A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: To Each His Own by Kathleen Eagle

The theme: A contemporary romance. This turned out to be kind of an interesting choice, because it seems so old-timey. But looking back, fears of satanic cults were very real in the 90s.

Why this one: The sad usual, I needed something short. (Not that it helped in this case.) And I’m a bit burned out on Harlequin Presents at the moment, and my print contemporary TBR is actually pretty small now! But I swear, now that I have less pressure on me, I will plan a little better and pick some of my door-stoppers this year.

There’s a secondary romance in this story, and both romances involve white women with Indian men. (A very liberal interpretation of “women” and ” men”, because the secondary couple is teen-aged.) I don’t think I was aware enough to notice this when reading Eagle before, but this time I was struck by the lack of emphasis on differences. When Teri thinks about John, for example, it’s his shyness and his sweet smile that come to mind. No exoticizing, not othering, unless you count Wyatt’s view of Lavender.

Racism is an issue in the story — inevitably, since Wyatt and John are two of very few Indians in a very white, conservative small town — but part of what makes it interesting is that it’s an outsider story, and the outsider is the white woman. Lavender is the town kook, and Wyatt, who had a long range plan to “find a woman who blended in with the mainstream, marry her and slip into Middle America beside her” is the one who has to change his ideas about how the rest of his life will go in order to be with her.

I appreciated the portrayal of Lavender, an intelligent, mature, giving woman who’s made peace with a lot that’s in her life. You rarely see a portrayal of a hippie in romance that isn’t mocking. Lavender may be a little idealistically drawn, but there’s enough pain and mistakes in her background to make her believable.

 

 

4 Comments »

Update

I fell behind in my TBR challenge reading — rough month, won’t go into it — but I am reading something and will post late.

I’ve decided to ignore the plagiarists and just keep going… too many assholes have already ruined my fun. Though it makes me glad I gave up standard review formats.

5 Comments »

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

My reviews are being stolen, posted under other people’s names, and used to sell books.

I give up.

10 Comments »

More Fun With Depression

I’m having a run of depressed heroes. (Not to mention a run of runaway wives in my category romance reading.) My First Look at Blue-Eyed Stranger by Alex Beecroft is up at Heroes and Heartbreakers.

For those not familiar with the site, a “First Look” isn’t a traditional review/critique. The focus is on what the reader loved most about the book, whatever that may be. For me, I loved the true geekiness of these devoted history buffs.

7 Comments »

More Fun With Scanning Errors

“I don’t want to 50 with you, Diego.”

I’ll just bet you don’t.

6 Comments »

P.S.

I realized I hadn’t addressed author relationships or beta reading in my disclosure post, so I added a paragraph.

Leave a comment »

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

(Reviewed from an e-arc from NetGalley)

I ‘m always on the lookout for romances with autistic characters, and this New Adult romance is one of the most thematically interesting I’ve found. The two main characters are both disabled — Emmet is autistic, Jeremey has severe depression and anxiety — but the big difference between them is that only Emmet’s disability has been acknowledged and accommodated. So this is really not a story about an autistic person being rescued by love; if anything, it’s the other way around.

After ten months of crushing on his neighbor Jeremey from across the yard, Emmet finally manages to introduce himself. Jeremey hasn’t had a friend in awhile; if his mother didn’t drag him out of the house, he’d never leave his room. But after a lifetime of learning how to request and make modifications for himself, Emmet has no trouble understanding Jeremey’s similar difficulties with noise, overstimulation, and groups of people. Jeremey goes from thinking Emmet is “off” and “special needs,” to realizing he’s smart, cute, and very easy to be with. But even a good friendship, with the possibility of more, may not be enough to help him live with the ocean of depression he has to carry every day.

From the start, I was impressed with the fact that Emmet is genuinely disabled. (Although making him also a genius seemed like both a cliche and perhaps a form of compensating.). Autistic people in romance are rarely allowed to be more than reserved and quirky. Emmet is identifiably weird — he can’t pass. He rocks and flaps his arms and hums to himself. He can’t drive. Although he’s thinks of himself as having some “superpowers,” his autism is mostly not glamorous. Jeremey has what I guess you’d call neurotypical privilege, but his disability is also severe, particularly since it’s gone untreated for so long.

These aren’t your typical romance characters, and their romance isn’t exactly typical either. I found it sympathetic and believable, because they really care about each other and work hard to be good to each other. Trying to be “good boyfriends” brings out the best in them — but there are mistakes, and upsets, and sometimes they each need to put self-care ahead of the relationship. I liked the realistic imperfections; even Emmet’s mom, who initially seems like the perfect, understanding parent for a gay autistic boy, screws up by not seeing her son as someone who can have a boyfriend.

When you’re autistic, everyone acts as if you’re not a real human. I’m angry at my family because they said I was a real human. But when I say I’m your boyfriend, they say I can’t be. So they lied. I’m not a real human.

The story is told in alternating first person narratives, both of which are kind of info-dumpy. Jeremey’s worked better for me than Emmet’s, which I had number of problems with. One is that it sounds so much like other fictional autistic narratives I’ve read, and in my experience, it’s not that believable a voice to begin with. Autistic people don’t necessarily sound all that different from neurotypical people when they write. It also makes him sound like a young kid, which is uncomfortable when you’re reading a romance that includes sex. (He’s 19 and Jeremey is 18.)                                 

