Man, this started off pretty well and I enjoyed the fake dating for publicity setup a lot! The prose was fun, with a lot of banter, and our intrepid mMan, this started off pretty well and I enjoyed the fake dating for publicity setup a lot! The prose was fun, with a lot of banter, and our intrepid male protag was constantly doing the Darcy P&P (2005) thing where his hands are trembling as he screams internally about his feelings for the female protag. :D
That being said, there was some sort of decline in the latter part of the book, like unnecessary sexual assault scenes and a literal disaster at the end. For me, it felt more like the couple grew closer in reacting to these events rather than satisfyingly working out their issues and conflicts. ...more
Man, I came for the slow burn fake relationship, but ultimately felt let down by this book.
Vanessa is an interesting character, motivated to follow hMan, I came for the slow burn fake relationship, but ultimately felt let down by this book.
Vanessa is an interesting character, motivated to follow her chosen career path after doing two years of thankless grunt work for her celebrity football player boss, Aiden. Aiden was a lot more frustrating to read about because he's a dark, brooding self-absorbed person who's bad at communication and affection. He slowly gets better but still hmmm.
The romance plot felt super contrived (Canadian athlete enters fake green card marriage with former personal assistant to stay employed). Although I'm glad the narrative didn't go into a skeevy area with the power differential between the two, it still felt unbalanced and was really lacking a spark for me. There's also something to be said that much of the romance plays out as sort of grand sweeping gestures instead of development that felt natural. By the time the low burn romance actually plays out to completion, I was mostly just relieved that it was over. Also, I have to say the writing's tendency to skip around the timeline was kind of irritating. Ultimately, a lot of the conflicts don't really work together well and much of the ending felt haphazardly written.
I did think the backstories for the two of them was well-handled; both characters come from physically and emotionally abusive homes and deal with much trauma and loneliness because of this. There's also another character who deals with domestic abuse. What was nice is that no person is shown to need to forgive their abusers, but both Vanessa and Aiden do work towards being kind and loving. That, though, makes that one weird off-color molestation joke even more bizarre????...more
Aaaah, this was actually quite a delight, with very satisfying use of fake dating! What starts off as temporary and uneasy tutoring agreements leads qAaaah, this was actually quite a delight, with very satisfying use of fake dating! What starts off as temporary and uneasy tutoring agreements leads quickly to a natural friendship with bonus fake relationship. Reading about them being drawn to each other even further was a lot of fun, but I really liked that the book explores their relationship even after they become an established couple. Hannah and Garrett sincerely care about each other and take the time to communicate to each other and it was just really enjoyable to read. The two of them also help each other work out their personal traumas (Hannah with a rape and Garrett with an abusive parent)....more
This was so disappointing to me bc the premise sounded so good on paper and I was actually kind of amazed early on in the book (view spoiler)[(I'm admThis was so disappointing to me bc the premise sounded so good on paper and I was actually kind of amazed early on in the book (view spoiler)[(I'm admittedly new to contemporary romances but maaaaaaan I've never read anything before that managed to work a cunnilingus scene into cHAPTER TWO of the book holy shit) (hide spoiler)] but wow this was not a well written book at all and lured me in with FALSE ADVERTISING.
I was here for a fake relationship romance between two Project Runway contestants that were maybe rly competitive but using each other to boost their camera time, while also genuinely falling for each other and trying to work through those feelings. INSTEAD, what we get is a couple that is actually actively romancing and making use of their chemistry to benefit their image on a reality show, but working with very different ideas of romance and long-term commitment... which definitely does not fall under a fake relationship scenario. It's frustrating because, with the reality tv setup, the potential was actually there for a great fake relationship trope examining what's real and what's not, what's genuine and what's manufactured for tv consumption. But what we actually get is a badly executed and messsyyyyyyy relationship helmed by a naive protagonist.
The prose is really juvenile and cringeworthy, like bad fanfic bad, with 1st person POV and every character described simply as beautiful or hot (Gavin is automatically extra sexy because of his British accent), complete with paragraphs on what they are wearing in the given scenes. And, while I'd generally give leeway for extensive description of outfits and looks because of the fashion designer situation, it's just kind of silly when EVERY scene is full of these. Every character, including our protagonist, is so haphazardly characterized (the disapproving Korean-American parents of our protagonist given the most stereotypical and tiring Tiger Mom treatment of them all).
(view spoiler)[ALSO SHE DOESN'T EVEN FUCKIGN WIN THE COMPETITION, FUCKING GAVIN DOES, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ME SLOGGING THROUGH THIS ENTIRE BOOK.
There's a lot of cunnilingus though I guess. (Oh and a w|w side pairing that doesn't rly do much but they're cute!)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This wasn't a bad book, per se, but it had a lot of weird moments.
The Good: - I really liked Tessa a lot, she's an introvert who's working on getter beThis wasn't a bad book, per se, but it had a lot of weird moments.
