November 10th, 2013

Discovery and e-books

When I was Much Younger, it was a lot harder to find books to read that I would like. Part of this was an artifact of my social isolation, in turn, a result of the combined negative effects of being on the spectrum and growing up a Jehovah's Witness. Once I got to college and later, I found new authors to read through electronic fora: UW's bb, and later, rec.arts.books and rec.arts.sf.written on Usenet. This intermediary, electronic step helped me develop friends who also read a lot and overlapped on preferences and these days, I find new books to read through a combination of friends' recommendations, independent review sites and store reviews.

I've bought kindles for several different people, and in a couple of cases in the family, I've shared my account with them, at least initially, as a way of easing them into e-books. In one of these cases, I've developed more awareness of what the person was reading, but didn't find much overlap (not surprising). But in another of these cases, I'm finding that I'm reading a ton of what she's reading and, at times, tapping my foot waiting for her to finish so we don't screw each other up with whispersync.

I don't know if this is a long term situation. But I love it, and it's the closest I've come to a few beautiful years in my early 30s when I was trading paper bags full of trashy novels with a few friends.

A Few Harlequin Presents reviews SPOILERS

Seriously. Just go the fuck away. I don't write these reviews for people who care about spoilers. I write them to remind myself of the content of the book that I think I might need to remember in the future to try to decide if I should read more by that author, and a lot of times, what I need to know is a SPOILER.

_The Ruthless Caleb Wilde_, Sandra Marton

Part of the Wilde Brothers series. The Wilde Brothers are three men. The Wilde Sisters are three women (younger than the three men). The six all have the same father, but different mothers (the bros mom died when they were young). The Fam has a big ranch in Texas call El Sueno. There are continuity errors; in this one, Jaimie is referred to as living in NYC, trying to make it as a "designer"; in the book below, she's living in DC, a CPA who has recently switched to being a Realtor and isn't doing very well at it.

Caleb is your basic, generic romance novel alpha male: history in the military (in his case, some sort of spook thing), currently a litigator, tall, in good shape, rich, dresses well. Caleb stands out in part because he has some of the social ineptness typical of many lawyers -- he's not just an asshole alpha male, he's a very particular kind of oblivious asshole _lawyer_, and big kudos to Marton for developing the character this well.

This entry is a one-night-stand-leads-to-baby-antics-ensue. It has a gay best friend of the heroine who is mistaken as a lover by the hero, who punches him, so kinda triggery, actually, and I'm not sure I'm going to read more, but he _did_ feel bad about it and would have apologized to the guy except the guy dies in a traffic accident, which sets up the reconnection between the future parents.

The reconnection is actually delicious and hilarious. I don't like We Made a Baby So We Will Fall In Love and Get Married stories. However, I really liked _Jaimie_ and figured I'd give it a shot anyway, and as these stories go, I liked it about as well as I could. I liked that Marton got conflict between the couple out of Caleb's very rapid, unilateral decision making style, BUT did not magically change his style (he's just going to be like that, altho he can certainly work to counteract it) nor did he have the heroine, Sage, persist in her (understandable) initial resistance to his plans once she understood them and the thinking behind them. Big Miss books are annoying; this was more like a whole string of little misunderstandings, and a basic communication style problem on Caleb's part which is fundamental to him (and which I liked because I felt it was characteristic of a certain category of lawyer).

_Jaimie: Fire and Ice_, Sandra Marton

This was the first Marton book I read. It reads fine as a standalone. Jaimie is being stalked. She has a really horrible boss (not the stalker) who sends her, a DC Realtor, on a fool's errand to NYC. Once there, she realizes it is a fool's errand, but before she can get away from Our Hero, Zach, whose condo her boss led her to believe might be available to sell, there's a massive power outage. One night stand ensues. In the morning, she takes off. Our Hero is pissed (understandable; he has intimacy issues -- another generic alpha male, in this case raised by an abusive military father, joined the military himself, then became an independent contractor and is now fabulously rich) and throws away her business card because the note she left behind was stilted. Stalker gets much scarier, Jamie goes to El Sueno (see above) to visit the Fam, tells her sister, who tells Caleb (see above) who calls Zach, his buddy from spook days, to protect her, totes unaware of the one night stand backstory.

Zach is now the only one who knows the whole story, and he decides to keep it to himself for a while, which is kinda stupid, because eventually Jaimie will go have another convo with sis and it will all come out, making Zach look bad.

The relationship development is handled well. When Jaimie is uprooted from her Realtor gig in DC to go live in NYC, she is plausibly re-employed by her former company (the CPA gig) in her new city. I don't much care for the swooped away by billionaire plot line; women kinda like to have something to do, just like men.

Part of the Wilde Sisters series.

ETA: _The Merciless Travis Wilde_, part of the Wilde Brothers series, Sandra Marton

Travis is 6'3" and was a fighter jet pilot. Which is actually possible altho straying into not fitting into some air frames. I didn't think it was really possible, but then I looked it up. So points to Marton.

