Man Whore, Strippers, and Porn Stars Oh My: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang


A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Source: GoodReads

Disclaimer: I am not going to discuss the depiction of Autism in this review.  Since I am not on the spectrum, I really have nothing to say about how Hoang depicted it. I will mention the fact that there were some things I wish would’ve been fleshed out better (i.e. Stella’s behavior at certain event, I do wish to know if she had any treatment etc.  prior to it because some of her interactions seemed a bit OTT)  That being said, I am interested in reading reviewers who are on the spectrum to see if Hoang’s portrayal was.

That being said, I did not like this one.  I read it hoping that it more or less a self discovery story of a woman who comes into her own skin and likes it.  Instead, it essentially was a bad gender swapped Pretty Woman story that is obviously trying to get turned into porn since there are five billion reference to the adult sex industry in the book.  And not one of these characters is tested for STD’s mind you, even though the male lead is literally a man whore.  At least, Pretty Woman sort of addresses that.


Seriously, that’s all I kept thinking during these sex scenes has Michael been tested?  I get I was suppose to have myself lost in the romance.  But I couldn’t get lost in the romance because anytime there was a love scene one of the following things was mentioned: man whores, strippers (especially in reference to Stella’s body), and porn stars (see Stella’s breasts).

Seriously, how is that suppose to get me into the mood?

It’s superficial at best.  And I know we all talk about book boyfriends (which I personally find to be an obnoxious term) but here’s the thing you can’t see a book boyfriend.  At the end of the day he is text unless there is a movie adaptation made about him.  And most people aren’t turned on by the mention that X looks like a K-Pop actor especially if they don’t know said K-Pop actor.  Rather, what turns on people to fictional characters is how they’re depicted.

And I didn’t care for Michael.

He is like a sad male version of Julia Roberts’s character in Pretty Woman with an Alpha douche twist.  At the very least if you’re going to do that, have Richard Geere a la Pretty Woman era come out of the book with those roses.  You know what, I’ll insert a gif of him doing that in this review so that I get that pleasure (albeit ,belatedly).


Anyway, Michael complains about having to be be a  ho to pay for his mother’s  medical bills because he can’t get his fashion design business off the ground.  Then its later on mentioned that he was valedictorian of his high school class, which made me wonder if he had potential skills then designing clothes that apparently show off someone’s voluptuous stripper like body in a modest like fashion.

I kid  you not.  While that is not a direct quote from the book some asinine description like that regarding Michael’s clothes or Stella’s body would make a frequent appearance in this book.

Besides, Michael’s seemingly lack of logic skills in the book.  I just didn’t like him.  I think Hoang wrote this back story involving his mother hoping that it would make me sympathize for the character, but other than it being his reason for being a hooker I really could care less.  Especially when it seemed he had other options.  And the rest of the aspect of the backstory-his mother’s illness, his father’s misdeeds-we’re pretty much thrown into the background in order to compare Stella to a porn star some more.

God, Stella really should just get into the business already.  She already has a ready name: Stella Lane.

Fun fact, that was the street where I grew up: Stella Lane.  So, I had a hard time taking any of this seriously when I read it-the comparisons to porn stars, strippers, and the occasional K-Pop icon didn’t help much either.

Autism representation aside (because again, not my place to discuss it) I found Stella’s sections of the book just as painful as Michael’s.  I couldn’t sympathize with her.  It’s mentioned that she has Autism, but nothing is discuss in terms of therapy or coping mechanisms are mentioned.  There are some painfully awkward very obvious social miscues that she made that just have me shaking my head, especially if you take into effect how successful Stella is at her job in freaking Silicon Valley where there probably has to be some smidgen of social cues to get up as high as she did on the corporate ladder.

Also, Stella, girl, really looking up male escorts on a freaking work computer?  Come on.


Speaking of the whole hiring a male escort angle there were never any repercussions for either Stella or Michael for their involvement in the business.  With Michael, I expected there would’ve been some fall out from his family.  With Stella, with her company and family, but nope.  All it did was allow the cliche break up scene of the book.

Other than the raunchy superficial romance (and please Stella, for the love of God get tested for STD’s already, God knows where Michael’s dick has been) the book had very little plot.  Romances generally don’t have much in plot to be fair, unless they’re a Lisa Kleypas book and have a ridiculous climax that comes with a gun totting villain in the last 100 or so pages of the novel, but I was really hoping this one would’ve been more character oriented.  I would’ve loved rather than Phillip merely being the very obvious office perv turned NO guy in a love triangle, for him and Stella to have some sort of office rivalry going on regarding a promotion or something and maybe have Stella stressing out because of her lack of social cues to get said promotion.  Like, maybe that could be why she hired Michael-to show that she can be sociable kind of like in that Halmark movie The Mistletoe Promise than just hiring him because she wants to appease her parents and thinks she needs sex lessons because of some gross comment Phillip makes.

I digress though.

That almost got me as mad as the stupid Tiny Tim trope being used at the end.  For those of you, who are unaware of that trope that is where some rich character seemingly  donates all their money to a character that is described as pathetic for no apparent reason.  You know, calling it the Tiny Tim Trope might not be a good name for the trope because at least Scrooge was haunted into giving Tiny Tim’s family his money.  And I guess here, Stella was pretty much paid in sex.  But it still seemed illogical and just plain dumb and annoying.  Girl, don’t give away fifteen million dollars because some sad sack is good in bed.

At the end of the day, I’m not going to recommend this shit.  I have a very short fuse for bull shit right now, and this book doesn’t pass the mustard which is a shame.  I was actually looking forward to this one.

Overall Rating: A D which is not the cup size Stella wears based off of Hoang’s description of her porn star breasts.  Yeah, I know crass joke but I put up with this shit.


Under Baked: Recipe for Kisses by Michelle Major


Chloe Daniels doesn’t need a man—after escaping a marriage gone bad, she guards her heart as closely as the details of her past. So when hot-tempered celebrity chef Ben “the Beast” Haddox storms into her struggling toy store, Chloe is determined not to be drawn in by his broad shoulders…or baby-blue eyes.

