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. View Spoiler »

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… View Spoiler »

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

Rupert Carsington, fourth son of the Earl of Hargate, is his aristocratic family’s favorite disaster. View Spoiler »

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!