**spoiler alert** 3.5 - Let me just say I love the idea of this book. I'm glad I was able to hop in on the 'good daughter's' book because I find the g**spoiler alert** 3.5 - Let me just say I love the idea of this book. I'm glad I was able to hop in on the 'good daughter's' book because I find the good girl/bad boy trope rather fascinating in romance and I like to see how different authors handle the clashing of two different personalities.
Midnight Play also made good use of some of the other tropes I like to read in romance like enemies to lovers in addition to opposites attract. Then it throws them together in a sports themed world. I've been meaning to read more sports romances and Midnight Play fits the bill. It was a mixed bag for me with a couple of things I really enjoyed and some things that were a bit surprising that I could leave behind.
First of all, what I loved. I loved how Danica was put together. She's a no-nonsense woman with a whip smart career mind that showcases her talent to be the Slayer's team GM. I loved seeing her handle herself and her family during the press conference scenes. Ms. Perry has a talent for witty banter and I have to say this was one of my favorites:
“Question for the general manager.”
Danica sent the reporter a coy grin. He faltered for a moment, backlit by the flashes of cameras, but that fleeting hesitation was all she needed to know she could handle whatever he dished out.
“How satisfied are you with TreShawn Dibbs?” the reporter asked, referring to the kicker Danica had hired in spite of his checkered past and the firestorm of talk about his prior experiences with performance-enhancement substances.
“Since the season opener he’s abided by the terms of his contract with our team and he’s maintained one hundred percent accuracy on all field goals. Who wouldn’t be satisfied with stats like that?” That didn’t stop him from persisting, though. “Even you have to admit it was a risky move to acquire a player suspected of so many transgressions.”
“Dibbs is healthy and giving our franchise the results we want. What would football be without risky moves? You never know what action I’m going to take next. Don’t ruin all the excitement by trying to predict me.”
This earned a wave of laughter, and the reporter blushed as though embarrassed to have even broached the subject.
Loved that. Danica kicks butt verbally and can go toe to toe with anyone (outside of her family) if need be. Inside of her family is another story. She is jelly in front of her parents, her mother a hotsy totsy socialite who always seems put together is quick to turn her into the dutiful daughter who never quite seems to be at the top of her form. She is the straight and arrow one among her more wilder sisters (who each have their own separate books) and naturally she comes unglued when the hero makes his appearance. She also has an ex-husband who still has eyes for her. Speaking of said ex-husband, I didn't mind that we got a glimpse of him still jonesing for Danica. It added an edge of suspense that I had hoped would go somewhere but sadly didn't. One thing it did give was this nice exchange between him and Danica.
Marion shook his head. “I will love you for the rest of my life, Danni. Don’t go thinking that’ll change because we signed some papers last year.”
“But you’re not in love with me. That changed before we signed the papers.” She forced her expression into one that was casual—impassive. “Dredging this all up again is rooting us in a place we shouldn’t be. We’re different now, Marion. You’re music and BET and MTV. I’m sports and ESPN. We’ve got separate lives. Let’s live them.”
Snort. Considering how all over the place music is with both BET and MTV and how sports and ESPN go together like peanut butter and jelly, I like how Ms. Perry uses this to show how all over the place Marion is and how put together Danica is. I kind of wish we could see a bit more of Marion to confirm that analogy which was brilliant.
I like that Danica was a divorced woman who still caved around her parents. No matter how old their children get, some parents have such a strong influence and hold on their children that doesn't stop once a magical number appears when they age. Considering the Blues work together so closely in their professional and mostly social lives, the bond and hold is stronger, so I understand why Danica couldn't quite stand up to her parents (and namely her mother).
I liked this aspect of the book and felt it was stronger when Danica was on her own weathering a balance between both aspects of her lives while fending off a stalkerish husband. If the book continued with this strength while balancing a burgeoning romance with Dex the football player, this would have been a seriously captivating read for me.
Unfortunately, when Dex and Danica got in the vicinity of each other, I felt the book tended to suffer a bit. It's weird I find this happening in a lot of current romance books. Although I don't read much women's fiction, I find that some romance books tend to be stronger when the female character is on her own. Consequently, I felt like I didn't know as much about Dex as I did about Danica. It's understandable because the book revolves around her family's business, but he felt more like a supporting role in her life rather than the hero in the romance book. I did love the glimpses we got into his family connection, but I wanted to know more about him than just knowing he ran between hot and cold with Danica.
