Short, hot contemporary read, bad dates, no-strings fling with a friend... to be honest, this had "not r(reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley)
Short, hot contemporary read, bad dates, no-strings fling with a friend... to be honest, this had "not really my thing" written all over it. But I thought this author might make it work for me, and I was right.
It's not that the story doesn't fulfill what it promises in the blurb, but it doesn't feel the need to do it stereotypically. Milla, a travel blogger and youtube personality currently stationed in England, has a refreshing attitude towards her bad dates -- she cuts her losses and moves on. They might be funny, but they don't make her ridiculous.
And being with Milla is a genuine risk for Charlie: he's been badly burned by a (literal) East End Boy and West End girl marriage, and by social media. His trust in her as a friend and lover, nonetheless, is adorable. Of course there's a conflict, but part of what I most liked about this story is that the characters change, but not through any kind of coercion. It's always their decision.
If you like blokes with beards, this is the book for you. Many of the sexiest moments in the book involves Milla's fascination with Charlie's beard:
"The sharp edge of his scruff scratched deliciously at her lips as she brushed them back and forth across his mouth, tempting him to open them."
"His beard, she discovered, had reached the soft, curling stage. She stroked it with her palms as his mouth coaxed hers open, savoring the sensation of smooth, hot tongue contrasted with the denser, soft hair around his lips."
And then there's a shaving scene...
Charlie's art is also used for sexy metaphor. He "had learned patience handling sand heated until it became liquid, pliable. He'd learned how to seduce a woman by working with heat." But it's not just that, but an integral part of his personality. His commitment to his art, and what it says about him, gives substance to the story.
My only complaint is that the short format leads to a few initial short-cuts of telling rather than showing. I pretty much forgot about that as I read on. This isn't a heartbreaker like Breath on Embers, but confirms my opinion that Calhoun is one of the authors who really makes short form romance worth reading....more
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