Friday, September 30, 2011

Temporary Spy by Lynne Connolly

TITLE: Temporary Spy
AUTHOR: Lynne Connolly
PUBLISHER: Total-e-bound
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 16k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.36

Beth investigates industrial espionage, but when a new job ends up coming from the man she left behind, she insists on being the one to do it. It’ll give her closure, she believes, except the moment Finn Scott sees her, he’s all over her, the chemistry they’d shared three years earlier hotter than ever. Finn has never forgotten Beth, ransacking the country for any sign of her when she disappeared after turning down his marriage proposal. But now that she’s back in his life, he has no intention of ever letting her go.

When I saw this for sale earlier this week, I got excited. I’d recently really enjoyed some of this author’s work, and while I’ve already purchased some of her backlist, I thought buying her most recent release would have me reading her at the top of her game. I was wrong. I was so disappointed in this story, it’s hard to believe it’s the same author.

The story starts in Finn’s POV as he is fending off the advances of his PA. She complains about the awful temp she has to deal with, so he agrees to talk to her at the end of the day. He doesn’t expect the temp to be the woman who disappeared out of his life three years earlier, however. The second she walks into his office, he is across the room, kissing her desperately against the door. Beth is there to help him ferret out and prove someone is stealing from him, but she gets caught up in the passion between them, and the single kiss turns into sex, sex, and more sex. She believes with everything she has that it won’t work, though, and fully intends for their relationship to be over once the job is done. Finn has other ideas.

My problems started early. We get none of the backstory between Finn and Beth before she walks into his office, and yet, he throws her against the door with such passion, there’s a distinct disconnect, like some of the story is missing or that I’ve somehow lost it from my file. In fact, we get very little of the backstory until later in the story, and what we do get comes in boring telling sections that do nothing to add any kind of sparkle to the characters. Beth’s explicit reason for leaving Finn before is kept a mystery until the very end, even though it’s painfully obvious very early on. It’s also incredibly lame, because all of the drama about why it was such a big deal is merely referenced in conversation that has zero emotional impact.

Both leads are flat, and the sex between them uninspired. Finn does start getting interesting near the end, but then the story is over and it all feels like one big wasted opportunity. Beth, on the other hand, always felt like a wet rag, and why she thought she could have this last fling with a man she’d left with no explanation, I’ll never know.

The espionage story itself is handled clumsily and then abruptly (and conveniently) resolved, leaving this short novella’s primary focus on the romance between the two leads. There’s an HEA, but honestly, I laughed out loud at it. She’s shown very little reason to change her mind, until, oh wait there’s the ending, she has to. If I hadn’t read this author before, I would have dismissed all the rest of her work out of hand after reading this one. It was just that bad. Now, however, I can only hope that this is a blip, because of the publisher perhaps, or maybe because it’s so short or written to a deadline I can’t know about or something like that. There has to be a reason why this falls so short of the level I’ve previously experienced with this author. I can only hope it’s a one-off and doesn’t reflect in the other stories I already have waiting to be read.


7/10 – Short, so it went quickly, but ultimately a little cold


4/10 – Flat for too much of the story, by the time he started getting interesting, the story was over


4/10 – Her behavior remains unexplained for too much of the story, making her annoying rather than sympathetic in any way

Entertainment value

3/10 – The sex was unengaging, the characters flat, and the overall effect extremely disappointing

World building

5/10 – Her past is sketchy as is her involvement, though there’s more when it comes to Finn’s work



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Soul Survivor by Misty Evans

TITLE: Soul Survivor
AUTHOR: Misty Evans
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 52k)
GENRE: Paranormal romance
COST: $4.49

Keva Moon Water’s dead body is at the center of what looks like a ritualistic murder, the bodies of five dead women surrounding her. FBI agent Rife St. Cloud knows evil when he sees it, but when Keva comes back to life right before his eyes, he’s just glad to have a living witness to this awful crime. The hospital declares Keva a miracle, but she only cares about one thing – finding out why Rife doesn’t remember the brief life they shared together a thousand years ago…

While I’m not a big fan of soul mate stories, I am a fan of reincarnation ones, as well as Native American lore. I jumped all over this when I saw it, but unfortunately, its execution left it severely lacking.

