This Chicks Sunday Commentary: The Reasons I Read Romance Novels

How many times have you hidden the cover of the romance novel you are reading from your friends, family, boyfriend and/or husband because you were embarrassed by the shirtless male or couple embracing on the cover of your book? E-books have taken that embarrassment away a bit, but still there’s that stigma. No one has ever said to me, you read romance novels? Me too! Even though I know I am not alone in loving this genre.

When I started my blog 2 1/2 years ago, I’ll admit that I had to have a conversation with my inner romance novel lover and decide to hell with it. My friends, husband, co-workers, mother, and for gods sake – my brother all subscribe to my blog. Get over your inhibitions and just read what you want to read and write what you want to write, right?!! Exactly! Even having come to grips with it myself, there is still a stigma attached that makes me slightly embarrassed still. So let’s discuss what exactly bothers me, you or any man or woman that likes to read romances but remains slightly ashamed.

  • The covers- This is the biggest reason why people make fun of romance novels and I believe, also the biggest reason for the stigma. Throughout the years there have been trends in romance covers. If you read historical novels, you may remember Fabio being famous for gracing the cover of too too many of them. When romance books are mentioned I think this is the first image in everyone’s minds. Regardless of the fact that you may be reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which is also a romance novel. Why is it so horrible to have period couture on couples or a naked male chest on a cover? I know publishers are trying to catch a readers eye and some readers LOVE seeing a handsome man on the cover.  There seems to be a trend away from these types of covers. I know a lot of historical romance novels now only have a woman alone on the cover, or a man. I read an interview with a popular contemporary author who says she doesn’t like to use cover models because she wants people to use their imagination. I like that!

Do You Want Hooking UpFrom Lukov

  • Let’s address the fluff factor. Just as there are many different types of people in this world, there are also many different types of authors. We have various competency levels from horrible to excellent. This goes for any genre. I have read my share of great lighthearted romances as well as very realistic historically accurate romance novels. Yes, some can be cheesy, but those same cheesy romances do their job. What’s their purpose? To create a fantasy for the reader to leave their life behind them and enjoy someone else’s happily ever after. Let’s face it. Life can be really hard and well, sometimes it really sucks! I think there is nothing better than curling up in bed at the end of a tough day with a romance novel. If it’s one of the better authors out there I may even learn something! (get your minds out of the gutter!) Diana Gabaldon has a Ph.D. in Science. Do you really think she didn’t use her knowledge and research skills when writing Outlander? Yes, she is the supreme example, but I’m sure the wonderful Lisa Kleypas puts just as much thought and research into one of her own novels. She just doesn’t give us chapters of descriptive prose and gets to the story pretty quickly. My point is that romance novels gives their reader a break from a reality that involves things like school shootings. Give me a romance novel ANY day over a news story like that…
  • Do women need a man to save them? Can we not save ourselves? Why yes we can Hillary Clinton! I mention Hillary because she said in an interview that ‘men and women gather abusive attitudes from reading romance novels about “women being grabbed and thrown on a horse and ridden off into the distance.”’ Hillary, you are THE woman! But, in this case you are also missing the point, big time! In my everyday life where I am the breadwinner in my family and in the past have managed a team of people with the goal of hitting budgets I need to relieve some stress! So, yes, I do love to read about an Alpha male who takes charge, wants to protect his woman from harm, and not let her pay for anything. That is my fantasy to not be the responsible person. There is no harm in reading about that type of man. Has reading about these types of men made me think I can’t go on without having someone else take charge? Nope.

Heath Ledger

  • Sex or no Sex? Yes, romance novels typically have an abundance of sex. Sometimes, when the mood is right, the sex is good. LOL. Other times, I skim the sex scenes because what I need is to read about a relationship that works. Some authors cater to readers who just want to read the sex scenes. That’s fine, but those aren’t the types of novels I prefer. I love great characters who fall in love. I love the build up of a relationship whether they are enemies and become lovers, or friends to lovers, or strangers to lovers. I like all the tropes that give me great characters who fall in love. Why? It solidifies what I already know. A great relationship brings happiness and fulfillment to your life. The End.

So there you have it. My reasons for reading romance novels. I bet they don’t differ that much from your own!

Do you agree with what I said above? Have your own reasons for reading romance novels that you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear it!

