Hi friends! Do you remember the first 2018 APAHM post we had? Ekaterine Xia was our guest and I talked about how I’d messed up? So I found the emails from 2014 – she agreed to let me use the first post as a comparison, since she piggybacked off of it to write the May 5th one! (Are you confused yet?) In 2014 she said she’d tell me which book covers she wanted me to use … but that didn’t happen so I’m going with my picks. 😀 The most important thing though, is of course the post. Enjoy! N.B. I came up with the ~title. Because I think it’s accurate.
The Flatness of [Western] Romance
So it all started when Limecello tweeted with:
New quest! Any African American, Asian American, Hispanic, or Native American romance readers around? 😀
So I responded with: “Chinese person who reads romance over here. …I think I qualify as As-A?”
The thing is, it isn’t that easy. It’s the short answer.
The long answer is that I’m a third-culture-kid, aka global nomad, aka syncretic mutt of a first-gen fresh off the boat kind-of Asian American.
I was born in Taiwan, but we moved to the US when I was two. So technically Mandarin Chinese is my first language, but not by much. I grew up mainly in the US and it’s where I call home, no matter how much border control seems to disagree. Continue reading →
Lucinda Cardington doesn’t care that she is close to being “on the shelf.” She has more serious pursuits in mind and is perfectly content to leave dreams of romance to silly young ladies like her sister. Yet when her sister places herself in a compromising situation with London’s most scandalous bachelor, the entire family’s reputation comes perilously close to ruin. Suddenly Lucinda is in the limelight . . . and in need of a husband.
James Simpson’s rakish ways have finally caught up with him. Snared in a scandal that for once is not his doing, he is forced to do the honorable thing and offer marriage to the lady. But her father won’t agree to a dowry unless James can also find a suitable husband for the lady’s elder sister-quiet, reserved Lucinda Cardington. As James gets to know the vibrant, charming, and passionate woman behind Lucinda’s shy exterior, he comes to the distressing realization that he doesn’t want her in anyone’s arms but his own . . .
The third book in The Love’s Grace Series, A Bride for the Season is a sweet romance with strong Christian themes. Delamere captured the Victorian setting beautifully. The story was well paced from the start and never lost momentum.
Lucinda considers herself a godly woman, one who hopes to live a solitary life in the future, enabling her to focus on her faith and her charitable work. However, she often participates in what would be considered scandalous behavior for the time period. She goes on unchaperoned outings with her sister’s husband to be, unconcerned about proprieties especially if he is indulging her love of photography. Lucinda even shares a kiss with her brother-in-law to be. In other stories, I would not find this bothersome, but with a heroine that is often described as godly and upstanding, I find it difficult to reconcile her behavior.
James will one day inherit a property from his great aunt which will require a substantial amount of money to maintain. It is for this reason his marriage to Emily, Lucinda’s younger sister, must be profitable. Wanting his eldest daughter married, Lucinda’s father makes Emily’s dowry contingent upon James finding a suitable husband for Lucinda. It is for this reason he searches out Lucinda and often tempts her with an opportunity to put her photography knowledge to use.
As these two characters become friends, their attraction for each other grows. There are several touching moments where James encourages Lucinda to stand up for herself. But in the end, there were just too many things that didn’t work for me, the ending especially.
Hard Time by Cara McKenna Contemporary Romance released by Penguin InterMix on April 15, 2014
Annie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier.
Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more.
When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.
I got an ARC of this book, and had heard a lot of positive buzz about it, so I decided to read it. I’d read one of Cara McKenna’s [much] earlier books, so I was interested in reading this one. I also thought it was really interesting to read a book that featured a romance hero who had been (or is) a convicted felon. That’s … intense. And not your typical hero material. However, I wanted to give it a go because I’d say I know more than the average person about our criminal justice system, and how things work, or don’t work. Because of that, it’s possible I may have been more forgiving and open. (Or just that I think about these things way more than most people do.)
Like last month, this isn’t going to be a formal review for many reasons … but I do want to talk about some things.
