Monday, March 28, 2016

Novella Mini-Reviews: An Autobuy and Time Travel
So anybody who has been around the Bat Cave for more than a week knows that I love me some Charlotte Stein.  Her writing "voice" is a little eccentric, but she always delivers in the passion department and isn't prone to relying too much on Kinky Trends of the Moment.  That being said, readers - we are a fickle lot.  I have yet to have one author whose books I universally have loved across the board.  Because, you know, readers.  We're wacky.  Taken ended up just being OK for me - mostly because I had a hard time with the set-up.

Rosie and her friend are in the hero's rare bookstore up to no good.  I'm not sure why, other than they're young, impulsive and for some reason they think the hero is weird or mean or whatever.  The friend is literally going to start a fire.  In a bookstore.  I found this....horrifying.  Naturally the hero catches them in the act, they take off running - but not before the hero snags Rosie - drags her back to his shop and proceeds to handcuff her to the bed in his basement apartment.

He handcuffs her to keep her in one place until he can call the police.  But then they start talking.  And talking.  And honestly this hero talks entirely too much.  And Rosie flusters him and eventually they work out the whole handcuffing "to do," he never calls the cops, and yada yada yada.

Stein doesn't write "meet cutes," she writes "meet awkwards."  That said, nothing about this set-up worked for me.  1) The heroine is in a bookstore with her BFF who plans to commit ARSON (!!!!!), 2) There's the whole contrived handcuffing to the bed thing and 3) They talk entirely too much, in circles and it made my head hurt. 

Things did get better though the more I read though.  Stein finishes strong and the sex scenes are Whoa Baby!  But the set-up.  It just really didn't work for me.  It's obviously worked for other readers I know (I've read reviews) - but everything about it rubbed me the wrong way.  Hey, they can't all be winners.

Final Grade = C+
Mine Tomorrow by Jackie Braun is a super-short novella (88 pages) that I bought because 1) I've liked Jackie Braun's category romances in the past and 2) World War II setting.  Short, I've like the author's work in the past and WWII was more than enough for me to overlook that time travel stories aren't my usual jam.

The heroine owns an vintage clothing store and since college has been having really vivid dreams about a man, dressed in 1940s military garb trying to reach her in a crowd of people, or while the bus she's on is driving away etc.  She wakes up before they can ever connect.  Then one day she buys some clothes at an estate sale, falls in love with a 1940s style coat, and finds a vintage time piece in the pocket.  Before you can say bippity-boppty-boo, she's in Time Square on V-J Day 1945.  There she meets our hero, just home from the war, who turns out to be her husband.

Complications ensue.  Is this just another dream?  Is she really in 1945?  And if this really is 1945, what of her sister back in present day?  Literally all her sister has is the heroine (their parents died several years ago in a car accident).

For such a short word count I thought this story felt surprisingly complete, although there are short-cuts.  The author doesn't have time to unravel any complicated time-travel theories (probably for the best - most time travel books fall apart for me during the "explanation phase") and gets right down to business.  However the short word count also means we don't have a slow build on the romance and we're jumping in feet first.  There are moments when too much telling comes into play, or weird historical factoids crop up that I felt were totally unnecessary (yes, I know more people smoked in 1945 because people didn't realize that smoking could kill you back then!).  It's also the kind of novella where if you start pulling at loose threads things will begin to unravel as you question "What about..." and "What if..."  Remember, it's only 88 pages long!

You know what this story is perfect for?  Those moments when you're stuck in line at the DMV or the baby FINALLY went down for a nap after fighting one for the past 2 hours and you don't have the time or inclination to get sucked into a long, drawn-out novel and you just want something quick to unwind and pass the time.  This short story is perfect for that.  It's like having a Hershey Kiss instead of dunking your whole face into a chocolate fountain (not that I've ever done such a thing...)

For that reason?  I wouldn't say you should drop your life and download this right now - but if it ends up on sale or you need a quick read when you literally have precious time to spare?  It's ideal.

Final Grade = B-


willaful said...

Sadly, I dnf'd Taken. Perhaps I should've stuck to it, since you say it improves, but all the talking wasn't working for me either.

Wendy said...

Willaful: I almost DNF'ed it too. That's how much the set-up and ALL. THE TALKING. didn't work for me. I pushed through though hoping that the Stein Magic would kick in for me. It did get better for me - but not enough to elevate it past a C+.