It starts out all right, with Rife St. Cloud, an FBI agent on vacation, called in to look at a crime scene by his cop grandfather. The murder scene looks to be ritualistic, with six dead women, but as he’s looking at the woman at its center, she comes back to life. She is rushed to the hospital, where the doctors and nurses are amazed at her miraculous recovery. For his part, Rife is just glad that he has a witness he can interrogate now. Keva Moon Water is a bit of an enigma, and while he has a lot of questions regarding her past, his primary concern is who would want to kill her. What he doesn’t realize is that Keva is immortal, living the past thousand years as a result of trying to save her lover’s soul. She recognizes Rife as his reincarnation, but Rife has no idea about the truth, still disbelieving even after she tells him her story.

There’s the ongoing thread of Keva’s spurned fiancĂ© wanting to prove to her he’s worthy of her—the core of the murder plotline—but it takes forever to get to a point where that plays a strong part. With the exception of a brief scene or two, the first half is dedicated to Keva trying to show Rife the truth about his soul in clumsy, boring information dumps. It tries to break up the flow by jumping back in time with flashbacks, but those never felt like they gelled with the rest of the story. It’s all tell, tell, tell, and boring telling at that. I got so bogged down with all the backstory that is necessary to get even a fraction emotionally invested in the current events of the story that I didn’t even care about the people it was trying to sell me on. Rife felt generic and predictable, while Keva’s attitude got on my nerves. She tells their story to Rife in hopes that he’ll remember, but there’s no finesse to it. I couldn’t help but think that someone who’d lived a thousand years should’ve been better at that kind of thing by now.

The pace does pick up in the latter half, but that just meant it got me to the end faster, not that I actually enjoyed it. Of all the characters in the book, I actually thought the bad guy was the most interesting, even if he did do some truly horrific things. But that’s not nearly enough to make up for my other misgivings about the story. It could be that this author’s voice isn’t for me, which is a shame since I really liked the ideas behind the basic story. I probably won’t read another one to find out, though.


6/10 – Lots of clumsy information dumping in the first half makes this read a lot slower than it should


4/10 – Kind of generic and boring, to be honest


5/10 – Strong, but I found her brand of bluntness a tad offputting

Entertainment value

4/10 – I was bored to tears by the middle of the story, it took a lot to finish it

World building

7/10 – I liked a lot of the ideas, blending the Native American lore with the paranormal, it was just the execution that was clumsy



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hide Out by Katie Allen

TITLE: Hide Out
AUTHOR: Katie Allen
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 79k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $6.99

Officer Pete Giordano gets the opportunity not only to escape some of the homophobia of his workplace, but to better his odds at a promotion. All he has to do is keep a witness to a major trial safe. That witness is the gorgeous Trevor, on the run since his father tried killing him after he witnessed a murder. Pete takes Trevor to the small town of Honeysuckle two hours away, where they pose as a gay couple renovating their new house. Their attraction sizzles, but neither is aware the other is gay. At least, not right away…

While I enjoyed the book preceding this one, I wasn’t so bowled over that I had to jump out and read the next. That’s why this has languished on my TBR pile for over a year. In the end, while I probably enjoyed it about the same, I did so for different reasons.

Pete is a cop not really comfortable with his sexuality. He’s never had a relationship, only hook-ups, and he’s recently been getting a little more flack at work. His captain offers him the chance to babysit a witness to a murder trial, the gorgeous Trevor. Trevor is a reluctant witness. He’d still be hiding from his father if the cops on the case hadn’t found him and dragged him back to testify. Pete decides that instead of hiding in a city that might be predictable, he’ll take Trevor to the small town of Honeysuckle. Pete recently bought a house there in dire need of renovation, and it seems like the perfect cover to keep Trevor busy and out of the way until the trial. Their attraction is mutual and sizzling, though it takes a while for them to even tell the other they’re gay. Once they initiate a physical relationship, things start hitting the fan, including a murder and a drop-in visit from old friends Rhodes and Wash.

