Dare To Take

This is post number 22.

Cover:

dare_to_take

This the final romance novel of a series by Carly Phillips

Plot: Ella Shaw is stuck on an island with a hurricane coming. Her only chance of rescue is her best friend’s brother Tyler Dare, but their past makes her weary. Can Tyler prove he’s sorry for his actions, or will Ella struggle to find the strength to forgive him?

Passage:

“Tyler was glad to see that spunk still lived inside her. He found it easier to focus on this side of Ella than the vulnerable woman who’d pulled away from him in bed. He hated knowing that he’d hurt her, and even more, that the pain had stuck with her all these years. There was a lot he didn’t know about Ella and the woman she’d become. Any time his sister spoke of her, Tyler tuned her out, not wanting to deal with the lie between him and Avery or the self-loathing he always experienced because of how he’d behaved afterwards.”

Spoilers/Opinion: I know beggars can’t be choosers, but I wish this novel was not the last of a 6 part series. The family has quite a few members and I had trouble keeping all of the pairs straight. I can’t blame the author for this since she probably goes more in depth in the previous books, but I wanted to give a warning to people who want to jump into novel without backstory.

For a Romance novel, there is a decent amount of plot that does not involve Ella and Tyler hooking up. While in St. Lucia, Ella’s boss gives Ella a stolen necklace for safe-keeping. She does not know it was stolen, and as a result, she is put in a precarious position. Tyler has to come to her rescue because she was mugged right before a hurricane, and he is the only one who can get her out of there without a passport.Because he comes to her rescue and protects Ella when they return to the states, they rekindle an old flame. I like that there is a reason for the two of them to reconcile besides “just cuz”, especially with the taboo of sleeping with a sister’s best friend. From here the plot gets convoluted with two of the siblings having children, Ella’s father dying in prison, and a confrontation with Tyler’s dad. If the author chose one father issue and one sibling’s childbirth then the novel would feel more focused and less confusing.

For the romance itself, Tyler and Ella have some issues that they worked out. Ella lost her virginity to Tyler, and he turned her away after they hooked up. At first she did not trust Tyler or intentions, but they hook up and move past it. They both have daddy issues, with Ella’s using her and Tyler’s breaking up the family, that they work through individually. I like seeing character growth, so I appreciated seeing the pair move past their personal problems.

That said, Ella and Tyler don’t have much in common except their problems, and they only hang out to have sex. This gives the novel more of an erotica feel than a true romance. The scenes are explicit and frequent to the point of being distracting. If the author had written more scenes where Tyler and Ella connected on an emotional or intellectual level rather than just physical, I think the novel would have been more successful.

Ratings:This is a Romance novel so the ratings are as follows

Relationship drama: 6/10
Romantic Development: 4/10
Hot love interest: 4/10
Creativity: 4/10
Plot: 6/10

Overall, I give Dare to Take a 5/10. I liked having more to the plot than just the romance, but I was confused with too many characters with similar traits. The couple works through some issues, but doesn’t have much going for them other than sex.

Citation:

Carly Phillips (2014?). Dare To Take[Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com. Retrieved 3/1/2017

Ride Baby Ride

This is post number 21.

Cover:

ride_baby_ride

This is a standalone romance novel by Vivian Arend.

Plot: Gage Thompson has had a crush on Katy for quite some time. After confessing their feelings, tragedy strikes when Katy has an accident and forgets what they shared. Can Gage help Katy remember before her meddlesome ex gets in the way?

Passage:

“Give me a second to pull on some clothes, okay?” He paced the room until she returned, unable to settle in one spot. All the reasons he had gone slowly with establishing a relationship were valid ones—yet there didn’t have to be roadblocks anymore. Part of him wanted to leap up and cheer. The other tightened the ropes he’d looped around himself years ago, ordering himself to maintain control. Right now she needed a friend in her life, not another bossy male. Somehow he would find the strength to behave and not fuck this up.”

Spoilers/Opinion: This novel reads more like a Soap Opera rather than a romance. A quick rundown is Katy and Gage have sex before he is deployed for Canadian military service. The next day she gets in a car accident and forgets everything from the last few months, so when Gage comes back there is confusion on both sides. Katy’s ex tries to come back into the picture despite the fact that everyone tells Katy how much they hate him. She then finds out she is pregnant and does not know who the father is. Gage and Katy then decide to become a couple, while her ex plots to tear them apart through assault and revealing Gage’s troubled past. Finally it is revealed that Gage is the father and the ex fades away into the ether.

