Tag: Chick Lit

Good at Games by Jill Mansell

Good at Games by Jill MansellGood at Games by Jill Mansell
Published by Headline Review on January 4th 2001
Genres: Chick Lit
Pages: 512
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
two-stars

Love is always just around the corner in a Jill Mansell novel - with a few surprises and a lot of humour on the way to happiness

Suzy fell for Harry the moment she showed him her husband's sperm sample. It didn't really belong to her husband, though, because she wasn't married. It wasn't a sperm sample either, it was a drinks carton containing the dregs of her milkshake. But when you're trying to get off a speeding charge you just have to improvise, don't you? And it wasn't actually love at first sight. Still, it was undeniably a healthy attack of lust...

I will have to come back and think of a pithy title for this review some other time. For now, I am just going to go with the title of the book. I honestly don’t have much to say about this book besides finding it boring as sin and also very rage inducing at times. I do love my romance reads, but from the beginning I found the whole premise of this book a bit hard to take. It made me think of a grown up Dawson’s Creek (and a truly terrible 90210) since most of the people in this book were married, divorced, or had sex with each other at certain times. You do want to say to them all don’t you know anyone else? I only talk to a handful of people I knew in high school. My circle of friends from undergrad and grad school is even smaller.

 

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“Good at Games” follows Suzy, Jaz, Fee, Rory, Lucille, Harry, and Leo. There’s Jaz’s girlfriend Celeste and Suzy and Rory’s sister Julia, but this book is overly long so don’t expect me to discuss them much.

The main character is supposedly Suzy, but honestly this book shifts perspective so much I just consider her one of many of the characters “Good at Games” follows.

Suzy works with her brother Rory in his real estate business. After Suzy uses the worst excuse ever to get out of a traffic ticket (her husband and her are running to have her impregnated with his sperm which was in a drink cup from a fast food place) Suzy daydreams about the hot cop (Harry). Suzy then runs into Harry at a party (doesn’t give him her information) and later on when she and her siblings (Rory and Julia) are getting ready to listen to their mother’s will being read. There they find out their mother had an affair and had another child, Suzy’s half sister Lucille. While that seems like a lot, it’s nothing when you factor in Suzy living next door with her ex husband’s first wife, Fee and she is still on friendly terms with her ex husband Jaz. Did you follow all of that?

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Through a ridiculous set-up Suzy eventually gets to go out on a date with Harry, but though she likes him, she wonders if that is all there is since she apparently thinks that a man who treats you okay is a terrible boyfriend to have. She wants some fire (drama). Enter Leo, Harry’s older brother who sets up Suzy and honestly shows that she is not someone that anyone should date. Of course Suzy then starts thinking about Leo cause hey when a guy treats you like dirt he is totally the one. Do not even get me started of the many times Leo accuses Suzy of cheating on Harry and practically spiting whore at her.

I honestly don’t even want to get into the other characters. The main premise of the book though is that Suzy finds herself engaged to Harry though she doesn’t want to be. And though Harry initially seemed to be the only one who was a decent character except for Fee, he quickly descends into douche-bag territory so you want Suzy to dump him.

The writing is typical Mansell, but honestly this does not have the humor of her other books. Reading about terrible people doing terrible things gets old after a while. A good part of this book could definitely have been cut.

The flow was off too. I think honestly since the book kept jumping around you honestly don’t know who is doing what to who or why you should care.

The ending though has a HEA for everyone except for two people who honestly I hoped would be eaten by sharks at this point.

two-stars

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill MansellThree Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
Published by Sourcebooks on October 4, 2016
Genres: Chick Lit
Pages: 384
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

Hallie has a secret...doesn't everybody?

Hallie doesn't have long to live. And to make things even more complicated, she's in love with a guy who's seriously out of bounds. She's never going to let him know, of course; she's just going to enjoy every remaining moment of her crush. She's also determined to spend her last months helping those who write into her Dear Rose column with problems of their own. Her doctors can't fix her, but maybe she can fix a few other people's dilemmas before it's too late.

All our lives are full of choices, for better or worse. The amazing thing to see is how connected we all are-in ways we don't even know. On occasion, we have the chance to see the ways we change one another's lives for the better.

Well this is the first Mansell book I have loved. I think the reason why though is that we follow three separate couples/groups and then we get to see how in the world they all connect up with each other at the end. I maybe cried a bit too when I got to certain parts. I will say that I didn’t buy the character of Flo getting along with her boyfriend’s sister towards the end of the book. She (Lena) I found to be terrible. I don’t know if I could have been so forgiving due to an accident that I still feel was Lena’s fault. Either way though, I liked how the story moved months and then months again. We definitely get a sense of time passing and people growing up.

“Three Amazing Things About You” follows Hallie, Tasha, and Flo. These three women are thinly connected and until almost the end of the book, you don’t understand why Mansell told the story the way she does.

Hallie has cystic fibrosis and knows that due to her condition that she does not have long to live. Her condition causes her to miss out on things that she yearns for like the ability to travel all over the world and just to walk without getting winded. What I really did like about Hallie though, is that she has her own blog where she gives out advice to her followers/readers. Due to Hallie’s age though, I have to say that this whole thing with a 20 year old person giving out sage advice rung hollow for me. I have to call Dawson Creek levels of shennigans here. My friends and I say that all the time to each other when we read a book or watch a movie with a character who is young and dying and is full of wisdom about everything around them. Did I get a kick out of Hallie’s column? Yes. Did I find it believable? Not a bit. I also found her responses to some readers to be harsh too.

