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review 2016-05-11 02:43
"Mister O" by Lauren Blakely
Mister O - Lauren Blakely

These are going to be quicky mini-reviews while I try to catch up on the last month's untracked reading.

 

This was very entertaining and sexy. First person POV from male protagonist (who is not a douche or manwhore, for all he's been around the block). Best friends' little sister trope. Some miscommunication toward the end diminished my enjoyment.

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review 2015-04-21 15:47
Too Tangled in Guilt to Talk Things Through
Shooting for the Stars - Sarina Bowen

This third entry in Sarina Bowen's Gravity series is more a companion to book two, Falling from the Sky, than a sequel to it. Falling from the Sky was about champion snowboarder Hank Lazarus's recovery from a spinal injury that cost him the use of his legs, and his romance with his doctor, Hallie Anders. Shooting for the Stars tells the story of Hank's sister, Stella, and his best friend, Bear, who are sharing a post-coital hot tub when the call comes about Hank's fall. The timing could not be worse, and Stella's and Bear's guilt and grief for Hank get all tangled up in their guilt over their illicit one-night stand, and for most of the book, the two of them are too emotionally twisted up to talk to each other. The conflict is heartfelt and well written, but I didn't love this book because, as understandable as their separation is, I was frustrated (as I usually am) by plot conflict stemming from the protagonists' failure to talk to each other. Bear and Stella kept missing each other, even when they did try to talk, mostly because Bear can just be an emotionally stunted blockhead.

 

Still, it was a quick, entertaining read, and I liked it even if it's not my favorite Sarina Bowen to date.

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review 2015-04-13 16:57
Yes, Jill Shalvis is Formulaic -- But it's a Damn Good Formula
Still the One - Jill Shalvis

Even when I don't love Jill Shalvis, and even as I acknowledge there's a sameness to so many of her small town contemporaries, her books are still miles above and beyond so much of the others in the contemporary romance subgenre. She has a gift for snappy dialogue, well-paced story, and emotional nuance that makes her romances compelling even when they are a tad formulaic.

 

Still the One is the latest in Shalvis' Animal Magnetism series set in Sunshine, Idaho. The heroine, Darcy, is the younger sister of Wyatt, whom readers may recall as the hero of Then Came You (the previous book in the series). Darcy is recovering from a severe car accident that nearly left her unable to walk. The hero, AJ, is the physical therapist who kept working with Darcy even after her insurance ran out, and who is thus largely responsible for her recovery. AJ has had a thing for Darcy since well before her accident, but she has childhood abandonment issues that make her resist love and commitment.

 

Nothing really stood out for me in this read as new or different or particularly earth-shattering, but what I'm coming to appreciate about Shalvis (as I search for other contemporary artists and series to enjoy) is how effortlessly entertaining her books are. The characters are almost always likeable, the conflict is always sympathetic and believable, the plot doesn't drag or skate, and the romance is almost universally satisfying.

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review 2014-09-08 02:08
Sometimes It's Nice to Trade My Troubles For Someone Else's...
Beauty and the Mustache: A Philisophical Romance (Knitting in the City Book 4) - Penny Reid

Thursday morning, my 17-month-old son had a massive seizure. We got an ambulance ride, an MRI, an EEG, a spinal tap, tons and tons and tons of lab work, and two days and one very, very long night in the pediatric ICU. This book kept me company in the wee small hours of that long, sleepless night, and in the interminably tedious moments spent waiting for test results and doctor's consults, stuck in a small, sterile room amid the unfamiliar beeps and buzzes of all that medical equipment, holding my small, sleepy baby in my arms. It didn't demand too much of my concentration, and it was sort of nice to trade my own all too real fear and grief for someone else's fictional troubles. 

 

Ashley Winston leaves her friends and life in Chicago to go home to rural Tennessee for the first time in eight years when her mother misses their nightly phone call twice in a row. She turns out to be terminally ill, and Ashley goes home to help her Momma through the last few weeks of her life. In doing so, Ash reconnects with her six bearded brothers, who are no longer the selfish boys who used to torment the only girl in the family, but instead smart, reasonable men who would love to welcome her back home, if she can only trust them. She also meets her oldest brother's best friend and boss, game warden/park ranger/poet/songwriter Drew Runous. Drew is like a son to Ash's mom and like a brother to her brothers, but his feelings toward Ashley are not at all brotherly. 

