Most Immature Lizzy Bennet Ever: The Season by Jonah Lisa Deyer and Stephen Deyer

She can score a goal, do sixty box jumps in a row, bench press a hundred and fifty pounds…but can she learn to curtsey?

Megan McKnight is a soccer star with Olympic dreams, but she’s not a girly girl. So when her Southern belle mother secretly enters her in the 2016 Dallas debutante season, she’s furious—and has no idea what she’s in for. When Megan’s attitude gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, she’s got a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family. The perk of being a debutante, of course, is going to parties, and it’s at one of these lavish affairs where Megan gets swept off her feet by the debonair and down-to-earth Hank Waterhouse. If only she didn’t have to contend with a backstabbing blonde and her handsome but surly billionaire boyfriend, Megan thinks, being a deb might not be so bad after all. But that’s before she humiliates herself in front of a room full of ten-year-olds, becomes embroiled in a media-frenzy scandal, and gets punched in the face by another girl.

The season has officially begun…but the drama is just getting started.

Source: GoodReads

This book is  privileged wrapped up in 300 pages.  Yes, I know tons of YA books feature the upper 1%.  Okay, a good 90% of YA novels do, but at least most of them don’t try to act like they have financial difficulty and then the next page by a pair of shoes that equate to about five month’s of rent that I pay for my cruddy apartment.

Maybe it wouldn’t have stung so much if I wasn’t so familiar with the places that the MC shopped with and the school she attended.  Although, I’m from Houston, I’ve spent a lot of time in Dallas.  I have relatives that live there, my sister would frequently take music lessons at SMU, and I had a cousin who went go college at SMU (via scholarship)  for a couple of years.  So the places that the characters went I sort of knew and when she acted like they were places average Americans went to I was like.

No.

Big fat no.

And let me say, this twit must’ve had some money to get into SMU because I don’t see how she would be smart or talented enough to get in there.  It’s a hard school to get into, but at the same time there are some really rich people attend there and that’s what Megan had to be rich because she is TSTL and then some.

When her age was revealed to be twenty I almost had a coronary.  She did not read like she was twenty to me, at best she read like a very young fifteen year old which made the hook ups with guys in their later twenties-there were lawyers, business executives, etc. that they tried to push these debs off on ever the more creepy.

She kept whining at her mom about how she didnt’ want to be a deb, and I kept thinking in my head-you’re fucking twenty-years-old you don’t have to do what your momma says.

Megan seemed to forget this though and complained about how she had to wear pink (gasps) then talk all about her eating schedule-she has to eat all the time you know, since she plays sports.

The blurb states that the book is a Pride and Prejudice retelling, but honestly it’s one of those Pride and Prejudice materials that only watched the movie.  You know, gets the bare minimum of the story forgetting that hey the book isn’t just about the Darcy and Elizabeth relationship.

Which by the way was a total bore in this book.   Also, they ditched the whole Lydia character.  And there’s this awkward scene where the MC shops for condoms and discusses whether or not she should’ve gotten grape or bubblegum flavor rubbers.

It’s sad because this one had the potential to be a very cute book.  Like I said Dallas is an interesting area to explore, and while they got pockets of it correct I felt like they left out large segments of the culture.  If the characters really were financially struggling-which they’re not-they shouldn’t be spending money on shoes and lavish parties.  Have them be a deb on a budget, there would’ve been conflict there and issues of class-which hey, were actually a part of the Pride and Prejudice story.

As it stands though.

The book went straight in the storage bin.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a D.  It was easy enough to read and could’ve been worse, but I really wanted to deck Megan.

Romance-cation: The WORST Book I Ever Read

Philip Hawksbury, the Earl of Rothermere, obeying his father’s dying wish, hies himself to Scotland to offer for one of the daughters of Alexander Kilbracken, the Earl of Ruthven.

Frances Kilbracken, informed of the earl’s arrival and his mission, disguises herself as a bespectacled dowd so she won’t be the one selected by the young earl. But choose her he does, and for all the wrong reasons.

The newly married couple return to England, together but not at all happy. Philip dumps Frances at Desborough Hall, his ancestral estate, and heads back to his old life in London. Ah, but Desborough has a stud farm and racing stable, and Frances is magic with horses.

When the earl returns to his home, driven by guilt, he discovers the woman he married has grossly deceived him. What follows is a battle of the sexes that will have you chuckling, maybe even howling with laughter…

Source: GoodReads

This is probably the worst romance novel I ever read.  Or at least the most memorably bad one.  It was originally published in 1981 which explains some of this horribleness since the book is full of the things that the 70’s and 80’s era of romance novels are full of-women being subjected to horrible abuse and alpha douche heros.

I really don’t like calling them heros.  In fact, I’m going to be referring to the so called hero (Phillip) as a rapist because that is fucking what he is. A fucking rapist and abuser.

While I discuss what’s wrong with this book-fucking everything-I am going to occasionally mention some changes that should’ve been made to it.

Before I do that though, I’ll talk about how I originally found this turd of a book.  It was in my mom’s stash of goodies.  It’s funny that my mom actually bought this sort of shit.  She’s a tough cookie and has always been one to tell me to tell a  misogynist idiot to fuck off.  And trust me, there are a lot of misogynist jerks out there, one is even running for president.  Anyway, to get back on topic this book is a lot of misogyny and then some.  I haven’t talked to her about it, because when I first read it I wasn’t supposed to be reading it being her impressionable teenage daughter.  Now, I doubt she’d even realize what book I was referring to since her reading these days tends to focus on gardening books and books about Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

Problem 1: Frances

I felt sympathy for the main character throughout the book but that doesn’t mean I like her.  For one thing her plan dressing like a complete frump is completely stupid and sort of pointless, especially since she is playing Peeping Tom on her husband.  And as fearless and tenacious as this MC is described, it shocks me that she did not even attempt to fight back or runaway.

You know what I would’ve liked well I’m going to tell you I wanted Coulter to fucking write that Frances leaves the Rapist.  Why can’t there be one of these fucking books where the heroine leaves an abusive relationship?  Is it too much to ask?  Again, I know this book is in the 80’s, but still.  Frances didn’t deserve to be with the Rapist even though she was completely stupid and sort of creepy herself.

Problem 2: The Rapist

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

Fuck off.

I could just repeat that phrase and it would not be near enough times how many times I wanted to tell the Rapist (Phillip/Hawk) this.  Frances is plain creepy, but Phillip is just disgusting and needs to be castrated.

