#BookReview: The Other Man by Farhad J Dadyburjor

Interesting Romance In (Arguably) Underserved Setting. Maybe there are more gay romances set in India written in Hindi and/ or marketed to Indian audiences. This American that doesn’t know any human languages other than English can’t say. But *in my experience* as someone for whom this was Book 189 on the year and who has read over 600 books since Jan 1, 2019 alone… this was unique in setting and primary characters.

Further, as someone in tech (who actually manages – and thus interacts near-daily with – teams of Indian nationals), the workload described here sounds realistic. (For better or for worse. My guys are *awesome*, but they *do* tend to work quite a bit.) The interfering family dynamics are something Nicola Marsh has written of fairly often in her straight romances involving the Indian diaspora (such as July 2021’s The Man Ban), and the struggles of coming out vs submitting to familial and societal expectations are well known and told quite often in American literature and culture at minimum. Hell, even in the US gay sex was officially illegal even this Millennium!

All of this to say, as a romance, I think this book actually works in showing a (mostly) seemingly realistic view while still falling into the standard rules of the genre. Yes, there is a fair amount of sex, on screen though not erotica level explicit. Yes, there is a happily ever after. And yes, there is a fair amount of angst getting there, culminating in a massive fight that splits the couple up before finally coming together – fairly standard stuff for the genre, and yet filled with details specific to its setting. While I don’t know if the Indian law that plays a fair role in the background of the story was ever actually overturned and I have no idea when this fight was going on, it doesn’t play enough of a role to detract from the story not knowing when this was – though those that *are* more familiar with that particular fight may be able to identify a bit more with the book just from seeing what was happening in their own lives at that time. While I’m not sure that I personally would classify this book as romantic *comedy*, there were a few funny moments and it could well be that there is more humor to be found here for those more familiar with Indian culture.

Overall a strong and interesting book, and very much recommended.

This review of The Other Man by Farhad J Dadyburjor was originally written on September 8, 2021.

#BookReview: The Magic Of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson

Another Maddie Miracle. When I read my first Maddie Dawson book last year as an ARC, I knew I had found an author that will be able to give me a satisfying tale in a way I might not think at first is satisfying, but who can make it work and make it be truly magical. Thus, I was waiting for her 2021 release to hit my ARC channels… when suddenly it showed up out of the blue as a Kindle First Read instead. So I didn’t even look at the others, I automatically picked up this book. Then when Amazon began their Kindle Summer Rewards beta program and included me in it, it turned out I needed to read an actual book – rather than my “normal” (these days) ARCs, which come into the Kindle as “personal documents” – and thus I automatically turned to this book to read.

And again, Dawson crafts a quirky, off beat tale unlike any I’ve ever encountered, essentially a coming-of-age tale… at damn near the time most people are beginning to have their mid-life crises. Not quite a true dual-timeline book, and with quite a bit of time elapsing “off screen” both in the remembered history of our main character and in her current life we’re following, this book manages to explain where she is right now emotionally and how she got there. For those readers, like me, who often straddle the line between two worlds, Dawson does an excellent job of showing at least one version of how our lives look and the dichotomies we face, and she does it remarkably well. The finale, featuring our primary character despairingly trying to resolve both halves of herself, is something we all face at some point, and Dawson plays it with the sincerity, sweetness, and cathartic laughter that such moments tend to so desperately need. Yes, this tale is absolutely off-beat, and yes, it may arguably be better presented as women’s fiction rather than romance, but it *does* serve well to highlight the real-world romantic realities of being single in your mid-30s (not that I’ve experienced this directly) and does quite well in showing both how jaded it can make you… and how oblivious. Very much recommended.

This review of The Magic Of Found Objects by Maddie Dawson was originally written on July 23, 2021.

#BookReview: All Night Long With A Cowboy by Caitlin Crews

Cowboy Bodice Ripper. This is one of those slow burn (ish) cowboy romances where you’ve got the busty-and-beautiful-but-no-one-knows-it-because-she-hides-it-all-the-time librarian meeting up with the playboy-that-can’t-escape-his-dark-past cowboy. The slow burn and banter through the front half of the book is great, helped along via a subplot involving a troubled teenager. And then you get to the (nearly requisite in the genre) sex around the 2/3 mark where suddenly both of our leads are very well endowed for their genders. Sure, why not. A bit typical, and a bit of a letdown because of it, but eh, when being typical in one particular area is the worst you can say of a book… it really isn’t a bad book. Fans of the genre will like it, those that aren’t fans of the genre won’t have any real reason to come to the genre via this particular book. For the clean/ sweet crowd, well, I already told you it has a sex scene, and there’s references to several others, both “onscreen” and off. Solid tale mostly solidly told, and it does in fact work as an entry point into the series despite being Book 2. Very much recommended.

