Romance Review Roundup: Vol. 5

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai (Forbidden Hearts #1)

Publisher: Avon on July 25, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

One night. No one will know. 

Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler were high school sweethearts when tragedy struck, and their families – once so close – were torn apart. Even mentioning the Kanes is akin to cursing in the Chandler household, and vice versa. Yet Livvy and Nicholas have kept the spark alive: once a year, they meet up in a hotel and have sex…never discussing the past or their feelings for one another. But when Livvy moves back home, avoiding all that’s passed between them becomes near impossible.

There’s something almost Shakespearean about the level of complexity, angst, and drama between the Kane and Chandler families, and Rai pulls it off beautifully. Even though the circumstances are extreme, HATE TO WANT YOU never feels over the top or melodramatic. Normally I can’t abide an angsty romance, but this one put its hooks into me from the very first chapter. It hurts so good, y’all!

Alisha Rai has outdone herself with HATE TO WANT YOU, delivering her most compelling characters, sexiest scenes, and most engrossing plot yet. If you’re a romance reader who hasn’t discovered Rai yet, guaranteed that 2017 will be the year you do. My favourite thing about her work – including this story – is how she features women of colour who own their sexuality and emotions. Badass yet achingly vulnerable tattoo artist Livvy is one of my favourite heroines of the year, and I’m certain that her sister-in-law Sadia’s story in the sequel will be just as compelling.

Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title (Librarians in Love #2)

Publisher: Zebra Shout on June 27, 2017

Source: Publisher

DNF at 57%

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

The riot grrrl and the bookworm–just the pair to get the whole town talking… 

I’m sad to say that FALLING FOR TROUBLE was a very disappointing read. I was expecting a cute, opposites attract romance between a small-town librarian and a slightly-reformed bad girl punk rocker. What I got was a disjointed, extremely slow-paced story that failed to conjure any chemistry at all between the lead characters. Title’s writing style didn’t work for me, but maybe people who appreciate her writing will enjoy this book more.

Joanna and Liam spent very little time together on page; in fact, I think they only had four or five scenes in the 57% of the book that I read. Is it any wonder that I felt their connection was unrealistic? How are you supposed to have a connection to someone who you’ve only met a handful of times when those interactions were primarily composed of one sentence exchanges? Because of this, I thought the moment they realize their feelings for each other felt unrealistic and forced.

To her credit, Title (a librarian herself) does a great job representing what goes on in a small-town library, from the programs and collection to the patrons.  As a small-town librarian myself, I found myself nodding along and chuckling with recognition during the scenes where Liam had to navigate delicate patron interactions. Had this book been focused on Liam’s work at the library I would’ve kept reading, but as it stands, FALLING FOR TROUBLE was not a strong romance read for me.

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase  (Carsington Brothers #2)

Publisher: Berkley Sensation on March 1, 2005

Source: Library

Impossible…
Rupert Carsington, fourth son of the Earl of Hargate, is his aristocratic family’s favorite disaster.

Widowed Daphne Pembroke is a brilliant linguist hell-bent on deciphering hieroglyphics in ancient Egyptian tombs. But for anyone to take her scholarly work seriously, she must pass it off as the work of her brother Miles. But when Miles is abducted as a reprisal for “his” findings, Daphne enlists the help of Mr. Rupert Carsington to get him back…an alliance that will change their lives forever.

As a die-hard fan of The Mummy, I rejoiced when I learned that Loretta Chase had written a historical romance in the same vein. Daphne and Rupert have a similar vibe to Evie and Rick, with Daphne’s bookishness and Rupert’s practicality and physical strength serving them well in a myriad of sticky situations. They trade the snarky banter bordering on flirtation that Chase is known for, and I found myself rooting for them from the beginning – despite Daphne’s tendency to treat Rupert like an imbecile.

Admittedly, I was perturbed by a few problematic offhand remarks that characters made about Egypt’s people and culture; thankfully, Daphne doesn’t condone or agree with these sentiments (i.e. that Egyptians are “barbarians” or “uncivilized”) but it still troubled me and impacted my enjoyment of the story. Much like The Mummy film, MR. IMPOSSIBLE is a fun and romantic story about foreigners fascinated by Egypt – just don’t expect any critical reflection on imperialism. Not Chase’s best but still enjoyable.

