Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino

Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino

  • Title: Love, Hypothetically
  • Author: Anne Tenino
  • Series: Theta Alpha Gamma, Book 2
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, GLBTQ (M/M)
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing, August 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($4.99 ebook, available 8/27)
  • Length: 100 pages
  • Trope(s): Reunited, Big Misunderstanding, Guilt & Groveling, Nerds vs. Jocks, Coming Out, Unrequited Love
  • Quick blurb: Cranky grad student finds it difficult to forgive and forget when the high-school boyfriend who betrayed him shows up unexpectedly.
  • Quick review: 100 pages, 60 “damn, that’s good” highlights – you do the math.
  • Grade: B+

Once again, I am forced to abandon my beloved and lazy One-Quote format because there were just too damn many good ones to choose from.

“How does one go about about changing one’s life?” he asked. Toby seemed to know a lot of useless crap, maybe he’d know the answer to this question.

It takes a lot of skill to turn a villain into a worthy hero. Yes, Paul was an evil little worm in the first book. But he freely admits his worminess (I just made that up) and he does something about it.

“I’m a prick. A prickly, bitter volatile prick, destined to splat on the floor of life.”

“…So stop being one.”

“…What, you think it’s that easy? I just decide to stop, and bam! No more prickliness? It takes action, man. I have to do things, take positive steps. I have to apologize and obtain forgiveness.”

For a relatively new author, Tenino is remarkably good at the elusive art of showing instead of telling. She avoids cheesy angstifying and lets Paul stumble through his anger and confusion and guilt with his usual dark humor:

Just…. How in the hell did one prepare oneself for apologizing? Was there some kind of training program? Had Tony Horton produced an exercise video about it?

Paul eventually figures it out, and – with reluctant forgiveness and help from Brad and Sebastian – finally gets the guy:

“All those years without you, I never had anything happen worth remembering. You came back and that all changed in a few days.”

So by the time we get to that hard-won HEA, it’s easy to share Frat Boy Brad’s protective stance:

“…I don’t have to threaten to kick your ass if you’re a dick to Paul, right, dude? Because up until yesterday, I didn’t even really like him, but you know, I’d do what needs to be done.”

The only issue that kept Love, Hypothetically from being an A grade was a formatting annoyance with the titular “well, hypothetically speaking” scene in the bar. The long monologue paragraphs were difficult to read on my Kindle Touch – which means it would be even more of a struggle on a smaller device. I had to page back to read a few of Paul’s charmingly convoluted explanations a second time because I missed an important bit of self-discovery on the first pass.

But that won’t stop me from reading it again.

Tripleheader: Fool’s Gold Summer (x3) by Susan Mallery

“This is Fool’s Gold. You can’t mess with one of the women and then act as if it didn’t happen.”

I’m going to present these in descending series order, because Book 7 is an epic Mess O’ Crazy. With goats. But not enough goats.

Goat Warning

WARNING: GOATS AHEAD

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

All Summer Long

  • All Summer Long by Susan MalleryTitle: All Summer Long
  • Author(s): Susan Mallery
  • Series: Fool’s Gold, Book 9
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: Harlequin HQN, July 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($5.99 ebook)
  • Length: 376 pages
  • Trope(s): Small Town, Misfits, Friends with Benefits, Angst, Kick-Ass Heroine
  • Quick blurb: Former underwear model helps small-town firefighter overcome her fear of men.
  • Quick review: Great balance of fun, angst and hotness, with perfectly matched hero and heroine.
  • Grade: A-

“Lesson one,” he told her.

“How many are there?”

“As many as it takes. This is going to be a full service seduction.”

Damn, that was fun – especially considering where I started with this series. And the grand gesture? OH. MY. GOD. Second only to Nev’s in About Last Night. *~*swoon*~*

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

More Goat

Dude. Hang in there. You’ll get to the goats soon enough.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Continue reading

Power Play by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant

  • Power Play: Awakening by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat GrantPower Play: Resistance by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat GrantTitle(s): Power Play: Resistance and Power Play: Awakening
  • Author(s): Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant
  • Series: Power Play
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, GLBTQ (M/M), Erotica
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing, February/June 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($8.99 ebooks)
  • Length: Resistance: 267 pages; Awakening: 292 pages
  • Trope(s): BDSM, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Tragic Past
  • Quick blurb: Sadistic billionaire offers troubled aspiring architect a $3 million contract to become his submissive/slave for six months.
  • Quick review: If you can handle the extreme kink, go for it – but only if you commit to reading BOTH BOOKS. Trust me.
  • Grade: Resistance: B-; Awakening: B+

Reading these books was not a choice made on a whim. I read all the reviews and all the warnings and all the samples and all the excerpts. When it was listed on NetGalley, I decided to test my smug self-assessment as a completely open-minded reader willing to push my boundaries.