One [totally insignificant] detail that irked me was the strip search scene Ms. McKenna wrote in when Annie first went to the Correctional Facility. With the caveat that my jurisdiction of license/practice isn’t Michigan, I believe a Correctional Facility in Michigan is a prison. I’ve only been to jails not prisons, but even so I don’t think a strip search is usual procedure. If you’re going through intake, than yes, of course. Or, if you’re a suspicious character, and the officers there suspect you of smuggling contraband. A visiting librarian/instructor I don’t think would fall under that umbrella. Unless it was a maximum security facility? (But then she wouldn’t be going there in the first place…) I could go on, but I won’t. So anyway, you see that having that right there in the beginning stuck with me. Thankfully, I gave it some time, then powered on. I’m so glad I did.
I liked Annie, and the fact that she was generally reasonable. I don’t think I’d ever be in the position she put herself in, but it was interesting to read. (And never say never, amirite? ;)) I liked that she put herself first – after a hard lesson learned well before she met Eric. Then also, that she was willing to give the relationship a try and not shut herself off just because of her past. What’s also nice is that Annie sticks up for Eric. I liked that in a way, she was his champion.
Eric, for all that he’s a felon, is probably one of the most romantic heroes I’ve read in a long time. His letters and the way he acts … I think it’s necessary to counter the automatic assumption and stigma that comes with his criminal record. However, the violence of a moment doesn’t define him – it isn’t really who he is – even though to the world he’s stamped with the label and to many people that’s all he is, or will ever be. The strength of will and resolve that Eric has to build a life on the outside really impressed me. He did the wrong thing, and I can’t say his reason or motive was right, but he felt compelled to do it. I also appreciated the fact that Eric owned up to his actions, and made no excuses for them. I almost wished that he had at first, but the story was written exactly as it should have been. I don’t agree with “Street Justice” but I think I understand it. My hat is off to Ms. McKenna for writing that in a convincing and universal way.
Of course there’s family drama, and it was an interesting (and subtle) compare/contrast of Eric and Annie’s families. I in fact like the fact that Annie took a step back and the two didn’t immediately have a romantic relationship upon Eric’s release from prison.
I can see myself reading this book again. There’s so much more that I didn’t even begin to discuss – and it all fits so well. I don’t think Hard Time is an easy read, but it’s an enjoyable one. The journey to happily ever after for Eric and Annie isn’t your typical romance, and I appreciate the hangups and extreme amount of caution Eric employs throughout the book.
I can see myself re-reading Hard Time in the future, and definitely more of Ms. McKenna’s upcoming books.
You can read an excerpt here (warning: it may open as a PDF), or buy a copy here.
Lies. Deceit. Backstabbing friends… Welcome to the jungle known as advertising…
Kat Owens can tell you all about the snake-infested world of big-time advertising. Thanks to an ex-best friend co-worker and a gone-wrong love affair with a client, she’s forced to leave her large Charlotte agency for a small-town coastal one. It’s do-or-die time to prove she can be a success to the aging grandfather she adores. Which means she can’t afford to be distracted by a client who’s a walking, talking definition of sex… Even if he is the man who stole her heart thirteen months before in a one-night stand she can’t forget.
Erik Monteague is a handsome, charismatic, highly respected businessman who has it all. Or so it seems. Only his closest friends know the truth about the guilt and emotional scars he carries, or why, following his fiancée’s death, he invoked the twenty-four/two rule. He never spends more than twenty-four hours with a woman, he rarely dates them twice, and he never thinks about them afterward.
But Kat Owens is different. She cheated him out of twelve hours, and now he can’t forget her. At least that’s what he tells himself, because admitting the truth is too dangerous. When she suddenly appears in his hometown, he sets out to finish what they started thirteen months earlier. But while his perfectly executed seduction gets Kat back in his bed, the emotional fallout is more than he counted on. Will he face his tragic past once and for all… or spend the rest of his life running?
This isn’t going to be a formal review because I’m bad … but I did want to make note of the book I read for the March challenge of A “New to Me Author” – and there are a lot to pick from. I think I saw Savin’ Me recommended as a kindle freebie, so I went for it.
I really like the romances where the hero falls first and falls fast. It might have something to do with reading all those earlier romances where the heroine just is in love with the hero “ever since she was a little girl” and just pines and pines for him for over a decade and he’s a total asshat and she’s a doormat – and you know those books. That is not the case here.
I think Ms. Lynne wrote wonderfully developed characters. Kat has a lot of depth, and is focused on her career, but she’s also willing to see reason. Even more than that, however, she’s not willing to take, or put up with Erik’s bullshit. I liked that she lived her life, and tried to do it without having to see or interact with Erik. Erik is sneaky though, and that’s the romance in the book. We all know they’re going to get together, but the journey was quite enjoyable. I found the story reasonable and realistic.
