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  • Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    I wrote in Dating-ish too on the Goodreads poll!

    Amanda
    Participant
    Post count: 13

    I was torn about what to vote for Best Romance. White Hot is absolutely one of my favorite books this year, but I consider Ilona Andrews’ books more ‘fiction with romance elements.’ Having said that, White Hot is the most…romance-y of that series. So I can see classifying it as romance. I ended up voting for it since it was genuinely one of my favorites this year and I have become a diehard Ilona Andrews devotee over the past few months. I debated possibly writing in another book (possibly Take the Lead by Alexis Daria because I loved the hero so much and it was so unique?), but I couldn’t make up my mind.

    msaggie
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    I just read a lovely romance with mild fantasy elements (telekinesis), The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, which was recommended initially by The Book Smugglers. It’s a bit like a regency romance with its rules and stilted manners, but the families (and names) are more reminiscent of aristocratic colonial France. The villain is full of spite but is also pitiful. The hero and heroine are very human in their insecurities, but their journey through love, though at times painful, is very worthwhile to follow. It is beautifully written, and I recommend it highly.

    stl-reader
    Participant
    Post count: 11

    Okay, it’s fall, but I don’t want to start a new thread just for the remainder of 2017…

    I’m halfway through Joanna Shupe’s A Daring Arrangement. I hope the second half is better than the first half, because I’m really disappointed with the characters and the plot so far! The heroine is 20 but acts more like she’s 15. The hero, age 30, sees the heroine’s immaturity/impulsiveness/rashness (which almost leads to them both being seriously injured or worse) as “courageous” and “brave.” The “daring arrangement” that drives the novel seems a little wishy-washy (or maybe the word is “clumsy”) in its execution.

    It’s been a really tedious read so far, but hopefully the author will turn it around. I really loved her book Baron.

    Kay
    Participant
    Post count: 33

    Maybe we can start one that just says Recently Read and skip the seasons:)

    I read the new Kristen Ashley, Complicated, about a sheriff in NE and a hairdresser/lounge singer. I would rate it up near the top of her books. I have been reading some anthologies because I am shorter on time and it gets harder to enjoy a novel when I can only read short chunks at a time. No standouts in the anthologies. I read my first John Green book, Turtles all the way Down for book club about a teen learning to manage OCD as well as solve a missing persons mystery. Its a meaty book with lots to discuss.

    stl-reader
    Participant
    Post count: 11

    Okay, so I finished Joanna Shupe’s A Daring Arrangement. Sadly, it remained a hot mess for me right up to the end. If you asked me to grade it, I’d give it a C, I suppose.

    I really liked the setting of the book–New York City during the late 19th century. But everything else (the plot, the characters, the writing), I found annoying and boring and unoriginal. YMMV

    Kay
    Participant
    Post count: 33

    STL I had to look up what YMMV meant, Your Mileage May Vary. That sounds very fitting.

    Kay
    Participant
    Post count: 33

    I am happy to share I read some awesome books this week. First, a new historical by Grace Burrowes, No Other Duke Will Do. I hadn’t heard anything about it and the other Windham books in the series didn’t grab me but this one did and I also am excited for the next one in the series, A Rogue of Her Own, March 2018. No Other DWD takes place at a house party at Julian St. David, Duke of Haverford’s castle. He is heavily in debt to his neighbor and is trying to marry off his sister. his sister is trying to marry off Julian. There are some great secondary characters and some good twists. I am very excited for the next in this series.

    Another nice story was the new Mary Balogh, Someone to Wed. The h has a port stain birthmark and the H needs funds. They come to an agreement and I liked it more than I thought I would. The H is sweet and they have a classic Balogh waltz scene. I am really looking forward to the next one in this series, Someone to Care, coming out May 1st, that has an older couple.

    Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    I won an advanced reading copy of Deanna Raybourn’s third Veronica Speedwell historical mystery/romance, A Treacherous Curse, due out in January. Getting close to the end and really enjoying it. It’s a good old-fashioned mummy curse mystery and has been the perfect holiday book this weekend. I was a big fan of Raybourn’s Lady Julia mystery/romance books and am enjoying her new Veronica Speedwell series just as much.

    Kay
    Participant
    Post count: 33

    Blackjack, The mummy curse mystery sounds quite fun. I look forward to it.
    A duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase was my fun read this week. It’s a road trip adventure with Lady Olympia, a runaway bride, and Ripley, best friend of the groom. I am a huge fan of Loretta Chase’s books so this was like an early Christmas present. I liked both lead characters and the humor. I look forward to the next book in the series, especially the Duke of Blackwood’s story, with Ripley’s sister. They are already married but appear to be having trouble. I don’t know if Ms. Chase has done a marriage in trouble story before.

    Blackjack
    Participant
    Post count: 50

    I’m reading the Loretta Chase book right now and really like it. I don’t think Chase has done a marriage-in-trouble book before and so like you I’m excited to see her branch out. She doesn’t generally write angsty books, but I’m certain she could do this well. I too am looking forward to Blackwood’s book. Fingers crossed it comes out in 2018!

    Sandlynn
    Participant
    Post count: 63

    Just finished Rowena MacDonald’s The Threat Level Remains Severe, published in 2017. The book is not a romance, although the first third of the book does fool one into thinking we are going to be following a romantic relationship, albeit one between two people who may not be totally likable.

    Threat Level reminds me slightly of Barbara Pym’s Quartet in Autumn, only not all the characters are towards the end of their work life or are even working in the same office. Instead, in MacDonald’s story, we first begin to follow three people who are all committee staff for two different committees in the House of Lords and the House of Commons in the U.K. Parliament. They are basically functionaries assisting MPs and Lords in their daily business. (And, as someone who works in Washington, I related a great deal to their feelings about their work and their sense of never-ending tedium beneath the alleged “excitement” of politics.) The majority of time is spent with Grace Ambrose a 30 year old who staffs the Commons’ Economic Scrutiny Committee. She’s been at this job for years, which has lost all its luster, and is stuck in its boring comfort. Late twenties, Brett Beamish, arrives to work for the Committee and shakes things up with his work ethic, ambition, and calculated upbeat attitude. Beamish, originally from Australia, has been making his way, one stepping stone at a time, gaining experience and hoping for that ultimate position of power and money. In the first third of the book we see him shake up Grace’s office and watch them circle each other.

    Added to this situation is a third character. Grace hasn’t been in a relationship for some time and longs for a man with an artist’s heart, someone as far from a functionary or a political go-getter as possible. Lo and behold, she begins receiving anonymous emails from a man who has been admiring her. Someone who says he, too, works for Parliament. He seems to be exactly what she’s looking for. He’s an aspiring musician, who writes poetry. Eventually, he reveals his name: Reuben Swift, and Grace and he finally plan to meet — despite the fact that Brett Beamish has started to become less of an annoyance and more of a distraction for her.

    The second third of the book focuses on Grace’s email-sending admirer. We learn who he really is, where he works, and what his life is actually like. We also see his side of the conversation that he begins with Grace and how he responds to her increasing curiosity.

    The last third of the book reveals the truth to all, and deals with the unexpectedly serious fall-out of Grace’s interactions with both Beamish and her admirer. As I said, this is not a romance but everyone does get an ending that is — for them — happy, although I did think Grace’s came a bit out of nowhere.

    For those of you looking for something a bit different to read, as a palate-cleanser, this book might be the thing for you.

    stl-reader
    Participant
    Post count: 11

    I recently read The Lady in Red by Kelly Bowen. For a novella–a genre that usually doesn’t work for me–it was very good. I’d give it a B. It would be B+, but the author did something with the heroine at the end that knocked off the + part of the rating.

