Wednesday, August 28, 2019

KE's Get To Know The Romance Reader Tag

Today, I'm doing the Get To Know The Romance Reader Tag created by Bree at Falling for  Romance.

What is your romance origin story? (How you came to read your first romance novel)
I didn't start reading romance until my early 20s. The used bookstore I went to had shelves and shelves of them but none of the ones I chose at random quite piqued my interest. I didn't really start reading romance  regularly until I binged the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books podcast in 2014 and got ALL the recs. This podcast is also what made me want to start a romance blog and be apart of romancelandia.

If you could be the heroine in a romance novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?

I'd want my author to be Erin McCarthy because I like the world she created in her Fast Track series and I'd love to be apart of it. She writes really witty and  fun female friend groups and hardworking heroes/heroines with close family ties and complex lives. The race car drivers are just famous enough they get to do fun and interesting things but not so famous they can't just be normal people. My favorite trope is fake relationship so I'd want that in there!

What is a romance you’ve read this year, that you want more people to read?:
Most of my reads have been pretty mainstream books so I'll say the Mixtape anthology. There are a few 1-star stories in it but overall it has some good stories and it was fun to see how different authors tackled the prompt. I also liked listening to the songs as I was reading.

What is your favorite romance subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?:

My favorite subgenre is contemporary romance, I just sort of gravitated to it. I haven't read much paranormal romance, I think in 5 years of blogging I've only reviewed two so if you have recs leave them below!

Who is one of your auto-buy romance authors?:
Alexa Martin is my most recent. She doesn't have many books out but I like her voice and I hope she gets more attention.

How do you typically find romance recommendations? (Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram..):
I mostly get them from Twitter, podcasts and blog hopping

What is an upcoming romance release you’re excited for?
The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

What is one misconception about romance you would like to lay to rest?:
The idea that they are trashy.

Look, is some romance trashy ridiculousness? Yes.
Do I read that stuff? Also, yes.

But romance authors tell such a broad range of stories with an HEA at the center.  Romance as a genre is so complex and interesting and I hate how it is dismissed or constantly having to be defended.  I feel like the illustrated cover resurgence has changed some of this misconception. But I wish the  man chest or clinch covers had the same chance to be seen as books worthy of being on mainstream summer reading lists.

Who is the most recent romance reading content creator you came across that you’d like to shoutout?

I am just getting into Booktube and recently found romance Booktuber  Steph's Romance Book Talk

If someone had never read a romance before and asked you to recommend the first 3 romances that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?

This is fun! Okay, my picks are:

 Hints of Spice by Christina C. Jones

I like this book because it's a novella that hits all the romance beats without feeling like a truncated story. I also think novellas are great for people dipping their toes in the genre. Romance gets called feminist a lot but not all of it is.  I think the sex-positivity in this story (the heroine is a former stripper who doesn't get shamed for it) is a good example of feminism baked into the genre.

Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh 

Regency historical is a big part of the genre and I chose this one because I like how subversive it is. The heroine is in her 30's and owns her own newspaper.  Phaeton racing.  Leigh steers completely clear of the ballroom culture and I think that makes this more accessible for a reader with no context for the intricacies of the ton that is often presented in Regency romances.

Ruled by Elle Kennedy. 

This is a weird rec because it's the third book in a canceled series but it does a few things I like. It's a post-apocalyptic M/F/M and I like how it shows romance can exist with more than two people and how you can have an HEA without the marriage/baby epilogue.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Clean Breaks by Ruby Lang (Practice Perfect #3)

Rating: Unrated  | Crimson Romance | Contemporary  Romance | 2/20/2017 
Clean Breaks by Ruby is book three in Lang's Practice Perfect series, which centers around a group of close-knit friends in their thirties whose struggles lead to a lasting romance.

 After battling cancer with the support of her friends Sara Soon is ready to take back her life and dive into new experiences. One new experience she doesn't want is Jake Li. Li is new in town and her brother's childhood best friend who reminds her way too much of the small town and family she left behind. But there is just something about Jake, who is fresh from a divorce and still trying to make sense of being single, that pulls her in.

Clean Breaks is one of those deep emotion-driven novels that is a little tough for readers like me who prefer bigger external plots in their contemporary romance. A lot of this book is Sara and Jake diving into their emotional baggage and finding that elusive work-life balance, it's a slow burn that focuses on healing and confronting the past.

Can I say this book cover doesn't really capture the feel of the book ? I love this cover but the bright sunny colors and sweet smiles give the impression this is a fun rom-com instead of an emotional character-driven book set in the Pacific Northwest.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Mini Reviews: Royal Blue, Summer Blues and Union Blues

These books have nothing in common except they're what I've been reading this summer but I think they really show the variety in the romance genre!