Did you see that SPOILERS above? This is an inoperable brain tumor story, BUT it it HQN, so it has an HEA (in other words, that "inoperable" thing turns out to be operable, they just have to come up with an experimental surgery, and of course it is the brothers who network into finding the guy). It doesn't _look_ like an inoperable brain tumor story. It looks like a guy with intimacy issues and a woman with some severe anxiety and migraines hooking up through one of the All Time Best Gimmicks Ever. Oh, and did I mention? She's a virgin who is a PhD candidate in psych or soc or possibly both, doing male female relationships? Sometimes I feel like authors pull shit like this just to see what they can get away with. Marton is disturbingly good at Getting Away With It. Whenever I start to feel like, hey, that's a little too much to expect me to play along with, there's a wink and a har de har har and off we go again.

On balance, Marton does the best job I've encountered of taking appalling, stale and generally hateful romance novel tropes and making them enjoyable reading. There are moments that still really piss me off (Marton has the same give me your keys so I can unlock the door for you tic that drove me nuts about Jayne Ann Krentz), but then, pretty much everything pisses me off at least part of the time. I'll keep reading, if only because this outing included a trip to an amusement park AND a turkey leg. Seriously. High Quality Trash here.

_Sold to the Enemy_, Sarah Morgan

I read this first, and it was good enough to try more of my sister's selections, but not more by Morgan. This has a really young, virginal heroine who has her head on mostly straight, just a bit codependent, who is trying to extract herself and her mother from the abusive head of household. Her plan to do this involves a billionaire whose mom ran away (did I mention spoilers? Oh, good. Don't start complaining now.) to be with the same abusive guy before the heroine's mom married him. Hero's mom died, unclear whether it was a fell or pushed situation.

Anyway. It suffers from all the swooped up by billionaire problems. The virginal girl with the soap-and-camera business proposal gets a whole lot of executive attention, which just seems So Wrong. I don't know what to think about all the Greek stuff (actually, this is two unrelated novels and authors with Greek characters. Zach has a Greek name, altho born and raised in the US; the events of this novel take place in Greece), particularly given how much trouble Greece is having economically. Are there really any youthful Greek billionaires? It seems a little unlikely, all around.

I'm not a huge HQ fan. However, I've been really punchy lately, post-vacation, so this was all about the right speed for me. I don't expect to read any more by Morgan and I'll probably get annoyed by Marton soon enough (these people also write Sheikh romances. *sigh*), altho I expect to read more by her.

"Home for the Holidays", Jeaniene Frost SPOILERS

Novella involving Cat, Bones and others in the Night Huntress universe.

The next full length novel, due out in January, will be the last in the Cat and Bones series. The author explains why: http://jeanienefrost.com/2013/08/the-grave-stops-here/ Part of the explanation is that one of the projected book's worth of plot arc was included in this novella.

Bones has a birthday. Annette is attacked and there's some confusion about who attacked her, altho it is clear that Ian found her post attack. Annette says it was not Wraith, who is supposedly Bones' half brother, and was going to be her birthday present to Bones. Antics ensue.

Frost does some amazing stuff in this novella; it's some of the cleverest world building I've encountered in a while. Demons aren't supposed to be able to possess vampires in this world, but there's an exception, and it is so tightly constrained I wouldn't expect to have it come up again. The demon possession of multiple people at once offers the opportunity for all kinds of betrayal/loyalty conflict -- tons of fun. Best of all is how Ian turns out to be immune. And, of course, how they get additional demon bone to threaten other demons with.

It always kind of bugs me when people who are way old nevertheless seem excited by/participate in much more recent traditions (green bean casserole and candied yams, in this case), but I understand why authors do this. It was a fun romp, and of course I'll read the final entry when it comes out.

_Cast in Sorrow_, Michelle Sagara SPOILERS

I _think_ this is book 8 in the Chronicles of Elantra.

Kaylin Neya finally makes it to the West March to participate in the Regalia. She is accompanied by some people familiar from the very beginning of the series, and others who were picked up along the way. (And of course many of her friends are still back home in Elantra, only present in the memories of those on the quest/journey/wtf.) We get more of Teela's backstory in this entry than ever before, and, as always, Kaylin and her marks save/repair/rescue people/institutions/artifacts that have been damaged for centuries. All by doing slightly mystical things that she finds extremely confusing.

The familiar/glass dragon/wtf is pretty awesome. I was worried that Sagara was going to have it stay big, but no, we get to keep the pet-sized version around for future trouble. Very exciting!

I will continue to read the series. Oh, and Nightshade gets a brother back! Whoa! Weird. Brother is also very disapproving of Nightshade. I'm not very impressed by the development of Why Immortals Think Love is a Weakness theme. Maybe Kaylin will Fix that in the future, too. (No, I don't think she will.)

Kind of weird that there was really only one bad guy, really, in the Lost Children. Also, the way the whole Iberrienne storyline was tied up was a little unexpected. Severn is really shaping up as a Power in his own right, particularly with his blade chain thingie all fixed up (not just having it back fixed, but _how_ he got it back, and what people thought of that). Oh, and new Enemy! I bet Avonelle causes more problems for Teela, Kaylin and the whole gang.