Sep 6, 2008

I’ll Eat 20% of My Words

At several of my gal pals urgings, I recently agreed to read some Harlequin Romances. They all know I would rather be reading massive doorstoppers by Stephen King or when-is-the-next-sequel-of-Outlander-going-to-be-released Diana Gabaldon. I love big fat thousand page books that are not primarily focused on the here and now. I do like romances, sometimes. I do not have to have the HEA (Happily Ever After) that is absolute for a true romance. Sometimes I like the surprise of an unexpected or imperfect ending. Which is probably why much of what I read takes place in a universe created by the author.

I put my Harlequin snobbery aside and started reading. Here are my reviews on the five Harlequin Romances I read. I will preface by saying I am a picky and sometimes harsh critter. You may not believe it, but I can rip a novel to shreds, and still have respect for the author. After all, they wrote a book that was published, and without searching for the sales figures, Romance tops all and Harlequin has a grand chunk of that, and these books sell fast and furiously.

Also, there may be spoilers, because sometimes I just have to say what specifically made me feel good or bad, or insane.

Armed and Devastating

Julie Miller
Harlequin Intrigue, The Precinct, Brotherhood of the Badge

Jul 2008

I picked this book because of the guy on the cover (plus, I was trying to get one from several of the categories). I generally like men in jeans, but if they must wear a suit for work, then it helps to have a gun and badge on the belt, if you know what I mean. I liked these characters, Brooke and Atticus, and I'm truly happy that they found HEA. I cared about them at some point. The book began in April, the first two chapters taking place at the funeral of Atticus's father, and then skipped ahead to Summer. The first couple of chapters were more like back story, the next 40 or so pages were a dumping ground for information that would have been more interesting if presented to us by the characters, or at least with interaction with the characters. Once past that, it did get moving, however the intrigue part of the plot was convoluted and farfetched. I won't even go into the fact that Brooke is a 29 year old virgin (until near the end of the book). I realize that is possible, but what made me want to slap her silly sometimes was how much she berated herself. She constantly reminded the reader how unattractive she was, how clumsy and awkward she was and the fact that she had no guts to stand up for herself. Enough! Any 29 year old woman who is a highly regarded assistant to a high ranking police detective in charge of other detectives, should be able to look in the mirror and know that if she unpins the bun and stops wearing non-flattering clothing and dresses age appropriate, she is pretty, glasses or not. I'm not saying she should wear slutty clothes to be attractive, but surely she could take herself to the store and try on something and see the difference. Clumsiness…meh, who cares. If Atticus can't love her because she's clumsy, she doesn't need him.

I'll give Armed and Devastating a 3/5. That's what I estimate is left after taking away the intrigue, and I did like the way that Brooke took a step out of her comfort zone and went after Atticus when she realized she wanted him. Also, I was kind of charmed by the name Atticus.
Caretti's Forced Bride

Harlequin Presents – Wedlocked!
Aug 2008
Not buying this one at all. Well, I did actually buy it, as in I spent $$ for it, so the joke's on me. First of all, I had to keep going back to page 18, and re-reading this paragraph:

She exhaled. "I love San Piedro. You know I do. We're rich in culture and tradition. But we're just three square miles. Magnus owns more land in Austria alone. The von Trondhem bloodline dates back to Charlemagne."

Three square miles. For a country. Are you serious? Folks, as nerdy as I am, math is sometimes a challenge to me, but even I know that three square miles of land is a strip equal in area to one mile wide by three miles long. This country supported a King, Queen, Prince and Princess who all live in a palace, with the servants and the whole royal thing going on? Where did the people who comprised the Kingdom live and work in order to support their royalty? This bothered me throughout the book. In addition, I didn't really like Princess Isabelle, who was pregnant when she walked out on dark, devilish Paolo Caretti 10 years ago because her parents said he wasn't good enough for her, and is now engaged to Magnus, who is Paolo's brother, but Isabelle doesn't know it. And I didn't like Paolo, who felt the need to punish Isabelle for walking out on him. Apparently he isn't very good at math either, because he couldn't figure out that Isabella's kidnapped nephew was his son, who is now King. My favorite part of this book was when Isabelle was cooking for Paolo, and she can't cook worth a crap, but there he is, eating her cooking, trying not to choke. I can relate to that, and kind of liked them for a minute or two.

Caretti's Forced Bride; 1/5. (Cringe, I know, and I do feel badly. After all, I invested time and money in these printed words and wanted to like it.)

Seducing a S.E.A.L.

Harlequin Blaze – Forbidden Fantasies
Sep 2008
Ahem. Look at that cover, would ya! Again, I really wanted to like these characters, Kylie and Drew. He is not yet a S.E.A.L. when the seducing takes place, however he is a Naval Ensign and Kylie is a straight laced up tight Lieutenant Commander, eight years older than him. Kylie being older does not bother me in the least. What does, is the fact that she has the hots for Drew and she is his superior not only in rank, but his boss, which we're told over and over is a no-no in the Navy. Kylie goes on and on about the Navy and her career and why she shouldn't have sex with Drew, then does it anyway. Drew, on the other hand, doesn't appear to care a flying fig about the Navy's rules and regs on fraternization, although he wants nothing more than to become a S.E.A.L. Kylie is determined not to get further involved with Drew, even though she is feelin' the looooove. No no no, she says. Then says yes to a two-week leave in Hawaii with him. Honolulu. Waikiki Beach. Do Kylie and Drew know that Hawaii actually has a naval base, a moderately famous one at that? Good grief, I'm not even in the military and I know that Navy people go to Hawaii all the time. Do they think they won't get caught? (They do, the result of which is a cop out.)

