My Passion's Pen

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Archive for the tag “romance”

Review: Taste of Lacey

Taste of Lacey
Taste of Lacey by Linden Hughes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book surprised me. After a slow start, “Taste of Lacey” unfolded into a smartly written and realistic dramatic romance. I’d recently read some very cliched books which were driving me toward giving up on the IR sub-genre altogether, but “Taste of Lacey” has somewhat renewed my faith.

First off — I’ve never been much of a romance reader until recently. I always thought heaving bosoms, throbbing members, and ripped bodices were laughable. If I had known stories were written like this — about real people in real situations — then I would have been reading a long, long time ago.

“Taste of Lacey” almost turned me off, though. The book starts with Lacey rightfully being proud of herself after a successful event run by her company, but then she’s making arrangements with her lifelong neighbor for a stress-relieving tryst. Now, I understand that Ryder McKay is her brother’s best friend and therefore would answer the call to support Lacey’s big day. I also understand that they’d have no problems being in close quarters because they’ve grown up together. I even understand that they both may have succumbed to the energy of the moment. What turned me off was that insta-heat “fit like a train to a track” stuff. Perhaps what bothered me most was how coarse the language got when Rye and Lacey got close. Not just in dialogue, but in the narration.

I feel it set a false precedence.

Sure, this book has tons of fire between Rye and Lacey, but this isn’t an endless smut-fest. There’s a real story here (and a lot of smut).

I had read on some discussion boards about what IR readers don’t like. One of them was the constant reference to the differing races/cultures. The story’s subtext is built upon that — how very different Lacey and Rye are on the outside but so alike on the inside. I was worried that it would be redundant to read about how fascinated Ryder was with Lacey’s skin, but it was kind of cute.

The standout in this book is Ryder. His interaction with his family and others is engaging and very real. His thoughts about Lacey are authentic. Sure, he is ruled by his gender, but he is well aware that his addiction to Lacey goes beyond physical. I kept waiting for some confession that he’d been intrigued by her since they were kids. That being with her was a wish fulfilled. I even expected Lacey’s father to say something like that–reveal some childhood declaration Ryder had made and forgotten about that was finally coming true. But those cute but cliched moments never came. However, I would have liked to actually hear from Lacey’s father and not a third or fourth person relaying the message.

There were times where I thought Lacey was being a bit ridiculous with her wildly vacillating emotions, but this was the first time in forever that she truly felt something for someone, and she doesn’t have the first clue on how to manage these feelings in her highly controlled life. There’s a scene where she rips her dress to shreds that left me scratching my head.

I appreciate that the author didn’t gloss over their races. I’m glad Lacey was aware that not everyone was accepting of their relationship simply because of their skin colors, even though she tried to use that as an excuse to not pursue her feelings. I also liked that the opposition was coming from her mother and brother and not bigoted strangers.

The dialogue was sparse early on — they were in the bed during most of the first third of the book… I would have liked for more diverse interaction, but they both are creatures of habit, so Ryder and Lacey quickly fell into a routine.

With the introduction of the supporting cast, it still took a while for interactions to feel real. Lacey’s cousin and business partner are terrific, but it wasn’t until nearly the end of the book where I felt Lacey’s dialogue loosened up with Monica and felt like real best friends who happened to be related. I’d like to think that Lacey was just that uptight over Ryder that she doesn’t relax in any aspect of her life until she and Ryder declare themselves official…but it doesn’t read that way.

The rest of the players leave a lasting impression, unfortunately, I never really cared all that much for Lacey. I would have given the book another star if Lacey had more growth.

I would love for some of the subplots introduced in this book to be expanded upon but not resolved, particularly Monica and Lisa. I bet Lisa’s got her own secret lover.

“Taste of Lacey” is a solid read. It’s enjoyable from nearly start to finish. I had a tough time getting into it, but after chapter 1, things flowed smoothly for an engaging read.

