Tag Archives: book review

Review of How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center

I borrowed an audio copy of How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment . 

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. 

Review (with spoiler):

To my complete surprise, I really enjoyed this. Plus, even though I have the paperback, I’m really glad I decided to go with the audio version. Because I think Plummer‘s performance only contributed to my enjoyment. 

How to Walk Away deals with some tragic topics. There’s the accident and subsequent paralyzation of the main character, but also all of the innumerable ways she is further victimized by the people around her; most without ever intending to be cruel. But these were balanced with a wry humor and the lightness of support from unexpected (and often resented) corners. Maggie’s sister especially was a star of the book for me. 

I of course realize that in real life Ian falling in love with Maggie would cross some serious ethical lines (and this is addressed in the book), but in the confines of fiction, I thought the romance was very sweet. And I can not say how happy I am that Center chose not to give Maggie any miraculous recovery. Maggie learned to happy with life with her injury, to live life and find meaning while in her wheel chair. This makes for a much more meaningful story than one in which a character is “fixed.” All in all, a true win in my opinion.

Review of Stranded with the Navy SEAL (Team Twelve #1), by Susan Cliff

I won a paperback copy of Stranded with the Navy Seal, by Susan Cliff.

Description from Goodreads:

For one navy SEAL, danger and passion are brewing in paradise 

Working on a cruise ship was supposed to be the perfect distraction for chef Cady Crenshaw. Instead, it made her the perfect target. Abducted and thrown overboard into foreign waters, she has only one shot at survival…and it comes at the hands of an irresistible ally. 

Navy SEAL Logan Starke’s protective instincts were locked and loaded the moment he met Cady at the ship’s bar. When a violent struggle to take down her captors leaves Logan and Cady stranded on a deserted island, he leaps into rescue mode. But the hot sand and the even hotter attraction between them can’t be denied…and temptation could be the deadliest threat yet.

Review:

I’m going to add a proviso before I review this book. I enjoy romance novels. However, I generally need romance AND something else. I like fantasy romance, sci-fi romance, regency or historical romance (sometimes). But standard contemporary romances usually bore me. And while this is listed an romantic suspense, and there is quite a lot dedicated to surviving on a deserted island, it’s still basically just a contemporary romance. For 99.9999999% of the book there are only the two characters and the end goal is still the couple falling in love, accepting each other, getting married and having babies. (Must not forget the babies.) It’s all very formulaic and not my jam.

I say all this so that those who truly enjoy contemporary romance can take my limp review with the grain of salt it deserves. I read this book because I won it and wanted to honor the gift with a review. I wouldn’t have picked the book up otherwise.

Having said all that, I thought this book was fine. Cliff presented some realistic challenges to surviving on a deserted island, gave both characters some mild past trauma that effects their beliefs and behaviors, and both characters were likable. He wasn’t an alpha a-hole and she wasn’t there just to be saved (even if she was saved a lot). The sex was hot, but not gratuitous and both characters respected each other for and during it. For a book without the genre garnish I usually prefer, I can’t complain.

Review of Waiting For an Earl Like You, by Alexandra Hawkins

I won an ARC copy of Waiting for an Earl Like You, by Alexandra Hawkins. Unfortunately, it got lost for a while.

Description from Goodreads:

Justin Reeve Netherwood, Earl of Kempthorn—a.k.a. Thorn—has never cared much for his neighbor’s daughter. But his twin brother, Gideon, befriended the wild, reckless, and wholly inappropriate Miss Olivia Lydall in youth, and two have been close ever since. So when Olivia finds herself in a state of romantic conflict and seeks out Gideon for advice, he’s only too pleased to oblige. Only problem: The man Olivia is speaking to is Thorn. And now it’s too late for him to tell Olivia the truth…

Thorn always believed that Olivia was too smitten with Gideon for her own good. So what’s the harm in steering her away from him? But Thorn’s charade turns out to be anything but harmless once he begins to see Olivia for who she really is: A woman full of spirit and passion…and someone he can’t live without. But how can Thorn claim Olivia’s heart when their deepening connection—and burning desire—is built on lies and deceit?

Review: (with spoiler)

A few weeks back, I (thought) I read all the regency romance on my physical book shelf. If you include the extra short at the end of one of them, I read books with two duke, two viscount and a marquess heroes*. Apparently, I missed this one about an Earl. It was hidden in the back of a double-lined shelf. 

Regency romance is hard for me. When I find one I like, I tend to love it. But they have a high probability of including problematic ideas around female autonomy, male control and possession of women. Of course, for the time period, some of that is to be expected. But some books manage to challenge it and others seem to revel in it. Waiting for an Earl Like You if of the latter. 

I liked very much that Olivia was head strong and not inclined to do what she was told. But throughout the book Thorn undermines her, which largely nullified the effect. There’s references to him setting up the rules of their relationship and hints at discipline if she doesn’t obey. I disliked it. 

Further, I really just hated Thorn. Imagine the scenario…He thinks his brother is in love with Olivia.The two of them have been best friends since childhood (age difference be damned). So, he sets out to seduce her, falls in love and marries her. The fact that his brother loved her is never address. The author tried to twist the events of early in the book to make it seem like Thorn had always loved her, and therefore it’s all all right. But it’s bogus and doesn’t work. He was a jerk. The impression really wasn’t helped by the authors frequent references to he and his friends past debaucheries. They really seem like the sort that take advantage of their station, unlikable to the extreme. 

Then there is a whole mystery set up around why Gideon left, where he’d been, why he came back and why he and Thorn are so distant. But it’s never cleared. It’s just a big question mark. Perhaps this is addressed in one of the other books, but it’s not here and really, this mystery was the primary reason I kept reading. So, not having it solved irked me. 

Lastly, one of my pet peeves in books is how easily and off-hardly authors victimize women. In this book, Olivia is randomly almost kidnapped by three random men for nefarious purposes (one would assume rape) and then later deliberately kidnapped to be sold as a sex slave. This was taking the plot off in some ridiculous and unbelievable direction, but it was also wholly unnecessary. There are a million other ways to punish a regency era woman. But the author jumped to sex slave? I was livid. 

*My Once and Future Duke, My One and Only Duke (with Once Upon a Christmas Eve), Schooling the Viscount, and Unmasked by the Marquess