    There is a small spoiler in here, for those who want to avoid them. Not sure if I can use an html spoiler tag, so I’ll warn you now.

    What I liked:

    –The interesting plot. Lady Charlotte Beaumont is determined to be a painter, and a painter who paints more than just the demure little paintings of roses and such that society would confine a lady to painting. This novella tells how she achieves her artistic aims by disguising herself as a man. (That’s not a spoiler–it’s in the publicity blurb.) I thought the “woman disguised as a man” trope was successful in this instance, and the story, overall, worked from beginning to end. I never lost interest.

    –The heroine, who I think is in her early 20s, is determined, confident in her art, and pretty unruffled and low-key for a great deal of the story. She is refreshingly different from so many of your usual historical romance heroines.

    What I did not like:

    –Once the jig is up, and Flynn (the hero) realizes that “Charlie” is a woman, insta-love rears its ugly head. And for a short while the love story veers off into by-the-numbers territory. Fortunately, the story gets back on track before long, as far as the overall adventure goes.

    –Near the end of the novella, Charlie laments that she failed to reinvent and redeem herself as she had hoped to. Oh, sure, her masterful artwork was a success. She has another assignment and no doubt a bright future. But see, she is a failure because her relationship with Flynn failed. Flynn dumped her due to a lie she told (or rather, a withholding of some information on her part), but which she was totally justified in telling!

    At least, that’s my interpretation of why she felt she was a failure. Did I misunderstand why Charlie ended up so down on herself? Was it because of something other than her failed relationship?

    Anyway, that is why I knocked the plus sign off my rating for this book. (It was going to be B+.) Charlie’s sudden willingness to base her self-worth, her sense of her value, on a man’s opinion of her did not fit with the woman we came to know earlier. Plus, it was really Flynn’s own shortcomings that forced Charlie to withhold a bit of information about herself. It’s problematical as to whether they would have been able to successfully complete their assignment, had Charlie revealed the withheld information.

    TBH, Bowen just about ruined the novella for me by turning Charlotte from a strong, courageous woman into your run-of-the-mill “I’m nothing without a man” heroine. Still the rest of the story was worth a B rating. YMMV

    stl-reader
    Participant
    Post count: 11

    Just finished The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles. Here are my initial impressions, though I might revise them after thinking about the book a little more.

    Let me start by saying that I love Charles’ Society of Gentleman series. I’ve reread the quartet of books–the quadrilogy?–numerous times. A Gentleman’s Position was my favorite read for 2017. Possibly this decade.

    But I did not really much like The Magpie Lord. Just generally, the world building seemed a little too on-the-fly, with new powers and explanations appearing as the plot demanded (the same gripe I had with Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series, where I finally gave up trying to understand the paranormal aspect). A lot of events, some unneeded (dying horses, anyone?) were thrown into a little over 200 pages. Could have done with tighter editing, in that respect.

    My main problem, though, was that I felt like I was reading an adult-teen relationship, not a relationship between two grown men. Moreover, while the “adult” was attractive and elegant, the teen wasn’t even particularly attractive or healthy looking. I was uncomfortable with this relationship and could not understand Crane’s quickly developed attraction to Day. Unless Crane likes teen-age boys, I guess, since IMO, that’s what Stephen basically looks like.

    Now, Crane is in his mid-30s. 37, maybe? And while Stephen Day tells us he is 28 (and at one point they are kissing and “stubble scraped against stubble,” so we know he grows some sort of beard), look at the other descriptions of Stephen throughout this book:

    • “Short, for one thing, barely five feet tall, narrow shouldered, significantly underweight, hollow-cheeked. He had reddish-brown hair cut unfashionably close…”
    • “Crane stroked his fingers possessively over the small chin. “You really do. Lovely boy.”” (This is when Stephen tells him, and the reader, “I’m twenty-eight.”)
    • “…starveling frame, his thin, pale, worried face and horribly short hair…”
    • “He looked very young, sleep smoothing out the worry lines round his eyes. He also looked very small and ver thin. He resembled a schoolboy, not a magician or a protector.”