Trevor and Pete have a warm, affable charm that comes through almost from the beginning. Though Trevor is sullen at first, there are flashes of humor in between his sniping and sarcasm, enough to keep me going until Pete is able to break down more of those walls. Pete is the real find in this. His quiet intensity shields a softer side, one that yearns for a real relationship if the idea terrifies him. I loved how protective he was without being overbearing about it, even though he tried. Trevor was having none of that, however. He rebelled whenever he could, though partially because he loved it so much when Pete went all dominant on him. The dialogue between them is fun, and their chemistry sparkles. I did grow weary of all the sex scenes, but it’s an EC book. The large number was to be expected.

What didn’t really work for me was the murder that got dropped into the middle of the story. While they worked to try and figure out what happened, I kept wondering what any of this had to do with the greater problem of Trevor’s dad and if that would end up getting conveniently resolved. By the time the ending rolled around, I understood more why the murder was a necessary plot point, but I’d been right about the ease in which the witness issue was settled. It ended up being too little too late, though. Resenting and rolling my eyes through a major plot part in the middle of the story is not conducive to falling in love with it, especially when the details and circumstances seemed to stretch the realm of belief.

One quibble I had with the editing is a problem I find in a lot of books where proofing isn’t quite as tight as it could be. Imaging is not the same as imagining. I don’t know how many times I see that mistake made, and it’s frustrating every single time. I know it’s got to be because editors and authors aren’t reading carefully. Skimming through the text, it’s easy to see how the brain would automatically turn that into the word you want to use, but that doesn’t change the fact that it jumps out at me every time I find the mistake. This author is hardly alone in this common error, but it happened more than once in this story, enough to annoy me to the point of needing to mention it.

If there’s a third book, I’m likely to pick it up even though this one didn’t knock my socks off. I keep finding just enough to keep me engrossed. Maybe with the third book, she’ll find a way to blend all her strengths into a single story and make it better than all of its predecessors.


8/10 – Minor errors, and the plot stretches credibility, but a swift, entertaining read

Hero #1

8/10 – I liked his quiet intensity, especially with the soft center he hid

Hero #2

7/10 – His petulance and behavior grates sometimes, but when he let himself relax, he was lovely

Entertainment value

7/10 – Charming with likable characters, but I would’ve enjoyed it more if the murder plot didn’t seem utterly ridiculous

World building

6/10 – Some is done with the small town atmosphere, but a lot of it feels skimmed over



Friday, September 23, 2011

Full Steam Ahead by Nathalie Gray

TITLE: Full Steam Ahead
AUTHOR: Nathalie Gray
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 57k)
GENRE: Steampunk erotic romance
COST: $4.00

Racing sailboats is Laurel Benson-Desmarais’s life, but when she runs into a freak storm in the middle of a race, she finds herself thrown into a world she’s not sure isn’t one giant hallucination. Flying boats, acid oceans, a terrifying monster race determined to exterminate humanity…none of that hits her quite as hard as the captain who isn’t convinced she’s working with the enemy. Phineas Hamilton is driven, enigmatic, and unsure what to think of this smart-mouthed woman who shares the same coloring as their foes. But he has little choice but to trust her, and to hope the attraction flaring between them never sees the light of day…

I love Nathalie Gray. I haven’t read a story by her yet that I didn’t really enjoy. She writes tough heroines and broken heroes, with some gritty, fantastic action thrown in for good measure, and I can’t get enough of it.

This one is no exception. Laurel is in the middle of a boat race when a freak storm literally changes the world around in her. She finds herself caught by an anchor from the sky, hauled out of the sea as it eats away at her boat. After getting dragged up through the clouds, she ends up on what looks like a flying boat, with a crew dressed up in funny Victoriana-style clothing and tools and weapons she’s never seen before. The captain and crew think she’s an enemy. Apparently, her blonde hair and blue eyes match their coloring, though her size does not. When the ship comes under attack and she helps them out, however, the captain is forced to accept her, at least for the time being. There’s no place for her to go without causing a scene, though, so he agrees to let her stay on board to help keep her safe.

