December 17, 2014

Romance and the Other Woman: Maybe this Christmas by Sarah Morgan


Cover description: A man carries a woman while they kiss. They are wearing winter clothes and it's snowing.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Warning: Unannounced spoilers, proceed with caution.

This post should be my “Best of/Favorites” list, but I just need to accept that, if the list is happening, it will be in January. I read many great books this year, but I don’t have the energy or time to put a decent post together. So instead, you get a review that I’ve been trying to write for over two months, but hey, it’s a Christmas books, so at least there’s that.

Here’s the deal: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that in a series featuring a bunch of hunky brothers, the most compelling one always goes last. This means that even though I loved the first two books (book one being my favorite) Tyler, the final brother, was always there, lurking and tempting us with the promise of a great final book. And although yes, the book was compulsively readable and almost impossible to put down, what started as a combination of anticipation and joy, slowly transformed into a ball of uncomfortable feelings, to the point where I’m not sure whether the unputdownable (<-- a real word, believe it or not) qualities of the book came from my original expectations or from the sheer trainwreckiness (<-- not a real word, sadly) of the story.

November 12, 2014

Hale No, RT!


Image description: the logo of RT. It's blue and it reads: RT Book Reviews, read smarter!


ETA 2: I'm adding this one on top of the post, because RT has issued an official, public statement condemning Hale's actions and saying that they are working on an anti-harassment policy. I'm happy to see that they take our concerns and safety seriously.

ETA 3: This is the last one, I promise (and hope!). This isn't about the Seal of Excellence. We know it was awarded way before everything happened; this is about the Book of the Year nomination (and yes, I know they are somewhat related). 

I say this because there's a lot of emphasis on the SoE, and I want it to be clear that that's not the issue here. Finally, unequivocally means there shouldn't be room for doubt, so I probably wouldn't use that word, considering that the Book of the Year nomination remains (as far as I can tell). 

I'll stop here, before someone starts subtweeting about me. Oh, wait! 

I have a love-hate relationship with “Best of” lists and book awards. Every year I celebrate when books I loved get mentions and nominations, and despair when the next book on the list is one I hated. But everyone with an opinion is bound to have mixed feelings each season, so I (mostly) roll with it, and in some cases, I just ignore the offending award.

The RT Awards nominees were announced yesterday and just when I thought that nominating the ignorant, terrible, no good, super-racist sounding Primitive Nights (I mean, Jesus Christ, go read that review so we can be miserable together) would be the worst thing I would find on that list, this happened:

Image description: screen-cap of the RT Book of the Year nomination for Hale's book.


Yep, Kathleen Hale’s book was nominated for RT Book of the Year.

October 28, 2014

Through the Nostalgia Glass: The Velvet Promise by Jude Deveraux



Warning: all the spoilers.

Cover description: old-school cover featuring a drawing of a man wearing a purple robe kissing a red-haired woman wearing a yellow dress.Welcome to the post that took me over a year to write! If you were wondering what took me so long, the answer is: I’m super lazy and my ability to procrastinate is close to a superpower, like I was bitten by a radioactive excuse or something. I was also a bit afraid to revisit a book that’s so close to my heart, a fear that, as you’re about to see, proved to be both right and unnecessary. But really, I was mostly being lazy.

The goal of this post (that may or may not become a feature, but I’m not making any promises) is to revisit beloved old favorites and see how they hold up to the reader I am today. This means that I’m interested in how my current context shapes the reading experience, and not in how the book’s past context shaped the way it was written.

October 22, 2014

Blogger Blackout


Blogger Blackout Badge Description: White noise picture over a black background. Under the image it reads: Blogger Blackout, Because Stalking is Not Okay
Badge made by Kaetrin. Image attribution: Jorge Stolfi 

I almost used a hashtag on the title, but I decided not to. You’re welcome!

By now, and especially if you are a blogger, you have probably heard about how author Kathleen Hale went through great lengths to obtain a reviewer’s personal info, her home address included, and then proceeded to use that info to visit the blogger’s house and call her at work. Then she wrote an article about it and The Guardian published it (I'm not linking to it, but I'm sure you can find it).

The rest is (ongoing) history.

October 5, 2014

Winners!