This New Adult debut about a fake friendship turned pond jumping romance between the Prince of Wales and First Son of The United States has taken the book world by storm. And yes, this book is totally an NA. I love a good NA romance because it fits right into my wheelhouse between the YA and contemporary romance genre. That said I did find the characters a little cloyingly earnest and parts of it really dragged. I’m glad to see that with the right marketing NA can do well. Debut author McQuiston weaves a whirlwind romance into an energetic coming of age story about politics, ambition and hope into something for everyone but especially LGBTQ people. ★★★ +.5

He’s an investigative journalist. She’s a divorce lawyer. These next-door neighbors don’t start off on the right foot but they’ll need each other to solve a civil paternity case. A lot of Julie James books boil down to 'fake dating to solve a crime and oops we fell in love' and I am always here for it. This, however, wasn’t my favorite James. It didn’t have the same thriller aspects as the other books and didn’t capture me.  It’s mostly the hero and heroine throwing their emotional baggage at each other.  This book does have the heroine doing a grovel which was an interesting subversion. I did part of this on audio and while Karen White’s voice has never been my favorite the enthusiasm she puts into her performance is a lot of fun.

The beach cover of this books feels super misleading.  Sure, the book takes place during the summer but never once do they leave downtown Chicago and the heroine spends most of her time in pantsuits and heels. - ★★★

It’s Reconstruction in New Orleans and schoolteacher Valinda Lacy heads down south to help educates the newly freed slaves. After a daring save from the dashing former Union Captain/architect Drake LaVeq, Valinda is taken in by the close-knit and loving LeVeq family. As she and Drake grow closer Valinda discovers passion and starts to imagine a better future she can build with Drake….unfortunately, she’s already engaged to another man

This was my first Beverly Jenkins and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the historical aspects present in the book and I feel like I learned a lot without it feeling didactic. The wealthy LaVeq family and the rich New Orleans setting were fascinating. I found Drake a little annoying with all his "piracy in my blood" talk and constantly referring to himself as a pirate when his lifestyle seemed pretty un-pirate like. I can’t wait to see who the next daring woman will be and I’ll have to check out Through The Storm to see how the LeVeq family saga all began! - ★★★ +.5

The Bride Test By Helen Hoang

Rating: ★★★ | 320 pages | Berkley| Contemporary Romance | 05/07/19 |
For 23-year-old hotel maid, Esme what started out as just another day at work trying to support her mother and young daughter quickly turns into the proposition of a lifetime after a chance encounter with a matchmaking Vietnamese-American businesswoman looking for a bride for her son.

Esme leaves her home country behind and finds herself in close quarters with Khai, a guarded accountant on the autism spectrum. Her bubbly energetic personality is a stark contrast to Khai but if they can make it through the summer, three weddings and the search for Esme's American father ---this former maid might just ace this test and find her own American dream.

I enjoyed how unapologetic steeped in culture this book is. Hoang writes about Vietnamese and Vietmanses-American culture and cuisine in a way that doesn't stop for explanatory commas which makes it feel like you are really peeking into the lives of Khai and his family.

The Bride Test in an evenly paced, by-the-numbers romance that heats up and hits all the marks you want when you throw two total opposites together. There are a handful of silly moments that makes this a satisfying read for contemporary romance fans.

*slight spoilers*
I appreciated that this book 's epilogue had a HEA that wasn't entirely tied up in marriage and children. .Also Virgin Hero Ahoy !

*ARC received from Edelweiss

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Acting on Love by Te Russ

Rating: ★★★+.5 | 297 pages | Contemporary Romance | Self-Pub | Release Date: 4/3/2018
After a sex scandal throws a wrench in her career, actress Rocki Malone returns to her hometown with her childhood neighbor/bodyguard Seth Gardiner in tow. To keep her matchmaking mother off her back, Rocki tells her she and Seth are dating but it doesn’t take long for their fake relationship to turn into the real thing.

Something about this steamy romance that Russ builds between the down on her luck actress and her bodyguard is so wholesome and sweet. This book focuses mostly on Rocki’s journey and Seth is adoring and supportive of her as she finds herself again.

A chunk of the story is Rocki reconnecting with her crew from high school and as I was reading I felt like I was missing something going on between her friends and their significant others. I was confused why their significant others showed up so prominently at the end of the book but aren’t in the beginning. I looked into it and this book is a part of a collaborative three-book series where everything is happening concurrently, so jumping in just left me confused.

Acting on Love is a satisfying warm hug of a romance but you may want to sit down and binge the entire Lessons in Love together to get the whole story.