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REVIEW:  The Bad Boy of Bluebonnet by Jessica Clare

REVIEW: The Bad Boy of Bluebonnet by Jessica Clare

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Dear Ms. Clare,

I bought this self-published novella for 99c. It’s book 4.5 in the Bluebonnet series but can be easily read as a stand-alone.

Emily Allard-Smith runs The Peppermint House, the only bed and breakfast in Bluebonnet. It doesn’t get many patrons but fortunately, she has enough money that it’s not a big deal for her. She loves to bake and generously shares her cakes, muffins and biscuits cookies with the local police and pretty much anyone else who wants them. She dreams of opening a bakery. I reckon she should. There aren’t enough bakeries in the world. This is my firm belief.

Her ex-husband Braden and she bought the old Victorian house as a fixer-upper when they were still married. But shortly after they moved in, Braden was offered his own reality tv show, ghost-hunting around the country. He took off and they divorced. She got the house in the settlement. Braden was always into ghosts and one of the things he always told Emily was that the house was haunted. She is lonely and this is only magnified when there are no guests staying at The Peppermint House. She regularly hears thumps and scrapes coming from the attic in the middle of the night and her lights flicker. She’s terrified Braden was right and there are actually ghosts. She’s worn out her welcome with the local police who generously attended her house a few times in the middle of the night to check (although, I must say they did a pretty ordinary job of it) and Braden is too far away and wouldn’t come anyway. In the middle of the night when she feels she can’t call on anyone for help, her loneliness is the worst.

Jericho Lozada has recently come to town and is staying with friends while he works out if there is enough business in Bluebonnet to sustain a handyman/plumber and while he decides if he likes it enough to stay. He looks like a bad boy – with tattoos and piercings, a mohawk and a Harley. Emily, on the surface at least, looks like his exact opposite. She’s buttoned up in old fashioned cardigans. Nevertheless, an attraction sparks when Jericho does some handiwork of the carpentry variety at The Peppermint House and she bakes him cookies. When she calls him in the middle of the night to check the attic he comes right on over and… let’s just say he solves a number of her problems. Ahem.

It’s sexy and fun and cute and a pleasant evening’s entertaining read without being anything particularly earth-shattering. It delivered exactly what it promised and that’s nothing to complain about.

The sex is pretty hot and enthusiastic which is always fun to read.  Yay for enthusiastic sex.

The copy is mostly clean but there was a continuity error in that when Jericho comes over in the middle of the night he’s still wearing his Scooby-Doo sleep pants (adorbs!) but in the morning they’ve suddenly turned into jeans.

There is little conflict between Emily and Jericho once they start talking to one another and it works as a novella quite well. Braden is no serious threat to their happiness and that situation resolves quickly. I liked it and it’s certainly worth the 99c pricetag.  I give The Bad Boy of Bluebonnet a B.

regards,
Kaetrin

 

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REVIEW:  Promise Me This by Christina Lee

REVIEW: Promise Me This by Christina Lee

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Dear Ms. Lee,

Promise Me This is the fourth novel in your new adult series. I’ve enjoyed the previous books to greater and lesser degrees but overall, I’m a loyal reader interested in seeing where you take us next.

In your latest novel, we catch up with Nate and Jessie, two characters introduced earlier in the series. Jessie and Nate seem to come from two different worlds. Tattooed and edgy, Jessie works at the same tattoo parlor as Bennett (the hero of All of You). She’s an independent free spirit, who loves photography. Preppy and brother of their university’s star football player, Nate comes from a rich family. (He’s the cousin of the hero from Whisper to Me.) They’re happy being just friends and intend to stay that way.

Nate has reasons for this, though. He doesn’t do girlfriends, only one-night-stands. His family background is extremely abusive, and he grew up watching his father abuse his mother. Afraid that he’ll turn out like his father, he’d rather not make romantic connections with anyone at all. Jessie is his safe girl. He can have a relationship with her, but only platonically. That’s enough for him.

But then Jessie walks in Nate with one of his hopeful random hook-ups, and suddenly the guy she’d always thought of as clean-cut and not her type intrigues her. Her curiosity gets the best of her, and courtesy of a photography project Jessie needs to complete, the wall that Nate carefully constructed in his head comes down.

My feelings are mixed about Promise Me This. When I finished, I liked the book overall. I still do. But it took a while to get my thoughts together to write this review. Why? Because despite liking the book, something was missing.

Promise Me This is Nate’s story. He has a lot of damage because of his father, and the effects show internally in the ways he thinks about himself and his predilections in bed. (Nate likes kink, but because of his father, he associates that kind of behavior with abuse, even though it’s nothing of the sort when all parties are consenting.) Much of the book is devoted to Nate overcoming this and healing himself, coming to the realization that he does want a relationship with Jessie and that he isn’t like his father at all.

In that aspect, I actually thought the book did a great job.

The problem is that the book is unbalanced. We see Nate grow and change. We do not see Jessie go through the same transformation. Don’t get me wrong. I liked that Jessie was independent and self-reliant. It’s refreshing when a character has their shit together. But coming to the realization that Nate has depth beyond his preppy playboy ways is not a character transformation. Nor is being the supportive rock as he wrestles with his demons. I want to believe Jessie could be all the traits I loved about her and work through something at the same time.

For me, a satisfying (standard) romance is about two people meeting and overcoming some sort of internal conflict so reach their HEA. But each person should have their own, separate internal conflicts. Each person should work through their issues to reach their happy ending. Nate did but in my opinion, Jessie did not. As a result, I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied.

I think readers who enjoyed your previous ones will like Promise Me This as well. It read fast, and I found it to be a mellow read. (This isn’t damning praise. I need mellow reads sometimes.) It just lacks a couple ingredients to make it great. B-

My regards,
Jia

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