Monday, December 31, 2018

My December Reading

The end of December snuck up on me very quickly, and I didn't get as much read as I'd hoped to. Due to USA Today Happy Ever After's shutdown news, I lacked motivation to read at the beginning of the month. Then I bucked up, because I had eight reviews promised for this month that I was going to honor, bad news or not.

I have good news as well to tell. Within a week of HEA's news, I was incredibly lucky to secure a weekly writing stint with Frolic. Here's some information about them by Fast Company.

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder
A Christmas Proposition by Jessica Lemon
Merrily Ever After by Jenny Holliday
Category: Contemporary Romance
Comments: Snyder is a writer whose short works I never miss, because each is a memorable moment in time. Tikka is a short novella that feels like a novel in the expansiveness of the storyline and complexity of characterization. It is a story between an Indian American girl from a traditional immigrant family who falls in with a leader of the local motorcycle gang. Is he a brutal criminal or a funny, warm-hearted man of high morals? Snyder keeps us guessing even as she show how they're falling under each other's spells.

This is a modern-day fairy tale where the princess is the billionaire and the prince the hired help. It is also a modern marriage-of-convenience that both end up wanting to make into a real marriage. She is a light-hearted party girl who loves Christmas. He is a serious leader of the security detail to billionaires. Lemmon skillfully shows how these two people from such disparate backgrounds can figure out how to bridge their lifestyles and build a partnership of equals.

I loved this novella. Some authors excel no matter the format, short, long and all sizes in between—Holiday is one such author. This book is a curious one. The protagonists fell in love in Once Upon a Bride, got married in One and Only, but in Merrily Ever After, their marriage hits a big snag. Will it sunder their marriage? He is adamantly sure that he does not want children. That is why she's perfect for him because due to health reasons she cannot have children. But then the unexpected happens. She gets pregnant. And she wants to keep the baby. Where are they to go from here? My reviews are here.

The Earl I Ruined by Scarlett Peckham
The Uncompromising Lord Flint by Virginia Heath
Category: Historical Romance
Comments: In both of these books the heroes struggle mightily to learn that love involves trust and respect in spite of unpalatable facts staring you in the face about the object of your fascination. It involves forgiving the other person and believing in them, because you're innately convinced that they're what they're telling and showing you they are. It is forsaking all others and being faithful—in body and mind—to the other.

Heath is such a wonderful historical writer who truly understands the history and socio-cultural mores of the time period. King and Country before romantic interest. Should an agent for the Crown give in to his attraction to a traitor? Never! He had learned that lesson painfully once before, when he'd succumbed to the urges of his body, his heart overruling his head, and then she'd betrayed him. Now he is again in the same situation. Faced with a bewitching woman England wants to try and hang for her crimes, he nevertheless finds her enchanting. Will he compromise his ideals for her or will he remain stalwart?

This second book in the Secrets of Charlotte Street series is moody, intense, and superb. The contrast between the lightness and innocence of the heroine and the artistic erotic knowledge of the hero is exquisite. His sensual mastery wars with his love for her while her breezy insouciance infuriates him: How is he to manage her? Should he? She is tantalized by his unconventional carnal knowledge. He cannot trust her because instead of noticing her generous heart, he concludes that she manipulates people to suit her purposes. They're both secretly in love with each other. Where does trust and respect figure in their relationship? My reviews are here.

Their Perfect Melody by Priscilla Olivieras
Category: Contemporary Romance
Comments: In this third book of the series, Olivieras has crafted an absolutely delightful story of how opposites attract and repel but end up being perfect for each other. On the surface, there is no way these two people could see eye-to-eye about anything. Their constant struggles to understand the other person and to make them understand themselves seem endless and purposeless. What is even the point? And and a passionate investment in the community's youth breaches the divide to unite them. Family is a theme Olivieras returns to again and again in this story and that is at the heart of what makes this story so heartfelt and true. Both characters are loyal sand strongly connected to their families and seeing this in the other makes them feel kindly towards each other. It is as if, a person at one with their family is an inherently good person. My review is here.

The Mysterious Heir by Edith Layton
The Seventh Suitor by Laura Matthews
Category: Historical Romance
Comments: Whenever I open an Edith Layton novel, I know I’m going to be rewarded with a complex, unusual story, and this one was no different. And with Layton it is not just that her characters and plots are notable, but so is her prose and how she expresses herself. I always enjoy books where the romance starts as friendship and slowly deepens into love. All those shifting emotions, from the heights of joy to the depths of despair, laid bare for the reader to care about. The hero desperately needs an heir so he invites three of his relatives to his country house to choose among them. The heroine is the sister of one of them. Neither thinks they’re marriageable: he, too scarred by experience, and she, by dint of her dowerless, lowly status. And in spite of this, they strike up a tenuous friendship.

This is an early traditional Regency by Laura Matthews from the 1970s. Unlike some of her other fast-paced novels, this is a slow-developing story that is as much a tale about familial relationships as it is about the romantic connection. But the romantic arc is fully realized from disgrace to grace for both of them, deeply felt while avoiding histrionics. In the beginning, every time the hero and heroine meet, sparks fly; neither can see the good in the other. She thinks he’s a stiff-rumped, self-consequential prig; he thinks she lacks morals. Neither can see eye-to-eye about anything. Matthews really know how to allow her characters to dig deep inside themselves and examine their emotions. Life goes on around them as they realize that the other person is worthy of notice and consideration and deeper, warmer feelings. My reviews are here.


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