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Romance Roundup: July 2015!

By (July 22, 2015) No Comment

romance roundup

When it comes to genre fiction, could there be any words more encouraging than “First in a New Series”? Mysteries, sci-fi, and especially fantasy and romance tend to favor books-in-series to an absolutely exorbitant extent, to the point where by the time you happen to run across a series that might want to read, you immediately find out that it’s #126 in a tightly-woven sequence. And Crom pity you if you try to read it anyway! You stumble through unreferenced proper names for thirty pages until a character blurts out “asparagus!” and while all the series’ long-time fans are rejoicing in this shout-out to a pivotal event in book #87, you quietly slink off, defeated (perhaps to the many wonderful titles in the always-reliable Harlequin monthly lines, all of which are stand-alone stories designed to beguile an idle hour). So encountering, for instance, a new romance novel that proudly proclaims itself “First in a New Series” can be quite refreshing.

I encountered no less than three such novels in my latest Romance Roundup:

desperadoDesperado by Lisa Bingham – this novel is the first in the “Taggart Brothers” series revolving around, you guessed it, the three Taggart brothers of Bliss, Utah, three handsome wranglers who, true to form in almost all romance novels involving brothers, don’t actually act like brothers at all (one suspects that in just this one instance, the fact that the authors of these novels are always women works against them – the brothers in almost all romance novels act more like rival businessmen in a cutthroat corporation than they do like brothers, and who knows? Maybe that’s how it looks to people who might have the strongest imaginations in the world but have never actually been a brother). The focus-brother of this first book is brooding, wounded Elam Taggart, but the real star of the book is our feisty heroine, who’s introduced straight off:

P. D. Raines had learned early in life that she couldn’t give up, couldn’t give in – even though it sometimes felt as if the world was out to get her. Take her name, for instance. The moment P. D announced she was Prairie Dawn Raines, it was a foregone conclusion that strangers would assume she was a stripper or a fanatical, tree-hugging activist. Even worse, with such a fanciful name, they assumed she didn’t have a brain in her head – and she wasn’t being overly sensitive. Time and time again, she’d been told she would never amount to anything.

Even from such a thin slice of the opening, it’s clear that Desperado is going to be fairly heavy sledding for a romance novel (and that’s not even factoring in all the tragic stuff that’s happened to poor Elam before we even meet him). The “Taggart Brothers” series will be about seriously wounded hearts doing some serious mending, and although Bingham handles this first installment with a fair degree of intelligence, this degree of somber might not be what all romance readers are looking for in the middle of their summer reading. Fortunately, if that’s the case, another “First in a New Series” is right to hand promising less heartache and more alcohol intake:

The Best Medicine by Elizabeth Hayley – This first book stars master’s level psychology the best medicinestudent Lauren Hastings, who hits a bad turn in life and retreats to a job at Trinity Hospital in her home state of Virginia, where she falls in love with super-hottie doctor Scott Jacobs, although when we first meet her, she’s crammed into a noisy bar with her closest friends:

“If one more douche bag bets handsy with me tonight, I’m going to go ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ on his ass,” Lauren yelled over the blaring techno and raucous crowd.

“Tell me about it,” Simone argreed. “I haven’t been groped this unappealingly since I was in the back of Todd Grady’s care in eleventh grade.”

“Doesn’t he go by ‘Tina’ now?” Cassidy asked.

Simone widened her eyes and slowly nodded her head. The girls instantly broke out in hysterics.

Lauren relished these nights with her girlfriends – casually drinking in Mickey’s Bar and Grill and flouncing around the dance floor like deranged Riverdance rejects. The four of them – Lauren, Simone, Cassidy, and Quinn – had been the Fantastic Foursome since middle school, though Lauren had known Quinn since kindergarten, when she’d dragged Quinn out of the lunch line so they could go ouside for recess early. They’d been friends ever since.

Hayley offers no acoustic advice on how to make things like “I haven’t been groped this unappealingly” intelligible while yelling, and such reserve is typical of the whole novel, which is entirely lighter on the attention-span than Desperado. We watch a temporary disgrace overtake Hayley, we watch her friends rally to her side (as she’ll no doubt rally to theirs, in upcoming novels), and we watch dreamy Doctor Scott loom larger and larger in her, um, affections. But if even that light dusting of meaningful redemption is still a bit too heavy for a sun-addled reader, well, this Romance Roundup aims to please everybody! Our third and final book today is pretty much pure escapism:

just a summer flingJust a Summer Fling by Cate Cameron – Welcome to Lake Sullivan, Vermont (the geographic spread of these three novels was pure coincidence, by the way – clearly, everybody has a different idea of what constitutes a “dream getaway”), where burnt-out movie star Ashley Carlsen, on vacation and being urged by “Hollywood power player” Jasmine McArthur to forget her troubles by having a mindless fling with a local super-hottie, encounters strapping local handyman Josh Sullivan – after the apparently-requisite opening lucy and modern lovescene of drunken excess:

Ashley Carlsen was drunk. She’d been drinking at the lake house all afternoon, and then they’d piled into the car and been driven to town where they’d found more delicious alcohol, and now? Drunk. It wasn’t unheard of for Ashley to have a few drinks too many when she was at home with her friends. But she’d never been so reckless as to lose control of herself out in a public place. She had an image to cultivate and maintain. Now that she’d dared to cut loose, though? She thought maybe she liked it.

But young Josh is a bit tired of being treated as eye-candy by bored women looking for a quick buffeting of the wainscoting – he’s a person, dammit, with feelings and self-respect! And just once he’d like to meet a woman who sees past his butt-clinging jeans and washboard abs … but will Ashley be such a woman? Readers are in at the ground floor for finding out.