Until next Sunday,

Deb (but I also read Fantasy, Mysteries, YA, etc…)

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This Chick Read: Signs of Attraction by Laura Brown

Carli is a Hard of Hearing college student who wears hearing aids to class. When one of her hearing aids runs out of batteries she meets Reed, a completely deaf student who offers her a spare. Meeting Reed opens her up to a life that she had always lived on the fringe. Learning ASL and hanging out with other deaf and hearing impaired students makes her realize how much of life she had been missing. Reed fills a hole that she hadn’t realized she had, guiding her into this new life as a friend and then boyfriend.

During her journey we learn a lot about Carli’s background. She grew up in a family where excelling was extremely important and falling behind because of a “little hearing problem” was unacceptable. That pressure added to her insecurities and as the novel goes on we find out the basis for Carli’s hearing loss. The tone of the story shifts from a bright excitement at her new life with Reed to a dark undertone of abuse. I’ll admit, this shift caught me by surprise, but it wasn’t an unwelcome change.  Hearing Loss is normal, and this author treated it as something for Carli to learn and explore, but not a major conflict.  They needed a larger obstacle to overcome before finding their happy ending and boy did they get one!

Signs of Attraction was actually filled with a lot of backstory and subplots as Reed had a pretty big sub plot as well. I liked how the author made this story about so much more than that they were deaf and fell in love. Life has all sorts of challenges and sometimes they hit us all at once, just as they did for Carli and Reed in this novel.

I liked both of these characters although I did want to kick each of them a couple of times when they made a decision that I didn’t agree with, but it kept my interest. I wanted to see what path they would take to remain together. This was my first book by Laura Brown and I’m intrigued by the hearing loss subject matter. Hearing Loss is something that a lot of people can relate to and I’m glad she’s bringing attention to the subject and yet keeping it real.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Signs of Attraction Click this link to purchase! Signs of Attraction Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chick Read: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

When Earth receives a message from an alien race scholars and scavengers both react with joy. The scholars for obvious reasons. An alien race exists and their planet may have the resources to save Earth. Scavengers, or scavvers as they are called in this novel, are also rubbing their hands with greed over these same resources that could save Earth, but they see the profit they could make. Mia, a scavver, and Jules, a scholar, meet each other on the Undying’s planet of Gaia. He to observe and learn, she to scavenge and sell items to free her sister from slavery. They are essentially abandoned on this planet with only each other to turn to against other less savory scavvers. Do they trust each other? No. However, as time goes on they come to see that they only have each other to help get themselves off this planet.

Unearthed was an Indiana Jones meets Star Trek action adventure science fiction novel. As Mia and Jules traverse across this planet trying to outsmart other unsavory characters they form a bond that is unbreakable. Mia, although uneducated, uses her street smarts, while Jules uses his education in all things Undying, able to read their glyphs. Both skills making them equals on this adventure.

Mia’s character was as bright as her two toned hair. Sassy and energetic, she was driven by the need to save her sister. Jules’s nerdy prep school smarts made him her complete opposite, yet he had that same drive to succeed, but his need was to restore his father’s honor. I really liked the detail and descriptions the authors wove into the story. This alien race in technology was light years ahead of the human race, and these two kids were able to crack the code of their existence on this planet, and why they were reaching out to Earth. The puzzles were detailed and Mia and Jules’ teamwork gave this novel great energy, moving the plot forward quickly.

Kaufman who also co-authored Illuminae and Gemina with Jay Kristoff, has a deft hand at imbuing teens with adult attributes. As with other great Young Adult novels, I forgot I was reading about a couple of seventeen year old’s maneuvering through these traps and triggers. This novel was great fun and ended way to quickly. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Unearthed

Click this link to purchase! Unearthed

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chick Read: Playing to Win (Brits in Manhattan #2) by Laura Carter

Playing to Win quote 1

Izzy is in New York to promote her new diet and fitness book when she crosses paths with gym owner Brooks Adams at his gym. They seem to have nothing in common, from their totally different approaches to fitness and health to their opposite end of the spectrum upbringings. Izzy’s snobby British background rubs Brooks solid middle class Manhattan personality the wrong way and sparks fly. When Izzy attacks him in her blog, they get a lot of press and decide to switch fitness regimes for two weeks to declare whose works the best. Living, eating and working out side by side for two weeks these adversaries start to enjoy the barbs they are throwing at each other and frustration turns to romance.

We got a hint of Brooks’s history in the first Brits in Manhattan novel, Balancing the Scales. Brooks, a single father who fought against the prejudice of his pregnant girlfriends parents as a teenager easily put that same stamp on Izzy’s socialite turned fitness expert. His trust was not easily gained and he was rather hard on Izzy. However, knowing his history made it easier for me to overlook his boorish behavior. Izzy was more two dimensional. She did come across as the Prada wearing fitness princess and even though in her late twenties acted pretty childish towards Brooks. I’ll admit, I got a little impatient with both of their shenanigans until they finally decided to act on their pent up frustrations. When they realized their feelings for each other I enjoyed their game playing a lot more.

