Very entertaining, though sometimes frustrating. I fell in love almost immediately with both Ethan and Mia. On their own, they're nearly irresistible.Very entertaining, though sometimes frustrating. I fell in love almost immediately with both Ethan and Mia. On their own, they're nearly irresistible. Mia with her confidence, strength and vulnerability. Ethan with his kindness, enthusiasm, and uncertainty. But you can see right from the start how well they fit together and what an incredible team they are going to become and that was absolutely enthralling.
Which is where the tension comes from. I wanted them together right from the very start so every impediment is agony. It doesn't help that the main impediment is a lame and arbitrary company policy. You pretty much have to ignore the unreasonable and slightly out-of-character mandate from the time it is proposed. I eventually chalked it up to necessary fantasy and called it good. There are other fantasy elements interwoven in the plot, but I just didn't care to let them intrude on my enjoyment. Or rather, I cared so much about Ethan and Mia that everything else was just scenery.
Don't get me wrong about that. The book is competently written and the story is well-paced and invitingly told. But Mia's family is deeply unlikely (however charming) with at least two generations of rather large coincidences to pile into a single heritage.
Besides the fantastic relationship/lead couple, August did an incredible job making this a true New Adult romance. Mia and Ethan make simple, even basic relationship mistakes that result in awkward moments and brief misunderstandings. But even better, she showed them learning from their mistakes in ways that were moving and grounded in both who they were and who they would become. And I realize on reflection that a large part of why I came away so happy with the ending is that I fully bought into their final relationship—not because they had grown into deeply mature and wise people in the end, but because I could see that they had made the choice to learn and grow together. i.e. I could see how they would become deeply mature and wise people building a life together because that is what they wanted and were committed to do.
A note about Steamy: Just shy of the high end of my range. This had a very amusing initial not-quite-sexy scene and a couple explicit sex scenes that went on for (admittedly short) chapters. (okay, only one was actual sex, but I'm calling the other close enough to count). Also, lots of tantalizing banter and playing with fire....more
I had a really hard time putting this book down, though I kind of resent it, in the end. I liked Georgie . . . mostly. She's kind of old for her lackI had a really hard time putting this book down, though I kind of resent it, in the end. I liked Georgie . . . mostly. She's kind of old for her lack of emotional maturity. I just don't get being married for fifteen years without having these life-balance decisions already made. I really don't. And since the story rather hinges on those fifteen years, it's hard to mentally edit them out to something more "reasonable".
And Neal is nearly a dead loss. I generally fall at least a little in love with protagonists in romance stories (even if only by proxy, sometimes). Neal just doesn't work for me, though. Yeah, I like a man who takes care of his family/kids, but I really don't get an emotional reserve so very deep. Yes, Georgie is spending too much of her energy at work (and with Seth) but he's not exactly a wellspring of emotional support, either. Rowell is a good enough writer that I bought Georgie's attachment to him (even if I don't understand it), so it isn't that the whole thing didn't work. It's just that it didn't work for me even though I could see it was important for her.
And Seth (Georgie's "friend" and long-term writing partner) was also a dead loss. He's a straight-up jerkwad with no real redeeming value, even on the surface. It's fortunate that I didn't really get a sense that he was supposed to be "the other guy", because if he had been I'd have lost all respect and any vestige of attachment for Georgie as a result.
So what worked so well to keep me reading? Some of it was the cross-time magical bit of the phone. Rowell pulled me right in with not just the gimmick, but the raw emotional power of a relationship working itself out in two time periods simultaneously. Which fed right into the largest draw—Georgie's emotional journey. You can see her potential right from the beginning and travelling with her as she comes to understand what she wants and how she needs to change to get it is powerfully portrayed. Rowell serves her up intimately, exposing all those warts and flaws that make us human, and yet lovingly as well as we see her need and capacity to forgive and sacrifice.