In his hometown, Ben’s culinary career is almost as famous as his bad-boy rep. He’s out to prove to naysayers he’s a success by opening a new restaurant—and the only thing standing in his way is Chloe’s store. But before he has a chance to convert her space into his signature eatery, she cooks up a plan to show him that her shop is worth saving.

As things start to sizzle between them, Chloe must figure out how to avoid getting burned. Can she trust herself to love again, or has she jumped out of the frying pan and into desire?

Source: GoodReads

I haven’t posted lately.  It’s a mixture of just taking a mental health break from blogging, being on vacation, and just being too exhausted from work to blog.  But I have been reading.  Just a lot of romance instead of YA.

I get that way occasionally.  However, I have a stack of interesting YA books I need to get to get to, so I’m sure I’ll be chugging back YA books soon enough.

Recipe of Kisses interesting me mainly because it was suppose to be a romance featuring a celebrity chef.  I like watching cooking shows, and I read cookbooks in my free time.  So I was like..hmmm, could be good.  Especially since hero is suppose to be a loud angry Gordon Ramsay type.  Only thing is, Ben is not near as entertaining as Ramsay and I had such a hard time buying that a thing could develop between him and Chloe that I DNF’d this book.


I’ll be honest, I could see this book as a Hallmark movie.  It had every single hallmark (ha, ha, no pun intended) that such a movie would have.  I could even see it now Ben being played by Colin Egglesfield and Chloe being played by Lacey Chalbert.   That’s not a good thing, people.

I mean, nothing against those actors but I shouldn’t be imagining a bad 90 minute TV movie in my head.  If I’m picturing a book as a movie it needs to be a fantastic movie,  not one where I snark at it at every turn.

Honestly, the Hallmark movie would’ve been more fleshed out.  At the very least there would’ve been a whole reason for the whole non-lease renewal thing.  And seriously, if Colorado law is anything like Texas or Louisiana law, I’m surprised that Ben couldn’t have thrown Chloe’s ass out for not paying rent.  It annoyed me how she kept acting like a victim because he didn’t want to renew her lease-I mean, bitch, please find another location.  You can still have your store.  And for that matter, pay your fucking rent.   And don’t act like Ben is a bad guy for kicking you out.  Also, can that annoying employee who wears the tie dye shirts and tells you how to run your business.  She was not endearing, she was an annoying old biddy who Gordon would’ve told to fuck off if she was on his show (actually, he did sort of tell off a woman who reminded me of that lady on Hotel Hell when he helped out that pentecostal looking woman in West Virginia who was a horder-I watch way too much TV).


It’s amazing how many grievances I can find when I only read 40% of the book.

Ben is no saint either.  He has anger issues to say the least.  Furthermore, I did not understand for the life of me why he stayed with his ass hat father when he could rent an apartment or something.  It just didn’t make sense of me, the plot point brats (and yes, I’ll refer to the kids in this book as brats) wouldn’t that upheaved by moving away from their abuser grandfather’s house.  And quite honestly, the brief amounts the father character appeared he made me cringe.


I could do without him.

As for the  plot point brats, we have the stereotypical sullen teenage girl who we all know Chloe is going to form a bond with and then the younger boy who was pretty much there for the cuteness factor.  I really could have done without them or the toy store business.

The toy store thing annoyed me, I guess because it just didn’t really fit and I didn’t see why Chloe was so driven to save her store.  She was more about saving the women who worked there.  It would’ve made more sense for her to work as a counselor or something, just saying.

Also, the characters interaction to each other didn’t make much sense.  Chloe wants the store so she is instantly mad at Ben.  She doesn’t seem to think that hey dude owes building.  And when she sprays him with pepper spray….uh, no.

This book just wasn’t for me.  I hate to say, I think I’m becoming a little cynical.  Maybe it’s because the line of work I do, but when I read a romance with shoddy characterization the first thing that comes into my mind is divorce court and that just isn’t right.  One thing I’m asking myself when I read romances lately has been would I have enjoyed this ten years ago.

And the answer with this one is no.  It’s just too flat.  It had potential to be a great story but it really failed on execution.  Let’s just put it this way, if this book was a beef wellington Gordon Ramsay would be throwing it against the wall.

Overall Rating: DNF


My Favorite Trope…Revenge:The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran


Steamy romance sizzles between a resurrected earl and his repentant bride in USA TODAY bestselling author Meredith Duran’s latest historical romance.


Liam Devaliant, Lord Lockwood, was born into a charmed life. Charismatic, powerful, and wild, he had the world at his feet—and one woman as his aim. His wedding to Anna was meant to be his greatest triumph. Instead, in a single moment, a wicked conspiracy robbed him of his future and freedom.


Four years later, Liam has returned from death with plans for revenge. Standing in his way, though, is his long-absent bride. Once, he adored Anna’s courage. Now it seems like a curse, for Anna refuses to fear or forget him. If she can’t win back Liam’s love, then she means at least to save his soul…no matter the cost.

Source: GoodReads

The wronged hero seeking revenge, is a very  common trope in romance.  Just off the topic of my head I can think of at least two other books I’ve read that shared this theme.  It’s a trope I like quite a bit.  I blame the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo for that.   I have probably watched that movie way too much.  That aside though, I am always willing to read a book that has this trope.

However, to be blunt about it a lot of them are kind of (okay, really) bad.

The Sins of Lord Lockwood though wasn’t halfway bad.  I mean, there were parts that I got annoyed with the book but as far as this trope goes it actually handled itself pretty well.  The hero didn’t go in full blown jerk mode like many heroes do after they’ve been wrongfully imprisoned and then make erroneous claims about what their wife/significant other had been up to while they were away .  Still though, it didn’t quite get into perfect territory for me.