Izzy’s insecurity held me back from feeling more empathy for her and I think that hurt how I felt about the two of them as a couple. I liked Brooks’s character and had been looking forward to reading his story. He was a guy that certainly deserved a happily ever after, but I didn’t have complete buy in that Izzy was that person for him. Laura Carter’s writing style is full of sweet charm and British wit which translated well in the writing of Izzy’s personality. Solid writing was a huge part of why I gave this book a three rating. I just wish that sweetness had hit the pages a little sooner so I could’ve loved Izzy a bit more. ❤️❤️❤️

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Playing to Win cover

Click this link to purchase! Playing to Win (Brits in Manhattan)

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chicks Uppercase Box Reveal- Feb18

Conspiracy bag

I love getting home from work and having a little surprise waiting for me on my doorstep. What kind of book will it be this month? Fantasy? Fairy Tale? Romance? Mystery? I opened the package (it’s not really in a box, gasp!) and eagerly slipped open the tie string at the top of the bag. Before I got the knot released something fell to the ground.

There was an item outside of the bag! I guess there wasn’t enough room because the book does seem to be kind of large. I turned over what looked to be a pretty notepad with books laying on some prettily drawn leaves. There’s a quote at the bottom by Maud Casey that says “I was born with a reading list I will never finish.”

Queen's notebook

I’ll admit that I’ve never heard of Maud Casey so I Googled her and found out she’s an American novelist with several best selling titles. Like most of us, it seem’s Ms. Casey has quite the TBR she needs to get through!!

There were two other items in the bag besides the book, which I’ll get to in a moment. The first thing was a packet of Book Lovers Coffee beans. Now I know that some people like to drink tea while they’re reading, and I’ll admit that occasionally I do too. However, my drink of choice on a cold morning is a nice cup of coffee, so this is perfect for me!

I spot another quote, this time on the coffee packet, and by Louisa May Alcott the author of one of my favorite childhood novels, Little Women. “I’d rather take coffee than compliments right now.”  Well, Louisa, it depends upon the day for me. On a bad one, compliments would go a long way. LOL. Although a nice strong cup of coffee can jump my mood from bad to good just as well. Queen's coffee

There is also a sticker proclaiming “Let the Queen Rise!” well, maybe not proclaiming, but it should be! And yes, that sticker gives away the title of the Uppercase Book for Feb 18. A signed copy of The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross.

I’ll admit, I’ve had my eye on this book, so I was excited to see it in the bag. A fantasy novel, my favorite!

Here’s the synopsis:

Grave Mercy meets Red Queen in this epic debut fantasy, inspired by Renaissance France, about an outcast who finds herself bound to a disgraced lord and entangled in his plot to overthrow the current king.

Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

And now, with war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.

Let’s discuss:

Have you read this book? If so, let me know what you thought of it!

What did you think of the other gifts that arrived in this package?

I’ll be reading The Queen’s Rising and will review it soon, promise!

Until next Sunday,

Deb

If you’re interested in checking out the subscription prices to Uppercase Box, click HERE.

This Chick Read: The Hookup (Moonlight and Motor Oil #1) by Kristen Ashley

Izzy has had some hard knocks in her life so when she finds out her one night stand is in love with someone else she is ok with taking what he will give her. After all thats probably all she deserves. (Her thoughts not mine!) Johnny’s head is messed up from his previous breakup and when that woman moves back to town, even though he knows he’s not getting back with her, he lets Izzy out of his life. One night he runs into Izzy eating alone at a restaurant and finds out about some of her past troubles and decides immediately to get back involved and make sure she is safe.

Izzy is one of those characters that seems a little unreal but you can’t help but like. She’s all rainbows and butterfly’s, sweet, nice and girly. Her place is shabby chic. Johnny is your typical Kristen Ashley male. Very alpha and masculine but with a warm heart that beats for one woman. What Johnny comes to realize is that that woman is now Eliza and he will do anything to keep her safe and happy. When her sister moves to town, bringing trouble with her too, Johnny opens his arms to Izzy’s family, wading in to insure their safety too. What’s not to like about this guy? Ok, his last name is Gamble. Johnny Gamble is kind of a silly non Alpha sounding name but I got over it pretty quick.

I really enjoyed this novel. It reminded me of the older KA novels like the Burg series or even some of the stand alone novels like Play It Safe. Those are some of my favorites. A good old fashioned romance of boy meets girl, gets to know and love her and wants to be with her forever. There’s a tiny hint of danger thrown in for conflict which hits just the right note keeping the novel from being too sweet. The heat level is not sweet though, it’s very spicy!

❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

DA387576-CC73-4243-AC9C-C62510921CD0 Click this link to purchase! The Hookup (Moonlight and Motor Oil Series Book 1) Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chick Read: #Prettyboy Must Die by Kimberly Reid

#Prettyboy Must Die is an action adventure spy novel in a high school setting. Peter Smith, CIA operative, is undercover as a high school senior trying to find an international hacker that he’s tracked to this campus. While running late one night with his buddy Bunker, he’s caught with his shirt off, on camera by a freshman girl who posts it on Picturegram. (think fictional Instagram) Unbeknownst to Peter, the photo goes viral and blows his cover. Peter figures out he’s in trouble when a team of terrorists break through the roof of his chem lab and take his school hostage. How will Peter (real name Jake Morrow) save the day?

It was pretty obvious to me that this author’s inspiration was the Jason Bourne films and novels by Robert Ludlom. Matt Damon looked pretty young in the first movie, and that was the face I put to Peter Smith while reading this book. As Peter and his friend Bunker race around trying to save the other students in the school, as well as find the terrorists and incapacitate them, it was Matt’s face that helped give the visual more impact. The writing was fun, the action sequences written for a movie, but the characters fell a little flat. I think the action took away from the characterizations and unlike with Jason Bourne, I didn’t care too much what happened to Peter. (Although, I did like his friend Bunker a lot. HE was interesting!)

#Prettyboy Must Die was not a bad book though. The writing was great and there was some good dialog. It had a lot of promise but not a lot of heart. ❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Prettyboy

Click this link to purchase! Prettyboy Must Die: A Novel

Copyright 2017 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chick Read: Fate’s Edge (The Edge #3) by Ilona Andrews

I have been listening to the audio books of all of Ilona Andrews books. I have read all of them before, but listening to the narration by Renee Raudman has given me a new appreciation for some stories that I haven’t read in quite a few years. Fate’s Edge is one of those stories and Renee Raudman’s characterizations were spot on and her delivery engaging.

The Edge series is pretty dark. When I listened to Bayou Moon (book 2) I thought wow, there are some pretty grim and gruesome details in this book! There’s something about listening to a book that make those details really stand out. Fate’s Edge tells the story of Kaldar and Audrey. We had met Kaldar previously in Bayou Moon. He was kind of a crazy character and I wasn’t sure how they’d write a whole book about him and didn’t remember if I liked him or not. Turns out I LOVE him. Being inside Kaldar’s head gives us insight into why he does all of these crazy things. When he meets Audrey he’s working for the Mirror (think CIA) trying to find the team that stole some magical bracelets that the Mirror doesn’t want out in the world. Audrey is one of the thieves who stole those bracelets and he is gobsmacked when he meets her. She is drop dead gorgeous and a natural con artist. Something he really admires.

The greatest thing about these two characters is that they understand each other perfectly. They are very similar, both are con artists, both are great actors and both have been disappointed by life. When they meet, Audrey knows immediately that Kaldar is her soul mate but she is determined to keep him at arm’s length because she knows to be involved with a grifter is to doom yourself to a disappointing love life. Kaldar doesn’t immediately know that Audrey is his one and only, he just knows he wants her. Their back and forth dialog, along with their adventure while retrieving the bracelets is lighthearted and fun. A refreshing departure in this dramatic series! Eventually those interactions and adventures makes it apparent to Kaldar that Audrey is meant for him. When he comes to this realization your heart squeezes at the emotion he is feeling.

Along for the ride in this adventure are George and Jack. Rose’s little brothers from The Edge, the first novel in the series. They provided some humor as well as their own little heart tugging moments. When the story ends, you just don’t want to let the two of them go, they are so adorable. I can’t wait to listen to the Innkeeper series because my sister told me that George and Jack show up as an adults and I can’t quite remember his part in that story and it’s driving me mad. These novels are interconnected in ways that I didn’t realize and by listening to them all at one time, I’m seeing and hearing things that I missed on the first reading. What fun!

