The Duke I Once Knew (Unlikely Duchesses #1) by Olivia Drake

The Duke I Once Knew (Unlikely Duchesses #1) by Olivia Drake

First love is always the sweetest.

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her ageing parents and the children of her siblings. Now, eager to make her own life, she takes a position as governess on the neighbouring estate. It shouldn’t matter that her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the infamous rake who once broke her youthful heart. Surely he’s forgotten her, for he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years. At least, that is, until he arrives unexpectedly.

Max is incensed to meet his sister’s new governess. But why does Abby appear just as displeased to see him when it was she who’d rejected him all those years ago? Why is he so drawn to the independent spinster she has become? And why is there a sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes that suggests they might have a second chance at love?

The Duke I Once Knew (Unlikely Duchesses #1) by Olivia Drake

The Duke I Once Knew is fifty percent lovely reunion romance – and fifty percent misogynistic stereotyping nightmare. It seems fitting that what will probably be my last review of 2018 is for a book that features the themes I hope to not read about in 2019 – or ever again:

 

To make matters worse, he was tramping through the woods with a prissy female who squealed at the sight of caterpillars and played dumb…

Women. Aren’t. Like. That.

 

Firstly: what I liked.

This book combines two of my absolute favourite things: a reunion romance, and the Regency era. It also features another theme I love to pieces: the slightly older heroine who’s waking up to the fact life is passing her by (sort of like Jane Austen’s Persuasion).

Olivia Drake has a wonderful writing style that keeps you turning the pages, and it’s an easy style that works well with the light themes of the book.

On the other hand…

Firstly, in 2019 I want to see no more books where the hero thinks, ‘she was not like other women’. Insulting all other women to praise the heroine is sexist, not good.

Additionally, people negatively stereotyping blonde women? Sexist. People negatively stereotyping attractive women? Sexist. Putting the two together? Something I wish authors gave up years ago, but too many readers still eat it up.

It’s especially infuriating when an “other woman” character jealous enough to try and cause another woman physical harm is created to illustrate how virtuous (read: a virgin), intelligent – and non-“blonde” – the heroine is.

 

It didn’t help that Elise kept up a continuous brainless chatter in his ears, so that he couldn’t enjoy a moment’s peace. Or that she kept trying in that gratingly sultry tone to convince him to stop and rest when it was obvious she was angling for a kiss. Refusing to think about why the prospect held such little appeal, he forged onward.

‘Oh! Forgive me. Your Grace, there must have been a rock in the path. I daresay you saved my life!’

As she flapped her lashes in coquettish distress, Max suspected he’d been hoodwinked.

 

Because I was enjoying the writing, I was willing to overlook the first little misogynistic jibes here and there. I kept telling myself it didn’t matter that much, even though it’s my #1 pet hate in books.

However, as the story went on it became worse and worse, to the point it was the main theme.

By the end I couldn’t take it anymore. I was pretty furious.

Your mileage may vary, but I sure hope more women – writers and readers – will develop a zero-tolerance policy for this sort of thing in the coming year.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Slow Dance with the Best Man by Sophie Pembroke

slow-dance-with-the-best-man-by-sophie-pembroke

Taming Hollywood’s Best Man 

Shy Eloise Miller has hidden from attention since her mother’s scandalous affairs destroyed her family. So having to act as maid of honour in a glitzy celebrity wedding is her worst nightmare!

Under the glare of the world’s media, she’s paired with best man Noah Cross. On paper, this commitmentphobic Hollywood heartthrob is everything Eloise avoids. But soon he’s unlocking Eloise’s secret hopes, and tempting her to believe that her dreams of forever might come true…

Slow Dance with the Best Man by Sophie Pembroke

I really liked this book – with one exception. In fact – and despite the speed the relationship moves at – it was one of the best books in this category romance line I have ever read.

And yet it was so painfully misogynistic in so many places, that if the writing had been even just a little bit worse, I would not have finished it.

So, this is one of the best-written and most sexist books I have read.