I get that most Romance novels rely on outlandish elements to add interest to a couple falling in love. If they had a normal life and a regular relationship, most readers would be bored to tears (at least I know I would be). This novel has a few too many elements. If the author had picked either the amnesia or the paternity battle then the novel’s plot would improve and feel a little more believable. Also, if I had amnesia and could not remember breaking up with my ex but everyone said I did and they hated him, I think I would trust their judgement and block him instead of entertaining the idea of him still being my boo.

The romance itself is okay. At first I wasn’t too sure about Gage and Katy when they jump each others bones with little prompting. I think the author was implying their feelings were there for a long time, but Katy had just broken up with her boyfriend so it feels more like a rebound than the start of something. Their relationship develops after Katy finds out she is pregnant. They behave like partners and he does things like repair her apartment and get ready for the baby, which I like. The sex scenes are standard, so not great but not distracting either.

Ratings: This is a Romance novel so the ratings are as follows:

Relationship drama: 6/10
Romantic Development: 8/10
Hot love interest: 4/10
Creativity: 4/10
Plot: 2/10

Overall I give Ride Baby Ride a 6/10. Even though there is too much plot, the romance itself is nice.

Citation:

Vivian Arend (2014). Ride Baby Ride [Kindle Edition]. Retrieved from Amazon.com. Retrieved 2/27/2017.

Desired by the Pack

This is post number 20.

Cover:

desired_by_the_pack_cover

This is the first novel(la) of a paranormal romance series by Emma Storm.

Plot: Beck and his pack of werewolves are on the prowl as paranormal law enforcement. He spots and old flame, January, and attempts to restart their relationship. Will her past as a former wolf get in the way?

Passage:

“Impossible,” he murmured, staring at her hourglass silhouette. Impossible, but undeniable. Eight years hadn’t changed anything. She was still all hips, ass and breasts offsetting a narrow waist. Built for claiming. Female fashion was kinder to full-figured women than it had been years ago, and the jeans she wore hugged her body instead of trying to hide it. Beck’s fingers itched. He wanted to wrap them around her waist and pull her close the way he should have done back then.”

Spoilers/Opinion: When I picked this book, the description of “BBW Paranormal Romance” caught my eye. For those not in the know BBW stands for big, beautiful woman, so immediately we know the female love interest is going to be a plus sized woman. The author reminds the reader of this constantly, which is a bit much. I have no problem with having a BBW protagonist (if anything I like something a little different), I just want one chapter where I don’t have hear about how plump she is.

Probably the weirdest part of the book is that nothing really happens other than the romance/sex between the main characters. Romance novels, especially paranormal romance, have at least a little bit of plot. The only plot points are running away from some humans, banging, more banging, and Beck revealing that the first time they banged the condom broke so she’s probably pregnant. Even the powers are not really explained. For instance, the book glosses over the fact that there are vampires in this world. If you mention a paranormal element it must be explained or I am left wondering what it has to do with anything. I think the author was going for a novella rather than a full fledged novel, but even novellas have something happen. If the author wanted to create more of a teaser, she could have done more to create the world rather than just having some werewolves have sex.

Speaking of sex, Beck and January have sex within hours of being reunited. They barely even talk to each other and all of a sudden they’re banging in the front seat of car while another pack member watches. I wouldn’t mind the sex so soon if there was a bit more flirting or interaction, but the Beck and January don’t even seem to like each other. As for the sex itself, the scenes are good. I have a few gripes like the fact that Beck apparently has a monster dong that breaks condoms and January being completely submissive without any discussions beforehand. They are graphic so fans of more subtle interactions might want to look somewhere else, but overall I think they are the strongest part of the novella.

Ratings: This is a paranormal romance so the ratings are as follows:

Powers: 1/10

Explanation of Powers: 1/10

Romantic Development: 4/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 1/10

Overall, I give Desired By the Pack a 2/10. The BBW element was overdone, the powers were pointless, and nothing actually happened. It’s a short read, but not worth the time.

Citation:

Storm, Emma (2013). Desired By the Pack [Kindle Version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com. Accessed 2/23/2017.

In the Dark: Office Mom Becomes a Real Mom

This is post number 17.

Cover:

in_the_dark_cover

This is a standalone novel by Pamela Buford

Plot: Cat Seabright is in her late thirties and wants to have a child before it’s too late. She enlists the help of her friend’s cousin to set up a rendezvous where he would sleep with Cat and then leave, in the hope of getting Cat pregnant. A misunderstanding leads to Cat sleeping with a mystery man, and finding out who he is could put her plans in jeopardy.