The winner of WILD by Jill Sorenson is Lynn R.
The winner of RIDING DIRTY by Jill Sorenson is Justine.

Congrats, ladies! Please check your inbox and reply as soon as possible. If you didn't get my email, contact me at brie.clementineATgmail.com

To everyone else, thank you so much for stopping by, and thanks to Jill for providing the books and for the great interview. Have a great week!

October 1, 2014

Because I Never Learn from Past Reading Mistakes: In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins


Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

TW: Fat-shaming and fat-hatred.  

Cover description: A man and a woman sit on top of two wine barrels while a German Shepherd puppy looks up on them. The background is a winter landscape with a red barn.
To say that I have disliked Ms. Higgins’ most recent books is an understatement, yet here I am, reading and reviewing her newest. In my shameful defense, I still get excited when I see she has a new book out; I can’t stop myself from requesting it from NetGalley, and then I go home and read them in one sitting. I know some object to reviewers who read books they know they will hate, and I understand that, even if I don’t share the sentiment. But believe me when I tell you that the excitement I still feel about these books comes with a heavy dose of hope that this time they won’t punch me in the face with their gross transphobia, slut-shaming and casual racism. So think of this opening paragraph as a disclosure of bias and know that my subjectivity has been compromised.

In Your Dreams is about a desperate single lady, desperately seeking some desperate man who will be her plus-one at her ex’s wedding. As you can see, it’s a very desperate situation, after all, the only thing worse than going to a wedding alone, is if said wedding is that of your ex. Now, these books are very into single ladies who need a man to validate their lives, so the fact that this one repeats the pattern isn't a surprise, and although it’s a great source of perfectly valid criticism, it hasn't stopped me from reading all the books, which is why I’m moving on to my next complaint, also known as the moment the story sucker-punched me.

September 30, 2014

That One Time a Publisher Sued a Blogger


Image description: the Dear Author logo. It's a postage stamp with the illustration of a woman's profile and a round seal on top that reads Dear Author.

By now, you have probably heard that last week Ellora’s Cave sued Dear Author and Jane Litte for defamation.

When I first heard about the lawsuit, I thought it was a joke. My second thought was that my blogging days were over, because I was suddenly very afraid. Not only was EC suing a blog, they were also suing a blogger and using her legal name*, effectively doxxing her. Other things I briefly considered were stop posting negative reviews or stop the reviews altogether and just write general articles that didn't mention specific books. That’s not going to happen, but for a moment there it felt like the only viable option. Even if EC just wants to gag DA and frighten their authors into silence, the chilling effect, as Sunita puts it, is likely to inhibit other voices and criticism including authors, readers, and bloggers, which is why this is an issue that affects and concerns us all.

September 29, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Jill Sorenson


Image description: faded picture of a field with a close up on a wheat-like plant. The words Interview: Jill Sorenson on white on the foreground.
Credit: Florin Gorgan

Welcome to a Romance Around the Corner interview, where the questions are longer than the answers. Our guest today is Jill Sorenson, one of my favorite Romantic Suspense authors and a long-time friend of the blog.

Q. Hello and welcome back, Jill! Your new book, RIDING DIRTY, is a bit of a departure from your usual work, both in terms of story and the way it’s been published: it’s a Motorcycle Club book, it’s an electronic-only release, the tone is darker, and the sexual content is higher. You have been very open and frank about your struggle and desire to sell more books, and you recently talked about how the upcoming Aftershock book, WILD, has been dropped by the publisher and your plans to self-publish it. How much of this new direction you’re taking with RIDING DIRTY is motivated by the market and what currently seems popular, and how much of it is driven by inspiration and the desire to explore a new side of your writing? Is it hard to balance the business aspect of writing with the artistic and creative process? 

Image description: black and white author photo. Jill: Hi Brie! Thanks so much for having me. These are such great questions. I’m not going to pretend that my motivations for writing this book were purely creative. I’ve struggled in traditional publishing and romantic suspense has been a tough road. I wanted to go digital-only to keep the price down, and I wanted to capitalize on a hot trend. But I was also more inspired by this story idea than I’ve ever been before. For me, it’s all about a good concept. I can’t write something I don’t believe in. I also think that MC romance is a subcategory of romantic suspense. Some of my previous books have been dark and gritty, so it’s not that much of a departure.