Laurel is resourceful, strong, and smart-mouthed, quick with a comeback and refusing to take crap from anyone. She stands up to Phineas, the captain, from the start, even not knowing what is going on around her. I loved her scrappy nature and fearlessness, especially when paired opposite his almost prim and equally fearless behavior. He’s enigmatic at best, but very sexy in spite of his recalcitrance to act on their attraction. They play beautifully off each other.

If you’re looking for a sex romp, you’re not going to find it here. Sure, there are hot scenes in the book, definitely erotic, but it takes a long time to get there. The first half is packed to the gills with action and world-building, with the romance playing second fiddle. That gave me time to get to know Phineas and Laurel better before they leapt into bed with each other, though. I appreciated that. I also think it helped to believe in their HEA, because I was more committed to both of them as people first rather than as romantic foils.

It’s not perfect – the steampunk world sometimes feels a bit too generalized to truly stand out – but Gray is turning into one of my go-to authors. I should just go to one of her titles any time I’m in a drought. I always find an entertaining, fantastic read.


9/10 – Heavy on the action, gritty and fun


8/10 – An odd dichotomy of prim and violent that strangely enough worked for me


8/10 – Spunky and smart-mouthed, maybe too smart-mouthed

Entertainment value

9/10 – I’m a fan of Gray’s particular brand of characterizations and eroticism; this one is no exception

World building

8/10 – Some great world-building, though the prevailing sense that it could’ve been a pirate book instead of steampunk never really went away



Monday, September 19, 2011

Becoming the Spoils by J.L. Merrow

TITLE: Becoming the Spoils
AUTHOR: J.L. Merrow
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: Short story (roughly 7k)
GENRE: Gay paranormal erotic romance
COST: $1.49

When he decides to investigate vampires, journalist Frank finds himself in a bit of a pickle when he gets himself thrown into a basement with a hungry, but hot, vamp…

I’ve had some mixed reactions to some of this author’s work, but one thing I can usually count on is strong writing. That’s the foundation for this short but charming story about a journalist who decides he wants to investigate vampires, only to get picked up and thrown into a locked basement with one that hasn’t fed properly in a while.

Told in 1st person, this is a quirky little tale about Frank and Victor, and how they manage to survive not only each other but their temporary imprisonment. Frank is smart alecky and fun. His voice carries the story through, the humor strong and quick. I’m hard-pressed to say much more about him, though, as this is a tale meant for a good laugh rather than anything deep and meaningful. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but with Victor rather lacking in the personality department, it meant the only thing I remembered about this short a few hours later was the ending.

It’s sensual when it needs to be, but even the sex plays into the humor more than eroticism. It’s also more than a little quirky as a result. I have the feeling that if it had been longer, I would’ve had much less difficulty remembering more than I did. But standing on its own like this, there’s just not enough for me to sink my teeth into.


8/10 – Quick and engaging

Hero #1

7/10 – Charming with a sense of humor

Hero #2

5/10 – Entertaining, but the focus is on the narrator

Entertainment value

6/10 – Amusing, but a few hours after I’d finished it, I couldn’t even remember exactly what it was about

World building

5/10 – Not bad for such a short story, the primary focus is on the humor and narrator, though



Friday, September 16, 2011

Iodine by C.L. Hilbert

TITLE: Iodine
AUTHOR: C.L. Hilbert
PUBLISHER: Drollerie Press
LENGTH: Short story/novella
GENRE: Futuristic fantasy
COST: $2.99

Wolf has one mission in life – to find Red. In a world gone wrong, where humans have been driven underground, where mutations are common and life is dark, it’s the only thing that keeps him going. Even as he realizes, she’s hunting him in return…

Though I often start with a plot summary, it’s almost pointless in this case. This is a reworking of the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood, set in an apocalyptic future where humans are barely surviving underground. Wolf is a bounty hunter of sorts, and Red a technical genius, armed and dangerous. He’s been on the hunt for her for years, but she eludes him at every pass. Things start turning around for him, though, until he realizes that she is deliberately leading him down an unknown path, one littered with the tortured memories of their mingled pasts. He could give it up, but what’s the point? She’s become the sole reason for his existence, and he’ll die before he lets her get away for real.