This Mills and Boon/Harlequin line puts out books that are short and sweet. That means simple storylines and no sex. However, Slow Dance with the Best Man is definitely the steamiest one I’ve ever read from Harlequin Romance. No, there are no actual sex scenes, but there’s the before and after, and lots of naked conversations, and I am actually surprised one of the publisher’s most conservative lines let this one get through!

I was also very surprised that there was so much substance to the story. I’ve read a lot of these books set in castles and stately homes in Britain, but this is by far the most memorable.

Both movie star hero and reluctant to be in the spotlight heroine had strong character arcs, and complex careers they were hoping to move ahead in. Their romance was convincing. They had issues outside their growing relationship, and backstories with some substance to them. It made for a much stronger book.

Yes, the relationship moves at such a fast pace, and yet somehow the author convinced me it was realistic. That takes some talent.

I also liked that she made sure to use British/US English correctly for her characters from different countries – but WITHOUT going over the top with “cute cultural differences” conversations like most people do.

However, is it really too much to ask for authors to stop making awful, misogynistic stereotype “blonde bitch” characters? I am so tired of it – and am especially tired of the word “blonde” being used like we’re immediately supposed to know it means the character is bad.

The villainess in this book is beyond evil. She does not have a single redeeming feature. And that is unrealistic.

On page two we are told that she’s a blonde, and that therefore she’s a typical “mean girl” (this is such a sexist term that women should eliminate from their speech). Also, women Do Not stamp their dainty foot when they’re angry!

A little while later, we’re told about all those nasty “Hollywood blondes” and how they’re all the same. And then we get the usual reference to all the pretty blondes probably having breast implants…

On and on – and on – it goes, for the whole book.

If I read one more author who describes excited “bimbo” women as “squealing”, I might…

A blur of blonde.

Cruel. Evil. Nightmarish. A total witch in a blonde wig.

Why would the best man refer to the bride like this? He knows her!:

Because some blonde asked you to wear a pretty dress.

Nobody would ever say: some brunette!

It is so crazily unrealistic that a woman would be 100% evil just because of her hair colour that it ruined what would otherwise possibly have been a five-star read. I am really interested in the secondary romance, which I assume is the feature of another book. However, I know it will be more of the same when it comes to the “other woman”…

It was a disappointing aspect of an otherwise highly readable book, and one that is full of substance in a category line that usually has simple storylines and fairly bland characters.

I do also wonder how in the world the heroine could randomly move to and live in America – visa regulations exist, and the US is no piece of cake even for people who are married to an American!

I will highly recommend this, on the condition you don’t become a woman-hater because of it.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Can Cinderella stories still work?

There are a million historical romances that could be considered Cinderella-ish. Everywhere you go in the genre you find governesses being swept off their feet by earls, and lowly serving girls who turn out to be secret daughters of dukes.

But how about actual Cinderella stories?

My main problem with Cinderella is that it basically relies on misogyny to get its point across. There are no bad men in Cinderella, only mean, jealous, and downright evil women who are countered by overly sweet and kind “good women”. It’s the women of the tale who try to ruin Cinderella’s life, and it’s women in the story who fight over a man.

01-lily-james-cinderella Richard Madden Prince

For all its criticisms of being outdated and the protagonist being too stereotypically feminine (shock, horror!), I think the recent Disney movie pulled off something a little deeper than that. Cate Blanchett’s stepmother was a more complex character than just being evil for no particular reason. But the movie still has the problems that come with packaging women into “good” and “bad” boxes.

Cate Blanchett in Cinderella

I recently had my hands on a review copy of The Cinderella Governess by Georgie Lee. The Cinderella name is right there in the title, and I was interested to see how the theme would be handled.

The Cinderella Governess (The Governess Tales #1) by Georgie Lee

I love the Harlequin/Mills and Boon historical line; it is probably the strongest line the publisher produces, and it easily outdoes most other publishers producing historical romance – despite the negative stereotypes too many readers attach to Harlequin books.

I thought that if anybody was going to produce a decent historical romance with a Cinderella theme, Harlequin Historical would.

Instead, I was treated to all the misogynistic stereotyping I would expect from Twilight fan fiction.

Harlequin usually gets their covers surprisingly correct. They take character descriptions into consideration. However, this heroine is a redhead, not blonde – and this is an important factor in the book.