Also in this instance, the main characters' attraction felt more to me like lust than love and I would have loved to have seen more tension built up over the course of the book. They didn't get together until about halfway point which I wouldn't mind if the tension was there pulling them together the whole time. Maybe I've been burned by too many IR books focusing on the physical relationship between the main characters but I wanted more substance in their attraction that really focused on a romance-y type of romance rather than how their bodies reacted to each other. A few instances made me side eye the characters particularly when the heat rating shot up in a simple act of a touch or brush against a private part. I would have loved to have seen more romantic reaction, such as their scene when Dex made his appearance at the wedding:
Her plate slipped from her grasp, but her panicked “Oh, crap!” hung in the air as a man caught the dish in one hand and wound a muscled arm around her waist. She was aware of being crushed against a hard male body, of cologne with hints of rum and spice, yet her eyes were on her plate.
“You rescued my cake! I could kiss you.”
Love this! It was very cute and very romantic and swoony for the setup. It made me look for more instances like this.
Midnight Play has descriptions and words that I don't remember reading in the Kimani line prior to this book. I'm not sure if the line is turning up the heat like a Blaze or toeing the line like a Desire but I hope it's not just because Kimani features POC and IR couples. In any event, it's something I will keep a close eye on in future books from Kimani. I wish Harlequin would offer more BWWM IR couples in their other lines (preferably Special Edition, Romance, Superromance and their romantic suspense lines) and not just in one section. IR books have switched to feature more erotic books on one side and very few sweet books on the other so it'd be great to have a place to go where I can find the type of reads I'm looking for. As a Harlequin reader panelist, I'll continue to make note of this to HQN themselves.
I'm glad MP didn't veer into fetish fiction where the different races of the couple was highlighted and a source of confusion and conflict from the heroine's POV. They were played as GM and player with that and the differences in their family backgrounds molding their interest and hesitation toward each other. The one instance race was mentioned was in a wonderfully written description in passing (His tanned skin contrasted with her own sun-kissed brown complexion as he tried to press something into her hand.)
There were a lot more lines and dialogue I highlighted in my Nook book that the author really played well but to include them would make this a book length review in itself. I love love love Ms. Perry's talent for dialogue and description and pretty much almost highlighted most of my ebook copy with great lines. I will say that I hope Ms. Perry revisits the IR genre once more in the future. ...more
Baby Under the Mistletoe is a SuperRomance with three stories: The "main" couple free spirit Soleil Freeman and military man W**spoiler alert** 2 1/2
Baby Under the Mistletoe is a SuperRomance with three stories: The "main" couple free spirit Soleil Freeman and military man West Morgan, who had a fling one summer and ended up with Soliel pregnant months later, West's mom Julia finding love again after a few decades long divorce with his father "The General" who consists of the final end of the story as he battles Alzheimer's disease.
The book seemed interesting because rarely does Harlequin deal with interracial romances and it was interesting seeing the couple featured in a Superromance of all places (if I see one on the cover of an Harlequin American Romance, I'll probably keel over on the spot). Unfortunately, the couple didn't live up to the interesting blurb. Soleil and and West barely know each other as we're introduced to them in the prologue and both delight in pushing the other's buttons. The chemistry is there and I was hoping it would continue on as the book pans out. Sadly, they grew tiring as they were reunited, Soliel more so in her insistence to keep her pregnancy from West since he didn't fit the ideal partner she had in mind. West, on the other hand, has wanted to settle down with Soleil and have a family with her from the get go but Miss Independence wouldn't have it and still wouldn't have all the way through the pregnancy. In an age of constant reports of men leaving their children behind once they found out they were going to be father's, I found it hard to believe Soleil would be so selfish and short sighted to push the father of the kid away especially when he wants to be apart of hers and the child's life. Even though she grew up with dire conditions, it would seem like she would want to give her child the best situation and one she never had a chance to have.
