I read the enhanced version that Milan recently published, since that’s apparently the only way to get this story on its own. I usually find Milan’s novellas more enjoyable than her full-length novels – The Governess Affair is one of my favorite romances in recent years, and there are few authors as good as she is with this format. You can tell that This Wicked Gift is an earlier effort; her focus on social issues has become more marked, and I’m not sure a Milan hero circa 2014 would do some of the things that William Q. White does. But I enjoyed it very much, and that’s not something I can say about many Christmas romances. This one conveyed the spirit of the holiday without being obvious about it. B+.
The title led me to expect something fluffy and sweet, but Never Been Kissed has more depth than that. I liked it, and appreciated what O’Keefe did with the heroine: Ashley has been traumatized but doesn’t give up, she discovers that she likes small towns but not because of any idealized perceptions, she learns how to stand up up for herself and she was a virgin, but not with the usual baggage that a virgin has in a contemporary romance (I don’t think that this is a spoiler). Brody had a more interesting background, but his role in the story was more conventional (I’m so damaged, I don’t deserve this amazing woman/anyone’s love etc.). Still, an enjoyable romance. B. I later read O’Keefe’s Between the Sheets, which was also good.
I generally agree with the points brought up by Willaful in her review, but liked it less than she did. Great dialogue, interesting characters, I enjoyed the publishing aspects, but it was occasionally too clever for its own good and there were quite a few characters so progressive that they would fit better in a more contemporary setting. I also felt cheated of a better epilogue: I think readers deserved to see Free vote, or even be elected for office. B-
I liked it in parts – mostly when Lucy was figuring out who she was rather than acting like a bratty teen. Awful ending, though, because of Lucy acting like an idiotic brat and then an overly sweet epilogue. It would have probably worked better as women’s fiction, as the friendships were often more interesting than the romances. B-
When I last put together a reading list, I’d just gotten started with Novik’s Temeraire series, which I’ve enjoyed pretty much throughout (well, maybe not the Bunyips). The most recently published entry manages to put an amnesia plot to good use (!), as it shows how far William Laurence has come from his navy days and how his perception and moral views have changed through his experiences as an aviator. One thing Novik does that I find interesting is the different treatment of dragons in different societies – from honored nobility down to servants and even slaves – and the way this affects relations within these societies as well as the course of her alternative history. I didn’t find the Russian section of the book as engaging, and I didn’t expect what was essentially a cliffhanger ending (although we know what happened to Napoleon’s army in reality, this isn’t actual history…) but I’ll still read the final book once it’s published, of course. B.
I read this one for review, and felt it had more potential than Reynolds was able to realize.
I read this and My Beautiful Enemy back to back, so I’m going to treat them as a single entry. On their own, both books are very good – I could have done with less confusing action at the ending of The Hidden Blade and tighter flashback sections in My Beautiful Enemy, but these are minor issues. Looking at both parts together, this is my favorite romance so far this year. It’s original, beautifully written, features interesting characters and is very emotional. I strongly recommend that anyone thinking of skipping straight to My Beautiful Enemy reconsider, and read the prequel first; it’s a richer (and less confusing) experience that way. A-.
I picked this one up for review because I thought it might be fun. It was not fun.
Harder is more West-centric, and given that I found West less interesting than Caroline in Deeper, I guess it was to be expected that I’d like it less. His relationship with his sister was well-written and the book became much better once he started trying to figure out his life and his goals, rather than falling back on self-pity (justified as it may have been). Caroline wasn’t given that much to do here, and her POV was often unnecessary – I love West, I need West, I miss West, West was mean to me, I wish I could have sex with West, etc. I could have done with less of that and more action and interaction. B-
Jane’s review convinced me to give this one a shot, and I’m glad I did. The characters come across as realistic and their issues were not the usual NA thing. Well, at least Corey’s weren’t, and it was good that she was neither overly angsty nor miraculously healed; she works hard for the progress she makes and to get what she wants. I also liked the way the relationship developed, though maybe less bitchy girlfriend in the background would have been better. The ending was a bit too neatly wrapped up for my liking. B+