Because the author trots out blonde woman after blonde teen after blonde girl – and demonises them. In true Twilight style, all blondes are beautiful, jealous, self-absorbed bitches – for no reason. In fact, one blonde teen is even referred to as a harlot!

Brunettes are downtrodden.

And our redhead heroine is special.

I’ll admit: I didn’t finish the book. I guess I’ve read one too many books like this recently.

I like the IDEA of the Cinderella theme in historical – or any – romance, but perhaps we could start tackling it without making all other women out to be enemies.

Smoke and Ashes by Danica Winters

Smoke and Ashes by Danica Winters

With a mysterious arsonist on the loose in Missoula, fire inspector Kevin Jensen saves more than Heather Sampson’s house. The sexy single father rescues her from an abusive marriage—and discovers his own past failures don’t have to rule his life. Especially when sparks between him and Heather ignite irresistible desire.

But who’s the arsonist? Why target Heather? What’s his shocking motive? When Heather faces off with him in a brutal attack, she needs her “white knight” as much as he needs her. Both have looked into their souls and risked their broken hearts for each other. Now Kevin will have to risk his life and his heart.

Smoke and Ashes by Danica Winters

 dr_%20oz2(1)

Who is this Doctor Oz lookalike cover model? I don’t find him attractive, and he is on the cover of what seems like half of Harlequin’s books these days!

I thought this one sounded interesting, but I must admit there was some serious stereotyping and cliché going on in this book, and I struggled as it went on.

The books in this Harlequin line are shorter than some others, which means pulling together a believable romance AND suspense storyline is a challenge. The author did the smart thing by having her characters already know each other quite well, but by starting with our heroine married to another man she had to break them up, fast. And this resulted in a moustache-twirlingly mean husband with some clunky dialogue.

Our heroine is an idiot. Yes, she is an abused wife, but she is also an idiot. She signed a prenup while celebrating with a glass of wine, and never bothered to read it. Now she has nothing (and does not work and has no skills to earn a living); if she’d read that prenup she’d have known before her wedding that her husband was a maniac.

Then we reach the mean best friend who is – of course – pretty, blonde (to our wholesome brunette heroine), wears tight clothes, giggles ALL THE TIME, and sleeps around. And she’s called Brittany for good measure.

This is misogynistic stereotyping.

Our hero is prematurely grey – which seems to be a trend in romance at the moment, for men and for women. Is this because so many authors are older than their characters? It’s odd.

Packed in there someone is the suspense storyline, with another moustache-twirler for a villain. Admittedly, from what I understand the research into the actual fire and arson section of the book was solid, so that bit was good. However, the story also had to pack in the hero’s career in crisis and his troubles with his son – and there just wasn’t time for all that.

I think the introduction of the friend was the killer for me. Write in a fair-haired female character like Brittany, stereotype so nastily, and I’m never going to like your book.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Razzies

Okay, this is mean. However…

Jamie Dornan Dakota Johnson Fifty Shades of Grey Movie

Fifty Shades of Grey won! And won! and won! And won! And won!

See how Fifty Shades would look if Christian Grey was made from CAKE

Go, Twilight fanfiction!

Fifty Shades of Grey Movie

“Fifty Shades of Grey may have been largely overlooked in the Oscar nominations, but it was a big winner at this year’s Razzies.

 

The awkward adaptation of author EL James’s erotic novel nabbed five prizes at the Golden Raspberry awards, including a share of the year’s worst film award with the superhero flop Fantastic Four.

 

Jamie Dornan picked up the worst actor award and his co-star Dakota Johnson took worst actress. The pair also pinned down the worst screen combo award. Fifty Shades also won worst screenplay.”

 

Read More

 

Ready To Rock: A Rock Star Romance by Cara Connelly

Ready To Rock A Rock Star Romance by Cara Connelly

His name is on everyone’s lips–sexy rocker Jack McCabe. His gritty New York City band is red hot, almost as hot as his fiery affair with photography student Lil Marchone, the girl from his past, now the woman he loves.