He feels like he has every right to have sex with Frances anytime he wants.  He doesn’t give a crap what she feels.  He justifies the fact that he is forcing her to have sex with him because he uses cream so that it won’t be too rough on her-spoiler alert, we’re subjected to one scene where he forgets to use said cream and the results end up being disgustingly graphic.

Long story short, cream or no cream-and I feel mildly disgusting saying that-rape is rape.  It’s sad  when the only remotely decent love scene is with his fucking mistress.

Yes, he has a fucking mistress AFTER he married the heroine and she gives him love advice.

Oh, fuck me.

See anytime I start talking about this fucking rapist, my vocabulary converts into Gordon Ramsay vocabulary since the only word I want to say is FUCK after reading this drivel.

If I was Coulter I would’ve killed the Rapist off when he was having sex with his mistress perhaps he gets shot by the mistress herself or maybe by one of her lovers,  or I’d have  Frances’s father wake up to what sort of scum he sold his daughter off too for all that money and realizes-hey, I fucked up.  Someone though need to shut that mother fucking rapist up.

Again, fuck this guy.  Coulter, you can do better.

Problem 3: The Plot

It was just fucking stupid.

So, Frances disguises herself as a frump so that the Rapist will ignore her.  Obviously, it doesn’t work but their not married right then and there.  Why doesn’t she show her real self there?  Would’ve taken care of the fucking problem.  Or run the fuck away.

Again, this character has no fucking sense of self preservation.  This problem stays throughout the rest of the novel where Frances had opportunities to get away from the rapist and doesn’t do anything.  Yes, she ditches the frump look but she sits there waiting for the Rapist to come back rather than stealing one of his horses and running off.  Again, this could’ve been great if she would’ve escaped and found a non-jerky guy and then wanted to marry him but couldn’t because of the Rapist.

God.

And the whole thing why they get married….because of the Rapist’s near dead daddy who ends up being the picture of health and faking the whole thing to get the Rapist married.

??????????

I get that medicine was sort of piss poor back then, but surely you’d realize that someone who is the picture of health isn’t exactly on his death bed.

Le sigh.

And the fact that the marquess acts like he pulled a prank on his rapist’s son and that he should be happy that he married a girl he didn’t even wants makes the book even more painful to read.

By the way, the book is pitched as a comedy.  It’s not.  Honestly, I only think sadists share Coulter’s humor but I’m digressing…

Back to the plot, so we have two idiots who didn’t want to get married-one who should’ve had some sense of self preservation and the other who should’ve gotten shot, hang, quartered, or something awful should’ve happened to him are sort of thrown together.  The Rapist leaves for a bit, but like I said got some advice from his mistress and decides that maybe if he takes all of Frances’s clothes off when he rapes  puts cream (and no, I’m not going to make a joke about the cream, but let’s just say I got some nasty imagery my head) and promptly forces breeds with her (and yes, the word breed is used frequently)  she’ll look hot.

But Gosh darn it, she looks hot with clothes on since she ditched those nasty glasses and ugly cap and gown.  Oh, yeah, and now she apparently has a rack on her that he didn’t notice.

He of courses gets mad that she kept her so called hotness from him and promptly rapes her again, but somehow Frances is eventually turned on by all this crap and there’s some weird shit with the horses where the audience has to painfully read about and then I think there’s a random bad guy at the end.

Honestly, by the fourth or fifth rape, I just started to tune out when I reread the thing so that I could write about the worst romance novel I ever read I only made it to the 60% mark before all the weird horse sex started.

It’s not a very well put together book, folks.

Overall Rating: Fucking F.  Thank God, rapists heroes aren’t an in thing anymore.  And God knows they never fucking should’ve been.  This book is disgusting.  One day I am going to have an honest discussion with my mom about this.  I hope she was as disgusted with it as I was.  I know that a lot of people-myself included-like reading Coulter occasionally for camp but this title and some of her older titles make my skin crawl.

Romance-cation: Some More Kleypas and Cabot

This is the last mini review I’m going to do for awhile.   As much as it pains me, I am going to start reading some YA again. Okay, it doesn’t exactly pain me, but I have been enjoying the change in reading and I am thinking about maybe widening the focus on this blog.

I know I’m going to continue reading HR at the very least I even purchased the Kindle edition of a very embarrassing book of my mother’s that I read. But that’s another reading experience for another day. Rather, this series of mini reviews is going to focus on several Kleypas standalones I read—well, two of them are parts of duologies but I didn’t realize it until after I finished—and a Patricia Cabot novel that I revisited (for those who don’t know Patricia Cabot is a pseudonym for Queen Meg Cabot).

 

 

Lord Lucas Stokehurst is captivated by the gentle grace and regal beauty of “Miss Karen Billings”, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere and now stands demurely before him. Enchanted, the gallant, haunted widower impetuously offers her a position as governess to his young daughter, taking the lady of mystery into his home.

But “Miss Billings” has another name, Anastasia, and a dark past that pursues her still. Condemned for a crime she cannot remember, she barely escaped the gallows. And now she seeks shelter in the arms of a man devastated by tragedy, a man who must now defy society and the forces of vengeance to keep his lady safe and their bold new love alive. 

Source: GoodReads 

Oh, man this one was a trip. After reading Kleypas latest books I was sort of surprised it was by her. There is so much about this book that is cliché romance. But it’s not terrible.   I mean, I didn’t hate it and I enjoyed it in that way you occasionally need a piece of 50,000 calorie cheesecake even though you know it’s not good for you.
Basically, the story is like if the Anastasia movie (not the teal because the princess and the entire royal family died and there was no magic and singing bats and Dmitri) had a baby with Jane Eyre.

Yeah, sounds ridiculous.

It totally is.

The MC I’m just warning you know is a complete Mary Sue, and the hero is one of the dullest in Kleypas repertoire even though he seems interesting—he has the one hand Hook thing going on for him. In fact, I imagined Hook from Once Upon a Time when Lucas was described so at least it was some nice mind candy.

The book was published in the mid 90’s so I’ll sort of give it a break there since flawed heroines really weren’t a big thing then. Hell, they’re not even they’re not even a big today which sort of sucks. But comparatively to Kleypas other heroines, Tasisa has little to no personality.   And even though this character finds herself in a horrible situation, I really couldn’t feel for her.

It’s odd both of these characters should have compelling back-stories, but they’re really dull as dishwater soap. The villain is mechanically evil, and when I found out that he got his own spinoff book they made my rage for St. Vincent seem miniscule. Though, to be honest, I may look at it when I have enough distance between myself in this book.

When I think of Midnight Angel I’m a little disappointed for it’s set up it is a bit of a downer, but it had some nice tropes going for it.

Overall Rating: B-

 

“I don’t care about your conscience. All I want is for you to kiss me again.”

