A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge – DNF: The Mermaid’s Song by Marianne Willman

The theme: A comfort read

Why this one: I planned on an easily digestible historical. This wasn’t quite what I had in mind… but I needed a Mermaid book for the #RippedBodiceBingo card. Score! Or not so much, since I didn’t finish.

A heroine on the lam is not exactly comforting, and the book only gets darker from there. Flora is in hiding from the Bow Street Runners after a conman seduced her, robbed and murdered her employer, and then claimed Flora was an accomplice. Just when she fears she’s been found, she receives an offer to be a convenient wife to the brooding uncle of one of her pupils, who has removed the young lady from school. You can guess the rest of the story — or can you? I skimmed around and read the end, and it gets pretty wild.

I have no particular quibble with the book; it’s just not really my thing anymore, and I didn’t feel like slogging through. If you enjoy older, darker historical romance, it’s at Open Library.

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Semi-Reviews: Back on that Horse edition

I’m still reading quite slowly and scatteredly, but am managing to finish a few things. Am one-tenth of the way into The Warmth of Other Suns. Good God, the segregation! I had no idea of the lengths it went to. A black person had to wait for a white person to offer a handshake. Black drivers had to yield to white drivers and couldn’t pass them! It strikes me that most of the general knowledge about segregation — I’m assuming that’s what I’ve had — supports the “separate but equal” lie, while the stuff that quite obviously didn’t doesn’t get talked about.

The Last Victim by Karen Robards. Romantic Suspense/Paranormal/Continuing Series. Format: audiobook

What tickled my fancy: kept me guessing — and I often guessed wrong!

What ticked me off: I have my own stomach issues, I don’t need to read about yours.

Who might like it: Fans of bad boys.

Profiler of serial killers… also sees dead people… yadda yadda yadda I don’t feel like writing a synopsis. Also, I knew nothing about the book going in and it was kind of fun being off-balance and surprised. (Though not so much fun when the ending is a @$!$#! cliffhanger.) I get the feeling that Robards was cocking a bit of a snoot here at readers who’ve rejected the bad boy alphole hero she specializes in.

The narration is… adequate. The accents are actually well done and the sex scenes are hot. Perhaps the problem was less the narrator than what she had to work with. Endless descriptions of the protagonist’s upset tummy issues — not only does she see dead people, but it makes her all queasy — and her ruminations about how hot and forbidden another character is, yawn.

Still, it hooked me and I’m going back for more.

Pregnant By Morning by Kat Cantrell. Contemporary/Category Romance.

What tickled my fancy: Hero’s mom refers to him being “unstarched.” I’ve made the big time!

What ticked me off: Least favorite romance shorthand ever.

Who might like it: Hurt/comfort fans, readers who enjoy a sexually aggressive heroine (still pretty rare in Harlequins, or at least the kind I read)

I found this book kind of disconcerting because I kept, well, expecting someone to get pregnant. The whole point of these dumbass Harlequin titles is you know what you’re getting, right? Pages just kept turning, and the heroine just kept not being pregnant.  It’s not that I even wanted to read about a pregnancy, but since I knew it was going to happen, it was really distracting when it didn’t. Which is a shame, because I think the author was deliberately trying to write a different kind of surprise pregnancy story, one in which it brings up serious, realistic issues. I don’t think she succeeded anyway, but the title didn’t help.

Hero’s angst: dead wife.  This was a little odd, because first it seemed like he’d been married forever, then it turned out to have been a relatively short time. Heroine’s angst: incompetent surgery destroyed her vocal cords ruining her singing career. Both characters think of themselves as “damaged.”  Heroine is self-righteously horrified at the suggestion that she might not keep the baby. (KILL IT WITH FIRE!) The ending had some promise around the couple’s serious conflicts, but they are solved very easily and — surprise! — at the heroine’s expense. Although she does get a new career, the whole happy housewife ending was incredibly improbable and didn’t fit with the rest of the book.


Review: The Geek with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir

Reviewed from an e-arc

This is the second novella in an oddball series partially narrated by highly intelligent — and unusually gifted — cats.  I enjoyed the first one, but my impression is that this one is even better. It’s still cute and clever, but more emotionally satisfying.

Geeks are becoming a romance trend, but our titular geek isn’t the usual hacker/gamer — he fits the more personal definition of a geek/nerd as someone who loves passionately. Emerson loves making musical instruments, and he loves owning and wearing items that make him feel connected to the past. He’s a perfect match for violinist Lola (sister to the heroine of the first book) — but he also loves her so passionately that it leaves him tongue-tied and acting like a total asshole.

When Emerson is adopted by a cat named Sam, Sam uses his innate ability to mess with people’s minds to put the right thoughts into Emerson’s mouth so he can woo Lola.  Having already had a deceptively charming chameleon of a boyfriend, Lola is wary… and of course, Sam can’t always be there (though sensing that Sam is good luck, Emerson goes to ridiculous lengths to carry him around!) And then disaster strikes and Emerson is left without his Cyrano — and without the cat he’s grown to love.

Like the first book, this one is partially narrated by Sam himself, and partially from the points of view of Emerson and Lola. It also shares the kind of distancing narrative vibe which kept me from fully loving the first book, yet the emotions came through more this time, making the romance stronger. (Emerson does a lot of his own wooing by letter, so there’s no sense that it’s all Sam and he and Lola haven’t really connected.)  I also enjoyed the wry humor, and the fact that from Sam’s point of view it’s not just a romance… it’s a bromance.

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