Much like in a Twilight Zone episode, Karina Tucker, who sees herself as a very ordinary single mother with aA somewhat horrifying, paranormal romance
Much like in a Twilight Zone episode, Karina Tucker, who sees herself as a very ordinary single mother with a six-year-old daughter, is driving a van of children home from her child's field trip when she makes an unplanned detour to a seemingly ordinary motel for a brief rest stop. Unfortunately, while there, she encounters terrifying monsters she was never meant to see, and the man who appears as her salvation offers a shocking trade-off: in order to prevent the barbarous massacre of herself and her daughter, she must agree to be his captive permanently and live out a horrifying fate that, in many ways, makes a quick death at the claws of the monsters seem preferable. Only preserving her helpless, fragile daughter could have driven her to make such an appalling choice.
I won't grade down a really well written story due to my own idiosyncratic preferences, but as a huge fan of Ilona Andrews, I have read everything this husband-and-wife writing team has ever published, and I have to admit that this was my least favorite Andrews story. I normally really like the Andrews team's urban fantasy, and I especially enjoy their paranormal romances, but this particular paranormal romance I found excruciatingly dark and depressing. I've never been a fan of captor/captive romances in general, and this one is rather gruesome. The only way this heroine could believably fall in love with a hero like this one is to develop a major case of Stockholm Syndrome, which isn't exactly a guaranteed prescription for readers to find her (or him) sympathetic. Yes, the ending of this novella does qualify as an "uplifting" type of HEA ("happily ever after"), that is an essential part of any paranormal romance, but getting there requires a certain type of taste in romance plots that I myself don't share. For my particular preferences, the plot goes too far in the direction of horror, and it felt more frightening than sexy to me.
Again, however, that's just my personal taste. A great many semi-horror-plot type of paranormal romances, both adult and young adult, have been highly successful over the past 20 years, and many fans of the Andrews team will like this book.
I personally, selfishly, hope this isn't the beginning of a series, because it will take up valuable writing time to produce, and the world the Andrews team has created here is about endless, brutal war. I think I will be, unfortunately, too squeamish to keep reading about it.
What I'd really love to read about from the Andrews team, if I were given a vote in the matter, rather than a series centered on the couple from this story, or their savage world, is the love story of George and Lark/Sophie from the Edge series. I was very sad to hear the Andrews team declare that this series is complete after only four books, so it was a delightful surprise when, in a crossover appearance, George, his brother Jack, and Sophie all showed up together--with a tinge of romance, finally, between George and Sophie--in Sweep in Peace. In that self-published book by Ilona Andrews, second in the Innkeeper Chronicles series, George is now 29. We first met him in book 1 of the Edge series, On the Edge, when he was only a child of ten. By the way, we're told in SIP that Sophie is now about 24, but my impression in previous books was that she and George are the same age. At any rate, she and George and Jack are amazing characters.
I will continue to read anything the Andrews team writes, and I especially enjoy the audiobook versions of their books, performed by the inimitable Renee Raudman, vocal talent extraordinaire.
I rate this book as follows: Heroine: 4 stars Hero: 3 stars Subcharacters: 3 stars Worldbuilding caliber: 4 stars Writing: 5 stars Overall: 4 stars...more
Kelsie views herself as a "twenty-seven-year-old version of Tinker Bell," except with red hair instead of blQuirky, chick-lit-infused, romantic comedy
Kelsie views herself as a "twenty-seven-year-old version of Tinker Bell," except with red hair instead of blond. She is currently strongly turned off to men because two years ago she divorced a man who, at the time of her marriage, she thought was "perfect" but who turned out to be a conniving, lying, unfaithful jerk. She has no real desire to get involved with anyone, but her never-married mother and man-hungry best friend are constantly urging her to leap back into the dating world. In the process, with the best of intentions, they constantly set her up with one failed date after the other. Then one evening, while hanging out with her best friend at a new restaurant, Kelsie encounters "the closest thing she'd ever seen to a Greek god in Columbus, Ohio," her home town.
Cole is 34, and has been burned many times by women who insist that his beloved profession of the past 15 years as a fireman is just too dangerous for them to commit to him long term. He doesn't believe a woman exists who will resist trying to pry him loose from his job until he meets Kelsie. He is intrigued by the fact that she finds his dedication to saving lives nothing but admirable, but even so, there is a very big barrier to his natural desire to date this beautiful, feisty woman: she thinks he is too "perfect." The fact that he has no apparent flaws is a major red flag to her, because what if he turns out to be like her ex-husband, and all his flaws are simply hidden from view? Cole is determined to prove to Kelsie he is "imperfect" enough for her to take a chance on him, and thus begins their comic journey to love.
