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mlleelizabeth

Liz Loves Books

I love to read and to talk about books. I review many of the books I read. I do not accept any author/publisher submissions for reviews. I do not read or review ARCs. I do not enter any giveaways or contests. I obtain the books I review by purchasing them at the same price they are offered to the general public at the time of purchase. My reviews are intended for the use of my fellow readers. They are not advertising or promotion. They are not beta reads or constructive criticism or editing or advice to the author. My only obligation to the author is to pay the price charged for the book at the time of purchase. My reviews are sometimes critical and I will not stop posting critical reviews just to spare delicate authors' feelings. I am happy to make new friends, but friend requests from authors or promoters who have few or no books (and/or friends) in common with me and write or promote categories I do not read (especially new adult) will be ignored. I used to read more self-published books. After recent meltdowns by self-published authors, I now only read self-published authors I've previously read or who have been recommended to me by fellow readers I trust. I also used to read young adult/new adult books but rarely do so now.

Thin Ice Review

Thin Ice - Liana Laverentz

Really liked this one a lot.  On the surface it's a sports romance and the heroine is a DV survivor who's still got a lot of issues.  I was very happy to find there is no magic penis cure for the aftermath of DV in this book.  The hero and heroine have to work to get to their HEA.  Both of them are pretty realistically written.  He was pretty alpha-pushy but I like that in a hero and he is very determined and I love that in a hero.  The heroine has a lot of backbone - enough that it gets in the way of her happiness but she grows more well-rounded over the course of the book. The secondary characters are very well written.  It could use a little bit of tightening up, especially in the more introspective parts and I would have like a little less of the 9 year old child but those were minor flaws.  Overall this was a very enjoyable read for me.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who is celebrating it!

I am such a sucker

His Penniless Beauty - Julia James

For HPs with the poor, misunderstood waif heroine and the judgmental asshole Greek billionaire hero.  It's very much a guilty pleasure and Julia James is a master with this plot. This one's just a tad too overwrought to make it over 4 stars but on the plus side:  No Secret Baby!  

 

Since I am in confessional mode tonight ... Ms. James's Baby of Shame was the second HP I read. (The first was Penny Jordan's Marriage to Claim his Twins.)  I was drawn in by the reviews that exclaimed over how much the lead characters hated each other. And then there was the awful title. I was an innocent to the ways of HPs and just had to read it to discover how an author could possibly turn that into a romance.  I think it imprinted on me. I keep reading it over and over - different titles, different authors, same plot.  Every one of them makes me cry.  And I must admit I love them, even when they are not very good.

Rowena through the Wall Review

Rowena Through the Wall: Expanded Edition - Melodie Campbell

I have mixed feelings about this one.  Parts of it are hilarious and it feels like a parody of an 80s or 90s adventure/bodice ripper.  I haven't read enough of those to be certain but it read the way I would expect a Bertrice Small book to play out (based solely on the blurbs I have read).  However, the prose is only purple when it is funny for it to be purple. The heroine is kickass and fortunately not a Mary Sue. And I liked the eventual hero. It was a bit too long and a few themes were repeated to the point they were no longer funny.  A few of the rescues happen just a little too neatly.  I would have liked it more with some editing.

 

I would recommend Rowena through the Wall but only if you enjoy a mixture of paranormal, historical and slightly speculative romance.  Be warned that it is somewhat dystopian and that there are many powerful men and Rowena and (for most but not all of the book) her sidekick are the only females. You can imagine what that means.  Some reviewers seem put off by Rowena's failure to be an 80s bodice-ripper heroine.  She rather likes her several men, at least until she gets to know some of them a bit better.

 

I thought it was a good, fun, fluffy romp.

Her Forgotten Betrayal Review & a General Update

Her Forgotten Betrayal - Anna DeStefano

I should have reviewed this right after reading it. It's been about 2 weeks now and I remember that I liked it but I'm not sure why.  Except I do recall that there was a good balance between the romance and suspense plots.  I may try to come back and edit this if it comes back to me.

 

In other news I am in the middle of applying to go back and finally finish college (at 53!  LOL) and also trying to re-teach myself enough pre-algebra that I can get through a placement test.  It has been around 35 years since I took a math class. ... So...