Have you read any of these romance novels? Do you like angsty romances or do you prefer low-drama ones? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Looks like a bit of mixed bags in the romance department haha. I haven’t read any Rai before but it definitely sounds like I need to check it out ASAP! Glad it was an awesome read for you! Hope your next batch of romances are all amazing!

    • It certainly was, haha! All over the map this time. Oh my goodness, YES! Alisha Rai is such a talented writer, and I think HATE TO WANT YOU is the best I’ve read from her so far. Thanks Cyn, fingers crossed! 🙂

  • Greg Hill

    I have no idea why I’m commenting on a romance roundup lol but riot grrrl and bookworm caught my eye! Too bad it was a DNF- and yeah how are they getting to know each other if they’re hardly interacting? Anyway ignore this comment ha ha 🙂

    • LOL well hey, as long as something caught your eye. 😉 Ugh I know, it was such a disappointment. There’s nothing more annoying than an author telling me two people are in love when we’ve barely even seen them interact.

  • That first one! I have heard such good things 😀

  • That’s a shame to hear that the librarian one wasn’t good! The sexy version of the mummy sounds pretty cool though hahaha.

    • I know, it was such a bummer! You know how much I love a good librarian story. Hahaha, “sexy version of the mummy” is a great description of MR. IMPOSSIBLE!

  • I would like to try Alisha Rai but I’m just not sure the above is my cup of tea? But you said it wouldn’t normally be yours either so…. Romeo and Juliet is not even close to my favorite Shakespeare. It sounds like you’ve read others by her? Was this your favorite?

    I also liked but didn’t love Mr. Impossible though, while I didn’t love the way Egyptians were treated there was something missing between the couple for me as well. I wanted to love it so hard!

    • Hmmmm, I know what you mean. Normally I am not one for angst, but something about HATE TO WANT YOU worked so well for me that I didn’t even mind it. Some of her other stuff is less angsty but definitely more sexy too (possibly erotica?). I loved A GENTLEMAN IN THE STREET, but I do think that this one is my favourite Rai book so far, and it’s also the most “romance-y” of her stuff that I’ve read.

      Me too! Gah. I’m hoping that LORD OF SCOUNDRELS wasn’t a fluke for me (I’ve only read the two Chase books so far). I’ve heard good things about DUKES PREFER BLONDES, so I’m going to try that one next. Have you read any of her other work?

  • I will totally be checking out Alisha Rai. That books sounds awesome.

  • I have the first, thanks to Nick, and I’m super excited about it. I love me some good romance!

    • Ooooh, yay! I’m excited to hear your take on it, Nereyda. Definitely one of the best romances I’ve read this year.

  • Karen

    I really want to read that first one! Glad to hear you loved it.

    For What It’s Worth

    • HATE TO WANT YOU is definitely one of the best romance reads of the year, I’m calling it now! I’m excited to hear what you think of it, Karen.

  • I was going to say, the first one sounded very Romeo and Juliet to me.
    But I like angsty Romance when it’s done well! Sorry you didn’t enjoy
    the second book though. I think writing style is the most difficult
    thing to overlook. If you don’t like the writing, it’s really hard to
    enjoy the book. As for the third one, it seems like ancient Egypt is
    popping up everywhere all the sudden LOL.

    • Yes, there are all kinds of R&J vibes in HATE TO WANT YOU! I think it’s probably the first angsty romance I’ve ever really loved, which is a testament to how well Rai pulled it off. I couldn’t agree more Kristen: if the writing style doesn’t work for me, no amount of other good qualities will save the story. LOL too right! Seti would be pleased. 😉

  • Alisha Rai is going to be one of my next reads. I’m kind of planning a romance binge until I start the reading quest that Aentee has but together because that is all about the fantasy reads for me. But it does sound awesome a good level of angst and good old romance. But a DNF in romance? That’s a sign of a sucky romance and I thought it sounded cute as well! As for the Loretta Chase book, I like the idea of a book in the vein of The Mummy (I love those films!) so I will be checking that out when I get a chance. At least I know to expect a few things which will annoy.

