Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About January Janes

January likes a little bit of everything. She's partial to unique paranormals, erotic romances, contemporary, and YA. She has a fondness for novellas and trying self-published works, though more of those are misses than hits. She still refuses to read anything that smells like literary fiction. January also changes this bio on a regular basis depending on her reading mood.

Posts by January Janes:

REVIEW:  A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

REVIEW: A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont

Dear Ms. Mont,

I purchased your book quite by accident. I was browsing through samples on my kindle and thought I would give yours a try since the topic was interesting and not overdone. While there has been a lot of Austen-esque retellings, I haven’t seen many for Bronte works, and thought why not. When I finished the sample, I meant to click on ‘See More Information’ and instead clicked purchase. Oops. I decided to read the book, and found it interesting for the most part, but flawed.

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A Breath of Eyre pitches itself as a time-travel in which Emma, modern teenager, finds herself thrust into Jane Eyre’s life. I expected this to be a romantic piece and was more surprised when it seemed to be about self-empowerment and a struggle with depression more than anything else. Emma is a lonely student sent off to an expensive prep school that she hates. Her mother killed herself some time ago and her father has been distant. Emma is not popular and struggles with the cliques at her school and her abrasive roommate is even less popular than herself. She has a crush on the son of a family friend, Gray, and is also harboring a small tendre for one of her teachers.

I read this expecting Emma to be immediately thrust back into time and to live her life out as Jane, but this didn’t happen for quite a while. Instead, the reader is entrenched in Emma’s daily life: her classes, her friendships, her crushes. Despite the misplaced packaging, I was drawn into Emma’s struggles to fit in. When the scenery eventually changed to her life as Jane Eyre, I was startled and not all that pleased. Emma’s life felt plenty interesting without the time travel.

In fact, it seems odd to say it, but the time travel as Jane felt like the weakest part of the story. Emma goes back and forth between her life and Jane’s multiple times in the book. Every time it switched, the story, while never fast paced, slowed down to a crawl. I had to force myself to finish each section of “Jane Eyre” because it was boring. Nothing seemed to happen and there was no tension, not even between “Jane” and Rochester. I was relieved when the story switched back to modern Emma, and annoyed every time she went back in time.

This story is pitched as a romantic time travel version of Jane Eyre, and I have to say that the packaging is all wrong. I’m not an Eyre or Bronte fan, but it seemed to me that reading this book, neither were you, the author. Instead, you felt a need to give it a feminist slant. You gave Jane/Emma more power, had your own unique twist for Mrs. Rochester in the attic, and did your best to dissolve the romance with Mr. Rochester (who also conveniently resembled the somewhat-creepy teacher Emma has feelings for). While there were interesting twists from an empowering perspective of things, I do wonder if Eyre fans will be disappointed at this turn.

In addition, this seemed to be less a work about romantic time travel and more a treatise on depression and how to work through it. Emma suffers from depression at the beginning of the book. Her mother killed herself due to depression. Her roommate at college is suffering from loss and has pulled away from everything she once loved. Later in the book, another character suffers from depression. This felt a bit overwhelming and added to the overall dragging feeling of the story. While I applaud you for trying to show depression in a compassionate light, I cannot help but feel that this was not the best story choice. The nature of depression is that someone withdraws into themselves and spends hours (or days) on end doing nothing. This does not make an exciting story. Emotional, yes. Exciting, no.

Despite my nitpicks, I did feel like the characters were layered and nuanced. I liked that Emma was not perfect and that you tried something different with this story. Even if it didn’t work all the time, you pulled everything together at the end and tied it up neatly. There’s even a sweet HEA for Emma that doesn’t involve her teacher, for which I am utterly thankful. It ends on a hopeful note and Emma, who had previously been meek and mild and frightened, has turned into a strong, empowered character. I really enjoyed that storyline. Actually, I would have enjoyed the entire book a lot more if it hadn’t been for all that time travel plot, which sounds strange to say.

One last distressing point that I feel I must point out. Because every young adult book must now be a trilogy, there’s an extended preview at the end of A Breath of Eyre in which it shows that Emma next goes back in time through The Scarlet Letter and lives through Hester Prynne. I groaned at the sight of this, because I felt it destroyed the HEA that was so difficult for Emma to achieve at the end of this novel. I won’t be reading that book. I felt as if Emma was in a happy place at the end of this novel, and I’d like for her to stay there. I give this a C.

