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  • dick
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    Post count: 3

    I should have done this, I guess before that last post . Better late than never?

    I just finished Goodman’s “A Touch of Frost.” It’s typical Goodman far, although not a tour de force by any means. The movement through the growing attraction between the hero Remington Frost and the heroine, Phoebe Apple (a bit cute for the name, IMO, but Goodman’s prerogative) is almost too smooth for a Goodman romance. The secondary romance between her sister (former actress) and Thaddeus Frost , Remington’s father, retains the typical kinds of trouble faced by Goodman’s pairs–suspicion, attempted infidelity, and other equally questionable urges. And in addition, problem exist between step-momma and stepson. Still, the dialogue sparkles, more than I recall occurring in prior Goodman books. Her dialogue is always good, but this dialogue has an added verve to it. Most will enjoy reading it, I think.

    dick
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    The other book I finished recently was Lisa Black’s “You May Kiss the Bride.” This book had a pretty good, if rather standard premise, but the author didn’t do as good a job with it as she could have. And as the book continued, it became more and more difficult to continue reading. By the end the author was so unwilling to end the book that there must be about four sections of what should be epilogue. I kept thinking, for god’s sake shut it down!

    Kay
    Participant
    Post count: 39

    Dick your comment about the author not able to wrap up the ending to her book made me laugh. I have definitely felt that way before. Kristin Ashley is another example of long endings. I got the sample for Jo Goodman’s book but am wondering if there is one that comes before it that I should read first?

    I just finished Grace Burrowes new book, His Lordship’s True Lady. The story sucked me in but I felt a little lost with all of the characters involved in the story, some from past books that I had forgotten about. The story has Hessian (his name made me think of boots) who is a widow that inherits a girl from neighbors along with her brothers. Hessian decides to marry again so they have a mother. The story focused a lot on Daisy, the girl, but barely mentioned the boys. There is a mystery to unravel involving the h, Lily. I enjoyed this story and it makes me want to go back and reread The Heir.

    Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    A Touch of Frost, Jo Goodman (B-) – I enjoyed the first half of this book quite a bit but felt that the second half really lost steam. It lost so much steam for me, in fact, that it took me weeks to read what should have been days, hence the lower grade. That is unusual for a Jo Goodman book.

    In the first half, Phoebe is a likeable young woman traveling on a train from New York City to Colorado to visit her sister who is newly married to a much older man. Phoebe realizes en route that a very attractive man on the train appears to be watching her, but she is intrigued more than worried. However, before readers can wonder if the story is about a man stalking a single woman traveling alone, everything abruptly switches gear as the train comes to a screeching halt and is hijacked by bandits. I like that Goodman keeps throwing the readers off balance and this is a novel where in medias res works well to keep us guessing about the plot. By the end of the first half, it would seem almost as if Act I had been wrapped up. Remington Frost (what a name!), the incognito man, is a hero rather than stalker, and he manages to save the heroine, who did, alas, need saving despite her resourcefulness. The two banter their way to Phoebe’s sister’s ranch, where Remington is coincidentally also heading. It turns out that Remington is the son of the older man and had been on an appointed mission to see Phoebe to safety.

    The second half of the novel felt far less coherent. The bandits are still on the loose, but who are they and why did they want to kidnap Phoebe? The answer was surprisingly disappointing and even a bit uninteresting. Fiona and Thaddeus present a potentially interesting secondary romance though I would have liked to have seen more from them to explain how they ended up together. Ffiona is withholding a huge secret that also did not satisfy me and felt distracting. My biggest disappointment with the second half though is due largely to the lack of a deep romance between Phoebe and Remington. Their banter is fun but I felt that they jumped from banter to love far too quickly. Too much of the novel is mired in the bandits’ back story, Fiona’s secrets, the housekeeper’s secrets, and then Phoebe’s secret past life.

    I will add too that the theme of rape felt so odd in this book. Phoebe reveals early in the novel to Remington that she is a surviving rape victim. And she was not raped just once but multiple times from different men! The situations that led to her rape are never really explained or relevant to the current plot, and this plot is quickly discarded after Remington expresses horror and sadness and they hug it out. Then Phoebe moves on to enjoy a healthy sexual relationship with her new lover. That did not ring true for me, and it surprised me in a Goodman book as she is an author who does not shy away from exploring trauma in depth. Why was it even here?

    Overall, a fairly mediocre read for me.

    JaneO
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    One of the things I like about Jo Goodman’s books, including A Touch of Frost, is the heroes. They are strong and protective without being smothering. They want the heroines to be strong, and they encourage that strength. They don’t confuse the miseries that were inflicted on the heroines with the heroines themselves, and they have enough faith in the heroines to believe they will not just survive but overcome those miseries.

