The contemporary romance genre is not one of my favorites, but if there was more books like Ain't She Sweet then it would be! This was a surprisinglyThe contemporary romance genre is not one of my favorites, but if there was more books like Ain't She Sweet then it would be! This was a surprisingly fast paced and fun romance. I loved the witty dialogue, the sarcastic humor, and the complicated characters. Sugar Beth was a great character and totally unlike any other I've ever encountered. She was strong, tough, and cynical, but not afraid to admit that she had made some mistakes in her younger days! Her relationship with the eccentric English author Colin Byrne was really fun. They made a great couple despite the fact that they had good reason to be bitter enemies.
This book also benefited from having a number of interesting subplots and well drawn secondary characters who all had problems of their own.
This was different and fun. I'll definitely be reading more SEP books in the future.
Audio Note: I spotted a bit of criticism for Kate Fleming's performance on the Audible reviews, but I actually think she did a decent job. I liked her voices for both Sugar Beth and Colin. Most important of all is that she really got the sardonic humor. ...more
I only picked up this anthology to read the Laini Taylor novella, which was as fun as expected, but since it was the festive season I decided to giveI only picked up this anthology to read the Laini Taylor novella, which was as fun as expected, but since it was the festive season I decided to give the rest of the novellas a go. I was pleasantly surprised that the majority proved to be worth the reading. I'm not the biggest fan of contemporary romance, but I was happy with the stories in this one. I was also delighted we got a few fantasy/supernatural novellas thrown into the mix.
After years of being skeptical and hesitant about short stories and anthologies I think I finally might be warming to them!
Overall this was a fun anthology and probably worth a 4 star rating.
Some short thoughts on each novella:
Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
This was a short and sweet tale of simmering romance. The story was told in the form of vignettes from 4 years worth of New Year's Eve parties. We see Mags and Noel grow closer with each passing year. It was a fun story. Both touching and humorous.
Rating: 3.5 stars
The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
Like the previous novella this tale is told over the course of a succession of Christmas nights. It was a fairytale that perfectly mixed fantasy with reality.
Miranda is invited to spend the Christmas holidays with her godmother Elspeth and her family at their estate Honeywell Hall. When she is 11 she meets a mysterious man dressed in outdated clothing standing in the garden during a snow storm. She tries to convince him to come inside, but he refuses. She looks for the man again, but does not find him until she is 15. When it is again snowing. We learn he can only appear on Christmas night and only when it is snowing. Miranda meets him a few more times and finally concedes she has fallen in love with the ethereal stranger!
I quite enjoyed the story. The harsh reality of Miranda's everyday life was balanced out by the magic of her meetings with Fenny.
I've read a few Kelly Link novellas now and have been happy enough with each of them. So much so that I'll probably aim to buy the soon to be released Get in Trouble.
Rating: 4 stars.
26% Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena
This was an enjoyable enough read about two people who connect with each other while trapped for Christmas in a New York apartment building. The romance and the story was fine, but nothing memorable.
Rating: 3 stars.
Polaris Is where You Will Find Me by Jenny Han
This was a strange tale of a girl who was adopted by Santa Claus and raised in the North Pole. It ended up being quite a sad story as the girl was understandably lonely.
Rating: 3 star.
It's A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
This was a sweet tale. It had a good mix of humor and romance, and both lead characters were very likable.
Rating: 3.5 stars.
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
This was one of the shorter novellas in the collection. It was still a fun read. It definitely felt like a Christmas story.
Rating: 3.5 stars.
Krampuslauf by Holly Black
This read like a strange contemporary fairytale, but it was fun and Black definitely has an engaging writing style.
Rating: 4 stars.
What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Foreman
This was not a bad story, but it was not especially memorable either. It told the story of a couple of students who were feeling a bit lonely and isolated at their new university and who found love and acceptance with each other.
Rating: 3 stars.
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire
This was the least entertaining of the novellas in the collection. I think it was largely because I failed to connect with the main character. Despite that it did manage to squeeze in a few heartwarming moments.
Rating: 2.5 stars.
Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
This was my first Kiersten White story, but it will not be my last. I was quite impressed by this novella. It told the story of a girl who felt trapped in her small town, but grew to realize that perhaps it had more to offer than she first suspected. The balance between the dark and heartwarming moments in this story was perfect.
Rating: 4.5 stars.
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
This little novella had an interesting premise and an intriguing mystery. It was full of likable characters and was mostly an enjoyable read. I must admit to being a little disappointed by the way things wrapped up. I felt it could have been done better. On the whole though this was a fun read.
Rating: 3.5 stars.
99% The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was a typical Laini Taylor fantasy story rather than the contemporary set Christmas story I was expecting. Set on the isolated Isle of Feathers it told the story of Neve Ellaquin, a girl who was facing the prospect of poverty or marriage to a cruel suitor. It was quite an emotionally engaging tale. Life was hard for Neve and it was easy to feel sympathy for her plight. She was trapped on the Isle of Feathers and left in a position of loneliness and despair after the death of her only two friends from a fever. Her prayers managed to wake the Dreamer, a mysterious creature native to the island. He was drawn to Neve and joined his own gifts to compete with those of her cruel suitor. It was the custom of the island that marriages only happen on Christmas day and that suitors give potential wives a gift on each day of December.
Like any Laini Taylor story this one was beautifully written in her lyrical storytelling style. Despite Neve's difficult circumstances this story always had an undercurrent of hope. It had a real fairytale feel to it. Which I loved!.
If the story had a problem it was its short length. The ending felt a bit rushed. I really liked Neve as a character and the Dreamer was intriguing, but I would have liked some more interaction between the pair. They did not share a single bit of dialogue.
Rating: 4 stars.
Overall Anthology rating: 4 stars.
Audio Note: Each story was read by a different narrator. I like this approach for anthologies as I think it gives each novella its own distinctive feel. The list of narrators was:
"Midnights," by Rainbow Rowell. Read by Rebecca Lowman. "The Lady and the Fox," by Kelly Link. Read by Fiona Hardingham. "Angels in the Snow," by Matt de la Peña. Read by Henry Leyva. "Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me," by Jenny Han. Read by Kim Mai Guest. "It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown," by Stephanie Perkins. Read by Samantha Quan. "Your Temporary Santa," by David Levithan. Read by Dustin Rubin. "Krampuslauf," by Holly Black. Read by Julia Whelan. "What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Foreman. Read by Abby Craden. "Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus," by Myra McEntire. Read by Lincoln Hoppe. "Welcome to Christmas, CA," by Kiersten White. Read by Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez. "Star of Bethlehem," by Ally Carter. Read by Shannon McManus. "The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer," by Laini Taylor. Read by Ann Marie Lee.
All 12 narrators were pretty good. Julia Whelan was probably the pick of the bunch.
This was a pretty standard Dark-Hunter book. That is not a bad thing. The books are usually light-hearted reads filled with plenty of romance, humor,This was a pretty standard Dark-Hunter book. That is not a bad thing. The books are usually light-hearted reads filled with plenty of romance, humor, and with just enough drama to keep things interesting.
I liked the romance in this one. I was unsure about Wren to begin with, the guy is a bit weird, but enjoyed the way his feelings for Marguerite developed and how they helped bring him out of his shell. I was equally happy with the way Marguerite's feelings for Wren helped to give her the courage to stand up to her father and finally live the life she wanted. The pair made a good couple.
The plot was fast paced and fun. Wren is set up by his uncle to take the blame for his parents death and a meeting of the Omegrion is called to vote on his fate. The vote goes badly for Wren and he is forced to try and clear his name.
We met a few familiar faces from the previous Dark-Hunter books as they popped up to lend a hand to Wren. That is always fun. Amy and Fang featured as secondary characters and both had good showings. I'm looking forward to reading their book. The other stand out secondary character was the mediator of the Omegrion Savatar. I'm eager to learn more about him in future books!
This might not have been one of the very best Dark-Hunter books but it was still a worthwhile and fun read.
Rating: 3.5 stars.