I can’t give an exact word count on this to help judge the length, but it’s not long, short-story length or at most, a short novella. But there is a lot crammed into so few words – an apocalyptic world that bleeds and glows with descriptions that I could practically taste, a broken protagonist more tortured and twisted than I’ve read in a long time. It paints a future both grim and terrifying, and does so with razor-like precision. In fact, it’s the prose that is really the biggest selling point of this short. Phrasing like, …the terminal cynicism carved in the lines of his face could crush cities, and ...the silk whispered over his skin like acid through rock, soothing and searing, catching sweet kisses on his calluses, stole my breath away, keeping me enraptured with what was going on even when I had absolutely no idea what was happening. Questions upon questions tumbled together, though not all of them got answered. I didn’t care. Even when I sat staring at the ending, wondering how I was going to interpret it, I didn’t care.

But that’s the story’s primary weakness. As interesting as this reworking is, there are so many loose ends left dangling that a reader who doesn’t like them will finish feeling unfulfilled. Even the ending has the problem, because I could see it being interpreted in more than one way. This lack of definitive answers was annoying, that’s for sure, but I loved Wolf’s complexity and the author’s voice so much, I was willing to let it go. Do I wish this was longer and better explained? Oh, yes. At the same time, I wonder if I would have overloaded on the world’s darkness. It might have reached a saturation point that made it intolerable; it’s that grim. Lucky for me, the story is short enough not to outstay its welcome. This will be one I’m thinking about for a long time to come.


9/10 – Love this author’s gritty, visceral voice


8/10 – Wolf is utterly fascinating, broken and driven, though I have an abundance of questions by the end


7/10 – It’s a simplistic chase sequence, but with enough twists to keep me guessing all the way to the end

Entertainment value

9/10 – In spite of the holes in the world building and my multitude of questions, I was absorbed by this all the way to the end

World building

7/10 – The nihilism of this futuristic world is an excellent backdrop, aided by the fantastic prose, but there are too many aspects left unexplained to really satisfy me completely



Monday, September 12, 2011

Icing on the Cake by Shayla Kersten

TITLE: Icing on the Cake
AUTHOR: Shayla Kersten
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 19k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.45

Slated with getting the last minute cake for his best friend’s wedding, uptight Jeff is taken aback by his visceral response to the bald and tattooed baker he’s supposed to hire. He’s thrilled when Ollie is interested in him as well, but when he discovers Ollie wants him to give up his control, he’s not so sure the exchange will be worth it…

I’m only labeling this an erotic romance because of the HFN that gets tacked onto the end of this novella. For the vast majority of the story, it’s just plain erotica. Hot erotica.

Jeff is an uptight businessman who is playing maid of honor for his best friend’s whirlwind wedding. She gets called out of town at the last minute and asks him to get the cake sorted out, citing a specific bakery she wants him to use. He goes down and is greeted by the bald, tattooed, biker-type baker, a man that throws his libido into overdrive. It’s obvious very quickly that Ollie, the baker, is interested, too, and their flirtation expands into a consensus of sex, at least until Jeff sees the dungeon set-up the man has in his bedroom. Ollie is determined to make Jeff lose control, however, and Jeff, for all his anxiety about doing so, can’t seem to walk away.

There’s not much more to describe. The men have a lot of sex, with Ollie admitting first to himself and then to Jeff that maybe it’s time for him to start think about serious dating again. Jeff is a fly-by-night kind of guy, though, and all the talk about “substantial” freaks him out. Not enough to say no to a second night, though. The novella benefits from the fact that the sex is mostly hot. It reads swiftly, and except for the occasional snort-worthy phrasing (like …his come rushed to freedom), succeeds at what it intends. If this was sold as straight erotica, it would likely rate higher, because my expectations for characters and the ending wouldn’t be quite as stringent. As it is, though, the author clearly strives for the HFN, but can’t get there for me, mostly because her two heroes are more archetypes than fully-fleshed characters and little time is spent doing much of anything but having sex.