 

That means I have had little reading and reviewing time.  I expect my fun reading time to wax and wane depending on the classes I'm taking.  But I will try to keep reviewing as much as I can.

Seducing Mr. Right Review

Seducing Mr. Right - Alexis Browne

What a mess!  There are 3 romance storylines in this book. Plot one appears to be significant at first but completely disappears about a third of the way through.  What happened to Matthew and Kat (Katie? Kelsie?)?  We're they abducted by aliens?  Plot two is the one described in the blurb and while it is briefly intertwined with plot one, like kudzu it overruns everything around it, sucking out what little life the book had.  The heroine is unlikeable and unrelateable. The hero is marginally better and I wish he'd gotten a clue and walked from the heroine.  And warning: there are a couple of incidents that most romance readers would consider cheating. I certainly did. Plot three was sweet but was barely there and mostly used to further plot two.  The writing style is juvenile.  The timeline is horribly confusing. One couple goes to lunch at the same time another goes to dinner. That issue improves a bit when plot one's characters escape to the Bermuda triangle but doesn't clear up completely.

 

The ending was absolutely atrocious.  Want to see how bad? Check behind the spoiler tag.

 

 

The book ends with a short sex scene. It could have ended sweetly with the couple's engagement but ... no. The last line is: Del climaxed mindlessly, watching Jessica ride him into oblivion.

(show spoiler)

 

 

I think I am being generous giving this one star.

Reviewlets

Already Freakn' Mated - Eve Langlais Jillian's Job - Fran Lee The Tuscan's Revenge Wedding - Jennifer Blake

Sometime last week my 16 year old mattress gave up the ghost.  I haven't really slept since then and I have a great deal of back pain.  As a result I am not able to coherently review the books I have been reading so I am just going to post little reviewlets.

read more »

Catering to the Italian Playboy Review

Catering to the Italian Playboy - Tamelia Tumlin

This is a fairly standard Billionaire/Caterer + Secret Baby Romance.  Both the hero and heroine have Tragic Pasts.  There were two things about it that bugged me a bit more than the usual HP of this type: 

1) The heroine doesn't really even try to come up with a reason for keeping the baby secret; and 2) the heroine, who was an adult at the time (early twenties) doesn't realize her mom (who she lived with and was allegedly very close to at the time) was mentally ill, off her meds and messed up enough to kill herself and instead blames her father.  Mom was bipolar and dad stayed away because he was worried he would trigger something during her manic episodes.  That part at least I can believe but that the daughter didn't notice something was wrong with mom?  That I cannot believe, especially if mom was that bad off.  She is completely shocked to discover mom was mentally ill.  And I'm speaking as the daughter of a bipolar mother.  So ... no.

(show spoiler)

  But it was a quickie and up to that point, only secret-baby bad.  *shrug*

 

 

However, it got me thinking last night.  Why are so many heroines in romance novels event planners and/or caterers?  Is it because feeding people is a nurturing sort of career?  Is it because it sounds fun?  They are almost never travel agents, even though that is presumed to be a fun career.*  They almost never sell cars or work in accounts payable for a department store or help people find apartments to rent.  The only construction managers or architects I run across are always paired up with their contractor/developer client.  There are nurses but they are usually in the medical romances that I don't often read. I don't expect heroines to be in traditionally male careers in an HP, but a wider variety of careers would be nice.  One of my fairly recent favorite SuperRomances had a heroine who managed a furniture store.  That was a refreshing change.

 

(Don't get me started on "quirky hairdressers," though.  If I determine the heroine is one of those I delete the book and run away screaming.  I have nothing against hairdressers.  I just hate the way "quirky hairdressers" are portrayed in Romancelandia.

 

 

*I am a former travel agent. As a career, it has its moments, but it is not all fun.

Just Didn't Work for Me

Lady Gallant (European Renaissance Duo, #1) - Suzanne Robinson

I know a lot of people love this book and I admit it is well written but it just wasn't for me.  My main problems with it are that I dislike the hero and don't really care what happens to him and more importantly I couldn't stomach all the graphic violence.  And there is a LOT of very graphic violence.  I put the book aside for days because the thought of going back to it made me feel sick.  I think it is true to the time period but that's part of why I avoid this time period.  It does have a heroine with a backbone and a good long grovel but that was not enough for me.

Kind of Slow but Cute Story

Planning for Love - Christi Barth

It took me a week to read Planning for Love. That's a long time for a quick, fluffy romance.  There were some scenes that seemed to just go on and on and on.  Despite this, I enjoyed the story.  There's a reality tv show about weddings (actually two of them) and since I sometimes watch TCL's various Friday night wedding themed shows, I liked that aspect a lot.  I liked both the main characters and the secondary characters. I just wish the story had been a lot tighter.  It either needed to be a novella or to have a more gripping plot.

Eh

The Tycoon's Revenge  - Melody Anne

I was in the mood for something mindless and formulaic and this book satisfied that itch well enough:  Rich heroine's daddy separates her from poor boyfriend who becomes a billionaire yada yada yada...

 

There is a secret baby (now an overly sweet 9 year old boy) and a couple of weak attempts at a villainess. There are also a few typos but they are not all that bad.  It's just nothing special and not great writing and eh.

 

The hero has two sequel-bait cousins but the series appears to have more than 3 books. I kind of liked the cousins but .... eh.

The Choice by Lorhainne Eckhart

The Choice: A sizzling romantic suspense (Walk the Right Road Series, Book 1) - Lorhainne Eckhart

I feel a little unsure about my feelings regarding this book, so this review may seem a little confused. I’m still trying to work it out in my own mind.

 

I like this book. I didn’t love it, though. I was left wishing there was less of parts of it and I was left wanting more. I’ll try to explain. This is a paranormal romantic suspense novel. In my opinion, those can be very hard to pull off well since you have to write both a satisfying romance and a satisfying suspense story and then add paranormal elements that fit with both on top. I feel Ms. Eckhart succeeded with a satisfying romance. It’s not my favorite, but it was good and I was happy with the ending and the way the hero and heroine got to their HEA. The suspense story is what left me wanting.

 

I’ve checked on Goodreads since finishing last night and it appears that the next book in the series continues the suspense plot, with a different couple as the romantic leads. I can think of a couple of similar series I’ve read and really enjoyed, despite (or perhaps because) of the serial nature of the suspense plot. One is Kaylea Cross’s suspense series (which starts with Out of Her League). Another is Shannon McKenna’s McClouds & Friends* series (which starts with Behind Closed Doors). In both cases, each book closes with the part of the suspense plot revolving around that book’s main characters being resolved. The “Big Bad” is still out there, but whatever element of the overall suspense plot was specifically targeting the H & h is dealt with in a way that left me satisfied. I don’t feel like this was the case with The Choice.

 

 

Warning! Spoiler behind the spoiler tag! The bad guy who was threatening the hero and heroine is still very much out there and operating at the end of the book. The heroine feels like she has cut the paranormal ties between them, but I didn’t really catch that from the climactic scenes in the book. I felt like she was still potentially vulnerable. And the hero’s method of resolving the situation was to ask the Big Bad Guy to leave them alone and offer to retire from law enforcement (which he does). Huh?! Basically, the bad guys won. Blech.

 

But most of all, I never got the sense there was really some big Choice the heroine made. I think she made that choice at the beginning of the book when she first met the hero. The rest seemed to just be aftermath to me.

 

Also, with regard to the paranormal elements, I think they were used a bit too much as info dumps and a deus ex machina at time. And they were repetitive. They aren’t bad, but the paranormal/dream segments could be edited and tightened up quite a bit in my opinion.

(show spoiler)

 

 

There were several things I really liked about this book. I liked both the hero and heroine and loved them together. I like several of the secondary characters. I think the romance was well developed and I think the suspense plot was well developed to a point. It just didn’t end in a way that satisfied me. I wish I felt like jumping immediately into the next book to get more and to get possible resolution. Unfortunately, I don’t quite feel that way. Maybe in a few days? And maybe reading the next book will help?

 

*This was kind of a stretch but I think it still applies. Parts of the series have a storyline that threads through them and parts of it stand alone.

This is a very good book. I recommend it.

Confessions of a Serial Masturbator - Kitty K. Free

Please don't be put off by the title or cover art! Or all the high star reviews on goodreads.  In this rare case, I think they are accurate.