Passage:

“SPOT SET UP a hellacious howl downstairs, barking and snarling at the front door. Brody scanned the computer room for the cheap digital clock Leon had bought him. There it was, precariously perched on a heap of paperbacks that were themselves precariously perched on top of the computer monitor. Twelve noon on the button. She was punctual. Brody abhorred punctuality. He took a last drag of his cigarette and ground the butt in the ashtray balanced on his knee, a weighty slab of green glass he’d swiped from a steak pub during his misspent youth. He thumbed the red buttons on his handheld electronic game a half dozen more times, annihilating two giant lizard warriors and a grenade-chucking alien octopus, to the accompaniment of staccato bursts of static from his Gatling gun.”

Spoilers/Opinion: Let’s start with what I like. I enjoy the fact that the characters in this story are in their late thirties/early forties. It mixes it up from teen/twenties/early thirties that almost every free romance has. The writing is easy to understand and has a decent pace. Sometimes the author likes to use those “big words”, but the grammar and mechanics are fine. The dialogue, for the most part, has no large blocks of exposition that interrupt what the characters are saying. Nothing worse than someone asking a question and getting the answer five pages later because they were too busy getting lost in each others’ eyes.

Now the parts I don’t like mostly involve the plot itself. I cannot believe that a successful woman would setup a one night stand and risk potential litigation and custody agreements with a basic stranger rather than going to a sperm bank. She claims she trusts the cousin, but he is basically a stranger.Also she tries to hide her pregnancy from the father, Brody,  and almost succeeds until the cousin randomly shows up at the stranger’s door. Too coincidental to be believable. Brody then tries to clean up his act instead of telling her he knows, or trying to get a court order. He just passively hopes Cat will let him in the child’s life without trying to setup visitation or child support. What a weenie.

This is nothing compared to her job. Cat’s job involves her being an “office mom”, and her boss Nana apparently requires her employees to be saints. The whole plot revolves around the fact that Brody takes advantage of Nana’s rules by threatening to tell her employer they had sex. In exchange for staying mum, he hires Cat as his office mom.This does not really matter though because if Nana finds out Cat is pregnant out of wedlock, then Cat’s fired anyway. By the way, this is highly illegal. I don’t think the author did her research on discrimination laws. Or employment in general.

Other ways this job is weird include the following:

  • Comforting employees of other companies
  • Doing cleaning and organizing for the office
  • “Mothering” and offering a place for employees to vent
  • Baking cookies and serving it with milk

I don’t know about you, but I think if an office requires a “mom” like this, then that office has issues or severe under staffing.

Overall, the romance is believable outside of the plot. Brody and Cat seem to enjoy each others’ company, and they are genuinely attracted to each other. They seem to make each other better people, especially Brody, which I like.

Ratings: This is a romance novel so here are the ratings for:
Relationship drama: 5/10
Romantic Development: 5/10
Hot love interest: 7/10
Creativity: 2/10
Plot: 2/10

Overall, I give In the Dark a 5/10. The plot brought down what was a decent romance with stupid choices and a strange career.

Citation:

Burford, P. (1999). In the dark. Retrieved January 27, 2017.

Pulse: Bombastic language and Bromidic characters

This is post number 15.

Background: Pulse is a novel written by Kailin Gow, and is the first of a rather extended series of young adult fiction. The cover is a black and white picture of a girl who I assume is the main character, and it is a typeface away from being sued by Stephanie Meyer.

Plot: Vampire brothers Stuart and Jaegar return to their family home to solve the circumstances of their other vampire brother Aaron’s death. They both introduce themselves to Kalina, Aaron’s ex-girlfriend, who is thought to have a magical bloodline that can turn the vampire she chooses mortal. This only works as long as she is a virgin and is not forced to give blood.

Spoilers: Initially, Stuart and Kalina date, and Jaegar interrupts their lives throughout the novel. Until the final chapters, Kalina does not know that she has to remain a virgin for the magic to work, so when Jaegar reveals the truth, she gets mad at Stuart for lying and not wanting to have sex with her. She also realizes that Aaron was sent to find her in order to determine whether or not Kalina is actually magical, but he fell in love with her instead of handing her over to his boss. At one point, Kalina drinks Jaegar’s blood as a bit of revenge against Stuart, but this causes her to have feelings for this brother as well. In the end, Kalina and the brothers are captured by Aaron’s boss, who says that Kalina must choose between the two of them, and as a final twist, the brother’s find out that Aaron is still alive.

