#110 – Tattered Loyalties, by Carrie Ann Ryan
The worldbuilding in this was terrible. I know all the titles of the various positions within the shifter pack, but aside from the obvious Alpha, I have little knowledge of what any of them do.
The story zips along at a fast pace, glossing over any explanation, any detail, that would have helped me understand the world. For example: these “wolves” live in the Middle of Nowhere™, Oregon. They’re protected with magic from the outside world knowing about them–but they have homes with electricity and running water and all the usual first-world amenities. Who built these homes out there in Nowhere Land? How are the residents “hidden” if they’re hooked up to the power grid–are they doing it illegally, or is some shell corporation the pack has set up paying their bills? Do they have actual addresses and get mail service from USPS? Does “magic” account for everything with no explanation of how?
How on earth can they live in secret and still have nice things?
So I hated it, basically. The rushed, semi-forced “mating” romance isn’t even the biggest disappointment I had when the worldbuilding had more holes than a screen door.
#111 – More Than A Feeling, by Sara Richardson
Built from a puzzle kit of standard tropes–the untrusting battered woman on the run, the cop who can’t shut down his need to know the why of everything–but reasonably enjoyable, even if it was predictable at times. Ruby was annoyingly flip-floppy about her interactions with Sawyer (kiss, no wait I can’t, another kiss, this is a terrible idea, yet another kiss) but Sawyer was more interesting, with him trying to cope with his feelings about the loss of his unborn child and the recent divorce that stemmed from it.
In fact, Sawyer was most of the reason I liked this book at all, because Ruby’s tragic backstory felt heavy-handed, doubling down on how awful her life was by pairing foster-kid life with later domestic abuse.
Bonus points, though, for being a true standalone within a series–this is the third Heart of the Rockies novel, and I never once felt adrift for not having read the earlier ones.
#112 – Wild Irish Ride, by Jennifer Saints
DNF around 30%. This was over-the-top in every possible way it could be.
Runaway bride? Check. Former almost-lover she hasn’t seen in twelve years standing around nearby to rescue her? Check. Immediately having drippingly-purple-prose sex with him? Also check. Her family reporting her kidnapped so the police drag her back? …Really?
Oh, and of course her family is excruciatingly overbearing and awful, telling her to marry her fiancé anyway, even she’d seen the photos of him having group sex. (Which is horrific and completely shameful, by the way–I mean, being down on him for cheating is fine, but the sheer level of moral outrage over the way he did it was amazing. You’d think he was drowning puppies, not engaging in consenting-adult funtimes.)
Why should she still marry him? Oh, my dear, that’s just what men do. They’re not faithful and you can’t expect them to be.
Listen, I know this is because her family is supposed to be horrible, but they don’t have a shred of redeeming value, they’re villainous on the level of Snidely Whiplash. It’s not credible.
And, on top of this, I had to stop when I realized the bride had this horrible confrontation with her family while covered in cinnamon oil. That’s right, she got totally greased up during her “wild” romp with the hero, and she was immediately returned to her home by the police with barely a chance to put clothes on, let alone shower. So she should have been glistening and uncomfortable, but oops the oil is never mentioned again. At least not before I gave up.
#113 – Inevitable, by Angela Graham
So I said I wanted a single-dad romance to scratch an itch, and it turns out I’d already picked up a free one back in one of my Kindle binges. Too bad it wasn’t very good.
Dad is a total player who we’re supposed to believe goes strait-laced for the (much younger) girl next door. His son is believably adorable and by far the least annoying character in the book, which is a total surprise because kids can be a pain to write. But our heroine bounces between being disgusted by Dad’s player ways and deliberately flaunting her singleness and attractiveness under his nose because she knows he’s into her.
Then, somehow, they actually become friends? Like, real friends, who talk about their days and their troubles with each other and don’t constantly flirt. Well, he still flirts a little.
So then, finally, something approaching a real romance develops, and I found myself liking the second half of the book much better–
Until the cliffhanger. I’m not morally opposed to cliffhangers if done well, but I didn’t like these characters enough to want to buy the next book, so I’ll simply never know how it’s resolved.
#114 – The Long Road Home, by Danielle Steel
DNF @ page 90-something, though out of curiosity I skimmed the rest briefly.
My first Danielle Steel, and most definitely my last. It was wretched.
From my imperfect skim of the overall plot, this is the story of an abused little girl who grows up to have three different love affairs over the course of her life, the third one being the one that finally sticks.
Her first lover is a priest who commits suicide after their affair is discovered. Or at least that’s what she’d told–I found that part, but for all I know that’s just what she was told. Traumatic.
Second lover also abuses her? Because, you know, the first 90 pages I actually read about her childhood weren’t bad enough. Newsflash: her entire personality is that she’s abused. There is nothing else interesting about her, hence why I stopped reading.
Third lover is apparently okay, because that’s who she ends up with. But what I saw of that seemed pretty bland.
Where I stopped reading was when the girl’s AWFUL DISGUSTING EXCUSE FOR A HUMAN BEING OF A MOTHER WHO HAS NO GOOD QUALITIES SO THE READER CAN’T POSSIBLY HELP BUT HATE HER drops the girl off at a convent because she doesn’t want her anymore.
Which is where the story should have started.
If I’d picked up a book that began with a ten-year-old girl starting a “new” life at a convent, and gradually her troubled past and lack of real love from her parents came out organically as part of her character development as she formed new relationships with not-terrible adult figures–that could have been a good book!
But front-loading the character’s misery was well, miserable for me to read through.
On top of that, the writing style was also miserable–paragraphs shouldn’t always be pages long. WALL OF TEXT ALERT.