September 11, 2014

Currently Reading: Rock Stars, Vampires, Demons, and Maids


Source: Review copies provided by the publishers through NetGalley.

Are you feeling cheerful today? Here’s a bunch of mini doom-and-gloom reviews to help you with that.

Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

Rock Addiction, cover description: Black and white picture of a topless man wearing dark jeans and holding a mic. He has one armed with a full-sleeve tattoo. I was very excited when Ms. Singh announced that she was publishing a Contemporary Romance, but this book was a disappointment that I couldn’t even finish.

A rock star falls in love with the virgin, skittish heroine the moment he first sees her. There is absolutely no reason why these two would want to be together, not even to have sex. The problem here wasn’t the trite tropes and contrived plot, though, but how incredibly half-baked the book was. Nalini Singh’s books are all about complex world-building and interesting characters, and at first I thought that the shortcuts she was taking were the product of bad PNR habits that didn’t translate well to a contemporary setting. But whereas the fated mates in the Psy/Changeling series are nuanced people who take time to develop a relationship, this book had two stock, flat characters getting together for superficial reasons in what ultimately was an underdeveloped story. I hear the second half gets better, but I seriously doubt it, because the groundwork just isn’t there.

Grade: DNF
Purchase: Amazon

August 26, 2014

A One-Line Review of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Heroes Are My Weakness


White background. A woman wearing a red coat, and blue globes and jeans stands on the side, but we only see half of her.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.

This isn’t a real review, but I needed an excuse to post something this month, because yes, I’ve become a slacker, but I will post something each month even if it kills me! And this book almost did.

In June, I decided to start a reading journal to keep track of all the books I read and that, judging by the blog's current state, I’ll probably never review. This is what I wrote about Heroes Are My Weakness:

SEP hates women, and I hate myself for enjoying this. 

I guess I should also mention that it’s a 547-page Jane Eyre fanfiction retelling homage. No, let's go with retelling. With puppets. Yes, puppets.

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.

April 22, 2014

Review: Play by Kylie Scott


Close up to a man's torso lying on his stomach on a bed with black sheets and red pillows. He has tattoos down his arm, and two drumsticks are on the bed.
Last year, Kylie Scott’s New Adult novel, Lick, was Romland’s (or maybe Twitter’s) “it” book for about five seconds. I quite liked it, even though the premise was over the top and it seemed to be one of those New Adult titles that are only NA because the heroine is young and, well, the NA label sells. But I saw a lot of potential in Ms. Scott’s writing, so I was excited to learn that she was releasing a sequel. Unfortunately, this new book came with all the issues and none of the fun.

Anne’s money problems go from bad to worse after her evil roommate disappears, leaving her with no way to pay the rent. I’m not surprised the roommate is evil, because with one exception, all the non-sequel-bait women are evil, something you can tell because they are into sex and skimpy clothes. But I digress. Back to the main plot, poor Anne is desperate and trying to find a solution to her problem, when she conveniently meets the hero, Mal.

April 15, 2014

That One Time I Read Half a Serial and Liked It: The Kraken King by Meljean Brook


An airship on fire is about to crash into the sea and we see a gigantic tentacle coming out of the water near where the airship is about to crash.
Tentacle!
I’m guest reviewing the first four parts of The Kraken King serial over at Dear Author. This is a spoiler-free, general review of the first half of the serial, so it reads like a review of the whole thing. I’m not a fan of the format, but I really enjoyed this one, even though I’ll probably wait until I have the final four parts to read them all at once.

I also feel like I should warn you that this is a very positive review. You guys know how much I love Ms. Brook’s books, but I actually struggled with finding things to criticize, something that didn’t even happen with Guardian Demon. Part of it is that what I read was all very, very good, and part of it is that I haven’t read the whole thing yet, so I’m missing half the information. In that regard, writing the review was an interesting exercise, just as interesting --and slightly frustrating-- as reading the serial. I probably should have serialized my review instead of looking at it as a whole, but even then I think I would have had a hard time finding something to criticize, because each part has enough individual merits to stand on its own. And don’t worry, the book I will review next is one of the worse I've read this year, so I’ll will bring balance to the Force.

