Home Forums Let’s Talk Romance Forum Recently Read: Summer 2016

  • Author
    Posts
  • Caz Owens
    Participant
    Post count: 32

    Loved ’em or hated ’em – here’s the place to discuss your most recent reads.

  • Dabney Grinnan
    Post count: 0

    I just finished Annika Martin’s Dark Mafia Prince which I enjoyed. Dark erotic romance.

  • Tinabelle
    Post count: 0

    I just finished reading Anna Campbell’s new novella, Stranded With The Scottish Earl. It was an easy, quick read and I enjoyed it. This is a love at first sight story and takes place over a very short time frame – 3 days. Ewan and Charlotte spend 2 days together after he visits and is stranded by a storm that washes out the bridge. She has vowed never to marry and he has fallen in love with her after learning about her from her father and seeing her portrait. It was a sweet story as Ewan works to convince Charlotte that he loves her and they were meant to be together. Despite the condensed time frame, I could believe in the love.

    • Caz Owens
      Participant
      Post count: 32

      I do enjoy Anna Campbell’s books,Tinabelle, so I plan on reading this. I’m glad to know the romance works well within the format as that’s always a concern with novellas.

  • Reader
    Post count: 0

    Test to see if I can edit once I post.

  • Reader
    Post count: 0

    ….and I guess not. Once you post, you cannot go back and edit??

  • Blackjack1
    Post count: 0

    Nalini Singh, Rock Hard (C+)

  • e. b. wittmann
    Participant
    Post count: 22

    Just finished Dark Mafia Prince & The Hating Game. I liked/loved them both – so different, but so entertaining. Good stuff!

  • Blackjack1
    Post count: 0

    I’ve been unable type in a long-ish review I wrote or to copy and paste it into the comment box for Singh’s Rock Hard. Any ideas?

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Keymaster
      Post count: 100

      If you can’t cut and paste, it’s probably because the dev team is still ironing out kinks. Check back and see if you can next week. Sorry!

      • Blackjack1
        Post count: 0

        Dabney…

        “If you can’t cut and paste, it’s probably because the dev team is still ironing out kinks. Check back and see if you can next week. Sorry!”

        Thank you! I figured it was just a glitch in the system.

  • jaime
    Post count: 0

    Naomi Novik: League of Dragons – A. I am sorry to say good bye to these characters. I have loved this series.

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    I feel like I’ve read so many books lately, particularly ones with REALLY frustrating heroines, that I was absolutely delighted with The Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon. I am not particularly into the billionaire craze in the romance world, but this book was a fantastic enemies-to-lovers/modern marriage of convenience blend. The hero was sexy but I think I liked the heroine even more. She was feisty but vulnerable. Definitely recommend this book.

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    Forgot one worth mentioning: I also read Sweet Little Lies. I haven’t been the biggest Jill Shalvis fan in the past (I suppose this is an unpopular opinion!) but this one was OK. Not really special. I thought the chemistry with the leads was good and I liked the relationship with the brothers, but some of it annoyed me, like the whole premise of the book with the pay it forward theme. Not sure how to post things to hide spoilers on the new forum so I’ll just say some of the heroine’s actions made me roll my eyes.

  • Lillian Marek
    Post count: 0

    I just read The Black Madonna by Stella Riley and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. It’s a romantic historical novel rather than a straight romance, I suppose, and I loved every page of it. Set in the period leading up to the English Civil War and continuing into the opening years of the war, it’s full of rich period detail and the complex issues of divided and conflicting and ambiguous loyalties. The characters are complex, except maybe for the villain who is just a polished sociopath.
    I couldn’t finish it in an evening—it’s some 600 pages long—but I didn’t get much of anything done until I did. I do love a book that lets me just sink into the story and stay there.

    • Caz Owens
      Participant
      Post count: 32

      Lillian, I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed The Black Madonna. Stella Riley has been one of my favourite authors for around 30 years (she took a long writing break until a few years back) and I am only too happy to wax lyrical about all her books! There are three more books (so far) in that series, but don’t miss out on the companion novel, A Splendid Defiance, It’s the first book of hers I ever read and is still in my all-time Top 5 romance novels.

