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REVIEW:  Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells by Lisa Cach

REVIEW: Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells by Lisa Cach

Ever dream of being transformed into a bombshell?

Grace Cavanaugh thinks she’s in for an easy, lazy summer when she takes a job as companion to her great aunt Sophia in Pebble Beach. She’ll dab spittle from her aunt’s chin, watch ‘Animal Planet’, and work on her dissertation for her PhD in Women’s Studies.

But Sophia has other plans. With a tart tongue that would put Bette Davis to shame, Sophia sets about transforming her dumpy great-niece into a copy of the B-movie bombshell Sophia once was, and in the process teaches her a thing or two about men, sexual liberation, and power.

Caught in Sophia’s web along with Grace are Declan O’Brien, the college football star turned financial advisor, and Dr. Andrew Pritchard, Sophia’s dewy-cheeked personal physician. Declan makes Grace’s body melt, but it’s Andrew who seems to be on her same mental wavelength.

By the time the summer’s over, though, Grace isn’t going to know whether she’s a scholar or a bombshell, or maybe a little bit of both

Dear Ms. Cach,

Several of your books reside on my “I love these books!” shelf. So when I hear that you’ve got a new addition to your oeuvre, I tend to get excited. After reading “Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells,” I was more confused and “meh” than excited. Let me explain. I just wasn’t sure what this book was supposed to be and be saying. Was it Chick Lit? Or a romance? Or an erotic romance? It didn’t really end up being any of those for me and thus could be labeled – for me at least – as a disappointment. I did, however, come up with some alternate titles.

“What Not to Wear – The Bombshell Version”

“How to Win Friends and Sexily Influence People”

bombshellFirst let me say it’s hard to like a lot of the characters. There are lots of disagreeable characters and I almost quit after chapters 2 and 3. The feelings and thoughts initially revealed by Aunt Sophia will dismay or upset so many. It disparages both lesbians and feminists plus makes men seem to be cads. Aunt Sophia reveals herself as a master manipulator and she definitely has an agenda with Grace so some of this could be said just to pull Grace’s strings but I was aghast. Other characters, such as Darlene, appear and conveniently disappear at random. Andrew is cardboard cutout only there for plot reasons and turned into mess at end. Sophia didn’t see the real man? I find that hard to believe so again maybe she was using him to achieve her ultimate ends. Grace’s friend Cat is another problem child. Is she Grace’s friend who will tell it like it is when Grace needs to hear it or is she a whiney bitch out to cut Grace down? I never was sure but I was glad Cat doesn’t have a large role in the book.

The story also feels choppy as it lurches back and forth. Parts are slow, crawlingly slow, and parts whiplash especially both Declan’s realization of his feelings and the final HEA. Grace does a whirlwind turnaround at end as well – from “it’s over!” to agreeing to marry Declan. The sexing is hawt, frequent (at least by Grace’s journal entries, though we don’t actually see all of it by a long shot) but it’s more erotic than romantic. Well, maybe not much of that either since we only actually see two hawt scenes and the rest are just recorded in her journal as having occurred. So in retrospect, it’s not really that erotic overall. And there’s precious little romance to make up for the lack of erotic.

As for the “ILY” – I can see that these two have fallen (separately) in love with each other but they don’t know it until almost the very last little tippy tip of the book. In the end, I’m left wondering about Declan and Grace’s HEA. Both have changed but I’m still not entirely sure I like all the changes. At the end, Grace says love should make you want to be better – should make you better. Is she? I don’t know. Is Declan? Probably but the final change in him is too fast for me. I think I would have been happier with a HFN and “let’s see what happens” ending.

Sophia isn’t lying about how the world is full of people who manipulate to get what they want. And Grace becoming more confident, rather than truly nothing but a bombshell, and using her feminine power of allure isn’t necessarily bad. All Sophia’s lessons seem fairly cold but there are nuggets of truth there as well. I’ll have to think about this. Was Sophia acting and arranging the whole thing? I was pretty sure over course of book and this was proved at end. It was a bold move to make her so crabby and manipulating. Everything Sophia does did achieve her goal of getting Grace married off, if that was the goal – but she’s still a disagreeable old bat. I give her credit though – she is still firm in her beliefs.

