Posts tagged ‘RT BOOKREVIEWS’

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

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

Ready for Abduction?

Katy Perry said it best in her classic and epic pop ballad, “Take me, t-t-take me / wanna be your victim, ready for abduction / boy, you’re an alien, your touch so far away/ it’s supernatural, extraterrestrial.”  Because apparently aliens are hott–and I mean literally HOTT as in attractive–right now, and not just in music.  Now, I’m not saying alien romances are the Next Big Thing in romance novels, but I am saying that I have now read two romances in which our dear hero is a sexy extraterrestrial. And I’m not even a Science Fiction fan.  Other worlds and multiple moons freak me out.  Seriously.  Two moons are too much!

And yet, all that said, I just finished reviewing a book, The Price of Discovery by Leslie Dicken (SAMHAIN PRESS, May) for RT BOOKREVIEWS about an alien affair. I loved it.  I would describe it as Christine Feehan’s Dark Series meets Mars…or whatever planet the characters were from.  It was fun, passionate, seductive, and a great summer read that I literally devoured in one sitting.  You can click here to read my full review or on the picture below, but I have to admit, though I try to go into every review open-minded, I was sure I was not going to jump on this spaceship of an alien/human love match.  Turns out I was wrong!

Romantic Question: Would you be open-minded about an alien romance? Or are aliens simply too out-of-this-world?

May 31, 2011 at 6:03 pm 3 comments

Um Excuse Me?!? We’ve Just Met…

My roommate has recently become addicted to the Sims Medieval.  And by addicted, I mean she’s literally addicted.  Yesterday, we were just sitting in the living room when she yells, “I missed it?!? I had sex and I missed it.”  Now without any context that statement sounds a little…well…serious and personal. But she was playing the Sims, so it’s all good. Well not for her character, a medieval queen who just had a bastard baby with a peasant man. Not exactly a knight in shining armor there.

But like most things in my life it got me thinking….about romances.

See, when I interned at RT this summer, they gave us books.  It was like heaven.  A heaven filled with romance novels.  Down in the basement, there were these boxes of books just waiting for me to read them.  Oh lovely.  And my co-worker, fellow intern and displaced Southern girl with a love for romance–essentially my friend soul mate–Spencer, well she knew of my Highland obsession and my tendency to love historicals.  So one day a book came up for the taking, a historical that looked like something I would like, and Spencer nabbed it for me.  It was Stephanie LaurensThe Brazen Bride.

Never made it to the bride part of the book, just the brazen

So there I am happily preparing to become engrossed in a world of romance, danger, and passion–everything the book promised me–when something in the book brought me up short. It was like running into a romance brick wall.  BAM.  I was out of my happy romance world, thrust out by some thrusting bodies.

Wait, what are you talking about Lizzie?  People have sex all the time in romances.  Why are you being such a prude?  Reason:  I was literally in the first 20 pages and they were having sex! The hero washes up on shore almost dead–they actually thought he was dead–and he has amnesia, but that doesn’t stop our heroine from having sex with his semi-conscious body that first day.  The first day.  Again, the first day.

I was like, “Ummm, excuse me?!? But we’ve just met, and if I’m not mistaken he’s delirious, fevered, and without a memory, not to mention weak, bloody, and one step from death’s door. And we’re having sex with him?!? Seriously?!? I feel so dirty.”  Like my roommate, Laurens’ hero had sex and he completely missed it!

Our “heroine” pretty much takes advantage of the situation, and while she–the character–makes the argument that he initiates the encounter, I still feel it is in bad form to sleep with a man a. who doesn’t know what he’s doing because he’s been bashed in the head and b. who you’ve never even exchanged one word with.

I really don’t care how skilled his hands are. Bad heroine! Bad! Shame on you! And as I often become the character when I read romances I felt like I had just semi-assaulted this poor washed-up man.  The guilt.

As much as I love a good steamy scene–let’s be honest here 89% of you agree with me here dearests–I do have some standards. Gah. Here’s some advice dearest heroines! Heed it or I may add you to my TSTL list!

  1. No sex with someone who won’t remember it the next day due to head trauma.  Call me crazy or prudish or picky but I want my heroes to remember the heroine in the morning. Revolutionary idea!
  2. No sex in the first 4% of the book.  I mean it’s just not proportionate.  I like to at least pretend that the sex means something–even if it’s just irresistible lust, but I want them to at least try to resist it.  Some build up would be nice…
  3. No sex within the first 24 hours of finding them washed-up on the shore near your house.  I feel like they may need some recover time.
  4. No sex if you’ve never even said a word to them. A friendly, “Hi, my name is…” might be nice before everything.
  5. No sex with semi-conscious, feverish, delirious men who cannot really consent…there’s a bad word for this Ms. Laurens, a word that shouldn’t really be applied to our HEROINE.

