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review 2018-10-05 00:23
ARC Review: The Nerd And The Prince by B.G. Thomas
The Nerd And The Prince - B.G. Thomas

It's a very romantic notion, isn't it - you're a small-town nerdy bookstore/cafe owner, and a prince-in-hiding comes to town and sweeps you off your feet, whisking you away from your mundane life into a world of castles and royalty and legends, to live happily ever after. 

Adam/Amadeo Montefalcone, Prince of Monterosia (a tiny fictional kingdom somewhere bordering Italy), has come to the small town of Buckman, MO, where Jason, nerdy bookworm, lives. Adam is running from his responsibilities as the Crown Prince, and from being married off to some poor unsuspecting woman for whom he would hold no love or desire. Because Amadeo is gay, and after being almost caught in flagrante on his knees in a dark alley, he feels that he just needs to get away.

His younger brother has helped him escape to the US, obtaining a small house that just happens to be next to Jason's bookstore/cafe/apartment. Jason Evander Brewster has no illusions of grandeur, and while he's not exactly flaunting his sexuality, he's not exactly hiding it either. He had a clandestine thing with Timothy who's deep in the closet, but that's long over, and Jason is still nursing a bit of a broken heart. His dreams are traveling the world, finding adventure and a love like a fairy tale.

This is a sweet, almost too sweet romance. Jason's personality is a bit underdeveloped, especially when viewed against Adam's larger than life joviality and worldliness. The romance is obviously rapid and swept-off-your-feet, and the emotions just drip off the pages. Adam is a perfect human specimen, with a god-like physique and model looks, and Jason is your stereotypical small-town nerd with expressive eyes, who doesn't believe he even has a chance at such a perfect creature. It's just enough over the top to not veer into ridiculous territory, and none of it feels realistic - but then most of the books in this Harlequin-esque series aren't to be taken super seriously. They're grand romance fairy tales, fantasies, and should be read as such - a way to spend a few joyful hours, forgetting about reality. 

The book also contains a plethora of information about Greek mythology, which was delightful, and a bunch of Italian phrases that I mostly understood, which was not so delightful. For most of them, a translation is readily provided as part of the narrative or dialogue, and I suppose it fit Amadeo, as that is his primary language, but it became slightly too much after a while. It's never easy to include a foreign language; surely appropriate when one of your MCs is a native to that foreign country, but it can also be tedious for the reader. 

While there is a wee bit of drama/angst, it's minor, and only really happens toward the end - the romance between Jason and Adam is completely angst-free - the two spot each other, fall in lust and then in love. I did appreciate that the author did allow them to get to know each other, instead of simply jumping into bed for a romp in the sheets. 

The finale and the subsequent HEA (obligatory in this series) in the epilogue were both well done. The solution to Adam's dilemma was rather obvious, so I wasn't surprised at all when that came to pass. The way of getting there however was interesting.

I enjoyed reading this book. It's a sweet, easy romance, with two likable MCs, a good supporting cast, and a lovely way to spend a few hours of your time. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-08-09 06:22
How to Keep a Secret - Sarah Morgan

I received this book for free from the publisher (Harlequin) as part of their bookstagram publicity campaign. 

 

I loved this book!

 

A blurb on the back of the book from fellow author, Jill Shalvis, describes this book as being “Jane Green meets Sophie Kinsella.” I haven’t read anything by Jane Green but I definitely got a few Sophie Kinsella vibes from this (I love Sophie Kinsella if you didn’t already know). One of the characters, Lauren, lives in London at the beginning of the book, which reminds me a lot of Sophie’s characters. 

 

A large part of this book are the secrets and the fallouts that happen when they get revealed and I thought they were handled perfectly. I loved how the secrets were revealed one at a time. They were spaced out nicely and woven throughout the story.

 

 

This book is about three generations of women, which is a trope I love reading about and it was very well executed. All the women were fleshed out and felt real. I liked that we are given all 4 perspectives because that allows you to really get to know the characters and their feelings. I know some people had issues with the perspective changes but I didn’t have any issue with it and didn’t find it confusing.

 

There is romance, but the main focus of the book are the familial relationships, and I liked how the romance didn’t overshadow that. There was a nice balance between the two. 

 

Overall, this was a wonderful piece of women’s fiction with a lot of heart and romance. 

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review 2018-07-09 00:31
ARC Review: Stranger In A Foreign Land by Michael Murphy
Stranger In A Foreign Land - Michael Murphy
*sighs*

I hate writing negative reviews. 

Unfortunately, in the case of Stranger In A Foreign Land, there isn't a whole lot of good I can say. I liked the blurb, and the premise sounded promising.

