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REVIEW:  Surviving America’s Sweetheart by Lori Green

REVIEW: Surviving America’s Sweetheart by Lori Green

surviving

What would happen if the Bachelorette found herself in the Hunger Games?

Riley Davenport has it all. She’s America’s Sweetheart, the lucky woman seeking her true love from a pool of twenty-five handsome bachelors. All she has to do is survive.
The odds are stacked against her. With Lucifer and God trying to one-up each other using reality television as their new battleground, Riley must fight murderous demons, boring angels and jaded TV hosts for her happily ever after.

As long as the hot tub isn’t filled with molten lava, she might have a fighting chance. If she doesn’t lose her life, she might lose her heart.

Dear Ms Green,

I saw this listed in our submissions section and something called out to me, “read this this one.” Maybe it’s the “mish-mash” plot. Perhaps it was the excerpt. But anyway, I pushed back the book I had been planning to read that day and queued this one up on the ereader.

What a cute premise! It’s different, it’s timely, it’s a crazy mix of reality/dating TV shows with a paranormal romance that winds up sending them both up. I don’t read too many paranormals and have never watched any reality TV so perhaps that’s why it all seemed so fresh to me but I had a blast reading it.

Since we the readers and Riley can’t know much about each bachelor – after all it would ruin the ratings if everyone knew who was going to start the demon fighting – having it be a first person point of view narrative makes sense. And since even the show host much less Riley doesn’t know demon from angel from mere mortal – though everyone has their suspicions – it certainly adds spice to Riley’s picks and dates.

Riley is a woman unabashedly out to find the love of her life. As such, she’s as prone to weak knees from a soul melting kiss as the next woman. But she’s also done her research on the show – demon fights generally occur on the second day during the group date – and her prep work with fight trainers, exercise coaches and fitness gurus. She’s as ready to fight off the hell spawn as she can be while keeping an open mind as to who gets a rose at the end of the night. I do love the way she tries to ensure that her two final picks are men she might actually have a future with rather than just ones who trip her trigger and send her pulses racing. Her ultimate choice is based in mutual compatibility and a hilarious final date.

“Surviving America’s Sweetheart” is fast, fun and funny though the humor is more silly than actually black, IMO. I did notice a continuity name issue and a few of the sentences needed to be read a few times for the meaning to be plain but I’m glad to gave this one a try. B

~Jayne

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REVIEW:   Makeover Miracle by Charmaine Ross

REVIEW: Makeover Miracle by Charmaine Ross

Dear Ms. Ross:

I thought the blurb of this book was effective because it conveyed that it wouldn’t be the run of the mill reality tv show but one that featured a woman who would undergo an internal transformation as well as an external one.  I love makeover shows because it is exciting to see individuals gain some heretofore unrealized appreciation for their own body and you can really see the difference in how they hold themselves afterward.

Makeover Miracle by Charmaine RossAbbey-Rose gets selected to be a contestant on a reality tv show that features makeovers. It is one part Big Brother (everyone lives in the house together) and one part Biggest Loser (people who are overweight are pushed to lose). Quinn, the producer, falls for Abbey-Rose immediately. He sees her beauty that is hidden behind the baggy clothes and the low self confidence.

The concept of the story – that Abbey-Rose learns to overcome the fat jokes, the insults, and the slights to gain self confidence is great.  The problem is that Quinn, as the director, interferes too greatly with the reality tv bit such as helping Abbey-Rose finish challenges – challenges that can immunize her from elimination.

Abbey-Rose goes to member selection show of Quinn’s reality TV show never expecting that she and her best friend will be chosen as participants.  The set up of the show requires the participants to all live in a secluded mansion and participate in various physical challenges.  Coming in last to those challenges places a participant at risk for getting voted off by the audience.

Abbey-Rose and her friend aren’t always near the end but often.  It is the challenges part of the story that tainted my appreciation of the story.  Quinn assists Abbey-Rose throughout several of the challenges, either personally encouraging her on a particularly grueling physical challenge or being her partner during a water challenge.  While I could buy into his inappropriate behavior such as kissing her and having sex with her while she is living in the mansion, the assistance during the challenges crossed over into all-too-incredible territory.

Makeover Miracle goes to great pains to paint Abbey-Rose as a woman who isn’t really in need of a makeover at all in order to convey the message that you don’t have to be thin to be loved. That’s a pretty great message but one that required some intense balancing that wasn’t always maintained and sometimes the message being given off were confusing.

Abbey wasn’t one of the heaviest or the most out of shape, but she was always losing challenges (except when Quinn was helping her).  At one point the characters receive nutrition counseling and Abbey spends it describing all the heart attack inducing items she loves to cook for people. I wasn’t sure if I was to read that as Abbey having poor eating habits or the nutritionist not enjoying eating enough.

On top of the “love yourself and it will make you outwardly beautiful” message, is a strong antibullying sentiment.  Quinn’s sister suffered from bullying and Quinn himself admitted to being a bullier at school.  Abbey lost confidence in herself after an extraordinarily bad experience in college.

The individual set scenes where Quinn and Abbey have heartfelt talks during challenges; the  beautiful and thin hostess of the show playing the villain as a vain and horrible person; and a return of a familiar face in Abbey’s life makes it easy to guess where the big moments in the book will be.  Those elements serve to make an interesting book rather mundane. C

Best regards,

Jane

 

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