All Best,
January

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REVIEW:  Multiple Books by Bella Andre

REVIEW: Multiple Books by Bella Andre

Dear Ms. Andre,

Though I haven’t been the most effusive in reviews of your books in the past, I admit that you are one of my go-to authors. Your books are easy, sexy reads and almost always seem to hit the right spot. There’s a certain suspension of belief required to enjoy the books, but I do enjoy your Sullivan novels and they seem to improve as the series goes on. I mean this in a complimentary way when I say that you excel at the saccharine-sweet plots. Your edgier works, however, do not move me.

I recently went through a reading spree of the ones I had missed and thought I would review them here. I read them out of order, so I’m reviewing them that way. They all stand alone and do not have to be read in order.

If You Were Mine: The Sullivans, Book 5 Bella AndreIf You Were Mine – The Sullivans, Book 5. This is the story of Heather the dog trainer and Zach the auto-shop mogul Sullivan. I thought the set-up was overly cutesy – Zach has to puppy-sit for two weeks and hires Heather to train the dog. Yet for some reason, it worked incredibly well. It gave Heather the power in the relationship despite Zach and his pots of money, and she called the shots the entire time, leaving Zach scrambling to try and get her to reciprocate the attraction he was feeling. The storyline is simple and heartwarming and even the dogs are charming. Like most Andre books, when the characters eventually sleep together, there is a lot of steamy sex. There’s some emotional baggage that separates the characters for a short time, but the thing I like about the Sullivan series is that the characters are never so unhinged by their emotional issues that it derails the romance. I enjoyed this book so much that I went out and immediately bought the Sullivan books I had missed. B+

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I Only Have Eyes For You Bella AndreI Only Have Eyes For You – The Sullivans, Book 4. Sophie Sullivan and Jake McCann. Another pleasant, easy read. In a family of superstars, Sophie is the only one with a normal career. She’s a librarian. Jake McCann is a family friend who runs a chain of pubs. They share a romantic night at Chase and Chloe (the couple of book 1)’s wedding, and Sophie ends up pregnant. When she tells Jake, he demands a week of her time to prove that he will be a good father to her and the child. This story was sweet and I really enjoyed Jake as an overbearing, overly-attentive hero doting on his pregnant lover. What I didn’t enjoy was how long the Chase and Chloe wedding dragged on and how it felt like a billboard advertisement for your other books in the series. Every character had to give a speech at the wedding, and a run-down of their career and hang-ups, and it felt like too much. Also, every time Sophie mentioned that she would buy someone an e-reader because they were so wonderful for readers, my eyes rolled. It felt more than a little blatant. Despite this, I enjoyed the book. I give it a B.

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Can't Help Falling In Love: The Sullivans, Book 3 (Contemporary Romance) by Bella AndreCan’t Help Falling In Love – Book 3 of the Sullivans. Megan is an accountant and a single mom. Gabe is a sexy firefighter. When Megan’s apartment building catches on fire, Gabe saves Megan and her daughter Summer, and from there, the attraction continues. Megan resists Gabe because he has a dangerous job and her deceased husband was a thrill seeker, so she wants someone stable in her life. Gabe resists Megan because she was someone he pulled out of a burning building, and that meet-cute has ended in disaster for him in the past. Luckily, these two have overly-precocious seven-year-old Summer to force them together at every turn. This was compulsively readable, though I did keep wishing Summer would go away and these two would wise up to their attraction. B-

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Take Me Bella AndreTake Me – Terrible. Not a Sullivan novel, but one of your New York published books. This features Lily Ellis, a size sixteen redhead who works at a low-end furniture store despite having a background in interior design, and Travis, who is an alphahole. They have known each other since childhood and Lily has always wanted Travis but he’s never looked at her because she is plus-size. But after she models a sexy dress in a plus-size fashion show, they sleep together. Later, they go to Italy together. I disliked both of these characters in an extreme way. Lily is constantly degrading herself. She has a loser job. She’s fat and disgusting. No man will want to look at her because she is so revolting. Why does Travis want to sleep with her? This got tiresome fast. To make matters worse, Travis is a creep of an extreme degree. He’s boorish, unpleasant, and arrogant. He only sees Lily as a sexy piece. I think the reader is supposed to wait for both of these two to have a turnabout, and for Lily to come into control in the relationship, and Travis to turn into a human being. But at 50% through this book, I was done. DNF. If this would have been my first Bella Andre read, it would have been my last.

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This is a mixed bag of grades, but I must say I’m looking forward to the final three books in your Sullivan series. I’m going to avoid your traditionally published books, however.

All Best,

January