I think one of the things that annoyed me about The Sins of Lord Lockwood were the flashbacks.  On one hand, I do appreciate them.  On the other hand they felt out of place and I was so engaged in the present storyline I really didn’t care to read them.  It probably would’ve been better-for the story-if they had just been inserted prior to the present events.

I also had some issues with how Lockwood escaped and really the entire plot against him.  I felt like a lot of things were slopped over.  Again, the bones for a good story were there and I enjoyed it, but I was left with a lot of questions.

From looking at other reviews for the book, apparently a lot of the meat of the plot is in Duke of the Shadows which I have ordered in part because I am curious to have some of these questions resolved.  So, I guess as many holes in the plot as there are, at least Duran holds my interest…

The leads both were decently formed.  You can clearly see that Liam was altered and shaken up by his ordeal.  I will say that as illy placed as the flashbacks were, they did a good job showing Before Liam to the audience.  And I will also give Liam points for not being a total jerk like some heroes who suffer a similar ordeal (cough, Jordan from Some Kind of Wonderful, cough).

As for Anna, I liked her.  Honestly, she did seem a little forgettable to me.  But I liked that Duran had created a character that was fairly independent for the time period.  I wish that her interest in the sciences was dabbled into further.

Really, the biggest complaint I have with this book is that there were a lot of things about the plot that I wanted developed more.  I guess as far as complaints go that’s a lot better than hating the characters or finding the plot outright stupid, but still it leaves me a little disappointed.

If you’re a fan of this trope, you probably will want to pick this one out.  It does a fairly decent job with the plot line and I did learn a couple of things about the penal colonies in Australia during the period.  However, it wasn’t fully a wow read for me.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

On the Bodice Ripping Era (Or the Worst Contemporary Romance I Ever Read): Tender Triumph by Judith McNaugh


Discover the sensual and sweeping power of love in this story of new beginnings and uncertain endings by Judith McNaught—the New York Times bestselling author that USA TODAY raves “is in a class by herself.”

On Friday, a sensuous stranger enters Katie’s life. By Sunday, her life is irrevocably changed forever.

Katie Connelly submerges her painful past in a promising career, an elegant apartment, and uncomplicated, commitment-free romantic liaisons. Yet something vital is missing from her life and she’s uncertain what it is—until she meets proud, rugged Ramon Galverra.

With his charm and passionate nature, Ramon gives her a love she has never known. She is still, however, afraid to surrender her heart to this strong, willful, secretive man—a man from a different world, a man with a daring, uncertain future. Will Katie’s relationship with Ramon survive once the initial thrill of their simmering passion subsides?

In this bold and heartfelt novel, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood and Lisa Kleypas, Judith McNaught proves once again that she “not only spins dreams, but she makes them come true” (RT Book Reviews).

Source: GoodReads

Guess, what peeps, it’s rant time.  If you know me, you know that this book has been on my hate list for awhile.  Okay, maybe I haven’t mentioned it that much because it’s not YA and YA is what I usually review on this blog, but it is a known fact amongst personal friends that this is one of the most hated books on the MJ list.

Long story short, it was one of the books my mom gifted me when I first started reading romance.  I don’t think she realized how God awful offensive this book was.  Because if she did, she probably wouldn’t have given it to me (she has actually told me this when I ranted about said book several times).  It’s the sort of book that makes my blood pressure get ridiculously high where I feel the blood pumping in that vein above my head and… I end up looking like Toht on Indiana Jones when his face melted into liquid goo.


I still remember my rants about Katie and Ramon quite well.  I think I was a high school junior then so it’s been roughly about twelve years since I read it, and I still remember it.

God, I’m old.

Anyways, I decided to pick this one up again mainly because I wanted to discuss some of the faux pas in the bodice era of romance after reading that Hillary Rodham Clinton found romances in general to perpetuate to the  misogynic toxic society that we are living in.  Honestly, if all books were like Tender Triumph and Midsummer Magic (just mentioning that one has that vein throbbing again) I’d have had no beef with what Hillary said.  However, I think with being first lady, senator of New York, secretary of state, and just being an all around BAMF for the past twenty plus years has kept her busy from picking up a modern day romance novel which departs a little bit from the bodice ripper era books.

To be blunt though, there are still some very problematic romances out there.  You’ve heard me rant about them, but there are also some really good ones out there.  Classifying the genre like that left me shaking my head a bit, but for someone who probably hasn’t read the genre in years I can give her a pass.  Especially if she would’ve read Tender Triumph.  Because if we’re using Tender Triumph as an example, then, well, Hillary’s got it pegged.

I only got through about 90 pages when I reread this one.  In the couple of chapters there was sexism, racism, and homophobia.  Lovely stuff.


Because I have way too much time on my hands ( I really don’t).  Here’s a few keepers:

“Any roommates?”

“Two lesbians,” she lied gravely

He believed her, and wasn’t shocked.  “No kidding?  It doesn’t bother you?”

Katie gave him a look of wide-eyed innocence.  “I adore them.”  For just a fraction of a second he looked revolted, and Katie’s smile widened with genuine laughter.

Recovering almost immediately, she shrugged.  “Too bad.  See you around.” (15)

She knew, and he knew, that simply because he was Hispanic she had assumed he drove a produce truck. (23)

“I mean, you think it is important that brandy be drunk in the ‘proper’ wau, yet you do not worry if it is ‘proper’ to invite any man you meet into your apartment.  You risk soiling your reputation and-” (29)

Those are just three quotes that made me throw the book against the wall,  I threw it several other times as well.  You know when I revisited Midsummer Magic  as gross as it was-and it is gross, Coulter tries to justify rape with bloody cream-at least it was sort of fun to mock in the fact that it was clear that Coulter didn’t take herself seriously and the book in part was meant to be taken as a farce.  A sick fuck of a farce, but a farce.   This book though, it did take itself in a more serious fashion and these quotes I’m using-well, they were all supposed to be a part of playful banter that has the characters endear each other to them.  Ramon’s backwards views that Katie should make him dinner and give up her job, were suppose to be sweet.

