Recent Reads: Mini-Reviews of my April Reading including books by Kristen Ashley, Holley Trent, Lauren Dane and Deanna Raybourn
30. Rock Chick Reborn by Kristen Ashley. The problematic rep in this was baked in long ago when Ashley created Shrileen, so I can't recommend it to anyone, especially when so much makes me shake my head, however I did enjoy having the Hot Bunch/Rock Chicks play matchmaker.— Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) April 6, 2018
This surprise novella gives an HEA to a longstanding supporting character in the Rock Chick series, Shirleen, the former poker-game running, black office manager at Lee Investigations, whose over-the-top meddling has incited many a romantic conflicts in the series. She is now a devoted single foster mother to two teenage boys on the brink of manhood. As a character Shirleen has always been problematic, and this book is no exception.
When a handsome man tries to pick her up at the grocery store, she first runs from his attention and then soaks it in, saving his number despite being determined not to ever call him because she is sure her sketchy past, precludes her from deserving of the HEAs she has helped engineer for her girlfriends have all received. So the Rock Chicks and the Hot Bunch intervene.
What I really enjoyed about this romance was the care Moses took in building up his relationship with Shirleen. He knows she is skittish with good reason, so he puts in the work. They have long phone-calls, romantic dinners and is there for her breaking down the barriers to her believing she deserves to be happy and that someone can love her despite her complicated history.
31. Puerto Rico Strong Anthology. Tackles Boricuan anxieties about our history, identity and future, in vastly contrasting storytelling & art styles from political/socio-historical tracts, to autobiographical vignettes to futuristic superhero stories. https://t.co/CMrUCKaRfC— Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) April 14, 2018
Like all anthologies there are some really great stories and some so-so ones and all of them are no longer than a handfuls of pages. My favorites were "Here" by Ronnie Garcia, "Stories from my father" by Adam Lance Garcia and Heidi Black, "A Broken Promesa" by Rosa Colon and "Blame it on 'Rico" by Alberto 'Tito' Serrano, It will be a great document to use try to unpack all the cultural anxieties experienced by Puerto Ricans and the Boricuan Diaspora. I was also once again fascinated by the amount of projection we Puerto Ricans are able channel into Taino imagery as an expression of anti-colonial sentiment. I understand the impulse and desire to reclaim that lost heritage but I feel we run the danger of colonizing them once more with our narratives. Puerto Rico has a lot more wrestling to do in the present with its colonial reality and reading this anthology made me feel a lot less alone, as I recognize so much of the home I grew up in, the worries and hopes I have for it and the murkiness of its future in it.
32. Norseton Wolves Mate Call: Beast by Holley Trent Intreguing worldbuilding but the hero’s self-hating reaction to a recent disability & his desire to override the heroine’s choices didn’t work for me. Not my tropes but will try others Free via KU: https://t.co/I1BBFvk1Pb— Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) April 14, 2018
An abused, low-ranking wolf female jumps at a chance to leave her wretched home back by answering a mating call. Arriving to a new pack as modern-day mail-order bride of sorts, she has no idea what to expect, and only has the hope that these wolves will be better, less brutal and that her role as wife, rather than a single female will be more secure. Only when she arrives her assigned mate doesn't want her. Determined not to go back, she sets out to out-stubborn him. I quite liked the heroine and her hope and determination. She is practical and clear-eyed about the society she has grown up in, and it was a treat to see her grown in confidence as she realizes her world need not be as small as it was before.
However I didn't care for the hero or his self-hating about his new disability. His view of himself as lesser and unworthy as mate, and that didn't work for me. I particularly didn't like how long it took him to realize that his determination to reject her was about overriding her choices. And I didn't like that in the end he was containing to insist in denying her the bite that would allow her to shift fully after reconciling himself to the blessing of having her as his wife. I did like the rest of the world, so I will eventually read the rest of these, but I think I will jump to the Viking Queen's Men book everyone else is raving about first.
33. Giving Chase by Lauren Dane: Small-town Cinderella story with evil vain mom & sister.Loved the opening were we didn't know who the hero was in the early chapters but heroine's insecurity & constant competition with other women turned me off. CW: stalker https://t.co/K3qZyPLUao— Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) April 17, 2018
I really loved the beginning of this book. I loved how the heroine's dating life was messy and how realistically she responded the attention and interest after her mini-makeover. She basks in the new-found male attention but doesn't lose sight of her boundaries. When one of her dates starts getting possessive, and clingy, she reacts in reasonable ways, mildly rebuking, trying to distance herself while also being aware of the potential danger.
However I didn't like how much the story relied on portraying women outside the heroine's friendship circle, and in the hero's past as vain and bitchy and how often the heroine had to stake her claim through uncomfortable confrontations. I really hate the trope that the hero has only date terrible women in the past and finally find the one.
35. A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn (Veronica Speedwell #3, in audio). Veronica & Stoker's relationship moved forward, some & old hurts were exorcised. I enjoyed spending time with them and seeing Veronica choosing her place in the world, the mystery was quite dull. #bkbrk— Ana Coqui (@anacoqui) April 18, 2018
I continue to enjoy how matter-of-factly lecherous Veronica can be. She owns her sexual desire and has no shame in claiming her extensive sexual history. In this book I did love how she uses her flirtations with Stoker, to soothe or aggravate him depending on what he needs at the time and how she has come to realize that her feelings for him go well beyond wanting to shag him. The mystery however was quite dull and Veronica and Stoker spent too much spinning their wheels.