Thursday, March 10, 2022

February Reading Notes

It is already the 10th of the month, I am just now putting out my reading notes for last month. Where has the time vanished?

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
Category:Contemporary Romance
Comments: A starred review for Booklist. This is a fun, engaging, Taming of the Shrew-inspired rom-com about American Desi culture. She is a prickly lawyer living with his increasingly distant family and waiting for true love. He is a cardiologist who wants an arranged marriage because falling in love is stressful for the heart. They have a huge blowout fight on his talk show. How to rehabilitate their reputations and manage their family's expectations? [My Review]

By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate
Category:Contemporary Romance
Comments: Stories set in the publishing world are really popular this spring. This is set in NYC and brings the city to life, which was fun. The heroine's been promoted to editorial director and the star author of their publishing company now falls under her care. Only problem is that the author is way past the due date for her manuscript. The author is a real diva and a cipher—no one has ever met her. When our heroine meets her in person, she is shocked that she is a he. Legions of fans would be upset when, if, this were to get out. So what to, whether to, tell them? How to unblock his creativity and get him to finish his book? Some of the questions this book grapples with. This story has the most romantic proposal I have ever read. (My review in the Feb 15 issue of Booklist.)

Someone to Cherish by Mary Balogh
Category: Regency Romance
Comments: A lovely, quiet story by Balogh of two lonely souls finding in the other their reason for living. Lydia is recently widowed. Her former husband was a vicar, more devoted to his parish than his wife, and her life with him had been one of duty and loneliness. She is enamored with her new-found freedom and is loath to give it up to any man by marrying him. But she wonders about the intimate side of marriage. She wants to take a lover to discover for herself whether it is all that it is cracked up to be. Harry lost his earldom due to his father's bigamy and joined up to fight Napoléon. After being badly wounded, he has now become a gentleman farmer. He now seeks solitude by habit. Like many of Balogh's self-possessed heroines, Lydia takes charge of her destiny. She propositions Harry with an a balm against loneliness for both. I really liked Harry, his kindness, his thoughtfulness to everyone around him, but especially Lydia. She is like parched soil and soaks up his gentleness. I enjoyed seeing the rest of the Westmorland clan gathering around implicitly demonstrating to Lydia how strong the women are and how equal they are in their marriages.

The Burn Zone by Annabeth Albert
Category: Contemporary Romance
Comments: This is a high-octane book in terms of heat and action set in rural Oregon. The two men are a few years apart. One is a seasoned veteran smoke jumper and the younger one is a new recruit. Jacob's older brother was Linc's best friend and team member, and he has had a crush on Linc for years. Both men have had eyes for each other, but Jacob's family's homophobia had kept them both in the closet. This is a sort of an enemies-to-lovers story because Linc wants to keep Jacob safe, even from himself, at first. But then they fall into the classic romance trope of "let's have a brief affair to get it out of our systems." The story does a bit too much navel gazing with one of the "obstacles" keeping them apart being the age gap—ten years. No biggie, but this story makes it a biggie. The other source of tension is Linc's desire to keep his sexual identity a secret from people at work and others in his life. The author does an OK job of having Linc deal with this, though his blowing hot and cold goes on a tad too long.

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins
Category: Historical Romance
Comments: A low angst romance between a traumatized woman and a cinnamon roll hero who's a reporter coming into town to do a story on her brother. Spring is a denim-wearing, horse-riding rancher and Garrett is a bookish, formerly enslaved journalist. They meet in a blizzard where she saves his life. He doesn't fall off his horse, but he does fall in love with her. Jenkins does small town, low angst romances really well. Spring is the star of this Women Who Dare series. She's a straight shooter who brooks no nonsense, who hangs out in saloons and is not missish of her sexuality. The roles the two protagonists adopt are true to form. He is the more giving, more accepting person. She takes and usurps. He meets her more than halfway and does the heavy lifting in their relationship. She comes across as standoffish and even selfish at times. However, Jenkins does a superb job of showing Spring rising up to the challenge of her past and coming to terms with it and growing through that process. I really enjoyed this story.

The Wife He Needs by Brenda Jackson
Category: Contemporary Romance
Comments: This is the first book of her Westmoreland Legacy: The Outlaws series. I have read two of her other books, and this is similarly a book of grand gestures, high heat, and big emotions. It is a showy book that is not in my style. I love that Regan is the corporate pilot. She is tasked with getting the billionaire head honcho, Garth, on a two-week getaway to Spain with his date. The date is a no-show. But the trip still stands. Regan is the stand-in. Despite ten years having passed since his first wife died, Garth remains unconvinced that he can fall in love again. But his kids need a mother. What was to be a marriage of convenience is now getting mixed up with a lot of angst, heat, and feelings. She, on the other hand, has always had a soft spot for him, and their affair only convinces her the rightness of him being in her life. The twist in the tail is expected but well done. This is a fast-paced story like Jackson's other books.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Category:LitFic Audio
Comments:I was so excited when I heard that the divine Juliet Stevenson had finally narrated P & P. The minute I heard, I went up to Audible and re-upped my membership, bought the title, and promptly canceled my membership. Stevenson has done other Austen works, so I've always been puzzled why she hadn't done P & P. Whatever reason, I am glad she has finally narrated it. To call, Stevenson's reading a "narration," is doing it disservice. She "performs" it like a play, taking on very different and specific character voices based on their personalities. She clearly has read the book backwards and forwards and understands the story and the characters at a very deep level. I have read the book and watched the adaptations many times, yet, I discovered a few more details here that I had never noticed before, thanks to Stevenson. Highly recommended.

Threshold by Angela J. Reynolds
Category: Children's Middle Grade Fiction
Comments: Set along the coastline in Cape Breton, Threshold is a gorgeous meditation on the magic of friendship, if one only has the courage to reach for it. This friendship is the turning point in the life of a dreamy twelve-year-old girl, who is spending a lonely summer over at her aunt's house by the ocean, agonizing over her younger brother's health. "Will he die?" is a question that haunts her. But she has no one her age to share her worries with, until she meets someone who understands her perfectly. Threshold, a tale of friendship, family, and great derring-do, is a highly addictive read. Its compelling and engrossing nature is enhanced by the lyrical beauty of Reynolds’ prose. Highly recommended. [My Review]

–Alex's Good Fortune by Benson Shum
–Friends are Friends, Forever by Dane Liu, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield
–The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Sebastià Serra
–New Year by Mei Zihan, illustrated by Qin Leng, translated by Yan Yan
Category: Children's Picture Books
Comments: The joyous celebration of the Lunar New Year, observed in different countries throughout Asia, as a multiday holiday, is the most important time of the year for families to get together. The origins of the Lunar New Year festival are thousands of years old and are steeped in legends. These days, typical festivities, include religious ceremonies honoring ancestors, spring cleaning of houses, dances, parades, fireworks, special foods and red envelopes with money for children for good luck. In some parts of Asia, the celebration concludes with the Lantern Festival. These books will help your kids ring in the Year of the Tiger! [My Reviews]