A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair

The theme: Lovely RITA. This was a RITA finalist.

Why this one: I couldn’t seem to get through any of my historicals. To put it as politely as possible, the RITA committees and I seem to have tastes in historicals that’s about as opposite as you can get. (With some exceptions, of course.)

I was thinking that Finders Keepers was more romance than science fiction, but towards the end I realized it’s more that it’s a subgenre of science fiction I don’t read much — space opera. Not a lot of world-building or character development, but lots of scheming, shooting, and escaping. Since it’s also gorgeously romantic, I enjoyed it a lot.

Captain Trilby Elliot is flying solo (apart from a sweet, loquacious droid, Dezi.) Being dumped by her lover has left her hurting, and she’s struggling to make ends meet on a transport ship held together with duct tape and ingenuity. When she finds an abandoned, injured human from a planet her society has a hostile truce with, she takes him aboard, only to find the healed man is very sexy and very devious.

Rhis (pronounced Reece) is a pretty standard romance hero. Intimidating, somewhat emotionally scarred, and very alpha, in the sense that he’s extremely protective, possessive, and thinks he knows best. But he and Trilby work together really well, and when he gets tender with her…. oh my. Rhis teaching Trilby how to say “I want you” in his language is a running… a running swoon? There are all kinds of difficulties, from Trilby’s fear of being hurt again to aliens trying to kill her, but the combined courage and smarts of the couple make it all work.

16 Comments »

TBR Challenge: Forget Me Not (Mnevermind 2) by Jordan Castillo Price

The theme: Something “different.”

Why this one: I broke my “print books only” rule this month, because my print tbr is 99% historical romance, and .99% contemporary or paranormal romance. I decided to go truly out of my comfort zone with science fiction. As it turned out, most of the science fiction in this trilogy (of the two books I’ve read) was in the first book; the second is almost all romance and character study. So not really all that different; don’t tell the Theme Police.

Forget Me Not is narrated by Elijah Crowe, the autistic man who started mysteriously appearing in Daniel’s mnems in book one. (Mnems, pronounced “neems,” are a bit like programmed dreams– a simplification, but it will do for the purposes of this review.) I was not in love with how Elijah’s autism was perceived by Daniel in The Persistence of Memory, so what a relief and joy it was to discover that he’s not only a beautifully drawn character, but his own narrative is not self-hating.

“‘I see the way you treat Big Dan,’ he said, as the elevator settled and the first floor light went off. ‘Like a regular person.’

Although his use of the word “regular” was problematically inexact, I had a sense of what he meant. Big Dan [Daniel’s father] wasn’t neurotypical, but neither was I. Being neurotypical was overrated, in my opinion — plenty of people like Tod and Ryan were about as ‘regular’ as you could get, and as far as I was concerned, it didn’t make them any more appealing.”

The story is mainly about Elijah’s navigating his newfound interest in another man, something which is difficult for him because the dating rules he’s learned so carefully may not apply. There are a lot of roadblocks in the way, including Daniel’s prejudices, a therapist who believes Elijah may be the victim of a predatory Daniel, a scarily homophobic bully at Elijah’s work, and Elijah’s sensory issues. Not all of these are fully resolved, though I suppose they may be in the third book. (From the reviews, it doesn’t look like they are. I would love to see him find a new therapist who really supports him, doesn’t infantilize him, and for God’s sake, helps him find a non obtrusive stim instead of having him fight it all the time.)

I appreciated that Elijah has neither cute quirky romance novel autism nor cliched lit fic aloof autism. He’s genuinely disabled, but not helpless, and he’s a fully realized, sympathetic, and lovable person. His anxieties strongly resonated with me, and I was saddened by how much he feels the need to change himself for others, even answering the classic “top or bottom” question by deciding,

“I would force myself to be whatever would go best with him. After all, he’d had several years in which to develop his preferences. I was new at being gay. I would adapt.”

Thankfully, Daniel is patient and not at all pushy.

As with the first book, the ending kind of fades away, so it’s really not a complete story. But it’s completely worth reading anyway.

9 Comments »

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

What tickled me: Only thing better than a Scarlet Pimpernel hero? A Scarlet Pimpernel heroine!

