I'm really happy to have found a new HP author that works for me. This takes a classic, intense plot and adds some original aspects that keep it freshI'm really happy to have found a new HP author that works for me. This takes a classic, intense plot and adds some original aspects that keep it fresh and interesting. And everything does not turn out to have been a huge misunderstanding; the drama was valid. Looking forward to the next in the series....more
I 'm always on the lookout for romances with autistic characters, and this New Adult romance is one of the most(Reviewed from an e-arc from NetGalley)
I 'm always on the lookout for romances with autistic characters, and this New Adult romance is one of the most thematically interesting I've found. The two main characters are both disabled -- Emmet is autistic, Jeremey has severe depression and anxiety -- but the big difference between them is that only Emmet's disability has been acknowledged and accommodated. So this is really not a story about an autistic person being rescued by love; if anything, it's the other way around.
After ten months of crushing on his neighbor Jeremey from across the yard, Emmet finally manages to introduce himself. Jeremey hasn't had a friend in awhile; if his mother didn't drag him out of the house, he'd never leave his room. But after a lifetime of learning how to request and make modifications for himself, Emmet has no trouble understanding Jeremey's similar difficulties with noise, overstimulation, and groups of people. Jeremey goes from thinking Emmet is "off" and "special needs," to realizing he's smart, cute, and very easy to be with. But even a good friendship, with the possibility of more, may not be enough to help him live with the ocean of depression he has to carry every day.
From the start, I was impressed with the fact that Emmet is genuinely disabled. (Although making him also a genius seemed like both a cliche and perhaps a form of compensating.). Autistic people in romance are rarely allowed to be more than reserved and quirky. Emmet is identifiably weird -- he can't pass. He rocks and flaps his arms and hums to himself. He can't drive. Although he's thinks of himself as having some "superpowers," his autism is mostly not glamorous. Jeremey has what I guess you'd call neurotypical privilege, but his disability is also severe, particularly since it's gone untreated for so long.
These aren't your typical romance characters, and their romance isn't exactly typical either. I found it sympathetic and believable, because they really care about each other and work hard to be good to each other. Trying to be "good boyfriends" brings out the best in them -- but there are mistakes, and upsets, and sometimes they each need to put self-care ahead of the relationship. I liked the realistic imperfections; even Emmet's mom, who initially seems like the perfect, understanding parent for a gay autistic boy, screws up by not seeing her son as someone who can have a boyfriend.
When you're autistic, everyone acts as if you're not a real human. I'm angry at my family because they said I was a real human. But when I say I'm your boyfriend, they say I can't be. So they lied. I'm not a real human.
The story is told in alternating first person narratives, both of which are kind of info-dumpy. Jeremey's worked better for me than Emmet's, which I had number of problems with. One is that it sounds so much like other fictional autistic narratives I've read, and in my experience, it's not that believable a voice to begin with. Autistic people don't necessarily sound all that different from neurotypical people when they write. It also makes him sound like a young kid, which is uncomfortable when you're reading a romance that includes sex. (He's 19 and Jeremey is 18.)
I did like the slow, thoughtful way their sexual relationship grew. It's not a super sexy book, but their physical relationship is important to them. They both like Emmet to be in charge, which works with their characters.
The story is more slow-moving and everyday than I normally go for, but overall I really enjoyed it. But then, in a way, it's exactly my fantasy. Not a sexual fantasy, but a mom fantasy, one about an autistic person gaining independence, and finding love just by being himself. You go, Emmet....more
Disclosure: The author and I are friendly online. E-arc provided by NetGalley.
I think this novella is Hall's first contemporary romance since GlitterlDisclosure: The author and I are friendly online. E-arc provided by NetGalley.
I think this novella is Hall's first contemporary romance since Glitterland, and I'm happy for the return, being more into serious contemporaries than fantasy. It's not a sequel, though there's a small hint that it's set in the same world.
Edwin has a complicated relationship with his home. He loves the house, but his love stemmed from the life he envisioned sharing in it: "From the moment I saw it, I saw us. I saw us in every room: talking, touching, sharing. I saw it all, but as it turned out, I saw only my dreams." Since his lover left him, he's been marking time -- leaving the holes left by the things Marius took with him, staying out of spaces that are too painful to be in. But now a flood threatens him and his neighbors, and Edwin is forced out of passivity.
This is a quiet, tender story about rebirth after grief, with the flood providing poignant symbolism -- as well as an opportunity for Edwin to meet a charming civil engineer named Adam. I empathized with the domestic homebody Edwin, who has to learn to appreciate himself again. Though my favorite character may be his former sort-of mother-in-law, who still regards him as a son, telling him, "family is really just whoever sticks around." (Curiously enough, my main quibble with the book also involves this character, who is described as indiscriminately using lol in texts, including "Uncle Teddy dead lol." It irks me when urban legends/jokes are incorporated into fiction.) I like Adam and the romance too, but I think it was the atmosphere and elegant prose that really won me over. ...more
This short novella is less a fantasy in the genre sense than in the aspirational sense: there isn't much room for world-building, but the world establThis short novella is less a fantasy in the genre sense than in the aspirational sense: there isn't much room for world-building, but the world established allows for a certain kind of story. In this case, it's an arranged political marriage between two men.
Marcel and Gilbert both have mixed feelings when told they're expected to marry. Gilbert doesn't want to deprive his closest friend of the possibility of a love match. But Marcel, unbeknownst to Gilbert, has always hoped to marry him. I liked the bit of trope reversal here: scientist Gilbert is what we'd call nerdy, and not conventionally attractive. (His nickname is The Frog Prince.) But the popular, sophisticated Marcel has been pining for him for years.
This is a gentle, tender story, with mostly internal conflict. I like the slightly fantastical details, such as Marcel's collection of prosthetic arms. (He was born with a twisted leg and no left arm.) As a courtier and a dandy, he enjoys accessorizing, even using arms that are purely decorative:
Marcel chose his clothes carefully. The arm he chose to go with his outfit was made from black metal intricately sculpted to look like a tree with its roots twining around his shoulder, the branches stretching down to where they became fingers.
Marcel's disability isn't ignored -- it sometimes causes him difficulties -- but it is treated fairly casually as just part of his life.
This isn't a story with a great deal of oomph, but it's a pleasant world to spend some time in....more
I'm always intrigued by how much less dated the older Harlequin Presents are than the ones published in the 21st century. The heroine of this slightlyI'm always intrigued by how much less dated the older Harlequin Presents are than the ones published in the 21st century. The heroine of this slightly subversive romance resists marriage almost to the last page, because she's so fed up with being the caregiver for her siblings and doesn't want to have anything to do with domesticity. She offers to be the hero's mistress, which sends him into gales of laughter over the ridiculous outdated concept. It's a pleasure to read an HP that has all the narrative intensity without being over the top ridiculous....more
I think this might be the single most maddening romance ever written! The plot is incredibly Old Skool--the "hero" kidnaps and rapes (unquestionably rI think this might be the single most maddening romance ever written! The plot is incredibly Old Skool--the "hero" kidnaps and rapes (unquestionably rapes, not a glossed-over romance "forced seduction,") the heroine for revenge, then rapes her again out of jealousy--but it's like Jordan tried to write an Old Skool romance with a modern consciousness, because he's always spouting all this sensitive guy talk which is completely ludicrous in light of what he actually does. The heroine ponders this incongruity once or twice, but for the most part the incredible hypocrisy of it all is left unacknowledged. A crazy-making story!...more