    That said, I also like her recent westerns in part because they aren’t quite as dark as the regencies, like the Compass Club series, were.

    Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    I like Goodman’s heroes very much too and find her to be an author very sensitive to how men and women function as a couple.

    I agree too that her westerns are not as “dark” as her regency novels. However, the theme of rape in A Touch of Frost felt weird to me. Why was it there at all if she wasn’t going to develop it or show how it impacts the heroine. How was Phoebe able to survive multiple rapes without any repercussions, including in her ability to thrive in a new and exciting sexual relationship? Usually, Goodman develops these themes well, but in this book, it felt tacked on so that she could include her trademark sexual trauma plot without doing the hard work of developing it. It didn’t work for me here in this one.

    JaneO
    Participant
    Post count: 3

    Still on A TOUCH OF FROST, I think it’s the fact that Phoebe was prepared to kill the second rapist the next time he came near her that made me think she wasn’t destroyed by the experience. She didn’t have to kill him because he had died anyway, but she was ready to fight back. I think that’s important—she isn’t a victim because she doesn’t think of herself s a victim. She’s done a lot to heal herself before she ever sets out on her journey west.
    She possesses sophrosyne, and the rapists cannot truly touch her. I hope I’m not sounding pretentious here, but what is done to her body cannot truly touch her essence. I think this is a theme in any of Goodman’s books.

    Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    Yeah, I agree that Phoebe’s a strong person and her past has not destroyed her. What didn’t ring quite true for me is how quickly she was able to be happily sexual with Remington without any issues emerging at all. Sexual trauma is a repetitive theme in Goodman’s writing and she usually spends significant time on the issue in her books, whereas here it popped up and then vanished just as quickly. I actually kept waiting for it to be discussed and explained more right to the end.

    Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    Beauty and the Mustache, Penny Reid (A) Although Beauty and the Mustache does not displace Dating-ish as my favorite book in the Knitting in the City series, it is right up there. It’s also quite different from the others in tone and setting, but like all the others, Reid constructs an organic story that feels unique and perfectly suited for the two main characters here.

    Ashley Winston has built a very nice life for herself as a pediatric nurse in Chicago that includes close friends who have become her chosen family after having abandoned her biological family in Tennessee many years early. As the story begins, Ashley is reluctantly arriving back in her small hometown to see her mother after learning that she has been suddenly hospitalized. She receives a lukewarm reception from her six brothers who, we quickly learn, have missed her but have also felt hurt by her failure to return for visits over the years. Very early into the novel, Ashley discovers that her mother is dying of cervical cancer. The fact that she is only 47 was a particularly sobering moment for me. Much of the first half of the novel revolves around her mother’s dying and Ashley’s caretaking, and having lost my mother at a young age, I admit to tearing up frequently. The mother-daughter bonding scenes are poignant and lovely and terribly sad to read. Despite their physical separation over the past ten years, it turns out that Ashley and her mother spoke daily on the phone, and very importantly to the plot of this novel, that the mother extolled her pride in her “Ash” by talking her up frequently to a beloved family friend, Drew Runous. Much to Drew’s chagrin, he has become caught up in the stories of the wonderful “Ash” without ever once realizing that this person is actually a woman. The realization for him provides some early funny moments, but they also provide some deeply romantic ones as Drew struggles to temper his long-held admiration and respect for this missing figure in his life with his strong attraction to the young beauty. “Ash” as an imaginary man was an enigmatic figure who Drew just knew would become an instant friend and important person in his life, therefore the return of Ash, the former beauty queen, is enormously unsettling for him. I have to admit that I really liked this particular storyline because it creates much complexity to the instant love/attraction more typical in romances. It also bemuses Ashley that Drew seems to know her and understand her despite having just met her.

    Drew is, I think, meant to be another eccentric Reid character, but he felt very clear to me. He is on the surface a grumpy hero, which I tend to love. Underneath his quietness and at times persnickety-ness, as Ashley calls it, he is quite deep. He’s highly educated and prone to being a deep reader and thinker. He eschews casual sex and superficiality of all kinds in life, but he also decides very early that he needs to keep his feelings for Ashley somewhat submerged. It’s impossible to read this story without appreciating greatly just how worthy Drew is for his selflessness and willingness to be there for Ashley in any way that she needs. He understands fully that the loss of her mother is devastating and he decides quickly that he will be her rock.

    Drew’s much-needed strength and support for Ashley leads to the other emotional storyline that turned me into quite a teary reader. Ashley has debilitating self-esteem issues from her childhood in a small town where she is the daughter of a low-life rake. Her father abandoned the entire family when she was a teenager, but not before wreaking havoc on all of them in different ways. With Ashley, the havoc is of a sexual nature and some of the scenes where Ashley is recalling how much she has allowed herself to accept views of herself as a “pretty face” and “disposable piece of ass” for men really affected me. So many young women imbibe sexist images and perspectives, and Ashley’s childhood stories hit a nerve.

