January Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Liam Takes ManhattanLiam Takes Manhattan by Thea Harrison – C+ The last in the latest trio of novellas about Dragos, Pia and Liam Cuelebre, this one is also the shortest one, coming in at about 50 pages. Also unlike the other two stories, this one felt somewhat incomplete to me. It was more in the nature of a prequel novella, presaging what the next chapter in Liam’s life is and acting as a bridge to (what I hope will be) full length books about Liam. I was involved in a discussion with the author on Twitter recently and she was canvassing interest levels for books featuring adventures in Liam’s life – the first of which would not involve any romance because he’s too young (I picture them as something like a paranormal Vorkosigan series FWIW). The novella sets up Liam branching out on his own. The significance of the Christmas present mentioned in the blurb is a bit misleading I thought. I was expecting a kind of “miracle at Christmas” vibe but it was far more subtle than that.

December Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

His to KeepHis To Keep by Katee Robert – C+ Aaron Robertson has had a crush on his sister’s best friend for over 10 years. Marceline Bellini was off limits when they were young, then they were dating other people and then she fell pregnant, became a single mum and dropped out of the dating scene altogether. Her friends are encouraging her to live a little and not focus solely on being the perfect mother to her daughter, Claire. When Marcy finally agrees to go out with friends to a bar, Aaron decides it’s time to make his move.  He has to do some sweet talking and fancy footwork to convince Marcy that he’s a good bet. Marcy doesn’t want Claire to see a revolving door of men come and go in her life (which, considering that Marcy hasn’t dated at all since Claire was born, is something of an overreaction I think). Aaron is helped by the explosive sexual chemistry between he and Marcy.  He’s also a good guy who has had deep feelings for Marcy for a long long time. He falls in love (in the paternal way) with Claire too and has no issue with taking them as a package deal.

30 Days by Christine D’Abo

30 daysWhy I read it:  I heard about this book on a DBSA Podcast. It sounded good so I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  For years, Alyssa has been going to bed with a memory. Is she ready to wake up with a fantasy?

Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mate, but not Alyssa Barrow. She met Rob at nineteen, and they were set to live happily ever after—until he became ill. In his final days, Rob urged his beautiful, young wife not to abandon happiness—or pleasure. He even left her a special gift, a sexy game plan to help her move on: Thirty cards with instructions for thirty days of passion. You’ll know when the time is right, he’d said. Now it’s two years later, and when Alyssa meets her hot new neighbor, Harrison Kemp, she begins to think the right time is right now…

From his sculpted thighs to his devilish grin, Harrison is the kind of man women want. Before she can lose her nerve, Alyssa tells Harrison about her long-ignored cards…and asks him to help her fulfill them. It’s a favor he’s more than happy to, um, perform. With his skillful touch, and the hot press of his lips against her skin, Alyssa finds herself re-awakening to life—and a host of other sensations. But what began as not-so-innocent fun soon grows into true intimacy, and Alyssa realizes she’s opening herself up not just to sex…but to love. When it comes to a future with Harrison, what’s really in the cards?

Saucy, heartwarming, and insightful, 30 Days explores the agony—and the ecstasy—of starting over, and how a little encouragement, and a little courage, can go a long way…

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I don’t think I’ve read anything by this author before. On the podcast, the story was billed as PS I Love You with sex cards and, even though it basically breaks my HEA rules, PS I Love You was a movie which I saw multiple times and made me sob buckets. Also: Gerard Butler and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Enough said amirite?  30 Days has a HEA – be in no doubt. Whereas the actual PS I Love You (the movie – which I liked better than the book) starts very shortly after the death of the main character’s husband, 30 Days starts two years after. So Alyssa has had time to grieve. She still misses Rob (her deceased husband) but she’s out from under the worst of the crushing grief and feels it’s time to start living again.

August Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Soul DeepSoul Deep by Pamela Clare – C I usually love Pamela Clare’s romantic suspense books and I was excited to see this one release. However, I found this novella overly saccharin and the epilogue was far too cheesy for me and hit a few of my personal hot buttons.

On a more positive note, I was happy to see Janet Killeen again and I liked Jack West from previous books. Jack is 63 and therefore significantly older than the regular romance hero. Janet is 45 and that doesn’t seem the least bit old to me anymore – I’d have almost preferred her to be older actually (with the added bonus of no hot button epilogue because reasons). This is a novella and I expected the romance would be quick but even so I was not expecting the characters to acknowledge (if only to themselves) they were in love in mere days. That was too fast for me and took the book out of realistic and into fairytale for me. Perhaps if I had started the book that way I’d have been okay but I did not so… The beginning was strong but I’m afraid the author started to lose me at the point the L word was first mentioned.   I did like that Janet was always competent, even when she was stuck in a ditch in her car in a blizzard, she had a space blanket to keep her warm.  Perhaps Jack is unusually vigorous for a man of his age (who knows – when I get closer to that age myself I may well think back to this post and slap my past self upside the head) but I was prepared to go with it for the story. 

June Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Alex cold fury hockeyAlex by Sawyer Bennett – C+ I’ve had this book on my TBR for some time. I bought the second in the series when it was on special recently and thought I ought to start with the first one. I was a little meh about it at the very start. The writing style seemed a little too simplistic and on the didactic side and Sutton was just too perfect. But then there was a section from Alex’s POV where he was remembering a particulary awful thing his father did to him and it got me right in the feels.  The mid section of the story was a little stronger but Alex wasn’t that much of an asshole most of the time, depsite his warnings to the contrary.  In the end, it fizzled a bit, with the wish-fulfillment and sparkly rainbows of the side plots which felt unrealistic.  Alex had a whiplash fast change from “I’m falling for her” to “I have to break up with her because reasons” to “what a doofus I was, I want her back”.  It didn’t make a lot of sense to me from a narrative perspective.  I also wanted a lot more about Sutton’s and Alex’s drug awareness programme. Sutton was supposed to be giving the team owners a weekly report about whether Alex was behaving himself, but if she did any of that, it didn’t make its way into the book.

May Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Marine next doorThe Marine Next Door by Julie Miller – C  (Trigger warning: rape) I bought this one when it was on special recently for 99c.  I love the rescue trope, even though it is becoming increasingly hard for me to find books which give me the payoff I’m after.  Maggie Wheeler is a Sergeant for the Kansas City PD and has recently qualified to apply for her detective shield.  She’s a single mother, with a 10 year old son, Travis.  Former marine and now arson investigator Captain John Murdock moves in next door to her and her son.  Maggie’s ex-husband, Danny, has recently been released from prison for his brutal rape of Maggie a decade before (do the math) and she is nervous of meeting new men.  Even so, Travis quickly bonds with John and Maggie finds herself attracted for the first time since her attack.  The romance moved super fast – this stretched my credulity to breaking point particularly given that Maggie hasn’t had sex with anyone since she was raped for a weekend by her violent (now ex-) husband.  That she had no hang ups about getting intimate with someone after so long, except for a fear she wouldn’t be very good at it, seemed unrealistic. For a mother as protective of her son as Maggie is, the thought that she’d be prepared to move in with John after mere days of being in a relationship was also a bit much (I’m practicing the art of understatement here).

I don’t know how police forces work in the US but I thought that all police officers had to do their time in the field. Maggie is presented as  “desk sergeant” and my impression was that she had not spent any time in the field.  I thought all police officers questioned witnesses, secured crime scenes and assisted detectives.  When Maggie is asked to be on the task force investigating the Red Rose Rapist, she reacts like this is a first.  Maybe I have the way things work in the states wrong but it felt a bit out of place to me. 

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