Category Archives: Reviews: Mainstream

Beautiful romance from Cara shows how love develops over years

HAA ebook coverHer All Along by Cara Dee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is as beautiful as the cover and inside it contains a romance which reflects it perfectly.

It’s rare for me to read an MF romance, but Cara Dee is one of those authors I know will give me a true equal relationship where neither one is perfect and both stumble along the journey to happiness.

Here, it’s made more complex by a number of my favourite tropes, including an age gap, and a character choosing to redefine themselves to be better for their own benefit, not just because of love.

The length of time the relationship develops provides every bit of groundwork needed to show why, in the end, it’s always been her for Avery.

I’m not going into any specific plot spoilers, I’ll just say I absolutely loved everything about this book.

The pacing is just right, it has moments where you can viscerally feel the pain that the two go through at times for vastly different reasons.

You get to know the amazing Quinn family who have featured elsewhere in Cara’s connected universe.

And we meet a younger Darius, from before his experience with Gray, a time when he thinks his heart will never be touched.

And, ultimately, you get to see a relationship grow from friendship into love with no fanfare or great declarations, just honest affection, respect and support.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Garrett offers up an excellent second chance romance opener to this new series

55533832._SY475_Forgiven by Garrett Leigh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s rare that I pick up a traditional romance that isn’t a historical but I knew that Garrett Leigh wouldn’t steer me wrong.

This is an excellent examination of how someone can find their true love, but it still gets all messed up.

It’s a great second chances romance too, former teenage lovers (17+ not younger teens) reunited 10 years after one leg without a word.

There’s recriminations, there’s loads of angry sex which they both try to keep emotionless and fail miserably at.

It has hurt/comfort and angst by the bucket load, but it never becomes overwrought or too dramatic.

The secondary plot also works well, it adds a sense of foreboding without ever really defining what the problem is until almost st the very end.

It also has Gus and Billy, the younger siblings of Mia and Luke, who are the subjects of book two, out in February next year.

Garrett’s signature ‘realness’ is all over this book too, and it doesn’t matter that it’s an MF romance. She treats the sexual intimacy with the same care she gives to her same sex pairings.

Luke and Mia clearly have unresolved feelings and the simmer of love and care is lying at the heart of even their supposed ‘it’s just sex’ encounters.

Once I picked it up, I didn’t want to stop reading until I knew they’d be okay. The conclusion worked for me, I also felt the outcome of the side plot was completely believable too.

Now I can’t wait to get my hands on the second one.

#ARC kindly received from the publisher Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Nope, not for me, overt feminism in a surface level only way

The PowerThe Power by Naomi Alderman

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Not for me. A clever idea which I can appreciate but the narrative felt detached, way too preachy and a lot of – oh look isn’t this horrible/shocking/perverse and yet men do this to women “all the time” – kind of over the top feminism.

The story jumped too much, I think perhaps it would work better in a visual medium as it had a reportage style to it and I would just get interested in one person’s story before it would then switch without warning to someone else. In addition, I didn’t find all of the character’s stories compelling, I found the male viewpoint more interesting – perhaps that was a deliberate choice – and some of the others were just tedious.

In another review, the author of that has likened this to reading like the script for a TV series box set and I’d have to agree with that.

I’m also reminded of the scenes where the women in Saudi Arabia, possibly one of the world’s most repressed in a patriarchal society, gain The Power and suddenly embrace all of what’s generally considered to be the freer “Western world” culture by going out and having sex with strangers. It felt a little bit insensitive and perhaps misunderstanding of the Islamic culture to make an assumption that it is only male repressive behaviour which stops them from going out on a “free love” kick. I suspect that’s not the case at all.

The book raises questions and then lets the reader draw their own conclusions which is, on the one hand a tried and tested method of writing, but at the same time is increasingly frustrating when a narrative ends with no conclusion. The affectation of having the book “wrapped” as a manuscript being sent to someone else and it all being from a male perspective also just rubbed me up the wrong way.

I think, like this author’s mentor Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, The Power is a case of “it’s probably not the book, it’s me” as I felt absolutely no desire to pick it up and continue reading it but as it was my book club’s choice to read, I dislike not finishing a book.

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