Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dudes Who Write Romance : Mini Reviews

One Minute To Midnight

Automatik teammates''Bolt Action" Mary and ex-Navy SEAL, Ben Jackson are deep undercover in the  Morris Flats, a town where  shady government officals and gunrunners run the streets. Danger is everywhere but it might not be the guns that take these teammate by suprise. Ben and Mary juggle their undercover identities while fighting their growing attraction. The attraction at the core of  the story kept me reading  but the chemistry  often gets overshadowed by the slow paced plot.

Generally I never know what to expect  when white authors write POC, but something about the way Russo does it works. There is no defaulting to white in Russo's writing,  He doesn't just paint his characters in colors he digs into what it means to write a non-white character. For example Ben gives another black guy "the nod" and when Ben runs into the police on his first day in town, Rosso acknowledges how the power structure works in the dynamic. 

There were a few  uneven shifts from a close third person to a distant one that threw me  I've also noticed that the male romance writers  I've read tend to lean heavy on technical details. I  was Googling to keep up and I think the reason this happens  is because there is no reader avatar.  Also bullets. . . so many bullets . 

 Now we aremoving from the guys who stop the gunrunner to the man who runs the guns. Who some might proclaim is The Gunrunner.

The Gun Runner by Scott Hildreth

Ex-marine Michael Tripp is the new gunrunner in Kansas City. He's a cool, collected guy who isn't afraid to use  military training  to dole out justice as a civilian. So when he sees Terra getting dragged around her abusive ex-boyfriend,  he doesn’t hesitate to save her.

But things might get rocky for Tripp because he is on mafia territory and what Tripp doesn't know is the girl of his dreams is the only daughter of the Godfather.

What to say about Tripp ?  Well, he knows the gun running business and commands s a highly skilled crew to run  tactical missions. When Tripp's newest enemy, the Godfather, needs someone to rescue his son even he goes to Tripp.

What to say About Terra ? Terra Agrioli is a mafia princess who moonlights as Terra Wilson around Tripp. She. . . Doesn't have a job. . .. she goes to Starbucks. . .  She likes expensive shoes.. . She is dating Tripp. . . She bought a pair of jeggings one time ? 

The point I'm making is that I needed a lot more from Terra. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt when she admits it's kind of silly that she doesn't "do anything" but buy shoes.  However after 50%  she just felt thin becuase all of her scenes were about or related to Tripp. She doesn't even own her 'lady of leisure" lifestyle either, she lies to Tripp about owning a store because she's ashamed. I mean volunteer, get a hobby. . . Something.

Which is too bad because Hildreth writes some solid action sequences and manages to works in pop culture reference in a way that feels natural. Like there is a scenes where Tripp and his co-worker/BFF are talking about Netflix and it felt like a real conversation you'd have about Netflix.

I found Hildreths's action scenes much tighter and more controlled than Rosso's. Like with Rosso there is a lot of technical detail but I found Hildreth's much easier to follow.

Also I was looking this book up on Goodreads and I read the synopsis for another one of Hildreth's books and it sounded JUST Like this one.  Down to the saving in a public parking lot. Is this like a genre I don't know about ?  

Side Note

Reading these two books side by side makes me wonder where ex-military stories would be without The Iraq War ? We get so many heroes who are veterans and I wonder if we'd see as many if it weren't for the war.

Okay, I think I need a break from books about guns

*review copies provided from Netgalley

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is satisfyingly sweet novel about Lou, a struggling restaurateur who after a series of coincidental meetings (and an almost toppled cake) starts to fall for Al Waters, an uptight British writer biding his time in Midwestern America. This boy meets girl romance get turned on it's head because Al is also the anonymous snarky food critic whose negative review tanked Lou's restaurant . . .  not that either of them know who the other is

As Lou introduces Al to the wonders of Milwaukee it becomes clear that this novel is a love letter to the city and its food. Reichert has this amazing way of describing everything from  street food to culinary creations in a way that will make you hungry. I kind of just want her to be a judge on Top Chef so she can describe the food.

I just love that Al has had the pleasure of having the two jobs I was told in journalism school  "don't actually exist"; food critic and entertainment reporter. Then again this does take place in world where a newspaper isn't holding on for dear life and can send people overseas for coverage.

I've said it once I'll say it again; I'm not a big contemporary reader, but Reichert creates a compelling  external conflict, and when it comes to a head she brings in a few more twist and turns to surprise you. And oh,boy, does she throw a big emotional hardball at the end.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake has a dash of humor, a handful of shenanigans and is sprinkled almost entirely with love for both people and the tasty things in life.

