04 December 2017

The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

The Tea House on Mulberry StreetThe Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Format: audiobook from the library

The Tea House on Mulberry Street is a nice, light bit of women's fiction. The plot follows the owners of Muldoon's Tea Rooms and their troubled marriage, as well as several other people who patronize the tea house while trying to work through problems of their own. Unlike a book such as The Friday Night Knitting Club, however, the characters don't all become friends and insert themselves into each other's lives. Because of this, I could have flipped right past the chapters of characters I didn't care to follow because their stories didn't affect other stories in the book. There was a mix of predictable, unbelievable, and a twist or two that I didn't see coming. One of the predictable storylines was still satisfying because I wanted to see certain characters get their comeuppance.

The narrator for the audiobook was very good. I appreciated hearing an Irish accent in a book set in Belfast; I still can't shake the audiobook I listened to that was set in Australia and used Aussie slang, but neither of the readers did an Aussie accent. I'd rather hear a bad accent than no attempt made at all.

The book includes a recipe for cheesecake, but if this book were on the tea house menu, it would more likely be angel food cake -- a sort of retro dessert that I don't see people eating much these days. The book was published in 2003 but it had the feel of a 1980s movie, especially at the end where the author wraps up everyone's situation. It is also not as racy as some women's fiction I've picked up that has been written in the past couple years. I would have no problem handing this book to my maiden aunt or even my friend who only reads Christian romance.

This was my first time reading a book by Sharon Owens, and I'm on the fence. It wasn't a bad book but I'm not compelled to seek out her other work. However, if it was on the free table at work (yes, my husband's job has such a thing) or I was on a cruise without reading material, I'd pick up another of her books.

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01 December 2017

Roomies by Christina Lauren

RoomiesRoomies by Christina Lauren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Expected publication date: 05 Dec 2017

**Received free ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Christina Lauren (actually the writing duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) keeps popping up in BookTube videos and other sites where I get book recommendations, especially with the title Beautiful Bastard. Being the contrarian that I am, I usually put off reading the very authors that are suggested to me. So you know that me requesting a Christina Lauren book from NetGalley was an accident. Anyway ...

Roomies by Christina Lauren is a modern marriage of convenience romance with something of a women's fiction element. Our heroine Holland has a crush on our hero Calvin, a street musician who doesn't know she is alive. She is so impressed with his guitar playing that she gets him an audition with her uncle, who happens to be a successful music director on Broadway. Calvin is perfect for an opening in the uncle's latest show but there is a hitch -- Calvin is in the country illegally. So of course, Holland asks Calvin to marry her and the adventure begins.

I thoroughly enjoyed the romance. A marriage of convenience is one of my favorite romance storylines but it is difficult to pull off in a contemporary story. Many times the reason why a couple has to get married feels contrived, but the reason Holland and Calvin got married felt believable. I am also a sucker for an Irish accent, and Lauren did a great job of helping me hear Calvin's Irish accent in my head without making it a caricature. The passage of time was handled well; there were plenty of scenes of Holland and Calvin getting to know each other in different ways so that when they fell in love it was believable. I liked the banter between the hero and heroine and how the attraction between them felt strong without being too angsty.

Outside of the romance, Holland was grappling with trying to figure out her worth, why her life seemed to stall after college graduation, and whether she was holding on to things that were no longer helping her. This was the part that felt like women's fiction to me, in a good way. It made the book a little more well-rounded and not just about the relationship.

AUNTIE TEST: I would say this book was hotter than warm but not scalding. The book is written in the first person, so there is a lot of descriptions of Holland lusting after Calvin's body but the language used isn't as graphic as it could have been, even in the open-door sex scenes. I'd say you could hand this to your maiden aunt and pretend that you forgot the sex was in there; it's mild enough that she probably won't call you on it :-).

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