Tasha is single and I am going to say it, picky as anything regarding what guy she will date. I am too though, so I actually cheered her for this. Out of the women we follow, I have to say that Tasha was my favorite. Tasha ends up having a fun meet-cute with a guy named Rory. She doesn’t think she will see him again, but luckily for her, Rory can’t get her out of his mind and arranges to see her again. These two quickly start throwing around the “L” word and both know they have found the one they want to be with. However, these two are complete opposites. Tasha likes to be safe and worries a lot about Rory who drives a motorcycle, rock climbs, and seems to be a total adrenaline junkie. Both Tasha and Rory’s best friends think the couple is doomed though since they don’t have a lot in common. There was a couple of moments there that I thought I knew where Mansell was going with Tasha and Rory, but glad to be proven wrong.

Flo is a carer at a retirement home. She ended up working for an elderly woman who of course lavished all of her love on her cat (yep, catlady). When the woman dies, she leaves the cat to Flo with the condition that Flo can leave in her flat as long as the cat lives. This of course ticks off the great niece and great nephew (brother and sister Zander and Lena). Flo though finds herself becoming more attracted to Zander even though Lena does her best to break them up.

There are a few secondary characters heads we get into while reading. We get to see Rory’s and Zander’s POV a few times throughout the story. I wish Mansell had included them more too since a lot comes up because of these two men. We also get Hallie’s doctor, Luke’s, POV as well. We actually get more of Luke which I thought was a shame since I think the women and men in this book all meet because of one character, and I wish we get more insight into that person.

We also get some secondary characters like Hallie’s best friend, Tasha’s best friend, etc. that don’t come off very well while I was reading. I think it was because we had whole things revealed about them that you get told about later. It would have been nice if that was included while reading instead of being told, why yes, I have been doing X this whole time.

The writing was pretty good. The plot I will leave out since it will spoil you on the ending. The flow for this one was a lot better than previous Mansell books though. I think telling this in three separate stories works for this book. Usually Mansell has a huge cast of characters you are supposed to follow who all know each other, are lying about something, or are sneaking around. It’s too much to be believed at times.

The setting of this book with the small villages and other locations (Hallie’s home, Flo’s flat, etc.) were very well done. I could picture each place perfectly in my head.

The ending really ties everything up. I was glad that Mansell actually wrote what I would consider a more mature chick-lit. You still get the romance side of things, but we also get to see something realistic and you get to see how one person’s of HEA could be someone else’s tragedy.

four-stars

In Twenty Years: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch

In Twenty Years: A Novel by Allison Winn ScotchIn Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch
Published by Lake Union Publishing on July 1, 2016
Genres: Chick Lit
Pages: 334
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
two-stars

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

I dithered about this book for a while. There was something bugging me about it and then I realized. I pretty much called every single one of the endings for the characters. I didn’t really like the character (Lindy) who was bisexual being portrayed as “slutty” and the poor girl/woman (Annie) who sat around harboring same lame crush on a guy (Colin) that didn’t want her. I was more interested in the married couple (Catherine and Owen) but even after a while I tired of them. I think this book was a mash up of The Big Chill and I will be the first to say I was not a fan of that movie. Probably because even as a child I had no patience for selfish people (which I counted a ton as while watching that movie).

I had liked I think maybe 1 or 2 of Scotch’s prior works. But the later stuff has not been doing a thing for me. I think if this had been shortened a bit, or maybe just didn’t include this manic pixie girl (Bea) as this bigger than life character we never get to really see as readers it would have worked better. I just had a hard time with people who have been sporadically in touch through 20 years to all of a sudden make a sojourn back to a house they stayed at during college. Don’t get me started that one of the characters is as popular as Martha Stewart and another one is a world famous musician. You don’t get the sense at all from the little introduction chapter we get on these people that these are the careers they would fall into or want to do.

I don’t know who I disliked the most out of the characters: Bea, Colin, Annie, or Lindy. It’s pretty much a toss-up for me. I didn’t care for the character of Bea based on what we see about her during some other character’s flashbacks. Bea to me is very manipulative. I didn’t get some wise woman living in a young woman’s body. We are told constantly that Bea lived on the edge and was IMHO way too close to her friends from college. We get some bare insight into this character about finding out she’s an orphan. But I ultimately didn’t like how she chose to treat Annie like a small child who had to be protected.

Annie was aggravating. I never got a handle on this character either. I think that her unrequited crush on Colin and her ridiculous propelling of him onto a pedestal is what made it so hard to like this characters. Plus Scotch introduces the husband via Annie’s character who you don’t care for at all, but then you learn some things so you end up having some sympathy for him, and then Annie proceeds to make terrible decisions throughout the book.

The character of Lindy is a popular musician who is a lesbian some of the time but has sex with men still. I am still confused by this whole character. Did Scotch not want to have a bisexual character? Cause it made me confused why Lindy I think identifies as a lesbian though she is attracted and sleeps with men. Seriously someone help me out here, I just didn’t get what was going on and what was Scotch trying to portray with this character at all. I also hated the whole Lindy can’t be monogamous thing that was going on either. I know that one of my friends who is bisexual and happily married with kids now said it used to tick her off when people thought her identifying as such meant she slept around. I think ultimately I was confuse though because a secret is put out about why she really went about sleeping with the character of Colin and I just wanted to tell her to go see a therapist.

