I'm rating this one up a bit, because although I don't think Mary Ann Rivers has written her "five star" book(s) yet, her style and tone is so refresh...moreI'm rating this one up a bit, because although I don't think Mary Ann Rivers has written her "five star" book(s) yet, her style and tone is so refreshingly real and intimate - certainly stars above most contemporary romance. Her characters are flawed in complex ways that are all woven in with their best qualities - which is how I think people generally...are. (At least those I know and/or want to empathize with, at any rate.)
Her characters are also "quirky" or rather, eccentric, in ways that feel familiar, not forced; I would be equally likely to believe that they are inspired by real life people Rivers knows, or that her imagination is just that fertile, yet grounded.
She also does a great job with secondary characters that I hope are ALL sequel bait (and given the series title, all four Burnside siblings assuredly are), though Rivers avoids that particular series romance pitfall structurally, i.e. the community that she's developing here feels organic.
Oh yeah, and Rivers writes great sex scenes: in-character, unique, with emotional and sensory detail that is all the hotter for its realism, IMO. Super-sexy in that way that the honeymoon period with someone you're wildly attracted to actually is, even if you haven't mastered the other person's every bell & whistle yet. Not just the homogenized hetero sex standard to Romancelandia where all orgasms happen during penetration every time, etc. The variety and charge here is also gained without turning to BDSM as a crutch - which is not to say that kinky sex doesn't have its own cliches and misrepresentations - I just think that in Romancelandia, it is becoming somehow ubiquitous and yet, heh, fetishized within the genre such that although everyone seems to be having it, it's still not a "normal" thing to do...or something. And so we're not getting as much of the hot, dirty sex that falls in the spectrum between magical, multi-orgasmic missionary loooooovemaking and full-on, structured hobby/lifestyle kink. You know, French Vanilla or Vanilla Bean instead of "plain vanilla."
(view spoiler)[It's notable that the heroine of this book has had an abortion and is unrepentant about it, but this aspect of her backstory isn't over-emphasized in an awkward form of pro-choice proselytizing or anything. Likewise, she's a character of color and this matters to the story, but is not the story, entire. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I started reading this knitting-themed romance novel the other day, but only made it a few chapters in because the premise was just insupportable! See...moreI started reading this knitting-themed romance novel the other day, but only made it a few chapters in because the premise was just insupportable! See, the heroine is trying to keep her late mother’s dreams alive by hosting the knitting club she founded & opening a yarn store. But the “twist” is this: she can’t knit at all, and her sister is her “stunt knitter.”
WHAT. There is no way that the other members wouldn’t find it weird that she is never actually seen actively knitting in their presence. Also, while maybe not everyone can master more advanced skills, I don’t believe someone could really try and not get basic knit & purl down. Additionally, someone who can’t knit has no business running a yarn store! Because the reason local store fronts keep in business is classes & advice. Well, and community.
BUT, NO. I will accept all kinds of crazy plot devices, not to mention vampires & time travel & all that, but this just pushes my ability to suspend disbelief too far.(less)
This is a decently paced, readable romantic suspense like one can expect from Sorenson. What is also not so surprising from Sorensen - but certainly u...moreThis is a decently paced, readable romantic suspense like one can expect from Sorenson. What is also not so surprising from Sorensen - but certainly unusual for this genre - is the nuanced (not overblown) way that this book addresses race, gender, and class. Both the heroine (an unwed, upper-class Latina teen mother) and the hero (a poor, "white trash" ex-con who joined the Aryan Brotherhood in prison for self-preservation) are shown to be influenced by but not limited to the charged identity categories they fall under. And the entire cast of characters in this story complicates any clear good guy/bad guy dichotomies.
This is, in my opinion, a pretty feminist book - and not just for its representation of women (in particular the heroine and a secondary stripper/single mother character), but its depiction of vulnerability and kindness as positive - yet threatened - aspects of masculinity.
(view spoiler)[This book is certainly the only romance I've ever heard of with a male-on-male rape survivor, and that trauma is tackled with far more finesse here than in the vast majority of romance novels which use the heroine's rape as a short-cut to angst. (hide spoiler)]
Oh! And the kid in this story is refreshingly not-annoying & well-characterized. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I really enjoyed this book. In particular, it deals with class and race issues in ways that are integral to the characters and plot without being forc...moreI really enjoyed this book. In particular, it deals with class and race issues in ways that are integral to the characters and plot without being forced or overdone or whatever the adult-contemporary-romance version of after-school-special is.
Which makes it all the weirder that the cover art seems like maybe it was made by someone who didn't even read an abstract for the book. Because I think it's a lot more likely that the Filipino/African-American hero looked like this.
I agree with another reviewer that this story would have worked better as a full-length book than a novella. The characters and situation ar...more3.5 stars.
I agree with another reviewer that this story would have worked better as a full-length book than a novella. The characters and situation are compelling (and sexy) but this short length wasn't enough for the degree of life alteration that the HEA required.(less)
The weirdest thing about this book is the fact that although it's written in the heroine's first person POV, her character motivation was far more opa...moreThe weirdest thing about this book is the fact that although it's written in the heroine's first person POV, her character motivation was far more opaque and difficult to understand than the hero's.(less)