Obviously a lot of fun, and with lots of sex and chemistry between Kat and Erik too. There were some emotional moments, and I liked the focus on introspection from both Kat and Erik.
I liked this book – it was an enjoyable read and I can see myself looking for the rest in the series. If you’re looking for a solid contemporary romance, I suggest Savin’ Me. And you know what? It’s free for kindle right now.
I remember reading Part I: The Proposition around the time it came out. I also remember being surprised that it was a series series … because a) I tend to avoid them b) it was still relatively new for romances to not have closure at the end of the “book.” So, I knew I didn’t want to read on until it was finished and I could read the series in one go. I like Jennifer Lyon’s writing, and have since she wrote as Jennifer Apodaca. Remember those Brava anthologies? Good stuff. I know the theme for this month was “a short,” but I’d also been wanting a well written sexy story. I re-read The Proposition then immediately glommed on to The Possession, and immediately The Obsession.
I’m not going to write a formal review because … well I don’t want to. But I do want to talk about the stor[ies]. Here’s the book blurb.
Savagely sexy billionaire Sloane Michaels ruthlessly controls his life and everything in it. Even his sex partners are carefully negotiated plus-one arrangements, including his latest, the fiery bakery owner, Kat Thayne. But Sloane’s control is challenged when his mentor becomes seriously ill, and his need for Kat, his need to possess her at all costs, rivals only his single-minded goal of vengeance for the murder of his sister.
After surviving an attack six years ago, Kat Thayne escaped her fears in the protective world of her beloved bakery. Then Sloane Michaels storms into her life, making her feel beautiful, strong and sexy. Yet as Kat pushes her boundaries and uncovers a dangerous secret in her past, Sloane’s controlling side emerges. Worried that Sloane will possess her mind, body and soul, Kat fights to keep her hard won independence. But just as Sloane demands her complete surrender, she discovers he has a dark side that could destroy them both.
Kat Thayne is a great character. I love how real she is – she’s damaged, but not broken, flawed, insecure, yet steady and certain. She’s basically the best we can all hope to be. I’d really love to be her friend, and to have a friend like that. Sloane Michaels is … as close to perfect as a guy (and hero) can get. He’s a giant teddy bear. And I mean giant. I liked how Ms. Lyons made the MMA aspect relevant, but not pedantic. The story is hot, but it’s also all about the relationship, which I find great. There was a part either in the second or third story where I got a little eye-roll-y, but the third story also made me cry. There’s this section that just … tears you up emotionally.
I don’t want to write huge spoilers, but I think Sloane’s driving force is habit, and his horrible mother. She’s what leads to the resulting conflict between Kat and Sloane, but they work it out. Usually I think the heroine is too soft for giving the hero another chance, or pursuing the relationship, but here it really worked, and I think was the best possible way for the story to be written.
Sloane’s light bulb moment is also a tiny bit deus ex machina, but I’m ok with it nonetheless. I know I sound incredibly vague, but I want you to read this trilogy! And then come back and talk to me about it!
I mean, chemist turned baker heroine, and MMA fighter turned billionaire mogul hero. They’re both damaged in different ways, yet the best they can be. Even the uber tragic past works – and usually I’m turned off by the excessively sad back story that doesn’t seem that realistic. (Thanks a lot for that, real life.)
I finished The Obsession at 3:30 AM and was practically screaming. Ms. Lyons is evil for ending Part II thus, and I was so glad I already had The Obsession on hand, so I could keep reading until I felt I reached an ok (and sufficiently happy) stopping point.
I also appreciate how Ms. Lyons gives us sufficient closure, and ends on a high note. I knew that things were good, that Kat and Sloane were going to work, and have their happy ever after, and that life would continue to happen, but they’d be ok. And isn’t that all we can ask for anyway?
So yay TBR challenge for pushing me to find and finish this series. I know I’ll be re-reading it, and looking for more of Ms. Lyon’s books. In fact, I found myself wishing for Marshall’s story, despite him already being engaged. In a way though, I hope that’s the end – always good to leave people wanting more, right? And I expect more wonderful, different stories from Jennifer Lyons.
(Incidentally, The Proposition is free right now for kindle/the kindle app, so go and get it right now!) Have you read these stories? Or anything by Jennifer Lyons/Apodaca? Any thoughts? 🙂