Lady Madeline Matthews would rather shame herself than sacrifice her freedom—which is why, to avoid a marriage to an aging, lecherous lord, she seeks out the company of Logan Scott. A torrid affair with the notorious womanizer would surely condemn her in the eyes of good society.

Though a legend in the bedchamber, Logan is, in truth, an intensely private man tormented by past betrayals. Now a forward little minx is disrupting his life with her vibrant charm and unspoiled beauty, a high-spirited enchantress completely at sea in London’s sophisticated whirl. But when what begins with a kiss threatens to blossom into something more rapturous and real, will Logan and Madeline have the courage to drop the masks they hide behind in the name of love? 

Source: GoodReads

 This  book  also belongs to a duology. I actually have the first book in my cache of romance novels somewhere, but I haven’t found interest into reading it yet.

Like Midnight Angel, this one doesn’t live up to its premises. I was expecting Maddie to do something more than just standing by and playing nursemaid to seduce Logan. In all, she was a Sue who we were made to feel sorry for even though she really wasn’t that sympathetic of a character.

To be fair, Logan acted like a complete dick after finding out he knocked her up; but he was sort of used so I got why he was a little disdainful.

Still though, horrible.

I guess my problem with this one is that this was just a couple I couldn’t root for and the back story and plot just seemed a little phoned in.

Of course, the hero has a somewhat tragic back story with an interesting legacy. Of course, the heroine’s fiancé is a leach. I just—no.

It’s not what I expected with a Kleypas story.

The thing is though, it’s an average romance story. Any other author I’d be like—okay. But as far as Lisa Kleypas standards go, I’d skip this one.

Overall Rating: C+

 

 

Bestselling author Lisa Kleypas creates a beguiling story, set in a world where appearance means everything, passion simmers just below the surface, and a respectable Englishwoman is willing to risk scandal for one night of love.

She was unmarried, untouched and almost thirty, but novelist Amanda Briars wasn’t about to greet her next birthday without making love to a man. When he appeared at her door, she believed he was her gift to herself, hired for one night of passion. Unforgettably handsome, irresistibly virile, he tempted her in ways she never thought possible, but something stopped him from completely fulfilling her dream.

Jack Devlin’s determination to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a nobleman and London’s most notorious businessman, refused to live by society’s rules. Yet when fate conspired for them to marry, their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected. . . but both soon craved.

Source: GoodReads

I actually liked Suddenly You even though it was a little cliché.

Amanda is your typical beautiful spinster who is, of course, ravished after meeting the right guy.

Her relationship with Jack starts out pretty intensely since she thinks he’s a male hooker (and of course he’s not he’s really a rich publisher). To be honest, a part of me sort of thinks that this one could’ve been more interesting if Jack really was a gigolo. I mean a Pretty Woman tale with a gender bending angle could be interesting.

But those sorts of things never happen in romance-land. I’m okay though, mainly because I liked the chemistry these two characters had.  It was delightful, and because of the earlier Pretty Woman innuendos, I kept thinking of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in the leading roles.

Jack’s backstory was a little on the cliché side as well. Often when there’s these dark hero backstories—especially with Kleypas. The facts of what happened are merely thrown out for the reader and are more biographical, than anything else. Yes, I heard about the terrible things that happened to Jack but I didn’t feel them and feel the angst like I would’ve say in a Judith McNaught novel.

It didn’t make the book that weak though, again I enjoyed it. There were parts of it that were a bit of a downer though. Something happens in the last twenty pages of the book that I really felt was unnecessary, especially since it didn’t really add much to the plot. If you were going to use such a plot device have it effect your characters more. At least that’s what I think, some people might be glad that Kleypas didn’t dwell on it that much.

In all, Suddenly You is a fun romp but it does not hit the same caliber as the Wallflower or Hathway series.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

A stormy heart

Adventurous, outspoken, Payton Dixon has two passionate dreams…a clipper ship of her own and the love of Captain Connor Drake. But both seem impossibly out of reach, since her beloved captain is about to marry another, and worse, he’s been given her ship as a wedding present from her traitorous father.

A thwarted love

Out to prove she has right on her side, Payton manages to unleash a scandal and ignite all sorts of trouble. As for Drake, he can’t decide whether to throttle the girl he’s grown up with, or make love to the beautiful woman she has become.

An Improper Proposal 

Source: GoodReads

 

I read this one about ten years ago, give or take a few years. I liked it okay then, and thought it would be a fun to revisit.

I was wrong. If there is anything “good” about this book it is how much Cabot has grown as a writer since it’s publication.   If you read a lot of Meg Cabot books—which is who Patricia Cabot is—you’ll know that she’s prone to using certain tropes (feisty unconventional heroines, long descriptions about how tight the hero’s breeches (or jeans in a contemporary) are, hints of feminism, that sort of stuff). The thing is her use of tropes has improved as her writing improved.

To be honest, upon reread I sort of hated Payton. She seemed she was twelve rather than nineteen and after reading a plethora of other historical romances I know that if she acted the way she did in any other book she’d be walloped and then some.

It just seemed so weird to me that conventions of the period weren’t followed here. Yes, I get that Payton grew up around men, but there was such a disregard to what the woman’s role in society was back then that I just kept shaking my head and wanting to tell her to just shut up.

The hero appears to be a drip for the better part of 200 pages of the 300 some odd pages, since Cabot makes it appear that he’s a total drip before pulling a twist that Conner is really noble. Any other book there would be a more desirable suitor that would’ve kicked Conner’s ass. Instead, we just had to watch Payton be poorly treated by him and then have it scrubbed for nobility purposes.

And don’t even get me started on Connor’s fiancée or whatever she was to him. That whole plotline fell flat and I didn’t get why Payton even decided to help her out in the end when she treated her as if she was some sort of hussy or the better part of the book.

In addition to character issues, the book is just oddly paced. It drags really for the first half and then things just randomly happen. There’s a lot of stuff that works, but at the same time there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t.

I think if you’re truly a Cabot fan you might want to check this out, but it’s going to be a little bit of a disappointment. It’s nowhere near her best and while there are some things that are interesting about it, her writing has since been polished and refined to where this book comes off looking very poor.

Overall Rating: A C.

Romance-cation: My Favorite Book of ALL Time

Corporate raider Matthew Farrell had come a long way from the poor, scruffy kid of Indiana’s steel mills. A long way from the country club where, feeling like an outsider, he had dared to fall in love with a beautiful blonde named Meredith Bancroft, and known a once-in-a-lifetime passion and betrayal that sill haunted his memory… Now world leaders courted him, the media watched his every move, and he was ready to move in on the Bancroft empire.

