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review 2016-02-24 03:58
REVIEW: Blackout by Rosalie Stanton

Former secretary gets caught at the elevator, after stealing an important file from the apartment of her former boss, lawyer Hero.

She was infatuated with him until he got her unexpectedly fired 3 weeks ago. Now, she just wants revenge & the money promised for the stolen file. Being stuck in an elevator with Hero was spoiling her plans. But it was also a chance to get answers from him. Including why he had the sex tape she made for her ex-boyfriend. Their honesty soon gave way to their long-held desires. But how does it resolve the bigger problem of why she stole his client's file?**


**For my full SPOILER-y review, click here.


Blackout - Rosalie Stanton 

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review 2015-12-07 13:21
Too Many Characters, Too Many Secrets
Staying at Daisy's - Jill Mansell

A friend recommended I should check out British author Jill Mansell, and I can see why she thought I would like this. It's constructed sort of like Love Actually, with lots of intersecting plot lines, and of course it's full of adorably British people saying adorably British things. In theory, this ought to be right up my alley. In practice, it missed the mark.


Staying at Daisy's is about the father-daughter owners of a schmancy hotel in the Cotwolds, their staff, guests, lovers, and neighbors. There are a lot of characters. I didn't have trouble keeping track of who the characters were, but since several of the intersecting plots hinge on characters keeping secrets from one another, I did have trouble keeping track of who knew what.


All of those secrets were my biggest problem with the story. Not my confusion, but the fact that all of these characters were so dishonest with one another, keeping secrets and sneaking around. For me, that made it hard to like these people.


I also found many of the characters very flat and underdeveloped, likely because there were so many characters that, in the interests of space, the author sacrificed character development in order to move the plot. Unfortunately, if the characters aren't developed, I have trouble giving a fig what happens to them in the story.


Anyway, this just wasn't my cuppa.



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review 2015-11-23 19:40
I'm a Sucker for a Virgin Hero
The Game Plan (Game On Series Book 3) - Kristen Callihan

The description of this book -- virgin hero, sexually liberated heroine, sensitive man-bun-wearing beta hero in an alpha career (pro football player) -- was totally my catnip, and I was not disappointed. I really, really enjoyed this book (enough to glom the rest of the series within the next few days) while I was in the midst of it, and I still like it a lot even though, now that my rose-colored reading glasses are off, I can recognize that it has some serious problems.


Ethan Dexter, "Dex", is a 24-year-old virgin. How does that happen, exactly? I don't fully believe it, but I went with it for purposes of the story: first, he was a chubby late bloomer in high school (though, I know plenty of chubby late bloomers who managed to get laid in high school, even without the panache of being on the football team), and then he had an ugly (but not entirely believable) near-sex experience that put him off casual sex for good.


He has long had a crush on his buddy Gray's wife's little sister, Fiona. Fiona is a sassy, sexy, sophisticated spitfire who has very few sexual hangups. I'm pretty bored with the manwhore-tamed-by-virtuous-lady trope, but I enjoyed this gender flip of it. I liked that Dex was a virgin but that he wasn't repressed or naive in the way that most virginal heroines are.


Apart from Dex's over-ripe virginity, the main conflict in the story stems from the fact that Fiona lives in New York and Dex lives in New Orleans. I found the struggle with the long-distance relationship to be believable, if a little too easy for real life (distance is less of an issue when both parties in a relationship have tons of money, I guess).


My issues with the book stem from the subplots. First, Fiona has a rival at work who steals her ideas and gets credit from the boss. I suppose we've all known someone like this, so it was believable, but I'm never entertained by storylines that turn women into one-dimensional villains, which this subplot did. Second, Fiona and Dex take sexy photos of one another, and those photos get out, and as always happens, Fiona is the one to bear the brunt of the public scandal. Dex is mostly pretty stand-up about that, until, suddenly, he isn't. Again, I found that plot twist believable but disappointing: I just wish the book hadn't gone there.

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review 2015-10-25 19:34
Infodumps All Over
Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell's stellar writing makes her books auto-buys for me, though her stories often leave me unsatisfied or disappointed in some way. This is the worst of the lot so far, and honestly, I probably should have known better. I read Fangirl (and enjoyed it, except I was disappointed by the too-hasty ending), but I remember being a little bored by the excerpts from the Simon Snow fan fiction (Simon Snow is a British orphan who gets admitted to a boarding school for magic kids when he's 11. Sound familiar?) that the protagonist in Fangirl, Cath, wrote so feverishly. 


Carry On is Rainbow Rowell's attempt to give Simon and his roommate, Baz, the story they didn't get in Fangirl, having been only a subplot in that book. One needn't read Fangirl first; frankly, having read Fangirl didn't keep me from feeling lost here. The main problem with Carry On is that it's like very like the Harry Potter series, but only the final book. Like Harry Potter, the premise is that Simon and friends have been at school for years, having adventures and quests each year, but rather than writing all of these stories, Rowell only writes the last year, and all of the backstory, all of the character development, all of the buildup to the final confrontation, is summarized in clunky infodumps throughout the narrative. It doesn't work. I didn't know the characters well enough to root for them or care about them, and the main characters, especially Baz and Angela, I flat-out didn't like. 


As for the romance

between Baz and Simon

(spoiler show)

, I wasn't feeling it. It's not the gay aspect (I'm bisexual, married to a woman, so generally I'm thrilled that teen literature deals more openly with GLBT themes and issues than when I was a kid); it's that I didn't feel invested in the characters, and their romance came on so suddenly and with so little introspection or development, it just didn't resonate with me. 

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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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