Really interesting world-building.
This is a lesbian romance set in New Orleans. The two main characters are Parker and Elisa. They actually knew each other back in law school and hooked up one night, but it never went anywhere.
This book was competent--it hit all the notes, but it was also predictable. There wasn't anything exciting or unpredictable, but it was solid.
Wishes: I just had a really hard time buying the emotional connection between them. There just wasn't enough there for me to buy that they had all these feelings for each other.
Pluses: Snappy dialogue. Cameron is a great guy, has that gruff super sexy Scottish thing. Wears a kilt. He's basically handcrafted to be loved by Romancelandia.
Perfectly competent, perfectly boring.
Verdict: Charming, fun to read. Knows what it's trying to do and does it well.
I think this is probably it for the novella category for me. I don't see myself spending $$ on the other 2 at this time.
Also, just in case we missed that white is right, at one point Rachel tells Owen to stop acting like he was raised in Compton.
1) her new job offered to pay her parking in the city for 6 months while she transitioned to the East Coast.
NO THEY DIDN'T.
There is not a single fucking solitary person commuting on a major East Coast city with FUCKING TIRE CHAINS. That doesn't even make sense.
But the flip side of the "I don't like black authors or black characters and don't believe their books are good, etc, racist reasoning, etc"...
The same reasons black authors don't final is the same reason this book does.
Pluses: So beautifully written, and it just perfectly captures moments big and small. SO MANY FEELINGS. Sexy and intimate.
Bookwise? This sucker is perfect.
A much better end to the day.
Sorry. More coffee needed, maybe.
In other words, I swear I have a life. 🙃
Verdict: Boring but in a soothing way.
These cowboy romances mostly traffic in the same kind of nostalgia as Amish romances--it's just that people have cell phones.
Of course there aren't any black people in Gold Valley. BUT WHY.
But what if she wasn't white? I don't want to even think about it
So if you read this book and feel warm and good inside, it's because you hope you'd be welcomed like that, too.
[woman saying: I'm gonna take it for what it is right now, and I'm just gonna finish my sandwich]
Minuses: This is really messy on both a plot and character level. Honestly, I almost DNFd several times, but there are so few gay romances and I wanted to read as much as I could.
I complained earlier about talk-talk-talk books?
I know just enough about swimming to be dangerous, and she needed to do more research.
I found it difficult to judge the accuracy of the cartel business & the Colombian family. They speak some Spanish, they eat empanadas? idk. I didn't get the sense it was highly researched.
VERDICT: It's not suprising or flashy, but this is a solidly built romance that knows what a romance should do and does it well. Attempts to tackle a big idea through likable main characters.
I think if you show a traumatic event on page, you should also show healing on page. That didn't happen here. YMMV.
Verdict: I feel confident that Hansen must have done a tremendous amount of research, but the romance felt secondary.
One thing this book made me think about a lot was the difference between CULTURAL tropes vs ROMANCE-SPECIFIC tropes.
Verdict: The best part for me was the straightforward depiction of how inequality (sexism and class) impact women.
Wishes: Ian is a real piece of work & this book reads less like a romance than a description of his personal journey.
Verdict: I have mixed feelings about it AS A ROMANCE, because in the 40 wks of her pregnancy, they are actually TOGETHER, as in physically in the same space, only 5 or 6 times.
Pluses: Austin has a nice relationship with his Dad, and it's kind of cute how the Dad plays matchmaker. Austin is into her, and I always like that.
Me: VIRGIN BRIDE TROPE?
4 years later, she finds him. In Idaho. As the leader of a cult. That's chapter 1.
Verdict: UTTER PERFECTION, but in that Harlequin Presents way. YMMV
I'd take this kind of reader swag A MILLION TIMES over a pen or whatever. 💯
Also, she has a bedazzled axe. As one does.
Minuses: I think YA should be judged on its own merits, and there aren't a whole lot of minuses. Adults will notice some implausible plot/character development, but kids wouldn't care.
Give it to your kids.
I'm going to book talk it to the middle school next week.
Pluses: I loved this novel. I enjoy historicals, & I love a good regency, but these gilded age NY novels by Shupe are 💯
But those fears I have for myself are NOTHING compared to the fear I have for trans & non-binary ppl. I feel the policing of gender more than ever, even as my pwn understanding is more expansive.
So to read historicals that remind me that PEOPLE FIGHT, that it's how the world changes. I need that right now.
I hope I'm preaching to the choir, it's more beautiful with all our voices in it.
Pluses: I guess if you like the Beatles the naming protocol and Beatles lyrics sprinkled throughout will be good for you.
It's interesting to me that there is a YA romance category, and obviously, there's no way to gauge or judge this as a metric in the RITAs, but if I were judging, I'd be thinking "which YA book will create FUTURE romance readers?"
One particular incident where Clara saves William's niece CLEARLY shows that the better judgment of servants is crushed because they fear losing their jobs.
Having now read all 3 finalists in this category, I can assure you that the only acceptable just outcome will be for My So-Called Bollywood Life to win.