Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Intercepted by Alexa Martin

Rating: ★★★ +.5  | Playbook #1 | 308 pages | Berkley | Contemporary | 9/11/2018

When Marlee Harper catches her NFL wide receiver boyfriend cheating she calls it quits on the whole "football girlfriend" life to do bad all by herself. Unfortunately, she can’t fight her attraction to the team’s enticing new quarterback, Gavin Pope. But how can she be with Gavin when it means going back to the role she triumphantly walked away from?

I liked a lot about this book. Martin’s writing really works for me. It skews a nice line between women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Marlee’s 1st person POV is snappy, fast-paced cheeky and is easy to sink into. Although, there were times when I wished she would take the quippy-ness down a notch--particularly the parts where Marlee is constantly talking in hashtags.

The thing that bugged me the most about this book is all the mean girl drama between Marlee and the football wives. So much of the book is grown women acting like clique-y high schoolers because of a man. Every other scene I’d be like:

The audiobook narrator, January LaVoy, is excellent and I hope she gets to do the whole series because I would listen to it just for her.  Her Marlee voice reminded me a lot of the actress Amber West (who I totally imagined as Marlee). Each one of January's voices is on point and her ability to code switch depending on the character’s race is uncanny.

Monday, November 12, 2018

When A Duke Loves A Woman by Lorraine Heath

Rating: ★★★ | Sins For All Seasons #2 |320 pages | Avon | Historical Romance | 8/21/2018

The Sins For All Seasons series follows a family of illegitimate siblings trying to rise above their station in society as outcast. I was excited to read  When A Duke Loves A Woman because it features Gillie Trewlove, an 29-year-old Victorian woman who is doing just fine running her bar and doing her best to make her impoverished Victorian neighboorhood a better place.

Gillie's daily routine is shaken up when she rescues the Duke of Thornley from a violent mugging on her front steps and (reluctantly) nurses him back to health and agrees to help him find the runaway bride that has led him to the seedy underbelly of London. Gillie and Thorne from two different worlds but the more time they spend trying to find the missing bride, the deeper their feelings become.

This book was middle of the road for me, and I think it's because this book kept setting up and then quickly resolving the conflict/tension. First,  Gillie nurses Thorne back to health who, due to his injuries can't leave her flat. That plot abruptly ends and then they start looking for his missing bride--then the bride shows up and breaks things off with Thornely dismantling the tension with half the book left. The characters spend the rest of the book pursuing each other and there is an obligatory ball, but I wanted more conflict.

With that said it had an enjoyable ending that had some of the emotional impact that was blurbed on the cover. Lorraine Heath never lets you forget the lacks of rights for women in Victorian England. I was also surprised (slight spoiler) that we never find out who Gillie's parents are or why she was abandoned. Maybe it will come up in other books?

I am all for books with non-traditional historical heroines and want to see more in Romancelandia.  As for this series, I'm curious enough to see how the background characters in this book come together in book 3.

I like how the silver lettering on the print cover is holographic.  Also--and yes,  I know photography can be limited-- I think Avon missed out on a chance to do something different with this cover. Gillie is described as having a pixie cut (but she does wear a wig at one point) and Thorne wears glasses and has a cane for part of the book. Those additions would have made a more interesting cover.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Great Bones by Lynn Ames

Rating: ★★★ | 258 pages | Phoenix Rising Press | Contemporary Romance | 03/27/2018

Rachel Wallach’s career as a romance card writer is flourishing even though her own romantic life is DOA. Rachel is ready to give up on finding love all together but Goldie, her feisty grandmother, has other plans. Goldie hires matchmaker-in-training Julia Spielman, to secretly matchmake Rachel and we basically get an Emma / Matchmaker Crush situation.

This book reminded me a lot of a Hallmark movie (I mean...except you people get to exist), I could almost hear that music they play during humorous awkward moments in the back of my head. The characters are drawn in broad strokes and it has a pretty low heat level; you get the chaste-est kiss at the end and that is it.

I go back and forth on this book. The romance didn’t spark for me, Julia and Rachel don’t actually spend much time on the page together so it was hard to root for their romance. On the other hand, I read this during one of those weeks when it felt like the world was on fire and it’s a well written and easy book to climb back into and not worry about heavy stuff coming up.

I admit it’s not great that this blog is coming on 5 years and this is the first f/f romance we’ve reviewed. One of my goals next year will be to read more of it. This author typically writes romantic suspense, so I’d be curious to check out her other books.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Secrets and Lies by Selena Montgomery

Rating: ★★★ +.5 | 384 pages | Avon | Romantic Suspense |  Release Date: 12/26/2006
Stealing an ancient manuscript from an eccentric South American antiquities collector should be an easy task for expert “recovery specialist” (okay, thief) Sebastian Caine. But when he stumbles across a murder scene he finds himself teaming up with ethnobotanist Dr. Kat Lyda and they discover century old secrets that could change the world.

I was so excited when Avon sent a Selena Montgomery in the most recent Avon Addicts package. As many of you reading this blog know, Selena Montgomery is the pen name of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. I’m not much of a romantic suspense reader but this book pulled me in with a high stakes adventure through the fictional country of Bahia. It sort of reminded me of The Da Vinci Code but instead of a Girl Friday we get fully developed female characters and a true romance.

Two-people-on-the-run-together-from-a-thing is my least favorite version of romantic suspense because it involves the characters getting to know each other and falling in love in a short period of time which doesn’t feel realistic to me.

Now, I do get the sense from the author’s note that Sebastian was a beloved side character in other books so I’m curious to go back and read the other adventures. Sebastian works great as an anti-hero and his push and pull with the more altruistic Kat kept their chemistry sizzling--even though this book has a fairly low heat level by today’s standards. Montgomery perfectly weaves together a fictional history of colonialism, myth and fable for the fictional Bahia that makes the country seem real. I liked that most of the thrust of the story is returning items back to indigenous tribes, I feel like that’s not something you see a lot.

I hope with all the attention around Abrams that Avon will give her ebook covers a modern update.

*Received as part of the Avon Addicts program!