    What healthy 30-something man wants to have sex with someone who looks like a starving child?

    I imagine KJ Charles would be aghast that anyone would see the relationship this way, as I don’t think this is what she had in mind at all. After all, she ensures that we know that Stephen is 28. Plus, he’s a magician with weird powers–one step away from being a supernatural being, perhaps, right? In which case, he could theoretically look like a sprite or a leprechaun or an elf and be strangely attractive to an average human like Crane. This would not be the first paranormal romance where that happened.

    But for me, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then I’m going to think of it as a duck. So the romance did not work for me.

    I will say one thing about other posts I’ve read that decry the book on the grounds that Crane is engaging in sexual activities with Day presumably against the smaller man’s will. I disagree completely. It’s made very clear in the book–including during conversations between Crane and Day–that Stephen Day could easily overcome any manhandling by Crane any time he wanted to, using his practitioner powers. He could harm Crane if he chose to. So there is no imbalance of power here, as some posters claim. The thing is, Day wants to be dominated, and Crane knows it, and Day loves that Crane “gets” him, that is, that Crane can see that Day loves being overpowered, that it arouses him. At no time did I feel that there was any real non-consent. That’s just my opinion.

    As always, YMMV

    stl-reader
    Participant
    Post count: 11

    Has anyone read Christine Feehan’s latest–Judgment Road? It’s the first Feehan book I’ve read (I know she has a huge following), and it may be my last. If you love ultra-damaged uber-alpha motorcycle club member-and-also-spy males, this might be your catnip. Me, I would rate this book, at best, C-.

    The story involves a super-controlling alpha male (“Reaper”) and a female doormat (“Anya”). Anya gets tangled up with Reaper’s club, Torpedo Ink, and specifically with Reaper. The club members, almost all incredibly damaged characters who all protect each other and consider themselves a family, initially mistrust Anya but eventually embrace her. Anya, who had her own effed-up childhood and is currently trying to evade potential trouble from an outside source, is attracted to the idea of having a family, even if that family is a motorcycle club full of questionable characters.

    Reaper is almost immediately super attracted to Anya. She also finds him really hot. They get into a relationship right away. He completely controls her in the relationship and she allows it. Reaper loves that he can “take” Anya whenever he feels like, and he wants tattoos of his fingerprints around her wrists, to show his ownership. Strangely, I did not find the latter as charming as Anya did.

    Not surprisingly, Reaper speaks Caveman, a language I first ran across in the book Motorcycle Man. His verbal interactions with Anya consist primarily of things like “You’re f***ing beautiful” (his go-to statement),”This relationship ends when I say it ends” and “You shouldn’t wear a bra. You shouldn’t wear anything.” You know, insightful stuff like that.

    Anya, for all that she occasionally talks tough when Reaper oversteps, is basically an ever-forgiving doormat, letting Reaper use her however he wants because, well, he *is* super hot and gives her fantastic orgasms, plus he had that very sad, very bad childhood…

    I get that some readers enjoy super-alpha males. I do too, sometimes. But this book was way too extreme for me. And while I enjoy hot sex in a book, I felt like this bordered on porn. To each his own, of course. But come on, you’ve got a plot that–as far as I can tell–wants us to believe that the damaged alpha male will truly be on the road to healing if only he can manage to *allow* his girlfriend give him a thorough blow job without his going all psycho on her. Bwahaha, really? Really? As gruesome as some of the backstory is for these characters, I just could not help rolling my eyes at the uber-ness and ridiculousness of it all.

    Judgment Road does kind of have a plot to hold the “romance”–and I use the word loosely–together. And TBH, I’m curious to see if there is going to be an Alena/Pierce story. So, yeah, I’d give it a C- (or 2 stars out of 5, if you’re into the star system).

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