Posts tagged ‘Book Reviews’

Not Your Ordinary Proper Miss

As much as I love the genre, I do have to admit that romance novels sometimes lack diversity. Every heroine is some proper English miss, or some feisty Scottish maiden, or a bold spirited American girl with blond hair and blue eyes. After a while, they can all blend together into one super pale, beautiful pile of womanhood.

Which is why I was super excited to see a refreshing new heroine in One Perfect Flower by Roberta C.M. DeCaprio, my latest review for RT BOOKREVIEWS. Get this: the heroine is an Apache princess whose mother is a former member of the British nobility and whose father is the tribe’s chief.

Fun right? I mean it’s a twofer. You get the “society” of the Regencies with the originality of an Apache heroine. Needless to say, when I read the cover copy for this book, I was quite pumped and ready to roll. Finally, I thought, a heroine to spice things up and bring us a new plot–because obviously this book was not going to be your typical Proper Young Miss Regency.

Well, I was right about that. It was not the typical romance. But I think I set my standards to high.

Such a disappointment. Really it was. Remember my super depressing rant/post on sexual assault in romance novels? Yeah? Well, that was this book. Really a shame. It had such potential to go somewhere and instead I ended up hating the heroine, hating myself, and just feeling sad. All at once. Rule of thumb: when your audience hates themselves after reading your book? Bad sign. Moreover, it is obvious that the author is talented. Her writing was quite nice. Her heroine on the other hand was . . . off-putting.

You can read my review for One Perfect Flower here or by clicking on the image below. But despite the whole misadventure, I really do hope to see more diversity in the romance field. What about Southerners? That could be fun. Or an Indian romance–I mean Imperialism did happen surely someone fell in love during the British occupation of India? Let’s break the Proper Miss mold…

Romantic Question: What heroine/heroes would you like to see more of in romance?

October 15, 2011 at 11:36 pm Leave a comment

Review: Till Dawn with the Devil

You know when you pick up a book that’s just so good, so engaging, so enthralling that you forget the world exists outside those pages? When you just read until your hands fall asleep, your legs cramp up, and the clock rolls around from 9:00 to 10:00 to 11:00 to 2:00 am and still you can’t bear to be separated from your book?

Like this kid...

I love that feeling. The I have to read this all in one setting because I love it so much feeling that you only get when a book really connects. And last night I found it once more on the brightly illuminated pages of my Kindle for iPad app with a Lord of Vice and his willful, not-so-dainty, partially blind love.

The book: Till Dawn with the Devil

The author: Alexandra Hawkins

The setting: Regency England-ish

 

Book two in a the Lords of Vice series, Till Dawn with the Devil is one of those rare blends of sweet, sexy, fun, suspenseful, and likable where the heroine is never TSTL, the hero doesn’t cruelly seduce her for his own benefit outside of marriage, ruin her reputation, and then be pig-headed about “not wanting to commit”–well then asshole you shouldn’t have slept with that young, virginal, NOBLEwoman and destroyed her rep–and the bad-guy was sinister, unexpected, and awesomely dangerous.  Not to mention crazy.

The book follows Lady Sophia, a young noble woman enjoying her Season in London, despite the fact that her two brothers–also her caretakers–are anything less that attentive. Oh and one little thing, Lady Sophia is blind. Or partially blind as a result of a almost-deadly blow to the head she suffered when she was six the night both her parents were shot and killed.

Drama.

Then in sweeps our hero, Gabriel “Reign” Housely, the Earl of Rainecourt. A man devoted to vice and sin, Reign suffered one short-lived and ill-fated marriage in his youth, and with the mysterious death of his unfaithful wife, he vows never to marry again. Obviously he does not keep that vow. From the first moment Reign sees Sophia at a ball, he knows he wants her. Even after he finds out her true identity, cause guess what? Reign and Sophie’s families have a little bad blood there.  Dun dun dun.

Read it. There are some twists and turns and fun little happenings that I just can’t get into but all I have to say was that I loved it. A whole lot.

My rating:

September 26, 2011 at 8:24 am Leave a comment

Cruel to be Kind…or Just Kinda Cruel

Everyone’s a critic. Especially on the internet. Or so I hear. But see, here’s the thing I’ve learned during my past year as a semi-legit book reviewer: bad reviews are not easy to write. At all. In fact, they are infinitely more difficult to write than good reviews.

Not a "semi-legit" critic, more like a "totes legit" one

It seems so counterintuitive. You would think that it would be relatively easy to write a scathing review of some book by some author who you probably will never meet and who wont know you from Tabitha, Denise, or Harriet much less from Tom, Dick, or Harry.  Online you can hide your gender with initials, your name under pseudonyms, you can be anyone… so surely it must be easier to just rip into a book, to really get in there and give it a terrible review.

But it’s not. Bad reviews make you just feel bad.

Last night I was finishing up my latest book for RT BOOKREVIEWS. It was a new Carina Press romantic suspense, and I was just loving the beginning. It was smart. It was funny. The car chases seemed so real and quirky. And the hero and heroine seemed to have some pretty hot stuff between them.

