Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Natalie Anderson

REVIEW:  The End of Faking It by Natalie Anderson

REVIEW: The End of Faking It by Natalie Anderson

Dear Ms. Anderson:

I was reluctant to read this book for some reason and had saved it to the end of my monthly HP reading. I’ve read a couple of yours in the past (Caught on Camera being the one I remember). I mostly got caught up in the setups and the setup in this book was slightly problematic but the core of the story, the heroine afraid of intimacy and the hero that pursues her, is a trope that has always worked well for me. Because of that, I’m sure that I have overlooked obvious flaws in the storytelling.

The End of Faking It by Natalie AndersonThe book starts out with our standard HP hero, Carter Dodds, assuming that Penny of the short denim skirt and the red lips must be a siren luring men to their doom. Carter makes assumptions, bad ones, based on Penny’s attire and her fun and free attitude. Further, Carter basically douses Penny with water and then kisses her because that is what men do to random secretaries in the office. Carter is a presumptuous ass. He interferes with her life, thinks she is a bimbo, and then a man eater.

Penny won me over, though. She’s not interested in making commitments, not with people or a place. She temps because she won’t stay in one location for more than a year. She seeks out men who are as commitment phobic as she is. She goes out clubbing all night and takes men home with her. But there is an unhappy desperation to her lifestyle. Penny clearly loves people but she is afraid of intimacy on any level.

And fortunately, around chapter 3, Carter starts acting like a decent human being again once he acknowledges that he can barely think around Penny and he apologizes (although he could have groveled more). Later on in the story, Carter actually seems to become a different guy. One who is more understanding, more about Penny’s pleasure than his own. I don’t think his character arc was to change in this manner, but that the way in which he was written changed. As if the standard HP hero was trotted out in the beginning in order to hook the HP readers, but that the story and Penny needed a different kind of foil. I liked how Carter evolved although I don’t know if it was organic growth.

The reason for Penny’s neurosis is somehow related to a boyfriend she had with a teenager. I bought into the idea that this event that happened to her over seven years ago could still so strongly influence her life. Penny was trying to find enjoyment where she could with traveling and seeing new people and places. And she enjoyed sex and had enjoyed it in the past, although Penny always had to be in control and often, she never orgasmed so she faked it and she planned to fake it with Carter as well. (Thus the title)

My affection for this book rests a great deal on my appreciation for Penny as a character. Her yearning for deeper connections swam just under the surface and her presentation as the “in control but no intimacy girl” read like a gender switch in romance books. I think she could have been pushed harder (i.e. in her partying aspect, in her past relationships with men) but I can appreciate the parameters in which this was written. More

As an aside, I appreciated all the mentions of the modern ways of communicating. The characters text and email. Carter skypes with his father. Penny has an ereader. These things all give a nice contemporary feel to the story. Despite my initial reservations, I found that the Penny and Carter love story was sweet and, yes, very sexy. B

Best regards,

Jane

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo | Harlequin

MINI REVIEWS: July Harlequin Presents

MINI REVIEWS: July Harlequin Presents

I have an 8 book subscription for Harlequin Presents. It’s about $25.00 and I enjoy the sudsy, angst laden stories. Unfortunately I got behind in my reading and reviewing of these. Here’s the July reads for me (I don’t know if everyone gets the same titles their subscriptions?)

Penny Jordan Michelle Reid

A Stormy Spanish Summer by Penny Jordan

The doormat to asshole ratio is high. The hero, Vidal, perceives the heroine, Fliss, to be promiscuous because he found her in the embrace of a drunken teenager when she was 16. Once a whore, always a whore. Vidal has so little regard for her that at the moment of their copulation:

“I might not be able to control the desire you arouse in me, Felicity,” he told her harshly. “But I am not such a fool as to take the kind of risks with my sexual health that intimacy with you would involve without this protection. You may be the sort of woman who boasts that her pleasure is increased by the danger of unprotected intercourse, but I am not a man who wants to put either my own or my future sexual partners’ health at risk by going down that road. Of course if you’d prefer not to go any further”

Alas, being insulted like this at the point of consummation only makes her more determined to give up her virginity to Vidal. She’ll show him. Oh, Fliss.