For those of you interested in the series, all the books stand alone ridiculously well,  but I would read them in order just to build the sense of the world in the order the novels were published. Also, The Kraken King offers a perspective of the world that’s pretty different to the one we get in The Iron Duke, so having that contrast makes the experience richer.

That’s it! Go read the review and let me know what you think. I’m also interested to hear how you feel about serials: love them, hate them, meh!, is there a serial that changed your mind about the format, etc.


March 26, 2014

Sex and the Romance Novel: Satisfaction by Sarah Mayberry


Someecard. Drawing of a white man, yellow background and a message that reads: I'll always be there for you if you feel like having sex without orgasm.
Source: Someecards

Source: A review copy was provided by the author.

Remember the Four Horsemen of the Tropecalypse? One of them is back, only with a slight variation.

Meet Maggie, our poor, orgasm-less heroine, who, after trying everything on hand (pun intended!), decides to get under the sexy, hung tattooist who gave her BFF a tattoo and the best sex of her life. Maggie figures that if his magic dong doesn’t give her an orgasm, nothing will, so she makes an appointment and accidentally tries to seduce the sexy tattooist’s identical twin, in what must be the most awkward scene I’ve ever read.  

But fear not! This is a Romance novel, after all, and humiliation makes for a great meet-cute. It turns out that Mr. Sexy Twin, also known as Rafel, is so smart and intrigued by Maggie, that he puts two and two together and realizes that, holy shit! She’s never had an orgasm, and lookie here, he happens to have the right tool to alleviate her ailment. That’s how they embark on a relationship that’s based on unconventional motivations, so of course things go pear shaped fast. The good news is that these two are mature individuals, so they actually deal with it accordingly. Well, Kind of.

March 24, 2014

Three Years of Reviews, Discussions, Community and Friendships


Three cupcakes with vanilla frosting, sprinkles and each one has a birthday candle on top.
Image credit: April 

Romance Around the Corner turned three last week! It’s been three years of hard work, love and fun, so I’m going to celebrate it by giving away this unicorn to one lucky commenter so the winner can drink his blood and live forever. Forever!

March 18, 2014

Big Fat Book Readalong: The Stand by Stephen King


This month, Sunita is hosting a Big Fat Book Readalong and I wanted to participate*, which is why I’m interrupting our not-so-regular schedule with this post about a book that isn’t a romance, but it sure is long (the audio clocks at almost 48 hours). This won’t be a traditional review, but I hope you enjoy it more than I enjoyed the book. I’ll be back with a couple of Romance reviews later this week (fingers crossed!).

In high school, I used to be a huge King fan, but I never read his two big fat books: It and The Stand. A couple of months ago, I was browsing through Audible and decided to use my promotional credit on the longest book I could find, which is how I ended with this book. But with about 5 hours to go, I felt annoyed and unsatisfied, so I decided not to finish it, which turned out to be a good decision, because shortly after, this happened and I’m still trying to rinse the bad aftertaste from my mouth. Yet I wanted to comment on a book that I've been meaning to read for years, and that I found disturbing for reasons other than those originally intended.

February 6, 2014

Review: Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier


Hand-drawn picture of a girl with a giant wolf standing behind her on two legs and looking menacing. The background colors are dark purple and orange.
Note: I received an e-ARC through NetGalley, but I also purchased my own copy to verify, so the quotes in this review are from the finished copy not the e-ARC. Also, the review ended up being really long, so you're welcome to go TL;DR on it. 

There are four reasons why this book appealed to me: I’m going through a Romance burnout (I know!) so I wanted something different (because werewolves are about as rare as unicorns, right? Right?); the main characters were Mexican; I’ve heard great things about Ms. Neumeier’s books; and the cover was pretty.

The werewolves in this story have a magic shadow that allows them to change at will. They are born that way and are known as black dogs. Regular werewolves, or shifters, are the product of a bite, and unlike black dogs, they can only change during the full moon. Then we have magic humans known as the Pure. Because their shadows hold a lot of power over them, the black dogs are in a constant struggle to control their natures, but the Pure have a calming effect over them (a bit like the Omega wolves in Patricia Briggs’ books), so they are considered valuable by some and useful by others whose intentions aren’t that good.

February 5, 2014

Is Anticipation the New Gratification?


