All tagged Contemporary Romance

Listorama: 11 Romance Novels for Clever Ladies

Recently, The Mary Sue--a website I have deeply conflicted feelings about--posted a super-ignorant, click-bait-y piece about romance novels and romance readers.

Rather than rebut the silliness (because what's the point), I thought I'd offer some recommendations for clever ladies looking to try out the genre, want to try a new subgenre of Romance or who want to revisit it after an absence. I'm not an expert, but I've read reasonable widely in the genre and appreciate that it is, in many ways, a deeply feminist field of offerings, particularly in recent years. 

The following are 11 smart big-R romances (read: happy ending of a central love story, as defined by the Romance Writers Association) I recommend for Clever Ladies who are interested in the genre. Keep in mind that there's just about something for everyone in this genre, so if there's not something that's up your alley on this list, there's probably something out there--leave a note in the comments and I'll see what I can do. 

3 Quickie Contemporary Romance Reviews

If you're having a rough week, it's probably not a good idea to read a novel set in hell--literally. A guaranteed happy ending is more the ticket in these situations. 

I recently picked up an assortment of contemporary romances, and have a few thoughts I'd like to share. Each of these novels belongs to a series of interconnected novels, but can be read as standalone stories. 

A Grown-Up Romance for the Rest of Us: Live by Mary Ann Rivers

When I heard that Mary Ann Rivers had a series of full-length novels about an Ohio family coming out this year, I was pretty thrilled. I quite liked both of her novellas, one of which--The Story Guy--I recommended here on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves. 

He hadn’t thought that once Destiny understood where he was going with this, where he believed them to be going, that she would retreat. He had been prepared if she looked at him straight and told him no, that she knew she belonged here. He would know, if she told him in the way she always told him everything she was sure of, that she was right. He wanted to see the world with her because even the bits of it he’d seen would look different with her along. His home was with her.”

Live is the first in Rivers' series featuring the the Burnside siblings of Lakefield, Ohio (which seems quite a bit like a fictionalized version of Columbus, Ohio). The family is deeply-entrenched in their working class city neighborhood. Each of the siblings live in the area where they grew up and one is starting a medical clinic in their neighborhood. The Burnsides' parents have passed away, leaving them physically close to each other, but adrift at the same time. 

This first installment in the series focuses on one of the two Burnside sisters, Destiny (Des), who's never left Lakefield. At 27, she finds herself unemployed and spending her days at the public library searching for job openings and filling out applications online. After six months of job-seeking frustration, she finally loses it in the library after receiving yet another rejection.

Not Your Usual New Adult Fare - One & Only by Viv Daniels

As much as I enjoyed my first foray--Easy by Tammara Webber--into the burgeoning "new adult" genre/category/whatever (seriously, peeps, is a genre or a category--this is making me crazy) and the brilliant and emotionally raw Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin, the rest of my dabbling into this trend haven't turned out so well (though I liked Cora Carmack's Faking It--I can't resist the fake boyfriend trope). 

Frankly, nearly every "new adult" read I've tried has been too trope-y, too over-the-top in the drama department or just plain too much. 

However, when I learned (thanks to the lovely Angie) that Diana Peterfreund, whose books I've quite enjoyed (Killer unicorns, yo!), was starting a new adult contemporary romance series under the pen name Viv Daniels, I immediately added the first novel, One & Only, to my to-read list. Diana has such a solid track record, including the Secret Society Girl series, which was new adult when it was chick lit, I suspected she'd provide a solid entry into the genre/category/whatever.


The Sly Subversiveness of Molly O'Keefe's Wild Child

It's no secret that Molly O'Keefe's novels are my favorites in the very crowded contemporary romance genre.  Her books, which on their surface follow the norms of romance novels (since that's what they are), are brilliantly subversive. All of the novels I've read by this author riff on romance archetypes and conventions in a deliciously satisfying manner. Molly's latest, Wild Child, is no different.

Wild Child focuses on Monica Appleby, famous reality television teen wild child, who wrote a bestselling tell-all memoir of her raucous and destructive formative years. She's alone, her closest friend having recently died and not having a relationship with her mother, and has returned to the town of Bishop, Arkansas to write her follow-up book, this time chronicling the events of her parents' tumultuous relationship and her father's subsequent death. Monica is all hard edges and walls, unwilling to make even casual connections with anyone.

Monica ignored Jackson as he slid into the booth across from her. First the Cracker dude and now Jackson. Good Lord, weren’t the headphones a giveaway? Did she need to make a Do Not Disturb sign? This was why she so rarely went to coffee shops to work, preferring her own company and her own music.


The mayor of Bishop is Jackson Davies, who dropped out of law school and returned to his hard-luck hometown to raise his younger sister, Gwen, after their parents were killed in a car accident. Jackson never wanted to make Bishop his home; the town is dying, with an empty factory gathering dust and many of the town's residents struggling in the blighted economy. His father was mayor of Bishop as well, and his goal at the town's leader is the turn the economy around, make sure his sister is safely away at college and then get out of town.

Romance, Post-High School Paths & Sexism in Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

Sabrina Elkins' debut novel, Stir Me Up, has a lot going for it: a charming romance, a positive undertone regarding female sexuality and a great portrayal of how the college track right after high school isn't the best thing for everyone (more of this, please). Unfortunately, just as many frustrating, unnecessary and un-nuanced plot and character issues kept Stir Me Up from being that satisfying read I hoped it would be. 

High school senior Camille (Cami) grew up in her father's French restaurant in Vermont, and dreams of a career much like her father's. Becoming a chef is truly her passion, and over the years, she's slowly earned her father's trust as she's worked her way up from prepping vegetables to making the restaurant's soup du jour once a week. While her father wants her to attend University of Vermont so she can keep her future options open, Cami knows what she wants: a future in the kitchen of a top restaurant. 

Her world is disrupted, though, when her stepmother Estella's nephew (whom she raised), Julian, moves into Cami's house. Julian is a 20-year old Marine who was severely injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. He's lost part of one of his legs and sustained numerous other injuries. Understandably, he's angry and hostile.

Read the rest--> 


Different in a Good Way - The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

Often, when a new book or author receives piles of advance praise, I find myself leery of marketing hype. I’ve just been burned too many times, so I proceed with caution these days. However, my interest in Mary Ann Rivers’ debut novella, The Story Guy, was piqued after a rave review from one of my favorite book pushers, Angie of Angieville fame.

A quick 120 pages later, and I can say, y’all, Mary Ann Rivers is an author to watch.

The Story Guy’s main character is Carrie, a midwestern librarian who lives a good life. She has a career she loves, parents with whom she’s close and friends she adores. Despite all this warmth, however, Carrie’s life is also lonely, as everyone around her has a partner and a rich home life.

One of Carrie's favorite distractions is reading the personal ads on a City Paper-type website. (Who hasn't done that, am I right?) These ads are usually pretty sketchy and Carrie finds them refreshingly authentic--these people aren’t playing games, they’re saying exactly what they want out of a relationship. One morning she comes across an intriguing request for a standing Wednesday rendezvous in a public park for “kissing only” and impulsively answers it before she can stop herself.

The following Wednesday, Carrie meets this stranger, Brian, and it sets in motion a radical change in both their lives.

Review: Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James (aka That Time That Sandra Read a Romance Novel)

I am not usually a fan of romances, but Julie James' Practice Makes Perfect is fantastic.

It brings to mind a delightful movie and cast: You've Got Mail. Indeed this one would make a great film. Julie James' romantic and funny novel has maybe even hooked me into romance as a genre. Anything that makes me laugh, think, "awwww how sweet" and look kindly on the characters and their actions, is a big win for me!

The setting of Practice Makes Perfect is a fast-paced, high-pressure law firm in Chicago. The characters are a couple of thirty-two year old lawyers on the cusp of making partner in said firm. Payton and J.D.  had a contentious, but outwardly civil, relationship during their years working at the firm. But all bets are off when, only days before the announcement of promotions to partner, they're told that only one can come out victorious. 

They've each been at the firm for eight years with tension building to a nearly explosive level between them. The pressure isn't all it's cracked up to be. Everything is ready to explode between them as they await the firm's decision as to who will make partner. