Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mini-Reviews: Suspense, Billionaires and Fluff

I love it when other bloggers post mini-reviews or reading recaps, but I'm such a slow reader (also having spent most of 2015 thus far in a slump) that I don't capitalize on the format all that often.  However between books I just never got around to reviewing, audiobooks and books I wrote about at other places, I've finally got enough backlog to deliver some minis!

I tend to really like Jill Sorenson's suspense novels and Backwoods is part of her very loosely connected Aftershock series.  I find that Sorenson excels at writing complicated relationships, and that's certainly on display here - with the hero's ex-wife and the heroine's ex-husband having had an affair with each other and eventually marrying.  The heroine suffers from panic attacks and anxiety thanks to the earthquake that rocked San Diego.  The hero is a former baseball player who had a very public fall from grace thanks to his alcoholism.  They're now spending time together thanks to their college-aged kids and a family vacation hiking in the woods that their exes bailed on.  The suspense here is lighter than in previous books in this series, with the romance and relationships taking more of center stage.  I liked that both hero and heroine had "real" problems, and felt that the author handled the relationship between the 19-year-old step-siblings extremely well.  Honestly, that could have been a disaster.  I missed the stronger suspense thread that I've come to enjoy in the author's previous books in this series though - so it ended up being a B- for me. 

The only reason I would ever read a book with a title like How to Seduce a Billionaire is because of the author name attached to it - which in this case is Portia Da Costa.  Obviously I'm fine with billionaires, per se.  I mean, I do love category romance after all.  But the "new" breed of billionaire who digs BDSM because Mommy didn't love him enough and stalks the heroine in his spare time isn't really in my wheelhouse.  However I figured if anyone was going to make me tolerate the idea of a billionaire hero and a 29-year-old virgin heroine, it would be Da Costa.  I wrote about this for Heroes & Heartbreakers and on the Wendy scale this ended up being the very definition of a C read.  It was nice.  It was pleasant.  But I didn't love it, I didn't hate it and it didn't change my life.  If the idea of this story makes you break out into hives, there's probably not a lot within the pages of this book to make you change your mind.  Likewise, if you like the Alphahole billionaire and the virgin heroine who is so clueless that she doesn't have an e-mail address - there's probably not a lot here you're going to like.  Da Costa doesn't write clueless virgins and while the hero is selfish and a dreaded I'll Never Love Again Now That My Sainted First Wife Is Dead - she pretty much stays away from the tropes that made EL James a butt-ton of money for reasons that largely escape me - but hey, just because that's my yuck doesn't mean it can't be your yum.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has been compared a lot to Gone Girl - mostly because people lack imagination and feel like they need to compare this with that in order to sell books.  It's similar in respect that it features completely unlikable characters - some of whom are women.  It's different from Gone Girl in the respect that egads, the beginning is slow as mud and the ending is much more traditional suspense (take a wild guess which ending Wendy prefers?).  Heroine who is raging alcoholic prone to blackouts rides train everyday and makes up stories in her head about couple who lives in a house near tracks.  Wife goes missing.  Husband suspected.  And they just so happen to live down the street from the heroine's ex, who cheated on her with a Hot Young Thang and naturally knocked her up.  If I had read this I probably would  have DNF'ed it because of the slow beginning and characters I generally loathed - but like Gone Girl, it's very good on audio.  I did see the ending coming, but I liked it.  A solid B for the audio version.

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot is releasing on June 2 and I just submitted my First Look of it for Heroes & Heartbreakers.  This is the first adult novel in Cabot's wildly successful Princess Diaries series, with Mia and her friends now being in their mid-twenties.  The last book in the YA incarnation, Forever Princess, in 2009 was, I felt, a very excellent way to wrap up the series - so while I was insanely excited to read this book, I was also a little leery.  Was Cabot going to muck up all my fond memories by giving rebirth to Mia as a grown-up?  Turns out I had nothing to fear.  I really enjoyed this for what it was - pure fluff in almost a chick lit vein.  I have no idea if it will hold up for readers not familiar with the YA series, but if you're already a fan?  You'll want to read this.  As a fan I would say my grade is probably somewhere around a B+.


nath said...

Okay. I always get confused between jessica Sorensen and Jill Sorenson. Ugh. but Jill Sorenson is the author I've been meaning to read. Glad you enjoyed this one. It does sound interesting given the H/H's baggage.

Glad you enjoyed Royal Wedding. I'm going to have to check it out :)

Anonymous said...

I haven't read one of Sorenson's books before, though I follow her on Twitter. Do you have a favorite or one that would be a particularly good introduction to her writing?

Wendy said...

Nath: I was both really excited and really worried about the new Meg Cabot. Would writing about Mia as an adult tarnish my rosy memories of the YA Teen Mia? But I really liked it!

Olivia: I would recommend Aftershock - just be prepared for some grittiness. It's about people trapped under freeway rubble after a major earthquake - so there's the harsh realities of limited water, no toilets and dead bodies. That's the first in her current series - and I think a must read given that my favorite so far as been Badlands (which is book 3 in the series).

I also really liked The Edge of Night - which is a stand-alone (for now, Sorenson is currently working on a follow-up!) more traditional romantic suspense. Hero is a white cop from a fairly conservative family. Heroine is Mexican-American single mom working her way through college as a cocktail waitress. They meet after he finds the dead body of one of her former coworkers. Really enjoyable book.