Brown background. Black and white drawing of a man with an umbrella. The card says "I can't wait for whatever season it isn't right now"
Source: Someecards

I’m slowly reading Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. I first heard of it last week after it won the Printz award, although so far I can’t tell what makes it Young Adult. It’s been an interesting experience. I hit the buy button without even reading the whole blurb, and proceeded to be thoroughly freaked out by the first few pages. The ambiance of the book is dark and filled with foreboding and dread. It’s a weird but oddly compelling and well done book, and I’m not surprised that it's getting praise and awards.

The reason why I’m telling you this is because everything about the book is surprising and makes me feel like I’m discovering something new and secret. The complete lack of expectations enriches the reading experience. It’s a feeling I haven’t had in a while, because ever since I started blogging, I’m hyper aware of new books, old books and, especially, of upcoming books.

February 4, 2014

Review: Badlands by Jill Sorenson


Background is a stormy desert. A man with a blue open shirt and jeans stands on the foreground looking down.
Source: a review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Full disclosure: Jill has been a regular on the blog both as a guest author and reviewer, and we are Twitter friends. 

Badlands is the last of the Aftershock books, and it’s a great resolution to what has been a strong and entertaining series. All three books stand alone relatively well, but I suggest reading Aftershock first, because it will offer important background on this book’s main couple.

Penny and Owen met years ago during the earthquake that almost killed them. At the time, he was in prison and a member of a white supremacist gang (more on this later) and she was pregnant. There was an instant connection between them that only intensified when he ended playing a pivotal role in their rescue.

January 29, 2014

Angry Heroines and End-of-Life Decisions: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott


Night sky background, a couple embraces in the foreground. The titles is written in bold yellow letters.
Source: a review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

I never met an Elizabeth Scott book I didn’t like. She writes the type of YA I enjoy--books with complex female characters and deep parent-child relationships. I adore her heroine-centric stories filled with characters that would rather be interesting than likeable or relatable. So when I saw this book available on NetGalley over six months ago, I didn’t hesitate to request it. It’s taken me all that time to put my thoughts into what I hope is a coherent take on a deeply flawed book that I think is worth reading even if for its wonderful heroine alone.

Emma’s father died when she was little and since then, she and her mother were a team. They had a wonderful relationship that did nothing but grow the moment her mother met and married Dan.

January 22, 2014

It’s Not Me, It’s You: The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand


A pair of glass slippers and a miniature of the Eiffel Tower on top of a table.
If you know me, you might have noticed that I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to like Ms. Florand’s books for over a year. But I keep reading them because I recognize her talent, so I always pick up the next book with high hopes and expectations (although I haven't read them all). I say this because when an author fails to impress repeatedly, chances are it will happen again, so reading another book may seem pointless and even a bit unfair. But my experience with this book was negative in a way that extends beyond my inability to connect with the author’s voice and stories, and I feel the need to vent and warn you all.

Our heroine is Sarah Lin, a pastry chef apprenticing at one of the most exclusive and famous restaurants in Paris. This place is so prestigious that it has not one, but two renowned pastry chefs working at the kitchen, the second of which, Patrick, is directly in charge of teaching Sarah. He also happens to be thoroughly infatuated with her.

January 7, 2014

Guest Post and Giveaway: Solace Ames on Asian Sex Symbols and BDSM


Image credit: Jain Basil Aliyas

Our friend and awesome author, Solace Ames (who also writes under the Violetta Vane pen name), is here today to tell us about her new book (co-written with Heloise Belleau aka Heidi Belleau) and to talk about sex symbols, sex stereotypes and race. As you can see, we’re kick-starting the year with a bang. Also, stick around because there’s a giveaway at the end of the post.

Let’s give it up for Solace!

Asian Sex Symbols and BDSM by Solace Ames

I like to think there’s a big difference between a sex symbol and a sex stereotype. Symbols are unique, and potentially infinite, like stars in the night sky. Stereotypes are the same, flat, and dehumanizing. As an Asian-American woman, I’m sadly familiar with sexual stereotypes. My race is a porn category, after all. But while it’s important to criticize stereotypes, I think it’s equally important to celebrate the positive. And today, there are an increasing number of Asian sex symbols.
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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.