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.

October 1, 2012

Interview & Giveaway: Stephanie Doyle

Image credit: Florin Gorgan

I’m so happy to welcome author Stephanie Doyle to the blog today. I’ve been a fan ever since earlier this year when I read The Way Back. Her new book, One Final Step, releases this week and I can’t wait for you to read it. It’s a lovely Contemporary with a very special hero. In the meantime let’s give her a warm welcome! 

Hi, Stephanie! Welcome to Romance Around the Corner. I’m having a love affair with your books, so I’m very pleased you could join us today.

Q. First, for all of our readers who are not familiar with your work, tell us a bit about yourself and your books.

SD: Well I’ve been writing for about sixteen years now. All my published books are with Harlequin, but every now and then I take time out to do something off the beaten path. I’ve written a contemporary about a woman golfer who competes with the men which I recently self-published and some crazy mystery/romance historicals. One I’m actually shopping to publishers now. 

I wish I could talk about really cool hobbies and other things like that, but mostly I’m either working at my day job, writing or watching re-runs of Lois and Clark The Adventures of Superman with my cats.  Thank you cable for bringing back all my favorites!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

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.