Audio Note: The Dark-Hunter series has a few audio narrators, but Fred Berman is probably my favorite of the bunch. ...more
This was a Beauty and the Beast retelling that had everything you might expect from a traditional Beauty and the Beast tale, but that also had a few iThis was a Beauty and the Beast retelling that had everything you might expect from a traditional Beauty and the Beast tale, but that also had a few interesting twists.
Jeffrey L. Love did a great job of crafting a fairytale world that was easy to imagine. I enjoyed the background stories for both Alexiel and Circelae. It was easy to see why Alexiel turned out as he did and I enjoyed the fact that Alexiel was not just beastly in appearance. He could be quite self centered and selfish at times!. I liked Alexiel's enchanted kingdom and the way his magic and the curse effected things things there. Circelae was very likable. I enjoyed how both characters were slowly changed by their developing feelings for each other.
This was an interesting read that suffered from a few dull spots in the middle phase of the story.
Rating: 3 stars.
Audio Note: This was not narrated particularly well by Dave Bignell. He had a tendency to read this in an overly dramatic fashion. Especially when he was narrating from Alexiel's POV. A better narrator might have boosted my rating a bit.
This was an enjoyable historical romance. The story was not particularly action packed, but it was easygoing and engaging. The characters were believaThis was an enjoyable historical romance. The story was not particularly action packed, but it was easygoing and engaging. The characters were believable and very likable.
Alex Winslow, Earl of Ayersley, has been secretly in love with Roxana Langley, his best friends sister, for years. Unfortunately he is too shy and awkward to make his feelings known to her. She assumes his distant treatment of her is a sign that he dislikes her. She eventually ends up getting engaged to George Wyatt, a dashing military officer, but he is called away to war before they can wed. It is 5 years before he returns. In that time Alex has moved to London and built a name for himself in politics.
Both Wyatt and Alex arrive back in Roxana's life at the same time. George is back from war and Alex has returned to look after his mother who has broken her leg in a fall. When George jilts Roxana shortly before their planned wedding Alex is there to comfort her. Unfortunately they are spotted in an embrace and the locals assume they were carrying on an affair and that is why Roxana and George broke their engagement. Alex agrees to marry Roxana to end the scandal.
Both are very likable characters and they make a good couple. Early on their marriage is not a smooth one as it is fraught with misunderstandings. Alex believes Roxana still loves George and she believes he only married her to protect her reputation because of the scandal. I found the misunderstandings more sweet than annoying. Alex's quiet reserved nature was probably to blame for a lot of them. Still, he was not the typical macho hero and it was impossible not to like him.
I did not love the ending. It had a few out of character moments for Alex, but he did redeem himself well enough.
All in all this was an enjoyable light-hearted romance. I'll be happy to try more of Alyssa Everett's books in the future.
Rating: 4 stars.
Audio Note: This was narrated by the excellent Rosalyn Landor. If there is a narrator better suited to narrating historical romance novels I have yet to encounter them! ...more
Outlander is basically a historical romance, set in 18th century Scotland, with a tad of action, fantasy, and history thrown in for good measure. ThatOutlander is basically a historical romance, set in 18th century Scotland, with a tad of action, fantasy, and history thrown in for good measure. That said, this is definitely one of the better historical romances I have ever read. It's a well written book with a very engaging story. Claire and Jaime were likable characters despite their flaws and their romance was an enjoyable one.
The time travel aspect of the story was a bit underplayed but the few glimpses we did get of the possibilities and ramifications of Claire's journey back in time was quite intriguing.
It did have a few flaws. It was a bit long. The pacing of the story would have benefited greatly if around 10% of the filler had been edited out! That was a minor problem though.
The main thing I disliked about Outlander was some of Jaime's outdated views on how women should be treated. It may have been accurate for the time, 1743 Scotland, but it reminded me why I like my historical romance heroes to have modern sensibilities. Elsewhere, there was a bit too much rape and murder for my liking. Some of the happenings were really quite dark. Luckily that darkness was mitigated by the lighthearted feel of Claire's first person narrative.
Overall I though this was an engaging and enjoyable read.