These books blew those comfort zone doors WIDE OPEN. Off the fucking hinges.

Boundaries. As if. These authors laugh at my pathetic excuses for boundaries and gleefully push me over the fucking cliff.

I’m mixing my metaphors. Now do you understand what they did to me???

NOTE: Trigger warning – some of the excerpts below are graphic.

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One-Quote Review: Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis

  • Forever and a Day by Jill ShalvisTitle: Forever and a Day
  • Author: Jill Shalvis
  • Series: Lucky Harbor, Book 6
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: Grand Central, July 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($7.99 ebook)
  • Length: 385 pages
  • Trope(s): Nanny, Millionaire, Plot Moppet, Animal Antics
  • Quick blurb: Klutzy accountant takes a temp job as a dog-walker, and ends up as a nanny and more for a wealthy doctor and his troubled son.
  • Quick review: Read it straight through in one sitting – but then it was just…kinda…gone.
  • Grade: B–

Unfortunately, he was a man through and through, and therefore had a penis, which meant that there’d be no reasoning with him.

I was sucked into this immediately, and read it in a one-night book trance. But after I was done, I realized I enjoyed the humor far more than the romance – I never really connected with the h/h enough to really care about their HEA.

Heiress Without A Cause* by Sarah Ramsey

* Plus a little bit about Book 2: Scotsmen Prefer Blondes at the very end.

  • Heiress Without A Cause by Sarah RamseyTitle: Heiress Without a Cause
  • Author: Sara Ramsey
  • Series: Muses of Mayfair, Book 1
  • Genre(s): Historical (Regency)
  • Publisher: Spencerhill Associates, February 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($3.39 ebook)
  • Length: 314 pages
  • Trope(s): In Disguise, TSTL, Mistorical
  • Quick blurb: Spinster agrees to chaperone disgraced lord’s sisters – but when he recognizes her actress alter ego, she must pretend to be his mistress.
  • Quick review: A hot mess of a premise and a TSTL heroine, slightly redeemed by a few flashes of compelling writing.
  • Grade: C– (really more of a D+, but it’s not a Lady Alexandra level of bad)

The entire premise of this book is a big ol’ Hot Mess, with all the requisite confusing plot contrivances to force the action and motivations into something vaguely resembling logic.

I came very, very close to DNFing, but some swoon-worthy sentences (and the irrelevant fact that the author claims to be an Iowa girl) gave me hope that the writing might somehow overcome all the early red flags.

The setting….

Regency London. The fantasy-land Mistorical Island version (see below).

The backstory….

Our heroine, Lady Madeleine Vaillant, is half-French, orphaned by the guillotine because her parents stayed behind to protect their chateau. Or something like that. She lives in London with her aunt and cousins, desperately yearning for someone – anyone – to adore her (more on this later).

Our hero, William Avenel, is the newly-titled and very reluctant Duke of Rothwell. He’s edging his way back into the ton nearly ten years after purposely getting himself exiled to Scotland to escape his humorless father. The duke has three sisters – two are much-younger twins in need of a society chaperone, the other a scandalous widow.

The plot….

This is going to get a little hairy. Please be patient and save all your questions until the end.

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, ca. 1885-1900

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, ca. 1885-1900

Believing herself to be trapped in a “boring but comfortable prison,” and being desperately desperate for adoration (see below), our heroine decides her only option is to become An Actress.

Here, in a white muslin ball gown, with her brown hair tucked into a spinster’s cap, no one spared her a first glance, let alone a second.

Last night, wearing breeches and a wild, unkempt wig, everyone cheered at her feet.

The breeches and wig are part of her costume for her role in Hamlet. To be more specific, the LEAD role.

Our hero, who just happens to own the theater, is naturally stunned stupid by Lady Madeline’s amazing acting (performed under a French pseudonym, of course). Naturally, he accosts her in her dressing room, where he immediately recognizes her as the quiet Mayfair spinster he hoped to engage as a chaperone for his young sisters.

This recognition leads to our heroine (in her actress persona) pretending to be the duke’s mistress. For scandal-proofing and safety reasons, of course.

If you’re thinking that all these contrivances to get them into bed defy logic and reason, you are correct. All this happens in the first third of the book.

What made it even more frustrating is that our happy couple’s backstories are revealed too little, too late. Instead, we’re immediately dumped into the characters’ heads, where inexplicable things are happening. My “oh, really???” bullshit-o-meter was starting to veer off the charts to the Land of DNF. But once I understood Madeline and Ferguson’s motivations, I was much more willing to keep reading.