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Fate's Edge Click this link to purchase! Fate’s Edge (The Edge, Book 3) Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Young Adults Save the World

The other day I finished reading a Young Adult book that I felt was kind of well, average. The writing was good, the scenes were set pretty well, but there was just something that bothered me about the plot. It was a contemporary ya action novel that seemed to be inspired by the Jason Bourne spy movies. It was fun, it was well written, but why didn’t it connect with me? I did also have trouble emotionally connecting with the hero, but I really think it’s because I didn’t believe it.It didn’t connect because the world this seventeen year old lives in could be my own world. I had to fight my own reality and couldn’t immerse myself completely into the story.

Is that why it’ easier to accept a 17 year old saving the world or falling in love when it’s a Fantasy novel?  

Absolutely! Why?

  1. World building: When I read V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, or Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series, I didn’t have time to stop and question the logistics, emotional capacity, training, and fortitude of the main characters. I was too busy immersing myself in the world they were building. Trying to figure out the schematics of jumping Londons distracted me from scoffing at such a young person single handedly saving her race. (yeah, I mixed the plots a bit to prove my point, but you get the drift.)
  2. Magic: It may be a tired trope, but if our hero or heroine has a magical power, that power trumps how old they are. 17? Pshaw! This girl can fling lightening out of her hands! This guy is a billionaire who has created a virtual reality game that is taking over the world! When he/she uses that power to save herself, her friends, or the world… well, I’m all in! I don’t even stop to think twice about it! Of course, not all powers are used for good, but point made.
  3. The power of love: I am not going to say that love can’t conquer all because love changes people and makes them view life differently. Love is life changing, but is that power of love more believable when it’s a 17 year old girl who turns into a dragon or a seventeen year old girl late for class in high school? Well, I’m intrigued by this girl who turns into a dragon and will be more willing to overlook her age than the girl I envision as myself in a high school setting.  The comparison to myself makes me remember all of her life that remains in front of her. I’m a little more skeptical that she may have found the love of her life at 17 than that she turns into a dragon. Weird, right?
  4. Fight experience: I’m speaking VERY generally, but I believe the percentage of 17 year old’s in the real world who have the fighting skills to overcome terrorists are pretty slim. However, in a fantasy setting where sword skills are learned by the age 10, and of course there are those magic powers  they can use (!), I can believe the storytelling for that world. After all, it’s not my own world, it’s make believe.

teen super hero's

You get the point. So, here’s the dilemma. How do you write a YA novel, set in the world we are living in, where it’s believable for the main protagonist to have the skills, knowledge and fortitude to save the day, fall in love and otherwise be a hero that is believable?

How do you review that book and not let your own opinions (yes, maybe even disbelief) of that story reflect in your review? Or do you let it affect your review?

I’d like to hear your opinion!

Until next Sunday,

Deb

p.s. I am in no way saying that a 17 year old can’t save the world, only that it is more believable in a Fantasy novel. There are amazing young people out there who love this world and will hopefully keep helping save it. This post was a silly way for me to procrastinate writing a review about a teen spy that saved his school. Back to it!

 

This Chick Read: Wrong Number Right Guy (The Bourbon Street Boys #1) by Elle Casey

May Wexler receives an urgent text from her sister from a dive bar downtown called Frankie’s. Responding to the urgent nature of the text, she grabs her mini Chihuahua and rushes out the door. Dressed inappropriately for a biker dive bar in her pink espadrilles and Ann Taylor clothes, she braves the biker element in search of her sister and her three kids. Needless to say, her sister isn’t there. The text was sent in error, and before she figures that out, she’s in the middle of a shoot out and a burly bearded gorilla grabs her and hustles her out the door.

This was the first of the fish out of water scenes in Wrong Number Right Guy for May. She was not the brightest bulb in the bunch, however she was plucky! and damned funny actually. There were a couple of scenes where I was laughing out loud and wiping tears from my eyes. Normally I abhor stupid women in books, but there was more to May than met the eye and I can only think that Ozzie saw right through that Ann Taylor facade before I did. Even though he was mostly the strong silent type, he seemed to like her shenanigans and actually gave her credit for having more brains than I’m convinced she had. He was the perfect stoic foil to her beard jokes and took her teasing very well.

The best thing about this novel, besides the humor, was the fact that even though May was kind of nutty, she wasn’t a victim. This girl seemed terrified of everything, but when push came to shove, her instincts were on fire and she’d kick butt. Sometimes by accident, but she didn’t need a man to save her, she always ended up saving herself. This is why this book ranked so high. Well, that and the humor. My god, I laughed! I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series to see if they are just as funny. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Wrong Number Click this link to purchase! Wrong Number, Right Guy (The Bourbon Street Boys) Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved