I found this book to be rather odd, especially for a romance. There's a good sense of place, but I had difficulties with figuring out the era (it saysI found this book to be rather odd, especially for a romance. There's a good sense of place, but I had difficulties with figuring out the era (it says 1902 in plot description here) probably due to not having the cultural knowledge to know when mining booms were in Australia. I would think I had a handle on it but then some more modern wording would throw me off or the appearance of a gramophone.
There were also a lot of points where I felt very aware that this was written by a man. Nothing too overt, just words or thoughts from the heroine that didn't ring true, or maybe the focus on female body parts that felt male gaze to me rather than descriptive. The hero kisses the heroine after she's taken pain killers for a twisted ankle and he thinks she's asleep. He (paraphrased) thinks 'oh man should I have done that? Oh well thankfully she's in a drugged sleep so she doesn't know I did'. The hero thinks he is in love with another woman, and a lot of his reasoning for going after the heroine instead is that the OW was 'cold' and didn't put out when he thought she would? It wasn't spelled out but I was uncomfortable and basically felt that a female author would never write that.
There is a character named Ah Foo whose dialogue is best skipped over. There has got to be a way to write a realistic non-native English speaker without being racist but I don't have the answer and I don't think the author does either. Similarly, the h meets the H to tutor him in his speech and manners, so we must expect the hero to speak poorly but there must be a way to convey that without making me read poor grammar over and over. Perhaps just writing that he had a coarse accent or mispronounced things? He gets better quickly, thankfully, but I am still traumatized by the amount of times I read the word "youse" instead of "you". (And always referring to a singular you, never like 'youse guys' which is something people might slangily say here in Philly. Is this an australia in 1902 thing, or was it a poor authorial choice of picking how the character sounds uneducated?)
It wasn't really a bad book, there were just so many things that I wanted to say "Uh buddy, did you mean for X to come across this way?" or "Did you realize Y is the message this is sending and is that actually what you intend?" about and it added up to too much. ...more
"Why do women always think talking will solve everything?"
I try to not look at anything before I read my netgalley books, in order to keep as open of"Why do women always think talking will solve everything?"
I try to not look at anything before I read my netgalley books, in order to keep as open of a mind as possible, but I should have at least checked Goodreads for this one, because I had already read How To Sleep With The Boss and didn't like it at all. This is the story of that hero's brother, and he's just as insufferable.
The heroine, Lila, suddenly has custody of her estranged half sister's child, dealing with all kinds of guilt and worry and fears of being a good mom while not wanting to lose her career goals etc. She's an interesting character, but instead of exploring that we get James. James, the hero, is a billionaire who does home renovations and is just as hung up over his missing/presumed dead father as the other hero was. He thinks a lot about Lila's body parts but not much about her, and acts like he hates her. Honestly, he goads her on purpose over and over in this book, and then acts hurt when she responds at all. it's emotional abuse, not romance. I'm not interested in reading this, honestly. There's a lot of gaslighting and even reproductive coercion here. At one point he thinks that her distrust of his motives is insulting, even though she's right. He actually thinks that! Look, dude, you don't get to be insulted that she's on to your game.
If you'd like to read about a 'nice guy' who gets the heroine and her baby to stay at his house and won't let them go to a hotel instead, then repeatedly tries to manipulate the heroine into quitting her job so she can be a stay at home mom instead (as a single mom? Really?) and thinks things such as "Maybe he had been trying to get a rise out of her. He wasn't sure why", then you won't mind this book. I really really minded, and have to avoid this author.
There were a couple name mix-ups and continuity errors that I am going to just assume are my galley copy's fault, but mostly my unhappiness was with the unhealthy relationship and the lack of any joy, fun or even delicious angst found in this story....more
Claire is one of a group of Wallflowers who have decided to seize their own destinies. She has had a crush on one of the brother-of-a-friend's friendsClaire is one of a group of Wallflowers who have decided to seize their own destinies. She has had a crush on one of the brother-of-a-friend's friends, one she never pursued after the popular girls insulted her during her Season. Instead, she retreated into herself and studied. She ends up fluent in four languages, including French, which is where Jonathon comes in. He has no idea that she's nursed a crush on him for all these years, but he needs a French tutor and Claire is right there.
Throughout, both the H and h are charming and likable. Jonathon's brother drama wasn't too interesting to me, but it gave a good reason for him wanting to achieve his goals, even at the cost of love. I appreciated that Claire was always described as pretty, just not really fashionable and far too willing to fade into the background, so her change was believable.
I'll definitely read the next books in the series, I am assuming the things that didn't get wrapped up very neatly will be addressed in next books (I loved that (view spoiler)[the hero stood up to the rival and the heroine even slapped her but I still kind of wanted closure or a bigger set down? Maybe I'm just vindictive? (hide spoiler)]).
