As a reviewer I keep a scribbled three-section list tracking my reading of review books. I track the books I still have to Read, Books I have read and need to review and I keep a tally of all the review books I started to read and ended up abandoning. I don’t feel I must finish every review book I request, and I frequently abandon books I pay for or borrow for the library simply because there are too many books out there to read so I refuse to force myself to finish something that is not clicking with me emotionally, stylistically or intellectually. I also don’t have the stamina required to hate read books. Sometimes it is very easy to point to why I didn’t finish a book (wrong mood, wrong trope, just plain wrong), but sometimes I run into books that I actually kind of like but didn’t finish anyway. Most of the books on the list fall into the last category. For the most part these are books that should have worked for me, that I sort of liked but didn’t end up finishing.
As I start this new reviewing year I wanted to clear my list a little bit. Say good-bye to some of the books that have been haunting my reading queue and make room for others. Here are some the books that sadly landed in my DNF list in the last year and half and I have to simply admit to myself I am just not going to finish.
Yours to Keep by Serena Bell
Release date 11/11/13
Review Copy courtesy of Random House Publishing Group — Loveswept
I started reading this novel with a bit of trepidation. I like reading romances with Latin@ characters, but I was a bit wary since the main conflict centered on the immigration status of the heroine. Turns out that aspect of the novel was really well done. I thought Bell did a good job presenting the struggles of undocumented immigrants who came to the US and young children, who have little connection to their home countries but are trapped in the underground cash economy, unable to take the jobs they could easily do well because they lack documentation. Ana is wonderfully written, and I liked how Bell portrayed the conflicts caused by varying levels of assimilation within the Travares family. My problem was the hero. Ethan is a smug widowed pediatrician, who is constantly redirecting the advances of desperate housewives. I had to tap out when he decided he could solve all of Ana’s problems, without really consulting her. I suspect this becomes a plot point in the book but I had to tap out at that point because I just couldn’t stand him.
The Submission Gift by Solace Ames
Release date 4/30/14
Review Copy courtesy of Carina Press
I really loved the first book in the LA Doms series “The Dom Project”, so I nearly broke my finger requesting the Submission Gift. I loved that like the first book it had a diverse cast and that it really works to humanize BDSM and poly relationships, taking them out of the super-fantastical constructs of secret billionaire fetish clubs and instead focusing on everyday people. I read the first few chapters eagerly but as I read I found myself increasingly stressed out. Adriana is in a very stressful and toxic work environment, and apparently this is a trigger for me. Since then I’ve had to quit a few other books where work stress plays a major part of the plot. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am not to be able to finish reading this book, because outside my trigger, I was loving it. Adriana and Jay were a beautiful Mexican-American couple, who are coming out the other side of some hugely stressful life events with real grace and love. If you are not triggered the same way I am, please go out and pick this up.
If I stay by Tamara Morgan:
Release date 6/30/14
Review Copy courtesy of Carina Press
Sometimes I part ways with a book without really knowing why it didn’t work for me. This is hugely frustrating. I wish I could say X-didn’t work, or I can’t stand Y, but this isn’t the case with “If I Stay”. I have read and enjoyed many Tamara Morgan books and the blurb really appealed to me. I was still watching Dowtown Abbey back them so the Montgomery Manor series, which focuses on the entangled webs of relationships between the Montgomery’s and their staff, would seem to be right up my alley. But this romance between the daughter of the Nanny who grew with the Montgomery kids & has come back to take her mother’s place and the family chauffeur who resents no longer being able to do his chosen work as stunt driver, should have worked for me but instead I put it down and didn’t come back to it for months.
The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan:
Release date 7/15/14
Review Copy courtesy of Courtney Milan
Courtney Milan is one of my auto-buy authors. I’ve enjoyed nearly all her stories, but I have some sort of weird every-other thing going on with her Brothers Sinister series. With both Heiress Effect & Suffragette Scandal, despite liking the characters I found myself putting the down the book and not wanting to pick it up again. I think in both cases the either the tropes or the tensions in the books just didn’t connect.
It has been over 6 months and I have to just admit to myself that I might just not into it. I did love “Talk Sweetly to Me” and I will still pick up every book Milan publishes because when her books click with me, they really click with me.
Should’ve Been Home Yesterday by Inez Kelley:
Release date 7/21/14
Review Copy courtesy of Carina Press
I’ve read a few of Kelley’s other Country Roads novels, and her dark erom The Bastard, and was intrigued by this second-chance at love story. It started off really well, establishing the heroine’s long-time devotion to the hero, but once I realized the story was going to center on the characters’ inability to communicate how they truly feel about each other, I just lost interest. I read great deals of the story, backwards trying to get myself back into reading it and recapture the feelings I felt when I started reading but their inability to honestly communicate eventually stopped me from making forward progress. It is a marriage of convenience, best-friend’s sister love story with lots of angst and romantic suspense elements.
Trapped at the Altar by Jane Feather:
Release date 7/22/14
Review Copy courtesy of Pocket Books
Set in the the Restoration era, I thought the time period would be a welcome break from Regencies and Victorians, and it might reignite by interest in HistRom. I really wanted to read this book after reading the blurb and hearing from others than the heroine wasn’t your typical virginal hist-rom heroine. Feeling trapped by her family’s political expectations & feeling isolated, she indulges in an affair with besotted newcomer. She enjoys their sexual relationship but is not naive enough to think it can be more, she just thinks she has time to enjoy a little passion before she is forced into a political marriage. However that times comes sooner than she expected & she is forced to the altar to solidify her clan’s future. Even though she is good friends with the groom, she never ever expected to actually have to marry him and feels incredibly betrayed by the fact that he won’t fight being forced into the marriage. But she throws tantrums rather than plot and act, and the hero's failure to explain to her that he actually wants more than a passionless political marriage ended my interest.
The Second Chance Hero by Jeannie Moon:
Release date 10/21/14
Review copy courtesy of Penguin Intermix
Kim Torres was a nurse in Afghanistan where her fiance was fatally wounded and died in her field hospital. The trauma is compounded when she discovers he was involved with another woman in his battalion. It has been over a year but she is struggling with returning to civilian life, and make sense of her fiance’s betrayal while unable to express her complicated and conflicted feelings to his grieving family. Unable to face returning to working as a nurse, Kim takes a job as nanny. When her car breaks down and she needs a ride, Owen Kent a friend to family who she nannies for, volunteers to pick her up. He feels an immediate connection and fascination when he meets Kim, soon realizing that he has seen her before, and had even served with her fiance, and was present for the messy scene. He keeps this fact from her, but is determined to date her. At that point I had to put the book down. I couldn’t keep reading a book where the hero knows that the heroine has very valid trauma and trust issues and choose to protect himself by lying about this and other things. This is books is simply not for me.
What makes you put down a book? Are you very predictable? Do the same things always cause you to DNF or does it have to be combination of factors? I find that certain author's voices are so strong I will forgive their books for things I would immediately quit another author's book for. What about you?