A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Reading, April 2017

on May 1, 2017

I apologize for how sparse this post is; my April was spent preparing for my trip, freaking out about my trip, taking my trip, and then recovering from my trip. So I didn’t make a lot of notes and some of the lighter books I barely remember. Squares unfilled: “Wild ride” and “West Side.”

Recurring themes of the month: Heroines who want to escape “the Marriage Plot.”Ambitious mamas. Historical ADHD and anxiety disorder. People who use their supposed craziness to defeat evil. Series merging. Victorian inventors with patents. Drama involving exes at the theatre. Heroines under surveillance. Twin babies. Heroines who fall for the black sheep of seemingly perfect families. Heroines taken advantage of while they’re grieving. Heroines from the Pacific Northwest. (Timely!) Pointless, cliched, and offensive big reveals. Bondage wounds. (Not the good kind.) Musicians/creative artists.

Hollywood: Married for the Tycoon’s Empire by Abby Green. (Harlequin Presents. First in multi-author series. Hero in pursuit.) Not actually set in Hollywood, but they have Hollywood-style problems.

Double denim: A Shameful Consequence by Carol Marinelli. (Harlequin Presents. First in a duo. One night stand. Secret baby.) Sexy twin brothers! Okay, so you only get one in this book…

Toast: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian. (Historical – Victorian. M/M. Disabled hero. Criminal hero. Masquerade. In hiding.)

I can’t remember if there’s actually toast in this story — one hero only eats bread and ham — but there’s a lot of coziness to it, and surely there’s some toast in a cozy English romance?

This has such a romantic cover and thankfully the contents did it justice. The author has a lovely way with a romantic scene, as when the characters cautiously flirt while testing the telegraph they’re working on.

Belles: Under the Stars of Paris by Mary Burchell. (Harlequin Romance. Paris in the 1940s. Love triangle/rectangle.)

I can’t really say much about this, because it’s one of those surprising oldies in which it’s genuinely hard to tell who the heroine will end up with. But I loved it, except for some quibbles with the ending. No steam at all but utterly delightful. Wonderful details about the Paris fashion world and what it was like to be a fashion model.

Exploring: How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis. The author explores how she wants to live through books. Thoughts here.

A Token Wife: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas. (Historical Romance. Victorian. Series.) What Pandora has no intention of being.

I liked this the best of Kleypas’s recent historicals, though it’s not high drama as the title implies.

Now! (contemporary): An Indecent Proposal by Carol Marinelli. My TBR challenge read.

Sleepless Nights: A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran. (Historical – Victorian. Deceit. Fake marriage.) The heroine’s guilt no doubt caused her many sleepless nights.

It’s a shame this has such a generic title, because it’s one of Duran’s best books. The “marriage to someone who’s supposed to die soon” plot isn’t new, but there’s quite a twist here. The amnesia element almost made this a science fiction plot, so it’s interesting to anyone fascinated by genre.

Drinks O’Clock!: Lovers in the Afternoon by Carole Mortimer. (Harlequin Presents.) Self-explanatory. 🙂

Special Delivery: Pregnant by Mr. Wrong by Rachel Johns. (Category romance. Silhouette Special Edition. High school crush. One night stand. Not-so-secret secret baby.) Also self-explanatory.

The Perfect Kiss: Claimed for the De Carrillo Twins by Abby Green. (Harlequin Presents. Blackmailed into marriage. Free to Be a Family.) Neither can forget their one kiss.

Now that is one disappointing title. 😉

Party: Maid of Honour by Miranda Hammond. (Traditional Regency. Heroine is the good sister.) Most of the action takes place at a house party.

Puppy Love: My Only Sunshine by Mary Ann Rivers. (Contemporary romance. Novella. Musician. Writer. High school friends. Something to Love.) The characters fall in love young.

The cover of this story — and yay for an actually fat woman on a romance cover! — and the backstory reminded me a lot of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, so I was very amused when I got to this line:

“Even when I hadn’t seen Mallory in seven years, hadn’t had any more contact than a postcard I read the ink off of…”

Rivers writes beautifully and a story about two creative artists (one a musican, the other a writer) is a perfect showcase for her prose.

“He told Mallory that he always felt like his mother was afraid that if he didn’t do a hundred repetitions of some exercise his violin professor assigned him, the music would just drain out of him and he wouldn’t be special anymore.