      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 2 days ago by   Caz Owens.
  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    Nalini Singh, Rock Hard (C+) – After a really promising start, this novel took somewhat of a nosedive at about 40% into it. The first part of it though is charming and fun and hard to put down. It focuses on the chemistry and work relationship between the brusque CEO and former rugby star, Gabriel Bishop, brought into save a flailing company, and Charlotte Baird, a shy and reclusive admin assistant who would rather fade into the woodwork than be recognized for her hard work.
    As a general rule, I’m not comfortable with boss/secretary romances and though the hero here does at least acknowledge the ethics of pursuing his assistant, the acknowledgment is more lip service than any real examination of the inherent problems with the relationship. Still, the banter and submerged desire between Gabriel and Charlotte is entertaining and sexy in the early chapters.

  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    Continued…The second half of the novel went to a dramatically different place that changed the tone, the energy and the plot of the entire story, and it was unexpected. Charlotte, it turns out, is not just a shy and retiring “mouse,” as she’s referred to continuously early in the story, but instead, a victim of an abusive relationship with a boyfriend who stalked her and tortured her, leaving her hospitalized and emotionally scarred for years. Gabriel does not just have to find ways to date his secretary and encourage her to shine in her work, he has to help her heal. Much of the novel changes direction and follows Charlotte’s attempts at recovery and Gabriel’s teaching her to be healthy. To the novel’s credit, Charlotte’s love for a good man is not the answer to her health crisis, and there is a therapist involved that lends the story credibility. But nevertheless, the trauma from sexual and physical assault controls the second half of the novel. The story also takes a bit of a misstep by reintroducing the crazed boyfriend, conveniently released from prison at a crucial moment in Charlotte’s growing trust for Gabriel. This tangential plot felt unnecessary to me.

    I have to admit that I don’t think I care for Singh’s characterizations in general, and since this is the third or fourth novel of hers that I’ve read, I have to think that she’s just not a writer who works for me. Here, as in her other books, the hero is an over-the-top protective and virile man that inexplicably “growls” during nearly of all of his conversations with Charlotte. Gabriel’s decision early in the novel that Charlotte belongs to him didn’t sit well with me either. I cringe a little at primal language like “she’s mine.” And, this is well before the heroine even suspects she’s an object of desire.

  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    In Singh’s paranormal books, fate often intervenes to dictate romantic relationships and so there is a determinist aspect to her books, but in a contemporary romance without paranormal or fantastical elements, it felt weird. But even though I snickered at times over Gabriel’s characterization, I have to say that I disliked the characterization of Charlotte perhaps even more. She’s timid and afraid of her own shadow until she suddenly locates her inner core of feistiness, thanks to the hero’s love and some good therapy, and then she’s off stomping her foot to express her newfound ability to stand up to her domineering new love interest. And while Gabriel is a giant 6’5,” Charlotte, we are repeatedly told, is a petite, delicate and fragile little thing. I felt a little hit over the head by the stark contrast between this uber-alpha man and this tiny little timid woman. I’m sure we’re supposed to find this terribly romantic, but it didn’t work for me.

    Finally, in the end I didn’t know if I was reading a romantic comedy or a dark tale of survival, though I wished for the former.

    *I broke up this long message and it finally posted

    • JaneA
      Post count: 0

      In response to Blackjack’s post(s) on Rock Hard. I too find my self dissatisfied with her contemporaries, and I’ve tried several of them. As much as I enjoy many of the books she’s written in her two paranormal series, this new series has not worked for me. Her characterizations seem shallow and rather juvenile, IMHO her writing is better suited to action driven stories, though I know many people wouldn’t agree with me

  • Eliza
    Post count: 0

    Thanks to Mary Skelton, I finally got to read Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid which I give a solid A.. I had been wanting to read it for some time, so Mary’s posting about it being a free kindle offering finally got me moving and I thoroughly enjoyed it–the story, the unique characters, and author’s talent for picking great words, It was smart, funny and thoroughly enjoyable–and I don’t read that many contemps. So, thanks again Mary for the heads up. 😀

    • Mary Skelton
      Participant
      Post count: 9

      Eliza wrote: Thanks to Mary Skelton, I finally got to read Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid which I give a solid A..

      Sorry! I am just now reading this. We have had workers in the house over the past couple of weeks and they messed up the internet and cable. Had to have both techs come out, so I was without internet except on my phone for a few days. I am so glad you liked it Eliza!!!

  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    Eliza…It was smart, funny and thoroughly enjoyable

    I’m going to read it soon. My sister has read the entire series and according to her, Friends Without Benefits (Book #2 in the Knitting in the City series) is the best one of all, but she really likes all of them.

  • JaneA
    Post count: 0

    I’m going to read it soon. My sister has read the entire series and according to her, Friends Without Benefits (Book #2 in the Knitting in the City series) is the best one of all, but she really likes all of them.

