Multiple review: two romances and a space opera

15 Jun
I’m sorry to be a cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater, but I’ve got this growing pile of books to be reviewed and a lower-than-usual amount of blogging mojo. Hence, a multiple review post! I’m just going to write up a quick snapshot of three of the latest books I’ve read (literally, they were at the top of the pile, so they’re getting done first). Summer is in full swing here and I’m continually tempted by the views outside my windows to go frolic. I know I’ve been a little obsessive about the romances lately, so I apologize to anyone who’s just not into those. They’ve just been fitting my mood for a light read.

Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James. This was a really unusual book, I thought, and it further cemented my opinion that Eloisa James is a must-read author. Not only does she write tight plot, fantastic dialogue, and nontraditional characters, but she always surprises me with how she turns the romance genre on its head. In Your Wicked Ways, Helene, the Countess Godwin, and her husband, Rees, Earl of Godwin, have been separated for ten years. They had an impromptu elopement fueled by infatuation, entertained the bare minimum of time together, and swiftly parted. Not so unusual for a romance, right? However! Rees is not your typical hero – he’s an ass. Not in an alpha, I’m-so-tough way, but in a rude, insensitive, and thoughtless way. It took me a looooong time to like him, mostly because the first fifty pages or so, he is unbelievably cruel to Helene. Rees decided to descend into total immorality after his marriage failed, kicking Helene out and replacing her with a mistress in her bedroom. Helene, meanwhile, retreated into propriety and stiffness, and has become a brittle matron incapable of fun. The reasons they come back together benefit both of them, and it takes a lot of time before either of them learn how to love another person. (Scandalous: Rees is actually terrible in bed! Never have I encountered a romantic hero who had to learn his bedroom skillz, so that was very different).

Ok, next up is Victoria Dahl’s Good Girls Don’t. I think Victoria Dahl is always reliable for a scorcher, and though I liked this one, it wasn’t as good as my favorite of her books, Lead Me On. Dahl excels at believable chemistry and she doesn’t disappoint here. What got in my way was the family dynamics. Lemme sum up: Tessa Donovan runs her family’s brewery along with her two brothers, Eric and Jamie. Eric is the de-facto head of the family after her parents died, and Jamie is the ne’er-do-well, charming rogue. There is A LOT of built-up tension and issues in this family, almost too much to be contained. Tessa is a pleaser, willing to lie, cheat, and steal (not really, but almost) to keep her brothers happy. Detective Luke Asher is a local cop who is called in to investigate a robbery at the brewery. What I liked with their relationship is there wasn’t a lot of beating around the bush – they meet, they’re attracted, they go on a date. What gums up the process is the interference of Tessa’s brothers and Luke’s own backstory. Essentially, this is a story about how emotional baggage from your past will catch up with you. For me, her brothers’ constant fighting was stressful and Tessa’s reactions and counter-reactions bordered on manic and self-defeating. I kept wanting to tell Luke it just wasn’t worth it. Why don’t book characters listen to me? I don’t know, I still liked it, but it did strain my nerves at times.

Space opera time! I love me a good space opera – they’re like a crackishly addicting form of science fiction, dystopia, and romance. Linnea Sinclair is mega awesome at this genre, and I’m constantly searching for her backlist. Accidental Goddess was one that I hadn’t heard of, but I loved it. Gillaine Davre is a captain in the Raheiran Special Forces when a last-ditch battle maneuver rockets her forward in time 300 years. That’s scary enough, but she soon realizes after waking up on an unknown space station that her desperate move 300 years ago has turned her into a deity to the modern culture. Admiral Rhys Makarian doesn’t know what to do with this odd, injured traveler but he knows he doesn’t trust her. Soon Gillie realizes that her presence in the future isn’t a mistake, and she’s got to figure out how to save the world and her new relationship at the same time. Fantastico! Totally over the top and fun. I loved the slow, mature relationship they developed, and for once, their relationship hangups seemed justified rather than infuriating.

So there you have it, peeps. Three quick-and-dirty reviews, and my pile is now smaller! Hurray for small triumphs! Now, off I go to frolic in the sunshine.

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