the meantime meets an organic farmer that makes him question the choices he’s made so far. Of course it’s not as simple as it sounds. The boyfriend is a married conservative politician. When Levi meets Pete and their attraction flares, he realizes that his life is a mess. But he’s also afraid to lose the comfort that his lover represents, so at first he resists Pete’s advances. It’s not until things get even more complicated that he decides to take action and change his life.

I liked Fields of Gold. The story was original and the characters likeable -- at least Avi and Pete were. It’s a straightforward book about a guy who isn't satisfied with his life, and some external circumstances force him into doing something about it. In the end, he works to get there, but the decision doesn't come from introspection. His advisor tells him that he will lose his teaching position if he doesn't finish his thesis soon; Pete comes to his life and that’s when he realizes he’s not happy with his current relationship; the politician develops a nasty case of aggressiveness, so that’s when Avi finds the balls to call it quits; and overall he just needs help to figure out what’s wrong with him and how to fix it. It was authentic, because not everyone grows by their own means, but his inability to act wasn't a character trait I appreciate in a romance hero. However, this is an author who has a knack for make me like characters that work hard to be unlikeable.

October 9, 2012

Small-Town Romances: How Many is Too Many?

LOL by Lilyofthevalley

I’m a fan of Small-Town Romances. The main reason why I like them is because they tend to be character-oriented stories that mostly focus on the romance. They deal with a variety of subjects that go from the hilarious to the dramatic. The secondary characters are interesting, as they should be considering their main role is to keep us interested to read the next book. And overall they feel like comfort food; they make me feel good and, well, comforted. 

However, the same reasons why I love Small-Town Romances are the reasons why I dislike them: the characters can be repetitive; the lighter tone means that the subject remains underdeveloped; the secondary characters overtake the story; and comfort food becomes boring after eating it repeatedly. I've noticed that these issues tend to develop when the series extends beyond the third book. What starts as a trilogy, becomes a sextet, and in Robyn Carr’s case, twenty books and counting

One example of this is the Fool’s Gold series by Susan Mallery. The first book was fantastic, and even though the next two weren't as good, they had fully developed characters and interesting, albeit incredible, stories. But the series kept growing and the stories and characters started to blend in together. And the last set of books was so appalling that I decided to quit the series

October 8, 2012

Review: Fault Lines by Rebecca Rogers Maher

Source: A copy of the book was provided by the publisher.

I first heard about this book on Carina Press’ Dear Reader Letter included in every book, where Angela James talks about the upcoming releases. It sounded interesting so I decided to read Rebecca Rogers Maher’s previous book, I’ll Become the Sea. I was very impressed and couldn't wait to read Fault Lines.

Sarah was a victim of sexual abuse when she was a teenager. Her story is heartbreaking. She doesn't know how to be in a relationship, doesn't even know if she’s capable of it. Her family life is very complicated because her mother ignores what happened to her. Sarah has to deal with her attacker, who happened to be a family member. And her only close relationship is the one she has with her best friend. But her friend recently found her happy ending, and Sarah doesn't want to intrude in her happiness. So she feels lonelier than ever.

October 7, 2012

Winner! One Final Step by Stephanie Doyle

The winner of the giveaway was Rebe. Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on the post, and to Stephanie for the giveaway.

October 5, 2012

Giving Away a Giveaway

Favorites From My Favorites

Red Hot BooksI know what you're thinking -- that title makes no sense. But I'm out of clever ideas today, so bear with me.

Our friend Jen form Red Hot Books had the brilliant idea of asking some of her favorite authors about their favorite books, and I wanted to spread the world because it’s an awesome contest. Thanks to her, now we know that Patricia Briggs is a fan of Kalayna Price and that Kristen Callihan is really into Meljean Brook (she has great taste). To learn more, visit Red Hot Books. She’s giving away all the choices so there are tons of books up for grabs.

And before you go, remember that there's still chance to win One Final Step by Stephanie Doyle. Awesome book, so don't miss the chance to win it!

October 4, 2012

Guest Review: Angels Fall by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts Angels Fall
Our friend Jade is here today guest reviewing a book I recommended to her (and to everyone willing to listen to my recommendations *cough* Brianna *cough*). She’s been a regular on the blog almost since the first day. We’re lucky to have her as a friend because she’s just plain awesome (and an excellent blogger as well). Don’t forget to stop by her blog and say hi!

First I’d like to thank Brie Brie for this recommendation, as I totally enjoyed the book.  The writing was excellent and the mystery was captivating!  And the developing relationship between Reece and Brody was beautiful.

When Reece Gilmore’s car breaks down in the little town of Angels Fist, she takes it as a sign to stick around for a while.  She’s been on the road trying to recover from a traumatic experience in her past.  While out hiking one day, Reece witnesses a murder through her binoculars, and given her history, everyone just assumes she’s the new resident loony.  But Reece is convinced of what she saw until strange things begin to happen to her.  Now even she is beginning to wonder if someone is out to get her, or if her mind is playing tricks on her.

October 3, 2012

Review: Deep Desires by Charlotte Stein

Deep Desires by Charlotte Stein
The reason I read this book was because last week everyone was talking about it. Curiosity got the best of me and I went into it hopeful but not really expecting such an interesting story. It’s an Erotic Romance that’s actually erotic. Kinky and explicit enough to be more than an average Contemporary with a lot of sex (as it’s usually the case with most of the Erotic Romances out there), yet there’s enough romance and character development to make it compelling beyond the sex.

Deep Desires has a fair amount of twist and discovering the characters is part of the journey, so I will try to be vague as possible about it. Our heroine is Abbie, and the story isn't only told from her POV, but there’s almost no dialogue whatsoever, so we are truly, deeply in her head. One day her neighbor gives her a peep show: she sees him naked through her window while he masturbates* and it’s obvious that he’s doing it for her. That scene sets the story in motion. At first, they silently interact through their windows. Then she finds out that his name is Ivan, he starts sending her presents and little by little their characters unfold. There’s something off about him, he’s secretive and has OCD tendencies. But that’s fine, because there’s something off about Abbie as well.

October 2, 2012

Review: One Final Step by Stephanie Doyle

Earlier this year I read and loved The Way Back, a book with a very unique premise. Ever since then, I became a fan of Stephanie Doyle, so I was eagerly anticipating the release of One Final Step. What I didn't know is that I, once again, was getting an original story with some very unique characters and subjects. 

Madeleine is a former political advisor famous for two things: being so good at her job that turned an unknown person into the President of the United States; and for sleeping with him and getting caught by the First Lady. Years later she lives in almost complete isolation working for a consulting firm but never in direct contact with her clients. That is until she’s assigned to work with Michael Langdon, a famous race card driver, turned entrepreneur. Her job is to make him believable as a business man so that he can attract investors. The rest you can probably guess. Forced to work together they fall in love, but things aren't as easy as that. They both have many complicated issues to work on before they can live happily ever after.
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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.