Colin I found to be gross.

Catherine and Owen were ultimately the only two characters that seemed to be fully fleshed out. I wish that Scotch had stuck with them more honestly. I was more interested in this atypical marriage which is becoming the norm (wife works and husband stays home) and seeing how Owen is feeling unfilled at this role. Heck, this is what a lot of mothers feel as well, so it would have been great to see these two acknowledging that things are not working out and how to fix it. There’s just a lot of drinking, fighting, and acting crazy.

The writing was okay, though I got really confused while reading. Maybe if the book had been told in a linear fashion (start off with them about to graduate, then go to the wedding, then hit 17 years later or whenever it was they all received letters). Instead we have characters flashbacking and being in “present” time while reading chapters.

I honestly think the multiple POVs throw this book off too. We start off with Bea, then go to Annie, Lindy, and after that I believe it’s Catherine, then Owen, and finally Colin. Then we beep bop around for the whole book. The last chapter made me roll my eyes a lot too. I think I was supposed to get a feeling of well being instead of annoyance that made me feel like none of these people learned a thing. We also don’t equally stick with characters. Most of the book belongs to the women characters. And honestly, after two rounds of Lindy, I was pretty much done with her.

The book mentions that this is about 6 friends (a 6 pointed star) who go to Penn and I can tell you that no one calls the University of Pennsylvania Penn. If you say Penn, most people think you are talking about Penn State. I was so surprised when I realized this book was supposed to take place in Philadelphia and then I put two and two together and was like oh she mans University of Pennsylvania. And can I say that besides some random talk of cheese-steaks, I did not get Philly from this book. Let alone these people who had lived at a house nearby the university for a number of years.

two-stars

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie KinsellaMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
on February 7, 2017
Genres: Chick Lit
Pages: 438
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

I didn’t want to be too hard on this book, but sorry it worked my ever loving nerves. What started off as typical chick-lit turned into some hey we are all just the same Kumbaya circle thing that I just got tired of reading. The main character, Katie Brenner, should know enough at her age that no one’s life is perfect. I can’t get over she thought because people were rich that yes they must be happy and be just dancing in the fields singing. And I hated how Katie treated her female boss just because said boss may be involved with a guy she (Katie) had a freaking crush on who was also her boss.

Girl, he is not your boyfriend, lover, and you have not kissed, made out with, or even sent a do you like me, I like you note. Go sit down.

Empire FOX fox empire stop fox tv

I tend to like Kinsella’s books (Shopaholic books other stories). This one honestly felt like a retread of “Can You Keep a Secret” to me. Woman in love with boss (check). Woman and boss keep having moments (check). Woman falls in love with boss and there’s something keeping them from each other (check). There is a different plot set-up, but the subordinate boss thing needs to stop. I honestly had to have a conversation with someone the other day about hey you do you, but I don’t recommend going out for drinks with someone who does your rating. Am I getting old? Am I a prude? Bah. Don’t care if I am. Dear women and men, don’t do this. Shitting where you eat will not end up like “2 Weeks Notice” with you and your boss declaring your love and running off to eat Chinese food in your parent’s small apartment.

Katie Brenner moves to London excited to finally have the life she has dreamed of since she was a girl. She is working at a branding/strategy company as a junior something. Just know that she’s at the bottom of the totem pole at work. Katie is not living a perfect life. She doesn’t really have any friends she can talk to. Her housemates are cold and gross in that order. Her coworkers seem nice, but aloof. And her boss, Demeter Farlowe can’t even remember her name. Katie (who keeps trying to go by Cath and wants others to call her that) thinks that all she needs is one big idea for Demeter to finally see how good she is. And then they will just run off into the sunset and be best friends.

Sorry, once again this book kills me. I am a boss/manager. I definitely care about developing people who work for me. And maybe some thing I have it so easy because I am always getting awards or being asked to trouble-shoot something. But being a boss is hard. You have to be firm, but fair. And you can’t have a freaking off day (like we see in this book) because you can get kicked out the window as fast as anyone else. It’s definitely a case of what have you done for me lately when you get to the top. Kinsella touches upon this towards the end of the book. But I honestly think it came rather late for me.

Katie meets her other boss, Alex, and after a couple of meet-cutes (they were rather cute) finds herself falling for him. However, after dealing with the company losing some clients, Katie is quickly on the chopping block and finds herself back home where she doesn’t want to be.

I think for me the book comes alive when Katie is back home. I honestly wish that Kinsella had done the book differently with Katie realizing success comes in different forms in life. And her being in London didn’t make her more successful than those who have jobs and families back in their hometowns. Especially because I thought Kinsella did a really neat thing for Katie and her family to get involved with. I honestly wanted more stories about Katie’s ex, the disgruntled cleaner, and her father’s mad schemes. It felt like we got a different book until Katie runs into Demeter and Alex again.

When the secrets are revealed about what went on etc. I had a hard time buying it. I won’t spoil it for other readers. You read and you let me know if it seems believable.