    Ha, the second in the series is my least favorite, while I loved Neanderthal Seeks Human! But I do think she is a wonderful writer.

    I finally read Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly. How nice it is to sink back in to one of Ms Kelly’s books. I found this one thoroughly enjoyable. I particularly like reading historicals about the middle class, people who are not uber-wealthy but who do well enough for themselves to have a comfortable life.

  • Mark
    Post count: 0

    These are my humor scores for Reid’s books:
    reid, penny
    series
    neanderthal seeks human***
    neanderthal marries human****
    friends without benefits***.5
    love hacked**.5
    beauty and the mustache**.5
    scenes from the city [not yet read]
    ninja at first sight***
    happily ever ninja**.5
    series
    elements of chemistry parts 1-3 ***.5
    series
    truth or beard***
    grin and beard it***.5
    reid, penny and cosway, l. h.
    series
    the hooker and the hermit****
    the player and the pixie**.5

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    Blackjack, thank you for the review because that series has been on my TBR pile for a while. I’ve never read anything by Nailini Singh as I don’t tend to read paranormal romance, but not sure I want to read these contemporaries now.

    I just finished the first 3 books in Samantha Chase’s Shaughnessy Brothers series. There are 5 brothers and 1 sister (I’m hoping she gets a book, too, but she’s so much younger that the book would have to be set well in the future). The base of the family is in North Carolina (my home state!), although it takes place in different locations. The matriarch dies before the series begins, so each book starts with some kind of flashback that gives insight into the hero’s relationship with his mother, which I found really interesting. I think the family interactions are a strength of this story — they seem like a “real” family to me. Each book is a standalone but I’d read these in order because other characters make appearances and events happen in their lives that make more sense when you’ve read their individual stories.

    (continued…)

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    (continued from previous post)

    1. Made for Us (Aidan / Zoe): I thought this was sweet. Aidan is the eldest and a total control freak. He was also a total jerk to the heroine at times and I found it incredibly frustrating because at heart, I think he’s a “good” guy and he’s a pretty beta, all things considered. I definitely liked the heroine more in this story; her mother passes away from breast cancer shortly before the book begins, I really identified with her because I lost my mother to breast cancer last year. This is technically an employer/employee romance because Zoe works as a consultant for him (and he ultimately has the power to fire her if he wanted to), but it didn’t feel like there was any kind of power imbalance. Despite Aidan being a jerk, I felt their relationship was believable and I bought into their HEA because I do think Chase does a good job of helping us understand why Aidan is the way he is and there are enough secondary characters (mostly his father and brothers) making sure he knows he’s being a jerk that he begins to see it for himself. I don’t tend to rate books but I’d give this a good 3 / 5 stars.

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    Hmm, having trouble posting the rest of these reviews, and sorry for the multiple posts.

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    2. Love Walks In (Hugh / Aubrey): Hugh is the second eldest and another control freak. Again, there are reasons why he is the way he is (all traced back to his mother’s death) and I found his overt jealousy at the beginning of the novel off-putting. This is another employer/employee romance in that Aubrey takes a job working for him as an event planner. They spent a lot of their early relationship traveling to different work locations so this relationship is always at the forefront. Aubrey’s toxic relationship with her parents is revealed bit by bit throughout the novel and made me warm up to her. 3 / 5 stars.

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    3. Always My Girl (Quinn / Anna): I was looking forward to this one. We know from previous books she’s been in love with Quinn for years but he’s really self-absorbed. It took me a lot longer to warm up to him. I am not always a fan of books where the couple gets together fairly early as that can make the rest of the book really anticlimactic but the author used those chapters to have the hero come to terms with how he’d treated Anna in the past and make their transition from best friends to lovers a real HEA. 3 /5 stars

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    One thing to note about this series—there’s plenty of kissing & sexual tension, but Chase leaves you at the bedroom door. I’ve been known to skim a book that has too many sex scenes, but I found this a bit odd because there’s so much build-up and then…nothing. In fact, I totally missed the first time Aidan and Zoe had sex in the first book. I feel like the intimacy established between characters in a well-written love scene reveals a lot about that particular couple’s relationship and thus this bothered me in all 3 books, to be completely honest.

    Can’t wait for Owen’s book; he’s a social awkward, ADORABLE scientist!

