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

Lori Foster

REVIEW:  Simon Says by Lori Foster

REVIEW: Simon Says by Lori Foster

Dear Ms. Foster:

Simon SaysIt’s probably unfair for me to have read this book for you are an author that “I gave up on” or rather “to whom I have never felt a connection”. Unfortunately for both of us, I kind of got sucked in by the cool cover and the idea of a fight club hero.

Simon Evans is a retired ultimate fighting champion (known as Supreme Battle Championship in this series) who comes home to find a picture of his girlfriend having sex with another man. He breaks up with Bonnie who turns out to be a villianness from Sluts-R-Us central casting and plans to return to the fighting arena. In the first of many character inconsistencies, Simon tells the reader that he is emotionally untouched by Bonnie’s cheating “So… was he okay? Simon queried himself, his mind and his heart, and actually… yeah, he was A-OK.”, but this event spurs him to re-enter an aggressive and physically taxing sport. So I guess what I learn right off the bat is that I should either a) not believe anything that Simon says (despite the title of the book) or b) not believe anything Simon does. I still am not sure which I should follow.

Dakota Dream lost her mother and feels that she owes something to her slimy step-father. Her step-father asks her to make contact with Simon, his son whom he has not had contact with since Simon’s youth. Not only is she to make contact with Simon, but she must convince him to come home and meet with her step-father, Barnaby. Dakota agrees to do so when Barnaby promises to give her a deathbed letter her mother wrote to her. Dakota and her mother were estranged and Dakota is desperate to get that letter. Fortunately for Dakota, she loves SBC and she’s always had a crush on Simon so hunting him down and spending some time in his presence isn’t going to be a hardship.

When Dakota first walks into the gym, Simon says that she looks like a Barbie doll, but then you go on to describe her as follows: Dressed in tattered jeans, black lace-up work boots, and a thick coat, Simon couldn’t really see her body other than to note her height. How that makes her a “Barbie Clone”, I am not quite sure.

Dakota is supposed to be this 23 year old chick who is all tomboy-ish, who is a big sports fan, and knows the ins and outs of ultimate fighting better than almost anyone. I thought I could identify with her. I am kind of a tomboy and am a huge sports fan who knows the ins and outs of alot of sports better than the pot bellied drunk next to me (and Ned, honey, you know I am not talking about you).

Unfortunately, the characters had a mass of inconsistencies which made me giggle at inappropriate times, like during a really cheesy movie when the killer is creeping around the audience is laughing instead of screaming? I knew it was going to be bad after Dakota walks into the SBC training Gym and faces skepticism and harassment and within minutes has the entire gym eating out her delicate (or is not delicate) hand. “Chatting with people, examining machines, and assessing biceps, Dakota flitted around the room. She admired a few tattoos, and two fighters even went to the back to retrieve photos of their wives and kids to show her. Like the belle of the ball, she charmed them all”

And not only does she know the ins and outs of prize fighting, this completely untrained woman can sing well enough to join any band, play the drums, fight like a ninja but, of course, is sexually a mess who needs to be healed by the loving touch of a good man.

I also knew that this book wasn’t going to work for me with the hero, the bad boy of ultimate fighting, mentions that a shower sounded “heavenly”. I consulted my guy manual and it says that guys who say “heavenly” generally aren’t interested in tomboy girls.

All your characters are caricatures. The tomboy is beloved by all men (and I mean every guy that makes even the slightest appearance wants her), even the bad sexual harassers are turned into loveable guys at the touch of the good tomboy. The bad boy fighting hero who isn’t at all hurt by his girlfriend’s cheating on him thinks showers are “heavenly” goes from not liking said tomboy to totally wanting to change her life by inviting her to live in his home, cook her dinner, treat with her heavenly tender care, inviting her to stay in his hometown all the space of a couple of days. Then there’s the ex girlfriend who Simon caught cheating on him (you go girl!) who shows up drunk and sluttified all the time; wearing whor-ish clothing; going home with another guy and then turning up at Simon’s house claiming that Dakota is the real slut. That’s some deep characterizations there.

What was good was the depiction of the SBC. It was clear to me that you knew your stuff and that writing about this sport was a real passion for you. The fighting, the training and the sport itself was interesting and probably the only thing that kept my attention. I sludged through to the bitter, awful end though to see Simon and Dakota have their heavenly HEA but all the intricate insider details about the SBC couldn’t save this book. D

Best regards

Jane

REVIEW:  Santa Baby by Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster and Carly Phillips

REVIEW: Santa Baby by Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster and Carly...

Dear Ms. Crusie, Foster and Phillips:

I would have never thought the three of you were a good match in an anthology but, for the most part, it worked. For the readers edification, however, only Hot Toy by Jennifer Crusie is a new contribution. Christmas Bonus by Lori Foster was previously published in All I Want for Christmas in 2000 and Naughty Under the Mistletoe by Carly Phillips was previously published in Naughty or Nice? in 2001. One thing I noticed about each of these anthologies is that each couple had a previous connection before the start of the story and none of the stories ended with babies.

Santa BabyHot Toy by Jennifer Crusie
For Crusie fans disappointed (or delighted) by Don’t Look Down, Hot Toy is much more in keeping with traditional Crusie writing. It features great dialogue, a mouthy heroine, and a fast moving plot. On Christmas Eve, Trudy Maxwell is searching for a MacGuffin, the season’s Hot Toy, for her nephew Leroy. Leroy’s father just ran off his his nanny and his mother is desperate for Trudy to find this particular toy. Only, because of its popularity, the toy isn’t in the stores anywhere. Trudy runs into Nolan Mitchell at the toy store. Nolan is a professor of Chinese literature at the local college who Trudy dated four times and then never called. Nolan really isn’t a Chinese literature professor but rather a secret agent. Frankly, who isn’t a secret agent in romance these days. The big surprise would be Nolan actually being a Chinese literature professor.

You can’t look too deeply at Nolan else you start thinking he’s a real ass. He is a real ass and there is no grovel which can be irritating. The action plot is quite farcical and the action “twist” is something out of a bad B action flick (are there bad B action flicks or is it just bad B horror flicks?). Read for the surface, the dialogue and the fast pace and it’s a reader pleaser. I would give this story a B-.

All I Want for Christmas by Lori Foster
This was the weakest contribution but had the most sex. I think the story to sex ratio was 30:70 in favor of the sex; but maybe that made up for the no sex in Hot Toy. Because All I Want for Christmas is all about sex, there isn’t much for me to write about in the review. Maggie Carmichael is a twenty two year old who just inherited her father’s Sporting Good firm. Eric Bragg thought that the presidency should have gone to him, but Maggie assumes the mantle. Maggie would rather Eric run the company so she can write her romance novel but thinks that this is her opportunity to act on her long but latent love for Eric and Eric decides that he is going to act on his long but latent desire for Maggie. Wondrously their two motivations are in sync and they fall into bed and have lots of good sex forever after. C.

Naughty Under the Mistletoe by Carly Phillips
This story was a bit of a surprise to me as I have been unimpressed by your books in the past. This was a fun, modern tale hampered by a stupid misunderstanding used to create artificial conflict but thankfully, this was an anthology contribution, it didn’t last long. Toni has the hots for her boss, but has kept her hands to herself. A promotion right before Christmas which will move her to another division allows her the opportunity to take a chance and when they meet at the office Christmas party, she takes advantage of some mistletoe and plants a hot one on her boss. Only it’s not her boss, but her boss’ twin. Embarrassed, she runs off, but the hot kiss was enough to send twin, Max, after her. It’s a cute breezy tale. B.

Best regards,

jane

AmazonBNSonyKobo