The writing was okay. Not great though. And maybe I am just a little tired of things right now, but I really wanted to yell at Katie about her choices. She has a scene where she goes out with a coworker and said coworker’s boyfriend doesn’t pay for her meal after she thought he would. Instead of her saying I brought my food, or saying never mind, she freaks, goes outside, sits down (outside the cafe) and tries to eat her sandwich. Gets caught, lies, throws out her sandwich, and gets weepy when she goes to retrieve it. She is also mistaken as homeless and gets $50 from a woman. I don’t know. I probably should have laughed instead of rolling my eyes.

I recall being broke as a joke when I first started working in DC. I was upfront about it. I would have so much money for drinks and that was all I spent. When I went out I never got food and didn’t mooch off of others food. I ate a lot of cup of noodles and commuted to work from VA because no one I knew at the time could afford to live on Capitol Hill. Katie’s whole thought process about being ashamed and embarrassed of her beginnings and state of her bank account doesn’t feel real to me in this day and age. But, I am a budget person (I still balance a check book and have spreadsheets tracking all expenses, assets, etc.) so maybe that’s why there’s a disconnect.

The setting of London actually doesn’t really come alive in this book. Due to Katie being poor, she doesn’t go anywhere besides work. She describes a London that sounds like something from Bridget Jones, her reality is definitely different from that.

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The ending has everything work out. I wish that Kinsella had kept with the independent woman theme she kicked to towards the second half. But instead we get a ham-fisted HEA that didn’t work with what came before it.

On another note, I hated this cover.

three-stars

It Happened One Wedding (FBI/US Attorney #5) by Julie James

It Happened One Wedding (FBI/US Attorney #5) by Julie JamesIt Happened One Wedding by Julie James
Published by Jove on May 6th 2014
Genres: Chick Lit
Pages: 305
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

SHE KNOWS BETTER THAN TO SAY “I DO”

After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, she’s thrown in to close contact with exactly the kind of sexy playboy she wants to avoid—the gorgeous best man. She’s stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are…

BUT HE MAKES IT HARD TO SAY “I DON’T”

Special Agent Vaughn Roberts always gets his man on the job and his woman in bed. So Sidney’s refusal to fall for his charms only makes him more determined to win over the cool and confident redhead. Only what starts out as a battle of wills ends up as a serious play for her heart. Because the one woman who refuses to be caught may be the only one Vaughn can’t live without…

This really was not that interesting. Too pretty people having hot sex though they initially loathed each other. I was bored from beginning to end when I was not disgusted by the character of Vaughn.

Sidney Sinclair is an investment banker. After moving back to Chicago after finding out her fiancee was cheating on her, she is trying to dip her toe back into the dating pool. After a blah date at a coffee shop, she is asked out by a total stranger who lashes out like a petty POS after she turns him down. Guess who the petty POS is? It’s this book’s hero, Vaughn. I really don’t care for how many of the so-called meet-cute’s James does in this series. She did something similar in Suddenly One Summer with somehow the heroine being in the wrong for not wanting to go out with the hero. This just grinds my gears honestly (TM Peter Griffin). Women are allowed to say no. We are allowed to say no anytime we want, and some random stranger who hits on you and who you tell no I don’t want to go out with you tomorrow who then insults you, doesn’t make you some terrible freaking women. Okay, my spiel of the day is done.

Since this is a chick-lit book, of course Sidney and Vaughn run into each other again, and oh look they find out that their brother (Vaughn) and sister (Sidney) are engaged to be married after knowing each other for only a short while.

Due to Sidney’s sister doing her best to hide her totally obvious pregnancy, Sidney finds herself thrown more and more into meetings with Vaughn where they both keep trying to deny their growing attraction to each other.

Sidney Sinclair I found to be kind of a beige heroine. I wish that James had showcased her at her job more than she did. It seemed interesting. And in previous books I have read, I thought James did a great job of showing these strong women and how great they are at their jobs. Instead we just focused a lot more on Vaughn and his boring undercover assignment at the FBI. I wish that had been cut significantly so that we could look at Sidney’s job more.

The one thing that did make me laugh though which I don’t think the author meant to was that we just have Vaughn falling for Sidney. I don’t know. She fell for him, and I don’t get that either. They had good sex together. They didn’t really seem to have deep conversations except once in a while and I was not getting the whole, hi, I am now in love with you thing.

I think the big thing that killed this for me is that Sidney actually meets a great guy. A guy who wants to date her. But you know, she realizes she is in love with Vaughn. Bah. Maybe I am letting my own bad feelings color this book. I have dated or tried to date a Vaughn. Just cut your losses and be on your way.

This series for the most part is a good way to pass away some time. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to read and sometimes you just want a breezy chick-lit book.

three-stars

The Title Isn’t That Great, but the Book Rocks Love Irresistibly by Julie James

The Title Isn’t That Great, but the Book Rocks Love Irresistibly by Julie JamesLove Irrestibly by Julie James
Published by Berkley Sensation on April 2nd 2013
Genres: Chick Lit
Pages: 274
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
four-half-stars

HE’S USED TO GETTING WHAT HE WANTS…

A former football star and one of Chicago’s top prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cade Morgan will do anything to nail a corrupt state senator, which means he needs Brooke Parker’s help. As general counsel for a restaurant company, she can get a bug to the senator’s table at one of her five-star restaurants so the FBI can eavesdrop on him. All Cade has to do is convince Brooke to cooperate—and he’s not afraid to use a little charm, or the power of his office, to do just that.

