Between work conferences and family visits I have gotten too far ahead on my review reading and fallen behind on my review writing so I had all these mini-reviews floating around in my head. These are some of the books I read and enjoyed reading in October and November that I haven't had a chance to post about.
Intrusion by Charlotte Stein:
Noah and Beth are both survivors of violence. They have been deeply traumatized by the torture they endured, Noah at the hands of serial killer who he once profiled and Beth at the hands of stalker turn rapist. Told from Beth's point of view in Stein’s fantastically absorbing first-person style, their love story is highly unconventional.
The novel is a story of repression and an ode to anticipation and dirty talking. Stein does a fantastic job building tension as Beth, who questions everything tries to figure out if the attraction she feels for Noah is one sided and Noah, who fears his own desires and wants, is affecting detachment and distance while radiating need. If you like your heroes tortured and vulnerable and your heroines determined and courageous, you will want to read this. Never have fingers grazing meant so much.
I am grateful for the review copy of Intrusion published by Avon I received directly from the author, Charlotte Stein.
Think of England by KJ Charles:
Curtis is a man’s man in the early 20th century England, raised by his bachelor uncles and the British boarding school system, he is now a former soldier recently returned from war, maimed. Lost and aimless for the first time in his life, Curtis is determined to find out the truth about the possible sabotage that destroyed his battalion and cost him most of the fingers of his right hand. His quest brings him to house party at an isolated country estate, whose secrets purposes are more sinister than Curtis could have ever imagined. He must ally himself with the slimiest of snakes, Daniel DaSilva, a effete poet, whose modern ideas, tight clothing and ultra-sophisticated manner un-nerve and and unsettle Curtis.
This novel was amazing, told from Curtis’s point of view is was fantastic to see how his perception of the people around him and himself shift as he falls in love with DaSilva. This book is a treat for anyone fond of early-20th century country house mysteries and novels. The characters were perfect, the romance breathtaking and the writing was delicious. I am so glad I read it, and I can’t wait to start Charles’ fantasy-romance series, A Charm of Magpies next month.
Beyond Possession by Kit Rocha:
Tatiana is a survivor. She has learned everything she has needed about know about life in Sector 4, through surviving her father’s abusive dictatorial rule and destruction of his empire by Dallas O’Kane. At great personal cost Tatiana has built for herself a growing business and shepherded her sister into adulthood pampered, sheltered and un-scathed. The lessons she learned in those early days, when she had nothing made her incredibly determined to be independent and self-reliant.
Zan is one of Dallas O’Kane’s men, and while he has long admired and wanted to be closer to Tatiana, his loyalty to O’Kane and his awareness of the power dynamics of being an O’Kane in Sector 4, has meant that he restrained himself to casual conversations and friendly visits, so as not to even unintentionally coerce Tatiana into a relationship with him. But the political landscape in Sector 4 is in danger of changing once again, when a dangerous rabble-rouser seduces Tatiana’s sister as part of play for power and Zan must try to figure out a way, where he can secure Tatiana’s support for the O’Kanes without ending any chance they might have at building a relationship.
I really liked how much time this book spent on Tatiana. We really got to know how she thought, and why she thought they way she did. Her concerns are not trivial ones, and while Zan, Lex and Dallas upend her expectations by behaving in ways she could not anticipate based on her life experience, we never see her as wrong-headed. I particularly liked how the ending continued to show how much the O’Kane world is changing.
I am grateful for the review copy of Beyond Possession I received from the authors.
Her Holiday Man by Shannon Stacey:
Will ran away from his life after his pregnant wife was killed in a car accident. He has been drifting ever since working short-term contracts all around the country. After his father's unexpected death and with the holidays coming, he packs up all his gear and head back home to be there for his mom. But home has changed since he left. His mother is not as lonely as he expects her to be. She has taken under her wing, Christina and Nathaniel, a divorced mother and son, who live across the street. As his initial suspicious reaction to Christina and Nathaniel fade, he becomes uncomfortably aware of his strong attraction to her. Christina is new to town, having relocated there after her ex-husband bankrupted them when his financial pyramid scheme collapsed. Without family and friends to depend on she has fallen a long way from society wife to convenience store attendant. It is has been a very long time since she has felt the pull of attraction too but the last thing she wants is to get involved with a man that might pick up and leave when things get tough.
Over multiple encounters Christina and Will try to ignore their attraction before eventually they settle one of my favorite tropes, the “we both know this is going nowhere but” secret sexual relationship. Will’s grief and Christina’s trust issues mean they both are scared of getting involved again but can’t help getting attached. Of course Christina’s son Nathaniel and Will’s mom Gail are not oblivious to what is really going on and Christina and Will might hope.
I cried buckets reading this book. Stacey did a wonderful job presenting Will’s grief and the underlying fears he is struggling with. I thought their big conflict was incredibly believable, it sounded like a real fight, and I believed their emotions. And after putting me through the wringer it had a wonderful resolution that still makes me smile.
I am grateful for the review copy of Her Holiday Man I received from Carina Press via NetGalley.
One in a Million by Jill Shalvis
With this book Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series is drawing to a close, and I will miss Lucky Harbor and its slightly kooky residents. Lucille has been a geriatric pest throughout the series, and while occasionally she has pulled too much time and attention from the main characters with her antics, she appears just the right amount in this book despite the fact that it is Lucille’s unpredictable antics that has brought Callie to Lucky Harbor. Callie is Lucille’s grand-daughter and her busy parents have sent her to check up on her grandmother. Callie grew up in Lucky Harbor and left after she was jilted by her fiancee. She turned her heartbreak into a successful virtual wedding planning business, and even though she never got her big day, she ensures other brides’s days go off without a hitch without ever having to leaving her her apartment. Relocating to Lucky Harbor to check up on her grandmother is not without its perks. The biggest is being able to watch Tanner swim in the bay from her window. She used to have a huge unrequited crush on Tanner. Tanner is not as oblivious to it as she thought then and he has certainly noticed her looking now. Tanner like Callie has heartbreak in his past. He gave up college scholarship and married young to provided for his girlfriend and their unplanned son Troy. He served in Navy, and then worked on the oil rigs, providing them financially but failing to be there physically and emotionally. He feels like a failure as father and husband and hasn’t gotten seriously involved with anyone since.
There was a lot going on in this book, but I enjoyed it. Everything from Callie slowly realizing she is full of shit when she says she doesn’t believe in love or want it, to Tanner working to reconnect with his teenage son Troy and not let Callie slip away. Their flirting was fun, and I enjoyed reading about them .
I am grateful for the review copy of One in a Million I received from Grand Central via NetGalley