The execution however left much to be desired. 

My first issue was with the amnesia itself, I suppose. While I completely bought the part where Patrick loses his memories, wakes up and doesn't know who he is, where he is, or how he got there - I bought that. I also agreed that it is likely extremely scary to wake up in a strange place with no memories of what got you there, and that you might fear for your life.

However, that does not mean that the loss of your memories also means the loss of your personality, or that a grown man suddenly becomes no more than a child in his actions and reactions. Limiting him to short sentences, with dialogue that felt stilted and unrealistic, didn't do him any favors. His actions didn't make a whole lot of sense to me either. 

Similarly, Jack is also not clearly defined beyond being Australian and having lived in Thailand illegally for 16 years, after having run away from Australia for some unclear reason, possibly related to his being gay, though how Thailand is better in that aspect, I don't know. While Jack rescues Patrick/Buddy and gives him a place to stay, and tries to figure out who Buddy really is, I never really got to know Jack either, outside of his easy-going nature, and his ethics. 

There is some sex as Jack and Buddy/Patrick have to share the one bed in Jack's ramshackle house, though it doesn't happen right away, and thankfully did not feel icky, as if Buddy felt obliged to repay Jack with his body for being fed and clothed and sheltered. Still, I felt as if Buddy clung to Jack only because there was no one else who spoke English, and no one else he felt somewhat safe with, so the romance was limited for me. While I didn't get the feeling that Jack was using Buddy for sex, I also didn't feel that Buddy/Patrick was in full control of his emotions and mental capacity to make the decisions he did. 

The 2nd half of the book, when Jack finds Patrick's brother, and Patrick reluctantly flies home to LA to meet the parents of whom he has no recollection, and the rude and aggressive behavior displayed towards these people he admittedly doesn't remember, really turned me against Patrick, and I no longer had any real sympathy for him. 

The ending, reuniting Jack and Patrick, left much to be desired. There was no mention of Patrick regaining his memories. There was no mention of how they can logistically be together, or any resolution of the issues they are still facing. It just ended. 

The writing itself isn't terrible, though dialogue is stilted and inorganic, and the sentences are somewhat choppy. What I did enjoy were the descriptions of the tropical locale, the seemingly authentic views of Bangkok and the surrounding areas. I though that the author did a fine job with those. 

This book didn't work for me. YMMV. 


** I received a free copy from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **
 
 

 

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review 2018-05-26 00:00
One Night Only (Harlequin Dare)
One Night Only (Harlequin Dare) - J.C. Harroway Ash and Essie are a mass of kinetic energy. They share more than chemistry. The danger for them lies in allowing themselves to be vulnerable. He's running from the pain of a recent curveball in his life. She's running toward a better future for herself. It's the fear that keeps them moving, but the heart that holds them back. The contradictions are what make them a perfect match. She pushes him to look beyond the past and into the future. He challenges her to face the past without drowning in the heartache. Harroway tackles romance with a realism that is temptingly gritty, but never skips out on heart.
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review 2018-05-06 03:41
The Trophy Husband (Harlequin Presents) ... The Trophy Husband (Harlequin Presents) - Lynne Graham

Hard to really appreciate a book when the characters irritate you, the plot is contrived and frankly, you don't give a damn.

 

Heroine... family doormat and borderline TSTL. She watched this guy pursue her beautiful model cousin, then when he gave up and went after *her*, instead of maybe being a lot hesitant at being the consolation prize, she...got engaged. A message at work said for her to check on her cousin, whereupon she finds the two of them going at it. She staggers back to work, gets plastered on coffee and brandy (coffee? In the UK?), and eventually passes out in the H's limo. She wakes in a night gown, and instead of wigging out, she presses him to pop her cherry (doesn't tell him that part - he finds it out) Over the next couple of months... she's pressed into marrying him (didn't resist v. hard), has to deal with his bipolar attitude toward her, has a meltdown and pretends to leave, meets the ex for a counseling session, deals with more of his douche-y behavior, meets yet another ex of his (yeah, she was practically tripping over them). And HEA supposedly...or until he has another temper tantrum.

 

Hero - stalker creepazoid who sicced a PI on her then-fiance in hopes of finding dirt on him - spent 2 months acting like a spoiled brat because the h actually objected to his manipulating her to get her in his clutches.

 

Cousin - spoiled heifer whose parents indulged her to make up for her being jealous of the h's friends (h was a nice doormat sort, of course she had friends)

 

Aunt/uncle - resented the cross they had to bear and also resented that said cross landed the douche...while their precious brat had to settle for the dumbass who'd wasted time pursuing her earlier.

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