 

I grabbed this from the back of the erotica collection on one of my older kindles. I was looking for some silly weekend smut.  What I got was a heroine who made me question, think, cheer, laugh and occasionally cringe and a story that kept me completely engrossed all weekend.  It was longer, more complex, much less smutty and much more thought provoking than I could possibly have expected it to be.  And funny!  This book is so very funny.  (I was sometimes as embarrassed for the heroine as I was amused but by the end I felt that just added to both the complexity and thought-provokingness) And a sweet romance though honestly I can't quite put it in the romance category.  I can't call it chicklit either.  I think it defies categorization.

 

In between the funny and sweet and sexy and romantic parts, the heroine deals with body image, racism, misogyny, misjudging people and being misjudged, family in all its goodness and badness, and how we go about figuring out who we are and who we want to be.

 

I loved watching this heroine grow into herself.  I love the way the author turned me upside down over and over.  I hope I can find more books by her.  I've deducted just a tiny bit because I felt the hero was not as well-developed as several of the secondary characters and was a bit too good to be true, and because there were a few (and by few I mean 3 in a long book) strange editing errors. And it wrapped up a tiny bit too neatly.  But those are minor concerns and this is one of the best books I've read this year.

Boy is this book not what i thought it was going to be

Confessions of a Serial Masturbator - Kitty K. Free

I was expecting porn or at least erotica. It was sitting in the middle of my erotica collection on one of my older kindles and I didn't bother to read the blurb or reviews before jumping in. It does have sex scenes and strong language but it is actually very topical and very good. I find myself completely absorbed in the heroine's life.

Doncha hate it when

Reluctant Surrender  - Riley Murphy

The second book in a series is a letdown.   I loved the first, Reclaimed Surrender, but this one started off with a big problem and then piled a few more problems on top.  It did have a handful of short role play scenes that were very well written, very imaginative and very, very hot. The characters refer to these as bdsm tapas which fits them well. And despite the problems I liked both the main and secondary characters and I liked the conclusion. It was close to 3 stars for me but the problems kept it from getting there.

 

The hero and his buddies manipulate the heroine through a lie to get her into the hero's home and under his influence.  That's always bad but in a D/s relationship it's just unacceptable. All through the book that nagged at me and the hero never confessed. At the end, the heroine still does not know how she was manipulated.  Then there is an annoying and kind of lame villainess.  Finally, one of those tapas threw me for a loop a bit.  It wasn't a squick, I just thought it was inadvisable to play out a hardcore interrogation scene with a newbie without getting to know her a little better. It seemed like something that could backfire badly.

(show spoiler)

 

Riley Murphy writes well. Her characters are well developed and her plots are not run-of-the-mill bdsm erotic romances. I find her work refreshing and I can tell she knows what she is writing about. Even though this one disappointed me, there were still things I liked a lot about it and I do plan on continuing the series. 

Done!

Wishland - Christina Bertke

Well, I was done last night but I've been busy or sleeping.

 

I was almost convinced this was a parody until things got briefly draggy at the 75% point.  The suspense plot is especially non-suspenseful. But parts of it are funny enough that I am still wondering a little.  Even the battle scenes were funny.  I have only given this 1.5 stars but if you are in the mood for something silly that seems like a parody of bad fan fiction, I recommend reading this.  It is available for free through kindle unlimited and I am also able to loan it.

 

I don't want to spoil it any more than I have already so I will leave you with this one quote:

 

"Everyone had a Wishland diamond on their person.  Some whore chains, some rings and others had stud earrings. They were all heavily armored and ready to kick some Toader ass."

Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 234 pages.

Wishland - Christina Bertke

The talking cows produce flavored milk.  The heroine has adopted a pet tiger. Unlike most of the other mammals in this world, the tiger is unable to talk.  It does purr, however.

 

The heroine's friend is getting tired of being invisible and starting to gripe.  The villain just placates her with sex.

 

The homonym problems are back but at least the lines of asterisks have stopped.

 

The heroine and hero have just had a discussion about the fact that they both fart in their sleep.

 

And even though this is still a funny-bad book, I am glad it is going to end fairly soon.