8/10 – Hot with only a few phrasing things that made me snort

Hero #1

5/10 – Little is known about him except he’s uptight

Hero #2

5/10 – More of a type than a character, though I do have a soft spot for that type

Entertainment value

7/10 – I got lost in the heat of it which helped since the HFN is weak, reads more like erotica than a romance

World building

5/10 – The food stuff is excellent, but very little is done about everything else



Friday, September 9, 2011

Cougars and Cubs by assorted authors

TITLE: Cougars and Cubs
AUTHORS: Ashley Ladd, KS Augustin, Mia Watts, Catherine Chernow, Elizabeth Coldwell, Imari Jade
PUBLISHER: Total-e-bound
LENGTH: Anthology (roughly 105k)
GENRE: Contemporary erotic romance
COST: ₤6.49

A collection of six erotic novellas, each about a romance between an older woman and a younger man…

My biggest hope when I buy anthologies is to discover new talent, but that doesn’t happen all that often. It definitely didn’t happen with this one.

The anthology starts off with “Scene of the Crime” by Ashley Ladd. Forty-four year-old Robyn returns to the college she graduated from as a history professor, but that also means returning to the town where she’d first had her heart broken by a man who lied to her about being married. Now divorced, he wants to rekindle things with her, but she wants nothing to do with him. Running out on a date with him that she got ambushed on, she goes to a local bar, gets drunk, and takes home the hot young guy she played pool with. The next morning, she’s appalled to discover he’s the spitting image of her ex. He should be. He’s his son. While the writing itself in this story isn’t bad – there’s even some chemistry between the two leads – I was so put off by the idea that this professional woman would get involved with the son of a man who hurt not only her but his wife and child, I could never really accept the too-swift love that came between them. The situation was just too complex, and people were too badly hurt, for this to succeed. It needed more time and depth to be even remotely believable, not to mention give me the reader a chance to empathize with her for her predicament.

Following the weak lead-in is KS Augustin’s “Singapore Sizzle.” Sophie is an ex-socialite who’s been divorced for two years, eager to get a little fun back in her life. She accepts an invitation to a masquerade ball, and there, she meets a gorgeous man who takes her up to the penthouse suite almost immediately. She has problems with the age difference, however, and flees the next morning. He, on the other hand, isn’t so easily put off. While this one has a better flow than the first, with a slightly more sympathetic heroine, the hero lacks much depth to give this anything more than a fling feel. Of the six stories, it has the most realistic ending, though, so points there for that.

One of the stronger stories in the collection is “Melting Melinda” by Mia Watts. Mel has been best friends with Karen for a very long time, but recently, she’s become attracted to Karen’s grown son, Ethan. The trio are practically family, but what Mel doesn’t know is that Ethan has been in love with her for years. He lets her know on the vacation they all take together, but she doesn’t want her moment of insanity to ruin the best relationships in her life and runs scared. This is the romance I bought the most of the group. The relationships between the three, as well as the two secondary characters Larry and Lyla, sparkle with authenticity. I never doubted Ethan’s feelings for her for a moment, and I really liked how the fallout was handled.

Unfortunately, liking that one wasn’t nearly enough to save me from the next. “Lucky in Love” by Catherine Chernow is about fifty-year-old Maddie Summers and the hot thirty-five year-old Jake Conroy who moves in next door. She discovers they work for the same company, and though she tries to keep things professional, he’s too attracted to her not to put the moves on. This one never got off the ground for me. The authorial voice is simplistic and borderline pedantic, with short, simple sentences and stop-and-go pacing. Maddie’s inner conflict is overwrought, and the transition from strangers to more too unbelievable for me to ever accept. Definitely my least favorite of the bunch.