So the book works . . . mostly. It drew me in and kept me reading, avidly, right to the very end. But I had enough elements throwing me out of the story, enough things grating on my attention, that I can't call it a clear win or recommend it terribly widely....more
While the worldbuilding had potential, it's ruined by all the drama, angst, and sheer broken idiocy of every single one of the characters. I mean, I gWhile the worldbuilding had potential, it's ruined by all the drama, angst, and sheer broken idiocy of every single one of the characters. I mean, I get that they're "scarred" by the trauma of their youth and that you can make that mental and emotional as well as physical, but this goes way beyond scarring and into pure psychosis for its own sake. Everybody in this book is awful (including those who never fell victim to the outbreak). Once I found myself hoping an asteroid would wipe out the entire country I knew I wouldn't make it much farther.
And holy McGuffin, batman can you be more clichéd? Answer, no, no you couldn't. (view spoiler)[I mean, using a sister she doesn't even care about as a hook to make her a traitor to some very bloody-minded budding fascists is just stupid. The author went to very great lengths showing how the heroine had fallen in with some very powerful people who are more than a little sociopathic (if not outright psychopathic) who have said, in so many words, that they will kill said heroine if she disappoints them. So how stupid does she have to be not to take the threat to her sister right to this group and enlist their help overcoming it. Bonus points if she shows them how this gives them exactly what they need to manipulate the stupid bastard persecuting them exactly how they want to. Yeah, it's a risk because nothing says "you disappoint me" like hearing she has been contacted by the (I kid you not) Inquisition. But that risk is like fifty million times less than trying to spy on people where at least some of them can sense her emotions and where the guy asking you to betray these people has already tried to kill you. Yeah, I'm going to trust my safety and the sister I supposedly love to this giant self-loathing jackwagon. That makes total sense.
I can't help feeling like Marie Lu simply expects me, the reader, to fall in line because you always give in to blackmailer/kidnappers because sister! Even though its a sister she can barely stand and for whom she has shown nothing but contempt (in her thoughts, if not actions). (hide spoiler)]
I made it a few chapters past the crazy-pants irrationality ranted at in the spoiler, but eventually I got tired of restraining the book/wall regatta fantasy building in my back-brain and gave up...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The world of this novel is fascinating. It kept me going through almost two-thirds of the book with poor characterization and a flat story.
I kind of wThe world of this novel is fascinating. It kept me going through almost two-thirds of the book with poor characterization and a flat story.
I kind of wanted to like Emma. She's sweet, but with a hard edge that makes her unafraid to push back on some awful behavior by Guy (or anybody else, for that matter). Unfortunately, she's also either prone to wild mood swings or subject to an author's taste for needless drama (I lean towards the latter) that has her continually signing up for more abuse.
And Guy is just an idiot. Also a jerk. A jerkiot? He lies, breaks his promises, discounts Emma needlessly, and is rather brutal. Since Pamfiloff hides all his "history" with Emma in a vaguely referred to past, it's hard to see how she can stand being near him. Oh, right, he's a hunka burnin man-candy. Gah. By the third time he broke his promise to tell Emma everything she wanted to know, I was just done with him. The book didn't survive much longer as I couldn't stand to watch any more needless drama......more
This very nearly hit the DNF brick wall. The major problem is in the worldbuilding—a jumbled hodgepodge with little rhyme or reason. The central featuThis very nearly hit the DNF brick wall. The major problem is in the worldbuilding—a jumbled hodgepodge with little rhyme or reason. The central feature of the mythology is "Vikings", though not in any recognizable form. Here, the Vikings are supposedly all demigods, descendants of blah blah blah. I'm boring myself trying to relate it here.
The problem with the blah blah isn't so much that it's all weirdness. There are a lot of myths to chose from in our past so you can probably justify practically anything. The problem is that this particular brand of blah blah was so very, very shallow. I feel like I got dumber about mythology reading this as things were just thrown around for no purpose beyond "words".
And the worst part of the world building is the over-utilization of Vikings as supernatural pillagers, conquerors, and rapists. Since the lead is a female entering the edges of the weird, it felt like she was under near constant threat of abduction and rape. And that's largely because she was. I found that very wearing, particularly in the last third of the book. It didn't help that Liam kept swanning in and out of her orbit (leaving her vulnerable all the time). I completely didn't appreciate that.
