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.
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.

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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.