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

About Kati

I've been reading romance for more than 30 years and reviewing regularly for the last five. My first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts, and once I read it, I was a goner. I read most subgenres of romance (except inspirational and steampunk) but focus mostly on contemporary and paranormal, with a sprinkling of historical thrown in for flavor. I am an avid sports fan, so I have a special place in my heart for sports themed romances. I'm a sucker for old skool romance, which is probably most evident in the fact that The Windflower is my favorite romance of all time.

Posts by Kati :

REVIEW:  One Night of Scandal by Elle Kennedy

REVIEW: One Night of Scandal by Elle Kennedy

ONSDear Ms. Kennedy:

I’ve read and really enjoyed some of your work, so when Jane featured One Night of Scandal as a Daily Deal, it was a no brainer for me to pick it up.

Reed Miller is in a quandary. He’s been attracted to his best friend, AJ’s girlfriend since they started dating. Darcy is everything he wants. She’s gorgeous and smart and passionate about her work as a teacher. She’s the kind of woman you settle down with. Despite Reed’s reputation as a lady’s man, he’s starting to feel like it’s time to calm down his wild social life and begin to build a future with a woman. He’d love for that woman to be Darcy, but of course, she’s AJ’s girl, and there’s no chance there. He’s got a great life as a former MMA fighter. He owns a successful night club with his two best friends, but they’ve just uncovered a problem with a drug dealer that seems to be selling Ecstasy from their club. Reed decides to track down the dealer.

One night while casing the competition, looking for possible links to the mysterious dealer, Reed spies Darcy in a way too short to be legal dress. She seems to be trolling for guys. Incensed, Reed marches over to haul Darcy away from the action. He’s shocked when Darcy tells him that she and AJ have broken up and she’s looking to move on with her life. Reed can’t believe it. This should be his chance, but Darcy is AJ’s ex, and as a former girlfriend of a good friend, she’s completely off limits. Reed insists on taking Darcy home. Of course, he ends up landing the hottest kiss either of them have ever experienced on her, but they agree that neither can betray AJ and that despite their attraction, things can go no further.

Reed resolves to confess what happened with Darcy to AJ immediately, but the opportunity passes and somehow he doesn’t tell him. And when AJ asks Reed to stand in at a self-defense class that AJ was supposed to teach, but now feels it would be awkward to do it with Darcy, Reed can’t say no. Of course, being in such close proximity to Darcy means fighting their incendiary attraction even harder. Soon Reed and Darcy are making love.

For Reed, despite his guilt over AJ, it’s everything he dreamed of. He knows Darcy is The One. Darcy knows Reed’s history and has no interest in having her heart broken. She tells Reed that their hook up is just that, a hook up. There will be no flowers and candy — strictly sex. Reed is unhappy, but of course, won’t stop seeing Darcy in the hopes that it will grow to something more. But will Darcy begin to think of Reed as more than a secret hook up? What will AJ say when he finds out?

I’m sorry to say that this book didn’t work all that well for me. There seemed to be a lot of short hand and cliche being employed to try to raise the emotional stakes in the story. There’s the drug dealer storyline, which allows Reed and Darcy to be thrown together for a moment. There’s the AJ storyline, which ended up mostly being a tempest in a teapot. There’s the Reed teaching self-defense storyline that employed plot moppets. There’s the final Big Misunderstanding which seemed too silly to even be serious, and then there was the hero acting like a giant jackass to scare off the heroine gambit.

I almost felt like there was a big bowl of romance tropes that you were drawing out of a bowl and throwing into the story. While I have no particular objection to any of the above referenced storylines, none were fully fleshed out, so in combination, they felt like a hodge-podge of tropes without a truly cohesive, fully realized story. I’m disappointed, because I generally find you to be a really reliable author whose work I consistently enjoy. But this one was a miss for me. Final grade: C.

Kind regards,

Kati

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REVIEW:  The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

REVIEW: The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

TYWHA

Dear Ms. Bowen:

Jane read your first book in the Ivy Years Series, The Year We Fell Down, and really enjoyed it. I’ll be honest, I was hesitant to read it because generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of “issue” books. I like my romance straightforward with the issues coming internally, rather than externally. But why I ever question Jane when she directly says to me, “I’m sure you’ll like these books” is beyond me. So this weekend I opened The Year We Fell Down and gobbled it up in giant bites. Of course, I immediately bought and gorged on book two, The Year We Hid Away, which I think I enjoyed even more that The Year We Fell Down.

Shannon Ellison is fleeing her life. The daughter of a well known former NHL star, and current hockey coach who is now accused of molesting multiple young boys, she wants nothing more than to escape the relentless news reporters and ooglers who chase her family and have made her a prisoner in her own home. She honestly doesn’t know if her dad is guilty. He was a pretty horrible father, always cold and critical. All she wants is to escape her family. She does this by legally changing her name to Scarlet Crowley and fleeing to Harkness College where she hopes no one will recognize her. Her senior year in high school was awful. She became an outcast, despite being a well recruited, extremely talented hockey player. She lost friends, and her position on the squad. Now, she just wants to start over.

She arrives at college, immediately informs the hockey coach that she can’t play for her, and tries to get on with her life. She enrolls in a Stats class and meets Bridger McCauley. He’s gorgeous, a former hockey player and seems really friendly. Bridger also has a secret. Since his dad’s death, his mother has become an addict. The last time he was home, he found drug paraphernalia on the dining room table, and he promptly removed his seven year old sister, Lucy from the home. He’s been hiding her in his dorm room ever since. He has no family in the area and is unwilling to tell his secret to anyone. He knows his best friend Adam’s mom would take Lucy in, but she’s just started college (the first thing she’s really ever done just for herself) and he doesn’t want to impose upon her generosity and kindness. No, he’s determined he’ll care for Lucy. She’s his responsibility. But he knows that if Social Services finds out about his mom or that he has Lucy, they’ll remove her from his care. He’s bound and determined that won’t happen.

Bridger catches Scarlet staring at him in Stats class. They strike up a cautious friendship, with him offering to help her with Stats and her offering to help him through Music Theory. They’re absolutely attracted to each other, but neither can take that next step because of their secrets. But the more time they spend together, the more tempting they become to each other. Once they finally do act on that attraction, they want nothing more than to be with each other, but Bridger really can’t build a life outside of caring for Lucy and Scarlet is terrified of her secret coming out. When Bridger finally confesses to Scarlet what is going on, she’s touched and impressed with his deep and abiding love for his sister and she begins to help them. But she knows the longer she’s with Bridger, the more likely he is to find out her secret. And she knows that if it comes out, she could risk both losing him, and negatively impacting whether he can keep custody of Lucy. But when Scarlet’s father’s attorneys and the States Attorney begin chasing down Scarlet to testify, she knows her secret will come out. Will the fragile relationship she and Bridger have been building be strong enough to withstand the storm?

I’ve been reading New Adult books for a while now, and so many of them are filled with what I’d call “pseudo-angst” or angst that feels manufactured, rather than a genuine plot point that propels the story forward. But both Scarlet and Bridger had true issues. Tough ones that informed their priorities and provide a true tension to their love story. I felt like the story had a few loose threads that I’d have liked to see you build upon, most specifically Scarlet’s love for music, which seemed so big at the beginning of the story and then was somewhat left by the wayside once the action began. But overall, the story is extremely well plotted. The characters both grow and change throughout, and it’s got a really fascinating hook to it. As usual, Jane was right. The Year We Hid Away was right up my alley and definitely one of a few New Adult books that I’ve read recently that truly resonates. Final grade: B+

Kind regards,

Kati

 

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