Overall, highly recommended if you like any of the trope shelves I listed it under.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Dedicating your book (or comparing your book) to Heyer or Austen are things that don't usually work out well for the author, and something I rarely seDedicating your book (or comparing your book) to Heyer or Austen are things that don't usually work out well for the author, and something I rarely see on appropriate novels. This is one where the resemblance to Heyer is both accurate and helpful to get a feel for the type of book it is.
To get the pure opinion out of the way, I really enjoyed this book. I'm not sure if it is something I would want to re-read or not (which is usually a whole star difference for me) but I am glad I read it and recommend it.
Now, for tone and Heyer-ness, it mostly reads like an older and older fashioned novel, less about the 'main' characters and more about the younger, sillier couple (to the point where I'm not sure the "vengeful act" of Verity's sister is really properly described (I read one line about it and eventually had to flip back to see ... was that it? That's what happened?) nor are the main H and h's past relationship really looked at. We're just told it was a grand romance. These are things that might be problems in a more traditionally "modern" book, but the slight pastiche feel instead adds to it being more about the manners and the overall romance-rather-than-love-story.
There are a few 'modern' touches in slightly more sexual thoughts and more jumps into the villain's head, enough to keep it from feeling dated.
I would definitely read more from this author....more
Plot description: Isabel and Caleb met at a conference and had great sex, then end up having to work together. These plots in romances often start thePlot description: Isabel and Caleb met at a conference and had great sex, then end up having to work together. These plots in romances often start the reader at the point where they have to work together, and while that can be fun, I found it refreshing that we actually start at the beginning. The conference is the first half of the book. Because of that, we see Isabel's decision to let loose, the initial attraction, and the sex that maybe has feelings, all as they happen rather than being told or being shown in flashbacks. 'Attractive woman hides herself in frumpy clothes and acts prim' is not an uncommon conceit in romances, but for once the setting of video game development made the desire to seem asexual (if one must be seen as a woman at all) a smart one. Gamergate, anyone?
I also appreciated the low drama. There's a villain and all that but the focus is on these two people and them navigating what kind of relationship they want, what level of commitment while acting on sexual attraction, etc. (view spoiler)[I loved having the villain be more of a jagweed than actually evil, it read as realistic and gave Isabel a real victory to tell him off. It felt like an interaction I could have rather than the usual story where he would be embezzling or get her fired or something. He was a real-world jerk, which made for a cathartic read. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A book I really enjoyed and would go back to reread at some point. I'm more interested in the author's future works than other books in the same serieA book I really enjoyed and would go back to reread at some point. I'm more interested in the author's future works than other books in the same series.
This is one of those books I would recommend based on tropes and level of fluff desired, as opposed to a 'great to recommend for anyone' type. It's silly and melodramatic at times and a lot of back and forth between the H and h either being friends or romantically involved. It could get tiring but since I was engaged and enjoying myself, I liked it. For a book in the governess/companion trope shelf, the hero was actually concerned about the heroine's position and not making things difficult for her (why is that so rare? I am so tired of the poor governess having to spell out to some idiot duke why there's a power imbalance there and how if she were fired she would starve to death) I agree with others who say the ending drags, but then oddly enough there's a page or so at the end that seemed to wrap up too quickly. (view spoiler)[The grandfather should have had some more comeuppance in my opinion, someone needed to tell him he lost his daughter due to his own behavior and now he will lose his granddaughter so shape up dummy but instead he sort of bent slightly and 'allowed' the heroine her happy ending and I just sort of rolled my eyes cause you know that guy's gonna guilt trip her for the rest of his life (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This books ended up being much more about the supporting cast, who I presume have their own books, but as I haven't read any of them, I felt quite losThis books ended up being much more about the supporting cast, who I presume have their own books, but as I haven't read any of them, I felt quite lost.
There was also a dynamic that makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable, where a female member of the couple goes into interactions prepared to attack and be hostile, even though the other has done nothing to warrant it. It's believable and perhaps era appropriate (men in general and this man in particular have power over you, so sure you come in with lies and anger and try to get the situation more imbalanced in your favor) yeah I get it and it's not a poor choice when writing, it's just a personal thing I dislike and try to avoid. It says more about me than it does the book. ...more
I'd probably personally rate this a two or two and a half stars, but that doesn't feel fair, mostly because I didn't pick the book out myself. It wasI'd probably personally rate this a two or two and a half stars, but that doesn't feel fair, mostly because I didn't pick the book out myself. It was a review book from NetGalley, and while (like other reviewers) I don't let it being a review copy change my opinion, the fact that I wanted to finish it for non-personal reasons does, similar to needing to read a book for a class, or because it was a gift. There's a point in books where you can read a synopsis or a few pages and think "nah not really for me" without any hard feelings, without the book being bad, and if I push past that for reasons like it being for review, then that's on me instead of the book.