The Good: - I really liked Tessa a lot, she's an introvert who's working on getter better in social situations but she also is really ambitious about where she wants to be in her career, especially as a woman working in a heavily male-dominated field. I love that she succeeds and is recognized for her abilities! - I liked that the relationship was one of friendship and mutual respect that evolves nicely into romance.
The Bad: - I was kind of weirded by Adam's hang up over having a relationship with a woman who is very career-conscious. Which is to say, maybe grow up instead of trying to find a woman who solely exists to fulfill your needs! He gets better but yeah. - The impetus for the couple's first kiss was just so ridiculously contrived that I had to stop reading out of bafflement. - The constant reference to popular internet fandoms and weird-ass representation of (white) fandom culture that weirded me out so much. The main character even refers to herself as a Superwholock in a professional setting, you guys. It was very "sounds fake, but ok". I think the book fared better when it was talking about the fake show Mystics than when it was talking about real shows/fandoms that will terribly date this book in the future. Half the time, I was just like "Dear God, Tessa, get better taste" lol. - There's a sweeping romantic moment in the book that references Benedict Cumberbatch in his role as Sherlock Holmes and, frankly, that is the last thing to engender romantic feelings, I'm sorry. I actually had to look up "the most perfect Sherlock hair-ruffle" because I had no clue what it meant and those are five horrifying seconds that I will never get back. ...more
This was such a cute story!!!! Ah Lee, a young teenage vampire in a house full of vampire grandmas and aunts, navigates the trials and tribulations ofThis was such a cute story!!!! Ah Lee, a young teenage vampire in a house full of vampire grandmas and aunts, navigates the trials and tribulations of eternal teenagerhood, including a chance at young love. Her aunts, more than a little overbearing at times, want her to forget men (regaling her with stories of horrible men in their lives) and concentrate on her studies so she can achieve an almost normal life. But the charm of the story is certainly vampire girl protag dealing with the mundane things like homework, disguising entrails as chicken nuggets in the school cafeteria, and following in love with the new boy in school. SUPER CUTE!...more
This book was honestly a very interesting mix of ideas. A steampunk (gunpowderpunk?) alternative history of the Opium Wars, it follows a young woman nThis book was honestly a very interesting mix of ideas. A steampunk (gunpowderpunk?) alternative history of the Opium Wars, it follows a young woman named Soling, whose father was one of the Chief Engineers to the Emperor who was executed for failing to provide adequate technology against the British naval forces. Years later, Soling has grown up in poverty and is recruited to infiltrate rebels against the Emperor in order to restore her family's name and honor. Helping her is now young man she had been betrothed to as a child, Chang-wei, one of her father's bright protegés who had vanished after her father's death.
The steampunk aspect of the book is actually kept to a minimum with a lot of emphasis on the effect of opium addiction on individuals, the political landscape of China vs. the Western powers, and the changes in the empire itself. I really liked Soling, who's trained as a physician and I loved how her skills managed to complement Chang-wei's in the plot! They're actually a very cute couple and, while there wasn't enough romance for me, I thought Jeannie Lin did a great job of giving these brief but great intimate moments in lieu of sexytimes. There was lots of Fake Marrieds with a few healthy dollops of "oh no we have to stay the night and the inn only has one bed so we have to share it aLAS" and "btw let's help each other get dressed and be hyperaware of our proximity to each other after not seeing each other for years and having wondered so much about the other". Soling's relationship with her family was interesting although I would have loved to see more (her mom's backstory as a crossdressing mathematician in the Imperial Academy was so cool!).
I wish the ending wasn't so abrupt though, it's a bit of a cliffhanger. I'll look forward to checking out the next book!...more
I liked this for the most part! It's a romance taking place during the aftermath of a widespread technology blackout where two of the main characters,I liked this for the most part! It's a romance taking place during the aftermath of a widespread technology blackout where two of the main characters, Arden and roommate/best friend John Seong, trek from Rochester, NY to John's family cabin near the Canadian border. There, Arden meets John's brother who, at first, doesn't like Arden for compromising John's safety during their trip. Gabriel and John also have a young teenage sister, Maggie, who loves One Direction and worries about the fate of her internet boyfriend.
Arden and Gabriel do quickly develop a better mutual understanding and appreciation alongside their attraction for each other. The romance does progress quickly but, to be fair, it employs the "snowed in a cabin" trope (or as I call it, the "Hana Yori Dango situation") and their romance is even helped along by matchmaking by John and Maggie.
As for the writing, I admit a lot of the banter and Arden's monologue seem a bit weird at times but I thought the relationships and character motivations of everyone were well-written. They don't always talk like real people but they do feel real. Arden's personal regrets with regard to her parents particularly hit close to home for me as I'm going through similar issues.
Beyond the backstory relayed by Arden, there's not much worldbuilding about why all technology had suddenly failed; the book is more focused on how the Seong family (including Arden) stays safe while working without technology. However, the book had an excerpt from the next novel in the series, where John is gay for an astrophysicist-turned-vegetable thief and it seems fun to read from John's perspective so I'll be checking it out!