The problem is, Lil’s controlling ex wants her back. Rich, powerful, and ruthless, he’ll stop at nothing–including murder–to get Jack out of her life.

But Jack’s a badass himself, always up for a fight. And with the stakes this high, he’ll risk everything for Lil, even his band. Even his life.

Ready To Rock: A Rock Star Romance by Cara Connelly

This book goes from women-hating, slut-shaming, standard New Adult fare (misogynistic quotes peppered through the review to show you the heroine’s – and therefore the author’s – opinion of women)…

“Hey, Mac.” The barista smiled indecently, squeezing her arms together so her breasts ballooned even higher out of her skimpy camisole.

I’m starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to reviewing contemporary romances, but: waitresses DO NOT behave like that!

A big-boobed blonde jiggled up to him.

Women rubbed up against him, pressing their breasts to him, groping for his crotch.

To all-out crazy by the end…

“Let’s check the tent, see if they found the guns.”

There is a good story somewhere in here, but it is utterly ruined by some of the most misogynistic, slut-shaming, nastiness from our narrator (the heroine) I have ever read. It is also ruined by some truly unbelievable and over the top situations involving gun fights, hostage situations, murder, rape, crazy European billionaires and corrupt police.

By the end, it has gone completely insane; especially so for a book about such young characters! With their flashy careers, marriages, talk of children… these people are at least a decade too young for their life experience.

A blonde waited there, big boobs spilling out of a spangled shirt that ended six inches above her hip-hugging jeans.

“Those girls popped out of nowhere. Grabbing my junk, rubbing their tits on me before I even knew what was happening.”

The book has quite a lot of drama in it, usually poorly dealt with. When someone suffocates you while trying to RAPE you, to the point you need mouth-to-mouth to regain consciousness, this should not be dealt with and dismissed in the space of a few paragraphs. The victim should not brush it off and get back to the sex scenes (in the same room and bed!) straight afterwards.

When someone is killed in your house, you don’t just write it off and act like the police wouldn’t care.

Five steps in, a willowy redhead with blow-me lips sidled up to him.

They were waiting for him, especially the girls, the ones up there waving their tits under the singer’s nose. They’d be doing that to Jack in a few minutes.

I also have a really big problem with carelessly violent heroes. This hero punches anyone and everyone, including assaulting his teenage ward in a fit of jealousy. Is this supposed to be an attractive trait?

We stepped into a hallway jammed with girls auditioning to go home with the band. Every single one of them leaned in toward Jack, smiling and wriggling suggestively. He ignored them like they were invisible.

The singer humped the mike stand; the girls in front humped each other.

As for the weird police situations?

Right at the start, our heroine is dragged from a burning car – by our hero. Her parents are killed, and when the police arrive they handcuff both hero and heroine, and he is hauled off to a prison cell, no questions asked.

That’s not how the police operate! Nor would they go and destroy an innocent person’s house and then try and haul the guy off to a prison cell (AGAIN!), when they know he is innocent. It’s just not how stuff works!

In front of Jack stood a girl-tall, brunette, curvy-poised with her hand on one hip so her breasts stood out.

It seemed like very pretty girl in New York City was stuffed into two tiny rooms. They sang his songs and rubbed against him, lifting their shirts begging him to sign their breasts.

This author seems to really hate women with breasts, and also women who ever put their hands on their hips! And at one point we’re basically told it a good thing when men sexually harass women in the street!

However, it’s not just waitresses and concert attendees who get the slut-shaming treatment from the author, but also journalists and lawyers, who devote their page time to trying to steal the hero from the heroine. You know, instead of DOING THEIR JOBS. And then we have the art gallery lady:

“Mac, darling,” she gushed, elbowing her way to his side. She stepped on my toes, trying to wedge her way between us.

The moral of the story, folks: ALL women (career women or otherwise) are mindless, half-naked sluts incapable of thinking of anything other than sex with married men!

It becomes utterly ridiculous when literally EVERY woman in a book is wildly in love with the hero, and the hero has never, EVER committed to any of them before meeting the fairly average heroine. Is there any NA book in existence that doesn’t follow this pattern?

