Tag Archives: black romance

Three Wishes by Seressia Glass

On the plus side, I really like Glass’s writing style.

And the minus side: the characters were either clichés or cardboard cut outs.

Heroine is a Mary Sue, from a family of Mary Sues and Marty Stus. Her complete isolation (work from home, no friends outside family), her obsession with having a child, and her mental unhealthiness really detracted from the story. The hero is very vanilla (literally as well as figuratively since he’s white to the heroine’s black Vietnamese ethnicity) except for the Stupidest Thing he did. The child? Preternaturally well behaved and knowing; she only acted her age once through out the book.

I could’ve gotten past the ~meh~ characters because I enjoyed Glass’s voice immensely. The book was very well-paced and the relationship developed smoothly. But the ending (which was predictable for Romancelandia) killed the book for me – it included Magic Sperm. The previously infertile heroine was suddenly a Baby Machine. I wish romance would address infertility in a healthy way, instead of making in “clear” that it can be cured by True Love. I also wish that authors would write heroines who addressed their potential infertility without burying their heads in the sand.

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Losing streak

I have been less than thrilled with the last several books I read or attempted to read.  Either DNF or C/D grades.

To Love A Stranger by Adrianne Byrd.

I wanted to like this book.  A lot.  It was a sort of marriage in trouble plot.  I like Byrd’s voice and style.  But the characters?  Eh, I felt indifferent about the hero as hero, although I thought his redemption was a hard sell.  The heroine?  Don’t get me started.  I’ll just say that she and her mother are open about being gold diggers who married well for money…and in her mother’s case did so several times.  

The big problem for me, though, was the resolution to the big mystery — was this the husband or not?  Uh, DNA should’ve answered that question; the heroine demanded it.  But somehow it did not and the issue was left to fingerprints?  I know very little about the techicalities of DNA and fingerprint matching, but it seems to me that DNA testing is relatively cheap and available.  If the heroine had been as suspicious as she was drawn, would she not have requested to see the DNA results?  Would she have relied on the word of the brother-in-law she distrusted?  I don’t think so.

Truly, I think the whole Return of Martin Guerre plot doesn’t work very well in modern settings.

C-

Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa Day

I couldn’t be bothered to finish this book.  The @$$hole alpha hero who knew best grated on my nerves, as did the heroine with all sorts of mystical powers that she doesn’t know about or understand, despite studying magic her whole life.  More fated mates and matched soul.  How nauseating and yet helpful — this means that the author doesn’t have to waste time actually building a relationship between the hero and heroine.  The world building may have been developed, but it wasn’t explained (I read to the half way point).  Who’s Anubisa?  Why does Caligula fear her?  What happened in the last big confrontation?  Who knows?  Not me.  The book did not stand on its own.  Which is a shame, because I have the first book somewhere TBR — picked this one up at the library — and am now not likely to bother picking up, because of the poor impression of this one.

D for what I read.  DNF.

On Fire by Patricia Sargeant

The suspense here was pretty good, and I appreciated reading about a heroine who was both thoughtful and strong.  The hero?  Paranoid, bitter and prone to jumping to conclusions.  All the other men in the book were either weak or corrupt, and they viewed women as the source(s) of their problems.  Gah!

C

Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury

The heroine was a complete Mary Sue; the hero perpetually blamed everyone else for his problems.  Eh, he may be redeemed by his Twue Love and the deity that his co-worker is trying to get him to talk to, but the story isn’t worth my time IMO.  The TBR is calling.

C-, DNF.

 
I really want the time I spent reading these books back.

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Ick and and a rec.

Tell me again why Reese’s/Hershey thought that creating a banana peanut butter cup was a good idea. Was there market research that showed a huge demand for this product? Ick.

Are you interested in reading a contemporary romance set in LA? One that is on the fringes of the movie business but isn’t all about actors and models? Want to read a book with a smart, real heroine and interesting but not overpowering secondary characters? Go check out Sandra Kitt’s Celluloid Memories. If I get myself organized, I’ll post a review. (If I don’t get around to it, lemme just say that I really, really liked this book. B/B+)

The reason I’m posting a rec and blabbing about the book in a non-review-ish kind of way is that it’s got me thinking about non-romance things. After reading CM, I read the article in this week’s Economist about Latino-Black race relations in LA and elsewhere in the US. That dynamic isn’t mentioned at all in the book, but other race/culture dynamics are, particularly the tension between black people who can (and choose to) “pass”. There’s a fascinating parallel in the story between actresses (secondary characters) of different generations: one chose to pass in order to have a career and the other cannot be cast in traditional black female roles and thus is forced into passing by casting agents. It was a fascinating (and disturbing) glimpse into the realities of the entertainment business.

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Finished at last

It seemed to take forever for me to finish In the Name of Identity, in part because I kept going back and rereading sections. Maalouf’s book is fairly short (~150 pages) but has some huge ideas. His style is very accessible and the tone of the book was philosophical without being dense or reliant on a lot of jargon. Maalouf wonders about the human tendency to narrow identity to a single factor (religion, primarily) and its cause; then moves on to the tendencies to demonized the “Other” which for many people today is modernization; and on to the tension between standardization and uniformity. I thought his observations about the relationship between religion and democracy were interesting, especially since religion is so change-averse. Maalouf also touches briefly on language as identity, which is something I find very interesting.

I’ve got Maalouf’s The Crusades Through the Eyes of the Arabs TBR, but I’m not going to start it until I finish The Assault on Reason and Blackwater, which have been languishing half-read on my coffee table.

