Merry and Bright by Jill Shalvis is a collection of three short stories set around Christmas. I don’t normally read holiday setting books, but I pickeMerry and Bright by Jill Shalvis is a collection of three short stories set around Christmas. I don’t normally read holiday setting books, but I picked this one up for the Ho Ho Ho Read-a-thon.
I’ve only ever read one other book by Shalvis and this collection reminded me why I never picked-up another. While the stories aren’t bad, they’re just not my thing. If I read a contemporary romance, I tend to want the conflict to stay at believable levels.The fact that Shalvis seems to think that all her stories need a conspiracy or life and death situation annoys me.
The first story, Finding Mr. Right was the best story in the collection. Chemist Maggie Bell has a crush on the contractor working outside of her office. Even though she knows he’s completely wrong for her, she decides to pursue him for a short term relationship.
Maggie has the habit of spewing out random facts when nervous. At first I liked this, but the character trait was overused to the point where it started to get annoying. Even though Maggie’s wikipedia knowledge started to get on my nerves, I still liked her character. I only wish that Shalvis had stuck with character conflict between the heroine and hero to move the plot forward, rather than going the action/conspiracy route.
The second story, Bah, Handsome, features Hope, a B&B owner, who owes a ton of money to her loan shark step brother. When one of her step brother’s lackeys shows up at the B&B, Hope doesn’t expect to be attracted to the man. This one really didn’t work well for me. Hope was annoyingly stubborn and I honestly didn’t care at all about the relationship. I also really hated how meddlesome her friends were.
The final story, Ms. Humbug, focuses on city planner, Cami, who discovers the man she’s dating is banging the office assistant. Disheartened, she takes up with mayor and long time verbal sparring partner, Matt. Another story that would’ve worked better for me if Shalvis hadn’t taken the action/conspiracy route. While this one wasn’t bad, I thought the characters were the most underdeveloped, compared to the first two stories. Despite this, I still generally enjoyed the lighthearted tone and bickering between the main characters.
Shalvis has an engaging writing style and her characters are fun, so I can see why her novels are so popular. However, she’s not for me. If you’re looking for a cute holiday read and are a fan of Shalvis, this is probably worth checking out....more
Fangs for the Memories is a short story that takes place within the same time period as Molly Harper's second Jane Jameson book, Nice Girls Don't DateFangs for the Memories is a short story that takes place within the same time period as Molly Harper's second Jane Jameson book, Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men.
The story focuses on Andrea and Dick Cheney's (not that Dick Cheney) budding relationship, which we've seen slowly evolving on the sidelines in the Jane books. Live blood donor, Andrea, has been trying to ignore her attraction to Dick for quite a while. She's had enough of smooth talking vampires to last her a lifetime. When one of her clients puts her in a bad situation, Andrea is surprised to find that it's Dick who steps up to the plate and helps her out.
This is a very cute short story with Andrea and Dick. I loved getting a closer look at both of these characters and seeing that Andrea is just as mischievous as Dick. These two are just so enjoyable to watch interact. It left me hoping (in vain, I think) for a full length book featuring them.
While this is a great treat for fans of Harper's books, I don't think I would recommend it to someone who hasn't read at least the first two Jane books. Since Harper is working within the parameters of what we saw happening on the sidelines in those stories, things jump around a little and there's not much character development. If you're looking to test the water with a shorter story before diving into one of Harper's full length books, I would recommend checking-out the novella Driving Mr. Dead instead....more
Lead is the third book in Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series, which focuses on the members of a famous rock band. After all the hype around this series,Lead is the third book in Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series, which focuses on the members of a famous rock band. After all the hype around this series, I was surprised to feel rather "meh" about the first two books (Lick and Play). This one, however, made me glad that I kept going with the series.