    The romance here is a lovely one. I could find small details that didn’t work as well as I wanted, but I’m not going to bother because the overall story here is a powerful one and I loved it. Added bonus for the introduction of the Winston bros and their separate and wonderful series of books.

    Kay
    Participant
    Post count: 39

    I recently read Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean. I agree with Caz’s review and comments about this book. The story of Malcolm and Sera was like a soap opera, definitely over the top. In the Rogue Not Taken (Sophie’s story) we see Malcolm in a compromising position and in The Day of the Duchess their story is told. I don’t know if I recommend this one unless a reader likes a lot of angst. I thought it was a little repetitive and there was always some obstacle that kept them from talking to each other but I was hooked into the story.

    I also read a novel, Chemistry, by Weike Wang. I love science so I could really relate to the thoughtful science trivia interspersed through the story. It is a shorter book written in an unusually format with short sentences and paragraphs. I even found myself laughing out loud in a few places. I just realized the main character is not given a name! When the story begins she is a Chemistry graduate student working in a lab and living with a wonderful guy, Eric who proposes to her. She has a dog, best friend with a baby and also struggles with her relationship with her parents who are Chinese immigrants. She falls apart and rediscovers herself. I saw it recommended in Entertainment Weekly. This reminded of an older book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

    What are you reading?

    Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    I have Day of the Duchess on my list of books to read this month. I read Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake a few years ago and did not like it at all. I still want to give Sarah Maclean another chance and this one sounded good. Generally, I like angst in romances, and so I’m hoping I like it.

    msaggie
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    Over the summer I read the second and third books of Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series, White Hot and Wildfire. Both were excellent. I would recommend them highly – but start with the first book Burn For Me, as this series is best read chronologically. I am a great fan and have read all her books. These books read like an action movie romance, with sarcastic rejoinders and there are some laugh out loud moments. The world is a parallel of our own, except that their society is shaped by families with magical power. It is set in Houston, and with the recent Hurricane Harvey, one of the scenes in the third book is particularly evocative. The book was written before the hurricane though, and one wishes there was such magic to tone down the destruction. Ilona Andrews has said in her blog that there will be at least another book – if they don’t get another contract for the continuation of the series, they aim to publish it themselves.

    Kay
    Participant
    Post count: 39

    This week the new Kirsten Ashley came out, The Time in Between, with Coert and Cady. Cady moves to a light house in Maine where her old flame, Coert is the sheriff. I thought it was sweeter than her usual. I was about 70% through when I wondered what could be left in the story because it seemed all wrapped up. I should have known it had a mega epilogue even tying into the Rock Chick books.

    I also read the new Eric Watts Royals book, Fallen Heir, which is about Easton, now a senior in high school and alcoholic. It ends with a huge cliffhanger and we have to wait until January 2018 for closure (Cracked Kingdom). I’m not big on cliffhangers and I liked When Its Real better (not part of the Royal series).

    Tessa Dare’s, The Duchess Deal was enjoyable. I liked the wounded war hero and Emma the seamstress and vicar’s daughter that was estranged from her father.

    I read Emma Chase’s new one Royally Endowed and laughed. I really like her humor. This series is about some princes from a make believe country. Royally Endowed is about a bodyguard and sister of a princess. I had not read the book before it in the series and I thought it stood alone pretty well. Now I’m going back to read Royally Matched which is a take-off of the Bachelor Realty Show.

    A while back I read Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes. Colin is a retired Captain and younger brother to a Duke who helps Anwen, a Windham daughter with funding for a foundling home. I enjoyed the first part of the story but then I lost interest as family members from previous books started appearing all over the place.

    I’m wondering what everyone’s favorite books are so far this year? I’m starting to put my list together.

    Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    It’s already September and there are only a few months left for 2017 new releases! Of the books that came out this year that I’ve read, Penny Reid’s Dating-ish is still my favorite. Lucy Parker’s Pretty Face is a close runner up and then Meredith Duran’s A Lady’s Code of Conduct.

    Before the end of the year, I still plan to read Sherry Thomas’s A Conspiracy in Belgravia which is getting stellar reviews everywhere, Alisha Rai’s Hate To Want You, Loretta Chase’s A Duke in Shining Armor, Penny Reid’s Nobody Looks Good in Leather Pants, and Courtney Milan’s After the Wedding (woefully past its due date now).

    Kay
    Participant
    Post count: 39

    I see Goodreads has started their voting for the year’s best books. I wrote in Dating-ish. There are only two days left to vote in this round. It always amazes me how many books I have never heard of in their polls. It is fun to get new ideas of books to read so I’m looking forward to seeing the results after this round.

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