Short paranormal romance reviews 22 November 2015

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles – I bought this forever ago and meant to read it, what with everyone constantly talking about it. Well, now I know why they do! Very entertaining. The main characters and their relationship are well drawn, and just enough plot outside their romance to make things interesting.

Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett – There was a lot to like about this book and yet I found it quite a slog to get through. Perhaps I just didn’t connect with it that well. I found the end satisfying and yet the lasting impression is that finishing the book was like drudgery.

Review: Blueberry Boys

Blueberry Boys by Vanessa North
Acquired how: ebook ARC via netgalley

Connor is a photographer from the big city come to a small town to sell the land he’s inherited; Jed is the tenant farmer on that land. The set up at the beginning is very similar to many m/f romance novels I read when I was younger, but of course dealing with Connor’s suppressed grief and both their paralysing fear of homophobia in a small town mean the story takes a very different turn.

I thought this was well written. Vanessa North has a lovely prose style. The language was delightful to read and the characterisation clear and charming. However, it was a hard read for me – sometimes you just happen to be reading the wrong book for you at the wrong time. I often struggle with stories set in rural towns because I lived in a rural town as a small child and being sent back there emotionally by reading a story this immersive can make me feel a little claustrophobic. The way Connor was both dealing and not dealing with his grief was a litle too close to home, too.

Which is not to say I didn’t like it! I did, and I very much appreciate that the obligatory break up moment isn’t over a big misunderstanding but is instead about a problem between them that at that point they cannot yet resolve. Of course, this is a romance novel, so we know how it ends – and Connor and Jed are so lovely together that it was charming, if somewhat bitter-sweet, ending.

However, I did feel like the sex scenes read very much like hundreds of other sex scenes I’ve read. While they do reveal things about the characters and the relationship, they also very much feel like I’ve read sex scenes with the same rhythms and course of action before. Downside of genre familiarity, I guess.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a gentle story about normal people who deal with sadness and fear and work hard to be honest and sincere with each other! In case that wasn’t clear.

It may just be me, but I’m incredibly bored of reading BDSM and anal sex in romance fiction. Can’t we have a bit of variety? Old fashioned things like blow jobs, maybe? A bit of kink that doesn’t involve pain or dominance games? Those are all fine and well but people can do other things in bed. And I would like to read more of those other things, because it’s started to feel like almost every sex scene I read in m/m or m/f is exactly the same as the last.

Short reviews 2015-Nov-10

Balancing Act by Angie Barry – (ebook ARC via netgalley) Adonis (a famous model) and Narcissus (a famous artist) make a bet about who can seduce a new intern, Ganymede. This was short and cute. It wasn’t hard to figure out the twist but it was executed charmingly. The story got quickly to the point and was funny in the journey getting there.

Her Hardest Choice by Jesalin Creswell – Historical romance; widow Vivian and her house maid Millie fall in love. This is the second thing of Creswell’s I’ve read and it’s just as silly and cheesy and charming as the previous.

Marriage of Convenience by Amberly Smith – There were some scene transitions that I felt could be fleshed out because I occasionally felt lost like I’d missed things, and had to read back to check that I hadn’t. Other than that, cute, and about what I expected from a contemporary marriage of convenience story.

In a Witch’s Hands by Diana Morland – I wasn’t convinced by how quick they seemed to fall for each other. It could have stood to be expanded a little. As a story about people in the early days of infatuation it’s fine but I was somewhat underwhelmed.

Brides of Durango: Tessa by Bobbi Smith – This was a historical (from 2000 or thereabouts I believe) set in a town in America’s old west that I picked up in a local second hand shop because the cover looked fun. I’ve always loved the painted covers of historical romances from before photograph covers became so trendy, because they look so vivid and wild as all get out. Not a great book – not much description of anything, a bit of in-a-scene head-hopping, fairly predictable. But it was an easy read and a page turner so I didn’t really mind.

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last week. Unfortunately, between birthday celebrations and overtime at work I’ve been pretty flat out. I plan to get back to my regular reviews by Tuesday at the latest.

Short reviews: Summer Passion, and Rachel Tells It

Summer Passion by MJ Williamz – (Netgalley ebook review copy) Jean is an established movie star in the 50s and Maggie is an up and coming actress. When they fall in love they must put up with hiding their relationship from the public and those who would like to remove people like them from Hollywood. There was a lot of sex in this story and I have to admit I skim-read some of those scenes (on the other hand, I often skim-read sex scenes in romance because I find most of them kind of boring and generally less relevant to the plot than people claim; I am that rare beast but I have to admit that bias in this review). Jean and Maggie fell for each other fast and then spent the rest of the story dealing with the outside obstacles between them, some of which I found more convincing than others. I honestly wouldn’t have minded if they’d been more afraid of discovery. O’Leary, the villain, also seemed like a gun that didn’t quite go off and I felt like that plot-line sort of fizzled towards the end.

However, I also thought Jean and Maggie were pretty cute together. Also, the ending really tapped into the historically significance of how far things have come for the queer community, and I found it really affecting. So, a bit of a mixed reaction, but on balance I enjoyed it.

Rachel Tells It (Vampire City book 2) by Mariana Lewis – The first book in this little series was funnier and I think I find Meledandri as a character a little more interesting than Rachel, but this book seemed better because it was more anchored in the world. I liked the relationship between the main characters. Cute all over.