They weren’t sweet though, they were fucked up.

As was the marriage proposal that appears randomly after the characters barely know each other and the immediate if you marry me you move to Puerto Rico with me woman bits as well.



It’s not like I can even sympathize that much with Katie.  She is a racist bitch.  There’s no other way to describe it. But I still wanted to shake her and tell her that she was getting herself in danger with Ramon.  It had all the classic marks of an abusive relationship and it made me want to vomit.

Ramon “rescues” Katie when she’s being harassed by her married boyfriend to put out.  It’s not a meet cute situation for sure.  I think McNaught wanted the reader to feel like Ramon was a white knight of sorts, but I kept thinking how did Katie not know that married guy was married.

As for Ramon,  he’s obnoxious.  Pretty much he sells produce out of his truck because daddy got senile and ruined the company, and rather than sucking it up and getting a job that his skills could actually be utilized he decides that he’s going to go back to farming-something he’s never done before.  I guess based off of the books God awful narration, he thought he’d be good because his grandfather was a farmer or whatever.


You know, being a farmer actually requires you to know things like how plants grow and the like.  Not that Ramon knows this.  But I think he’s at least okay with farming since he can grow cabbages in Puerto Rico and apparently take them over in the mainland  to fly in his truck.

Look, I don’t ask questions.  Ramon is suppose to be this big shot businessman so I’m guessing he had some sort of plan in this cabbage growing investment of his.  But I didn’t even know you could grow cabbages in Puerto Rico.

Anyway…digression about the agriculture business aside, after Ramon rescues Katie he decides to stalk her.

Seriously, girl asks him to go away and he won’t actually go away.  Katie should’ve got the pepper spray out and called the police.  But instead he’s mildly attractive so we get some very squeamish scenes of them “dating”.

Which consists of the characters insulting each other back and forth and being okay with each other only because they find each other to be oddly physically attractive.

You know, this has the bare bones to be a good story.  I would’ve enjoyed reading Ramon’s riches to rags tell if he wasn’t such a sexist creeper ass.  I would’ve enjoyed Katie had she not been such a racist bitch who somehow doesn’t know she’s dating a married man and then is willing to randomly agree to marry someone who is forcing her to move outside of the continental US.

But instead, this story was just gross.  This was the sort of story that you could see why Hillary Clinton has the bad impression of romance books that she does.  To be fair to McNaught, I vaguely recall reading an interview awhile back that this book and Double Standards (another early era McNaught book) were heavily influenced by the publisher.  But honestly, that’s sort of a piss poor excuse.  I think if anything Tender Triumph shows really underlying problems in society that still exists to this day.

In this book, sexism is treated merely as a courtship ritual.  Racism is merely innocent assumptions made about a person.  And homophobia is just a funny hahaha joke.  Honestly though, nothing about this is funny, romantic, or innocent.  It’s disgusting, disturbing, and deplorable.

The thing is, as bad as Tender Triumph is the genre has thankfully evolved.  While books as bad as this do still unfortunately do still exist, they’re not as near as prevalent as they once were.  Unfortunately though, books like this have stigmatized the genre to some degree.

When I first started reading romance, I remember picking up a copy of McNaught’s Paradise before one of my undergrad classes when the professor came into the room and told me I was too smart to read such drivel.  Honestly, that comment has lingered on me since taking that class and I’m still disgusted by it.  However, with the stigma that books like Tender Triumph have left on the genre, it’s understandable but still not right.  Fortunately, it does seem like the genre has made a lot of strides since the early 80’s (when this book was first published).  However, progress still can be made (you know, by getting rid of  the alpha douche themed books all together)

Overall Rating: Falalala you fail.

Some Kind of Misogyny : Some Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe


In this sparkling debut novel, Mary Ann Marlowe introduces a hapless scientist who’s swept off her feet by a rock star—but is it love or just a chemical reaction?…

Biochemist Eden Sinclair has no idea that the scent she spritzed on herself before leaving the lab is designed to enhance pheromones. Or that the cute, grungy-looking guy she meets at a gig that evening is Adam Copeland. As in the Adam Copeland international rock god and object of lust for a million women. Make that a million and one. By the time she learns the truth, she s already spent the (amazing, incredible) night in his bed

Suddenly Eden, who’s more accustomed to being set up on disastrous dates by her mom, is going out with a gorgeous celebrity who loves how down-to-earth and honest she is. But for once, Eden isn’t being honest. She can’t bear to reveal that this overpowering attraction could be nothing more than seduction by science. And the only way to know how Adam truly feels is to ditch the perfume—and risk being ditched in turn

Smart, witty, and sexy, Some Kind of Magic is an irresistibly engaging look at modern relationships why we fall, how we connect, and the courage it takes to trust in something as mysterious and unpredictable as love.

Source: Goodreads

I am so fed up of books that feature a Plain Jane MC who hates anyone with boobs and even though she’s really plain manages to catch the attention of Mr. Handsome and falls instantly in love with him.

This is that sort of book.

To be honest, I picked this book up mostly because it reminded me of that old 90’s movie, Love Potion Number 9. If you haven’t seen that movie it’s pretty is like Amy Farrah Flower played in this case by Sandy B  and Sheldon Cooper played by Tate Donovan uses some formula that makes her attractive to everyone.  Though, they do it in the name of science and aren’t as socially awkward as Shamy.


Here though, the whole Love Potion Number 9 angle is hardly played with.   Well, it might be later on considering I only read about thirty pages of the book before calling it a day.

I have noticed this year, that my tolerance for bad books or at least books I don’t like-since reading is subjective- has decreased drastically.  Used to a book like this and its tropes usage would’ve only gotten a couple of groans from me and I might’ve been able to tolerate it to the end but I just can’t anymore.

I really don’t know what it was that ticked me off so much about this one if it was the use of tropes of the lack originality that made me roll my eyes.

