Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall (2022)

Holly got an ARC of Something Fabulous for herself, and Erin was like, “You got that for me, right?” Obviously, that meant we had to review this book together. It’s time for a Dueling Review!

Something Fabulous, Book #1

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: I don’t think I’ve ever read (highly enthusiastic) rimming as the first interlude, and it was a refreshing change of pace 

Character Chemistry: In its essentials, the grumpy one is soft for the sunshine one. Or, rather, the rigid one is soft for the free spirited one. 

Plot: A very bad proposal of marriage leads to a road trip of personal discovery

Overall: I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, and then I sighed with happiness

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: Unexpectedly explicit about arseholes

Character Chemistry: Utterly irritating, utterly captivated

Plot: Valentine finds himself the villain in a gothic novel

Overall: I found the silly first half a slog, but my heart went pitter-pat in the end

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Recommended Read, Review

Review: A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran (2011)

Thank you to Kay of Miss Bates Reads Romance for the recommendation! 

Heat Factor: A few open-door scenes where the focus is more on the emotions than the moving pieces.

Character Chemistry: They have some serious trust issues, but that’s the whole point. 

Plot: Guttersnipe + Rake in a Marriage of Convenience 

Overall: The emotional beats in this book are PERFECTION.

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Recommended Read, Review Revisited

Review Revisited: Holly’s Take on A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant (2014)

Hey you! Yeah, you! 

Are you feeling Grinchy right about now? 

Would you like your heart to grow three sizes?

Yes? 

Then please go read A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong immediately. It might be the perfect Christmas romance. It’s utterly charming and includes just enough of the obligatory “let’s do Christmas cheer” activities without being twee. It features two protagonists for whom *everything* goes wrong (#relatable, what’s up 2021!), but things end up just right in the end (and my heart goes pitter-pat).

I agree with everything Erin wrote about the characterizations in her review. What she doesn’t discuss is how crisp the writing is. Not just on the level of plot and characterization—because the way Grant builds up the tension between these two crazy lovebirds is masterful—but also on the level of word choice. 

Here are the first two paragraphs:

The trouble, Andrew Blackshear would later reflect, might have all been avoided if he’d simply kept to the main road. His first glimpse of the girl would then have been indoors, seated, with her hair bound tidily back, and their first dialogue would have been an inquisition so tedious as to temper the allure of those great swooping clean-edged curves that made up her prodigal mouth.

But with no way of knowing what lay in store, he hadn’t any reason to avoid the detour. The clouds broke above him, he turned down a lane whose towering yews promised a bit of shelter, and trouble found him, in torrents that put the winter squall to shame.

“Trouble found him, in torrents that put the winter squall to shame.” Just sit and savor that clause. I am egregiously bad at text analysis, so I can’t explain how amazing it is, but I can feel it, in my guts.

Look, both Erin and I thought this book was really really wonderful. You should probably just trust us. (Read on for Erin’s thoughts on the characters, plus general squeeing.)

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Rant, Review

Review: The Bittersweet Bride by Vanessa Riley (2018)

Advertisements for Love, Book #1

Heat Factor: Everything is very proper; the door is firmly closed.

Character Chemistry: Ewan is too obtuse to have chemistry with anyone. 

Plot: Dueling flower farms + Widow must protect her child + First love back from the dead + Battles over an inheritance + Newspaper advertisements for a husband

Overall: I haven’t been this angry about a hero in a long time.

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Recommended Read, Review

Anthology Review: Mistletoe Christmas (2021)

Heat Factor: It’s deeply satisfying and has well-paced burn-y bits

Character Chemistry: Oh my god, the chemistry in all four of these love stories almost killed me. Killed me dead.

Plot: The Revelry is a major social event at the Duke of Greystoke’s country estate. Anyone who is anyone, is there. During this event, four couples find their way to happily-ever-after while getting through social hurdles and failing marriages, and dashed dreams…sigh.

Overall: This has to be the absolute best anthology I’ve read to date based on how many times I cried, and laughed, and laugh/cried, and scared my children with my book feelings.

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