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REVIEW:  Rome by Jay Crownover

REVIEW: Rome by Jay Crownover

Dear Jay Crownover:

I really find the guy on the cover attractive and I liked book 1, Rule, despite the fact that grammar was optional. Yet I couldn’t make it past the second chapter and sadly I had the same problem with Rome. Everything about this book’s package appealed to me. Aside from the cover (did I mention I like the cover), I was intrigued by the wounded warrior and the tattoo artist girlfriend.

Rome (Marked Men #3) by Jay CrownoverI even liked the opening with Cora not falling for the brooding warrior but I didn’t find Rome to be intriguing in any fashion. He was very surly and I guess I was supposed to immediately feel sorry for him because he has PTSD – it says so right in the blurb – but I needed that in the text. His point of view seemed very emo, as well, and not very well differentiated from the heroine’s POV. He notices the barkeep’s “charcoal eyes” for example. He told us that Cora’s eyes “were unique in themselves, but the fact that whatever she was feeling literally ran from one color to the next was fascinating.”

Further, if Rome really did have PTSD (and it said so in the blurb) then no one really gave him enough slack. I hadn’t seen enough of his being an asshole to anyone other than messing up some party. I know other readers enjoyed seeing Rule stand up to his brother Rome to protect Rule’s girlfriend but the asskicking came out of nowhere in its intensity. Ditto for the dressing down he got from his “sister” Shaw.

The concept of the warrior trying to reintegrate into a civilian world was a good one. Rome’s job was to be everyone’s caretaker and problem solver but his friends and family have all grown up without him. (Although how he took care of everyone since he was enlisted from the age of 18 – 28 and the book begins when he separates, I’m not sure).

The couple has unprotected sex even though both of them view this hookup as temporary. I would have thought Cora, at least, who was looking for Mr. Right would be interested in protecting herself while enjoying Mr. Wrong, physically. While it was necessary for the plot, there wasn’t a good explanation for it in the book so the two seemed stupid and foolish and given that they didn’t much like each other, the “carried away by passion” didn’t fit very well either.

Spoiler (spoiler): Show

Their nonchalant attitude toward unprotected sex seemed crazy to me particularly when Cora was looking for Mr. Right. “What if the result is a baby?” “Then we’ll dealt with it.” What is this? The nineteenth century??????!!!!!

I wished more of the story had focused on Cora and Rome. About 70 pages in Rome began to take shape for me as a character but just when I felt I was getting to know Cora and Rome, other characters from past books or future books would take center stage. This happens in the epilogue as well. The story ends rather abruptly and the epilogue is the set up for another book.

The cast in this book is really large. There’s the entire crew of Marked (Rule, Shaw, Rowdy) including Nash and his uncle who owns the shop. Nash’s book is constantly on the peripheal of this story and had zero to do with the Cora and Rome conflict. You could have eliminated that part and Rome would have read exactly the same. There’s Brite, the grizzled Marine/Bar owner, who provides pithy statements to Rome. “Grief is a hard mistress to have.” There’s Cora’s roommates – Asa, Ayden and Ayden’s boyfriend, Jet. It was hard to keep track of everyone.

Cora’s POV scenes were the best. Some of Rome’s came off to cheesy (and too similar to Cora’s) for me to enjoy entirely. Some of the reviews found Cora abrasive but I didn’t get that sense at all. She wanted to fall for the right guy who wouldn’t hurt her and she was envious of her friends pairing off. She had a confidence in herself that I don’t see a ton of in other New Adult heroines. At one point when they are about to have sex again, Cora says “Don’t be scared, Captain No-Fun, we got this.” And I laughed out loud.

There were still sentences that I had to read twice or more to make sense of because of sentence structure and odd word choices.

“When I was overseas there had been a female intelligence officer who’d been down to be friends with benefits whenever we were in the same place at the same time.”

Or “I barely finished my senior year and the damaged had a lasting effect on my GPA. I could go back and finish fairly easily but …” (If she barely finished, then she did finish)

Or “I probably outranked him in the reality of things.”

Or “However, I had promised Rule I would get it on lock, so that’s what I was going to do.”

It’s too bad that William Morrow didn’t serve this author better but I’m giving this a C because the issue of unprotected sex really, really bothered me combined with the technical issues. The story took too long to unfold and then kind of chased its way to the ending and the “I love yous” came a little early.

