Archive for the ‘2.5 Star Books’ Category

Impasse by Sylvie Fox

Title:Impasse
Author:Sylvie Fox
PublisherPenner Media
Publication Date:November 2013
Publisher's DescriptionHot nights, huge consequences.

Divorced and done with her dry spell, Holly Prentice is ready to get back in the game. But with two conditions: her future mate can’t be married to his career, and he has to have a couch. Nick Andreis loves his job, and his only furniture is a king-size bed. He’s also single, sexy, and six years Holly’s junior. Any guy this hunky and carefree can’t be serious about the future.

After one spontaneous and explosive night, Holly decides that her search for Mr. Right can wait. Nick can be Mr. Right Now.

Nick has waited years for Holly. Now that she’s dating again, he’s determined to be the only man in her life. He wants what Holly wants: forever. Convincing her of that won’t be easy, but Nick agrees—with fingers crossed behind his back—to Holly’s idea that they can be bed buddies until someone serious comes along. His plan: use the time between their passionate nights to convince her that he is the one.

Will Holly’s unexpected pregnancy change the rules of their games? Or can they both decide to play for keeps?
My rating:**.5

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I loved the first 50% of this book, and then hated almost all of its second half. Initially, Nick was a great character. He’d carried a torch for Holly for a couple of years, and was excited about getting back in touch with her after she’d distanced herself from everybody during her divorce. He made a serious play for her, then recalibrated his strategy once he recognized how hesitant she was to enter into a relationship with a guy six years her junior. I’m Holly’s age, and while I felt that her initial concerns about dating a 26 year old man in LA were valid, I thought she did Nick a disservice, treating him more like an age than a person. Nope. As it turns out, Holly was so, so right.

Nick, whose unspoken thoughts were about how much he loved Holly, who made grand declarations of love, and repeatedly stated his desire to commit totally let her down when she told him that she was pregnant. Nick, the same Nick who confidently said that he was ready to accept whatever came of them not using protection the first time they had sex, dropped the effing ball and turned into the worst caricature of manchild unwilling to grow up and accept responsibility. Although still disappointing, this would have made sense if he’d been the person in the relationships to express doubts about its longtime viability, but he’d spent the entire first half of the book trying to convince Holly that they belonged together, and that he was serious about her. With serious like this, who needs deadbeats? His wishy-washy attempts to justify his awfulness just made me angrier.

Since this is a romance novel, I knew that Holly would end up with Nick, but I really wish that some non-asshole love interest would have shown up and illustrated to Drew and Nick exactly how badly they’d each messed up when they mistreated a great person like Holly. I really respect how Holly was able to pick herself up each time life knocked her down, and how she didn’t allow the selfishness of Drew and Nick to embitter her. I really didn’t believe Nick’s change of heart at the end of the book. What finally made him really what a jerk he was being to Holly? I was pretty much done with Nick during the conversation where he told his father Dominic that Holly was pregnant, but I only started to hate him around Thanksgiving.

Sophie and Dominic were the only two supporting characters who had distinct personalities. I really respected how Dominic managed to express his disappointment but still offered his son the emotional support needed to turn Nick back into a semi-decent human being. Sophie was mostly a good friend, although I felt that she gave Nick more credit than he deserved. Drew was more of idea than a person, and even when he showed up, he felt more like a plot device than a legitimate concern. Helena served no purpose that I could see, save to annoy me every time she was on a scene. Asha, Ryan, and Hayes were like so much background noise.

My dislike of the second half of this book greatly affected my ability to enjoy the work as a whole. Also, I wish that the title had stayed In the Nick of Time. I’m pretty sure that having such a cheesy pun for a title would have dissuaded me from reading this book, which might have been for the best. 26 year old men of the world: lose my number.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The King of Threadneedle Street by Moriah Densley

Title:The King of Threadneedle Street
Author:Moriah Densley
PublisheresKape Press
Publication Date:December 2013
Publisher's DescriptionHe owns three shipping companies, a diamond mine, and his own castle.
He knows Portuguese, Hindi, Mandarin and Morse code.
His assets net thirteen million.

Everyone thinks Andrew Tilmore, Lord Preston, the financial prodigy dubbed “The King of Threadneedle Street,” has it all, but he wants the one prize money can’t buy: his childhood sweetheart.

Alysia Villier can’t say if it’s worse having Andrew’s father in control of her inheritance or Andrew in control of her heart. He’s ruined her for any other man, but she simply can’t give in to him. She knows he’s destined for great things — marrying a courtesan’s daughter would jeopardize everything he stands for.