Now I don’t really think these rules are that hard to follow.  Sex too early in the book? One of my biggest romance pet peeves.  I love the “foreplay,” the uncontrollable desire that the characters fight, the build-up in passion and sexual tension.  If you have sex right away, what’s there to look forward to? I know that’s blunt, but hey, I’m in a blunt mood right now.  Plus, if you have your steamy scene right off the bat? It’s hard to sell it as being anything more than sex, and as a romance reader, I prefer my steam with a large dose of emotion. Brazen Bride made me so frustrated, I couldn’t even finish it.

Yeah, romances have sex it them–most of the time–but that doesn’t mean they need to have it within the first 20 pages.

Romantic Question: How soon is too soon in a romance novel? Do you need more than a casual “hello” before your characters jump in the sack, or do you like me like them to have a sizzling courtship of a sorts?

April 27, 2011 at 11:58 pm 4 comments

Reading the “Road Signs:” A Book Review

Like this one!

Road signs are pretty important.  They keep you from turning down one-way streets, falling off a dead end road, running into moose.  Without road signs I would probably have had a million and two wrecks by now and be in a perpetual state of driving confusion.  Do I turn left? Can I turn right? Should I hit that giant beastie with antlers in the middle of the road or watch for it? So many questions, such dilemmas! What would we do?!?  Road signs are important–and reading those road signs? Even more so.

Random story! I was on a road trip avec my momma the other week, driving through the great state of Georgia, and just outside Atlanta we came across the best billboard ever.  “Strippers: Need we say more?”  And really, they were right.  That sign pretty much said it all.  What more could they say? “Strippers: Not appropriate for children under 18?” or “Strippers: We take off our clothes.”  Both of those are pretty much self-explanatory and fall under the whole “stripper” umbrella.  Everything you needed to know about that classy establishment was right there in the name.  Now think of all the amusement I would have missed if I hadn’t paid attention to that sign! I think my life would have been a sadder place without the wisdom of that Georgia gem of advertisement.  Need We Say More

See road signs make life a better place.  And for my last review for RT BOOKREVIEWS, I got to read, you guessed it, MJ Fredrick’s newest release from Carina Press, Road Signs.  In it, heroine Willow Hawkins learns the importance of reading the road signs….the road signs on the highway of love.  And an actual highway as the book follows two besties who take an actual road trip, only to find that their relationship status may be more than “just friends.”  For my full review, click here or on the picture below! And remember, reading Road Signs can be quite fun!

March 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

Potential Romance: “The Putrid Pirate’s Paramour”

Pirates were smelly.  It’s true.  Think about it.  They were stuck on a boat filled with men all day long. Stuck on the ocean in a wooden boat, and it was no Disney Cruise line here.  Nope.  They did not have 2 spas, 3 all you can eat buffets, 5 swimming pools, and running water in ever chamber’s private bath.  Sorry.  Most pirate ships didn’t even have private cabins much less running water.  Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that pirates would smell a tad foul.

I would so jump on that rope

And yet, the image of the pirate is not one of a smelly, poorly groomed man with terrible dental hygiene but of the sexy swashbuckling rouge.  The Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride.  That man’s little mustache was simply perfect! Plus he had that sexy little black half-mask. Shiver me timbers. Then there was Errol Flynn. That man had more swash and buckle than all the real pirates combined.  Or even the image of sexily mustached Gene Kelly (left) swinging down off a burning building–his muscular thighs gripping the rope as he danced his way into Judy Garland’s arms and our hearts.  Gene Kelly looked like he smelled good. Real good.

But the most popular–and current–image of the pirate is Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow.  Yum-o.  Somehow, Captain Jack managed to take the drunk former rock-star turned hobo look and make it sexy, but if you really think about it, would you really want Captain Jack’s boozy breath, dirty beard, and never-seen-a-washing clothes anywhere near your face? I don’t think the reality of that image sounds seductive at all.  In fact the though of it makes me want to go out and get a tetanus shot–just in case.

Yo-Ho a pirates wife is me

Despite all of that, the image of the sexy pirate is still firmly entrenched in our minds.  Pirate = hott.  And in romance novels, pirates are some of the sexiest, most badassed heroes.  Who cares if their teeth were rotten and they probably had scurvy from their poor sea diet or some other terrible disease.  They represent the dashing image of a roguish hero, and we all love the roguish hero.

I recently reviewed a romance, Prisoner of Desire by Mary Wine for RT BOOKREVIEWS that dealt with pirates and sexiness (click here for the review).  It was quite nice! So while in real life, I would not want to jump that smelly bod–after all I am a nice young lady with a delicate nose–I certainly enjoy a nice romance in which I can forget the diseases and focus on the sexiness!  So check out Mary Wine’s newest and if you find that you want more pirates like me, let me know cause I’ve got a few other suggestions!!!

March 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

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