This novel is about half-and-half chick lit (whose distinguishing feature is amusing dating disasters) and traditional romance (known for its avoidance of romantic triangles and cheating as well as the much vaunted "happily ever after"). The main sources for the comedy in this book include: the quirky behavior of Kelsie's mother and best friend, Kelsie's daring escapes from the disastrous dates they foist upon her, including various rescues from said dates by Cole, as well as Cole's humorous attempts to woo her.
Kelsie works as a dental hygienist, which is an unusual profession for a romance heroine. I don't think I've seen that before. She is also a wannabe nonfiction author, writing an advice manual for women on how to "do as I say and not as I do" as a means for her audience to avoid dating debacles like the ones she has endured, which is another somewhat unique attribute in a romance heroine.
There is excellent chemistry between the two attractive, pleasing protagonists, and readers looking for a light, fun read will enjoy this book.
Fun, lightly dramatic, New Adult, enemies-to-lovers plot
College freshmen, Rikki Eisendrath and Sam Payne, have been each other's chief scholastic compFun, lightly dramatic, New Adult, enemies-to-lovers plot
College freshmen, Rikki Eisendrath and Sam Payne, have been each other's chief scholastic competitors and, from Rikki's perspective, full out enemies for the past six years. But when they end up in the same dorm, at the same college, Rikki decides that now that they are officially adults, it's time to call a truce with Sam. Gradually the two progress from an uneasy détente to the tentative beginnings of real friendship. Then Sam, whom Rikki learns is quite a talented sculptor in addition to being a math and science genius, asks her to serve as his model. Though he doesn't ask her to model nude, she models in a swimsuit and in order to feel less on display, she insists that Sam wear a swimsuit as well. Rikki's plan backfires, however, when seeing Sam half naked makes her far too aware that years of sports and working out have given Sam a gorgeous physique. An unexpectedly powerful sexual attraction toward her longtime nemesis begins to threaten Rikki's comfort with her newly softened feelings for Sam.
I believe this author, as a purposeful creative decision, has written this book in first person point of view so that Sam's feelings and motivations toward Rikki remain as much a mystery to the reader as they are to Rikki. This adds a great deal of romantic conflict to the story, because it makes it possible for the truth about Sam's feelings toward Rikki to not be revealed until near the end of the book.
Interestingly to me, this book carries some intriguing echoes of the classic children's book, Anne of Green Gables. I have no way of knowing if this was a conscious homage on the author's part, but it would be fun if it were. Much like Rikki, Anne develops an intense resentment toward Gilbert when she is 11. In Anne's case, it is because he calls her, "Carrots," as a teasing insult to her red hair, which is the bane of Anne's existence. She refuses to forgive poor Gilbert up until she is 18 or so, creating antagonism between them for the same length of time that Rikki and Sam are enemies in this book. Also like Rikki and Sam, Anne and Gilbert incessantly engage in scholastic rivalry all through the years that Anne treats him as an enemy.
I love a good "nerds in love" plot, and I had high hopes on reading the premise of this book that the author had written it as romantic comedy but, alas, it is instead light drama. Nevertheless, as light drama it is very well written. I really liked Sam, and there is a great deal of intense emotion between him and Rikki, always a terrific thing to encounter in a romance novel. I was never bored or tempted to skim this novel, which in itself is high praise, because as an extremely jaded romance reader, I have a high threshold for boredom.
I particularly liked that Sam is not a cliché, New Adult, "bad boy" hero. He has no tattoos, doesn't sleep around, and rarely drinks alcohol. Rikki is a virgin, which is always a refreshing change of pace in a NA romance, and in a touch of plot humor that contrasts comically with her own innocence, she vigorously scolds one of the male subcharacters for daring to "slut shame" the sexual experience of her fellow coeds.
The fact that Rikki is a bit of a fusspot as well as a nerd is not uncommon in NA romance heroines in general, but it doesn't happen enough to be as much of a cliché as the "man whore" male protagonist. In my humble opinion, she is an intriguing heroine with a strong voice and plausible motivations for her actions.
Overall, I found both Rikki and Sam to be quite sympathetic characters, and in terms of their intelligence, drive, and overall attractiveness and likability, I believe they are a very good match and co-equal in power within their relationship. In other words, I thank my lucky stars there is no domineering, Alpha-male dynamic in this story, which has been done to death in NA romance.
All in all, this book is very well written and I look forward to reading other books by this author.