Then there are the eeeevil billionaire French characters. Even after attempting to kill the hero and have him arrested, as well as kidnapping and abusing her, our heroine still goes out with her eeeevil French boyfriend and thinks fond thoughts about him.

Veering into yet another offensive romance novel cliché, we have our hero who “earns muscle the hard way” while the other guy is ridiculed for having the audacity to work out at the gym!

I also wonder what Rolling Stone would think of the treatment they get in this book…

She set her hand on her hip. She was sexy, of course, very sexy.

Why do I keep doing this to myself? I need to remember that ANY book about a band is going to be misogynistic from start to finish. I need to remember that the New Adult subgenre was created by misogynists, and has inspired a legion of other misogynists to pick up a pen (er, computer), and follow suit.

I wish I could have enjoyed the story behind all of this sexism, the casual dismissal of violent crime – sexual and otherwise, and melodrama and inaccuracies. There could be a good book here, but instead I found something that horrified me on every second page.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Best Laid Wedding Plans (Magnolia Brides #1) by Lynnette Austin

The Best Laid Wedding Plans (Magnolia Brides #1) by Lynnette Austin

Jenni Beth Beaumont thought she left her broken heart in Chance, Georgia, when she moved away. But when she suddenly inherits her family’s beautiful, antebellum home, her dream of turning the residence into a wedding destination calls her back.

Cole Bryson, an architectural salvager and Jenni Beth’s former flame, intends to purchase and deconstruct the Beaumont family’s down-at-the-heels estate. To his surprise, Jenni Beth is more of a stubborn Southern girl than he thought. Cole will have to use all his sultry, steamy tricks to test more than the resolve of his sexy competition…

The Best Laid Wedding Plans (Magnolia Brides #1) by Lynnette Austin

Lynnette Austin is an author who has that easy, natural style I love so much. The sort of author whose representation of the present day and present day twenty-somethings makes you believe in the characters. They live in the present, ACT like they live in the present, and it’s all so much better than most contemporary romance around at the moment.

Austin also creates an excellent atmosphere and transports you to different place. It was well done, even if I can’t agree with everything!

This is very much a romance set in the US South, and all that entails. The thoughts and actions and atmosphere are very, very Southern, down to references to Confederate flags and the “War of Northern Aggression”. These characters didn’t quite go as far as referring to people from further north as “Libtards”, but it was touch-and-go for a while there!

However, early on there was something niggling at me: the way the other female characters were being presented. While our hero had strong bonds and friendships with the male characters, our heroine did not. Her mother was emotionally absent, her friends non-existent, and the only non-grandma female we met was a brash, clichéd Northern woman we are told is like Fran Fine.

And then…

The hero’s ex-girlfriend was introduced:

A high-pitched giggle drifted from the front room. He hung his head. “Kimmie Atherton’s back?”

Beck nodded. “And newly divorced. Second time, too. She’s on the hunt, friend, and you and she have a history.”

“Cole!” like fingernails on a chalkboard, the excited shriek sent shudders rippling through him.

He winced and braced himself just in time. She took one leap and plastered herself to him like Saran Wrap on a bowl of his mama’s leftovers.

The rest of the scene involves Kimmie kissing him and giggling and being “seductive” and using filthy language and wearing short and low-cut clothes.

And then the hero’s friend reacts to her:

The expression on Beck’s face changed from cat-ate-the-canary to man-smelled-skunk.

I’m sorry, but this sort of misogyny and negative stereotyping of women is just not on! It’s done so frequently by romance authors I’m not even sure they realise they’re doing it half the time. Making this woman out to be so awful in order to make our heroine look better was totally unnecessary for the book.

It was hard, but I kept reading, because I really enjoy the author’s voice.

I said not all that long ago that authors tend to give their characters age-inappropriate hopes and dreams. Recently editors have been requesting that people stop sending them so many renovation romances – something I agree with because restoring old houses isn’t something people in their twenties tend to do!

Our hero and heroine are in their mid-twenties. This is not a point in most lives where people are running businesses and taking out massive loans to remodel mansions. I don’t see why the characters couldn’t have been five years older or so. It would have made more sense to me.

