Thursday, October 18, 2018

Misfits by Garrett Leigh

Rating: | Release Date: 03/16/15 | Contemporary | 277 Pages | Riptide Publishing 

Tom Fearness and Cass Pearson are a young power couple taking over London’s urban food scene. With Tom on the business end and Cass as the chef, they’ve opened five successful boutique restaurants and are gearing up for their sixth when Tom becomes infatuated with Jake Thompson, a 24-year-old down on his luck waiter with Tourette Syndrome. Cass and Tom have always had an open relationship, but Tom wants Jake for more than one night and has to figure out how to fit him into he and Cass’s hectic life.

I picked this book up because it was reced in this Twitter request from romance editor Angela James looking for an ugly cry book. Now, I rarely DNF romance novels, but this one came pretty close.

I really like the concept of this book but Leigh’s execution was just not for me. It was just pages and pages of generalized restaurant logistics and emotional angst with no plot or conflict in sight until 80%. The characters never felt fully fleshed out and lacked any interiority, I had a hard time distinguishing their motivations for doing anything.

This would maybe be a three-star review from me but I have to knock it down because there are just some weird microaggressions in this book. Like, a Spanish character is described as exotic and at one point Jake refers to himself by the r-word. I could maybe let those slide but then towards the end we get told Cass’ grandmother (who is supposed to be a sympathetic character ) refers to the Indians living in her building by a particular slur. It boggles my mind why that had to be in the book. The grandmother doesn’t even show up on the page. Like, did she want to show the grandmother is racist? I just don’t get it. It’s almost like she just really wanted to use that word.

Anyway, Misfits was a miss for me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

Rating: ★★★ + .5  | Release Date: 7/05/16 | Paranormal Romance | 378 Pages | DAW Books
When demon portals appear in San Francisco  Aveda Jupiter (aka 26-year-old Annie Chang) becomes the city’s resident superheroine. But when a broken ankle takes Aveda out of the game she turns to Evie Tanaka, her reluctant assistant, and longtime best friend, to take the Aveda Jupiter mantle.

I’m going to steal a line from the SBTB review of this book; Heroine Complex jumps off with Aveda Jupiter fighting a horde of rabid cupcake demons so, Kuhn lets know right away the levels of quirk you are getting into when you start this book. I’m not a hardcore paranormal person so I liked the lighter, sillier touch to the world building and Kuhn’s humor-tinged first-person narration was highly readable.

That said, the actual plot was muddled and left me with more question than answers and the romance between Evie and Nate, Aveda’s resident hulking demonologist, was lackluster. I like more relationship building in my romance and Evie and Nate go from not liking each other for years to falling in love with no real catalyst.

I can see why a lot of people like this series, it has a lot of fun action pieces but also takes time to dig into meatier mental health issues like anxiety and setting boundaries.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Duchess Deal and The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

I cringed a little when I first heard this series was about romances between untitled women and dukes but Dare makes it work. Our heroes might be dukes, but these women bring them to their knees. These fun historical rom-coms aren't afraid to bend the historical accuracy and even have a few fun anarchistic pop culture references!

This book has everything-- marriage of convenience, angsty scarred hero, Shakespearean insults, Fake News...a Batman situation. What’s a Batman situation? You know, it’s that thing where a brooding super rich dude randomly wanders the night doling out vigilante justice because of reasons.

Severely disfigured by the war, the Duke of Ashbury has given up on anyone truly loving him and just needs a convenient wife and heir. When hotheaded seamstress Emma Gladstone comes knocking on his door he offers her a marriage deal she can’t refuse.

The only Dare I’ve read is A Scot Ties The Knot and this one felt very different, the tone was more joke-y and the world she created was a little sillier around the edges. I liked how Dare eschewed historical accuracy in favor of telling a fun story.

Mary Jane Wells is the narrator for this series, she’s got little bit of Minnie Driver in her voice and delivers an intentional and plucky performance that works for most the book but her voices for men and children need some work. Her Ashbury, in particular, comes off as sinister and snippy. - ★★

Chase Reynaud is a rakish rake just raking it up when a series of sudden unexpected deaths makes him the immediate heir to a Dukedom --and the two Bebe’s Kids orphans entailed with the title. With every governess in town run off by the two girls, Chase’s last hope is Alexandra Mountbatten, a part Filipina part American orphan who is in need of some quick cash.

If I had to compare, I think I liked this book better than The Duchess Deal. Dare’s managed to pack in a lot of themes and plots in a fast-paced story that never stops moving. She tackles identity, found family, grief and emotional angst in a way that just worked. But don’t get me wrong, the romance between Alexandra and Chase is center stage and manages to be both a slow burn and super sizzling--their Belligerent Sexual Tension could give Sam and Diane a run for their money.

I think Wells does a better job with the male voices in this book and I did notice Alexandra's voice is a little softer and feminine than in The Governess Game. Although the voice she chooses for one of the orphan girls is straight up demonic sounding.

The Governess Game is a high spirited and heartwarming romance sure to delight any romance reader. - ★★

Me, waiting for The Wallflower Wager