He wouldn’t be worth loving.

He didn’t say that, but that condition was clearly obvious to John. What his mother didn’t understand was that John would never need to be told to do one hundred repetitions. He would always do then, because to reach for his instrument was to make his gangly, pointy body complete — whole and fluid and lovely.”

Pajama Time: On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman. (Fiction with romantic element.) A roommate is seduced with morning lingerie.

This had some of the same flaws as Lipman’s last book — primarily, too much gossip. It was very readable but I think I may be over her. 😦

April: Paris — and My Love by Mary Burchell. (Harlequin Romance. Sequel. Love triangle.) I can’t remember when this was set, but April and Paris just go together!

Similar to Under the Stars of Paris, but considerably less interesting.

7: Married for the Greek’s Convenience by Michelle Smart. (Harlequin Presents. Married.) I can’t remember how many years they were separated; let’s say seven.

Chasing the Light: A Song Begins by Mary Burchell. (Harlequin Romance. London. Series beginning. Singer. Conductor. Adult student/teacher. Large age difference. Controlling hero. Something to love.) Heroine is seeking money for the voice teaching she needs to become a singer.

This is similar in some ways to Under the Stars of Paris, but with the difference that the heroine is sincerely dedicated to her craft. Those tags don’t make it sound very appealing, but it’s really exciting and evocative.

Sweet City Woman: Ring of Deception by Sandra Marton. (Multi-author series. Single mother. Cop. Masquerade.)

“…he’d been dead wrong to have brought a city girl into the woods.”

I’m annoyed at Harlequin for reprinting this as an HP, when it doesn’t fit the line at all, and was originally part of a multi-author series and has a series cliffhanger ending. Otherwise, a decent story about an undercover cop and and a mom in hiding from her abusive ex. (But she doesn’t change her name!) The crime plot falls flat at the end, which brought my grade down.

No Questions Asked: Love Without Reason by Alison Fraser. (Harlequin Presents. Scotland and America. Reunited. Large age difference. Flashbacks. Secret baby. Bickerfest. Big Mis. Heroine pov only.) The lovers are separated because the hurt hero doesn’t bother to ask questions.

An amusingly apt title, since it’s hard to know what the unlikeable main characters see in each other. Nonetheless, the passion and hurt on both sides runs enjoyably high, and the effect of the heroine’s deep reserve is interesting. The prose is sometimes clunky, but I enjoyed the details about life in Scotland and the culture clash between the poor Scottish heroine and wealthy American hero. Warning for dubious consent and some violent behavior.

Cherish : Like None Other by Caroline Linden. (Victorian? Short story. Neighbors.) Likeable, mature characters, who will certainly cherish each other.

Dark Apollo: Consumed by Fire by Anne Stuart. (Romantic suspense. Italy and the U.S.) Hero is sometimes brunette, sometimes blonde, always dark. Though I was tempted to put this book under “Wild Ride” and use this for “Dark Apollo” instead.

I’m irked, because Stuart’s formula has started to get kind of meh for me of late and I was enjoying the twists of this one more than usual — until it got to an offensive plot twist, made even more offensive by being completely unnecessary.

Lily: Deceived by Sara Craven. (Harlequin Presents. Reunited. Stepcousin. ) Hero’s nickname for the heroine is “Madonna Lily.”

Morass: His Mistress’s Secret by Alison Fraser. (Harlequin Presents. Heroine POV only. Singer. Doctor. Hero is cynical about women.)

Not an apt Fraser title at all, this time… I think they just wanted to squash it into the “mistress to a millionaire line” despite the fact that the hero is a doctor and the heroine is a rock star and they barely even have sex until the end. Some interesting aspects around the heroine’s life — she was abandoned at a commune, where she grew up until social services forced her to leave —  but I didn’t feel the chemistry between them at all and the “secret” was nothing. (Or another offensive, cliched one, if you read between the lines.)

 

DNFs

Madly by Ruthie Knox. I’m not sure how much I read, but I never got any sense that the characters should be together.

Shadows by Robin McKinley. As Bona wrote, to enjoy a first person narrative, you have to care about the person narrating.

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2 responses to “Reading, April 2017

  1. This is a sparse post?!?! I’m just pleased that I recognised so many of those titles. As for “pajama” *ahem* “pyjama” time….#Isaypotato #yousaypotahto 😉

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