What I Read in July 2016 Part I. . .
Warning This romance is not clean and is not at all PG. PG-13 would eve be pushing it a bit.
I received this free book in exchange for my honest opinion
so here it goes....
Sophy Hadden alias Violet Honeypot is a romance writer with writer's block. She needs some hot heroic inspiration and her current boyfriend just doesn't cut it in the romance department. He even has the nerve to unceremoniously dump her over the phone! When Max Wright shows up on her doorstep, she thinks he's the answer to her problem. However, Max is a cynical psychology professor writing about the effect romance novels have on women. Needless to say, he is not a fan- has never even read a romance novel and doesn't even believe in love! It's up to Sophy to teach him how to be the hero of every woman's dreams while he tries his hardest to knock the hopeless romantic out of her. When their worlds collide, sparks fly!
This book sounded cute from the description. The author had me at screwball comedy and Regency clothes. Sadly, this book didn't quite meet my expectations. There's not enough attention paid to romance. Sophy is all about teaching Max about romance but he's right about love and desire not equaling the same thing. He shows her exactly how tempting desire is but when the a-ha moment comes, it's too sudden and out of the blue.
Max is an arrogant jerk who only likes to listen to himself drone on and on and ogle Sophy. He deliberately sets out to seduce her to prove his point. I found that really creepy. I couldn't stand him at all.
I wasn't overly fond of Sophy either. She is a starry-eyed romantic who won't listen to anything but her own vision of what love and romance is. Sophy and Max should have sat down and watched Love Actually together. Then Sophy needs a ticket to Austenland and Max needs to meet up with the characters in From Notting Hill with Love... Actually.
There were some funny moments in the book, especially when Sophy dresses Max in Regency clothes. The wine and cheese party scene is pretty funny but not enough to bring the book up beyond a generous 2 stars (more like maybe 1 1/2). With a little more polishing and more focus on the characters and less focus on desire and lust, this story has potential to be a cute "chick lit" novel.
The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot--Women's Fiction (Chick Lit)/Austenesque
Becky Flowers owns a successful senior relocation business in her hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. She enjoys helping seniors transition to a new life and wine tastings at her boyfriend Graham's wine and cheese bar. When she learns that local bigwig Judge Stewart and his wife have been arrested for trying to defraud a local casual eatery, she believes she can help. The Stewarts were very kind to her in the past and she wants to repay that kindness, certain this is all a misunderstanding. However, the Stewarts children know things have gotten out of hand and they need Becky's help. Her sister Nicole urges her NOT to take the job; the Stewarts sound like hoarders and the job may bring back Becky's high school boyfriend, Reed Stewart, whom she hasn't seen or heard from in 10 years. Becky is sure she can maintain a professional working relationship if Reed returns. Riiight.... Reed Stewart, pro golfer and ladies man, hasn't spoken to his parents since prom night 10 years earlier. He's happy to send a check to help them if that's what his siblings want, but his sister-in-law Carly has other ideas. She wants Reed back in town and back in Becky's life. Reed's uncle believes he has unresolved issues and should return to his hometown. Reed isn't sure what he wants, but if he returns, it will be to help his parents only- right?!
Meg Cabot does Persuasion *SQUEAL*! I'm sure all of you know Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and dear Jane one of my favorite writers. Meg Cabot is my favorite contemporary women's fiction author ("chick-lit") and the marriage of the two is the perfect combination. I loved the previous "Boy" books, especially Every Boy's Got One so of course I had to read this one. The book had me with the epigraph from Persuasion.
The texting/chatting/e-mail format is a little weird. She doesn't use Twitter's limit on characters though so the messages are long enough to get in plot and dialogue. The discussions are lively and funny, especially Marshall's attempts at using bad language which autocorrect overrides. The plot develops nicely despite the limitations of the format. The one message format I didn't care for were the long-winded reviews of items purchased. They didn't really add anything to the story and neither did the Stewart grandkids' antics, though they did add to the humor, which Meg Cabot always does well.
Another thing Meg Cabot always does well is create memorable and quirky characters. At first I didn't like Reed. He seemed like a "douche" as the modern Bennet sisters in the "Lizzie Bennet Diaries" would say, but then I fell madly in love with him for the same reason Becky did. He reads Jane Austen! He quotes from Jane Austen's novels! Then when Becky reveals what actually happened on prom night, it made me love him even more. I ended up with a big cheesy grin on my face and swooning with delight as I finished the book. Though there is one moment where he sounded like Darcy in the first proposal scene but that was quickly cleared up.
Becky isn't quite as memorable as Reed. She's a girl-next-door type character who is content to live in her small town and date a boring guy she isn't compatible with. I admire her for taking over her late father's business and running it successful with her mother and sister. She handles the Stewarts very well and even the junior members of the family respond to her. I guess she's supposed to be a modern Anne Eliot, but she has a little more spunk and of course, a modern life where she has choices and freedoms Anne doesn't have. I like the relationship between Becky and Reed. I wasn't sure the limitations of the format would be enough to develop the love story, but it works. The multi-character point-of-view helps develop the story instead of just getting Becky and Reed's sides of the story.
The secondary characters are so much fun! I loved the Stewarts. At first I thought they would be the usual rich, snobby people found in the previous Boy books and Reed would be the black sheep, but this story breaks from the mold. The Judge and his wife are entirely likable with all their quirks and faults. They're very kind and obviously love their family and their community. Their house and obsessions were cringe-worthy but it could happen to me or anyone who collects anything, or anyone who uses ebay. It seems at first like Carly would not be likable but I enjoyed her very much. She keeps her family in line while still allowing their natural unique qualities to shine. She loves her family and wants them all to be happy, especially Reed. She is NOT Mary Musgrove. She's more like Sophia Croft but all her own person. Her husband is a bit of an idiot, but he's funny. Their daughter Bailey is hysterical but not necessary to the plot. Trimble is the only Stewart I didn't like and she was written as unlikable. Her siblings can't stand her and neither can I. Her kids are awful but Ty has some good insight into the family dynamics.
Becky's family is also quirky. Her mother, Beverly, is a hippie-like woman trying to fight injustice. I admire her fight, I question her methods! Nicole is a bit sarcastic, feisty and protective of her sister. She always tells it like it is. She's the younger sister but sometimes acts like an older sister to Becky. Becky's best friend Leanne doesn't add anything to the story except as a confidant to Becky.
I'm marking the book clean and technically it is kisses only but there is some suggestive dialogue and references to sex.
This story is best appreciated by Janeites, especially Persuasion fans. I don't know if people who don't know Jane Austen's original work will enjoy this one. They might like it but probably not as much as #TeamWentworth would!