Keeping Alysia out of trouble and away from eager suitors becomes a cross-continental quest for Andrew, and he won’t be stopped by his old-fashioned family or the disapproval of the ton. After all, he’s a man with the power to play newspapers and investors like pawns, tumble world markets and incite riots… but can he win the biggest gamble of his life?
My rating:**.5

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This book is as dramatic as a SoapNet (RIP SoapNet) marathon, and contains about as much logic. I didn’t mind it while I was reading it, but when I thought about it afterwards, I realized that a solid 85% of it was unbelievably illogical. Why would a man raise his mistress’s child alongside his own children? Having done this, why would he then object to his teenage son falling in love with the mistress’s beautiful daughter? Having seen this happen, why would he try to use the concepts of familial obedience and honor to dissuade his son from marrying his love? Wouldn’t having one’s mistress openly reside WITH ONE’S FAMILY already tarnished the family’s name for at least a generation? And what is up with Andrew’s mother? How can a woman who at the beginning of this novel is portrayed as being incapable of performing the most routine hostessing duties manage to so capably vex his supposedly brilliant son with her marriage-minded scheming? And why would a paragon of tonnish virtue would repeatedly try to sic a fortune-hunting ho-bag on her own son? And what kind of stock exchange/black wizardry is responsible for the money-related goings-on in this novel? He’s rich? He’s poor! He’s richer!!!! Or something.

The bottom line here is that nothing that takes place within this novel makes any sense if thought about for more than two seconds. Characters change on a dime, as is needed to further whatever scene is currently taking place. This book is utterly ridiculous, but as it only cost $.99, I’m not too bothered by this. Here’s what would have happened if this book made sense:

Andrew: I love you. You love me. Our three-year age difference becomes increasingly less creepy the closer you get to twenty. Let’s get married.

Alysia: Your parents won’t approve. I’m the illegitimate daughter of your father’s mistress.

Andrew: I don’t care my parents. Frankly, they’re irredeemably awful. Let’s go to Gretna Green, get married, come back to England, live our lives, and dare them to shun us in front of society. I’m like Donald Trump with better hair and and a soul and you’re like Frieda Kahlo with less self-confidence and no unibrow.

Alysia: I don’t get any of those references, but since you often speak in code, I’m not going to worry too much about it. Yes, I’ll marry you.

Boom goes the dynamite! The end.

Of course, this would have changed this story from a novel into the treatment for an entirely different novel, but hey, I’d read that book, too.

Paradise Hops by Liz Crowe

Title:Paradise Hops
Author:Liz Crowe
PublisherTri Destiny Publishing
Publication Date:October 2012
Publisher's DescriptionA brutal attack left Lori Brockton convinced she was damaged goods. By the time she emerges from hiding two years later, ready to run her family's famous brewery, she's determined to be independent--never rely on anyone ever again. Nearly a year of working in every corner of Brockton Brewing Company, from warehouse to pub, front office to kitchen, teaches her all she needs to know about the business. Then, she comes face-to-face with masculine perfection in a suit and her world is rocked in more ways than one. Garret Hunter is the new Brockton business manager who takes one look at the beautiful, sad young woman and his entire existence coalesces around winning her heart.

But standing between Garrett and what he believes is his true love, is a six-feet six-inch blond-haired bad boy brewer.

Eli Buchannan is a craft beer rock star, recently hired by Brockton to drag the company into the 21st century. He brings innovation and attitude plus a prima donna ladies' man reputation. But he's sworn off anything resembling commitment, personal or professional, after getting burned at his last job on both fronts.

Garret Hunter is "The Perfect Man" -- handsome, successful, stable, eager to settle down. Eli Buchannan... is not. Compelling, smoking hot, creative and elusive, he represents everything Lori Brockton should avoid. But just as she makes a difficult choice, a drastic life-changing shift occurs, and nothing is ever the same again.
My rating:**.5

15836126Okay, what did I just read? I had a fairly good handle on this book for the first 2/3 of it, and then it went somewhere completely unexpected. The thing is, the detour, reroute, side trip, or whatever it was, wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t make much sense to me, given what we had been given to work with in the earlier parts of the book. Without giving away too many details, I will say that the final third of this book felt to me like the author didn’t want to make Lori unlikable, and took a fairly drastic step to prevent her from becoming the object of hatred by people on Team Eli OR Team Garrett.

Maybe I’m completely misreading that decision, but I felt that Ms. Crowe only briefly touched on a lot of things that could have made the characters come alive a little better. I shared Eli’s concerns over Garrett’s saintliness. Likewise, I felt that Eli was supposed to be an grouchy alpha male, but often ended up being an unnecessarily rude bully. I get that Lori, Garrett, and Eli had some personal issues to work out, but I really didn’t like the tone of some of their interactions.
I had serious reservations about how this book ended, but I don’t regret reading it.

Mimi by Lucy Ellmann

Title:Mimi
Author:Lucy Ellmann
Publication Date:2/26/2012
Publisher's DescriptionIt's Christmas Eve in Manhattan. An eminent plastic surgeon slips on the ice, lands on his butt, and sprains his ankle. So far, so good. A woman such as he's never known yanks him to his feet and conjures the miracle of a taxi. Harrison recuperates with Franz Schubert, Bette Davis, and a foundling cat. Then it's back to rhinoplasties, liposuction, and the peccadilloes of his obnoxious colleagues. It is only when he collides again with that strangely helpful woman that things take a wild and revolutionary turn. Sparkling, polemical, irreverent, slippery, and sexy, Mimi is a love story, a call to arms, and Lucy Ellmann's most tender and dazzling book. It's also the feminist novel of the century. (So far.)
My rating:**.5

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I was intrigued when I read the description of this book, and excited when Bloomsbury USA allowed me access to it via Netgalley, but I’m sad to say that Mimi never lived up to my hopes. I can’t say expectations, because I’d never before read anything by Ms. Ellmann, so I didn’t know what I’d get in this book. I thought this was an interesting little story about two strange people, but to call this the feminist novel of the century so far? I think not.

It took me a while to get into the book, because Harrison Hanafan was too manic a character for me to get a handle on initially. I had trouble reconciling this person who bounced from subject to subject and thought to thought with little apparent purpose with the steadiness of mind and hand required to be a top plastic surgeon in New York City. Mimi, too, was so unbearably precious that she never seemed like a realistic character to me. The conversation during their meet cute grated on me and felt fake. Likewise, everything about Gertrude, including her name, struck me as to awful to be believed. If such a woman was real, I find it hard to believe that anybody would put up with her for as long as Harrison did.

I feel that it took Mimi about 20 or 30 pages to settle into what I’d consider a readable rhythm. I’ve given up on books sooner than this, but I wanted to stick it out, and I’m glad I did. Over the course of the book, Mimi and Harrison came to feel less like caricatures and more like representations of actual, functioning people. I don’t think that Mimi was a bad book; in fact, at some points it was laugh-out-loud funny. I just found it ever so twee. I’m fairly certain that if an infinite number of hipster monkeys from Brooklyn sat typing on their restored vintage typewriters for an infinite amount of time, one of them would eventually produce Mimi.

All About Seduction by Katy Madison

Title:All About Seduction
Author:Katy Madison
Publication Date:November 1, 2011
Publisher's DescriptionCaroline Broadhurst is about to take a lover -- at her husband's command. For fifteen years, Caroline has done everything her much older husband has desired -- except provide an heir. Now he has given her an ultimatum: seduce a suitable gentleman and bear a son. Caroline would never think of bowing to such a shameful order, but then she meets Jack Applegate.

Jack has longed for the beautiful, untouchable Caroline for years, but the chasm between them was too wide to ever dream of crossing. Now, fate and passion have thrown them together, but the potential scandal threatens to smother their love. And when a violent secret comes to light, only a terrible sacrifice will prevent the flame of their affection from being snuffed out forever. . .
My rating:**.5

The premise of this book was pretty interesting to me. It is set in a time where birthright was everything and obtaining heirs was one of the primary motivations for marriage. It’s almost unimaginable that any wealthy man in this society would intentionally scheme to have his wife become pregnant by another man (although I’ve since read another book that takes place in this time period and has much the same motivation behind the meeting of the protagonists – review forthcoming). As in many romance novels that begin with a married heroine or hero (although it’s usually the heroine), Caroline’s first husband was not good to her. He didn’t treat her well, and belittled all that she’d done to help him in his business.

Enter Jack, the factory worker/engineer who’d noticed Caroline from afar and had been content limit their contact to longing looks, until fate (and an accident) threw them together. Jack was almost too good to be true. His home life had reached Dickensian levels of awfulness, but he persevered out of love for his hundreds of siblings. Good old Jack. At the novel’s opening, Jack had decided that he’d sacrificed enough for his family and was ready to start doing things in service of his own ambition when TRAGEDY! STRUCK! I have so say that Jack and Caroline’s unrelenting goodness began to grate on me early in the book, and that their affair was so innocuous when compared to all the evils perpetrated in this book that it barely made a blip on my Sinometer.

This book was interesting enough when I read it, but even a couple of weeks later, I’m having trouble grasping at details that should be obvious. There’s just not a lot to hold on to when it comes to this book. You know that Caroline’s husband is going to die, just not how, and that Jack will persevere, just now how. Honestly, the journey wasn’t captivating enough for the details to remain with me.

If you’re looking for a quick historical that will pluck your class-warfare-loving heartstrings, this will do until you find something better, but I wouldn’t expect too much from this book.

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