The book would have benefited greatly had the secondary characters had some flesh on the bones, but they really didn't. From the firmly friendzoned Justin to the party-smarty Allison, they seemed more like ad-libbed content than actual presences in Callie's life. ______ A boy to mess with the romantic relationship. ______ A girl who pushes more risk-taking. ______ A creepy ex-boyfriend with zero boundaries and cognitive disability.
So what kept me going? Well, I liked Callie. And Liam didn't suck. I didn't care for the insta-love, but I didn't completely hate it, either—mostly because I liked them both and they fit very well together. Their relationship worked for me and I enjoyed that Liam brought out the best in Callie and that she could (and did) assert herself in helpful and interesting ways.
And yes, that's a slim reed upon with to hang the story. Like I said, I nearly DNF'd with prejudice at the three fourths mark or so. The ending pulled it up, but not so much that I can justify upping it to even three stars....more
This is the first book I've read that truly delivers on the promise of New Adult as a distinct genre. Breaking fully out of YA allowed this to have thThis is the first book I've read that truly delivers on the promise of New Adult as a distinct genre. Breaking fully out of YA allowed this to have the weight the story needs without glossing over anything or tempering the horror of attempted rape. But it isn't fully adult, yet, either with characters on that cusp where they have all the responsibility of adults and don't yet know very well what to do with it.
What surprised me about the book, now I think about it, is that I enjoyed it quite well even though it is obviously an "issue" book—you know, where some tragedy or drama dominates the story to explore it as a "theme". I normally dislike those as they come off feeling manipulative or lame because the characters are necessarily designed to explore that dramatic slant.
And truthfully, this story does do that, at least to an extent. Further, Jacqueline does everything wrong after an attempted rape. My biggest problem with that was the failure to report it. The emotional and social excuses she grasps for are just that, excuses. Further, they're exactly the excuses to lead to more danger both to herself and to others. Someone so lost to social/moral reason as to attempt rape is someone that needs to be taken out of the social/cultural context (I'd prefer permanently, but I'll settle for prison). Nothing else matters at that point (well, nothing non-life threatening) but to get the police there and the guy into handcuffs.
Fortunately, even I could see that doing the right thing would have meant a complete halt to the story and doing the "wrong" thing here isn't really unreasonable. Attempted rape is a traumatic experience and at least the events of the book work to not just counter that bad decision but to bury it under a pile of "hey look, this was a really poor choice." Further, it did so in a way that completely avoided any overt "victim shaming", employing the much lighter touch of letting the reader experience the consequences of her failure to report without being didactic or compromising the story's natural flow. More than one character exlicitly tells Jacqueline that she is not to blame, and does so in a way that you can absolutely feel to be true. The blame for rape, or any crime, really, lies with the perptrator, not the victim(s) and that is made viscerally clear.
Anyway, Webber does a fantastic job with Jacqueline as a PoV character, and that's probably the single biggest factor in my enjoying it despite the dramatic theme. She is kind and strong and works hard to be who she wants to be rather than an adjunct to someone else. She isn't "the girlfriend", "the ex-girlfriend", "the daughter", "the tutor", "the bassist", or "the victim". She's just Jacqueline and demands that individuality in the face of sometimes overwhelming pulls to conform to some other mold.
Adding to the pull of her as a character, though, is her boyfriend Lucas. I fell in love with him almost instantly and he never fell from those good graces. This probably should count against the book, really, as he's a tad too perfect. His flaws are all deeply tragic flaws, and come from a past he is working to overcome. Which not only isn't a flaw, it's one of those things that immediately engages sympathy and draws attention to all his other stellar perfections. He, too, is kind, but add a sense of strength and a drive to protect others and you have someone swoon-worthy on an epic scale even before you get to smart and artistic. See. If he had been viewpoint at any time, he'd be a complete Gary Stu. (Masculinists might claim that he's obviously objectified as the perfect reward for the heroine's heroics, but they're just being snitty)
So even though the plot was predictable and played to the drama, I still enjoyed every moment. Indeed, I only just convinced myself to keep it at four stars (rather than five) in recognition of the not inconsiderable flaws. Still, as far as NA goes, I have to say I wouldn't mind more of them just like this one...
