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

About Jayne S

http://dearauthor.com/author/jayne/

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

Posts by Jayne S:

REVIEW:  Mine Tomorrow by Jackie Braun

REVIEW: Mine Tomorrow by Jackie Braun

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Devin Abernathy secretly dreams of escaping to a simpler time. It’s why she owns a vintage clothing shop, fulfilling her lifelong fantasy of surrounding herself with period style. All she has to do is slip on a garment to be spirited away to a bygone era—in her imagination, anyway. But lately she’s also dreamed at night of a passionate affair with a handsome World War II naval officer named Gregory Prescott, who seems oddly familiar.

Fantasy becomes reality when Devin dons a mysterious estate-sale coat and is suddenly whisked back in time—to New York City in 1945 on V-J Day, where she’s welcoming Gregory home with open arms and ruby-red kisses…. All she wants is to stay in his powerful embrace, but to do so means choosing between his past and her future.

Dear Ms. Braun,

Okay so this is a novella – maybe a long novella – but still short so my question on starting it is “will I believe in the HEA as it zips towards me at the speed of sound?” You’ve neatly taken care of that by Devin having dreamed of Gregory for years. She knows his face, she knows he loves her, she knows she (at the very least) has the hots for him. He is, literally, the man of her dreams. So when she finally actually meets him, most of the heavy lifting of falling in love is done.

Since she’s also described as someone who loves the 1940s more than any other time period – the clothes, the manners, the style of living – she fits in a bit better than the average TT “fish out of water” character. Good thing Gregory already knows she can’t cook so the antiquated kitchen doesn’t trip her up either. The quasi reincarnation “memories” that she has also come in handy in allowing her to “blend.”

The insta love from the dreams is a good “out” but Devin and Gregory do take time to get to know each other better which is good given their fast wartime courtship and marriage. Then a year passes. They get to know each other really well then!

This is where I found myself a little disappointed though I think it might be due to word count space constraints. Here’s Devin, in the decade of her dreams for over a year and we learn almost nothing about how she views the reality of it. Earlier on she had wondered what she would think of the racism and sexism prevalent then. She also comes face to face with the lack of wrinkle free fabrics and handy kitchen appliances but there is no mention how she coped with or learned about any of it.

The story is also remarkably free of concerns about TT, any specifics of how it works, how it doesn’t work, when it works, etc. Readers more obsessed with this just sit back and accept it. Let concerns about all this roll off.

The extent to which Devin keeps believing her initial foray into TT is all a dream goes to extended and almost unbelievable lengths. Vivid dreams are one thing but tactile dreams with boinga-ing, getting dressed, travel … I like that there is initially something that she can hang onto in order to keep from screaming in disbelief still it does go on. But then, this a TT novel so I need to let loose. When first Gregory and then Emmie are told about Devin’s Big Adventure, they are suitably wide eyed and “don’t say anything that might set off the crazy lady” so that made me happy rather than having them accept it immediately.

The way the story ends, we’re left with a HEA but as I closed my ereader I did begin to ponder some issues. In this modern age of technology where no one can go unnoticed by gov’mint how is Gregory going to be eased into society? With his SS number, he’s going to look like a 90 year old man. How will he get a job, get health insurance, get anything like that? I know, I know, I’m taking this all too seriously.

Gregory is a great hero with a wonderful romantic streak. I did feel that the two of them were deeply and truly in love. The finale of who ends up where did allow for them to end up with a HEA plus family relationships intact. I did enjoy the story despite what I wished had been explored that wasn’t. But without the issues and questions related to the difference in eras being answered, I did wonder why they were mentioned at all. C+

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  The Masked Songbird by Emmie Mears

REVIEW: The Masked Songbird by Emmie Mears

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Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a roommate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty bucks until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbor from a beat-down by political thugs.

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

Gwen’s hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends—’even her country.

Dear Ms. Mears,

I hate to say but the start of this book is rather pedestrian. Put-upon heroine Gwen has a job she likes working for a boss from hell she loathes. Her boyfriend is a shit – which is obvious to all even Gwen – but she puts up with him anyway making me want to shake her numerous times. She is in debt to her eyeballs, and gets rained on both literally and figuratively. So far it’s not much different from countless romance (Chick Lit) novels we’ve all read.

Then Gwen suffers a horrible accident at her workplace and, after dragging herself into the bowels of the building, drinks something and is eventually found and taken to hospital. Slowly, very, very slowly, she begins to experience the growth of her new powers while still not understanding how she got them or what to do with them.

Meanwhile, she becomes better acquainted with a neighbor who is apparently working for Scottish independence and keeps running afoul of some mysterious bully boys and girls who want to silence him at any cost. From the blurb, I knew that the Independence vote was important but this thread is tenuously woven through the opening half of the novel to the point where it almost disappears besides Gwen’s haplessness. Where’s the AYE! I wondered?

I know that Gwen’s initial description and background is supposed to mimic the typical mild-mannered superhero but it also cuts too close to the downtrodden romance heroine trope that I loathe – Dump shit on her head until lurve saves her.

There are also some editorial continuity issues I was surprised to encounter in a Harlequin book. While I dislike visiting Ochlassieland, I noticed a curious lack of UK/Scottish slang/words/terms here except for every once in a while when someone might utter an “och, aye.” A little more might have helped me feel the setting better.

Gwen’s boyfriend is a annoying twat. He’s self absorbed, answers for Gwen and thinks he’s entitled. Thankfully, there’s another male character I can root for in Taog – and thanks for including a pronunciation guide to his name early so I didn’t spend half the book thinking is name vaguely rhymed with bog.

Roommate Magda is delightful too – though she veers between roommate and flatmate. With Magda’s fashion savvy and skills, when Gwen finally goes out to fight evil, she’s dressed for success – even if the stretchy material of the tights does give her a wedgie.

As for the mystery of Gwen’s un-looked-for skills, the explanation makes a weird kind of sense or at least it’s enough for me to play along from home. As for the villain, she’s a piece of work, though the other reason for her actions remains elusive for a long, long time.

Finally, the plot gets down to business and the explanations come thick and fast though often in expository, “let me stand here and tell you everything” fashion. Part of the book’s charm is how clueless Gwen can be as she works to master her powers and understand the evil intentions of the villains. However this same cluelessness, continued on for chapter after chapter, ended up frustrating me and causing me to start to skim to the finish.

This book was a bit darker than I thought it would be – bodies litter the ground by the end – and Gwen’s crime fighting more haphazard. It also dragged, a lot. The outcome was positive though the cost was dear. From what I can tell, there is a sequel planned for Gwen and Co. What it will be about is something I can’t guess. Honestly I’m torn as to whether I want to continue since I found large amounts of this story unsatisfying and am grading it at a C-.

~Jayne

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