    • Hooray! I can’t wait to hear what you think of it, Becky. Oooh good plan! I’m going to attempt the reading quest too, but it looks tough as nails so we’ll see how well I do on it. I’m going to try to keep to books I own for the challenge. Pray for me! Hahaha.

      I know, it was honestly not good at all. I feel bad saying that but the writing just wasn’t there, and the chemistry between the MCs was non-existent. The hero’s relationship with the heroine’s grandma was more developed than it was with the actual heroine, LOL.

      It wasn’t a perfect read but as a fan of The Mummy, I’m pretty certain you’ll enjoy it. There’s lots of good banter and Egypt-adventuring to be had!

      • I am filled with good ideas. And I reckon it’ll be okay, it’s a month long and the main challenge is just 5 books. If it can clear some things off of my shelves it’ll be worth it!

        And yep, always worth reading a Mummy inspired read. I’ll try and read eventually (I say this a lot).

  • Every time I see a positive review for Alisha’s book, I get so excited, because heck yes it deserves all the hype, and I want to yell at more people to pick it up. It was just amazing. I’m with you with the family dynamics being Shakespearean almost! I’m excited to see what you think of Sadia’s book. I’m positive you’re going to like it. That one explores the WOC owning their sexuality too, but also in a very different way because Sadia’s family is Pakistani-American, and she’s bisexual and Rai totally dismantles all stereotypes about women from Muslim backgrounds, which was awesome!

    Aww! Falling for Trouble sounded like it would be a cute read. What a bummer it wasn’t!.
    “Joanna and Liam spent very little time together on page; in fact, I think they only had four or five scenes in the 57% of the book that I read.” This pisses me off. Don’t call your book a romance if your couple is barely interacting! I read a HR like that the other day, and it annoyed me because the whole plot was supposed to be a marriage of convenience plot, but then the couple had had maybe 2 conversations by 50%. The focus was on the family, which wasn’t what I was in the mood for. -_-

    The Loretta Chase book sounds like it was a better HR, though bummer about those comments about a different culture. I wish those would just disappear entirely from the book world. The rest sounds pretty great though, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

    Sorry for this long essay of a comment, haha! I tend to get rambly when I see romance reviews.

    • Me too! I am a hardcore fan of the book. I even left a review on Amazon, which I almost never do, because I just feel like she deserves all the success haha. Did you see that Smart Bitches, Trashy Books selected it for their August book club? Sooooo cool. OMG BI HEROINE ALERT! I need it even more now. I’m really interested to learn more about Sadia’s family too, since the little we heard about them in HATE TO WANT YOU really piqued my interest. Dismantling stereotypes in romance novels is truly the best. Good for the soul AND society, haha.

      Didn’t it just, though? It sounded SO cute, and I liked the cover too. I’m honestly a bit salty that it turned out to be such a letdown, haha. Yes, 100%. I feel like the story had more of a “chick lit” vibe to it than a romance one, and as I said to Becky, the hero had a more developed relationship with the heroine’s grandma than he did with her! It was pretty hilarious, actually. Bleh! That HR sounds like a major bummer. Everyone knows marriage of convenience stories need lots of “getting to know you” scenes, right?!

      Me too, girl. Me too. Every story would be better without idiotic comments like that. Even knowing that stories featuring English people in Egypt are pretty much always problematic in some way (thanks, imperialism), I do really enjoy them. MR. IMPOSSIBLE was better than most in that regard, thankfully.

      LOL don’t be sorry! I love receiving essay-length comments because it makes me feel less guilty for leaving them myself. 😂

  • Hmmm. An angsty romance done well? I may have to check that one out – it sounds really good and I’m actually loving that cover! And badass women owning their sexuality? I’m totally in for that. 🙂

    The others don’t sound like my scene but very interested in the first.

    • Definitely check it out if you’re in the mood for a romance novel, Di. The cover is phenomenal! Sexy yet classy, and it actually represents the MCs really well too. I highly recommend HATE TO WANT YOU if you’re looking for a romance read! 🙂