A note about Steamy: The frank attitude towards sex is one of those things that validates NA as separate from YA for me, and this book depends on that, somewhat. There are a handful of explicit sex scenes, though they draw blinds relatively quickly and don't wallow at all. Very well done....more
I'm so glad I found this one (and not just because it was free)! The biggest surprise was that, for once, the business aspects that entered the novelI'm so glad I found this one (and not just because it was free)! The biggest surprise was that, for once, the business aspects that entered the novel (and don't worry, it wasn't many) all made sense. That's vanishingly rare, and even rarer that those aspects weren't really anything more than the background plot. Yeah, some of the action was driven by the business stuff, but nothing esoteric or boring.
Alex's character was the hardest to swallow. Self-made billionaires exist, sure, but they aren't typically young(ish), good-looking, and well-muscled. The drive to thrive in that kind of cut-throat mode tends to lock out other aspects of life, and that's doubly true when you are driven by something like vengeance. If you can take the background for simply granted, the rest slots neatly into place, however. I particularly enjoyed his growth in the novel, though if I were Natalie (and not in his head as we readers were), I might have waffled a bit more—or at least taken a more tentative wait-and-see line than she did at the end.
Speaking of Natalie, I think she's what really drew me into the story. She's sweet and strong, and has rock-solid integrity throughout. There's a lot of emotional turmoil she has to go through, and some of it is a bit piled-on, but she weathers it with grace and only the occasional (well-earned) melt-down. But more than anything, I like her strong moral compass. When she talks about vengeance and forgiveness and integrity, you sense that she speaks from knowledge and compassion rather than theory or judgment. I really liked that.
So the story was strong, the characters interesting, and Lee got a lot of details right that many don't. That's a lot of personal sweet-spots that may not be as important to others so interpret carefully.
A note about Steamy: on my high side, though not for quantity. Much of the first half of the novel is a long build to them coming together and when they do, that scene is a full chapter or so. There were a few explicit scenes after that first, but they were all short (a page or less), so it's mostly just the one that raised it so close to my tolerance. Beyond the steam, one of the true weaknesses of the novel is Natalie's physical responses to Alex and the degree she bends in the face of his aggressive intimacy. "Overruled by passion" is one of my least-favorite tropes. It was an odd weakness for a character otherwise very morally strong and felt a little off....more
This was a pretty by-the-numbers romance with really likeable main characters and a decent supporting cast. Which sounds dreadful in a "damning with fThis was a pretty by-the-numbers romance with really likeable main characters and a decent supporting cast. Which sounds dreadful in a "damning with faint praise" kind of way. And yes, the four stars indicate that it's much better than the components broken down into individual pieces for evaluation.
I think, what it comes down to for me, is that it just all worked together into a seamless story that was entertaining and engaging. More importantly, it delivered exactly what I was looking for and did so competently. So it adds up to a pleasant surprise and fond memory. ...more
Of the 158 books I've tagged with "will probably regret", this is the second that made five stars. It deserves them, but not everybody will feel thatOf the 158 books I've tagged with "will probably regret", this is the second that made five stars. It deserves them, but not everybody will feel that way. I'll try to explain in a bit.
First off, I really enjoyed the characters. And I mean not just Marissa, but all of them. Grimm (the fairy Godfather) really had to work for the book to be successful, so that's a no-brainer. The friends and coworkers enhanced that success wildly, but the real winner was Princess Ari. I liked her growth, but I liked the development of her relationship with Marissa even better. And while I was worried about Liam as simple man-candy, he turned out fantastic as well (poor guy).
Second, the world building really worked for me. I'm not a huge fan of fairy tales, though I like the fae well-enough. I never thought combining the two would work, but it really did. Maybe because fairy tales didn't really feature, much, except as twisted background. I also had doubts about "Kingdom" as a . . . thing. But that ended up working out, for what we saw of it.
But really, it was the story that drew me in and held me tight. It's this element that will be a bit difficult for readers to agree upon because the story appears scattered and unfocused on first blush. The problem is that there are a couple different antagonists and they trade off in importance over the run of the story. That makes Marissa and Grimm look both beleaguered (good) and scattered (bad). Indeed, Marissa is taking things from several sides simultaneously and once or twice appears to jag off on a tangent that appears to be of less urgency than other, more pressing, concerns. When those tangents turn out to be important, it feels like the author might be cheating or substituting intuition for authorial dictate.