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Review: Girl With a Pearl Earring

Girl With a Pearl Earring
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this audio book years ago, and the feelings this story evoked have stuck with me all these years. I knew nothing about writing then…I was schlepping my way through life and the cover struck me, so I borrowed it from the library. I sat in my car long after my commute to hear more about Vermeer and Griet.

I may revisit this title one of these days and see if I have the same response.

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Review: Fangirl

Fangirl
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has been out for a while, so I’ll save you all the recap of the story. Instead, I’ll share what I liked, what I didn’t like, etc.

Likes:
-Tight 3rd person POV.
-A refreshing spin on a common theme (coming of age).
-Excellent use of secondary character arcs and subtext. I’d love to read a more about Art (Cath and Wren’s dad).
-Unique structure intertwines Cath’s fanfiction, fiction, and real life. At first I thought I could skip the parts that showcased the other stories because I’m not a Harry Potter fan, but they seemed to build off one another. I marvelled at what I envisioned Rowell’s writing process–actually writing several books at once with the same theme and struggles but set in different realms of space and time.
-Realistic portrayal of first relationships and new loves. Cath is a creature of habit and feels safest in a routine, but the whole of college and being separated from her twin sister could send her into a tizzy. Instead, she clings to her constant–Simon Snow fanfiction. Conversely, it is Wren who falls apart, becoming the poster child for teens behaving badly.
-Untraditional love interests. I figured out early on that Nick was the antagonist, just like I knew it was Hans from his very first lines in “Frozen.” Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I’m definitely NOT a romantic. I knew from the beginning that Levi was into Cath and that he and Reagan weren’t truly dating. The complexity and depth of their relationship was a bit of a surprise. I never really believed Reagan was the mega bitch she pretended to be. I liked her from the start.
-Rowell writes in a way that draws you in and makes you not want to leave.

Dislikes:
-Too tight of a POV. There is very little time spent with other interesting characters. I am unfamiliar with depression, anxiety, and mood disorders, so when it is revealed that Art lives with these issues (Cath acknowledges her own struggles but Wren doesn’t) and how the girls have coped, I was deeply intrigued. Then to learn not that their mother passed away as I initially suspected, but that she left them when they were old enough to remember the good and bad of her, I was so angry for Art, Cath, and Wren. I wanted to follow that arc and not go into Cath falling for Levi. Their family dynamic was much more interesting to me.
-The use of the other stories was confusing for a little while, particularly once they became so tightly bound. **I usually turn on my phone’s screen reader to listen to books during my commute, so if there were any physical markers other than asterisks, my reader didn’t pick them up.** After a while, I didn’t see how Cath’s story could exist without the others.
-The ending. I see a trend with Rowell, and I’m not sure I like it. Her endings don’t fade, they are like a cymbal crash of a bombastic march, and then it’s over. As with “Eleanor & Park,” I was left wanting but not entirely unfulfilled, which is not unlike Gillian Flynn’s ending which fade as if transitioning to another movement, so the audience doesn’t know to applaud or not. What we’ve just experienced was brilliant, but is there more?

I liked this book for it’s refreshing take on life. It exposed me to a realm I’m unfamiliar with, offering a bit of an escape and opportunity to explore new worlds. I totally want to read some Simon Snow (but not Harry Potter). “Fangirl” feels much more deliberately YA than “Eleanor & Park,” perhaps it’s because the latter reflects my generation, and therefore more relatable.

What I liked best is that Cath is incredibly unsure of everything except a couple of points: Simon Snow and her family. She fiercely fights, in her own way, to hold on to her truths and not lose herself. It seems detrimental at first, but Cath is so much tougher than what she seems.

“Fangirl” is definitely worth recommending, particularly for those who are embarking on major life changes. Stay true to yourself.

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Review: Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty
Natural Beauty by Leslie DuBois
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What do I think… ?

First: I LOVE the cover art. It reminds me of something my dad used to have hanging on the wall back in the 70s. Truly is beautiful.