A cool, poised executive in her family’s legendary department store chain, Meredith had once defied her father for the sexually magnetic, intense Matt Farrell — and their brief, ill=fated marriage was the disastrous outcome. Now, as the Bancroft firm is threatened by a hostile takeover, Meredith is forced to confront Matt. As tensions build between them, bittersweet memories rise to the surface, leaving them suspicious, restless, and uncertain. Will they be able to believe in each other — and grasp the tender miracle that is before them?

Source: GoodReads

This is probably my favorite romance novel of all time, though it’s companion sequel-Perfect-is a close second.  This book contains a lot of my favorite tropes and is the king of angst.

It’s over 700 pages so McNaught has plenty of time to torture her characters, and torture is what she does to them here.

I have read Paradise maybe a couple of times in the past twelve or so years that I have known about it.  This is the first time I’ve read it in several years though, and it has surprisingly held up well.  While I do think the fat book could’ve been cut down a little bit-because no one really likes reading about mergers and acquisitions it is still a good book.

And after going to law school, I am able to pick up on thins that sixteen-year-old me didn’t understand.

Yay me!

The characters are pretty well formed.  Initially it might seem like Meredith is a bit of a Mary Sue, she is described as a Grace Kelly look alike BUT McNaught fully forms her with flashbacks starting from the time she’s 14 to when she turns 30.

Matt Farrell is drool worthy and not a complete ass, which is a problem that a lot of McNaught’s men have.  Yes, he does have jerkiness moments, but as far as moments of asshole-ness go his asshole-ness has motivations.  And in the end–sigh.

The one character that I had issues with upon reread was the father character.  God, did I hate this SOB.  I really don’t understand why McNaught gave him as happy as an ending as he got, he needed his ass kicked and then some.   But instead he is basically given a slap on the wrist.  After causing eleven years of angst for our leads, you’d really think McNaught would allow us readers to have moment of sweet vengeance.

But no.

It amazes me how always quick of a read this one is.   Like I said, over 700 pages but I can usually finish it within a day or so-this time it took me three days but I was doing work, chores, and errands during all of it.

There are parts of the book that do feel a little dated.  It was written in the early 1990’s after all.  Many of the fashions, decorations, etc. described as being extremely modern by McNaught are now fairly garish.  But still…

This book is worth it’s weight in paper.  It always will be a favorite of mine, though the flaws are more apparent.  Paradise still holds well and will always be the bar I set for reconciliation stories.

Overall Rating: A freakng plus.

Romance-cation Part II: A Whole Lot of Hathaways

Another week of Kleypas binging.  Yay!  Yeah, yeah, I know as a book blogger I’m supposed to be responsible and fair to all authors break up my reading accordingly and I do have a bunch of YA books I need to get too.  But God, I really needed a break from YA and I forgot how fun historical romances can be.

So to my reading schedule….

Seriously, I really do love historicals, guys.  And I am glad I have a stockpile of Kleypas books because honestly her books are really what I love from HR without getting all gross and rapey a la Catherine Coulter-one of these days I am really going to have to do a R&R of those.  I think though for the sake of my liver it might be awhile though.  Also, I need to go to my mom’s house and dig them out of my shelves there since I sort of am eerie about checking out said books at the library (don’t even know if they have them at the pathetic library I am now privy to).

Series Overall: The Hathaway series is a series of five books that follow a very large and unconventional family in the early Victorian era-the late 1840’s to late 1850’s England.  The series slightly overlaps with the Wallflower series which was why I decided to binge on it next because once a reader starts reading about Lord Westcliff they cannot stop.  Honestly, I liked this series better than the Wallflowers because all of  the family plays an important role in the books while some of the Wallflowers all but disappered when it wasn’t their respective book.  Also, Cam Rohan which gives Westcliff a nice run for his money.

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter…

Source: GoodReads

I really loved this book.  It did annoy me when I read the summary and I saw the “g” word being used.  But luckily Kleypas did not diminish the Romani culture throughout the book and I actually felt like you got to learn about things in the period and the culture which was nice.

And God knows, I love the character Cam.  Like I said in my series overview, I think Cam ranks right up there with Westcliff.  Though, while Westcliff is fairly your conventional historical romance hero, Cam isn’t.

He’s not a viscount.  Yes, he has money, but he doesn’t even like being rich.   He also isn’t a complete cad or an egomaniac.  He is just a nice guy, and I liked his relationship with Amelia.  It is a book I will be re-reading.

Amelia is your fairly typical mother hen type character but I thought she was fairly formed.  She wasn’t terrible and I liked how strong the character was despite how fucked up her family was.

If I was being more critical I could comment about the plot.  There were some things that were a bit overdramatic and were never given full explanation in the series, BUT I’m letting it go.  Honestly, it’s a problem with a lot of Kleypas’s books.  The whole plot climax with the villain is fairly poorly done in all of these books that after reading God knows how many of them I sort of ignore it, and in this case the added bonus of that ghost or whatever it was just made things weirder.

Again, though overall not bad at all.  I really liked it.

Overall Rating: A-

He has tried hard to forget her.

Kev Merripen has longed for the beautiful, well-bred Winnifred Hathaway ever since her family rescued him from the brink of death when he was just a boy. But this handsome Gypsy is a man of mysterious origins—and he fears that the darkness of his past could crush delicate, luminous Win. So Kev refuses to submit to temptation… and before long Win is torn from him by a devastating twist of fate.

Can she remember the man he once was?

Then, Win returns to England… only to find that Kev has hardened into a man who will deny love at all costs. Meantime, an attractive, seductive suitor has set his sights on Win. It’s now or never for Kev to make his move. But first, he must confront a dangerous secret about his destiny—or risk losing the only woman he has lived for…

Source: GoodReads

Okay, so I am liking this one a bit more after sitting on it but I don’t love it by any means.

I think I was hoping that there would be more shades of Paradise in this one which there were not.  I mean, there were bits and pieces of the angst that I felt, but Kev acted like a jerk towards Win for a lot of this book.  And while there was motivation towards it, if he would’ve stopped being a dick towards her and at least stopped himself from practically molesting her when they first met.

Grant it, I guess it was common for single men  to hire prostitutes back then.  But it was still a little tactless.  Claim you loved a girl so much that she’s the only woman you could love and then not recognize her and think she’s a call girl?

Again, to be fair Kev does have a lot of angst but the one who should’ve been angst-ing more in some regards was Win.  She was a fucking invalid and this book is all about Kev’s past-yes, horrible- BUT she was a fucking invalid whose life was practically on hold for several years and rather than telling her you loved her you dicked around.