A bit unusual for a romance novel, this book was more sensuous than anything else. The heroine, Vessa, wears beautiful underwear like a secret and uses makeup to hide as well as express herself. The rooms she decorates are describe in lavish and sumptuous terms, and it's worth letting yourself get wrapped up in the language and the feelings they evoke rather than trying to picture the rooms (I'm in the process of looking at houses to buy and all I can think is that it's a bit much isn't it? Every single room has lots of bold color and a theme and it all seems intense and maybe not going together very well.) Although there is a pizza place featured in the novel, for some reason food and taste are never explored in the way the other senses are. I would have liked that, but maybe it would have been too Like Water for Chocolate on the nose?
The ages of the characters didn't make a lot of sense to me, at one point Killian says he is 27 and I guess Vessa is something like 23, but I was picturing them both around 30. Maybe it's just my generation, that not being settled but wanting to be, looking for jobs at all connected with your degree, wanting to make a name for yourself at work, those are all things thirtysomethings are dealing with, and making them older would up the maturity level of the relationship.
The secrets came out at a nice pace, right when the book needed an extra interest because the whole decorate-a-room-and-then-fuck-in-it thing was getting old. I'm guessing Bengt is getting his own book because of how much was left there, but I was hoping for a little more closure in his friendship with the hero.
All together, I felt it was trying for a type of magical realism and sensory overload that either didn't work for me or is just not something I like, but it was still a quick and enjoyable read that I would recommend to someone else whose tastes are more aligned....more
It's not super fair for me to rate this, since I would tell about 15% in this was not for me, but I hate to DNF NetGalley books, so I at least skimmedIt's not super fair for me to rate this, since I would tell about 15% in this was not for me, but I hate to DNF NetGalley books, so I at least skimmed the rest. There were some charming moments but no thanks....more
If you choose what romance novels to read based on tropes (which I definitely do), this is much more of a friends to lovers or a childhood crush storyIf you choose what romance novels to read based on tropes (which I definitely do), this is much more of a friends to lovers or a childhood crush story than it is a boss one. There's some of that power dynamic in the very beginning, but it is much more about Dempsey and Adelaide having grown apart and Dempsey taking his lifelong best friend for granted. Although the hero is pretty clueless, he quickly stops being an alpha jerk once he is done the alpha jerk move of announcing a false engagement to the press in order to trap the heroine. Once a character does something so big, it can often be pretty unforgivable, but he moved past it to discuss things with Adelaide, so I could accept it.
So, while this book wasn't really my cup of tea, it was enjoyable and I think people who want this type of book with these tropes would be very happy with it.
I read a copy of this for free through NetGalley, which has not affected my honest review....more
Really enjoyable and fun. This book was basically written for me. It is Austen's Persuasion themed, and hits many of the same plot beats, but not quitReally enjoyable and fun. This book was basically written for me. It is Austen's Persuasion themed, and hits many of the same plot beats, but not quite a retelling, in the best way. Characters are shifted for different purposes and motivations aren't the same so while they may not be twists if you are familiar with Persuasion, it is not the same old, same old.
Spinsters/Wallflowers being treated poorly is exactly my favorite flavor of angst, and the hero being somewhat callous and cruel before he realizes it is unwarranted and recants is just perfect for me. I haven't read anything else by this author so I wasn't familiar with the larger cast of characters. That didn't really hold me back, although it did mean that I had less sympathy for them when they did things like abandon their friend in the rain even though she had recently been in ill health.
I quite enjoyed that it straddled the line between a sweet romance and a steamy one. Erotica would have felt very out of place in what was one of the best Austen pastiches I've read in a modern romance novel. The leads think non-sweet thoughts, and there is some activity pretty late in the book, but it really fits the overall mood and I appreciated that....more
Really enjoyable. I often find historicals aimed at teens, particularly Regency era, difficult. It is a fine line creating a heroine that appeals to mReally enjoyable. I often find historicals aimed at teens, particularly Regency era, difficult. It is a fine line creating a heroine that appeals to modern readers that is still a believable woman of the times. I'll go with a little bit of anachronism but a really spunky stubborn girl is too much for me. That's why I really liked Evelyn, who was bright and determined, but perfectly aware of society limiting her actions more than herself. I always like characters who know they need to "play the game". Every time she pushed what was acceptable for a woman of her class at that time, she was very aware of it and made the decision because she needed to help her sister.
This book also does a great job of setting up a series without sacrificing being an enjoyable stand alone book. None of the main plots are resolved, nor is the love triangle, but there is enough story here to be worth reading on its own.
I'll definitely be looking forward to the next in the series.
I read a copy of this for free through NetGalley, which has not affected my honest review....more