Okay, let's back up a minute, to the first Drew/Kylie encounter. Kylie has been fantasizing about Drew, but again, says repeatedly how she will not fulfill that fantasy. (Of course there are plot points and reasons why they are in the situations they are in, but I'm not going into those as they are just the catalyst to get from A to B, and these characters are going to behave as they do anyway.) They get drunk at a bar, end up taking a cab to Drew's house, where they start going at it in the back of the taxi, and then get no further than the front lawn before ripping off the clothing and end up right there on the grass, in public. Yep. Was it just too far to make it to the front door at least?

On to Hawaii. Kylie has abandoned her no-no attitude and having a good time, but not planning on staying with Drew after they return to San Diego even though he loves her so much. Kylie is falling in love with Drew also, but is still whining about the Navy and her career. I hate the whining. If you want to go against the rules and frat with your sub, then do it and be done. If you feel the need to do it and then whine about it, that is almost a TSTL moment.

Kylie finally does the right thing, after sneaking out in the middle of the night (Little Miss Naval Officer who can't even tell Drew she's leaving Hawaii) and tells her direct supervisor about their romantic entanglement, which the supervisor overlooks, a little too casually. Then, right there, out of the blue, not three seconds of thinking about it, Kylie up and quits the Navy. Well, we knew one of them would have to do it, right. Flash forward, six weeks later, Drew passes the S.E.A.L. test , is promoted, Kylie tells him she took an early retirement, and all is HEA.

Forgetting the characters for a moment, there were several places in the writing itself, both of which happened to be sex scenes (or maybe I was paying closer attention then!) but the description of what was happening just couldn't be possible. And yes, I read it several times to make sure, but it just couldn't happen that way. I will not quote it here or go into details, but pages 123-124, and then on page 161. {Break} Okay, I'll take back the page 161, maybe I'm just picturing it wrong in my head, so forget I mentioned it. All in all, it is probably not important, but these types of things bring me out of the story quicker than you can say glow stick.

I hated this story. I'll give Seducing a S.E.A.L., hold on, get ready for it, a 4/5. Why, you ask, when I just said I hated it? Because it made me feel something, and to me, a strong reaction, even hate, is much better than a feel nothing blah.

The Hell-Raiser

by Rhonda Nelson
Harlequin Blaze – Men Out of Uniform
Aug 2008

Who can resist a title like "The Hell-Raiser"? I'm glad I took this challenge during a month when this book was still on the shelves, or I might have missed it. I liked the cover, too. I enjoyed "The Hell-Raiser". No kidding. No snarkiness, honestly. I liked it. The characters, Sara Jane and Mick were believable, their careers fun and not beyond believable (neither one of them were anywhere near royalty nor rich beyond belief, and I liked that). This couple had issues, but they knew they had issues and didn't whine about them constantly. Mick thought he was damaged goods, and Sara Jane had family issues to resolve. Truthfully, I could have done without the brownies with the laxatives in them, and the resulting description, but it was handled somewhat tastefully even though it said bathroom humor to me, and I just don't care for bathroom humor. The talk of the gay ghost in the B&B could have been left out as well.

But after their hot attraction, their conflict, Mick taking on the role of hero and solving Sara Jane's problem, and their separation, Mick does come to his senses, and being a hero type, presents Sara Jane with her lifelong dream, and of course a proposal of marriage. Ahhhh….true love. Yes, I even sighed at the end of this one.

"The Hell-Raiser" gets a 5/5 on my Harlequin scale and I'll eat my words on this one. Hear that…I'm munching!

Billionaire's Favorite Fantasy

by Jan Colley
Silhouette Desire

Jul 2008

What was I thinking? I will have to come back to this one, maybe. I just can't talk about it now. This is one of those titles that leave me cold, even though she is wearing a polar bear.

My next challenge--I'm going to jump right in the driver's seat and take on a NASCAR Romance. Let's see if one of those gets me over the speed bumps.


Roughnight said...

Aaaaaargh! Princess, time to get your nose out of the books for awhile. Supper needs cooking, and these big billowy pirate shirts need mending!

Princeton McKinney said...

Just rip that billowy shirt off Cap'n. Needst I direct you to all the trashy Romance novel covers? Real Pirates do not cover their manly chests of steel. Apparently sweaty man-titty is running rampant on the high seas.

Anonymous said...

Good Lord, you HAVE been reading too much Harequin! Honestly...even in OK, I named my cat "Titty Tat," but she's a CAT!
Sorry, didn't even read the review...couldn't go there. Still love ya, J