This review of All Night Long With A Cowboy by Caitlin Crews was originally written on July 13, 2021.

#BookReview: The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh

Snarky Romance Reads Shorter Than Its Actual Length. This is one of those fun, snarky, steamy – yes, there are numerous sex scenes, for those that care either way about such things – romances that doesn’t quite work as a true “enemies to lovers”, since the initial fight is more a miscommunication when these two characters – both introduced in 2020’s The Boy Toy – first meet up in the aftermath of that tale. It officially clocks in at around 350 pages, but Marsh keeps the tale pulsing along so well that this reader never really noticed the actual length and indeed by the end the book feels much shorter. For technically being a Book 2, this is also a fairly loosely coupled “series” – yes, these characters are introduced in the first book, and yes, the first book’s primary couple (and another character or two) appear in this book, but neither is truly dependent on the other and each totally work fine as standalones in a shared universe as well. Overall a fun book, maybe not an “end of summer” book but definitely a fun, summery feel. Very much recommended.

This review of The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh was originally written on June 29, 2021.

#BookReview: Second Chance Summer by Poppy St James

Sometimes You Find Yourself By Accident. Let’s be perfectly upfront: I don’t have one qualm whatsoever in telling you right here, right now that by the end of this book, the couple is together and everything is awesome. *THIS IS A ROMANCE BOOK*, and therefore this is a given. ๐Ÿ˜€

With that out of the way, this was actually a fun and fast one, reading seemingly much faster than its near 300 page length would generally suggest. It is fairly low angst, as much as that can be said of a romance featuring someone running from their life and another person trying to recover from his. It is utterly steeped in small town Southern charm, even if rooted in Texas (where they somehow think they are different from other Southern towns – you’re not, and football is as much a god anywhere in the rural South as it is in Texas ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). And it has all of the requisite fish-out-of-water / good ol’ boy hijinx. The one thing it doesn’t have, which some romance fans will hate and others love, is that there is little more than kissing in this book, even as the couple is shown in bed overnight together. So for those “sweet” / “clean” romance types, this one is for you. If you *have* to have sex in your romance books… just know up front this one isn’t that. It was a great read regardless of that point, and a solid way to pass a couple of hours on a long summer day. Very much recommended.

This review of Second Chance Summer by Poppy St James was originally written on June 22, 2021.

#BookReview: In A Jam by Cindy Dorminy

Sweet Home … Well… Er… Georgia. This was a sweet and fun yet angsty look at small town Southern life mostly through the eyes of a woman who was raised as a damned Yankee. Being a native Georgian and actually having lived in Leesburg – home of Luke Bryan, Buster Posey, and Phillip Phillips and County Seat of Lee County, where the *real* Smithville, Georgia is located – I can testify personally that the small town life depicted here is pretty damn realistic. (And if you can’t tell from the pair of D’s I’ve already used, I can also testify from the side of being a bit of a black sheep/ outsider in these realms, despite arguably having a *deeper* connection to Southern History than many I’ve encountered in these real-life small Southern towns. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

But you’re not reading this book for reality. You’re reading it for hilarity. And if you like the style of Southern rom-com ala Reese Witherspoon’s Sweet Home Alabama, you’re going to enjoy this tale. It’s got plenty of fish out of water hilarity as this Yankee tries to learn Southern speech and customs. It’s got the crazy old lady hilarity. It’s got the zaniness of various family / friends / neighbors oddballs and their connections. And yes, it has a bit of heat (though nothing more than heavy kissing “on screen”, for those that care about such things – either direction) and a lot of savory.

Overall, a solid “homemade” jam that has a deeper profile than many might expect, but hits all the notes it has to hit to be beloved by many who appreciate what it is. Very much recommended.

This review of In A Jam by Cindy Dorminy was originally written on June 5, 2021.