Al apparently has a six pack (I'm talking abs not Milwaukee beer)  and this totally took me out of the story. He's a food critic/writer and not once does he go to the gym. . . Sure, Jan.

And yes, there is a recipie for coconut cake in the back !

Friday, August 12, 2016

Learning To Ride Prested by James Patterson by Erin Knightly

144 Pages | Publisher: Bookshots | Contemporary Romance | Publication Date: 7/5/16

James Patterson, the name associated with airport bookstores, has created a new reading experience; BookShots . These books are described as "shots" of action packed entertainment in a "shorter format that fits people's lives." I heard about these first on the Book Riot Podcast, so I picked two up while at BEA.

In Learning To Ride Madeline is a young woman climbing the corporate ladder. To earn her next promotion, she temporarily abandons the lights of NYC for the stars of Sunnybell,Texas. When she steps out for a night at the local bar (which was called the The Yell, which I totally side eyed but kept reading) she falls into bed with the town's most eligible bachelor; former rodeo star, Tanner.

The book was a quick read and it hits a lot of the beats you expect in a contemporary romance. It dives into a few humorous, romantic and cute moments then gets out without going on to long. The novel itself was delightful and sweet. It's about a 2/5 on the spicy scale, nothing to explicit so I'd rec it if you want to get a younger teen started on romance

What I appreciated was that the conflict was external and highly believable. The resolution did come pretty fast but it was satisfying. I don't usually read contemporary romance but when I feel the itch  I would pick up another one of these.

I do wonder if all of the books are going to have "reading-is-fun" propaganda. Early on we learn how much Madeline likes to read, the second act of the book take place at a book club and at the end Madeline opens a bookstore (I don't think this is really a spoiler). Like, is including reading propaganda in the story a part of the contract Patterson makes authors sign ? Is he trying to sell reading ? Is it subliminal messaging ?

This book was written by veteran historical romance author Erin Knightly and there are a ton more BookShots Flames coming out in all the genres by both NYT bestselling romance authors and self-published authors.

I do fear that because BookShot Flames are romance they are getting the brush-off, in the way the romance genre often does. I've read articles about how the non-romance BookShots have sold a million copies and made The Trial a NYT bestseller. I've  only spied the regular BookShots in my local Target. Seriously. . .WHERE THE FLAMES AT ?


  • A part from Alex Cross, I do wonder if we will see more diversity in BookShots ?
  • James Patterson isn't the only one getting into this game, Ralph Lauren Polo model Nacho Figureas is also presenting a line of novels written by women so. . .


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

12 Books That Will Keep You Up Past Midnight

1. A Lady By Midnight by Tessa Dare
A  music teacher's life becomes a Cinderella story when she discovers she might be a long lost duchess.

2. Midnight Rescue by Elle Kennedy
Abby Sinclair's mission is to rescue young girls from the hands of vicious sex traffickers, what she doesn't plan for is a stealthy ex-army ranger breaking down her emotional walls.

3. One Minute To Midnight by Nico Rosso
Two black ops soldiers find themselves in the middle of high danger and even higher passion

4. Midnight by Beverly Jenkins
A sweeping historical romance about spies in the Revolutionary War.

5. Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
The first book in the Hathaway's series a newly titled woman navigates society life while being drawn to a gambling club owner who longs for his roots among the gypsys.

6. Midnight Bayou by  Nora Roberts
When Declan Fitzgerald moves to New Orleans to restore Manet Hall he meets Angelina Simone and discovers whats behind the ghosts of  this old house.

7. Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt
A duke with a secret identity meets a woman with demands of her own.

8. Midnight Play by Lisa Marie Perry
Danica has a reputation as a good girl and Dex has the bad boy persona, can they work together to save each others careers and hold on to their hearts ?

9. A Rake's Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell
Secrets, heirs and stolen gems ? This historical romance sounds like a battle of wills

10, The Midnight Series by Lisa Marie Price
Price has a whole series of midnight books about modern day protectors dealing out some justice

11.  Hold Me Until Midnight by Christina Phillips
A pampered princess hires a bad boy as her date for her father's wedding.

12. Posses Me at Midnight by Shayla Black
A magical warrior vows to protect a witch while their shared enemy seeks to bring on the apocalypse.

Which one of these books will keep you up past midnight ?