This is contrasted with the developing relationship of Julia Morgan and her love interest, Frank who she met on an internet dating site. If stories like this consisted of the now defunct Harlequin Next line, I have to wonder who was the boob that canned it. I loved reading about Julia's and Frank's sweet romance as they began to fall in love with each other. There were first date jitters, small talk as they got to know each other and developing chemistry that was sweet and identifiable to watch. There was one instance in the middle where Julia finds out that The General was sick and has to cancel a date with Frank because she still wants to make sure The General was okay. It was a selfless act still touched with a love they shared for so long. Even though The General was a harsh and rather ornery man who bossed any and everyone around (and apparently sexually harassed a few of his cartakers as well) Julia knew how to care for him and the moment he saw her again in his life, he calms down. It's a memorable moment that shows the maturity of life and love especially between two people who have known each other for so long and have gone through so much. Julia's story engaged me much more than the main couples which basically earned an extra star on its own.
Sometimes I wondered why West was into Soleil. In a few scenes he's attracted to the way she looks and he likes pushing her buttons because he knows she has a short temper but other than that, I couldn't see much attraction there even to the end. There were a few moments of chemistry but they were mainly tied into love scenes which quickly went cold until afterward. Soleil was insistent on having everything done her way or else. The reader is given a few instances of this as she never budged about compromising to suit her baby's and West's needs. Another instance is evidenced by one scene where she forces one of her young interns to swallow his fear of dogs by confronting hers. It was an interesting insight into the machinations of her character. At times I felt like Soleil's strength was at the expense of West's pushover weakness in trampling over everything he and everyone else wanted. Strangely enough she ends up giving Julia advice on leaving her husband which could have been a sweet scene for me but it felt like another one of Soleil's butting in moments. I did find that Soleil had a lot in common with The General which strangely enough mirrored West having shades of his mother in him. Perhaps the parallel was on purpose to show how opposites can attract and work through their differences but considering how West's parent's ended up a few years down the road (after staying together for the kids), I'm not sure that's such a good thing.
All in all, Baby Under the Mistletoe was interesting and definitely worth the read for the mature couple. I would love to see them get a spin-off book of their own....more
Against the Odds is good ole fashioned romance wrapped in your favorite blanket. I really enjoyed the author's voice in this story and the way she preAgainst the Odds is good ole fashioned romance wrapped in your favorite blanket. I really enjoyed the author's voice in this story and the way she presented the story, although not traditionally romance, was a nice welcome addition to the genre.
As we open, our heroine Raine is getting a divorce from her cheating husband Jerome. She moves to New Mexico, leaving the comforts of her home and her high paying modeling job, to start anew on her friend Caroline and David's farm. As she settles in, she gets to know the farm hands, an easy going life and eventually David's brother Hayden. Although interest is there for both Raine and Hayden, they start out as friends and get to know each other before entering a romantic relationship. As they continue their relationship, they battle people and life as they try to find their own happily ever after.
The trials and tribulations the couple face aren't entirely complex more so than life itself getting in the way. People with a certain viewpoint for how they should live their lives and who they should be with try to deter the couple. And Hayden himself who has been burned and used to living by himself for so long has some trouble breaking down his walls. I loved that he was a complex characters who, although an easy going sweet-natured sexy country boy also had tendencies of a romantic Alpha hero when his family or those he loved were threatened. I haven't read many contemporaries featuring cowboys but if they're anything like Hayden, they may be my new favorites to look out for!
The story is written in first person and it reads like a close girlfriend writing you a letter as she gets on with her life. Raine is a character you can relate to with a good head on her shoulders and a good heart. You want to see her finally find the happiness with Hayden who quickly became one of my fave romance heroes as we got to know him. The first person narrative doesn't allow for getting to know him intimately as some romance heroes but Raine does give an idea for his personality and background through her descriptions. I have to say, I adored the ending which doesn't just end at the altar. We get to see Hayden and Raine's family and how Hayden dotes over his children (which is too cute).
If you're looking for a contemporary romance on the sweeter side and gives you a good feeling by the time you get to the end, I recommend picking up Against the Odds. Jewel Adams is another author I'm definitely going to keep an eye on. I'll also be checking out her other works available. ...more