AND WHAT HE WANTS IS HER.

A savvy businesswoman, Brooke knows she needs to play ball with the U.S. Attorney’s office—even if it means working with Cade. No doubt there’s a sizzling attraction beneath all their sarcastic quips, but Brooke is determined to keep things casual. Cade agrees—until a surprising turn of events throws his life into turmoil, and he realizes that he wants more than just a good time from the one woman with whom he could fall terrifyingly, irresistibly in love . . .

Please note that I gave this book 4.5 stars but rounded it up to 5 stars here.

This was a cute book. Unfortunately I read book #6 first, so I already knew that how this story would end up. I am still glad I read it though. The hero/heroine were great. Though I will say that James heroes all seem to be over 6 feet tall with dark hair. And the heroines always have long hair to their backs practically and wear it in a high ponytail. Plus they all have high heels. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some women wear ballet flats, or gasp sandals, etc. There was a secondary character that really got on my nerves while I was reading this, and that is the main reason why I gave this 4.5 stars.

Our heroine, Brooke Parker is general counsel for a growing restaurant empire. Due to her busy schedule she barely has time to date. After her latest boyfriend dumps her since she is so unavailable, she starts to think that causal dating is a solution. That way, she can still hang out with a guy, make love, but no strings attached (you know how well this is going to go right?)

Our hero, Cade Morgan, is a former college football star. After a career ending injury, he contracted on the law, and is now one of Chicago’s rising Assistant US Attorney’s. I have to say, that I actually for once liked the hero in the story more than the heroine. Readers find out right away that Cade has issues. Being raised by a single mom, and having his father abandon him until he was 10, and then abandon him all over again, Cade is not looking to delve too much into his inner democracy. Sorry, I had to include that. Cade and Brooke meet up when the US Attorney’s office needs her cooperation to bug one of her restaurant’s where a dirty deal is about to go down. Sparks fly, and we get to watch.

I think the main reason why Cade’s story was more interesting to me, was that he does have a lot of pain to deal with involving his father. James introduces a character that is close to someone that Cade knows (no spoilers) and I was really tired of this character by the time we get to the end of the book. I didn’t like how things got flipped around to suddenly make Cade a bad guy, though he had nothing to do with the situation at all.

Brooke and her best friend Ford with his two dude bro friends are entertaining when they get together. I do like that we have a book that showcases a man and woman who are best friends, who love and support each other, and shockingly don’t fall in love or get all hot and bothered about the other one. I liked that. I wish that we had seen more of them interacting in Ford’s book, but oh well.

The writing was great, I found out a lot about how at least the FBI and US Attorney’s work (I knew some of this, but it was nice to read about it anyway) and the dialogue between Cade and Brooke was great. I don’t know why he thought of her as sassy, but whatever. It seems like in this books, any woman that doesn’t fall all over a guy is sassy. The flow worked too, I thought the ending of the book with Brooke having to make a choice was great. And her response to that choice was smart too. I liked that for her, it was really about being more available to her family and friends. As a working woman climbing up the ranks at my office, I get it. We work a lot of hours, push ourselves, because otherwise we have to worry about someone eventually saying that we don’t seem as committed as we used to be. I liked that Brooke didn’t give up her career aspirations for a guy (like most romance novels have the heroine do).

The setting of Chicago shines in this one as well. I really want some drinks and pizza after finishing this book, and I hate deep dish anything.

The ending was once again cute showing the hero/heroine proceeding with life, but thank goodness does not end with a wedding.

four-half-stars

Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

Suddenly One Summer by Julie JamesSuddenly One Summer by Julie James
Published by Jove on June 2nd 2015
Genres: Chick Lit, Romance
Pages: 304
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

Divorce lawyer Victoria Slade has seen enough unhappy endings to swear off marriage forever. That doesn't mean she's opposed to casual dating—just not with her cocky new neighbor, who is as gorgeous and tempting as he is off-limits. But once she agrees to take on his sister's case, she's as determined to win as ever—even if that means teaming up with Ford…

Investigative journalist Ford Dixon is bent on finding the man who got his sister pregnant and left her high and dry. He's willing to partner with Victoria, despite the fact that the beautiful brunette gets under his skin like no other woman. He might not be looking to settle down, but there's no denying the scorching attraction between them. Still, the more time he spends with Victoria, the more he realizes that the one woman as skeptical about love as he is might be the only woman he could really fall for…

I liked this book. I think there were a couple of things that could have been improved upon (like Ford not being a jerk because a woman doesn’t want to go out with him) but overall liked this a lot. Hot and steamy romance scenes, with two very compelling leads. We had some interesting secondary characters, and a very nice ending showing our couple going forward.

Our heroine in “Suddenly One Summer” is Victoria Slade. Victoria is a high profile divorce attorney (the US Attorney for this story) and has a successful practice. Coming home late one night, she is awoken by the sound of someone(s) breaking into her home. The whole incident brings back bad memories for Victoria and causes her to move out of her home and to temporarily rent a condo until her new condo is available for her to move into. Catching eyes with apparently a man that would would have Superman envying his jaw (that whole line made me laugh and think of a friend) Victoria is intrigued, but has a policy of not dating and has no intention of getting married.

