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REVIEW: Boys of Summer by Julie Leto, Kimberly Raye &...

Boys of SummerThis whole “acknowledging your illness as the first step to recovery” is not working for me. I have already said that I don’t like anthologies but I keep buying them. I blame this mistake on the fact that I love sports and who can resist the ass on that guy? Boys of Summer is a compilation of three short stories featuring heroes who are employed by the Louisville Slammers, a major league baseball team. The sex scenes are quite explicit in this story, as explicit as the ones sold at Ellora’s Cave. Do Elizabeth Bevarly or Jill Barnett or Jan Butler know about this? Because these stories and the authors who wrote them are every bit as pornographic as those accursed epublished books.

These stories all suffer from the same problems

1) lack of showing
2) minimal dialogue
3) attempt to fit an entire romance into a compressed space
4) a blushing herione

Dear Ms. Leto:

Your story set the stage for the entire collection and involved baseball errors so large that I could not get past it to enjoy the story. I kept saying “this would never happen” and thus was unable to become immersed in the characters. Donovan Ross is the owner of the Louisville Sluggers. A secret deal has recently come to light that the team will be sold to a Las Vegas money man. Do you see the problem here? A) there can be no secret deal because all team sales must be approved by 3/4 of the owners and MLB and B) you aren’t moving a team to Las Vegas. There are no professional sports teams in LV because of the legalized gambling. The entire set up of the story is predicated on a false construct. This is fine if you are writing fantasy but you aren’t writing fantasy. You set your story in the contemporary world and used MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL as your forum.

What is possibly worse than the false premise of your story is the characterizations. The heroine, Callie Andrews, is a restaunteur whose business arose from money she got through her divorce 6 years earlier from Donovan. Callie blames Donovan for the potential loss of her business given that it is based around the Louisville Sluggers. If her restaurant is any good, she should be able to rename it and keep going but instead she would rather harp on Donovan for intentionally trying to ruin her and the entire city of Louisville. Worse yet, Callie takes no responsiblity for the divorce at all. It is all Donovan’s fault for traveling and not being supportive of her desire to make a living on her own. Not that she ever talked about that with him. She just assumed. The false plot and the bad characters lead me to give a C- for Fever Pitch.

Dear Ms. Raye:

I haven’t ever read you before. Your story featured the childhood friendship of Brody Jessup, Slugger pitching coach, and Babe Bannister that grows into an adult love. Babe is convinced she wants to seduce Cody Cameron, the Sluggers shortstop, before the Sluggers leave Louisville. (what’s with the cutesy names?) Babe owns The Sweet Spot, a ice cream parlor featuring baseball themed desserts. Brodie knows that Cody is a player and wouldn’t want Babe to get hurt. Brodie offers to teach Babe a few things about Cody hoping to turn her away from seducing him and Babe accepts believing that Brodie’s inside information will be invaluable.

This story is probably the best of the bunch but features a blushing Babe who has had a run of boring boyfriends. Backstory is given on Brodie about his poor childhood that seems to have no relevance to the relationship conflict between he and Babe. Maybe it is because of this that the conflict which keeps Brodie and Babe apart toward the end seems manufactured. There was no real information given as to why both individuals believed that their night together was meant to happen only once, but they are set in their ways and allow a Big Mis (albeit abbreviated given the constraints of an anthology), to separate them. C+

Dear Ms. Kelly:

Your story pairs the owner of the Slugger souviner shop, Janie Nolan, and the star pitcher, Riley Kelleher. Janie lacks any self esteem and can’t believe that Riley would be interested even though he makes a pretty serious pass at her.

No. The nonglamorous Janies of the world only met horny college students who’d be loyal to even plain girls if they sucked them off on occasion. Or beefy jocks who didn’t notice them. Or nice teachers. Or store clerks whose clothes never fit right because they waited to purchase them at the deepest discountà¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã‚ ¦like one man she’d dated. Guys who had never once been overpowered by uncontrollable lust, and certainly not by anything resembling love. Not where Janie was concerned.

She simply wasn’t capable of inspiring that kind of emotion in a man. She doubted she ever would be.

The sexual quips that the two exchange seem odd in juxtaposition with the constant blushing of Janie and the portrayal of her as a nice young innocent. Yet for all her supposed innocence, she gives a blow job better than any high priced escort. There is rarely any motif that I dislike more than the virgin whore complex which seems to be the fulfillment of a male fantasy rather than a female one. What I want to know is where are all the women who blush these days because I haven’t seen a blushing innocent in years. C

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Tara Marie
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 07:29:06

    Yikes, I’m glad I didn’t get this one. I love sports books, especially baseball, but the Leto story would have had me throwing the book at the wall. I’ve never understood why authors think they can simply plop down a story in a setting they don’t know or understand and think no one is going to notice there’s a few “mistakes”.

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  2. Jane
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 07:55:14

    [quote comment="2821"]I’ve never understood why authors think they can simply plop down a story in a setting they don’t know or understand and think no one is going to notice there’s a few “mistakes”.[/quote]

    I think when it’s a minor mistake like the Angels Fall canoe thing or in a book I recently read about how the heroine’s car, a Beetle, was cramped for the hero (not so, the NB has one of largest “cabs” of any vehicle out there), it’s not a big deal. When it is the entire premise of the story, it becomes disconcerting. It’s one reason I rarely read books featuring lawyers because I cannot engage my suspension of disbelief which is key to reading.

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  3. Karen Scott
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 12:41:51

    I’ve been reading quite a few Blaze books recently, and I have noticed that they seem to have gotten a lot sexier than previously. Not that I mind, sometimes the sex almost saves the story itself. I said almost.