In terms of content warnings, the book begins with a scene describing physical assault and there's an allusion to gendered violence in the backstory. there's also some violent racism and use of anti-Asian slurs near the end of the book....more
Man, I really enjoyed so much of this book, but it was not entirely satisfying.
Usually the plot/setup aspects of romance novels are the flimsiest, buMan, I really enjoyed so much of this book, but it was not entirely satisfying.
Usually the plot/setup aspects of romance novels are the flimsiest, but, here, it was the most entertaining and interesting part. After the death of their gross and miserly protector Mr. North, the main character, Millicent, decides to impersonate him to access his funds and save her mother and sisters from poverty. Reading about how she takes control of these new money and properties, and crafts an image of an idiosyncratic and comedic society man was so much fun! Millicent uses her new access to societal privilege to help her family as well as other women while befriending a duke, Schoffer. She quickly develops a friendship with Shoffer and his sister but ends up super attracted to him, with the book having a lot of pining moments. Shoffer, on his part, cares a lot about his new friend and his sense of humor but is super oblivious of the way Mr. North stares at his naked body when they have to share quarters lmao.
The actual romance parts were sometimes fun (this is a couple that has conversations together and appreciates humor even in the bedroom and that's kind of refreshing and sweet) but also sometimes boring and generally very awkward because of some bad sex-related euphemisms in there lol. It was kind of a let down because the plot was really great and I was hoping the reveals and romance would be on par but I ended the book feeling less impressed about the romance. ...more
I enjoyed reading about the couple, involving lots of bickering, pining, and jealousy, but the plot was honestly a bit all over the place. Also, histoI enjoyed reading about the couple, involving lots of bickering, pining, and jealousy, but the plot was honestly a bit all over the place. Also, historical novel or not, it's kind of infuriating to see Native Americans referred to as "savages". ...more
The thing that is most important about Shahrazad's frame story in 1001 Nights, the thing that makes it such a compelling narrative even today, is thatThe thing that is most important about Shahrazad's frame story in 1001 Nights, the thing that makes it such a compelling narrative even today, is that it boils down to a woman fighting for the sake of other women, a woman standing up to a man's deeply entrenched misogyny on the strength of her wit and oratory skills. I've had the chance to read many wonderful retellings/adaptions of 1001 Nights that have taken my breath away, because the authors recognize this fact and try to do great justice to the original.
So, therefore, I find it incredibly disappointing, and straight up irresponsible with regards to her young female audience, that Adieh removes all those important aspects of the narrative in her adaptation to accommodate a bland, overdone YA romance story with such few women and sooooooooooooooo many unnecessary dudes. Like, I'm a chill person, I can forgive overtly purple prose ("hazel pools", "tiger eyes", etc) if I find the story itself engaging but this book was a mess. Why the hell are random male OC's [Tariq and his family, Musa, Jalal, the Rajput (??? at the name btw), etc] more prominent in this story than Shahrazad's own sister, who's literally one of few other named characters in the original story. So much of this book, in fact, is just men talking to other men and it is sooooo boring. The few female characters that our protag interacts with are often shown as untrustworthy or potential rivals. Her sister, named Irsa here, has zero impact in the narrative.
Shahrazad in this book supposedly has nerve and archery skills and oratory skills as well as untapped magical powers but, instead of using these to protect herself and other women (or exacting revenge on behalf of her friend, as it's initially set up in this novel), she's handed the most trite narrative task of healing Caliph Khalid's troubled woobified heart. The whole setup of nested narratives (the thing I enjoy so much about 1001 Nights!!!) is quickly abandoned for badly executed political intrigue. Not only that, but Khalid's killing of his wives is apparently justified by the narrative because (view spoiler)[ridiculous backstory involving magical manpain over dead ladies (hide spoiler)] instead of showcased as barefaced misogyny. Meanwhile, her childhood sweetheart gathers support to wage war against the caliph and rescue her. Basically, even if this wasn't a 1001 Nights adaptation, it would be a boring setup but, when it's billed as such, it's even more infuriating. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This novella's strength was in its character dynamics. I loved seeing a proper resolution to Judith and Daisy's relationship, especially as friends whThis novella's strength was in its character dynamics. I loved seeing a proper resolution to Judith and Daisy's relationship, especially as friends who find so much comfort in each other's presence but aren't very good at divulging the struggles in their lives. Daisy's relationship with her mother and Crash's with his aunt were also really great! It was also nice to see a couple that was already, to some extent, established, but I have to admit that I wasn't a big fan of the huge misunderstandings plot. ...more
four stars for my hearty enjoyment of 80% of this book and its grumpy, tenacious chromatic protagonist but what the heck @ that bizzaro self-hating vofour stars for my hearty enjoyment of 80% of this book and its grumpy, tenacious chromatic protagonist but what the heck @ that bizzaro self-hating voldemort reveal + rushed (like literally 3 page long) denouement????...more