This Week, I Read… (2017 #8)


#25 – Rocked, by Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott

I don’t think this book had an editor. It’s so full of flaws that should have been caught.

The easy stuff: numerous missing or misplaced commas and hyphens. Odd verb choices and frequent butchering of common phrases and metaphors.

The terrible stuff: One of the main characters has a brother who is introduced, in person, in her first scene. It’s established they’re both on the same rock tour together–her as a chef with the catering company, him as tech crew. THE BROTHER IS MENTIONED ONCE IN PASSING AND LITERALLY NEVER SEEN AGAIN.

What the hell, authors? Why does she even have a brother if he’s so unnecessary to the story? We see much more of Harper’s “uncle,” a friend of her father’s who is also a chef and also on this tour with her. Stretching my willing disbelief a little, here.

As for the actual plot of this book, the sex scenes are hot, I’ll grant them that, but there’s too many of them, and the “romance” never really gets deeper than sex. There’s little emotional bonding because Harper and Deacon are too busy banging like rabbits, and the rest of the time they’re repeating ad nauseam how great the other one smells. Physical detail about characters is great, and smell is often the ignored sense in writing–but seriously, you don’t have to remind me what they smell like every time they run into each other. I remember, okay? I have an attention span longer than your average fruit fly.

This book is over 500 pages long, and just cutting back the extraneous sex scenes would probably lower that by a hundred pages, which would still make this long for your average romance novel (especially in the contemporary genre) but it would be far more palatable.


#26 – Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin

My gut and heart gave this one star because cheating is a deal-breaker for me. I have never cheated, I would never cheat, and I don’t forgive people who do, no matter what their reasons. I realize that’s a black-and-white view of relationships, but it’s served me well in my life.

When this book opened with the narrator sleeping with a man who is both a long-standing friend of hers as well as her best friend’s fiancé, well, I knew I was going to be in for a bumpy ride.

People make mistakes. A drunken one-night stand, yeah, I can see that happening. I tried to be open-minded and not hate the characters for making that mistake.

But oh, look, they keep making it sober. They have an affair.

The narrator’s best friend is portrayed throughout the book as a self-centered bitch, as if that makes it okay for them to be going behind her back. The narrator realizes she’s been in love with this guy the whole time but never pursued him because she didn’t feel good enough about herself, and surprise, it’s because Ms. Bitch Friend is hyper-competitive and been putting the narrator down her whole life.

Sorry, that still doesn’t make having an affair okay with me, and I don’t like the guy any better for not breaking off the wedding until damn close to the last minute, as if he’s keeping both his options open.

Oh, and of course, it turns out in the end that Ms. Bitch Friend was cheating, too, having a fling with the same guy she was trying to set the narrator up with. And they’re pregnant, which basically makes everyone’s choices for them. Lame cop-out ending.

The book earned back that second star for two reasons: one, because the writing style is clean, open, and engaging, or I would have put the book down instead of finishing it, despite its subject matter; and two, not everyone has the same clear-cut view of cheating that I do, and other people might connect with this book in ways I can’t.


#27 – Twisted, by Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott

This book is a mashup of every angsty trope I can think of. Let’s see how many things I think were poorly handled in this story:

  1. Drug addiction and rehab
  2. Adoption and the foster care system
  3. Friends-to-Lovers
  4. “Almost rape” as a past plot device for character development
  5. Female characters being lazy about birth control…
  6. …with the inevitable unplanned pregnancy that resolves everything
  7. Professionalism on the job
  8. Gross stupidity about money and second/third chances

In fact, just the only thing I thought was handled well was the response to this pairing by the woman’s (brief) former lover and current bandmate, one of the guys I was harping on being a raging mysogynist in the first book. He actually both approves of and helps along the budding relationship, accepting that he’s not the guy for her. It’s remarkably mature for him to the point of being out of character, and hopefully that is a milestone on his journey to having a happy ending with someone in a future book in the series.

One that I won’t be reading of course, because I have absolutely lost my patience with how bad this series is.


#28 – Bridge of Dreams, by Anne Bishop

DNF @ page 102.

I read the first book in this series, Sebastien, several years ago. It was light and fluffy for all of its “dark” characters, including the hero, and it used some strange and wonderful worldbuilding to draw you into the fantasy.

The second book, Belladonna, didn’t expand on that worldbuilding as much as it repeated it. The “rules” of the way the world worked were so complicated that we the reader constantly had to be reminded of them, to understand why the plot happened the way it did. But there was a charming love story threaded through all that weirdness, so I still enjoyed it, though not as much as Sebastien.

This story continues to repeat the same convoluted worldbuilding that (ideally) we should all understand by now, but we don’t, because goddamn it’s complicated and the plot always hinges on how it works to keep characters isolated from each other. This was a mess, and the new elements that were added didn’t seem necessary to me–a demon race that is three people in one body that actually manifests different physical aspects? I couldn’t tell if that was supposed to be a magical version of Multiple Personality Disorder or not, especially given that the main character is imprisoned in what is essentially an insane asylum when he meets her/them. (All three are female, hence the “her”–and even though I didn’t read that far, it’s obvious that one of the three is going to be his love interest for the romance plot. Which is just weird to me, and not in a fantastical way, but a creepy one.)

I ran out of steam, basically. This just wasn’t interesting enough to keep wading through the repetitive bullshit.


#29 – Mr. Cavendish, I Presume, by Julia Quinn

I grabbed this from the library when I saw they had it, as I enjoyed The Lost Duke of Wyndham much more than I’d expected to and wanted to find out how the displaced duke still found his romance after all the drama.

Too bad this doesn’t take place after the first book, but is a retelling of the same story from the POVs of the other couple.

That’s not at all obvious from the blurb, though, which I reread carefully after realizing what I held in my hands, and that’s why I’m so disappointed. It’s not that the writing is bad–the same wry humor still pervades it, and I’m such a sucker for that–and Amelia, whom we see very little of in the first book, is actually a completely charming heroine with unexpected depths.

But I can’t help feeling their romance would have been much more interesting if it had taken place after Cavendish’s dispossession, instead of during. And it would mean the plot wouldn’t be so damn predictable, since I just read it last week!

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