Passage:

It was the first time she had seriously engaged in cheerleading since Aaron had died . She had continued going since then, participating half-heartedly in the workouts, but she’d known that something was different. Aaron was a football player, and when Aaron was alive she would always cheer for him. Without Aaron to cheer for, the sport had lost its appeal, somehow.

Opinion: Pulse fits almost every stereotype for a young adult, paranormal romance, especially one that has vampires. The paranormal elements serve no purpose except to make the main character choose between two immortal, hot jerks. Forcing the main female character to maintain her virginity to stay useful offends my inner Gloria Steinem. I get that the author wanted to make sure the teenage protagonist wasn’t having sex all willy-nilly, but Kalina felt ready to have sex multiple times and was stopped by her date simply because of this potential ability, which felt like the author was saying that losing your virginity as a girl would lower your value.

Having a love triangle/rectangle felt forced. Stuart as the good brother and boyfriend should be played by a cardboard cut out if a movie is ever made, and Kalina is only slightly better. Jaegar is the only character with depth as the bad, but not so bad that any relationship he would have would be unhealthy, brother and even he is hit or miss in terms of being interesting. Having her choose between the two was ridiculous because I kept getting the feeling that she would end up with Stuart because they got together first, and even if they didn’t, Stuart and Jaegar are both so similar that having a choice is unnecessary as did bringing back Aaron from the dead.

The writing also fits the standard in young adult fiction; the author will randomly use “big” words that sound nice or are unusual but don’t fit in with the sentence because their definitions aren’t a fit for what the author is trying to say. I call them “thesaurus words”, and these are the big words I refer to in this blog’s title. Every time they were used, I was distracted from the storytelling and reminded as to why I am annoyed by most YA literature. The dialogue and pacing were okay at best as was the use of third person limited.

Ratings: This is a paranormal romance so the ratings are as follows.

Powers: 5/10

Explanation of powers: 2/10

Romantic development: 3/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 3/10

Overall I give Pulse a 3/10. Even for a YA romance, the novel is mediocre at best, and having flat characters and almost misogynistic powers knocks it from the top of the bell curve and not in a good way.

Citation: Gow, Kailin (2011-06-07). PULSE (Kindle Locations 1227-1229). theEDGEbooks.com. Kindle Edition.

 

A Gathering of Light: Not very Bright

This is post number 14.

Background: A Gathering of Light is written by Patricia Isles. The cover has two hands holding a ball of light. It is the first in a series, but it could work as a stand alone novel.

Plot: This story takes place during the American Civil War, and opens up with Hixson watching his friend die and getting wounded in battle. He wakes up in Sarah’s house, wounded but not as severely as he should be. After talking with her, Hixson learns that he is in the south as a northerner and that Sarah has the ability to heal others by gathering light in her hands and applying it to wounds. The healing takes a lot of energy, and if she heals someone that is evil, it takes more energy.

Spoilers: After talking with Sarah’s neighbor, Hixson finds out that Sarah was the product of a rape and that she was raised by her grandparents until they recently passed away. He returns up north to talk to his family about Sarah and wanting to see her again. They tell him to return to her house, and when he arrives, Hixson sees that she has been brutally beaten and raped. The neighbor and he tend to her wounds, and Hixson asks Sarah to marry him. She agrees, and Sarah, Hixson, and the neighbor move up north to be part of Hixson’s family. The couple get married, and it is revealed that Hixson is a sort of counterpart to Sarah because he can see if someone she is about to heal is good or not. In the end, Sarah and Hixson have twins who can also gather light.

Passage:

Sarah was full of apprehension as she packed what little clothes she had. The bruises were still quite visible. Her ribs were still very sore and she had not regained her strength. Worse, she felt like there was a sign on her forehead, proclaiming her stain.

Opinion: The plot really dragged on, especially the section between the two being engaged and married. This story focuses on finding family and making new starts, but it tries to bring in supernatural elements that feel out of place. Another aspect that bothered me was the fact that the author decided to have two rapes for two generations of women happen almost the exact same way and under the same circumstances. I get that there is supposed to be some sort of struggle or negative event in every story, but having two terrible events happen the same way made it hard to suspend my disbelief.

All of the characters are either good or bad with no gray in between. For instance, all of Hixson’s family is kind, patient, good natured and loving without any black sheep, whereas all of the people in Sarah’s hometown are terrible people who only talk to Sarah when they need to be healed. Having all of the characters be so one dimensional bored and annoyed me. Nobody is purely one side or another, so that also contributed to the lack of believability.