Of course, I still held a grudge throughout the rest of the book. My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever. Usually. I occasionally relent if the sexy times are hot.

There was nothing too painful about the predictable “Oh NOES, I’m RUINED, no wait, NEVER MIND” road to the predictable baby-filled epilogue. In fact, the calming of the craziness allowed for some really good writing and characterization to peek through – just enough to make me feel a teensy bit guilty for my petulant snarking.

Continue reading

One-Quote Review: Men of Smithfield – Mark & Tony by L.B. Gregg

  • Men of Smithfield: Mark & Tony by L.B. GreggTitle: Men of Smithfield: Mark & Tony
  • Author: L.B. Gregg
  • Series: Men of Smithfield, Book 1
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, GLBTQ (M/M)
  • Publisher: Carina Press, August 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($3.39 ebook)
  • Length: 114 pages
  • Trope(s): Friends-To-Lovers, Cops, Revenge, Angst
  • Quick blurb: Humor and friendship help ER doc survive romantic meltdown.
  • Quick review: An oddly successful mix of drama, farce and romance.
  • Grade: B

The future seemed brighter when you had a box of donuts in your hand.

It’s difficult to pull off angsty humor (humorous angst?), but Gregg manages to make the most of her main character’s meltdown without veering into campy melodrama.

The Guy Most Likely To…. By Leslie Kelly, Janelle Denison and Julie Leto

  • The Guy Most Likely To...Title: The Guy Most Likely To….
  • Author: Leslie Kelly, Janelle Denison, Julie Leto
  • Category/Series: Blaze (Anthology)
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, Inspirational, Suspense
  • Publisher: Harlequin, July 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($2.99 ebook)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Trope(s): Beta Heroes, Unrequited Love, Reunited, Friends-to-Lovers, Big Misunderstanding
  • Quick blurb: Twenty-somethings reunite at 10-year high school reunion.
  • Quick review: Fun and sexy – but why focus all three stories on 10th reunions?
  • Grade: B (B+, B+, B-)

The official book blurb:

Ever wonder what happened to the guy most likely to……

Score with the prom queen?
Lauren and Seth were the high school “it” couple—until Seth disappeared on prom night. But a reunion gives Seth a chance to show Lauren an evening long overdue.

Not date a Playboy Bunny?
Ali was the highlight of geeky Will’s high school years. But now that he’s ditched the nerdiness, he’s 100 percent of calculated hotness…and Ali won’t be able to say no.

Ride out of town on a Harley?
Rebel Scott “Rip” Ripley always had a thing for the elusive Erica. But reunion night holds a few sexy surprises when Erica decides it’s time to take the bad boy for a ride.

I liked this much more than I thought I would. I was a little irritated that all three stories were about 10th reunions – would have it been so horrible to make the couples 33 or even 38? Or – GOD FORBID – in their 40s?

Anyway, I really enjoyed the first two stories by Leslie Kelly and Janelle Denison – both were charming and sexy, with likeable heroines and great beta heroes. The conflicts were Big Misunderstandings that were cleared up with one conversation that led immediately to hot sexy times, but in this context both authors made it work. B+ for those two.

The third by Julie Leto was also good, but I didn’t feel like I knew and understood the characters as well, probably because their backstories (especially the hero’s) were more complex than the others. I think the role reversal premise needed something longer than a short story. B-

Update: J. Taylor Publishing “Will Not Respond”

J. Taylor Publishing - Updated Author FAQ

“We will not respond to any inquiry regarding this list.”

They say:

In alphabetical order …

  • Bestiality of any kind
  • Children’s books (Middle Grades stories are okay)
  • Editorial articles
  • Non-fiction (including textbooks)
  • Pedophilia (any physical relationship between minors and adults, whether for YA or Adult readers)
  • Picture books (of any kind, including coffee table books)
  • Poetry
  • Pornography
  • Previously published stories (whether self-published or published by another publisher)
  • Rape (male or female)
  • Same-sex romances
  • Stories with illegal activities without negative consequences
  • Stories written in a language other than English

We will not respond to any inquiry regarding this list.

I say:

I will respond by refusing to purchase your books, and encouraging fellow readers, reviewers and bloggers to do the same.

Statement from J. Taylor Publishing

My cautious optimism is fading…..

J. Taylor Publishing - Facebook Response - 8/8/12

“These items are mutually exclusive of one another, and nowhere on our site does it state or imply they are equated. This list is nothing more a list of topics we do not publish.”

If you are an author, editor, publisher or marketer, you should know that a list ALWAYS implies correlation. Claiming otherwise is disingenuous and demeaning to your audience.

[NOTE: The FB comment was not from me....]