Review of Homecoming by Marian Snowe & Ruby Grandin

I received and Audible code for Homecoming by Marian Snowe and Ruby Grandin.

Description from Goodreads:

Scarlett McKennon’s life in the big city is a big flop. 

Her cupcake bakery went under, her roommate at her expensive apartment left her high and dry, and her girlfriend just reacted to “I love you” with “No thanks.” Her sophisticated metropolitan dream has crumbled all around her, and the only thing left to do is pull up stakes and return to the small town where she grew up. 

What could be worse than limping home in defeat? The minute she steps off the train, Scarlett finds out: her first love, Joan, is waiting there to drive her into town, looking like the picture of sexy confidence. Joan was once a scared, self-conscious girl; now she’s come into her own as a mechanic and soccer coach, and Scarlett can’t help but wonder what might have been. 

Carrying on a secret high-school romance in a conservative town was brutal, and Joan hadn’t been able to take the pressure. She broke Scarlett’s heart in exchange for a “normal” life that was doomed from the beginning. Now that Joan’s divorced, fate keeps putting Scarlett in her path. They may have tried to forget each other, but their chemistry is still undeniable. 

Both women start to wonder if they might be right for each other after all… But is the spark they both feel enough, or will their shared past prove too painful to overcome?

Review:

Not bad, but also not a huge winner for me. I just never felt any spark between the characters. The whole thing kind of hinges on their past. But all we’re really told from the past is about Joan insisting on staying hidden and then breaking up with Scarlet. You don’t get any of the passion. Then, in the present, it’s more of the same until Joan suddenly decides to change. I understood her fears and felt angst, but no passion at all. 

None of this is helped by the writing being heavy on the exposition. We’re told almost everything and shown very little. So, there is always a distance from the characters that keeps them feeling flat…and passionless. 

The writing itself seems fine and Deuchler did a fine job with the narration. But I’d call this a solid middle-of-the-road read.

On a side note, I think this needs a much more hipster cover. The characters make fun of lesbians in flannel, after all; and one is described in retro dresses (needing victory curls) and the other wears two braids and greasy jeans, with boots. The little Mary Sue on the cover doesn’t match the vibe of the book, IMO.

Review of Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered, #1), by Tessa Bailey

cover of Fix Her UP

I won a paperback copy of Fix Her Up, by Tessa Bailey. But since it’s audiobooks I’ve been mostly listening to lately, I went ahead and borrowed an audio copy from the library.

Description from Goodreads:

After an injury ends Travis Ford’s major league baseball career, he returns home to start over. He just wants to hammer out his frustrations at his new construction gig and forget all about his glory days. But he can’t even walk through town without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his buddy’s little sister, who is definitely not a kid anymore.

Georgette Castle has crushed on her older brother’s best friend for years. The grumpy, bear of a man working for her family’s house flipping business is a far cry from the charming sports star she used to know. But a moody scowl doesn’t scare her and Georgie’s determined to show Travis he’s more than a pretty face and a batting average, even if it means putting her feelings aside to be “just friends.”

Travis wants to brood in peace. But the girl he used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman who makes him feel whole again. And he wants her. So damn bad. Except Georgie’s off limits and he knows he can’t give her what she deserves. But she’s becoming the air he breathes and Travis can’t stay away, no matter how hard he tries…

Review:

I fully admit that contemporary romance is not a favored genre for me. I much prefer to have some sci-fi or fantasy mixed in there. But I won this book and wanted to read and review it. And it wasn’t bad for what it is. There were several times in the book I groaned and rolled my eyes—when the main character was supposed to have legitimately forgotten to put a bra on, the oops I guess I can’t wear panties because there aren’t any clean ones (tee-hee), all the “baby girls,” etc. Such things are contrived and ruin a book for me. 

Further, for people who were supposed to have known one another all their lives (even loved, in one case), no one seemed to know one another very well. And while the sex was hot, I had a hard time reconciling all the smutty talk and rough sex with the silly virginal main character. Lastly, it all wrapped up a little to perfectly, with the requisite happy ending of marriage and babies. 