Or the fact that a grown woman would describes herself as being ridiculously responsible would randomly fall into a one night stand with a rock star without knowing him.

I just couldn’t…

It’s the same feeling I felt when I read that said grown woman constantly trashes any woman who looks better than her and bemoans about her own looks because she’s not blonde.

And she’s supposed to be a grown professional woman.

You know, maybe a few years ago I would’ve been okay with this but I can’t now.  I just can’t.  I thought we were beyond books like this.

And okay, I know that Fifty Shades of Puke managed to get published but that was years ago.  AND more importantly that was an outlier.  This sort of shit really has lost any sort of originality it has and I just don’t understand how it could make it past the slush pile.

But whatever.

It didn’t make it past my slush pile and I certainly don’t recommend it.

Overall Rating: DNF


Why I DNF A Book in Under Forty Pages; The Return of Brody McDouche by Jennifer Ryan

The black sheep of Fallbrook is back . . . and he’s in for the surprise of his life.

Former bad boy, now-decorated Army Ranger Brody McBride is home and on a mission: Find the woman he never should have left behind and right the wrong he did eight years ago.

When the man she loved broke her heart and skipped town, Rain Evans picked up the pieces. But along with heartbreak, Brody left her something infinitely better than she could have imagined: two beautiful daughters. One she gave birth to, and the other she rescued from the woman who helped destroy her relationship with Brody.

Brody is shocked to discover he’s a father, and he’s more determined than ever to win back Rain and protect his girls. Can they rekindle the love they once shared and become the family they were always meant to be? Or will a danger from their past return and ruin everything?

Source: GoodReads

I have been having a slew of DNF’s lately but The Return of Brody McDouche  McBride broke a world record of DNF’ing in under 40 pages!  Usually, I make it at least past the fifty page mark.  But I thought I’d list the reasons why I DNF’d Brody McDouche (yes, it really should’ve been named that).

  1. Secret baby plot:  It’s an annoying trope, but I’ll be willing to put up for it if it’s different and the girl doesn’t like give up her entire life for the baby.  Doesn’t happen here.
  2. Double secret baby plot with multiple women knocked up at the same time: Ew, ew, ew.
  3. Women randomly is able to adopt second child from the Evil Bitch-Slut! character despite having no familiar connection: Maybe it was threw illegal means or something, but generally the adoption goes through blood relatives first when someone’s parental rights are revoked.   There was a blood uncle to kid 2 here, so I didn’t get it.  This is one of those times you wish you didn’t have some experience in family law.
  4. Characters having weather and seasonal names: The female MC’s name is Rain her biological daughter’s name is Dawn.  Gag reflexes yet.  And Dawn’s half sister’s name is Autumn so there’s seasonal, weather, and dish soap names here.  It’s annoying it’s obnoxious.   And if you have those names I’m sorry, BUT….whatever. Combined its hideous.
  5. Brody McDouche says that Rain is his woman despite having no contact with her for eight years, and because of that not paying her the requisite amount in child support: Yeah.  He’s a McDouche.
  6. Brody McDouche’s brother is a caring uncle who is also a lawyer that seems to have never told Rain about maybe she should seek child support: Despite the fact Rain is pretty broke because she’s raising two kids as a single mom and doesn’t seem to be making much money, he doesn’t suggest informing McDouche even though McDouche would probably owe her a good chunk of his earnings because um, child support.
  7. Brody McDouche is rich despite working for the government for eight years: Because being rich is a requisite for a romance novel and somehow being deployed makes you an expert at the stock market or wherever McDouche got his money?!?!?!?!
  8. Demonization of Roxy (the other woman) being a complete bitch: Never mind it takes two to tango, and Brody McDouche willingly went into Roxy’s bed.
  9. Rain still dreams about Brody McDouche besides the fact that he abandoned her and she was forced to raise both of his children without child support: ew
  10. The fact that Brody McDouche is the hero: Enough said.

And that is why I DNF this book.
Simple enough, huh.  Sad thing is, that the other titles in this series don’t look that bad.   I just, I just don’t know if I want to touch it with a ten foot pole after Brody McDouche.

Boo: All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St Amant

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself her is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

Source: GoodReads

I’ll read a lot of things, but I sort of draw the line at Inspirational romance. While I am a quasi practicing Catholic (meaning, I only attend mass at holidays and when I’m dragged to it—i.e. when it’s my mother’s birthday—and don’t believe the church’s views on several social issues), I don’t like reading about people’s religion that are like a written version of all those lame Kurt Cameron movies. All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes is marketed as a contemporary, which was why I picked it up, but it soon became clear after reading the author’s bio and some brief God allusions that this is light inspirational lit.

I still continued on though, because it wasn’t blatantly in Kurt Cameron territory, but I couldn’t finish the sucker because it was just bad. And that’s not include the random Bible versions and come to Jesus talk which is annoying enough when it would randomly appear in a text conversation of all things.

The summary of the book drags you in, the book is set in a cooking competition that looks like it’s akin to Cupcake Wars—but this show is called Cupcake Combat. It’s sort of funny they changed the name when the fictional show airs on the Food Network in this book, it’s like be a little more obvious St. Amant but I’ll relent. But seriously, what’s wrong with making up a network like I don’t know like even the Food Channel. You have to use the Food Network’s name but then blatantly change the obvious show you’re trying to mimic.

Anyway, set in a food competition this book features around a woman named Kat who is the blandest crybaby to ever live. You see her life sucks because she wasn’t born blonde like her sister—STELLLA (always have to put a Streetcar Named Desire reference when I hear/read that name) and she banished to working at her aunt’s cupcake shop (apply named Sweetie Pies, even though they only sale three flavors of cupcakes) because everyone in her family hates her. And her life is so horrible mixing those Duncan Hines cake mixes of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Because no one in the town Kat has been banished to have ever heard of the special cupcakes that she likes to do—like throwing cherries into her chocolate cupcakes—and it’s just draining the life out of her. Luckily, she has her best friend and resident asshole Lucas to fix things for her.