 

This story sort of defies the usual romance tropes, although Ash compares herself to the unlikeable heroines in so many romance novels: "It's like they've been hit with a vanilla ninny stick, devoid of personality and blind to the gift before them. They're doomed to wander in ignorance until the last thirty pages of the book." (Loc. 2684 of 7852) Ash isn't unlikeable or devoid of personality, and her failure to wake up to the "gift" of Drew's love and devotion until the last thirty pages of this book has more to do with her grief over the loss of her mother (and Drew's determination to keep a respectful distance as she works through that grief) than it does with any vanilla ninny stick. 

 

This story wasn't perfect--Ashley's six hillbilly brothers (Jethro, Billy, Cletus, Beau, Duane, and Roscoe) are totally over the top, and personally I'd have liked it better if she had maybe two or three brothers and we (the readers) got a chance to know them as fully drawn characters, rather than six brothers who all blend together into a single caricature; and also leaving Chicago means leaving the friends and the knitting group which ties this series together, though Ashley managed to keep in touch with them even from a distance. Also, Drew was a little on the Gary Stu/too-good-to-be-true side. 

 

However, I thought Penny Reid did a really good job portraying Ashley's emotional journey through the shock of her mother's diagnosis through her death, and beyond, but perhaps because of my own emotional journey with my baby's seizure, I was particularly drawn to that part of the story. 

 

Anyway, this one struck a chord with me. 

 

(P.S.: my son is home now and recovering well. All of the diagnostic tests were normal. We may never know what causes his seizures, but at least we have a plan (anti seizure meds) and will know what to do should this happen again.)

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review 2014-07-27 20:19
Review: One Sexy Ride by Vivian Arend
One Sexy Ride - Vivian Arend

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

ONE SEXY RIDE is the second story in Vivian Arend’s new Thompson & Sons series, and it’s set in the same world as her previous Rocky Mountain series, but you don’t have to have read any of the previous books to be able to enjoy what’s here. 

Janey has spent most of her life up until now pining after Len Thompson, all to no avail. He’s always been around her, being her good friend, but nothing more. What Janey really wants is that one true love to settle down with and raise a family, and she’s been convinced that Len is that guy. But what she’s never known is that even though he does secretly love her, that love is also why he’s continued to keep her at arm’s length. For Len has seen what happens when you lose your one true love, and he’s determined to never let that happen to him. So the last thing Len wants to do is love Janey, because losing her would be so much worse than not ever having her in the first place.

Tired of putting her life on hold for a guy who apparently doesn’t see in her what she sees in him, Janey has made plans to finish renovating her beloved family home, then sell it and leave town for good. Her decision to leave town, combined with a key moment when Len saves Janey from certain danger, makes him think that maybe he can at least have a taste of what he would never dare claim for good. But Janey’s heart is all in, and only time will tell if Len can move past his fear to commit to her before it’s too late.

One of the things I love about Vivian Arend’s books is her heroines and heroes are both strong and sweet. I never doubted for one minute that Len was worthy of Janey’s seemingly unrequited love, yet when he provided tangible proof of that worthiness near the very end of the story, it was all I could do not to melt in a puddle of happy tears at just how right I’d been. Len wants to love Janey - he really does! - but he’s just so terrified of being left without her that he’d rather push her away now than lose her for good later on. When Janey inevitably gets too close for comfort, the way Len tries to hasten her departure is so devastating that it demands an epic hero grovel to make things right. And let me tell you, Len’s grovel is easily one of the best I’ve read in a very long time. It isn’t just about how he shows how sorry he is, although that’s a big part of it. It’s also how he shows that he really does understand her as her own person, and how he’s been in love with her just as long as she’s been in love with him. Janey and Len’s romance is a great read all the way through, but the way they resolved their differences is what elevated ONE SEXY RIDE from merely a wonderful story to one of the best I’ve read in 2014.

Source: mharvey816.mh2.org/?p=658
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