I did like the slow, thoughtful way their sexual relationship grew. It’s not a super sexy book, but their physical relationship is important to them. They both like Emmet to be in charge, which works with their characters.

The story is more slow-moving and everyday than I normally go for, but overall I really enjoyed it. But then, in a way, it’s exactly my fantasy. Not a sexual fantasy, but a mom fantasy, one about an autistic person gaining independence, and finding love just by being himself. You go, Emmet.

4 Comments »

I Gotta Be Me

(This post is not meant as a swipe at Jane; it’s really just about me and my own feelings.)

As a reviewer, I’ve been scared on the internet for a long time.  Scared of being doxxed. Scared of offending people. Scared of making enemies. It’s never stopped me reviewing honestly, but I can’t say it’s never shut me up, much though I wish I could. I’ve been sitting on a lot of my real opinions, so as not to rock the boat or offend people I care about.

And I finally reached a line I couldn’t cross. And the amazing thing is, now I don’t feel scared any more. I would much prefer not to be doxxed or harrassed, of course. But if I am doxxed people will discover… that I’m exactly who I’ve always said I am. Right now I can’t think of anything I’d rather be.

7 Comments »

Full Disclosure

I have this info on one of my pages, but in light of recent events, I want to make it all very clear.

I am not an author or an aspiring author. The only writing I’ve ever had published and/or paid for is book reviews/articles about books and a few personal essays, unrelated to romance.

Actually, to be completely honest, I’ve toyed with writing a non-fiction book (also unrelated to romance) but I’m super lazy so the odds aren’t good.

To my knowledge, I only know one romance author IRL, and I never review or mention her books. (Or even read them… it just feels too weird!) I’m friendly with some authors online, though they may or may not be authors whose work I enjoy. I try to disclose whenever I’m reviewing a book by someone with whom I have a more personal relationship. I’ve never beta-read and am unlikely to; if I do, I’ll disclose. I did once spot read a book solely for formatting errors, as a favor.

The only connection I have with a publisher is that I write for “Heroes and Heartbreakers,” which is owned by Macmillan. What I choose to write for them is very much up to me. This was also the case at “Dear Author.”  I appreciate the autonomy I’ve had at both sites; I’m not sure I could work any other way.

I did not feel I could go on writing for “Dear Author” after yesterday’s revelations. The idea that I might have inadvertently reviewed, or even commented on, a book written by Jane made me extremely uncomfortable. It was sheer luck that she writes in a genre I don’t read very often — but I have done a First Look for at least one NA book at “Heroes and Heartbreakers,” so I kind of feel like I dodged a bullet there.

And I don’t like secrets in general, and don’t want to be involved with them.

If you have any questions at all about my knowledge/involvement, please feel free to ask me, here or privately. I can speak only for myself.

If you’re an online friend of mine and have an authorial/publishing relationship I don’t know about, I’d really appreciate you telling me.

40 Comments »

TBR Challenge: Under Surveillance by Gayle Wilson

The theme: Series catch up

Why this one: We all know why, don’t we… I got pressed for time and had to pick something short and easy.  However, in that magical way my TBR often has, this is third in a series and I have read the first two, so I’m actually right on target! (The fact that I didn’t particularly like either one is neither here nor there. I do like this author and I own the damn book.

Under Surveillance took me a little by surprise at first. It looked like it was going to be a Linda Howard-ish story in which the hero is using the heroine for investigative purposes, while falling in love with her. I love the excruciating betrayal in those stories, so that was fine with me. But instead, Kelly Lockett finds out that John Edmonds is investigating her fairly early on — but after she’s already slept with him — so the story is more about whether she can and should trust him.

There’s a lot being written about women’s desires in the media lately, as if there were only one kind. (I doubt there’s even one woman who has only one kind.) I don’t get a whole lot out of billionaire stories, myself, but I am very susceptible to the fantasy this story is built around — the very competent, protective man who’s always there when you need him. Kelly is smart and tough, but she’s in over her head and John is just the guy to help her, if she’ll let him. (Or even if she won’t. He doesn’t order her around or do things against her will, but he does stake out her house without her knowledge, because he knows she’s in danger.)

The rest of the book is fairly standard romantic suspense — one plot point practically wore a “wait for it!” sign, it was so obvious — and the romance is a bit low key, but I enjoyed the characters and their chemistry.

 

6 Comments »

Shallowreader's Blog

...barely scratching the surface of romance literature, reading and libraries

Olivia Dade

Writer. Reader. Hussy.

Flight into Fantasy

Romance, speculative fiction, and YA book reviews, book chatter, and random silliness

Her Hands, My Hands

The vagaries of my mind, the products of my hands.

dabwaha

64 books. 1 Champion. Get your game on.

Stop the STGRB Bullies

Your hypocrisy is showing

Blue Moon

Audiobook reviews and book reviews. Occasional opining.

Miss Bates Reads Romance

Miss Bates is the loquacious spinster from Austen's Emma. No doubt she read romances ... here's what she would have thought of them.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 68 other followers