  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    testing

  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    Julie Anne Long, Hot in Hellcat Canyon (B+) – I’ve always felt that Long has a very contemporary voice as a romance author, despite writing until now only historical romances. So I was excited to read her first foray into contemporary writing, and overall I really was not disappointed. Just a couple of things made this slightly less than an -A- read for me, but first, I want to gush about all the great things I loved here. Hellcat Canyon as a setting is a fine rival to England’s Pennyroyal Green. And like Pennyroyal Green, it’s a small-town retreat from big-city life while still enjoying the hovering presence of big-city life in the distance. Los Angeles is an overarching presence and sometime-reason for the characters to hide out here and relax and enjoy a simpler way of living. I rarely read books set in Northern California, but Long captures a very specific geographical small-town life wonderfully. She also did a really nice job constructing a varied cast of characters who are realistic and compelling, without falling into sentimentality or caricature. I look forward to reading more about them in successive novels in the series.

  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    continued…

    The romance itself between Britt and J.T. is gentle and sweet and exactly the relationship both characters need. Long has a heroine in recovery from an abusive husband, and the abuse narrative helps explain Britt’s struggles to regain her former confidence in herself. In flight from emotional and physical abuse and a strong sense of self-failure, Britt has set aside her artistic talents, her education, her competitive spirit and even her fun-loving nature to withdraw from life. I found her struggles very believable and I was utterly charmed by Britt’s love of restoring things in life that had taken a beating: bedraggled plants, old furniture, and even a washed-up actor who arrives in town in the first chapter. J.T. is a bit of a mix of a-has-been movie star, a struggling pop icon, and a craftsman in the art of acting. I personally appreciated the craftsman side of his character, and I think it saves him from the pitfalls of celebrity culture in that he is good at his job and can ultimately survive the vagaries of a fickle public. Also, J.T.’s care for his craft lends him credibility in Britt’s eyes and allows her to see beyond the movie star to the very human beneath the facade.

  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    continued…

    The lure of Hollywood is the competing narrative to counter Britt’s trauma recovery storyline as the obstacle to the romance. J.T.’s wealth and fame threatens Britt’s emerging feelings of confidence, and here, I completely believed her issue. I’m not terribly keen on one member of a relationship as a celebrity because it tends to create a very lop-sided dynamic between the main couple. But I did appreciate that Britt’s insecurities about her new lover’s celebrity status upends her ability to be happy and safe with him. The arguments they had about their relationship felt very authentic and even painful at times, and though there were moments when I wished Britt could be the better person and trust J.T., I kept returning to the sense that I don’t know if I would handle the pressure of being with a celebrity any better.

    It’s not a perfect book, and I don’t know if I will reread it, which led me to think it’s probably a little more of a B+ than A- read. It also features the trashing of an ex-girlfriend, which is not an element I love in romance writing. Does J.T.’s ex have to be such a monster? Does the entailing girl fight over the guy really need to happen here? I didn’t enjoy this aspect of the story (though I did laugh at Britt’s revenge). Overall, I actually laughed quite a bit reading this one, and I’m really looking forward to Wild at Whiskey Creek this fall.

  • stl_reader
    Post count: 0

    Finally decided to try Kristen Ashley. The one available on Overdrive was Motorcycle Man, and it has high Goodreads ratings, so I went with it.

    That book was so bad in so many ways, I can’t even.

    A bullying neanderthal and a doormat who doesn’t mind a controlling boyfriend get together. For some reason, I just was not perfectly fine with that.

    If you don’t mind a “love” story where the woman finally decides that “I’ll accept essentially being a second-class citizen in your biker world, but only if I’m treated with respect to my face and that shit does not come home,” I guess this could be for you. Personally, I was offended.

    I admit I was at a bit of a disadvantage reading this because I don’t speak Caveman, the mother tongue of the uber-alpha dickwad who features as the story’s “hero.” Maybe my lack of familiarity with that language caused me to misunderstand the plot line. Or the connection between the H/h. Or…well, everything.

    I realize many folks have read and enjoyed this book, and I get the allure of the “bad boy/alpha male with a bad childhood being tamed by the love of the right woman” trope. But there’s alpha maleness and then there’s colossal me-tarzan-you-jane jerkdom, and for me, the male protagonist in this book falls squarely in the latter camp.

  • Blackjack
    Post count: 0

    stl_reader…”The one available on Overdrive was Motorcycle Man, and it has high Goodreads ratings, so I went with it.

    That book was so bad in so many ways, I can’t even.”

    Hated this book, and it was my only Kristen Ashley. And yes, “caveman” is a perfect way to describe the hero and his communication skills. Afraid I don’t get the attraction to this writer.

