One-Quote Review: The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry

  • The Other Side of Us by Sarah MayberryTitle: The Other Side of Us
  • Author: Sarah Mayberry
  • Series/Category: SuperRomance
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: Harlequin, January 2013
  • Source: Harlequin.com (currently free on Amazon)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Trope(s): Rebound/Starting Over, Obnoxious Exes, Beta Hero
  • Quick blurb:  TV producer recovering from horrific accident clashes and clinches with her soon-to-be-divorced new neighbor.
  • Quick review: Loved the mature characters, but over all it’s too tepid for a re-read — and I had to take points off for misuse of canine characters.
  • Grade: C

“So be afraid. Be angry. Be jealous. Be possessive. Be whatever you need to be. But please, let me come along for the ride.”

I suppose I was expecting something more vibrant like Her Best Worst Mistake, so this was kind of a letdown — and I have yet to find a Harlequin SuperRomance with any sort of “wow” factor.

While I loved that both main characters were in their late 30s, the arc of the relationship-building never really grabbed me. Oliver’s crucial episode of irrational jealousy, and Mackenzie’s reaction, were realistic and just angsty enough without being overwrought — but then the utterly useless epilogue threw me out of my short-lived happy place.

Also…what in the hell was the deal with the “haha, oops, puppies!” plot device? Is spaying and neutering not recommended in Australia as it is in the U.S.? The hero doesn’t remember that his beloved schnauzer spent quality time with a Doberman? And the workaholic heroine is going to breed her dog because “wire-haired dachshunds are really hard to come by…”? I need a few more question marks here — ?????

Maybe I’m overly sensitive because I’m still grieving for my shelter dog, but the irresponsible breeding is probably the one thing I will remember most about this book — and I doubt that’s what the author or the publisher intended.

One-Quote Review: Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton

I have to do a One-Quote Review for this because anything longer would be nauseatingly sycophantic.

  • Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie SextonTitle: Second Hand
  • Author(s): Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
  • Series: Tucker Springs, Book 2
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, GLBTQ (M/M)
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing, September 2012
  • Source: Provided by the publisher via NetGalley ($6.99 ebook, available 9/10)
  • Length: 175 pages
  • Trope(s): Friends-to-Lovers, Rebound, Angst, Gay for You, Dysfunctional Families, Beta Heroes
  • Quick blurb: Lonely and jaded pawn shop owner falls for seemingly-straight customer.
  • Quick review: The dog’s name is MoJo. See his begging eyes and wistful expression? He wants you to read this book.
  • Grade: A

“I just want to be the first choice for someone for once. Just once.”

So, Heidi and Marie, just go ahead and push all my buttons, and THEN reach in and pull my guts out. You both seem to be good at that sort of thing.

ALSO: Hurry the hell up with your next books, so I can fling myself on the altar of your brilliance ALL OVER AGAIN.

I guess that last bit crossed the “sycophant” line, huh? Oh, well. I HAVE NO SHAME.

Season for Love by Marie Force

  • Season for Love by Marie ForceTitle: Season for Love
  • Author: Marie Force
  • Series: The McCarthys of Gansett Island, Book 6
  • Genre(s): Contemporary
  • Publisher: HTJB, Inc., June 2012
  • Source: Amazon, $3.99 ebook
  • Length: 296 pages
  • Trope(s): Small Town, Rebound, Tragic Past, Pregnant Heroine
  • Quick blurb: Musician with Tragic Past and wanderlust falls for pregnant lady who’s not divorced yet.
  • Quick review: Disappointing, but I’m not ready to give up on this series yet.
  • Grade: C-

I feel so guilty giving this only C-, but it just didn’t work for me. I’m so guilt-ridden that this review is more than a little rambling and more than a little spoilery….

I loved the main characters of the previous books in the Gansett Island series, but their completely sappy anecdotes in this book just interrupted the flow of the story and completely threw me out of my reading trance several times.

Anyone who hasn’t read the other books in the series will have NO clue who these people are, and it’s a waste of exposition to give us their backstories. Readers like me who have devoured the previous books already know that McCarthys & Friends have the most romantic, sex-filled marriages ever, and one book for each couple is enough.

And then we get more Tiffany and Blaine. And now Carolina and Seamus. And now Dan and Kara. And soon Jenny and whoever (probably Adam). It’s just too many couples to care about, and I don’t want to have to choose which chapters to skip.

I’m also getting very frustrated with the continuing emphasis on the “Let’s Rebound Into A New Relationship With No Downtime Whatsoever!” theme. Janey. Sydney. Laura. Tiffany. I think the tourist brochures for Gansett Island must have a tagline like “Where Fabulous Single Men Appear Out Of Nowhere Whenever A Damsel In Distress Needs One.”

Laura and Owen actually do discuss “she can’t live without a man” (a thought planted by the Evil Ex-Husband), but it’s quickly glossed over and forgotten. As a divorced single parent, I get *really* tetchy reading romances that ignore the struggle for self-esteem and self-sufficiency or treat it as an afterthought.

I’m also confused about Jenny the Lighthouse Keeper. We get an entire chapter of her sob story at the beginning, and then she’s reduced to cameo appearances in two throwaway scenes. I know it’s setting her up for her own storyline, but why include the tragic backstory here? And a “Tell Us Your Life Story” essay question might be believable for a college application, but not for a job.

I’m not ready to give up on this series yet, but I hope the next installment features more relationship building and less soap opera.

One-Quote Review: Hard Tail by JL Merrow

  • Hard Tail by JL MerrowTitle: Hard Tail
  • Authors: JL Merrow
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Contemporary, M/M
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, May2012
  • Purchase:Amazon, $4.24
  • Quick blurb: Unexpected stint managing a village bike shop changes the life of a London “posh tosser.”
  • Grade: A-

As we stood there staring into each other’s eyes, I had the strongest, almost painful urge to kiss him. He’d had me at buggery.

Good lord, I barely recover from the last one, and now another A grade? You real writers are ruining my bitch cred. RUINING.

Bitches.