Book Review: 4 Romance Novels

Book covers

I started reading smutty romance novels in February, and then Amazon started to recommend them to me.  Damn Amazon.  I’ve been way more involved in the trashy sort of reading than the intellectual kind lately (and enjoying every minute of it).  They’re all a super quick read, though.  This means that I’ve been blazing through books in record speed, and I have four to do in depth reviews of.  Without further ado:

Girl In The Wild by Beth Orsoff:

What can I say, really?  Southern California working girl goes to Alaska to help the career of her client and boyfriend.  Previously cheating boyfriend does not appreciate/cheats on her again with hot red head.  She ends up with hot Alaskan scientist.  It’s predictable, and yet this one had a few twists.

The island in Alaska that the gal spends her time on is remote and lacking in amenities.  Most of the book involves cold water, walruses, chartered boats, and tagging animals.  It took me a good long time to figure out who the love interest was, too.  Mostly because he was such an asshole.  The author turned it into a Darcy thing with aplomb, though, where he was friendlier among friends.  Add that to the messages about global warming throughout the book and it was an original-ish take on a very old model.

The only problem I had with it was the love interest.  While he ends up a likable guy in the end, some of the things he does in the beginning are outright harassment.  She likes it, even though she says no.  He keeps harassing.  It sent up all sorts of anti-feminist alarms in my head, but didn’t quite kill my enjoyment of the novel.  I left with the impression that, while she maybe wasn’t in a dream relationship at the end, she was in a better one than she had left behind.

I’m not saying it will win a Pulitzer or anything, but it was fun.  If you like the chick lit thing, I bet you will like this too.  It gets four Beach Smut stars.

Out of Play by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry:

This romance novel is shelved in Young Adult, and it also takes place in Alaska.  What’s with all the books about Alaska lately? I promise it was a total accident that I picked this one up at the same time as the other.

Teen angst aside, I really loved this novel.  The plot is simple, but so complex at the same time.  Bad ass hockey star girl meets undercover rock star boy with drug problem.  She is busy being awesome, and taking care of her ailing grandfather while her mother is at work all the time.  He is not so busy trying to get clean before he gets kicked out of the band and/or dies of an overdose.  Her father died a long time ago when a pill-popper ran him off the road.  Gramps is the only one he can open up to, and Gramps has the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.  Druggie folks from the old life are still in touch.  She thinks she has a crush on her best friend, another hockey player.  There is snow machining and lots of hockey, drums, tattoos, making out, cold weather, hot tubs, fancy classic cars, and making out.  Really, what else do you need?

The novel was written by two authors. One wrote the gal and one wrote the guy.  It was nice getting inside both of their heads.  Sometimes I get confused about who is speaking when books are like this, but I was never confused in this one.  Their voices were each so distinct.  This is exactly what I look for in a romance novel.  It gets five Beach Smut stars.

The Selection/The Elite by Kiera Cass:  

The first and second novels of a trilogy (the 3rd doesn’t come out until May), and also Young Adult. Basically, a poor girl gets selected to join a televised contest at the palace.  Winner gets to marry the prince, “Bachelor” style.   There’s a love triangle with a former boyfriend thrown in for good measure.

Despite the adverbs, I found myself enjoying the book a lot.  It’s silly concept is elevated by the real problems the fictional country is facing.  Not only are people starving in the streets because of the rigid caste system (including the main character, America’s family), but there are rebels who are intent on breaking into the palace and possibly assassinating the royal family.  At times, it’s outright scary.  America is spunky and forthright with the prince that she’s only here for the money the government is paying her family for her participation.  When she falls for the prince despite herself, I was definitely rooting for her, and for them.  Balls, dinners, moonlit walks, and fantasy wardrobes are all there for the sort who like that thing.  Yes, I’m totally one of them.

Cass does a good job throughout the novels planting plot seeds and keeping the reader hooked all the way through the series.  It’s only a bit maddening that the novels aren’t really complete – cliff hanger endings all so you’ll read the next post-haste.  I hardly blame her, but I think I would also have been upset about having to wait so long if the third (and last) book wasn’t coming out fairly soon.  I’ll let you decide if that’s a compliment or not.

If you’ve ever worn a “team Peeta” or “team Gale” t-shirt or have an affinity to ball gowns, this book may be for you.  You may want to wait until May, though, so you can devour all three in one sitting.  Five Beach Smut stars, with extra points for multiple novels.

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