I’m back! I’ve read a few books lately but haven’t quite felt like talking about them. Sometimes even writing mini reviews can feel stressful.
Review content warnings: references to emotional abuse, abortion, grief/death
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes– Although not a straight romance, more fiction with romantic elements, it does have a happily ever after.
CW: grief, emotional abuse by an intimate partner & parent.
The heroine, Evvie like Chevy, is a widow but she is not sad that her husband died. She is sad that she is not sad.. She doesn’t know how to open up to people. Even her best friend. When Evvie meets Dan she wants to help him even though he doesn’t want it and her learning boundaries is interesting to read.
The hero, Dean, is a retired baseball player. He’s retired because he has the yips, aka lost his ability to play. He lives in NYC but relocates to Maine and rents an apartment in Evvie’s house. They agree to a pact where he won’t ask about her husband, she won’t ask about his yips.
I really loved this book. Everyone is messy. Evvie lies, not big lies, but she doesn’t know how not to. This story is really about Evvie finding herself and as the title indicates, starting over. I really enjoyed her journey of self discovery. The love story was satisfying to me and felt like enough in relation to the overall story. This book has a very high price point for digital so I understand if you don’t rush out and buy it immediately. But maybe see if your library has it. :)
Superfan by Sarina Bowen– This is the latest in the Brooklyn Bruisers series and it can be read as a stand alone. But I did not enjoy this book. The word “girl” is used 94 times. Some of those instances are part of girlfriend but it was too much for me. I like when grown women are labeled as such.
The heroine, Delilah, is a super pop star. She grew up in the foster care system but that is mentioned once. Although she does mention how she doesn’t have friends or a support network. I didn’t really like her. She made some choices that made me mad.
Silas, the hero was fine. But nothing that really stood out.
Overall the book felt like it was lacking in emotional depth that Bowen typically has. Her last few haven’t worked for me. I also want to mention that Bowen had some questionable passages when describing people of color. There were at least three background characters where she opts to include that the character has “ebony” skin. But she doesn’t describe the skin of the white/non-POC characters in the background. It was weird and it made me unhappy.
Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn– I am drawn to any book that involves online dating. It is such a prominent part of our society now, I am surprised that more books don’t have it.
This book did not work for me. I made it to about 40% and then had to move on with my life.
There was a lot I didn’t like.
- The heroine and hero are matched via an app by their parents. The whole set up is silly but I was willing to not get up on it, but the fact that we don’t get to see the swiping, or even really hear about it from their parents felt lacking.
- The heroine is described MULTIPLE times as short, petite, tiny, etc. It was annoying.
- The heroine has never had an orgasm during partnered sex. The first time she has oral sex with the heroine, she has an orgasm. It felt like a case of magic penis/tongue. There are several studies and numbers out there that indicate that only a low percentage of women have orgasms during penetrative sex. The number goes up for oral sex. But to have this be something the heroine struggles with and then have it happen like magic the first time she has sex with the hero felt like a cop out. I know that romance is fiction, but I’d like to see more heroines that don’t reach orgasm during sex and it isn’t an issue and the folks engaging in sex are feeling good and enjoying the pleasure.
Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson– I saw Melinda tweeting about this book because the hero has a grumpy cat. As an owner of a cat who has permanent resting bitch face, I needed to read this book. I was not disappointed.
The heroine, Sadie, is an actress who is determined to be seen as more than a soap star who got the job because of her prominent family. She gets an acting job that takes her back to her hometown of Chicago and is reconnected with her childhood sweetheart. Bo is a stunt coordinator assigned to the movie set.
I LOVE second chance romance. I really enjoyed this story. I was very invested in finding out what happened to tear them apart and if they could figure out how to be together again. Sadie and her friends were great. I am going back to read the other books in the series.
The Me I Used to Be by Jennifer Ryan– Ryan is a new to me author and I was interested to read a story where the heroine was in jail.
This book is definitely more fiction with romantic elements than straight romance. But it also felt simplistic and superficial. I would liked to have seen things explored more, particularly the relationship between Evangeline and Chris, the love interest. Chris was the officer that arrested Evangeline and was there when she was released from prison. She starts the book hating him but quickly and inexplicably stops hating him because he likes her. It was weird. He also answers for her several times and it felt like for someone who claimed to love someone he was devaluing her ability to be her own person. This wasn’t even my biggest issue with the book.
Evangeline spends four years in prison for a crime she did not commit. When she comes home her mother is absolutely terrible to her. Her brothers aren’t horrible but they aren’t great either. Her mother is verbally abusive and constantly reminds Evangeline of how she was in prison and treats her like shit. Then when the truth is told and it’s discovered that Evangeline is innocent and took the fall for someone else, immediately her family’s attitude changes. To me, it read like if in fact she had been guilty and went to prison as a result of that she is shit and deserves to be treated as such. Like as if good people don’t sometimes make bad decisions and still deserve love.
All this to say, if you are looking for a book where a main character was in jail/prison and finds the love they deserve after their release, you should go ahead and order Trashed by Mia Hopkins.