Obviously, I have little sympathy towards Kat. Maybe if her problems weren’t so superficial I’d care. Or maybe if I could understand why the bakery called itself Sweetie Pies when it served no pie, or made do with just three cupcake flavors despite being in freaking Louisiana which is sort of known for their variety of desserts. And really, Kat, red velvet isn’t that hard of a cupcake to make for an experienced Southern baker. You are just showing your inexperience. But I guess when you mix three flavors of Duncan Hines mix all your life, red velvet would be a difficult to make. And as much as Kat likes to complain about her life, I really didn’t think it was that bad. I just wondered how a bakery stayed open making three cupcake flavors and how they named themselves Sweetie Pies when there’s no freaking pies? Talk about misrepresentation. The only somewhat coherent explanation I made up in my head is that Aunt Maggie is making some special pies that she sells when Kat’s not there that would get her in trouble with the local sheriff. Either that, or the town only has one bakery, and you’re sort of stuck with three flavors of cake.

I think I was supposed to feel sorry for Kat, but I there wasn’t really any significant development for her whining to look anything more than first world problems. Really, if you don’t like making Duncan Hines cake mixes be assertive, work and compromise with your aunt rather than having your Duck Dynasty wannabe best friend entire you into some faux Cupcake Wars competition—again, did Cupcake Combat have to be on the Food Network? Really, did we need to be that obvious?

I could not stand the male lead in this one folks. He is creepy as fuck. And looks down at anything that is not deep fried and generica. Seriously, they leave a nice restaurant in order to go for the pink slime at a fast food restaurant.  Seriously, he basically pouts when Kat was like let’s eat at this nice place, though she eventually agrees that fine dining= snotty people. Note, I might be a little prejudice in this regard since the last time I ate a Mickey D’s burger I received such severe food poisoning I haven’t gotten anything more than a Coke from there in about a decade. But regardless of my own fast food prejudice, I just found it a little odd that someone who is entering a food competition would be more happy with a gross Mystery Meat burger than fine dining. And who gives a fuck that a salad is fifteen dollars? It’s fine freaking dining. If you didn’t want to spend so much on food, you could’ve looked up restaurants near you on Yelp. But alas, it’s fifteen dollars a salad or Mickey D’s. And it just doesn’t end with the we take pink slime instead of filet mignon incident, Lucas constantly snarks at people for dressing “metro” and says he doesn’t want Kat looking one of those evil city people with makeup and shiny lips.

Really, he mocks anyone with any education or culture background that is different from his own? Honestly, I think one of the reasons I despised Lucas is because he rang Trump voter to me. That and besides being anti-intellectual he is creepy as fuck. So, he secretly tapes Kat to get her on the show and then he follows her around like a puppy dog and is just God awful controlling and their not even together yet. Like he snaps at her for watching The Wizard of Oz instead of football.

Well, Lucas, if it would’ve been me I would’ve told you to fuck football. I was forced to attend stupid football games in high school because I had to be in stupid marching band so that I could be in concert band and I still have no interest or know how that fucking game works.

And at this point dear reader you’re probably like resentment much?

Hell yeah, when idiots like Lucas say that football games are better than classic movies and who like fucking McDonalds better than surf and turf.

I actually ranted about more of the superficial problems that I had with Lucas (sans creepy taping Kat behind her back scene, I honestly wondered if the douche had one installed in her shower that’s how big of a creep he came off as). The real problem with the character is that he’s emotionally manipulative and as a result emotionally abusive. There’s obvious control issues there, and while what I mentioned was petty it’s just examples of how the character acts throughout the book. Full disclosure, I DNF’d this one, but the way the book was going it was clear that Lucas was thinking about sabotaging the MC so that she wouldn’t win and could be his woman and make him some special cupcakes (note, not specialness is not the same as my head cannon Aunt Maggie’s special pies).

Like I said, the pairing was really wasn’t working for me. And from the page flipping I did there seems to be some complications with a creepy judge. But really, from what I saw the judge wasn’t as creepy as Lucas—but from the various page flipping and reviews I read he transforms to being really creepy.

Besides the bland characters and horrible ship, the other HUGE problem I had with this book was the fucking cupcakes. I’ll admit I’m not a baker. I can’t really bake unless it’s gluten free shit, and to be honest if you ever try to make something gluten free you know that it’s a) going to taste bad or b) you’re going to need a whole lot of skills so unless it’s those bake and break gluten free cookies, I usually don’t go there unless the flour has already been properly mixed with the proper thickening agent—and FYI, getting preprepared gluten free flour with xanthium gum already mixed in it is expensive. However, I have binged profusely on a lot of baking shows—because when you can’t eat delicious bake goods you might as well enjoy watching people talk about them. I will say without a doubt, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would’ve crucified Kat and everyone else in this stupid competition about the quality of their bakes.

Seriously. I’ll just go through some of the cupcakes that were made. The first competition cupcake ingredient included a mixture of peanut butter, chocolate chip, and caramel with a stinking topping decoration of an animal crackers and caramel corn. Mary and Paul would probably remark how it wasn’t an innovative use of the ingredients, I mean sticking a freaking animal cracker as decoration. On most food shows they probably would’ve at least crumbled the sucker and incorporated it into the batter somehow. The same with the caramel corn using it as garnish and decoration is just downright lazy. The peanut butter, caramel, chocolate combination to me seemed to be a little too heavy—peanut is a heavy flavor on it’s own and while chocolate can work with it, with caramel added to it to me would seem overly sweet. You’d have to balance it somehow correctly (often with the amount and quality of ingredients), but nothing is said here at all. Instead, all we get is Kat bad mouthing someone’s brownies because they were gooey. And gooey brownies are just bad, ya’ll.