Again, it’s a historical romance.

But.

But.

The thing that saved this one for me was the relationship between Cam and Amelia.  They’re secondary characters and they have a lot of sexy times together in this book.  That was good.  What wasn’t good was Kev the dick.

Overall Rating: A reluctant B.  It was originally lower, but upon reflection I can see myself maybe revisiting this one in the future.

He was everything she’d sworn to avoid.

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal—only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.

And she was everything he needed.

Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy—except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm’s length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all…

Source: GoodReads

In this book it’s the Hathaway that’s boring and the love interest that’s interesting.   In the other two books both of the characters have been interesting but Poppy is just dull.  The most interesting thing about her is that she’s pretty and, well, nice.  But she is so dull.

I think what Kleypas wanted to do was to sort of do a Beauty and the Beast thing and she succeeded with Harry Rutledge.  In most novels, he would’ve been the villain.  He did some rather horrible things and was unashamed about them, just to get between the sheets with Poppy.

In a weird way their relationship reminded me of the Rumbelle relationship on Once Upon a Time (a show that I have very mix feelings about), EXCEPT Poppy isn’t stupid enough to expect him to change.  Although, she does issue a couple of ultimatums but it’s not like she expected Harry to totally change.  She knows he still has evil ways.

I think that’s one of the reasons I tolerated her even though she was dull as dishwasher (much like Belle on Once Upon a Time).

Honestly, in comparison to the rest of these books this one is a little bit on the dull side.  Sure, it has it’s cluster fuck of a climax which I’m like-why about.  Because really it should’ve ended with their romp in Hampshire where everything was hunky dory again than that stupid kidnapping plot.

Because really.

But again, at this point I don’t even try to hold the climaxes against Kleypas.  You want a decent climax with background plot, read a Judith McNaught novel.  Kleypas though has the romance bits down to a science.  While Poppy was dull, I really did like the turn with Harry’s character so it wasn’t like this book totally stuck out.

Overall Rating: A B

He is everything she wants to avoid…

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges’ older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

She is not at all what she seems…

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine’s respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires…

Source: GoodReads

After the first book in this series, this one is probably my favorite.

Oh, Leo.

The character has evolved throughout this series from a sad SOB who grossly neglects his family to a reformed cad.  He has really came into his own and it’s nice for him to finally have his own story.   And I can’t complain that much about Catherine-though her backstory was a bit melodramatic.

And really, why does everyone this family marries into have to be related?

That being aside, I did like that Catherine wasn’t your stereotypical poor little governess that the hero swoops up.  These two HATE each other at the beginning of the novel, and its nice to see how their hatred evolves into something more.

And I love the little ferret that is in this book too.  There is so much humor in this installment and enough cameos from the other Hathaways to make me smile.

Do we get another over the top climax (obviously).  But at least here, there is some build up which didn’t exactly happen in the other books.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it A- same as the first book.  I feel like this one and the first are both the strongest in this series but for different reasons.

She harbors a secret yearning.

As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted… and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?

He is a world-weary cynic.

Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix’s friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it’s becoming clear that Christopher won’t come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru’s disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru’s letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep… and when Christopher comes home, he’s determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix’s innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can’t be denied.

Source: GoodReads

 

This one is NOT terrible.  But I just don’t think Beatrix comes off as realistic.  Or for the fact this relationship.

Yes, her thing with the animals is cute and all but really a grown ass twenty-three year old would not randomly come up to people and be like, “Oh, yes.  You’re a Beagle because you like to eat a lot and are a red head who talks a lot about herself on her semi-regular blog column for her owner.”

Okay, Beatrix doesn’t exactly compare anyone to Patty Beagle but she does compare them to animals and she’s in her twenties and it’s viewed as cute and all of that.

Rolls eyes.

She’s like the manic pixie dream girl of the 1850’s ya’ll.

The hero-Christopher-was kind of a wash compared to the other guys in this series he’s nice and tortured enough but compared to Cam, Leo, Harry, and even Kev he’s just sort of meh.

The plot in this one, was sort of meh as well.  I like the idea of love letters written by someone you don’t expect.  It’s a cute idea, but I thought Christopher accepting it was Bea really fast and declaring his love for her equally fast was a little jarring.

It just wasn’t a book I expected from Kleypas.

That didn’t mean it was bad though.  I just…I just think Beatrix would’ve been better off with the eighty year old vet.

Overall Rating: B-

Romance-cation: The Wallflower Series

Occasionally, I get annoyed with reading YA.  After a slew full of meh reads with a few good ones thrown in, I decided it was time to hit the historical romances.  I think I read like seven or so Lisa Kleypas novels in the past week.  I had a stack of them stockpiled and thought now’s the time to get through them.  Honestly, I might continue this binge of Kleypas reading because I am still not completely ready to be YA-ing it again.   It’s almost a universal truth that historical romances (even those that aren’t exactly perfect will get me in a better mood)

Rather than doing full reviews to all the books I’ve read, I thought it would be better if I did  mini-reviews.  For this first series of mini-reviews I’ll be looking at Kleypas Wallflower series.

Series Overview: There are four main books in the series and a prequel of sorts (which I’ve already reviewed) and Christmas special which I haven’t read yet but have on order since I only found out about it partially through the read through.  The book focuses on a group of girls self dubbed the Wallflowers.  However, each one of the is ridiculously attractive and end up latching on to some rich guy with little effort.   So,  I really don’ t know why they call themselves the Wallflowers only that-hey, series title and it sort of connects them together.  I don’t really mind that much though because these books are highly entertaining and unlike Judith McNaught’s historicals it’s not like every character gets together with a duke.  A lot of the heros are self made men.

Four young ladies enter London society with one common goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So a daring husband-hunting scheme is born.

Annabelle Peyton, determined to save her family from disaster, decides to use her beauty and wit to tempt a suitable nobleman into making an offer of marriage. But Annabelle’s most intriguing–and persistent–admirer, wealthy, powerful Simon Hunt, has made it clear that while he will introduce her to irresistible pleasure he will not offer marriage. Annabelle is determined to resist his unthinkable proposition . . . but it is impossible in the face of such skillful seduction.

Her friends, looking to help, conspire to entice a more suitable gentleman to offer for Annabelle, for only then will she be safe from Simon–and her own longings. But on one summer night, Annabelle succumbs to Simon’s passionate embrace and tempting kisses . . . and she discovers that love is the most dangerous game of all. 