The reason I didn't feel that way, though, is that I don't think the antagonists actually function as the story's main conflict. For me, the real conflict in the story is Marissa's servitude. Or slavery, really. More important, though, is her sense of self that affects and reinforces that slavery. Once I saw the story as her conflict with her own self-identity, the story fell completely into place. That unified not only the actions/reactions of the antagonists, but also Marissa's choices and responses as she tests the boundaries of her servitude and her identity under its constraints.
Particularly intriguing on Marissa's voyage of self discovery is how it illuminates Grimm's personality as her bond holder. The reader perceives a shift in his relationship with Marissa, but eventually it becomes clear that the shift is entirely on the part of Marissa and her growing understanding of who she is. That's fascinating because (view spoiler)[he really doesn't change (until possibly, maybe the very end), even though our understanding of him and his side of his relationship with Marissa changes pretty fundamentally (hide spoiler)].
Marissa's conflict with her situation and identity as the heart of the story was, unfortunately, undermined by the opening of the book. Nelson would have done better eliminating the whole introductory chapter (or two?) and starting with Marissa responding to Grimm's next task. The weak opening leaves the reader wondering what the story will be about and puts off establishing the promises of the story until later. Remove that part and you'd have started strong and solidly on the track of the real story being told. With that part, it takes a while to get the underlying thematic conflict because the start of the real story feels like as much of a tangent as anything else at that point.
So the story, particularly the growth and development of Marissa, was completely enthralling to me. Add pacing that was just the comfortable side of unrelenting and you have a book that kept me up until the small hours when I really couldn't afford it. And it's that that pushed this to five stars when it was headed to an otherwise pretty comfortable four.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A fun read and, quite frankly, a better starting place to the series than the first. It's a touch dated (written in the 70s), but Vicky's snark is delA fun read and, quite frankly, a better starting place to the series than the first. It's a touch dated (written in the 70s), but Vicky's snark is delightful. I do wish she wasn't quite so prone to relatively serious errors in judgment—it undermines her supposed intelligence, even if she does cope well in extricating herself from the consequences. Oh, and I really hope Sir John shows up in later books. Which means I'm actually looking forward to later books. Huh......more
I had a really hard time with the main character in this book, and I'm not sure it's her fault. Which is to say that the author kept robbing her of voI had a really hard time with the main character in this book, and I'm not sure it's her fault. Which is to say that the author kept robbing her of volition and that got old really fast and never really went away. This was achieved mainly by removing her memory of key events, leaving her walking around vulnerable all the time and acting on too little information. There was some hint of greater manipulation, too, and that put me off even further.
I wanted to like the book in spite of this weakness, but never quite managed. To its credit, it managed to sneak a decent plot twist past me, which is always welcome (and no, the author didn't cheat to accomplish it). I suspect that the worldbuilding is decent, as well, but the PoV of the main character didn't really explore it much—she's kept ignorant right to the very end.
By the end, this felt very much like a really long prelude short story . . . like the story was ready to start now that the stage was set. Not that it was a cliffhanger or anything abhorrent like that, it just ended right as things started to shape up.
I'm pretty sure I won't bother with the rest of the series. I really hated that the author played around with the main character so cheaply and there just wasn't much depth to the characters. Some of that may have been deliberate (after all, someone is messing with people on a fundamental level in this weird little town), but I don't have the patience to discover if it was deliberate or just sloppy on the part of the author.
So yeah. 2.5 stars without enough oomph for me to round up....more
I'm not entirely certain when this book is supposed to be set, but given the historical (in)accuracy it really doesn't matter. I'm having the devil ofI'm not entirely certain when this book is supposed to be set, but given the historical (in)accuracy it really doesn't matter. I'm having the devil of a time describing my reaction to the book. I mean, I got near the end of a not-short list of things wrong with it only to figure out that none of them mattered. I liked it. I enjoyed it and was engaged even though a not-small part of my brain insisted on telling me that none of these things could have really happened.