Ford Dixon is an investigative journalist. Due to some recent events in his personal life, things feel a bit upside down. After going to a bar and laying eyes on a hot brunette with legs to die for, Ford wonders if she would be available to soothe some of his hurts.

Of course readers realize that Ford and Victoria have both noticed each other (I wonder if this would count as insta-lust?) but things don’t work out with them, but they quickly do meet again after both realize that Victoria is Ford’s new neighbor.

I had to laugh at Victoria and Ford’s bickering. If anything, I thought Victoria was 100 percent in the right, and Ford kind of sucked a bit here and there. Victoria through no fault of her own, thinks her neighbor is a philandering POS. However, when Ford corrects her, he makes it deeply personal (or at least he did in my eyes). And then gets outraged that she doesn’t want to go out with him. Honestly, this type of stuff is what made me stop reading “It Happened One Wedding.” Nothing sets me off more than a man asking a woman out or hitting on her and then proceeding to act like an ass when she lets you know she’s not interested.

Due to what I consider a little bit of a reach for plot, Victoria and Ford are thrown together. I just hand-waved it away though and just enjoyed it. Of course sparks fly, and both start to open up to each other.

There are some references to characters in other books in Julie James series. I only know that though, because I browsed her books and recalled the first names of some of the characters in her other works. I do want to credit her though for making all of the secondary characters work in this book. Though Ford’s male friends were too dude bro for me at times and kind of annoying.

There is no life or death element to this story. I am not complaining. Sometimes you want to read a romance novel period. The flow was pretty good too.

The setting of Chicago I thought worked well. I am going to say that Victoria talking about her new condo in The Trump Tower just made my lips curl in disgust every time it was brought up in the book. Sorry, due to current events I don’t even want to sit around thinking about trumpets. Back to the book, Chicago comes alive in this book. It’s pretty obvious the author knows about the city and the neighborhoods. I was curious about why certain things were named what they were like Wicker Park and the Gold Coast, but you can’t get everything.

The ending I thought was sweet. We don’t have a typical we are going to run off and get married ending (thank goodness) but instead you see Victoria and Ford moving forward with healing due to both of them having a lot of things to still process and forgive themselves and others for due to their respective childhoods.

four-stars

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie KinsellaShopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella
Published by Dell on December 27, 2004
Genres: Romance, Chick Lit
Pages: 387
Source: Purchased: print book
Goodreads
three-stars

With her shopping excesses (somewhat) in check and her career as a TV financial guru thriving, Becky's biggest problem seems to be tearing her entrepreneur boyfriend, Luke, away from work for a romantic country weekend. And worse, figuring out how to pack light. But packing takes on a whole new meaning when Luke announces he's moving to New York for business--and he asks Becky to go with him! Before you can say "Prada sample sale," Becky has landed in the Big Apple, home of Park Avenue penthouses and luxury boutiques.

Surely it's only a matter of time until she becomes an American TV celebrity, and she and Luke are the toast of Gotham society. Nothing can stand in their way, especially with Becky's bills miles away in London. But then an unexpected disaster threatens her career prospects, her relationship with Luke, and her available credit line! Shopaholic Takes Manhattan--but will she have to return it?

I am glad that I re-read this book, but feel disappointed overall with how the earlier books in the Shopaholic series no longer stand up. I think it’s because I have already read these books and the latest, that I just feel nothing but flat out annoyance towards Rebecca (Becky) and her hare-brained schemes to not pay her bills, to cover up when she’s in over her head, and somehow through sheer luck to get out of trouble. And then somehow is in the right in the end when she is 100 percent in the wrong.

I read the first book several years ago and remember being charmed by it. In this second book, we now have Becky and Luke dating. Becky has convinced Luke to go off and take a mini-break to the country. While there she realizes that Luke has plans to expand his company to America, specifically New York. Becky after the events in the last book has paid off all of her debts and thinks she finally has her shopping bug under control.

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Spoilers, she does not.

Pretty much Becky acts as if she has paid her bills off, that apparently if she uses her credit card that means her balance stays zero. Considering that Becky is a financial expert (seriously this was always funny to me) on a morning television show, you would think she be a bit smarter. I think readers are supposed to find Becky endearing. I just found her to be hopelessly immature.

Becky’s relationship with her parents is to keep them in the dark (though you of course realize they are not that dumb) and she wants Luke to make a public declaration of his love for her. Honestly, I never got to be much of Luke fan until the later books. He feels like a non-person in these earlier books. We are given bare bone facts about him and you can feel yourself sympathizing with him. But then we are supposed to ignore his need to prove himself in America cause Becky gets her feelings hurt when they go to New York.

There are secondary characters long time readers know about like Tarquin and Suze. They also don’t age very well in this second book in my opinion.

The writing was okay, but the flow was pretty bad. I think it is because you are just waiting for the characters to move along to New York. Of course once we move from London to New York I was bored senseless. You don’t get a real sense of the city, crowds, movement, the uniqueness of New York. That’s cause all Becky is focused on is shopping and hiding it from Luke.

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The ending at first I thought redeemed itself. But when we go to two months later and things are just kind of hand-waved away and Luke telling Becky how right she is (after once again having her finances get to threat level midnight levels) I just yawned myself through it.

I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017 square: Second Chances

<spoiler>This fits that square because the main couple breaks up and then gets back together at the end of the book..</spoiler>

three-stars

Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

Tara Road by Maeve BinchyTara Road by Maeve Binchy
Published by Dell on May 29, 2007
Genres: Romance, Chick Lit
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
two-stars

Ria lived on Tara Road in Dublin with her dashing husband, Danny, and their two children. She fully believed she was happily married, right up until the day Danny told her he was leaving her to be with his young, pregnant girlfriend. By a chance phone call, Ria meets Marilyn, a woman from New England unable to come to terms with her only son's death and now separated from her husband. The two women exchange houses for the summer with extraordinary consequences, each learning that the other has a deep secret that can never be revealed.

Drawn into lifestyles vastly differing from their own, at first each resents the news of how well the other is getting on. Ria seems to have become quite a hostess, entertaining half the neighborhood, which at first irritates the reserved and withdrawn Marilyn, a woman who has always guarded her privacy. Marilyn seems to have become bosom friends with Ria's children, as well as with Colm, a handsome restaurateur, whom Ria has begun to miss terribly. At the end of the summer, the women at last meet face-to-face. Having learned a great deal, about themselves and about each other, they find that they have become, firmly and forever, good friends.

A moving story rendered with the deft touch of a master artisan, Tara Road is Maeve Binchy at her very best—utterly beautiful, hauntingly unforgettable, entirely original, and wholly enjoyable.

I have been wanting to read this book forever since this book refers to characters that are in later Binchy novels. How I wish that I had stayed away from it. This book is 656 pages. Due to a nasty cold plus fever I had the past couple of days I wondered if perhaps I was being too harsh about this book. Then I re-read some passages and decided that no I was not. I think the biggest thing for me is that I cannot believe this was once upon a time selected as book as the month by Oprah Winfrey. I am also flabbergasted this became a movie as well. I am hoping the movie cut way down on the Ireland parts, but since there is no way I am going to sit through a movie based on this book I will just blissfully let that go.

“Tara Road” though it talks about two main characters is for all intents and purposes just about one, Ria. We follow her through graduating and going to work for a real estate firm where she ends up meeting her future husband, Danny Lynch. We follow Ria through I think at least 14-15 years where she is a stay at home mom, doing what she can to make her husband and children happy. That all changes when her husband informs her that he is ready to move onto someone else.  When Ria realizes that her life as she knows it is coming to an end, she decides to house swap with an American woman named Marilyn Vine. Marilyn is also looking to get away from her home due to still trying to do her best to get over a tragedy.

Ria is pretty much a doormat from the beginning of this book to the end. If you expect to see any self awareness, it’s not there. Even after her husband has left her, Ria is still hoping for a reconciliation. Heck, it was maybe at the 99 percent mark she finally moved on from the guy. I initially felt sympathetic to Ria since you find out pretty soon that her husband was the worst from the very beginning. I think that is why the book doesn’t work honestly, or it didn’t work for me. You are just waiting for Ria to have her eyes opened to what her husband was getting up to. And then she does, and she still thinks he is the best thing ever. Even after all evidence points to the contrary.

Marilyn felt like an afterthought to me. She definitely has more backbone than Ria. But the two women’s friendship comes out of nowhere for me and I thought it a bit much for them to behave as if they are best friends forever at the end of the book.

Secondary characters (man there are a ton) were pretty shallow. Ria’s sister is jealous, Ria’s daughter is pretty much a brat, Ria’s son is clueless, Ria’s best friend is terrible, etc. I just felt like the book went on and on and you don’t see any growth at all except in the case of Ria’s daughter finally catching a clue. I really hated Ria’s best friend Rosemary and her other friend who was in an abusive marriage. The book just painted them in broad strokes and I really didn’t understand what I was supposed to take away from these two characters at all.

The writing was typical Binchy, but after a while my eyes started to glaze. Way too much of this book was about Ria shopping for furniture to do up her new house, wallpaper, rugs, how rooms and kitchens looked, etc.

The flow was lopsided too. Once you figure out what is going on in the book most of it was just me waiting for everyone else to catch up too.

I usually love Binchy novels. However, I realize that the earlier novels are never my cup of tea. They are way too long (this one is very long) and there always seems to be a lack of development or closure to the books. This one had a very abrupt ending and I hated that a guilty party was never confronted in the way that I thought they should have been. I read “Quentins” before and I do know that Ria ends up in that book as well, and you do hear about what becomes of her. But after reading this book and knowing what happens to her in “Quentins” I felt really dissatisfied. Probably because I think her happy ending as it is shown was pretty bogus.