  • tigz
    Post count: 0

    I’ve attempted to read two Kristen Ashley books. Didn’t finish either of them. She’s just not my cuppa tea, I guess. Listened to a podcast a while back where they drooled over her books, and decided that podcast wasn’t for me. 🙂

  • RichMissTallant
    Post count: 0

    Ah, Kristen Ashley. I wish I had saved my rant about her from the old boards. I read one of her books – never again! I didn’t even enjoy it (Ride Steady, I think?) in a guilty pleasure sort of way. I straight up hated it and the quality of the writing/dialogue was awful.

  • stl_reader
    Post count: 0

    Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh

    As others have posted on other boards, this was in large part an epilogue to Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series. We revisit various devoted couples. About 500 times we are reminded how the Packs love their children. If I never hear the word “pupcub” again, it will be too soon.

    I believe there may be plans for a new series continuing to explore the evolving psy/changeling/human world. Think I read that a couple of places. To that end, a new power player (who may or may not be evil and who may have been mentioned in previous books in passing) is revealed. Oh, and someone called The Architect.

    There is a plot line in this story (trying to find a kidnapped water changeling). Not bad, though not resolved with as much follow-up as I would have liked.

    For me, this book is the Nalini Singh equivalent of a Mary Balogh Christmas novel. A little too much saccharine sweetness all the way around. Too many cute children doing too many cute things. Too many couples perfectly in tune., paraded before us one after the other. Thank God Hawk and Sienna had a moment, because frankly I was starting to get a little bored.

    Disappointed that Nikita + Anthony were alluded to (everyone thinks they are spending time together doing, well, something) but not featured in a scene together by themselves.

    An okay ending to a very good series. Would have been better with about 100 fewer pages. (It clocked in at 479 pages on my Kindle.)

    • MEK
      Post count: 0

      Wow! Allegiance of Honor was the end of the series and I didn’t even realize it? I’d also be willing to read a “sequel series”. Nalini Singh is my go to author for enjoyable reads. I often reread her books when I’m between new reading adventures and need a tried and true.

      • Enya Young
        Participant
        Post count: 2

        It’s not the end of the series. Thank of it as a season finale, or the end of an “arc” as she calls it.

        I was bored senseless by the book. It took me 5 tries to make it through because all of catchups drove me crazy. I wasn’t so attached to all the couples that I actually cared to know that they were still happy (and really, they all kind of read the same when you dump them together); even the couples that I did care about lost their allure in the midst of eleven other partnerships. Like stl_reader I liked the kidnapped water changeling subplot, but that’s a lot of other stuff to sift through to get to it.

  • Lindareads
    Post count: 0

    I can’t believe how many good books I’ve read so far this summer. And some were in my TBR box, patiently waiting until I got to them, which is even better! These books led to other books in a series or books by the same author. I read the entire “Ice” series by Anne Stuart and just finished the first book in the connected “Fire” Series. I loved Consumed By Fire as much the books in the “Ice” Series. It has been so much fun watch these men fall and fall hard for the heroines. Morally ambiguous heroes are a favorite of mine, along with heroes who turn out to be not who or what the heroine thought they were. And in that vein, I also recently read an ebook from a new to me author called Wild Encounter by Nikki Logan. Wonderful storyline about saving Wild Dogs in Africa and a botched kidnapping that should have not happened. The longer I read the book, the more I got into the story. She has another book coming out soon, and I can promise that I will be watching for it. And then there’s my first Lisa Marie Rice book, Dangerous Lover. Oh my goodness, it was hard to put down. I loved the writing, storyline, hero and heroine. Which made me buy copies of Dangerous Secrets and Dangerous Passion, which I am reading right now. There are things I should be doing – weeding, painting, crafting etc. -but I just want to read to see where things go in the story. I am so glad I have lots of other books to read by Lisa Marie Rice in the future. I also reread two books by Linnea Sinclair – Games of Command and Hopes Folly, two of her best, in my opinion. HF is the third in her Dock Five series and I so wish she would release another book soon. I’d also like to see a book about Branden Kel-Patons brother, who sounds like a really interesting character. Hope you’re listening Ms. Sinclair! So far, great reading this summer.
    Lindareads

    • Blackjack
      Post count: 0

      I think I mentioned in the Anne Stuart thread how much I loved reading Consumed by Fire, and in fact, I just reread it. After looking at Stuart’s website, I read in a blog from six months ago that she is busy at work on Book 3 in the Fire series and so hopefully that will be out in 2016.

  • Lindareads
    Post count: 0

    Thanks for the update on Anne Stuart, Blackjack. You’ve made my day!

Reply To: Recently Read: Summer 2016
Your information: