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REVIEW:  Coming in from the Cold by Sarina Bowen

REVIEW: Coming in from the Cold by Sarina Bowen

Coming in from the Cold Sarina Bowen

Dear Ms. Bowen:

I loved the three New Adult books you wrote and was desperate to read more Bowen romances so I was giddy when I learned that there were already two adult contemporaries available.

The hero Dane “Danger” Hollister is like the lead in Viscount Who Loved Me. He has a family illness that is likely to kill him before he’s forty and it’s a terrible disease. He doesn’t do relationships. He hooks up and has pursued his dream of being an  Olympic skier. This doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like something more permanent but rather that he foresees that death is imminent and you can’t have a relationship with anyone when your life has an early expiration date.

He gets trapped in a snowstorm with the heroine Willow Reade, who’s moved to Vermont, abandoning her doctorate in Clinical Psychology to move in with her boyfriend. Then her boyfriend takes off with someone else, leaving her with an underwater mortgage, gourmet chickens and no money. Why Willow doesn’t abandon the house, allow it to be foreclosed up and go back to pursue her degree wasn’t clear but that was only one of the incomprehensible behaviors of the characters in the book.

In the trapped vehicle, the two can’t stop the hormones and they have sex. He reminds her it is only a one time thing and at one point he says he doesn’t have a condom. She reassures him that it’s okay because she’s on the pill. When he does the disappearing act that he promised he would do, she’s disappointed because she’s not ready to let go.

I’m okay with both Willow and Dane at this point. They hooked up, had risky sex, and neither are emotionally okay with how things were left but that’s just how life is sometimes. It’s what happens next that had me banging on the screen of my kindle and sending angry texts. I told Sarah on SmartBitches during a podcast that I felt like the book turned me into a momentary Men’s Rights Activist and that made me even angrier.

Something happens to Willow and this causes them both more emotional trauma that is only resolved when something else happens to Dane. I know this is vaguey mcvaguerston but rather than spoil it outright, I’ll just say that I wasn’t sold on the characters’ actions and reactions. Willow does something that affects both their lives and then doesn’t really take responsibility for it. Dane is rude and cruel. Neither of them really recovered for me as characters and I had a hard time getting excited for their HEA particularly when Dane’s issues could have readily been solved earlier.

There’s not so much character growth as there is a change in circumstance. If the circumstances hadn’t changed, I couldn’t foresee an HEA between the two. I ended up not liking either character much. C-

Spoiler (spoiler rant): Show

Willow gets pregnant because she had allowed her prescription to lapse and thought she could skate by. She lied to Dane about her birth control situation and never fesses up to this. There’s no repercussions and it’s just a small confession to her friend who is like, well, okay then.

What the hell? SHE LIED ABOUT HER BIRTH CONTROL. How angry would we be at the male character if he poked holes in a condom and told a woman that he was protecting her? Very.

I felt this situation was worsened when she’s angered and hurt that he tells her to get an abortion. Yes, he calls her a “fuck up”. That’s rude and cruel, but the focus of the remainder of the book isn’t that he called her a fuck up but that he told her to get an abortion. Telling her that he didn’t want the baby, that he believed she should get an abortion is not cruel. To me this felt like an unnecessary vilification of abortion as an option.  She considers being a welfare mom and adoption, but abortion is cruel and unfeeling I know romance doesn’t want to go there, ever, but I don’t have to be happy with how the choice issue is played out.

That Dane doesn’t tell her why he believes it is vital for her to get an abortion is stupid but somewhat ameliorated because he fears that if it got out, it would affect his standing as an Olympic hopeful.  But Dane is just as stupid as Willow because he never gets tested. That makes sense if he’s going to pretend he doesn’t have the disease, but Dane lives and assumes as if he does. Why not just find out? Why he wouldn’t want to be sure when his driving motivation is the belief it is true baffled me the entire book. I get that it is necessary to keep the conflict between the couple.

I felt her lying to him when he was so adamant about using protection, not having children, was a really shitty thing to do and trumped him calling her a fuck up. I know that this a complicated moral issue, but the book brought it up and didn’t deal with it well. Of course since he doesn’t have the disease, it’s all sunshine and roses at the end. Urgh.

Best regards

Jane

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REVIEW:  Risk by Cora Brent

REVIEW: Risk by Cora Brent

Risk (Gentry Boys #2) by Cora Brent

Dear Ms. Brent:

I read the first book in the Gentry Boys series, Draw, when it lingered at the top of the Kindle charts a couple of months ago. I’d found it on Scribd and felt it was a no risk proposition (and by found it, I mean, it was part of the subscription service).  There was something very alluring about your voice, the slow southern lyricism of your characters’ internal monologue, the occasionally witty dialogue, and the certain we’ll love before our doom theme that provides the overriding suspense.

Risk isn’t terrible different than Draw but that’s part of the appeal, I think. I know what I’m getting and it’s comfortable.

Tallulah Rae Lee is a waitress at Cluck This, a fried chicken establishment near Arizona State University. She rooms with a quiet, secretive girl and has only a few friends. Her past is a roadmap of wrong turns marked by increasingly bad male choices starting her falling for her mother’s boyfriend at the age of seventeen and ending with being a kept woman of a wealthy married man. At some point, she realizes she’s never going to find the love she needed between the legs of a male and she focuses on making enough money to pay her bills. She misses her three sisters who she walked away from when her mother threw her out, but she doesn’t know how to reconnect. In short, Truly is lonely but trying.

Creedence Gentry is one of three Gentry triplets who grew up under the abusive hand of their dad. The father would either beat them all or beat one or make Creed choose who he should beat, promising a terrible retribution to the other two brothers if he wouldn’t choose. The Gentry boys escape their oppressive small town and make their way to Phoenix. The one brother has started classes and the other brother Cord (the hero of Draw) is a burgeoning tattoo artist. Creed drinks and serves as security for ASU football games. Oh, and he’s committed himself to a shady promoter who sets up fights to the death between poor schmucks like Creed and ex cons.

In Draw, Chase is beat up and in exchange for information about the perpetrators behind the deed, Creed offers himself up as tribute in a dangerous game. All three brothers know that this is very close to a death sentence and Creed’s response is to ramp up his drinking and his screwing around. His eyes light upon Truly and she can’t resist.

There are a couple of problems in the book. First, Creed is portrayed as super rough around the edges and appears to view women as “holes” in the first POV. This is abandoned later, but the set up of Creed as this foul mouthed misogynist does little to serve the story. Second, he’s portrayed as having a heavy drinking problem but fortunately for him Truly makes his thirst go away. That’s not really how alcoholism works and it’s a little frustrating to see it portrayed like that.

Truly and Creed fall quickly for each other but the threat of Creed’s fight and his possibly short time on this earth is a dark cloud over their romance.

Despite the problems, I really liked Truly and because she wanted Creed, I wanted Creed for her. I didn’t think Creed was as interesting as Truly’s character. Yes he came from an abusive household; yes, he was in unfortunate circumstances, but a lot of those circumstances were his own making and I never felt like he owned those like Truly owned her mistakes.

But for readers that like the gruff alpha who is head over heels for his woman, this will be appealing but the book was made for me with the Truly character. If she’d been less interesting, less spirited then I wouldn’t have liked the romance or Creed as much.

Interestingly while the characters have sex quite a bit, the scenes themselves are very short (only a few of paragraphs) I wouldn’t qualify this as an erotic romance but a sexy contemporary. B-

Best regards,

Jane

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