August 18, 2015

Mini Review: Pairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon

Three words: Russian figure skaters! If that's not enough for you, here are some random thoughts that I hope will convince you.

Cover description: On the top half of the cover a man and a woman in winter gear smile at each other and are about to kiss; on the bottom half of the cover and a pair of figure skater are on the ice. The background is red.
The good:

The leads, Anton and Carrie, are smart, kind people who know what they want and work hard to get it. The hero is sweet and vulnerable; the heroine is self-aware and driven. Despite what the prologue suggests, theirs is a slow-burn romance that’s built on mutual respect and friendship. There are lots of interesting details about figure skating and the sport world, yet they are so well integrated into the plot that they never feel obstructive. I don’t know if the author has ever been to Russia (I haven’t, so I’m not a good judge of authenticity) but the story is incredibly atmospheric and evocative. Last but not least, the first half of the book is filled with amazing tension which makes for an emotional and gripping read.

The bad:

This book has an “other woman” and she only functions in one mode: mean. The hero is in a relationship with her for a huge chunk of the book. He doesn’t cheat on her with the heroine, but he’s obviously conflicted on account of her being so damn evil! There’s some mild effort put into justifying her actions, but frankly, those efforts were about making him look good rather than adding nuance to her character.

August 13, 2015

Friendship and Intimacy in Molly O’Keefe’s Tempted

Cover description: A man and a woman dance while backlit so we only see their shapes, and they're placed against a mountain background.This book is good! I don’t know why I’m so surprised since everything Molly O’Keefe writes is magic, but I don’t like westerns, so I didn’t expect to love this one so much or, to be honest, to even read it. But I bought it on release day to support a favorite author, took a look at the first page, and didn’t put it down until I finished it.

Here’s the blurb so I don’t have to describe the plot:

Denver, 1869  
Annie Denoe has fought hard for her independence. She has a new life and new freedom as the assistant to a doctor, and though she risks both propriety and her safety, she is determined to be happy in a life on her own.  
Steven Baywood is trying to rebuild his shattered life, even though the ghosts of his harrowing stay in Andersonville prison still haunt him. He craves Annie and her quiet strength, but he can't give her the love she deserves. When a tragedy changes everything for Annie, can Steven find peace with his past in order to give Annie a future?

August 12, 2015

DNF Review: Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

Cover description: a brunette, thin woman wearing a a little black dress, partially covers her face with a bouquet.I really liked all three Travis books, but I was never invested in a potential Joe story, because I always got the impression that Ms. Kleypas had no interest in writing it. That didn’t stop me from being really excited when the new book was announced, however. In fact, I was so excited that I was honestly taken by surprise by how half-assed and under-baked this book felt and by how poorly it fits a series that was filled with larger-than-life characters and delicious angst.

Avery, our heroine, is very good at her job as a wedding planner, but emotionally scarred by an irresponsible, philandering father and a failed relationship with her ex. At a wedding where she’s busy doing her job, she meets hunky, yet tender Joe Travis. He pesters her throughout until they have what she believes (and wishes) to be a one-night stand. But Joe, whose main character trait is knowing best, decides that he wants her and proceeds to spend half the book relentlessly and inexplicably pursuing her. She gives in, he introduces her to his family, she’s super insecure so there are a lot of mixed signals indecision on her part, and… I didn’t read the last 15% of the book, but I bet something external happens to make her realize that what she really wants and needs is Joe. I know this because the previous book had a romantic conflict that resolved itself by a shoehorned external circumstance instead of actual communication, so why expect something different here? Also, the event that forces Avery’s hand is set up early on in the book.

August 11, 2015


I put an exclamation mark there to convey a cheerful mood so it doesn’t look like I’m closing up shop, but I am making a couple of changes to the blog, the first one being that I’m back, kind of. But I don’t want to deal with the pressure of writing the more traditional reviews, so I’ll be posting more round-up posts and reviews that don’t follow such a structured format. Or maybe it will all remain the same. All I know is that I really want to blog again, but I didn’t want to just post a random, surprise review tomorrow after months of silence, so hence this mini-post to give you the heads-up that I am, in fact, back. Kind of.

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FTC Disclaimer

The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.