Having said all that, I did think the couple was cute together. I very much appreciated that they communicated. There were no unnecessary miscommunications and, with the exception of the drama to bring about the finale, both characters were able to perceive the obvious and willing to ask and talk about it. That was seriously refreshing. Plus, the banter was fun. A lot of the communication I so appreciated came about in banter, keeping things light. 

All in all, I didn’t love it. But I think I liked it as much as I could. And Charlotte North did a fine job with the narrations.

Review of The Strip, by Heather Killough-Walden

I’ve been doing a lot of diamond paintings lately. (Repetitive, slightly obsessive hobbies are dangerous things for me.) As a result, I’m flying through the audiobooks lately. The Strip, by Heather Killough-Walden is the most recent.

Description from Goodreads:

Green-eyed Malcolm Cole is a cursed werewolf, an alpha in the most powerful sense who has given up hope for any kind of happiness or peace in his life.

Until he catches wind of Claire.

Claire St. James, Charlie among friends, is an amazing young woman with an incredibly special gift. Cole recognizes this at once and swears on the spot to claim Charlie as his mate.

Of course, he isn’t the only one with such plans. Charlie is too precious to let go without a fight, and one of the most powerful alphas in the world has already staked a claim, whether Charlie—or Cole—like it or not.

Review:

There is a little bit of a story to why I read (or listened to) this book. I recently borrowed The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) through Hoopla. When you get to the end of a book, Hoopla often gives you a pop-up asking if you want the next book in the series. I really like The Wolf at the Door, so I said yes. However, when I started the book, it was an entirely different series altogether, just one with the same name. 

I decided to give it a try though. I like to give pure chance a chance on occasion. Very early on I could tell this wasn’t going to be a winner to me. And I wasn’t all that surprised. I’m often wary of older PNR. I find A LOT of the content problematic. (The industry is getting better, but anything more than 10 years old is chancy for me. And this one is from 2011, so borderline.) But I stuck with it, determined to finish it so that I could write a full review. 

I’d planned to talk about how angry it makes me when what is important about the fated female mate is WHAT she is not WHO she is. How this was strongly highlighted in this particular book by the fact that Charlie probably doesn’t have 3 dozen lines of dialogue in the whole thing. What she has to say or think isn’t important, only what she is to be possessed. I’d intended to discuss how she and he literally don’t know one another, spend no time together and he used magic as mystical rohypnol to remove all agency from her. Thus, making women out to be mindless, malleable objects, rather than people with their own power and desires. I was going to put strong words on paper about how this IS NOT ROMANCE, not matter what the author says. 

But the honest to god truth is that after clawing my way through the book and gritting my teeth through sex and sexual scenes that read more as abuse than anything else, I just can’t be bothered. It’s exhausting and demoralizing to find romance framed in such a way that (if you removed the names) I literally (LITERALLY!) would not be able to tell which scenes involved the sexual sadist who tortured Charlie and which was the ‘sexy dominant’ mate who was some how supposed to love and cherish the woman he’d never had so much as a conversation with. Both were ‘rough.’ Both were described using words like “cruel.” Both emphasized being unconcerned with hurting her. With the exception of the first scene in the book, with the best friend with benefits, in which it was made explicit that he checked in with her and made sure she was ok during rough sex (involving strangulation), every other scene was rage-inducingly abusive. And I read plenty of S&M, kink-laced, BDSM books. I’m not kink shaming. But that’s not what it book contains. 

By the time I got to the end, my desire to write an intellectual review of it had withered to despondency. So, I’ll just call this tuture/rape porn and be shut of it. 

Gildart Jackson did a fine technical job with the narration, minus a tendency to swallow a lot. However, I found that having a man read a book that involved quite so much pseudo-rape and torture of a woman made it feel extra pervy and skin-crawlingly dirty.