I won this in a Booklikes Giveaway last month, and so panning it feels like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but oh, boy, did this book not work for me. It's a boss/secretary trope, which is usually bad news*--I have real issues with the skewed power dynamic (not to mention the sheer unoriginality) of the notion of a male boss screwing his secretary. Here, the trope is even more cliched because the boss is some kind of billionaire and the secretary is a much younger, penniless, just-out-of-school-and-too-green-to-be-interesting neophyte.
As if that weren't bad enough, the writing itself is just ... not for me. So much passive voice! Run on sentences, some of which had more than one cliche! Purple prose!
If this were a spoof or satire that aimed to poke fun at some of the tired and overdone conventions of this subgenre of erotic romance, that might have been different, but alas, I'm pretty sure Lacey Wolfe intended this in all seriousness. Oh, dear.
This is the first entry in a three part series. Needless to say, I will not be continuing on.
*The only books I can think of that rose above my dislike of the boss-secretary trope are Charlotte Stein's Power Play (where 1. the boss is a woman and the secretary is male, and 2. it's Charlotte Stein, bitches!) and Jennifer Crusie's Fast Women (where 1. the secretary is in her 40s and isn't anyone's pushover, 2. she quits when her boss takes her for granted, and 3. I mentioned this is Jennifer Crusie, right?).
Rosalind James' Escape to New Zealand series was recommended by a friend, and I'd seen some rave reviews here and on Goodreads. I was really excited to check out a new-to-me author to break out of the Shalvis-Higgins-Dahl-Wash-Rinse-Repeat rut I've gotten into with contemporary romance, and the fact that these are set in New Zealand just seemed like a bonus. Unfortunately, Just This Once was much more exciting in theory than in execution. I made it through 118 (of 277) pages before calling it quits, and I just can't keep going. I'm just so bored.
It's sad, really. Everything about this book is better in theory than in execution. The heroine is smart and independent and athletic... and totally milquetoast. The hero is a famous rugby hero with a darling accent, a gorgeous body... and the personality of a toaster. They're tramping (Kiwi for "hiking") through some of the most gorgeous scenery on earth, and I just want something to HAPPEN already! The sex scenes are vague, bland, and uninspired, and somehow there just isn't any emotional conflict.
I think my biggest problem is with James' narrative style: it's very straightforward, with a lot of "telling" rather than "showing". This happened, then this happened, and the next day this other thing happened. And then this happened again. And on, and on, and on.
If after 100+ pages, I can't figure out the conflict in a story, and I can't be bothered to care about the characters, I'm done. If I wanted to sleep, I'd take a nap.
This third book in Monica McCarty's Highland Guard series (think 'Special Ops in Kilts') should have been right up my alley. There are few things I like better than a good, angsty, Forbidden Love story, where there's some almost insurmountable reason the lovers can't be together, and yet they can't seem to stay apart, and this should have been that kind of story. Arthur "Ranger" Campbell is a spy for King Robert the Bruce, posing as a knight in the service of Robert's enemy, John of Lorn, chieftain of the MacDougall clan. Arthur has his own score to settle with Lorn, who killed Arthur's father in a most dishonorable fashion and stole the Campbell's lands years before. Anna is Lorn's daughter, and loyal to her father and his causes, which means she wants nothing more than to see King Robert defeated. Since Anna and Arthur are on opposite sides of the cause and neither can bend without betraying their families and everything else they hold dear, their attraction should have been angsty and fraught with emotion and pathos and ALL THE FEELZ... except it wasn't. Somehow, McCarty forgot to bring the feels. This book was such a snoozefest.
I'm giving up at 233 of 370 pages. I've jumped around in the Pennyroyal Green series, loving some, meh about others, but this is the first I've had to DNF. The main characters are bland (except for their penchant for exhibitionist sex, which doesn't turn my crank), as is the plot. The heroine's sister is missing, and you'd think that would be enough of a hook to make the reader care, but no. In all likelihood, the missing sister has been kidnapped into sex slavery, but no one seems that fussed about it, which makes this book weirdly disturbing as well as boring. Plus, there are creepy puppets. *Shudder*