Source: GoodReads

This one was okay.  Yes, most of the conflict could’ve been avoided if Annabelle wouldn’t have been such a snob.  But you sort of get where she was coming from based on the period.  But still….dear lord, Simon for putting up with that crap.

Aside from being a snob, Annabelle isn’t too bad though she does borderline Mary Sue since we’re told how perfect looking she is and that he only reason she’s a Wallflower is because she’s so poor.

Awww.

Honestly, I couldn’t help but get a little annoyed with Annabelle.  Also, for someone who is destitute she lives a pretty good life full of ladies maids and the like.

I do like the fact that the book focused on friendships.  Especially female friendships.  You don’t get a lot of that in historical romances so that was refreshing and each of these girls do seem to have a personality.

In all I didn’t mind this one, and snobbery aside there is some nice chemistry between Annabelle and Simon.

But was it Darcy in the Lake worthy, hardly.

Overall Rating: A B

Four young ladies enter London society with one necessary goal: they must use their feminine wit and wiles to find a husband. So they band together, and a daring husband-hunting scheme is born.

It happened at the ball…

Where beautiful but bold Lillian Bowman quickly learned that her independent American ways weren’t entirely “the thing.” And the most disapproving of all was insufferable, snobbish, and impossible Marcus, Lord Westcliff, London’s most eligible aristocrat.

It happened in the garden…

When Marcus shockingly—and dangerously—swept her into his arms. Lillian was overcome with a consuming passion for a man she didn’t even like. Time stood still; it was as if no one else existed… thank goodness they weren’t caught very nearly in the act!

It happened one autumn…

Marcus was a man in charge of his own emotions, a bedrock of stability. But with Lillian, every touch was exquisite torture, every kiss an enticement for more. Yet how could he consider taking a woman so blatantly unsuitable… as his bride?

Source: GoodReads

This was the book that made the series.  Think of a hotter version of Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth comes from a family like Lady Cora and you get this book.  I loved this book and the characters.  I liked the verbal foreplay between the characters, and Westcliff is up there for historical men I’ve read about.

I could’ve done less with the ending though, especially considering that Kleypas went on to use that character heavily in one of the sequels to this book.  But overall very, very, solid and I liked how the two characters relationships evolved.

It also made me want to review the prequel to this whole series because I wanted more Marcus.

The cameos from the prior cast were just enough too.  Again, I loved he book for the most part until the ending.  And I don’t think the ending would’ve bothered me that much if the villain wouldn’t have been used in the next book.  It’s just too hard to be redeemed for that and I couldn’t help but thinking that wallflower was sort of  a shitty friend considering what almost happened to Lilian.

If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice-y novels give It Happened One Autumn a try you won’t regret it.

Overall Rating: A-

Four young ladies enter London society and band together to each find a husband. Has the third “Wallflower” now met her match?

A Devil’s Bargain

Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!

Sebastian’s reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden’s good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.

But Evie’s proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine’s callously discarded broken hearts—which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions… or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love. 

Source: GoodReads

This one was probably my least favorite in the series.  I just couldn’t ever love the hero based on his actions in the previous book.  I was like-no.  And it wasn’t like there weren’t other options for this MC.  Personally, I had a fan fic written out in my head how she’d get with one of the supporting characters while married to the hero and….yeah, didn’t happen.

Though to be honest, that character deserved more than this drip.  And yes, I saw Evie as a drip.   Because while I know she couldn’t help some things-like her stuttering-it wasn’t like she did a lot to help herself.  In the beginning I had hope, what she did was pretty ballsy then she just got meh-

I never even saw how a relationship developed between her and the so called hero because-no, no, no.

While I enjoyed the nods to Kleypas Gambling series, I didn’t enjoy the fact that this plot seemed to fall apart in lots of ways.  There was so much potential here and the ultimate story-well, it was cliche and predictable.  And whatever happened to the mean evil relatives, they certainly gave up pretty fast after that one attempted kidnapping.

The best part about this book was the cameos made by Lilian and Marcus.  But again, why would you be friends with these people after ****spoilers*****

It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Overall Rating: A C+

After spending three London seasons searching for a husband, Daisy Bowman’s father has told her in no uncertain terms that she must find a husband. Now. And if Daisy can’t snare an appropriate suitor, she will marry the man he chooses—the ruthless and aloof Matthew Swift.

Daisy is horrified. A Bowman never admits defeat, and she decides to do whatever it takes to marry someone… anyone… other than Matthew. But she doesn’t count on Matthew’s unexpected charm… or the blazing sensuality that soon flares beyond both their control. And Daisy discovers that the man she has always hated just might turn out to be the man of her dreams.

But right at the moment of sweet surrender, a scandalous secret is uncovered… one that could destroy both Matthew and a love more passionate and irresistible than Daisy’s wildest fantasies.

Source: GoodReads

I sort of have mixed feelings about this book.  I liked it, but it didn’t full out go into detail on the hero’s secret past as I’d like it too.  It’s a shame too because 200 some odd pages into the book, I was fairly bored.  Yeah, there was nice chemistry BUT there was really no plot other than the father was a dick who wanted the MC (Daisy) to marry a guy that was supposedly horrible but experience a physical and personality makeover in the time that they were a part.

Not the most exciting plot line, but then you have the backstory of the hero and I’m like….why couldn’t the whole book go into the angst on that?

It really is a shame because out of all the wallflowers I related the most to Daisy, even though Lillian is undoubtedly my favorite.  The love story ended up being just incredibly dull especially since there were hints and teases in the previous book that the hero was going to be way more interesting-he will be getting his own story though which I am interested in reading.

In the end, I didn’t HATE Scandal in Spring BUT it could’ve been better.  Out of all the Wallflower books this potentially had the most interesting set up but….B-

Not For Me: Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.

Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

Source: GoodReads

This was one of those books that I DNF’d that wasn’t exactly terrible, but at the same time it wasn’t good either.

Wanderlost had an interesting enough premises it sort of reminded me of a bit of My Life in Ruins which is actually a fairly cute little movie with the actress who was in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  However, it totally failed on execution.

I think a part of it was the opening scene in the novel, that got the MC into the predicament she was in.  After taking two bar exams that featured criminal procedure, it really gets to me when there is an obnoxious criminal investigation in a YA book.  Yes, I know they happen in real life but it was one of my pet peeves reading about it.  I just want to yell at the cop about how irresponsible they are and giving other fictional cops a bad name.

Le sigh.

Again, I knew the plot point was needed, but it started off the novel on a sour note for me.  It didn’t help that the main character, Aubree, was ridiculously immature as well.  I couldn’t stand her and even though I’m sure that there was supposed to be a character evolution of part in the novel, I didn’t care to sit around for it.  I think that’s one of the most difficult things about reading a character growth novel, while the MC is supposed to be obnoxious at first  they can’t be too obnoxious.  But creating that balance seems to be a difficult thing.