And then the author lost me. Our quirky, spunky, stubborn heroine transformed into the clinched TSTL female–you know the kind, rushing into danger, refusing to listen to logic, spurring good advice all under the guise of standing up for herself and being empowered. Oh sure, I am all for empowered femininity and not bowing to the demands of an Alpha male, but when your empowered stance lands you in deep shit forcing the hero to save your worthless ass, then I don’t really see that as “empowered” per say. I see it as a demeaning example of a stereotypical feminine inability to reason. Not cool. At all.

Oh, I was so angry at this book.  They lured me in with happy, awesome-ness and then smacked me up the head with stupidity. I literally threw it across the room I was so frustrated. And then I ranted to Roaming through Romance diva, Spencer, who sadly seems to end up on the “arg” side of quite a few of my romantic rants.

However, as much I was angry with this book, as much as I felt betrayed and let down by it, it took me hours upon hours to write the review. Hours of sitting there at my computer watching the cursor blink, thinking of how I could emphasize the good, relate the bad, and still not crush the hopes and dreams of a talented debut author who just needed a little more work and a better heroine.

It took me all night when most reviews take me less than an hour. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say–my midnight emails to Spencer suggest otherwise–it’s trying to balance that line of professional and informative with just plain opinionated and bitchy. Who knows whether the review worked or not–we’ll just have to wait and see. But until then take a look at one of my 2 star, “official” reviews. The first book I ever had to be cruel and kind, Freedom’s Treasure by Janet Quinn. Oh Jubilee!

Romantic Question: Do you think you need to be cruel to be kind in bookreviews? Or should people just keep their opinions to themselves?

September 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm 1 comment

Letters to an Unknown Fairy Godmother

Remember how I recently found a whole stash of my childhood diaries? And remember how I exposed some of my embarrassing childhood moments to you online where they will now live forever? Well, I have another confession:

For the longest time I believed in some faceless, nameless, anonymous fairy godmother. Way past the point where it was socially acceptable.

A good point....

Yes, apparently, I have been blogging about my random life long before “blogging” was a word–my sister recently confessed to reading every entry– and there nestled within my  journals were pages and pages of letters spanning back in time starting when I was 6 and going all the way up until I was 13.  Letters upon letters, upon letters.  All addressed to my Fairy Godmother.

My Fairy Godmother was not a slut. Just saying.

They talked about my life, my wishes, my worries about my future.  They were misspelled and random.  Some were about my dream playhouse. Some were about boys. Then there were the letters during my environmental phase when I was 9 where I asked my Fairy Godmother for fewer cars and that “animals not be hunt down and killed for their fur.”  Those letters were then followed by my Born Again Christian phase where I somehow managed combine Christianity with fairytale beliefs in magic when I asked my “F.G.” –cause by that point I was too cool to say Fairy Godmother– for the salvation of mankind.  I was 10.  Good times.

But despite my different phases and interests, the letters to my F.G. never stopped.  They lasted all the way up until high school, and always included not just my wishes but also all of the things happening in my life that I though she should be aware of.  When 9/11 hit, I wrote F.G a letter–just in case she missed it–and when I changed schools when I was 10–I wrote her a letter about that too.  She was like my imaginary, magical friend straight out of reading too many fairytales.  And each letter would end with some random wish.

I don’t really know if I honestly expected my F.G. to grant me my wish or write me back–most of my letters included inquires about her own well-being–but I do know that I must have felt there was some benefit in writing them. I guess I’ve always been a fanciful person, as my F.G. could probably tell you if you ever manage to locate her. And not looking back at all those letters, I realize that the magic of fairytales has always tickled my imagination.

So in honor of my box of letters to an unknown Fairy Godmother, I give you my latest review for RT BOOKREVIEWS. A sexy, modern take on a classic Cinderella tale. Enjoy!

August 31, 2011 at 8:22 am Leave a comment

That Might Be A Problem…

I’m a mildly possessive person in my personal life. I think it may be because I’m a middle child, but I really like my things to stay mine. That book? Sure, I don’t have a problem with you looking at it…reading it…borrowing it. But I will want it back. Mine. The same applies for relationships. That boyfriend? Bitch, please. Back up right now. Maybe I should work on that…

But that said, I am not very good with romances that involve mistresses, the other woman, sharing. There are exceptions…like in Iris Johansen’s early romance Wind Dancer.  I love that book.  So emotional and passionate and compelling. I mean the hero in that book is just way intense, but spoilers: he’s married. And I just had to deal with that little roadblock in the great relationship that is our couple’s epic love. However, I am not usually so cool with the idea that our heroine has to share the love of her life with some other woman. It makes me a little angry.  I don’t necessarily like to share, so why should my heroine?

Which is why I really related to the heroine in my latest review for RT BOOKREVIEWS. Oh yeah, Geneen and I had a lot in common in that regard. Birds of a feather. Mildly judgmental…but in a supportive and nice way? Check. Completely possessive of our love? Check. Often accused of not “thinking with our hearts”–which makes no sense at all FYI–and being a little too “rational” when it comes to relationships–like that’s really so terrible? Check.