 

two-stars

The Making of Minty Malone by Isabel Wolff

The Making of Minty Malone by Isabel WolffThe Making of Minty Malone by Isabel Wolff
Published by Onyx on August 26, 2016
Genres: Chick Lit, Romance
Pages: 392
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

Minty Malone is terribly nice. But being nice doesn't save her from being jilted at the very altar by her domineering fiancé, Dominic. Ditched rather than Hitched, a shocked Minty takes stock, and on her husbandless honeymoon she vows to become just a little less 'nice'. Joined by her fiery cousin, Amber, whom no-one could describe as sweet-natured, Minty sets out on a quest for the self, in which she will finally learn how to say 'No'. But then she stumbles upon the real reason for Dominic's dreadful defection. Faced with the dreadful truth, Minty prepares to move on, let go, and learn how to say 'Yes' once more. The re-issued second novel from the internationally best-selling author of 'A Vintage Affair'

Do you ever have those books that you realize are not really rocking your world, but you keep reading because you can’t be bothered to get another book? This was my situation last night. I am fighting off something and right now just really want my flannel pjs and some hot tea. I tend to like to read more chick lit type books when I am under the weather because I know I am going to get a happy ending at least. However, this book one of the first written by Wolff was lacking something the whole way through. For me, it was already known based on the synopsis that Minty is going to be left at the altar. However, her reactions to this were so off (at least to me) it made no sense and I started to lose any sympathy for the main character. The other characters in this book were paper thin and I hated the new love interest who I would probably have shoved down a flight of stairs who also had his own issues that needed addressed.

“The Making of Minty Malone is told in the first person by ta dah, Minty Malone. After Minty is left at the altar by her fiancee Dominic (not her real name by the way, which she knows prior to marrying him) she is left wondering what has she done that made the thought of marriage so terrible. Running away on her honeymoon with a friend and then having a terrible meet-cute with a guy, we follow Minty back to London where she feels adrift and trying to fix things in her personal and professional life.

Minty is a doormat. And heck she stays a doormat pretty much through the whole book. You start off reading right away that Minty has turned herself into another person to make Dominic happy. And I didn’t even get that she liked the guy much based on how she goes into him. But after being left at the altar and coming back home, Minty decides to keep the give away all of the wedding gifts (I don’t care that people told you to keep them!) and she kind of shrugs after hearing that the policy she got on her wedding (apparently insurance for weddings is a thing) is not covered, that her father is going to be out $80,000 and she decides to not go after her fiancee to pay for at least half of it! She doesn’t even offer to give the money to her parents. I don’t think she does. I may have been too busy raging.

I also really hated the idea that so many people around Minty were pretty much telling her to just get over Dominic mere seconds after he jilts her. Does Dominic suck? Yup. But I am never a fan of chick lit novels which push some new guy on a character after some major relationship drama. I don’t know why there can’t be a slow build to romance. Minty deciding that she is in love with her love interest came out of left field to me because they barely interacted in this book and he treated her like a she-demon because he claims she has so much baggage and refuses to ever get involved with a woman again who has emotional baggage from a previous relationship.

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The love interest is terrible. I don’t even have words for how much this guy irked me. A struggling writer whose story sounded terrible, who sits around and judges Minty for everything that she does. I really wonder why he was interested in being her friend since based on his past he should have stayed away from her. Instead, he claims friendship (I claim BS) and then acts like she’s no good to him until she declares herself really free of Dominic. I just wanted her to throw him face first into a wall. He was a sanctimonious ass.

Other characters are just as shallow. Minty’s cousin worked my nerves. But I at least applauded Wolff for writing a character that didn’t want children, and who refused to be cowed by her partner into having them. Until this cousin meets a new love interest, gets a kitten, sees kitten eventually have its own kittens, and now seems to be okay with kids.

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Yeah that happened. As someone who was pretty iffy on kids her whole life, and got really tired of defending the decision to not have them (while lying about it others around me who acted like I had two heads because I am fine without marriage or kids) I was so happy that we had a character that did want to be in love, but didn’t want kids, and was pretty okay with not marrying it looked like. To have her do this complete reversal because of a cat…I just sighed.

Don’t get me started on the cousin’s partner who leaves her because he realizes that he is wasting his time when he could be getting someone else pregnant. That whole storyline with that guy just made me roll my eyes. I also hated the woman he ends up getting with because the whole thing was so sketchy. In fact I am going to say that if this was real life, most of the couples in this book would end up divorced in a few years.

The only people I found interesting were people at Minty’s work, but we don’t get to spend much time with any of them besides the character of Jack. I was hoping for a different resolution with that character, but apparently yesterday was Obsidian Blue is not going to win day so I was left unsatisfied about everything.

The writing was all over the place and things were not clear at all. We find out at a certain point that Minty’s mom is a twin, and she mentions her cousin’s mother who apparently is not really around since why would her cousin need to move herself in with Minty. The whole book was like that. We would find out something that I would go and say to myself, well that’s weird, that should maybe have been introduced earlier on or something since I just sat feeling confused for most of this book.

Minty and Joe’s back and forth with their fun insults got tiresome as anything.

Having to read anything that the character of Miranda was saying with her lisp was also painful.

There just honestly seemed to be a lot of logic gaps for me while reading. I assume that Minty’s family is rich since they never did go back and get money from Dominic after the wedding was over. But then Minty brings it up again like this is still a huge problem for her family.  But then her father just plops down some money to get her mother out of trouble later in the book and I am back to thinking that they have money.

The flow was off from the entire book. I think starting with the stream of consciousnesses with Minty on her wedding day going into why her soon to be husband was perfect (but not really) really did not show her in the best light. Heck probably the only thing I did feel that was earned and right was everyone telling Minty that her being with Dominic was her fault too since no one forced her to stay with a guy that was clearly awful.

London doesn’t really come alive for me in this book, and neither does Paris or LA. I was only really interested when the book transitioned to Minty doing her job or her place of work. I was really interested in how they do radio and go off and interview.

The ending was a foregone conclusion and I guess Minty gets her HEA.

three-stars

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