Lead picks-up on the coattails of Play with Jimmy, the lead singer of Stage Dive, throwing a diva-esque tantrum in a hotel room. Lena, his assistant and sobriety partner, is getting real tired of his shit. So she takes it upon herself to calm him down, all the while thinking about how she plans to quit soon. She knows she was never qualified to be anyone's sobriety partner and she can only hide from the brewing family drama, back home, for so long. When Jimmy finds out that the one assistant he actually likes is planning to quit, he does everything in his power to convince her stay.
I really loved Lead. It's angstier than the previous books, but I think that's what made it work. Play didn't have enough conflict to keep me engaged the whole time and Lick came across as a purely wish-fulfillment story. In Lead, Scott found a good balance between the two and did a great job of balancing out the angst with some humorous moments that had me chuckling.
I have to give Scott huge kudos for how she writes her heroes. All of three of them in the series, so far, have been extremely distinct, which can be rare in romances. I've read too many series where (when a side-character is given their own book) the hero turns into a carbon copy of his predecessor. Scott's heroes are very different from each other. David, the hero in Lick, was sensitive and quick to jump to conclusions and Mal, the hero in Play, was a spontaneous jokester. While Jimmy is aloof and uses his sharp tongue as a defense mechanism, when he feels uncomfortable.
Jimmy really made this book for me. The highlight of the story was watching him struggle through a corny step-by-step plan to help convince Lena to stick around. I loved watching him go out of his way to follow the plan, only to do something unintentionally to negate it in the next breath.
While Scott excels with her heroes, she kind of lacks in the heroine department. While the heroines' backstories are different, they all pretty much act the same. I would be hard-pressed to tell them all apart in a scene without names or them making moon eyes at their hero. Lena was slightly better than the previous two, but not by much. Also, how her conflict with her sister was brought into the open and resolved was pretty juvenile.
The ending was also a little of a let down. This was mostly because, compared with the pacing in the rest of the story, it felt rushed. I liked where it was going, but the fallout that happened between Jimmy and Lena felt too big to have such a quick and easy resolution. I also cringed at the corny-ness of inserting a Maroon 5 song into the book. It would've been better to have left what song was being sung to the readers imagination.
While I'm glad that I continued on with this series to get to Lead and would recommend giving this one a try, I don't think I'll be reading the last book, Deep. Mostly because it relies on a trope I despise. The dreaded "heroine gets pregnant after one bout of sex, so her and hero are going to try making it work now" trope. ...more
Drummer Mal Ericson needs to find a respectable fake girlfriend. Who better to fill this role than the down to earth Anne Rollins? Anne has been in loDrummer Mal Ericson needs to find a respectable fake girlfriend. Who better to fill this role than the down to earth Anne Rollins? Anne has been in love with Mal Ericson for years. So, when he asks if she would be his fake girlfriend for a little while, she decides to take the opportunity to indulge in one of her deepest fantasies.
I enjoyed this one better than Lick, but it felt like the story was missing something. Mal was shown to love his life as the kind of guy who sleeps with a different woman every night. So I had a hard time believing that he would fall into a monogamous lifestyle so easily. There's one throw away scene where he puts his arm around a past lover and that's it. I felt like there should've been more of a struggle for him in this arena. Despite this, I liked that Mal kept his personality in tact during his own book. If you're looking for a romance book with some fairly low angst, I would recommend checking this out....more
After celebrating her 21st birthday in Vegas, Evelyn Thomas wakes up married to rock legend David Ferris. David is devastated to find that she remembeAfter celebrating her 21st birthday in Vegas, Evelyn Thomas wakes up married to rock legend David Ferris. David is devastated to find that she remembers nothing about the night before. Especially when he had felt such a connection to her.
This was pretty meh to me. Evelyn doesn't have much of a personality and David's constant jumping to conclusions got on my nerves. It also annoyed me that Evelyn kept referring to David as her husband. That doesn't scream someone who isn't completely on-board with the marriage. Despite this, the writing style works for me and the plot was enough to keep me engaged. I'll probably breeze through the next two books in the series....more