The thing is that I liked Izzy. And Ransom brings the pathetic to sympathetic (but not in a bad way). They had charm, in their diametrically opposed ways, and their banter was just so much fun. Which is important because liking them gave a solid foundation for all the playfulness the author throws in on top—like a subtle poke at Star Wars or the non-subtle but-still-warm nods to geek fandom. Those elements would have been jarring on their own, but Dare keeps it tied together by the characters I came to love.
So while playfully teasing with elements outside their time and thus directly addressing/engaging the reader, at least somewhat, it would have been easy for this to derail into simple parody or pastiche. What elevated it beyond that for me, and allowed me to really care about the characters as more than simple vehicles for the absurd, was Dare's care with internal consistency and steady hand with characterization. In other words, even though the historical aspects were bendy, the characters weren't. And that made all the difference.
That said, the cognitive dissonance made it hard for me to fully relax into the tale. I laughed, I may have cried, and my heart was fully engaged. So while it was a solid three stars all the way up to this very moment, thinking back on the experience now I have nothing but fond memories. The sense of fun remains and the sense of moral outrage at the somewhat contrived circumstances has faded. So even though I only finished it last night what remains is a pleasant and cherished memory that bumps it a full star in appreciation.
A note about Steamy: Even though there's only one actual explicit sex scene, there's enough extra to put this firmly in the middle of my steam tolerance—that includes at least two gropy bits as well as some very frank, rather detailed discussions....more
This book had a lot going for it. I really liked Paige. She is witty and kind (and that's not an easy combo to pull off) and courageous and just a lotThis book had a lot going for it. I really liked Paige. She is witty and kind (and that's not an easy combo to pull off) and courageous and just a lot of fun to spend time with. Logan isn't bad, either. He's a match for her wit and is protective and capable and supports the best that is in Paige (as she supports the best that is in him). But even better, they feel like teens first learning young love and I mean that in its sweetest (and most hopeful) way. Yeah, they both have teen-level weaknesses (Logan's is the most annoying with the me-protect-you schtick I'm no fan of) but they also display the maturity that indicates they'll likely grow out of them (and probably do so together) and end up stronger as a result.
The world building mostly worked, too, and the plot was well-paced and intricate enough to keep me engaged. This interacted well with Paige and Logan and gave their tender moments real poignancy and no small amount of charm. I bought their falling in love even as I bought their peril and struggles to both understand and protect each other. Shultz has a real talent with her main characters and I wish the rest of the cast had partaken even a fraction of their strength.
Indeed, if even a handful of supporting characters had even a whiff of depth to them, this would have been a clean four stars, no question. Unfortunately, while Paige and Logan are strong, this book has a really poor second string. It took me a while to realize it because Dottie is kind of quirky/cool (and we mostly see her in the first parts) but all of the secondary characters (yes, even Dottie) are shallow caricatures with a key attribute or two but never rising above those to become fully-realized individuals. This becomes painful in Paige's interactions with her parents. Her dad, in particular, is a clownish buffoon I mostly wanted to smack upside the head with the mighty clue-bat of wake-the-heck-up.
And don't get me started on Aiden (the bad guy) and Rego (the good guy, only, well...). Both chew the scenery any time they're on stage and neither one connected very well as foil or antagonist. Okay, I bought Aiden as a threat but he never amounted to much more than an elemental, Terminator-style relentless force to be opposed as best they may. But he was never a personality and his motives seemed opaque even when they were explicated. And if (view spoiler)[Rego doesn't turn out to be a villain in later installments, I'll eat my hat (my cake hat of chocolaty smoothness). This is so obvious, I'm a little embarrassed for Shultz as even if he turns out not to be a villain, she's telegraphed it so strongly that that will be an authorial misstep. (hide spoiler)]
So yeah. I loved Paige and Logan and that saves this book from full-on disaster. I just wish they had the surrounding cast to actually shine...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I took a chance on this one. I think it's because I just want an angel story to work out, finally. And on that level Missy Jane delivers—at least, insI took a chance on this one. I think it's because I just want an angel story to work out, finally. And on that level Missy Jane delivers—at least, insofar as it doesn't suck and the angels aren't ridiculous or cloying. She dodges much of the theological issues by giving the angels some distance or disconnect with deity and the demonic forces arrayed against them drive good action and plot/character development.