What ticked me off: This future world includes mentions of some classic books — even though The Scarlet Pimpernel isn’t one of them, that just got a little too meta for me, somehow.

Who might like it: Readers who enjoy “reimaginings” of classics.

Across a Star-Swept Sea is a sequel set shortly after For Darkness Shows the Stars, yet opens in a very different post-apocalyptic world,  which was confusing at first. In this area — encompassing two kingdoms, Albion and Galatea — technology has been embraced. But flying machines have been outlawed because of the tragic past, which explains why this otherwise technologically advanced civilization believes they are the only people left on Earth.

In this version of the Scarlet Pimpernel story, Albion is essentially England, although the roots of the people appear to be Polynesian. Galatea is post-revolutionary France. Galatean Justen Helo has become disenchanted with the revolution, which is deliberately punishing “aristos” with a form of chemically-induced brain damage. He escapes to Galatea in the hopes of continuing his research on the Helo cure invented by his grandmother, which cured Earth’s survivors of the “Reduction” that left some of them genetically altered, but which had a tragic side effect for a small percentage. There he is forced to pretend to be dating the Regent’s lady-in-waiting, the brainless, fashion obsessed, society darling Persis Blake. Of course he has no idea that Persis is actually the brilliant and brave “Wild Poppy,” the Albion hero who is sneaking aristos away under the noses of the revolution.

This version sticks fairly closely to the original, though it’s more even-handed about the revolution. The setting brings a new level of chill to the already exciting story, because of the threat of Reduction. (I was initially troubled by the depiction of the “Reduced” and the attitude towards them, which I had not found offensive in For Darkness Shows the Stars — thankfully, this was actually addressed.) The weakest point is probably the romance, and admittedly, it has a huge bar set: there is just nothing to compare to Percy’s kissing the steps where Marguerite had walked, or Marguerite’s desperate journey to save him.  Although the gender-bending is very cool, in having the ultimate symbol of bold cunning be a woman, something is lost in Marguerite’s role. (For more on her character, see this interesting article in The Toast.) So I wasn’t quite as swept away as I was by the first book, though I will eagerly await the next one.

 

Leave a comment »

Review: Brooke by Veronica Rossi

What tickled me: The Evil Other Woman gets her own story! And she’s not really all that evil.
What ticked me off: Maybe a bit over-romanticized.
Who might like it: You won’t want to read it unless you’ve read the first two books in the series.

Brooke is a bridging short story between Through the Ever Night and the upcoming Into the Still Blue, narrated by Brooke, Perry’s former lover. The opening, in which Brooke is somewhat haughtily caring for the rescued Dwellers, whose immune systems are being heavily challenged, brought to mind Scarlet tending the wounded in Gone with the Wind, and the rest of the book somewhat continued that theme — Brooke is tough, and fierce, and very much herself, much like Scarlet. But she shows herself to be a lot smarter about getting over the fact that her first love loves someone else.

This is told in first person present, but I didn’t notice for five chapters — so it’s either really well done, or I’ve just gotten used to this ever-present style. I really liked Brooke getting a voice here, and was pleased with how relevant the dystopian science fiction tale is to themes of young adult life.

Leave a comment »

What We've Been Reading

Reading inspiration from the HabitRPG Legendary Book Club's URC/MRC challenges.

Something More

my extensive reading

Blue Castle Considerations

thoughtations, contemplations, fulminations & other random things from books...

...Burns Through Her Bookshelf

Voracious reader, book lover, intermittant blogger, audiologist. These things are some of me, but not the sum of me.

Cate Marsden.

Love and Zombies. And books. And infrequent updates.

Book Thingo

Reading (mostly) romance books down under

Shallowreader

...barely skimming the surface

Olivia Dade

Bawdy romcoms with a big ♥.

Flight into Fantasy

Reviews, book thoughts and opinions of one omnivorous reader.

Her Hands, My Hands

The vagaries of my mind, the products of my hands. Not always safe for work.

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…had never boasted either beauty or cleverness. Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavour to make a small income go as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman..." Emma, Jane Austen