So, I have positives and negatives. Basically, this is a highly atmospheric book, and the author really is a very good writer. However, misogyny is something I cannot abide, and if I could edit it out of this book, I would highly recommend this one.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

My #1 book wish for 2016

Walking-Disaster-Cover-2 by Jamie McGuireWild Wolf Claiming (Bloodrunners, #8) by Rhyannon Byrd

Stupid Girl by Cindy MilesWicked White by Michelle A. Valentine

In 2016 I don’t want to read any more romances with things like this in them:

The busty blond wearing a too-tight tank top squeals as she approaches my table.

Most of these women have no shame and will flop their tit out on a dime.

Wicked White by Michelle A. Valentine

Or this:

The question came from the skinny waitress who’d just stopped beside his table, blocking his view of Skye. The woman’s perfume was so heavy it almost made his eyes water, the hungry way she was looking at him was so blatant he was surprised she didn’t lick her lips. ‘Because I’m willing to offer you something a heck of lot better than anything you’ll find on that menu.’

Wild Wolf Claiming (Bloodrunners, #8) by Rhyannon Byrd

Or this:

She instantly scowled. “Your loss,” she muttered, before cattily adding, “Especially if you’re saving it for Skye. That girl wouldn’t know how to please a man even if she had a sex manual for fat chicks.”

unlike the scrawny bitch who had been so rude about her

Wild Wolf Claiming (Bloodrunners #8) by Rhyannon Byrd

Or this:

‘That’s Pop’s type- dive bar skank.’

The lady’s hair screams, “just been fucked,” and she hops from one foot to the other, tugging on a stripper-girl shoe…

…My skin crawls.

Only for Him (Only #1) by Cristin Harber

Or this:

It was always so noticeable when girls flirted, and it always looked and sounded stupid and immature.

“Ladies,” he said. They all walked away, giggling and whispering.

“It was quite apparent I was having a good time, hanging all over Kelsy and acting like…” I shrugged. “Like so many other girls do at parties. Like a complete fool.”

“I know I’m atypical, Brax. Most girls my age are having casual sex like there’s no tomorrow.”

Stupid Girl by Cindy Miles

Or this:

The WAGs – a selection of vacuous anorexic Wives and Girlfriends.

Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards (a book I otherwise liked)

Or this:

I nodded. “Ladies.”

They hummed and sighed in harmony. Vultures. Half of them I’d bagged my freshman year, the other half had been on my couch well before fall break.

She leaned forward on her elbows to make better eye contact. I felt the urge to shudder with disgust.

Walking Disaster (Beautiful #2) by Jamie McGuire

The romance genre so far: empowering for women as long as they’re not thin, blonde, or wearing makeup or a dress!

Wild Wolf Claiming (Bloodrunners, #8) by Rhyannon Byrd

Wild Wolf Claiming (Bloodrunners, #8) by Rhyannon Byrd

His wolf had never reacted this strongly to a woman… And. She. Was. His. 

Werewolf Elliot Connors had come to the sleepy town of Charity to stop a madman from claiming his next victims for his macabre collection of sex slaves. After saving Skye Hewitt from being kidnapped, Elliot desires the diner waitress more than his next breath. All his senses scream that Skye is his life-mate. But his past has taught him well that nothing worth having ever comes easy. Now things are about to get bloody, dangerous…and wild.

Wild Wolf Claiming (Bloodrunners, #8) by Rhyannon Byrd

• This is the second book (out of two books!) I’ve read by this author that opens in an eating and drinking establishment with blatant misogyny and pitting women against each other.

• And in this case of this one, blatant skinny shaming:

The question came from the skinny waitress who’d just stopped beside his table, blocking his view of Skye. The woman’s perfume was so heavy it almost made his eyes water, the hungry way she was looking at him was so blatant he was surprised she didn’t lick her lips. ‘Because I’m willing to offer you something a heck of lot better than anything you’ll find on that menu.’

• Slim waitresses DO NOT BEHAVE LIKE THIS, just because they’re smaller than another woman! Also, HERE is the author’s inspiration for the lead character. Sorry author, but she looks like one of those “skinny bitches” you hate so much!