At the end of the day, I gave up on this one before it could cause my headache to get any worse (172 pages). Oddly enough, the inspirational crap didn’t even get to me. Yes, there were some annoying biblical quotes—really book, people don’t text Bible quotes—but other than that I didn’t want to throw this book against the wall at least for that. I did want to throw the book against the wall for it’s judgmental hillbilly leads who think apparently adding animal crackers as a decoration in a food competition is innovative.

Overall Rating: DNF. Burn book, burn.

The First Romance Novel I Ever Read: Perfect by Judith McNaught

A rootless foster child, Julie Mathison had blossomed under the love showered upon her by her adoptive family. Now a lovely and vivacious young woman, she was a respected teacher in her small Texas town, and she passionately lived her ideals. Julie was determined to give back all the kindness she’d received; nothing and no one would ever shatter the perfect life she had fashioned.

Zachary Benedict was an actor/director whose Academy Award-winning career had been shattered when he was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. After the tall, ruggedly handsome Zack escaped from a Texas prison, he abducted Julie and forced her to drive him to his Colorado mountain hideout. She was outraged, cautious, and unable to ignore the instincts that whispered of his innocence. He was cynical, wary, and increasingly attracted to her. Passion was about to capture them both in its fierce embrace…but the journey to trust, true commitment, and proving Zack’s innocence was just beginning….

Source: GoodReads

Perfect is one of those dreaded rereads that you realize you’ve outgrown what you thought was a good book and said book SUCKED.

To be fair, there were some things that I enjoyed about Perfect and that I’ll always enjoy about the book. I’ll probably reread certain things again, but in 2016 there are things about the twenty some odd book that are ridiculously dated that make me wonder if they were even okay in the 1990’s because some of this shit I don’t think it would’ve flied back then.

The premise is one to raise eyebrows, the Stockholm Syndrome trope. As a feminist, or as a decent human being, I don’t like the trope still I like the wrongfully convicted movie star angle when I was fourteen and I thought it’d be a fun one to revisit. However, it wasn’t.

I started drafting this review halfway through the very long reading process of this book and finished it after I got through its unicorn dropping of an ending (FYI, for sanity purposes you should really think about skimming the last hundred or so pages and going straight to the epilogue or at least the wedding scene). I knew I’d have a lot to talk about, so I thought it be better to start my ramblings off early than later in the drafting process—the grievances ended up being a whopping total of over 1800 words (or the equivalent of a small undergrad essay).

1) The Main Characters—specifically Julie, Zack to a lesser degree.

 God, I wanted to deck Julie and then some. McNaught heroines are always borderline Sues. I sort of give some of them a break—like Meredith in Paradise she might look perfect have an idyllic life, but at least there are flaws there and she’s just as much to blame with her relationship issues as Matt. With Julie, while little Ms. Perfect can’t do anything wrong.

Save for the first twenty pages of the book where she’s a little homeless wraith, but of course she changes her evil wiles of being a thief. FYI, the backgrounds on the character are nice and all but don’t really add much to the story. With Julie, I could refrain for her digging out dead fish out an aquarium since it didn’t really add that much to the story. The pickpocket thing could’ve been utilized, but wasn’t.

Besides the useless flashbacks, another issue I had with this character is she’s so damn preachy. I just wanted to smack little Ms. Perfect and her judgmental ways. I wanted someone else to mention that she was a little bit of a bitch towards Zack, but they were all like forgive Julie.

In fact, one of the little 1D dweebs she teaches calls Zack a jerk when he’s released from jail because he made Julie cry. God forbid. Even though Julie was the fucking one who got him trapped AND beaten by the police.

Zack is no saint either, but at least his motivations make sense. Dude was locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. While I didn’t like how fast his relationship with little Miss Perfect developed—personally, I wish he would’ve reconnected with an old lover than Ms. Perfect Virgin at least his motivations made sense. Though, even Disney did more developing Belle and the Beast’s relationship—since they had him give her a library and try to woo her with dinner before he even thought about getting her to kiss him, let alone bed him. Furthermore, is a little bit ridiculous how much name dropping that McNaught did to pump up this character to A-list celebrity status especially since unless you watch a lot of films from this era when this book was published you’re not going to recognize some of these names. By the way, Barbara fucking Streisand sings at their good old country church wedding of all things.

2) The Side Characters—Save For Matt and Meredith (and even then seemed to talk unnaturally)

 Other than Matt and Meredith who developed happily ever speech (speech that sounds unnatural by couples who are living blissfully in book-ville) I didn’t enjoy any of the side characters. And Meredith, I got annoyed with you for defending Julie Sue.

First, there’s Julie’s dipshit brother who is a sexist and then some—but again it’s his ex-wife’s fault their marriage failed apart because she didn’t know how to cook, wanted to live in a nice house, and got into a riding accident which resulted to a miscarriage. This is an annoying subplot that is quickly solved within 360 pages of the book where she admits she’s wrong and they live happily ever after in a crappy apartment. It’s still annoying though because if you cut out that crap I could’ve gotten through with some of this torture a little quicker.

The other brother, the minister father, and mother are all equally bland. Save for this annoying scene at the end of the book where the minister dad goes on one of those stupid save yourself for marriage rants and we get a weird quasi Christian romance scene of the couple reconnecting and Zack getting randy because he can’t have sex with Julie till they get hitched. Hell, he can’t even be in the grown ass woman’s house alone with her. Oh, and her father’s one of those people who calls their wives “Mother” that is always a freaking pet peeve of mine so it’s additional fictional knee in his nuts from me.

Me when thinking about some of these characters.

See, talking about these people is getting me violent.   It really makes me concerned why my fourteen-year-old self loved this book (probably because Zack is hot).

And God, even since the reread I’ve skimmed that part—the last one hundred pages—with good reason.

Other than them, there are some annoying locals that maintain the pristine—piss poor annoying values of their cookie cutter American town. FYI, if you sleep with someone before you’re married and a woman they’ll gossip about you to no end.  And there’s these two annoying geriatric twins that dress alike, one being nice one not so nice, where there’s yet another subplot involving one of their love lives.

