#BlogTour: The Talk Of Coyote Canyon by Brenda Novak

For this blog tour, we’re looking at . For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Talk Of Coyote Canyon by Brenda Novak.

Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype, Goodreads):

Down Syndrome Kid Steals Show. First, about the title of this review – as an Autistic, I *despise* so-called “person first” language, because it doesn’t actually put the person first. It claims that a person whose so-called “disability” is integral to their very personhood and way they live instead could simply discard it as easily as changing their hair color, among other easily changed things a person is described as “with”. Bullshit. Such an ability permeates the person thoroughly, and directly influences how the person perceives – and thus processes and expresses their thoughts and feelings about – literally everything around them.

Thus, the Down Syndrome character himself- and the brilliant and very human way Novak shows him – is actually one of the better features of this particular tale, one that I’ve seen no other reviewer discuss thus far, even though this character is a major motivator for our hero of this book. Of note, other than mentioning the Down Syndrome near the time the character is first introduced, it is rarely if ever mentioned again – to the point that I actually had to go back and search the book to verify the actual description initially used for the character as I began to write this review. And this is *exactly* what one would expect in a small town where everyone knows everyone – by the time of our story here, everyone in town is already well aware of this kid and his condition, so why bother repeating it?

As to the romance itself, other than the fact that both of our leads are well drillers – presumably a rarity for a female in particular, and not exactly a profession many in suburbia and/ or the Eastern US are familiar with – … eh, fairly standard slow burn enemies to lovers type tale, with a lot of complications due to varying family and small town dynamics. As usually happens, particularly within the enemies to lovers space. (And no, this is no Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet was teen angst gone murderous, with a remarkably high body count for such a short overall tale. Here, our leads are not exactly “old and wisened”, but they’re also well away from teen angst… even if they’ve never actually resolved some very big issues from earlier in their lives (yet).

And yes, the ending here was a bit abrupt. Did Novak realize she was at her target word/ page count and simply rush the ending, rather than fill it out a bit more completely as the story seemed to demand here? Who knows. But it absolutely felt rushed and even a bit lackadaisical. Certainly, Novak has proven with other books – including the first book in this series! – that she is capable of much better.

One final note, specifically for the “clean” / “sweet” romance crowd – yet again, likely not one for y’all. Novak isn’t shy with on screen sex when it serves the purposes of the story, though this isn’t one of those “damn near erotica” level books either. So for everyone, know that the spice level here is roughly along the lines of a chipotle. Fairly mild, overall – yet still far too spicy for some.

Overall, this book was one of those that had a couple of stand-out features that were done truly particularly well (Down Syndrome character + well drilling profession) and otherwise was more of a routine (yet solid, to be clear) small town enemies to lovers romance, maybe with some extra dynamics to add a touch more drama/ fill some extra pages. I’m very much looking forward ot the next book in this series.

Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Talk Of Coyote Canyon by Brenda Novak”

#BookReview: Love Interest by Clare Gilmore

Promising Debut. This was one of those debut novels where yes, the author tries to do too much at times (including the perfectly valid complaint among some lower star ranked reviews of perhaps trying *too hard* to shove in every possible non-straight-white-male demographic), and yes, the lead character can be annoying at times (expecting to get a Project Manager role with zero actual qualifications, then mad at the dude who had the qualifications who go it), and yet… there is still quite a bit of promise here, as these are issues that an author can learn from and do better with in their next book… or not, and instead steer into the skid and do even more of them, perhaps playing for a different segment of the market tan I represent.

Overall it really was a fun, somewhat inventive at times, workplace romance- one perhaps more suited for Zoomer sensibilities than Boomer, but one that is solid enough for truly most anyone to enjoy. Very much recommended.

This review of Love Interest by Clare Gilmore was originally written on October 19, 2023.

#BlogTour: Kissing Kosher by Jean Meltzer

For this blog tour, we’re looking at . For this blog tour, we’re looking at Kissing Kosher by Jean Meltzer.

Here’s what I had to say on the review sites (Goodreads, Hardcover.app, TheStoryGraph, BookHype):

Fun, Informative Without Being Preachy – But *IS* Focused On Advocacy As Much As Romance. This is one of those books that works its advocacy into its story in a compelling way that doesn’t come across as preachy at all – but *can* feel like a bit of a “Sponsored By” kind of a tale. The issues it discusses, including both chronic pain and medical (and even recreational) marijuana use are very real, and in these areas the book is quite informative indeed – hell, I openly admit I learned quite a bit more about marijuana from reading this book than I ever had in 40+ yrs prior.

But that gets to a bit of a heart of the dilemma – I can now tell you as much about the intricacies of how marijuana actually works as I can about the specifics of this ostensibly enemies to lovers romance tale. I can tell you as much about how chronic pain can completely take over a person’s life as I can about the actual character who has it and her budding relationship throughout this tale. Indeed, the actual “conflict” here is largely over just about 50% into the tale, with another blowup a bit later. But it is this section in between in particular where the book is at the height of its paid promotional ad feeling, without ever naming specific real world organizations. (This feeling isn’t helped by the fact that several of these elements come back to bear in the wildly extended epilogue – a short (ish) stinger on the end of the story, this epilogue is not. Indeed, it reads and feels more like just another final chapter rather than a true epilogue.)

Overall, there is nothing technically wrong here, so no star deduction. And the tale itself, outside of the advocacy, really is sweet and charming and most everything anyone really wants in a romance with a few comedic moments. But the advocacy, while never actually preachy, is still such a prevalent force here that it does in fact take away from the ultimate feel of the romance. Still, quite entertaining and truly informative. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Kissing Kosher by Jean Meltzer”

#BookReview: Someone Just Like You by Meredith Schorr

Hilarious NYC-Based Rom-Com. This book has several different things going on at once, which can seem a bit chaotic – and seems to be meant to. The base setup, of two sets of siblings planning a joint anniversary party for both sets of parents, is chaotic enough. Then you throw in the actual romance here, of a boy and girl who almost literally grew up together and have a lifetime of bickering with each other and pranking each other behind them (which we get to see a lot of), and it becomes a recipe for… well, everything. The love is deep and heartfelt – even as neither of them realizes it. The comedy, both in the past and present, is pure gold. The drama… is both real (parents) and Hallmarkie (romance) and yet also comedic (a famous movie that has been remade at least twice, but revealing which one reveals things about the book). Overall, it hits all the genre “rules” and while it isn’t for the “sweet”/ “clean” crowd, also isn’t anywhere near erotica level either. In fact, as others have mentioned (both positively and negatively), the first “encounter” is rather comedic (and, I would argue, *real*).

At the end of the day, this is one of those kinds of books where your mileage really will vary. If you love zany “what the fuck” stories with a LOT of side characters and all kinds of stuff happening all around the main storyline, you’re going to love this book. The more you have a problem with that kind of setup, the less you’re going to enjoy this one.

Overall, I thought this was freaking hilarious and truly well done. Very much recommended.

This review of Someone Just Like You by Meredith Schorr was originally written on July 25, 2023.

#BookReview: Did Not Finish by Nicola Marsh

Shortish Near Meta Romance. This is one of those books where the author packs so much real-world stuff that directly applies to themselves in the novel that you almost can’t tell where the novel ends and the author begins. Specifically as it relates to insider knowledge of how things actually work within the industry moreso than with any particular plot line within this tale, to be sure. The romance itself here *does* go from enemies to lovers rather abruptly, so if you’re looking for a lot of angst or drama in that transition… let’s just say that Marsh didn’t have a lot of room within this page count for a lot of drama *both* at this point *and* in the standard “final conflict” of romance novels, so clearly an editorial decision was made here. Clearly, Marsh thinks it works well and honestly, so do I. But I’ve never been overly picky with my romance tales – they’re fun escapism for a few hours, nothing more serious than that. But *that* – fun escapism for a few short hours – is *exactly* what this tale ultimately is. And I’m very intrigued to see where Book 2 goes after this book not exactly being an obvious series starter. Very much recommended.

This review of Did Not Finish by Nicola Marsh was originally written on September 27, 2022.