She instantly scowled. “Your loss,” she muttered, before cattily adding, “Especially if you’re saving it for Skye. That girl wouldn’t know how to please a man even if she had a sex manual for fat chicks.”

• Nor do they behave like that. Maybe I live on Jupiter, but I’ve never met ANYONE who still uses a sexist term like “catty”!

unlike the scrawny bitch who had been so rude about her

• Gotta love a hero who thinks about women like that.

• The first 51% of this book takes place in less than twenty-four hours.

• When the heroine finds out the hero is a werewolf, her reaction is – I kid you not: ‘Oh, I read lots of shapeshifter romance books, so I have no problem with that.’

“I actually have this thing about shifter romances.”

• Then they have sex for the next twelve hours, no questions asked.

• The majority of pages in this book are devoted to sex scenes. I don’t think I’ve ever read a plotless book that was only about sex before. The hero might as well NOT be a supernatural being for all the page time dedicated to it.

• Despite the blurb promising some sort of abduction-of-women story, it happens off the page and isn’t really dealt with.

• Whenever the book isn’t sex, it’s the heroine whining about her “curvy” body, and the hero telling her over and over how perfect she is.

• Despite the “female empowerment” misogyny the author indulges in, MANY pages are devoted to the heroine admiring how LEAN and SLIM and MUSCLED the hero is. While he’s telling her over and over how she should eat more and more cheeseburgers (they only seem to eat cheeseburgers in this book), she’s commenting on his healthy eating habits. Uh – is he a slutty bitch too, or is that only reserved for women who are slim?

• Despite being up against a legion of supernatural baddies, when the heroine is told to stay put, (more than once) she decides: I’m not doing that! I want to help, even though I’m physically useless and will just put everyone in danger.

Unfortunately, this is the second book this week I’m going to have to tell NetGalley I seriously disliked.

The Week: 20th – 26th July

Dusk Canberra Australia Winter Lake Burley Griffin Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 19th July 2015 Reflection Sunset Nature

Dusk on the lake in Canberra. This was taken out the side window of the car.

Hotel Hotel Canberra Australia Entrance Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney 25th July 2015

And the award-winning foyer of Canberra’s Hotel Hotel yesterday afternoon.

This was the week I dumped my review books and bought (and enjoyed) books instead. I don’t remember a reading slump as bad as the one I’ve had recently, and my review book list is shorter than it has EVER been! I’m not accepting many books at the moment because I know I’ll never work up the interest to read them.

A Rose for Major Flint (Brides of Waterloo #3) by Louise Allen

Books I chose to spend money on saved me this week. Reading felt like fun for a change, and recently it has felt like a chore. What to do to get out of a reading slump? Go to the Harlequin (or Mills and Boon) historical romance section! Bigger variety than you’ll find anywhere else, and possibly the highest quality category romance line around. I wish more people would read those books, because they are at least as good as the historical romances being put out by others.

I’m hardly reading any contemporary or suspense books these days because so many people writing those subgenres seem to be rabid misogynists. Disappointing in a genre mainly written and read by women. I DNF’d a romantic suspense this week (by a bestselling author) because the misogyny on Every Page horrified me.

I picked up some older suspense favourites and flipped through them instead. It might be time for some more rereads.

24thJuly2015 russians in Berlin rally to support the invasion of Ukraine

Here are Russians in Berlin on Friday, showing their support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Note the terrorist flags they’re flying, and the fact one design is almost identical to the Confederate flag. Idiots.

Where to go to discuss romance?

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J.R. Ward: The Beast

J.R. Ward The Beast Black Dagger Brotherhood Cover

Cover Love

It Started With a Scandal (2015) (The tenth book in the Pennyroyal Green series) by Julie Anne Long

My review of The Art of Sinning by Sabrina Jeffries

The Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors #1) by Sabrina Jeffries

My review of Midnight Secrets (Men of Midnight #3) by Lisa Marie Rice

Midnight Secrets (Men of Midnight #3) by Lisa Marie Rice

My review of Midsummer Dreams by Alison May

Midsummer Dreams by Alison May