Reviews by Caroline Russomanno

B-
Once Upon a Tower

If you like Lord of Scoundrels or the Julia Quinn Bridgerton novels, you are going to like Once Upon a Tower. But if, like me, you’re not a huge fan of those books, then you won’t like this one either. It starts out strong, cruising towards B+ or even DIK territory before everything unravels, an ...

C+
Seduction in Silk

While not terrible, Seduction in Silk is thoroughly undistinguished. The premise is unoriginal, the motivations of the characters are unclear, the hero is bland, the kindest possible word for the heroine is “prickly,” and the plot is meandering. Jo Beverley is a competent writer, but I need thos ...

A
Anna and the French Kiss

When my teenage student walked into my classroom, slammed a copy of this book on the desk, and announced, in audible capital letters, “THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN,” I knew Anna and the French Kiss was something special. A contemporary story of discovering the world and yourself at the sam ...

B-
Hearts Unbound

Hearts Unbound is not your typical Eastern-lady-meets-frontier-doctor Western, unless you’re willing to all the way across the Atlantic to get your Easterner: the heroine is Basque. Despite historical details which sometimes interfere with the narrative, and a romance that is fine at best, I still ...

B
The Scarlet Kimono

There was a thread on the message boards a while ago asking “Where have all the historical sagas gone?” Well, I’ve found one, and it’s pretty darn good. The Scarlet Kimono is a sweeping adventure story in the mold of 1970s and 80s sagas. It has a lot of what I liked about those books, but av ...

F
Fall For Me

The only way I could finish this book was by making sure it was the only thing I took with me on a long airplane flight. Even then, I only read it after finishing Air Canada’s entire En Route magazine (including the feature on monogrammed beachwear), the emergency evacuation card, and the Skymall ...

D+
Perfect Timing

Catherine Anderson books are some of my favorite comfort reads. Her typical heroine displays tough survivalism in the face of hard times, and often finds help and a second chance with a strong country hero. Unfortunately, this book had none of the things I typically like about Anderson’s books, an ...

F
Sweet Sanctuary

I took a gamble on my first inspirational with Sweet Sanctuary, and I came up snake-eyes. First, I had the problems I’d have with any book, such as flat characters, a Big Mis, TSTL actions, and ludicrous or offensive plot devices. Second, I had inspirational-specific problems with the book’s the ...

C+
Written in Red

Anne Bishop can always be relied upon for excellent prose and wildly creative worldbuilding. Written in Red does feature both. Unfortunately, the characters and plot aren’t strong, and the romance is (deliberately) nonexistent. I’ve read enough better fantasy, often by Bishop herself, not to rec ...

A-
Graceling

On the one hand, I want to describe the intricate plot of Graceling so you’ll understand just how captivating this book is. On the other hand, I can’t bear to spoil even the few earliest twists and deny you the experience of learning them firsthand. So please, just make life easy for me and go r ...