I thought I’d stick it out for the sight seeing, but the descriptions and encounters were vague at best and the book quickly started focusing on the romance aspect of the book that I couldn’t really care.

Like I said though, it wasn’t outright horrible.  I have read way worse things in YA.  It just didn’t hold my attention enough to finish it.  The main character was irresponsible and spoiled, and Europe didn’t even really play a supporting role in this story.

Even the romance was blah at best.

If you like cookie cutter stories without much depth and just a light little get away, this might work for you better than for me.  But for me, it didn’t hold my attention long enough.  I like fluff more than the next person, but I like substantive fluff.  This was more or less like a bad rom con that would air on the Hallmark station.  All the bones are there, but nothing is done to flesh the story out and make it wow worthy and with Aubree being as annoying as she was…DNF.

In Which Barnes Drops the Mic: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

Source: GoodReads

The Long Game was the much anticipated sequel to The Fixer which if you haven’t PICK UP NOW.

I mean it.

It’s rare that I say the second book in a trilogy or series is better than the first but this one is totally be. So much better and I loved the first one.

This book though drops the mic on the first and then some.

There are so many OMG moments in there and—

Obviously, I’m babbling which I rarely do in reviews but I do, do it when I love a book and I loved The Long Game. I don’t tend to do spoiler heavy reviews so writing this one is a little hard because so much happened. If you thought The Fixer was interesting and filled with twists, well, it ain’t got nothing on The Long Game.

Even more bombshells are dropped, the characters are fleshed out further. And oh, there are so many moments that make you think that Barnes knows how to pull out your heart and squish it into itty bitty pieces.

I❤ you Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Seriously, this book has me wanting to revisit your backlist even the more dubious titles that I wasn’t so sure about because this one is well done.

Tess really grows and she was already a BAMF in the first book but now, times that infinity. The thing is, she doesn’t feel unrealistic. The character is as flawed as they come and you see this with her relationship with Ivy—note, I did wish that Ivy would’ve been in the book a little bit more but I think having her be a little distant in this book was a little needed.

There were twists in this one that I didn’t expect, and I have a feeling when the third book comes out next year I’m going to do a reread of this series because I do think there were some clues in the first book that I didn’t pick up on.

One of the most refreshing thing about this series is that it’s not romance heavy. While there is some flirtation and maybe a kiss, it’s not the primary focus of the book. Tess is not focused on boys and I have to say that is refreshing, especially for a YA book. Instead, the book focuses more on friendships and plots and it really works.

Overall, if you want something that is a bit different from the typical YA contemporary flare. Read this. It is one of my favorites this summer. Barnes has really upped the ante and….oh, this book.

Overall Rating: An A+. Yeah, rarely give them but this one was a joy to read.

Cringe, Cringe, Cringe: The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O’Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie’s closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie’s plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret “death with dignity” cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way – and give the O’Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.

Source: GoodReads

The dog has already read her share of a bad book for the next six months or so, so I’ll take the displeasure of reviewing The Loose Ends List. Carrie Firestone should’ve put a warning on this one about having alcohol near you when you read it, because it makes me feel like I need a triple vodka and not because this book was a poignant journey for me. Rather, because I feel like I need to deck something after reading it.

There are so many reasons why this book just didn’t work for me. At first I thought it was because the main character was a privileged brat. I mean, there is no concept for reality for this character at all. I knew she wasn’t going to be poor or even middle class when I started reading this book, BUT it was a little ridiculous.

Also, it didn’t help that there was a rampant amount of girl hate in this book and the main character really didn’t interact with that many people her age which in all honesty was probably for the best. We are told though that Maddie is fairly popular at the beginning of the book, but honestly I don’t know who’d want to be friends with her.   Her “E” group friends are a bunch of shallow twits. Her one quasi friend she ignores in public places because—ew, she’s a weirdo because she likes Star Trek.

I kid you not.

So, I think it’s safe to see why I didn’t like Maddie. And I’m not even talking about her insta romance that was a whole other can of bad.

The rest of the characters are pretty flat. I think that Firestone wanted to focus on family, but all the characters are glorified archetypes—you have the kick ass grandma, the cool gay uncle, the drunk mother, the prude aunt whose daughter is a so called “slut”. Pick a stereotype it existed.

SMH.

Even the whole dying with dignity plotline felt like manufactured drama for tears. Honestly, I wish that this book would’ve actually had a better discussion about this issue.   It’s not as dimensional as the book is making it out to be and there’s something about teenagers having Love Boat moments that sort of cheapens the whole thing.

And I’m not even going to talk about all the body oriented jokes this book had. Seriously, one or two jokes about anatomy might be okay, but it seemed like anytime Firestone got bored she threw in a penis or boob joke, or joke about IBS, and I was like shaking my head. It was just so cringe worthy

I shouldn’t be that surprised this book is so low brow though.   I mean, I really wondered what Firestone thought the average reader’s IQ was. We are told that Maddie is pretty smart yet she constantly says stupid shit like expecting to see the equator.

That’s right she expects that she should somehow physically be able to see the freaking equator after acquiring a high school diploma.

 I have no words for that folks.

I know some people said they got a little teary eyed especially with all the snowglobe moments that the book had, but to be honest I didn’t give a fuck. It just felt like manufactured much like all those teary eyed movies they play on the Hallmark channel and all I can say is fuck that. Especially when the next page after this so called moment there’s a penis joke or something equally crass.

Overall Rating: Fail. Get your privileged ass off of my shelf, book.

Fun But Flawed: The Once Upon a Crime Series by Tiffany Schmidt

I occasionally do double or series reviews. If I was to be completely honest, I do them for mostly my own convenience. I really do like it when I can read a book and the series is either complete or mostly complete. It saves a lot of grief, but of the flip side I am an impatient person and if there’s a book I want to read and there’s seven or so books coming out after the original, I’m probably just going to go in that year long wait mode rather than a seven year wait mode.

That being said, I had the first book in The Once Upon a Crime series on my shelf for over a year, and it wasn’t until its companion sequel was released I decided to read it.

I have some issues with the series as a whole, but it isn’t terrible. It has a lot of things going for it, mostly the premises involving organized crime. It’s a subject matter YA hasn’t exploited too much yet, though the books that I’ve read that featured it have been sort of shitty to be honest. But the whole black market organ donation plot line I thought really could work. Or at least be better than General Hospital’s version of it. The result, this mafia themed series suffered from the same bloody problems as General Hospital did sans random hot guys taking off their shirts.