Second: I truly enjoyed the theme of the book — a young woman is forced to make a HUGE change in her life and journals it through her hair. I’m not sure how many of us are consciously aware of what we do to ourselves and how it correlates to the state of our heart. Mahogany Brown’s journey from rocking weaves to afro puffs was emotional (I’ve been transitioning for a few years and have yet to do a Big Chop despite a strong desire to). Although the moment of the BC wasn’t a surprise, and the appearance of the sagely, bohemian sister-in-law a bit trope (I have one of those, too), I found these women 100% relatable.

Third: Mahogany’s romantic situation was believable. I can see how she was with Vinny. How they managed to stay in a relationship as long as they had. It actually kind of made me scared for my daughter who is a college freshman (not that I’m trying to marry her off); I don’t want her to be with someone by default to look up in ten years and realize the truth about them. That’s what happened to Mahogany (ugh. That name grated on me until she explained the reasoning behind it towards the end of the book).

Fourth: This is what didn’t earn the book more stars for me. Trent. Mahogany goes through this huge break up, and rightfully, she’s worried about her cubicle-mate who has the reputation of being a bit of an a-hole. Maybe I nodded off or something, but aside from her internal narration about her struggle to keep it together in front of Trent, I felt nothing pass between them. Sure, he was aloof, but the whole tension between them felt forced. I understand it was the result of a misunderstanding, but it needed a little more finessing. When Trent’s actions reveal his feelings to the reader (a little too quickly, IMO), he’s more of a sad sack than hardened man.

Yes, Mahogany lets her defenses down with Trent a little bit, then he’s all in love, but she’s hung up on Vinny. And then Vinny’s sister shows up. Then Vinny shows up beating on his chest. Yeah… I could live without love triangles.

I wish there was more time getting to know Trent. He’s not a major player in the book–her hair is. The haircare tips are cool. I want to try some of the styles suggested, but I wanted a little more connection with Trent. His family was great, but all of that was so rushed. That’s saying something for me, the non-romantic romance reader.

Perhaps my issues with the book lie in that it is a first person POV and I prefer third. Trent is an interesting character. Mahogany is too, but out of them all, I’d rather spend more time with Trent and the sister-in-law.

Fifth: The author sets scenes nicely. There was minimal time wasted on clothing details, although I rolled my eyes at some brand name dropping. Ms. DuBois did an excellent job painting a clear picture of the people and places in Mahogany’s life.

All-in-all: I liked the book. It isn’t a bad use of time or three bucks. It is cleanly written with minimal grammatical errors. Above all, it’s a cute, fun read, but I only ‘liked it.’ I really wanted to ‘love it.’

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Book Blast: Brown Girls Publishing

I haven’t read any of these titles, but I always want to show love and encouragement to others. Some of these look like good reads. My TBR list just got longer.

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Genre: Fiction
About The Books

Revenge, Inc.

Revenge-Inc-book-cover-9
This gripping page-turner from author Keleigh Crigler Hadley shows that all it takes is one bad decision for everything to change. Cherise Holder’s hell on earth begins on her 26th birthday. Unable to cope with a heart shattering loss, she gives in to a familiar addiction. Forced to attend AA meetings, Cherise befriends fellow alcoholics; Stuart, a disgraced banker, Greyson, a bitter cheerleader and Araceli, a broken teenager with an infamous parent.

An opportunity arises, and the foursome decides to work together to correct past wrongs in each of their lives. Their ingenious plan to get revenge works – too well and this is only the beginning. They find the electrifying high of revenge, more addictive than anything they’ve ever experienced. Cherise assumes that revenge will put out the fire in her heart, but she finds that it just makes her rage burn…

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10 Tips for Getting Published as a Romance Writer | Guilty Pleasures | POV | PBS

I admit I’m not very good with Twitter. There is so much content…almost too much content…that I can’t keep up.

Out of the deluge information, this simple beauty of a post caught my eye.

If you fancy yourself a writer, and have plans to publish (traditional, indie, or hybrid) then these tips may be useful.

10 Tips for Getting Published as a Romance Writer | Guilty Pleasures | POV | PBS.

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