I was not a fan of the writing. Something about the writing style kept giving me the impression that the author thought the reader was stupid, and I felt a bit insulted reading it. I might not be the brightest bulb in the closet, but I can understand a novel without having to be told what everyone is feeling in every single scene. Dialogue is meh, and so is use of third person omniscient.

Ratings: A Gathering of Light is a paranormal romance so the ratings are:

Powers: 3/10

Explanation of powers: 5/10

Romantic development: 4/10

Creativity: 4/10

Plot: 4/10

Overall I give this book a 4/10. The one dimensional characters and weird use of abilities were off-putting, and though the pacing made the story easy to follow, I felt almost offended at how everything was told to me like I was a simpleton.

Citation: Iles, Patricia (2010-11-08). A Gathering of Light (Light Gatherers) (Kindle Locations 1395-1397). . Kindle Edition.

Viridis: Sex, Drugs and Hot Air Balloons?

This is post number 10.

Background: This novel is written by Calista Taylor, and it is the first of a series. The cover art is of the main character. Also this novel is set in a steam punk England.

Plot: Phoebe has made a nightclub that dispenses her drug Viridis, which heightens all of a person’s senses. It is said that drinking a pure form of the drug can make that person orgasm. A man is murdered and Phoebe is one of the suspects since the man was last seen at her club. Phoebe’s ex shows up and the two rekindle their romance.

Spoilers: Phoebe’s former suitor becomes instantly jealous of her former ex, so he attacks Phoebe in her office. Her man then goes out and beats up the former suitor, who then threatens her beau with legal action. In order to prevent her man from going to jail, Phoebe agrees to sleep with her former suitor. All the while a cop is interrogating various members of Phoebe’s staff to find out why the man was killed. At one point, a mutual friend of the couple returns into their lives, and Phoebe and the friend admit that they kissed once while Phoebe and her man were broken up. Eventually, the mystery of the murder is solved; Phoebe’s brother had an affair with the deceased and someone caught wind of it and decided to kill both of them since the murderer saw the coupling as perverted. Phoebe is sad about her brother’s death, but still agrees to marry her man.

Passage:

Phoebe had been prowling the house since William left, trying in vain to ignore the sinking feeling in her gut. She was only too happy that Sarah and Martha were preoccupied in the kitchen. It was quite clear that they were shaken after being questioned by the inspector, and she could not blame them. She felt horrible that they were under suspicion, and how she would face them again, she did not know.

Opinion: This is another book that has almost too much going on, but I think Viridis actually pulls it off. The mystery of the murder had twists and turns that I did not see coming, but I could still believe that they could happen. I feel like the investigator’s plot line was by far more interesting than Phoebe’s plot line because he at least had some action not relating to a relationship. Phoebe’s relationship is her main concern rather than her business or her reputation. She has some interesting, personal moments like when she takes her birth control or makes a new potion, but for the most part, her entire world revolves around her man.

Subjectively, I was not a fan of the whole steam punk schtick. For one, the inventions are described in detail in order to show that they are both old school and technologically advanced, but I didn’t like reading pages worth of description for a steam punk computer. This really annoyed me, especially the part where I had to read paragraphs of adjectives for a hot air balloon-plane when the author could have just said that it was a zeppelin. Also, the whole point of setting a story in a time and place of extreme modesty is so that the characters have to work around these constraints and rules; all of the characters ignore the rules like Victorian hipsters, which undermines the world.

The writing is good for the most part. This story is written in third person limited perspective and switches between Phoebe and the investigator, which the author uses effectively. My only complaint is the fact that the author tries to create a Scottish accent for the main love interest and the mutual friend by phonetically writing it in the dialogue, but this only made the book hard to read and almost cringe inducing. She would have been better off just telling the reader about their accents and leaving the rest to our imaginations.

Ratings: This book is a mystery with romantic themes. As such here are the ratings:

Surprises/ Plot Twists: 8/10

Problem Solving/Finding info: 8/10

Romantic Development: 5/10

Creativity: 6/10

Plot: 6/10

Overall I give this book a 7.5/10. Viridis has a great twists and turns and effective writing. I am not a fan of the steam punk aspect, but objectively, this is a good novel that I do recommend.

Citation: Taylor, Calista (2014-02-15). Viridis – A Steampunk Romance & Mystery (The Viridis Series) (Kindle Locations 2173-2176). Daeron Press. Kindle Edition.