I hated them all.

3) Plots and Subplots Fail Flat

 For 700 pages everything better be damn well resolved, right.

Oh, dear blog reader, you’d be wrong. Oh, so wrong. There are so many holes in this book it isn’t funny.

I think a part of the problem is we have so many extraneous storylines: whole killed Zack’s wife, is Zack going to get his freedom, is Julie going to betray him, the Katherine/Ted drama, will Matt ever get his nap with Meredith, and most importantly if the community of Keaton is the community that Dump uses in his idealistic view of what used to make America Great since it seems to be full of WASPs and Julie looks like a supermodel.

Rather than focusing on what’s important, meaning who really killed Rachel—Zack’s wife—or for that matter working the shit out that happens between Julie and Zack appropriately, the murder mystery is solved very randomly and not by even the main characters. If any plot is resolved, it’s that Keaton gets this big fat moralistic info commercial at the end and like I said before.

Skip it.

Unless you want to see a town full of jerks whose faces you want to punch—Julie’s included. God, did I want to bitch slap Julie.

Again, McNaught, why were we stuck with her as a MC?

When rereading this, I was sort of shocked how ill paced this one is. It is over seven hundred pages and yet parts that needed to be fleshed out weren’t fleshed out at all. And as for Matthew and Meredith, while I liked them in there I sort of wanted them to be how Cam and Amelia were utilized in Seduce Me at Sunset, meaning we get longer meatier scenes with them to get rid of some of the bullshit—aka Julie and her town full of hypocrites with their little forgiveness message that doesn’t only extend to Princess Perfect but Zack’s God awful relatives who disowned him and left him to fend for himself on the streets when he was fucking eighteen.

Forgiveness, my ass.

And for the love of God, kill Ted and Katherine with fire, McNaught.

4) Feminism—It Ceases to Exist

 Remember the 1990’s woman?

If you watch a lot of movies from the era you’re told that the 90’s woman can have it all and conform to the standards that were established by men—i.e. being their babysitter. In this book, we’re constantly told how horrible Katherine is because she didn’t learn to cook and clean and wipe Ted’s butt.

Julie is deemed as wholesome and we get some virgin worship for her, while McNaught hotly contends that evil women such as Rachel and Katherine to a lesser intent are evil because they have sex, don’t want babies, and want careers.   Also, anyone who has had an abortion in this book is treated like tainted goods. Hell, Julie even had to ask Zack permission to write a fucking book (which FYI, is sort of a product placement for the fucking book your reading—no wonder Julie is a such a Sue).

I find it so odd that this is the same woman who wrote Paradise where the main character is very career oriented. Sure, there were some gender issues in that book but they were handled more tactfully and you understood the motivations towards the various upsets. Here though, people are merely called a slut in the good town of Keaton if they don’t listen to the great Reverend Nuts-I-Must-Kick rants about virginity.

No wonder Julie is so fucked up.

Really, her social worker should ashamed of his/herself. Then again, I don’t think they had much choice but to but her with Nuts-I-Must-Kick after his shrink relative—who we never see after her first appearance—makes her appeal about what loving people they are.

That aside though, I am really surprised with how much woman hate there was in this book it seems like everyone—aside from Julie—can find some way to insult someone of the female sex.

Really, this book should just go for the fat pigs and talk about their periods because I think it sort of wants too with the amount of hate that spewed from it.

A part of me knows I’m not looking at the book in it’s historical contents, it is over twenty years old and because of that it is dated, but somehow Paradise didn’t seem to get on my nerves as much as this.

The thing is, is even though parts of this dragged and I rolled my eyes I didn’t hate it. There were some scenes that worked. I loved seeing Matt and Meredith again, and Zack wasn’t that bad. Julie though—I went from being fairly sympathetic to hating her guts.

First Read: An A. It was my first romance novel, but second read I’d probably give it a C+ if I’m being generous. Therefore, rounding up the reading experience to a B. Like I said, hideously dated some poor messages but there is something at least interesting about it.



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.

Are You Sure This Isn’t a Katy McGarry Book: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

Source: GoodReads


Man, if I didn’t know this book was by Jennifer L Armentrout I would’ve thought it was by Katy McGarry.

Like McGarry books this one is overly romantic and dramatic, but lacks the duel narrative that hers usually has.

All things considered it is a really solid contemporary.  The storyline was engaging and focused more on character development than plot.  Sure, there were a few over dramatic things that happened during the course of the story that made me want to gouge my eyes out a bit, but overall it was enjoyable.

I really enjoyed the character Mallory.  I feel like she is very relatable.  She’s at that age where a lot of people don’t know what they want in life but at the same time sort of do but haven’t came to those conclusions yet.  I thought Armentrout did that well.  I also enjoyed the romance for the most part.  Though, I could’ve lived without the Paige subplot.

That was a little too much for my taste and a bad throwback to YA of the mid 2000’s where the Mean Girl trope was alive and well.  And really, Paige wasn’t a necessity as was a lot of the external plot that went on that lead to the melodramatic event in the middle of the book that I found a tad bit unbelievable-though, I get events like this happen.  I think the thing that bothered me so much about this subplot was if you took it out of the story it would’ve been just as strong maybe stronger if you got annoyed with the melodrama.

The actual character development that went on with this particular book was pretty strong.  Mallory had a lot of shit to deal with and dealt with it.  I also liked how the romance wasn’t the focal point of the book.  Other relationships such as those with family and friends played an important role in this book, including self development.

In all this was a very different Jennifer L Armentrout book for me to read.  While there is still that ridiculous readable quality about it, but rather than being what I deem fast food reading (a book that’s not the best for you good) there’s something about this book that is more mature than those other books.

I also liked that this book incorporated diversity and not in a tokenism sort of way.  There are several characters who come from a non-WASP background were not generalized.

While not perfect, this is a good book.

Overall Rating: B+