Yup, Genny and I match. And if you’re thinking, “Hmmm. That sounds like me!” Then check out my review of The King’s Mistress by Sandy Blair (Samhain) out now!

August 3, 2011 at 12:04 am Leave a comment

Urban Country

Two days ago the Editor-in-Chief of Country Living came to talk to us about…well…living country. And I have to say, I have a GIANT girl-crush on this woman now.  She is absolutely amazing. And Southern. Which means she is even more amazing and automatically cool. There’s a cool and amazing scale and being Southern automatically puts you over into the upper end of it.  Justin Timberlake? From Memphis, meaning instant cool.  Elvis? Yeah, from the South. James K. Polk? Now that was one fine example of Tennessean stud. Manifest Destiny bitches!

So my girl-crush, whose name is Sarah Gray Miller in case you were wondering, got up and gave this amazing presentation about her magazine, which I have to admit was not one that I’d ever really been interested in before.  I mean, come on, I’m a 20-something year-old just out of school living in NYC. I doubt I’m Country Living‘s target demographic. To be blunt, I expect her talk to be a little flat. And old-fashioned.

I was wrong.

Surprise of the day? Miller totally held her own against her co-presenter one of the head-honcho-editors at Rolling Stone. After she was done I looked at my new friend Courtney and was like, “I want to go read Country Living right now!” And then I did. And I loved it.

See, I went into this lecture thinking, “Well, shoot, obviously one of these people is going to be kick-ass…” and I was not thinking it would be the editor of a magazine called Country Living. Unfair, I know. I’ve learned my lesson about making hasty snap-judgements about magazines, but the magazine really did appeal to me!

Now I would not say that I am country, per say.  I mean yes, I am listening to Blake Shelton’s “Kiss My Country Ass” right now. And yeah, I do own cowboy boots. And maybe y’all does slip into a few of my conversations every now and then, but speaking Southern–which is a whole unique language by the way–doesn’t make me country. Seriously. I would say I am more … urban country, a brand new genre from me to you!

Cause while I do enjoy an urban setting where I can hop on a subway at anytime and grab pizza at 3:00 am, I would never call myself an urban girl.  No way.  I can’t jaywalk at all.  I really like grass. And I have no sense of City direction–so it’s good thing my phone has a map on it.  I think Urban Country is like Urban Fantasy.  It’s a blend of the best of the best.  You can have cowboy boots and subways, gingham and concrete, vampires and the mafia.  See where I’m going with this? If not maybe you should check out my latest review for RT BOOKREVIEWS, an Urban Fantasy about just that: vampires and the mafia!

See how everything comes around to romance novels?

July 15, 2011 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

Review: “The Devil Wears Plaid” by Teresa Medeiros

So it’s a really good thing that I have no desire to be a martyr or a saint because I am quite terrible with “self-sacrifice.”  Like really, really bad at it.  Lent? I once tried to give up reading…it lasted a day. One single day.  Opps? To be honest, I’m actually pretty selfish when it comes to things like love, life, possessions and keeping all my body parts in one piece [note: see St. Denis who literally lost his head].  So when I was reading The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros, I kept thinking, I am nothing like this heroine at all!

A devoted daughter willing to give up her future and happiness for the sake of her family? Yeah, that’s nice and all, but as much as I love my family…still wouldn’t get me to marry an 80+ year old with porcelain teeth.  No way. Especially if said geezer had already buried three wives.  I feel like there’s a sign in there if three other women couldn’t survive his company, I would be doomed.

Summary from Goodreads

Passion sparks in USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Teresa Medeiros’s irresistibly tempting new romance after a sexy Highlander kidnaps his rival’s spirited English bride Emmaline Marlowe is about to wed the extremely powerful laird of the Hepburn clan to save her father from debtor’s prison when ruffian Jamie Sinclair bursts into the abbey on a magnificent black horse and abducts her in one strong swoop. Though he is Hepburn’s sworn enemy, Emma’s mysterious captor is everything her bridegroom is not—handsome, virile, dangerous . . . and a perilous temptation for her yearning heart. Jamie expects Emma to be some milksop English miss, not a fiery, defiant beauty whose irresistible charms will tempt him at every turn. But he cannot allow either one of them to forget he is her enemy and she his pawn in the deadly Highland feud between the clans. So why does he still want her so badly for himself? Stealing his enemy’s bride was simple, but can he claim her innocence without losing his heart?

My Review!

Fun, sexy, and a little bit dangerous, The Devil Wears Plaid is a romance definitely worth picking up. Set in historical Scotland (date unspecified), author Teresa Medeiros combines the allure and mystery of the Highlands with sizzling passion and a plot filled with intrigue. Readers will relate to heroine Emma Marlowe, an intelligent and spirited young noble woman forced by circumstances to accept the marriage proposal of a much older man. Medeiros skillfully balances Emma’s vulnerability with her passionate and spitfire attitude, creating a strong, multidimensional character, and not some martyr or wilting violent. Furthermore, Emma’s sharp tongue creates great dialogue and steamy chemistry with Jamie Sinclair, the sex-on-a-stick hero with a dangerous, hard edge. A great historical read!

[3 1/2 Stars!]

June 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm 1 comment

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