    I wonder if the pushing of the envelope is deliberate? Hmmm.

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  4. Robin
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 13:02:43

    I wonder if the pushing of the envelope is deliberate? Hmmm.

    Here are the writing guidelines for Blaze, which I had to look up a couple of weeks ago myself:

    The Blaze line of red-hot reads is changing the face of Harlequin and creating a continual buzz with readers. The series features sensuous, highly romantic, innovative stories that are sexy in premise and execution. The tone of the books can run from fun and flirtatious to dark and sensual. Writers can push the boundaries in terms of characterization, plot and explicitness. Submissions should have a very contemporary feel — what it’s like to be young and single today. Heroes and heroines should be in their early 20s and up. We want to see an emphasis on the physical relationship developing between the couple: fully described love scenes along with a high level of fantasy, playfulness and eroticism are needed. And don’t forget, secondary characters and subplots contribute to the richness of story and plot action we look for in a successful Blaze novel.

    Are you a Cosmo girl at heart? A fan of Sex and the City or Red Shoe Diaries? Or maybe you just have an adventurous spirit. If so, then Blaze is the series for you!

    I have to say, though, the Cosmo girl thing made me flinch.

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  5. Karen Scott
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 13:15:54

    Robin, I wonder if they’re the original guidelines? I ask that because there definitely seems to have been a shift re the explicit nature of the books.

    When I started reading Blaze, Vicki Lewis Thompson wrote the sexiest books, and looking back, some of the ones that I’ve been reading lately make her books seem tame in comparison.

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  6. Robin
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 13:25:48

    I wondered the same thing, Karen, and my guess is that they aren’t. And IMO they present kind of a mixed messsage, encouraging “innovative stories” but always circling back to the high sex meter. I don’t at all discourage mega sexiness in Romance, but the question (to me, anyway) is whether editors really care about the plot or the sex. If they care equally about both, I think they need to step up the plot angle of some of the books in this line. Actually, the latest Jo Leigh Blaze I read had more plot than sex, so it probably depends on the author. I’d actually be happy if authors and editors realized that more sex isn’t necessarily better or hotter sex. I find an awful lot of the sex in Romance uninspired and uninspiring.

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  7. Jane
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 13:30:37

    It’s hard for me to care about the sex when I don’t care about the people having the sex. I agree with KarenS, though, that the sex in these Blazes are getting more and more frank. (I am having a hard time describing what is making these stories “more”). But I also agree with Robin that it tends to vary from author to author.

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  8. Karen Scott
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 13:41:11

    Jane, maybe you can enlighten me, what are the differences between the Extreme Blaze, and the regular Blaze?

    I seem to recall reading somewhere, that the differences have nothing to do with sexual content?

    When I first started reading Blaze books, I seem to recall that the majority had plot + sex in equal measure, I’m not sure if that’s as true now, which tends to make me think that Robin’s assertion that the guidelines have indeed changed is probably correct.

    I’m all for sexy books, but like Jane said, if the characterisations aren’t up to scratch, then you’ve pretty much lost me.

    I’m not sure which is worse, a bad book, with no sex, or a bad book with lots of sex. I’ll have to go away and give that some deep thought .*g*

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  9. Jane
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 14:02:01

    [quote comment="2838"]Jane, maybe you can enlighten me, what are the differences between the Extreme Blaze, and the regular Blaze?[/quote]

    From Jordan Summers in the comments section of Vanessa Jaye’s blog: Blaze Extreme supposedly launches officially next month. From what Brenda Chin said, they won’t be any hotter than the original Blaze line, but they will push the boundaries on story lines. (ie time-travels, futuristics, action/adventures, not so likable heroines, etc.) I plan to pick the launch titles up to see what the differences are between the lines.

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  10. Robin
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 14:06:05

    It’s hard for me to care about the sex when I don’t care about the people having the sex.

    Agreed. I actually think that in some ways a truly outstanding series book is harder to write, because an author has to condense believable relationship and character development into fewer pages. Although it’s probably a contradiction, I tend to judge series fiction less harshly than I do single titles, because I figure with more pages comes more opportunity to wow me. That may not be fair, but that’s how it is for me.

    As to Karen’s dilemma, how about this one: a bad book with lots of great sex or a good book with lots of terrible sex?

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  11. Jane
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 14:50:03

    [quote comment="2841"]Agreed. I actually think that in some ways a truly outstanding series book is harder to write, because an author has to condense believable relationship and character development into fewer pages. ?[/quote]

    Yes, that’s true. It’s even harder to encapsulate a good romance in a series anthology!!! But, it can be done. Nicole Camden’s entry in Big Guns Out of Uniform is my favorite anthology story. Helen Kay Dimon’s Viva Las Bad Boys review goes up this afternoon and it contains two good anthology contributions.

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  12. Karen Scott
    Aug 08, 2006 @ 15:30:19

    As to Karen’s dilemma, how about this one: a bad book with lots of great sex or a good book with lots of terrible sex?

    Good grief Robin, what a choice!

    Actually, that’s pretty easy, I’d much prefer a good book with terrible sex, after all, prior to the explosion of erotic romance, I spent plenty of time skipping over really bad sex scenes in mediocre books.

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  13. Kittuns of Doom and Fury
    Nov 12, 2010 @ 13:17:33

    But…

    That ASS! Goodness lord. LOL. I forgive anyone who still buys the book simply because of that ASS IN THE COVER.

    <3

    ReplyReply

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