“Something Within Him” by Elizabeth Coldwell is the 1st person telling of editor Kate who agrees to see someone as a potential intern as a favor for a friend. He’s cute and smart, and hiring him is a no-brainer even though the last intern she hired was a fiasco. He makes his attraction to her obvious early on, but she manages to hold him off until a trip to Amsterdam to cover a new hotel throws them together. Of all the stories in the collection, this is the one with the most sophisticated prose, with some very nice descriptions and intelligent phrasing to help counter the fantasy of the entire situation. The ending is too saccharine in relation to the realistic tone set by the rest of the story, but the author’s voice was such a pleasant change of pace and the heroine so refreshing that I was forgiving of it.

The anthology ends with Imari Jade’s “Something to Be Thankful For.” Julianne is the manager for rock star Cameron, but when he tells her he loves her and wants more, she excuses the sex that follows as a drunken mistake. He disappears after that, and she tracks him down in hopes of repairing their relationship. While I rather Julianne in this, Cameron remains an enigma. We’re told a lot about him – that he likes women and alcohol too much, and overindulges with both – but little of it meshes with what I actually see on the page. I never felt like I got to know him, and without being able to see him as an individual, I can’t invest in the romance.

Unless you’re a fan of more than a few of these authors, I’d suggest passing. Pick up the authors you like individually, or, if you don’t want have one, try Coldwell’s or Watts’. They’re the only two in this that didn’t really feel like a waste of my time.


6/10 – Relatively clean, but a couple bordered on hard for me to finish due to the voice


5/10 – Little depth in most, with resolutions too easy


4/10 – For the most part, very flat

Entertainment value

4/10 – Unmemorable and surprisingly not very hot

World building

5/10 – Only one seems to make any real effort here



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Let's Misbehave by Rae Summers

TITLE: Let’s Misbehave
AUTHOR: Rae Summers
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 20k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $3.00

Jazz singer Gabrielle wants to embrace her freedom, taking pleasure wherever she can in search of filling the holes left inside her at her father’s death. When she meets the uptight Sebastian at his bachelor’s party, she’s unsettled by the way he seems to read her. He, on the other hand, can’t get the free spirit out of his head, but it’s impossible for him to turn his back on everything he’s had to devote his life to, even though he feels trapped by its constrictions…

Though this is a short novella, I was utterly entranced. Color me surprised when I slipped into the Jazz Age London setting with little problem, and got lost in the emotions surrounding these two lost people.

The story is a simple one. Wild child girl meets uptight boy. Each misunderstands the other, until they take steps to see past their surface misconceptions to the truths that were hinted at in their first meeting. Love affair blooms. Differences rest in the character’s roots. Gabrielle is a Flapper who yearns for the freedom so much of her generation is striving for, determined to run from the emptiness inside her left behind at her father’s death. Sebastian is the only remaining son of a politician, forced into a life meant for his older brother before the brother was killed in the war, fighting against all his natural instincts to let his control go. They feel iconic at the same time they come to life, their emotions worn on their sleeves like a hungry desperation. They are the heart and soul of this fervent romance, and completely swept me up in everything they were experiencing.

It’s helped by a smooth authorial voice, with just enough lyricism in the descriptions to give it an easy, lovely flow. It’s not overbearing, and while I can’t be sure if it’s all completely accurate, nothing jarred as really wrong, so I was able to immerse myself into the love story unfolding before my eyes. I loved, too, that nobody’s villainized or canonized. Even characters I thought risked such treatment became fully fleshed by the end of the story.

I’ll remember these two and their driving needs for a long time, I think. I’m very curious now to find out if this author has written anything else. If she can sustain this kind of emotion for an entire novel, I imagine it would be a really magical experience indeed.


8/10 – Smooth, with an easy lyricism


8/10 – I ached for his loneliness and determination to do what he perceived was the right thing


7/10 – I needed more of her motivations early to truly feel for what she was experiencing

Entertainment value

9/10 – As simple as the story was, I was completely and utterly entranced with it

World building

8/10 – I’m not sure how accurate everything might have been, but it felt real, with the sense of lively desperation I associate with the time period