That’s a shame.

I really had a difficult time with how the organized crime was played with, especially in the second book. Anyway, I feel like it’s best I go into the highs and lows of both Hold Me Like a Breath and Break Me Like a Promise.

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can’t protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family’s line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

Source: GoodReads

Hold Me Like a Breath. I read that title with one of those oozy fake Southern accents. Usually the type of accent that is only used when selling something ridiculously sweet—like instant TV or something extremely greasy like fried chicken.

Needless to say, the FDA needs to put a warning on that accent.  Title issues aside, I did like aspects of this book. I liked the fact that Penny clearly struggled throughout her condition throughout the book, and wasn’t your typical mob princess because of it. I liked her relationship with her brother, with Garrett. I liked the set up of the plot.

The execution though—meh.

First of all, something pretty traumatic happens to Penny during the book and I was at first like great—because up until that point the book had been a bit of a snore. But that act, I like Schmidt has the balls I am totally going to eat this up.

However, I think doing what she did end it up causing the book to be a bit of a fuck up especially with how unrealistic things turned after Penny experienced said trauma. I mean, she ends up calling the vice president of all people for him and pretty much sat on a park bench until Prince Charming bumped into her.

I’ll back up a little bit she called the freaking vice president. I had to have an eyer oll when I read that. And I was like—oh, so if I get into a bind those that mean I can totally call like Prince Harry to come rescue me.

Yeah.

Okay, so there is some build up—like a scene—to the connection but it was still a little stupid. Much like Penny’s meeting and relationship with Char (aka Prince Charming who bumped into her when she was sitting there like a googly eyed idiot, despite almost getting killed).

Oh, and by the way Penny. You don’t give random people nicknames that is just so—so—I am not even going to describe how insulting that is readers.   Especially since Penny only gives him a nickname because she doesn’t like his real name.

Their relationship is about that insulting. It’s weird with these books, and especially with Break Me Like a Promise—which I’ll get to in a bit—I do not ship the main ship. In fact, I hate them. I want to totally write an AU fan fic for both of these books. The bones were there for a good Garrett/Penny ship and the author just threw them away which just has me shaking my head because Char. Well, he’s as bland as they come and I really think their relationship was only developed for like twenty pages—tops.

Then there’s the way the whole organized crime bit was handled. Like I said in my intro, it was the major crux in both of these books. But not so much in here. There was a bit of mob brutality here, but I wish this book or its sequel would’ve discussed that the business did hurt people.

Overall Rating: A C. Some solid bones there, but I hated the ship and I just thought it didn’t fully go into some of the issues like it should’ve. I originally rated this one higher, but upon recollection. Ugh. Maybe I should throw it into my storage bin.

No one is unbreakable.

All Magnolia Vickers has ever wanted was to follow father’s path as head of the Family Business. But new legislation is poised to destroy the Family’s operations in the black-market organ trade and Maggie’s recent behavior has wrecked the business-savvy reputation she’s worked her whole life to build.

She’s given an ultimatum: shape up or step aside.

Then Maggie messes up: she downloads a virus onto her father’s computer, and must sneak it off-estate for repair. When Alex, a tech whiz, uncovers the type of information on the machine, he offers Maggie a choice: her Family can give him a kidney, or he’ll irreparably scramble the data. Maggie agrees, but has no intention of keeping her promise or ever seeing him again. That night Alex shows up at her Family estate with copies of confidential Family files and a shocking revelation—the kidney is for him.

The Vickers aren’t willing to let Alex out of their sight, so he moves onto their estate and Maggie is assigned to be his keeper. A task she resents and he enjoys making as challenging as possible. But procuring black market organs is becoming increasingly difficult, and as Alex’s health declines, she’s surprised to find herself falling for him.

Like it or not, Maggie must accept that if she wants to save Alex’s life and carve out a place in the new legalized organ business, she’s going to have to fight for both.

Source: GoodReads

Oh, this is so much better than the first book in the series.

At least that’s what I read in reviews. To be fair, a part of me loved Break Me Like a Promise a lot more than its predecessor. For one thing, Maggie Grace could totally kick Penny’s ass then some. She has a bit of an Ava Jerome thing going on—except unlike Ava, I doubt she’d sleep with her boyfriend’s father and get impregnanted with him.

Though who knows, maybe in a few years.

Just kidding aside.

I really liked Maggie Grace though. She was a flawed well developed character. And this book made me feel her relationship with Carter. I so wanted that ship to work out. If this book was General Hospital they so would’ve brought him back from the dead. That shipped just sizzled.

What ship didn’t sizzle was the one with Alex.

I had hopes for it. The initial blackmail attempt looked like these two could be interesting together—foes turned into lovers. And I liked that he wasn’t traditionally attractive. But then—ack.

Alex had to constantly insult Maggie and she somehow fell for him despite being called a spoiled princesa every other page because I don’t know—Stockholm Syndrome? I really didn’t know.

And Daddy’s a mobster. Most mobsters so wouldn’t allow his daughter to be blackmailed like Maggie’s daddy did. Most would’ve just hired some one to kill Alex.

But we can’t be that lucky here because these are ethical mobsters whose code is apparently even better than Sonny Corinthos the most moral mobster in televison history.

Whatever though.

I just dealt with it for plot purposes while try my sister—who was visiting—tried to keep me from drinking myself into a stupor as I read Schmidt’s version of Texan dialects.

Ya’ll  We ain’t all cowboys in the Lone Star state.   Ye haw.  I’m gettin me a bursky before a ridin my horse back to yonder ranch.

Seriously.

I really think unless you’ve lived in Texas, you should abstain from that shit. I’ve lived in the state most of my years and I don’t really say ya’ll that much. And while my sister’s dog owns a cowboy hat I don’t. I haven’t even rode a fucking horse.   Oh, and I despise country music.

So…stereotype much book?

Oh, and UT isn’t the only fucking school in the state.   Seriously.

Like I said though, I loved Maggie Grace though and I did like the Marter relationship—dear lord, if ever there was a character to bring back from the dead. But this book just annoyed me, much like Hold Me Like a Breath annoyed me.

Overall Rating: B-

Concluding Thoughts:

If there’s another one of these books I’ll probably read it. But going in, I’ll know that there will be some things that I hate. And more likely my ship will get trashed for a cliché annoying one. Or for a jerk who tames an apparent “shrew” like MC by telling her she’s spoiled and telling her that she should smile more. Whatever though, The Once Upon a Crime Family books are interesting enough but definitely flawed.