Rating: 4 stars.
Audio Note: The audiobook was narrated superbly by Davina Porter. She definitely enhanced my enjoyment of Outlander. Her accents were prefect. ...more
I picked this up expecting an easy going fantasy/romance with the main focus on romance, but that is not the case. The balance between the romance andI picked this up expecting an easy going fantasy/romance with the main focus on romance, but that is not the case. The balance between the romance and the fantasy aspects of the story was pretty good. Three separate romances played out in the background of war between three very different countries. The story had plenty of political intrigue, action, romance, and humor, all of which combined to hold my full attention.
The world building was fairly good. The three countries of Kria, Illussor, and Salhara have been warring for as long as anyone can remember, but no country holds a clear enough advantage to break the stalemate. The Krians rely on the might of their armies and the skill of their soldiers, the Salharans rely on a drug that gifts magical abilities, and the Illussor on a mysterious and powerful magic of their own. A few unexpected happenings occur at the start of this book to tip the balance of power. The plot was quite intriguing. I really liked the magic system as it had real consequences as well as the expected benefits for its users.
The characters were very different, but most were likable and the way the interacted with each other was fun.
I was pleased by how much I enjoyed this fun fantasy/romance.
Rating: 4 stars.
Audio Note: Sean Crisden did an acceptable job with the audio. ...more
This was a fun change to the sort of historical romance books I normally read. The hero and heroine were both flawed characters, but despite that theyThis was a fun change to the sort of historical romance books I normally read. The hero and heroine were both flawed characters, but despite that they were both interesting and, mostly, likable. I enjoyed the slow burning romance.
The plot was quite interesting with an injured former highwayman being lured out of retirement to help the heroine seek vengeance against those who wronged her.
I'll be happy to try more Laura Kinsale books in the future.
Overall 3.5 stars.
Audio note: The narrator Nicholas Boulton gave a good performance. I liked his French accent a lot. Boulton sounds suspiciously like Simon Vance!...more
Well since I listened to the audiobook I'll split my review into two parts.
Twenty something Elanora Lodge is smart, feisty heroine who dueWell since I listened to the audiobook I'll split my review into two parts.
Twenty something Elanora Lodge is smart, feisty heroine who due to her stepfathers gambling and untimely death has lost her home and inheritance. She plans to own her own bookstore one day but in order to finance this dream and support herself in the meantime, she has taken up work as a paid companion.
Arthur Lancaster, Earl of St. Merryn is considered as coldly logical and a little eccentric by most. He needs a fake fiancee to shield him from the marriage hunters in society and also to distract attention from himself and free up his time to hunt secretly for the murderer of his great uncle.
Arthur believes Elanora is perfectly suited for the role. He's right and before we know it the sparks are flying between the pair!.
I was expecting quite a sappy romance and was pleasantly surprised by how light hearted and humorous this was. Witty dialog, likable characters and a nice mix of romance and suspense all lead to this being a very enjoyable book.
It was my first Amanda Quick book but it definitely won't be my last.
The book was superbly narrated by Michael Page who's rich cultured English accent was perfectly suited to the story. The characters were portrayed wonderfully, with clearly distinct voices. I've found that male narrators usually have a problem performing convincing female voices but this was not the case with Michael Page who did a great job. ...more
I've always enjoyed reading Judith McNaught's romances, but it's fair to say Tender Triumph is not one of the better ones. In fact it's probably the wI've always enjoyed reading Judith McNaught's romances, but it's fair to say Tender Triumph is not one of the better ones. In fact it's probably the worst.
It was her first published book, published in 1983, and it shows as it's horribly dated. Ramon was to sexist and chauvinistic to be truly likable and Katie's views tread to close to being racist and elitist for my liking. To make matters worse the whole romance happened far too quickly. Who meets a guy and agrees to marry him 48 hours later?. Especially if that means moving country and quitting your job!.
Despite my problems with some aspects of this book there was still some hints of the things I like about McNaught's book. Katie might have been naive and idiotic at times, but she was likable enough for all that and her character did have an interesting backstory.