#BlogTour: What Happens In Miami by Nadine Gonzalez

For this second entry in the Slide Into Summer Romance Blog Tour Series, we’re looking at a sizzling Miami romance that takes us all over the city while telling a tale of mystery and romance. For this blog tour, we’re looking at What Happens In Miami by Nadine Gonzalez.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Sizzling Miami Romance. This is an incredible tour of Miami through the eyes of a megastar – who wasn’t always – and a struggling artist. As the two come together, we see most sides of Miami from its glittering glitz of the mega-famous to the down-in-the-dirt seediness of its struggling working class – and everything in between. Gonzalez does remarkable job of showing the breadth of the hispanic community’s lives in that city – and tells a solid tale of mystery and intrigue while building what is ultimately a romance novel. All tied up in less than 200 pages, making this a solid July 4th vacation read no matter what your plans for the weekend may be. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, an excerpt and the publisher information! ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: What Happens In Miami by Nadine Gonzalez”

#BlogTour: Talk Bookish To Me by Kate Bromley

For this blog tour we’re looking at a book that maybe shouldn’t work as well as it does – and yet, it truly does. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Talk Bookish To Me by Kate Bromley.

First, here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Fun Tale. Unnecessary Element In Epilogue. This was a fun rom-com full of angst and banter and miscommunications. The book-within-a-book worked, even while I’m not really a fan of the Regency style historical romances. Indeed, until the epilogue itself this was truly a fun, witty, banter-filled tale filled with heart. Even the actual endgame itself (the last 15% ish of the book, IIRC) was interesting, even as it got away from the main storyline for quite a bit of it. (Unlike some other reviewers though, I totally get why and how it worked. It isn’t a *usual* storyline in romance novels, but I’ve seen it before – and even a few times in real life.) My only issue, and it is more of a quibble since it *is* just in the epilogue, is the completely unnecessary baby. It adds nothing, and only reinforces the “you’re not a real couple unless you procreate” bigotry. (Also, not an actual spoiler – romance novel. Couple by definition ends up together. :D) Still, on the whole this book really was fun and had some interesting twists to it. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, an excerpt provided by the publisher and then the book details and buy links. ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Talk Bookish To Me by Kate Bromley”

#BookReview: Saltwater Sweethearts by Christina Benjamin

Seldom Saccharine Sweet. This is the book in this trilogy about (in part) three brothers from a small Southern town where this eldest of three brothers from a small (ish) Southern town *really* started identifying with these boys. Particularly since I left my own hometown 15 years ago this summer and only rarely go back, almost always to spend time with my family there. Which is what Cole is doing here – coming back to town for his sister’s wedding. And Cole’s mom? Much moreso than in Book 1 (Palmetto Passion), here she sounds so much like my own mother I could actually hear my mother’s voice when she was speaking. Granted, my family doesn’t have any *towns* named after us, but there is a (small) lake north of Atlanta that bears my mom’s family’s name (and the road the lake is on to boot :D)

All of which to say, this book *really* felt like home in ways that few books have ever quite evoked. And yes, I know, people from other areas of the country/ world won’t get quite the same effect (even though the location of this book is a few hundred miles away from my own home region, to be clear :D), but even then – it *does* provide a pretty solid view of what family life is like for at least some in the region. ๐Ÿ™‚

Benjamin always does solid work creating mostly quick-read romances (and this one clocks in at just 180 ish pages) with heart, and this one is no different. And at this point, I’m *really* looking forward to Book 3, since at this point we know so very little about that particular brother. Oh, and if you liked the movie Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon… well, this reader found this book to have at least some strong similarities with that tale. Which is a very good thing for this reader, since he very much enjoys that movie. ๐Ÿ™‚ With this noted, this book is very much recommended.

This review of Saltwater Sweetheart by Christina Benjamin was originally written on February 6, 2021.

#BookReview: Palmetto Passion by Christina Benjamin

Premium Presentation. This is a solid start to a new series from Benjamin, and one that does its job of telling a compelling romance, creating a new world, and introducing the remaining series leads. The romance here is a tad trope heavy (billionaire heir questioning family legacy, woman on the run), but it works well even so. Overall a solid and fairly standard-ish Christina Benjamin Young Adult Romance – meaning if you’re open to the genre at all and haven’t read her works, this is a good place to start. If you’re a fan of hers already, you’re going to like this one as well. And I, for one, am looking forward to seeing just where the stories go next. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

This review of Palmetto Passion by Christina Benjamin was originally written on January 22, 2021.