Monday, March 16, 2015

Novella Round-Up: Australian Bust And Cookies
I seem to be doing better with my reading slump and in an effort to build momentum I decided it was time to stop ignoring the small mountain of novellas in my ARC pile.  First up is Jazz Baby by Tea Cooper, which takes place in Sydney during the 1920s.  Plus, you know, look at that cover!  How could I not I want to try this?  Unfortunately I ended up DNF'ing it 30% in.

Dolly Bowman has left the country to make a life for herself in Sydney.  She lands a job at a "boardinghouse" and immediately runs into WWI flying ace, and childhood crush, Jack Dalton.  He's horrified to see Dolly and she's annoyed with him for interfering with her new job by talking to her boss.  Never mind that her new boss is a madam, the "boardinghouse" is a brothel and Jack just wants to make sure pretty lil' Dolly isn't asked to give up changing sheets and mopping floors in favor of working on her back.

Oh, where to begin?  The gaudy furnishings, red wallpaper, a house full of lavishly decorated bedrooms, and single women who work through the night were apparently not enough of a clue for ol' Dolly.  Seriously, it takes her more than 24 hours to realize she's working at a bawdy house and even then she's totally fine with it.  In fact she starts befriending some of the girls - sort of the bordello equivalent to the lady of the manor being BFFs with her housekeeper.  But whatever.  Dolly was also apparently physically abused by her father, but this revelation comes out of left-field and dropped like a bomb on the reader through Jack's internal musings.  It just didn't jibe with the wide-eyed innocent brain-dead picture of Dolly that was being painted for me.  Then there's the fact that Dolly has a brother who was in the service with Jack and was declared missing-in-action when his plane crashed.  Who does Jack see in a seedy bar one night?  The long lost brother of course!  In a town the size of Sydney.  What are the odds?  I was kind of over it at that point and there wasn't anything on the Kindle screen to make me want to keep reading so.....

Final Grade = DNF
Breaking All Her Rules by Maisey Yates was short, sexy, with just the right dollop of angst.  It didn't change my life, but for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Read (which is where quite a few novellas fall for me) it was just what the doctor ordered.

Grace Song has spent her entire life overcompensating for a screwed-up junkie sister.  Which means she's been the very model of over-achievement.  However, having just gotten reprimanded by her boss for being "rude" to a client who was sexually harassing her, and mixing up her phone with the sexy cowboy she shared a NYC cab with?  Her day is not going well.  Until she goes to the posh hotel where the cowboy is staying to retrieve her phone and she finds him half-dressed.  Ooooh, la la!

Zack Camden is an artist, which is why he's in New York - on business.  It was impulsive to share a cab with Grace but now that he has?  He wants more of her.  He hasn't felt this alive in a long time.  Because, naturally, Zack has a deep, dark, sad past.  A past that means he hasn't had sex (with anyone other than his hand) in six years.  And he didn't even miss it all that much until he's trading verbal zingers with wound-tight Grace.

So let me tell you how nice it was to read a romance about a guy who wasn't a Duke of Slut.  Also I liked that Grace's sense of over-achieving is there because she doesn't want to disappoint her parents who are already dealing with her junkie sister and all the heartache that brings.  That's probably cliche, but hey - it worked for me.  Also the dialogue here is really fun.  Lots of banter early on and the sexual chemistry really cooks.

The declaration of love that spurs us towards our Black Moment was a little abrupt for me - I suspect because we're talking novella and a two week time period on the story.  But the Emotional Stuff that follows?  Is really, really strong.  Rip your heart out in places strong.
It wasn't all about the end result.  It was about all the things that had happened on the way.  It was about the fact that she was happier with the person she was now, than the person she'd been the day they met.
And at the end of the day, that's why I read romance.

Final Grade = B

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