I even liked the main characters, though I couldn't help the occasional derisive snort at some of their activities. Isadora is a touch too naïve and Zerach a touch too, uh, competent to take terribly seriously. If you're willing to buy the fantasy of the righteously pure heroine and the cynical-but-noble hero coming together to form a greater whole through their union then it mostly works (I know, I didn't know I was that tolerant, either). Plus, upside, it meant Jane avoids the whole demon/angel love triangle conflict that seems an unavoidable temptation in the angel UF milieu.
Unfortunately (did you see that coming?) the book is short and the sexy times are long throwing this more into the realm of erotica than I'm really interested in. And I do mean loooong. I'm not factoring that mismatch into my rating, though, because it was an honest oversight on my part (missing the erotica cues in the marketing/cover/copy). There's a lot of plot/character for an all-out erotica offering, so this is may be on the edge of the category...
A note about Steamy: See erotica above. Lots of tasty sexitimes that... linger....more
Wow, another "will probably regret" that ends up with five stars. Weird. Unlike Rowell's other adult-aimed novel, I liked all the characters in this bWow, another "will probably regret" that ends up with five stars. Weird. Unlike Rowell's other adult-aimed novel, I liked all the characters in this book. And that goes double for the protagonists.
Lincoln was just so sweet, though it helps that I identified so strongly with him. Well, okay, we're not really much alike. We're both introverts, but I don't have his shyness or emotional fragility. But his insecurities, uncertainty, and inability to stop monitoring Beth and Jennifer's emails are so familiar that I attached immediately and never broke away. And who doesn't fall in love with a guy who falls for a girl without knowing who she is? And this slew me:(view spoiler)[
“Lincoln?” she asked. “Yes?” “Do you believe in love at first sight?” He made himself look at her face, at her wide-open eyes and earnest forehead. At her unbearably sweet mouth. “I don’t know,” he said. “Do you believe in love before that?”
And I couldn't help falling for Beth as well. She's smart, funny, and kind. But, more importantly, you can see, right from the start, that she's nearly ideal for Lincoln.
The novel builds over time as you can see both characters going deeper and deeper into areas that will keep them apart. Lincoln's dilemma of how to get close to Beth in real space when he's gotten to know her so well through violations of her assumption of privacy in their emails is nearly hopeless. And Beth is busy digging her own quagmire with the unsuitable Chris. The tension of how they'll resolve the seemingly irreconcilable was made delicious by the knowledge that this is a romance novel and of course they'd find a way.
If there's a weakness in the book, it's in reconciling the tension between knowing how impossible it will be for them to be together vs. knowing that they'd eventually get together. I thought Rowell pulled it off, but then, I wanted her to pull it off as I was so deeply invested in both the characters and in their eventual relationship. I thought the eventual resolution was beautiful and beautifully well-done, but I may be cutting some unwarranted slack in that belief. It comes down to whether you can buy that Beth's best attributes as shown through her emails run as deeply as they need to for it to happen the way it does. (view spoiler)[It helps that Lincoln gave her the information she needed and then time and distance without pushing himself on her. Both the time and the distance worked, I think, to allow me to believe that she could have gotten over the worst of her feelings of betrayal and back to her intrigue with the quietly handsome guy who had initially caught her interest. As does the witnesses to his character in Doris and others about the office that Lincoln interacted with for her to verify her sense of who he really is. (hide spoiler)]
The addition of Rowell's signature humor and witty banter throughout had this cruising at a high four and probable five stars from the very start. The book is a delight and I look forward to her next book with some eagerness.
A mild curiosity. I can't help wondering why the book is set in 1999 (and into 2000) when the copyright is 2011. That seems like a rather large dip into the past without any real story reason for it. Yeah, Y2K plays a minor story role, but nothing major and nothing that couldn't have been as easily done with any other weird IT thing (and believe me, weird IT things are perennial).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more