Home » stevereads

Romance Roundup: July 2015!

By (July 22, 2015) No Comment

romance roundup

When it comes to genre fiction, could there be any words more encouraging than “First in a New Series”? Mysteries, sci-fi, and especially fantasy and romance tend to favor books-in-series to an absolutely exorbitant extent, to the point where by the time you happen to run across a series that might want to read, you immediately find out that it’s #126 in a tightly-woven sequence. And Crom pity you if you try to read it anyway! You stumble through unreferenced proper names for thirty pages until a character blurts out “asparagus!” and while all the series’ long-time fans are rejoicing in this shout-out to a pivotal event in book #87, you quietly slink off, defeated (perhaps to the many wonderful titles in the always-reliable Harlequin monthly lines, all of which are stand-alone stories designed to beguile an idle hour). So encountering, for instance, a new romance novel that proudly proclaims itself “First in a New Series” can be quite refreshing.

I encountered no less than three such novels in my latest Romance Roundup:

desperadoDesperado by Lisa Bingham – this novel is the first in the “Taggart Brothers” series revolving around, you guessed it, the three Taggart brothers of Bliss, Utah, three handsome wranglers who, true to form in almost all romance novels involving brothers, don’t actually act like brothers at all (one suspects that in just this one instance, the fact that the authors of these novels are always women works against them – the brothers in almost all romance novels act more like rival businessmen in a cutthroat corporation than they do like brothers, and who knows? Maybe that’s how it looks to people who might have the strongest imaginations in the world but have never actually been a brother). The focus-brother of this first book is brooding, wounded Elam Taggart, but the real star of the book is our feisty heroine, who’s introduced straight off:

P. D. Raines had learned early in life that she couldn’t give up, couldn’t give in – even though it sometimes felt as if the world was out to get her. Take her name, for instance. The moment P. D announced she was Prairie Dawn Raines, it was a foregone conclusion that strangers would assume she was a stripper or a fanatical, tree-hugging activist. Even worse, with such a fanciful name, they assumed she didn’t have a brain in her head – and she wasn’t being overly sensitive. Time and time again, she’d been told she would never amount to anything.

Even from such a thin slice of the opening, it’s clear that Desperado is going to be fairly heavy sledding for a romance novel (and that’s not even factoring in all the tragic stuff that’s happened to poor Elam before we even meet him). The “Taggart Brothers” series will be about seriously wounded hearts doing some serious mending, and although Bingham handles this first installment with a fair degree of intelligence, this degree of somber might not be what all romance readers are looking for in the middle of their summer reading. Fortunately, if that’s the case, another “First in a New Series” is right to hand promising less heartache and more alcohol intake:

The Best Medicine by Elizabeth Hayley – This first book stars master’s level psychology the best medicinestudent Lauren Hastings, who hits a bad turn in life and retreats to a job at Trinity Hospital in her home state of Virginia, where she falls in love with super-hottie doctor Scott Jacobs, although when we first meet her, she’s crammed into a noisy bar with her closest friends:

“If one more douche bag bets handsy with me tonight, I’m going to go ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ on his ass,” Lauren yelled over the blaring techno and raucous crowd.

“Tell me about it,” Simone argreed. “I haven’t been groped this unappealingly since I was in the back of Todd Grady’s care in eleventh grade.”

“Doesn’t he go by ‘Tina’ now?” Cassidy asked.

Simone widened her eyes and slowly nodded her head. The girls instantly broke out in hysterics.

Lauren relished these nights with her girlfriends – casually drinking in Mickey’s Bar and Grill and flouncing around the dance floor like deranged Riverdance rejects. The four of them – Lauren, Simone, Cassidy, and Quinn – had been the Fantastic Foursome since middle school, though Lauren had known Quinn since kindergarten, when she’d dragged Quinn out of the lunch line so they could go ouside for recess early. They’d been friends ever since.

Hayley offers no acoustic advice on how to make things like “I haven’t been groped this unappealingly” intelligible while yelling, and such reserve is typical of the whole novel, which is entirely lighter on the attention-span than Desperado. We watch a temporary disgrace overtake Hayley, we watch her friends rally to her side (as she’ll no doubt rally to theirs, in upcoming novels), and we watch dreamy Doctor Scott loom larger and larger in her, um, affections. But if even that light dusting of meaningful redemption is still a bit too heavy for a sun-addled reader, well, this Romance Roundup aims to please everybody! Our third and final book today is pretty much pure escapism:

just a summer flingJust a Summer Fling by Cate Cameron – Welcome to Lake Sullivan, Vermont (the geographic spread of these three novels was pure coincidence, by the way – clearly, everybody has a different idea of what constitutes a “dream getaway”), where burnt-out movie star Ashley Carlsen, on vacation and being urged by “Hollywood power player” Jasmine McArthur to forget her troubles by having a mindless fling with a local super-hottie, encounters strapping local handyman Josh Sullivan – after the apparently-requisite opening lucy and modern lovescene of drunken excess:

Ashley Carlsen was drunk. She’d been drinking at the lake house all afternoon, and then they’d piled into the car and been driven to town where they’d found more delicious alcohol, and now? Drunk. It wasn’t unheard of for Ashley to have a few drinks too many when she was at home with her friends. But she’d never been so reckless as to lose control of herself out in a public place. She had an image to cultivate and maintain. Now that she’d dared to cut loose, though? She thought maybe she liked it.

But young Josh is a bit tired of being treated as eye-candy by bored women looking for a quick buffeting of the wainscoting – he’s a person, dammit, with feelings and self-respect! And just once he’d like to meet a woman who sees past his butt-clinging jeans and washboard abs … but will Ashley be such a woman? Readers are in at the ground floor for finding out.