Best regards,

Jane

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What Kelly’s Been Reading: The “I Survived the Polar Vortex” Edition

What Kelly’s Been Reading: The “I Survived the Polar Vortex” Edition

This was my one chance to use “Polar Vortex” in a headline, so of course I took advantage. Next month’s installment will be titled “Yes, I’m STILL Coughing Like An 80-Year-Old Smoker And Whining About It Like A Two-Year-Old.” I did manage to read a boatload of books, and a few even made me less of a cranky mess.

Love in a Pawn Shop by Bonnie Edwards

I went on a huge contemporary binge, kicked off by Tamara Morgan’s In the Clear, for which I thank Laura Florand for reviewing here, because holy crap, I love that book. So of course I had to read all of Morgan’s backlist, and most of Florand’s. I also holy-crap-adored Geek with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir, which extended my Good Book Mood enough to dig into the TBR for some Nicole Helm (Flight Risk), Holley Trent (My Nora, Calculated Exposure, Saint and Scholar), and Edie Harris (Stripped, Sparked). I bought a fun one called Love in a Pawn Shop by Bonnie Edwards because kickass heroine + pit bull + sexy cop, and I read ARCs of Amber Lin’s Chance of Rain and Mary Ann Rivers’ upcoming Live. All were in the B/B+ range.

On the historical side, there was just one worth recommending, and a few disappointments….

To Tempt a Viking by Michelle Willingham

To Tempt a Viking by Michelle WillinghamI really liked the first book in this series (To Sin with a Viking), and on re-read I decided to bump the grade up to an A- because of the way Willingham handled the could-have-been-squicky plot device of a married hero. As a follow-up, Tempt just seemed kind of tepid – the heroine’s angst over her barrenness and failed marriage vs. the hero’s I’m-not-worthy-enough unrequited love was a great set-up, but I just didn’t get the same level of emotional intensity. Tempt also had more violence than I was expecting, and the sub-plot with a troubled plot moppet seemed like an add-on. Grade: B-

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

The Dancing Master by Julie KlassenI was hoping Klassen would be back up to my rather high expectations, but this one didn’t do it. It’s a Regency story of a young “caper merchant” from a disgraced family attempting to open a dancing academy in a town full of secrets ruled by the heroine’s stiff-necked widowed mother. I managed to avoid any and all Footloose mental imagery through sheer force of will; however, having read it over the holidays, I could NOT dispel the visions of the Mean Widow as the Burgermeister Meisterburger denying toys to all the kids of Sombertown. It’s a decent book, but as with Klassen’s other recent titles, it’s too bland and predictable to keep pace with my favorite inspie authors. Grade: C

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth CamdenSpeaking of my favorite inspie authors…. Whirlwind wasn’t quite as glorious as Camden’s RITA-winning Against the Tide, but it’s a great book that shows off the author’s immersive historical world-building. Set during and after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, it’s got a kickass Irish heroine who runs her family’s watch-making business with an iron fist, a Polish dockworker-turned-ruthless-attorney, and a diverse supporting cast that actually drives the story instead of dragging it down. A memorable one-sitting book trance. Grade: B+

Safe Passage by Carla Kelly

Safe Passage by Carla Kelly

I am…conflicted…about this book. I really liked what’s there, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s a great historical adventure, highlighting a little-known setting (Mormon refugees during the 1912 Mexican Revolution), with shoot-outs and raids and starvation and rescues, presented by an author who’s one of the best story-tellers I’ve ever read. But my fangirl thing set me up to expect more of the relationship re-building that was promised in the blurb. I wanted Ammon and Addie’s second-chance romance to take center-stage because I believed whole-heartedly in their backstory and wanted to learn how their faith allowed them to forgive and reconnect. Worth reading, but be prepared for more action and less romance. Grade: B

Three Dog Knight by Tori Phillips

Three Dog Knight by Tori PhillipsYes, I paid money for this Harlequin Treasury re-release. Because dogs, duh. And it’s a good thing it had dogs, because I don’t really remember much else about this book. The hero was kind of a Kristoff-from-Frozen type of doofus, the cardboard-ingénue heroine was secretly a princess, the Slutty Evil Widow was a shrieking harpy, and I think the Hired Evil Villain may have actually twirled his moustache at one point. Dog-wise, there was a pregnant greyhound that gave birth on the Evil Widow’s bed, a slobbery mastiff who slobbered a lot, and a yippy terrier that rescued the ingénue from the Clutches of Evil. Too much melodrama, not enough dogs. Grade: D+