And she recognizes this “A woman would have to be bereft of all pride and self-protection to allow herself to feel any kind of desire for a man who treated her as Vidal had.”

There is plenty of angst cake here but it’s at the expense of a truly weak heroine and a, well, mean hero. D

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

A Night of Scandal by Sarah Morgan

I liked this one although not as much as Sunita. It didn’t have quite enough agnst for me and my enjoyment may have been tainted because of my overall dislike for movie star heroes. Read Sunita’s review here.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

After Their Vows by Michelle Reid

This one labored for me. The heroine left the hero because she thought he was cheating. (In fact, this could have been a Helen Bianchin book because the plot was so similar to the Bianchin storylines). She never questioned it and ran off into hiding. A year later she files for divorce and at that point the hero decides to get her back. I never got the feeling that either of the characters loved each other. Angie, the heroine, puts her bad apple brother before her marriage and the hero, Roque, decides the best way to combat that is to lie and blackmail her. When Roque tries to convince Angie of his innocence, she refuses to believe it. After all, the tabloids said it was true as did the supposed other woman. Angie would rather take the word of unreliable sources over her husband, whom she supposedly loved. And, of course, because lust is so strong between the two, Angie can’t keep her hands off Roque or prevent him from carrying her to passionate heights. Blergh. C-

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Melanie Milbourne Anne Oliver Helen Bianchin

The Wedding Charade by Melanie Milburne

This is a forced marriage story and it’s pretty ridiculous in the beginning. Nic and Jade have to marry or Nic loses 1/3 of the family business. Jade loses her inheritance which she has to have. The why she needs her inheritance is a secret but it’s not for the reason most romance heroines claim to need money (i.e., for a charitable cause). Jade is a fun heroine. She is a mess inside, insecure and mixed up, but she is a likeable mess. She takes people’s assumptions about her and ratchets it up. Nic thinks she is a wicked vixen and so she plays the wicked vixen for him. Everyone in the press thinks she is a man stealer and she does nothing to dissuade those opinions. Jade would rather be all those things than be known for the truth. Problematically Jade’s secret and her continued attempts to keep her secret only feed into Nic’s deep distrust toward her. B-

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Alessandro’s Prize by Helen Bianchin

This is the dogged pursuit of one male, Alessandro, after one hurt female, Lily. Helen Bianchin, to her credit, almost always has a working woman as her heroine. These women work as hard as the men and have high powered jobs. I really appreciate that. The problem in this book is that Lily is purported to be a restauranteur non pareil. Yet she feels comfortable abandoning her restaurant in Australia and going to live with her god mother in Italy for a while after a botched engagement. Lily is described as this incredible chef but has no problem serving as an assistant chef for another chef in an Italian restaurant. Maybe I’ve watched too many Top Chef episodes, but I didn’t buy that Lily was a chef for one instant. The references to her as a chef were distracting and took me out of the story. C

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

The Ultimate Risk by Chantelle Shaw

Ah, for some reason I didn’t read this one.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

The End of Faking it by Natalie Anderson. I recommend this book and I’ll have a full review of it tomorrow. Read less like an HP and more like a straight up contemporary (albeit in category format).

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Her Not So Secret Diary by Annie Oliver

This was a cute story but it lacked the emotional charge I was looking for from an HP. Yes, I know this was initially a Riva title, but I only discovered this after I read the book. Sophie accidentally sends a hot fantasy about her boss to her boss, Jared. Man, that retrieve email feature never, ever works. I give credit to Sophie for actually showing up to work after accidentally sending her boss the wrong attachment. She was a temp. I think I would have called the temp office and asked for a new assignment. Stat. B-

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo