31 October 2017

Love Hacked by Penny Reid

Love Hacked (Knitting in the City, #3)Love Hacked by Penny Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary, from Goodreads:

Sandra has difficulty removing her psychotherapist hat. Of her last 30 dates, 29 have ended the same way: the man sobbing uncontrollably. After one such disaster, Sandra--near desperation and maybe a little tipsy--gives in to a seemingly harmless encounter with her hot waiter, Alex. Argumentative, secretive, and hostile Alex may be the opposite of everything Sandra knows is right for her. But now, the girl who has spent all her life helping others change for the better must find a way to cope with falling for someone who refuses to change at all.

I don't know why I don't hear romance fans singing Penny Reid's praises more loudly. When it comes to contemporary romance, she is my favorite author and Love Hacked was difficult to put down. It has the perfect balance of light and dark elements; Reid knows how to give me a tortured hero without making me feel melancholy at the end of the book. This story of a psychiatrist and the one broken man in her life who doesn't want to be fixed is funny and fast-moving.

I've commented in previous reviews that the books have very little yarn in them for a series called Knitting in the City. Love Hacked is the first book I've read that lives up to the series name. As usual, Reid managed to get the balance just right. She featured enough yarn talk to appeal to the knitters without making it feel unnatural. I appreciated the amount of time she gave us with the knitting group. In a couple of the books, the knitting group felt shoehorned in, but in this book, the group felt more like a part of Sandra's weekly routine.

As for my "auntie test": this book, as with all the other books in the series, should be reserved for your more liberal auntie, the one who lives to say shocking things at the Thanksgiving dinner table. There isn't an abundance of truly coarse language (no F-words that I can recall), but the sex talk is as plentiful as I have come to expect in any contemporary romance novel published after 2010.

This is the first series I've read where I feel the books are truly standalone. You can feel free to dip into the series at any point and see how you feel about it. I recommend Love Hacked as a great example of Reid's writing style.

View all my reviews

27 October 2017

Act Two by Kimberly Stuart

Act TwoAct Two by Kimberly Stuart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the story of Sadie Maddox, a classical vocalist who is seeing her CD sales and concert attendance fall as her age rises. Her agent suggests that she pads her bank account by taking a guest professorship in a college music department. However, this means she has to leave her beloved NYC to move to rural Iowa. Will she be able to make the adjustment?

I enjoyed the heroine's biting inner monologue; Kimberly Stuart really brought Sadie to life and I could clearly hear her voice in my head. Having been trained by many years of romantic comedy viewing, to me Sadie sounded exactly like a spoiled diva who would think of Iowa dismissively as a flyover state. She likes shopping and good restaurants and turns her nose up at anything that she views as lowbrow. Yet she rarely says anything harsh out loud, which I appreciated.

However, 24 hours after I finished the book, I found that I wished there had been a little bit more of everything else. I put this on my women's fiction shelf mainly because there wasn't enough of the other elements to classify it differently, in my opinion. Sadie didn't spend enough time with her love interest to call it a romance. There weren't enough scenes of Sadie with her students for it to be a good school story. Sadie didn't show enough growth for it to be a Christian redemption or even a secular redemption story. If any one of those avenues had been pursued a little further, it would have elevated this book. So women's fiction it is for me, by default.

With all that said, I still enjoyed Stuart's writing enough to seek out another one of her books. It definitely passes the "auntie test"; it is not heavily Christian but it is clean. This was a pleasant diversion, even if I felt that nothing much had changed with Sadie in the end.

View all my reviews