#BookReview: People To Follow by Olivia Worley

Four POVs. Three Big Ideas. Two Interesting Twists. One Technically Error Free Book.

Ok, so the title may have been a bit of a stretch there.

There are absolutely four primary POVs here across our 10 “influencers” (my God I both despise the term and indeed the entire concept, despite some authors labeling *me* as one), and while it can at times be confusing when switching between them early on, as the characterizations and “voices” get set, it does in fact get a bit easier.

The Big Ideas here are all various flavors of social commentary on the idea of the “influencer”, though so much as mentioning them begins to get too close to spoiler territory for my own comfort in writing this review.

The two interesting twists are deep in the book and *absolutely* spoiler territory to discuss, but I found them fairly well done and truly intriguing.

And yes, ultimately there are no technical flaws here. Yes, there were absolutely different things that different readers may have problems with – including the multiple POVs. But there was nothing wrong that begins to approach a universal, objective level, and thus the book retains its full five stars. Very much recommended.

This review of People To Follow by Olivia Worley was originally written on December 27, 2023.

#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.

#BookReview: The Personal Assistant by Kimberly Belle

Meganets And Pre-Networks. Ok, I know what you’re thinking – what does computer networking and the Internet have to do with this book? Well, on some level, it is somewhat obvious – one of our main characters is a social media “influencer” with a million followers. But on another level… Belle actually manages here to show the pitfalls and advantages of two different eras of human history, perhaps without even being cognizant of doing this, just seeking timelines that worked for the story she was telling and making the other details work around that. Yet speaking of details, there are some wrong ones here, particularly around guns – which anyone who follows Belle’s own social media knows that the anti-gun paranoia expressed by one main character is at least somewhat close to Belle’s own real life feelings (though, to be clear, I am not saying the character’s specific motivations for these feelings are anywhere near Belle’s, as I have never seen any public comments from her anywhere near those specific actions). Specifically, guns are not “registered” anywhere in Georgia, not even in Fulton County (home of Atlanta and generally heavily left-of-center of American politics, much less non-Atlanta Georgia politics). Still, going back to the main thrust of this review, Belle truly does do a remarkable job of showing just how easily today’s meganets can be used for harm… while also showing that the pre-meganet era was still pretty dang bad itself. All told this is a remarkable tale that manages to bring elements to the general setup not often seen anywhere else – and never seen before in my own reading within the genre – and thus this alone is quite commendable. Very much recommended.

This review of The Personal Assistant by Kimberly Belle was originally written on October 30, 2022.

#BookReview: The Country Cottage by Elizabeth Bromke

Dark Side Of The Reno. This is a modern day romance with old school flair, featuring concepts of social media “influencer” (God how I hate that term, particularly when applied to myself), DIY craze (and the multitudes of shows and networks that capitalize on it), cryptocurrency… and an old bed and breakfast that suddenly gets handed down to an unsuspecting nephew. As with Emily Bleeker’s What It Seems, this does a really good job of showing the darker/ more realistic side of certain aspects of social media and television… but it *is* still a romance, and a shortish one to boot. So there is quite a bit of story in these 130 or so pages. And Bromke does it all so very well. And then, because this *is* a series starter… there is a “dun dun dun!” moment in the closing words that will have you waiting with bated breath for Book 2! Very much recommended.

This review of The Country Cottage by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on February 2, 2022.

#BookReview: Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras

Very Vivid And Vibrant. This is one of those hyper-descriptive books that wants you to know the exact color of the dresser in the room where the lead couple first “gets together”. That wants you to be able to smell the exact scents around them as they first open up to each other. That wants you to be able to hear the various island sounds all around them as they go from secluded beach to downtown party. That wants you to be able to taste the Cuban inspired flavors of Key West. In other words, this is one of the most sensual – as in, the literal dictionary definition meaning “devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites” – books I’ve ever read. Oh, and there is a solid romance in here too. Yes, one that perhaps wraps up a bit too tidily a bit too quickly, but eh, that is a common feature of many RWA-strict romance books. As the introduction to a new series, it introduces at least two characters what are obvious targets of subsequent books – without being overly obvious as to which is in the *next* book. And it seems to indicate that it will be a series with call it “medium” ties between the books – characters from each book will show up in other books, but you’ll still be able to read any book in any order (provided you’re not averse to hearing that a lead couple in one romance book actually wound up together – shocker, I know 😉 ). So there really was a lot to like here overall, and only minor quibbles ultimately as far as anything at all to nitpick on. Very much recommended.

This review of Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras was originally written on March 1, 2021.