On the fiction reading front, I finished Creepin’ a paranormal anthology edited by Monica Jackson and published by Kimani. B- from me. Tara Marie loved it, as did Bam. Me, I loved one story, liked two others, and thought the remaining two were less than impressive. Blurb and opinion about each story follows.

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The rundown

I’ve read a bunch of books in the past week or so, some good, some not so much.  The slump, I think she is over!

Dipped in Chocolate by Renee Luke

I read this one last week?  10 days ago?  The second story was okay, and third story was good but needed more space.  I hated the first story:  the heroine deserved to be bitch-slapped and the hero a boot in the ass.  And the heroine’s fiance?  No, she couldn’t just wise up, the author had to make him petty and foolish.  Yeah, no, not a HEA I believed.  The second and third stories both suffered from a major head slap moment from the heroine; in the third story, there was enough back story for the heroine’s TSTL moment to be understood.  Not so much for the heroine in the second book.  All in all, a C book.  (I’m not sure it’s relevant, but I’ll mention, the first story was B/B, the second B/W I think, the third W/W.)


My Best Friend’s Girl by Dorothy Koomson

I picked this up after reading KarenS’s review.  Loved this book — consumed it in one sitting, was up until 1am reading.  It’s chick lit or women’s fiction, and the focus isn’t the romance, although there is one.  Actually, there are two potential heroes.  The heroine and both heroes are damaged human beings who are just trying to do the right thing.  This book made me think long and hard about whether I could be that forgiving and open hearted, and truly, I’m not sure I could.   A for this one.

Prairie Moon by Maggie Osbourne

I’ve read a couple of reviews of Osbourne’s I Do, I Do, I Do, but haven’t seen it on the library or bookstore shelves.  But I found a used copy of Prairie Moon at the library.  Road romance, Western, set in the post Civil War.  I liked that the relationship development between the hero and heroine wasnt rushed.  The BIg Secret *was* a serious, important one, not trumped up.  One thing was a little freaky for me, making me think the heroine needed therapy (yeah, like that was available in 1874), but otherwise a very good book.  B+ from me.

Pleasure Planet by Evangeline Anderson

I liked Anderson’s The Assignment, a M/M novella.  I have not been impressed by the transition to print.  This anthology?  D+.  Lots of sexual tension, but the plotting was clunky and the stories were straight out of a scifi B movie.  The first story:  time travel.  And the heroine keeps going back to fix things to get her fiance to marry her, but keeps messing stuff up.  But she’s fixated on him, despite the hunky scientist who created the time machine.  Second story?  More time travel, this time with clones who are mentally connected to the original DNA-owner.  Convoluted plot and abbreviated world building.  Meh.  The third story had the most promise, I thought, being a sort of neo-Regency.  It needed more page space though, and suffered from some cliches that perhaps could’ve been avoided in a longer format.

Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell

Well, this book has been the subject of lots of discussion in blogland.  It was sitting on the display rack at the self check out stand at the library, so I checked it out.  I’m not going to address The Scene for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that it has been discussed to death.   To say that I hated this book would be an exaggeration, since I don’t feel that passionate about it.  But I was disappointed by it; not because of The Scene, but because of the characters, the clunkly pacing, the unbelievable HEA.  The hero was a selfish, psychotic, abusive dick.  In the 21st century, his behavior is called stalking and would result in a restraining order.  I didn’t believe his poor abused me excuses or his redemption; too little, too late.  The heroine?  In serious need of therapy.  And her thought on p. 250 about how she shouldn’t’ve run away?  ::head to desk::  The scooby doo ending?  Blech.  The idea that the lack of heir and social issues wouldn’t matter?  Y’know, I don’t expect a huge amount of realism in historical romances, but this?  A duke saying that having an heir doesn’t matter?  Social standing doesn’t matter?  I call bullshit! on that.  C-/D+ from me.

I’m reading The Great Snape Debate now; tried the anti-Snape half first.  Lot of assumptions based on stuff that is NOT written in the books.  Maybe it came from JKR?  I don’t know, but I’m disappointed.  Maybe the pro-Snape half will be better.

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Must stop laughing, need to breathe

You get a tattoo to get laid, not to get married. So says Lewis Black. Hee.

I had an automated email from Teresa Heinz Kerry about the book she and John co-wrote, This Moment on Earth. It was ranked ~3300 on Amazon on Monday but jumped to 139 on Tuesday…because Americans care about the environment. Um, that may be true, but I think JK’s appearance on The Daily Show prob’ly had something to do with the jump, too.

Oh. My. God. Did Stephen Colbert really just (well, last night? Thursday?) issue another challenge, this one all about editing his interview?

I really want to see The Lookout.

Do you like Caridad Pineiro’s paranormals? Her next Nocturne, Blood Calls will be released by Nocturne in May, but there is a short story being posted online weekly.

Finished a few books. And here’s what I have to say about them.

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SBD — Mary Sue

When ever I read the name, I hear the jingle. What jingle, you’re wondering? Prob’ly only people who grew up in the Mid-Atlantic, or maybe just in Maryland (I’d say Balmer, but I didn’t grow up in the city) know it, the little jingle that played during the seasonal commercial for their delicious terrible-for-you chocolate easter eggs. You know you’re dying of curiosity to learn about Mary Sue Easter Eggs, so you might as well click here to read the rest of my ramble. I’ll get to romance eventually. Promise.

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