The book works more as a discussion and exploration of changes/evolutions – or not – in male/female relations as seen through Sophia’s lessons vs Grace’s female studies and modern thoughts. Is either right or wrong? Have people changed that much or is it only surface stuff? Will inter/intra gender issues ever really change? And not just about sex and love but about getting what you want and how to interact with others in all social situations? By the time I’d finished I still didn’t know. But notice I didn’t say it works well as a romance or an erotic romance. D



REVIEW: Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

REVIEW: Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Dear Ms. Cach,

Wake Unto Me by Lisa CachYou are an author I keep an eye out for and when I saw that there would be a new novel from you after a bit of a wait, I felt a frisson of anticipation. I’ve loved to liked several of your previous books and have admired the risks you’ve taken and the different plots you’ve devised. I will admit to a slight let down when I saw that “Wake Unto Me” is a PNR YA since I don’t usually do PNR and rarely read YA but, hey it’s a Cach so I was in.

“Caitlyn Monahan knows she belongs somewhere else. It’s what her dead mother’s note suggested, and it’s what her recurring nightmares allude to. Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams—and her small town—she accepts a spot at a boarding school in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse.

But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams?

Then, as her reality and dream world collide, Caitlyn searches for the real reason why she was brought to this school. And what she discovers will change her life forever.”

Since I don’t read a lot of books in this genre, I’m coming to it without many preconceived notions and without knowledge of a lot of the tropes. Which I’m sure is going to color my viewpoint of it differently than if I were an old pro at PNR YA.

There’s a lot of standard teenage stuff here – fitting in at school, making friends in a new place, missteps with the opposite sex, cattiness and envy but also scenes of Caitlyn finding her way with the language, the food and the mysteries of English tack. She’s a bit of a fish out of water and it takes her a while to find her feet but eventually Caitlyn finds a coterie of friends – which turns out to be handy later on. Unfortunately, most of these friends merely serve to help Caitlyn rather than being more independent characters.

Even though I don’t read that much YA, some of the tropes are ones I recognize or have seen mentioned in other DA reviews – lack of parenting/parent present during story, Caitlyn vs adults – in the form of Madam Snowe, Caitlyn growing up and, in a way, past her family as she accepts and understands her differences from them. I also knew to be looking for how dark the story would get – which is not dystopian dark but poor Caitlyn does suffer from horrible dreams with screaming banshees and heartbreak when she feels she’s lost her chance at happiness due to the death of her true love.

The beginning of the book shows a Secret Sisterhood which then takes a hike for a large section of the book until they’re needed in the final act. Since I have a low tolerance for Secret Societies and Conspiracy Theory type stuff, I was actually glad they retreated to the background and, TBH, I finished the book still uncertain of exactly what the goal or plan or reason for their existence is.

I reached a surfeit of vampires years ago and have never been interested in shifters so the PNR utilized made me a happy bunny. Dream visitations, banshees – or screamers as you have Caitlyn call them – plus a cool twist on a centuries old ghost kept my attention. The puzzle solving was a neat journey through historical details with Caitlyn contributing as much as Raphael.

I wish there had been more romance in the book and some of Raphael’s POV. But the short initial glimpses of Raphael served to whet my appetite until he entered more of the story in the second half. I thought I had figured out how he and Caitlyn would be reunited but agree with a friend of mine that this sort of resolution is less satisfying to me and slightly creepy.

I ended up liking “Wake Unto Me” even though I was left with an unfinished feeling. Because of that, I hope that this is the beginning of a series as there are many unanswered questions I have. Readers who’ve liked your books before or those searching for something different from the standard paranormal creatures might be the best intended audience but those looking for a deep romance probably won’t. B-


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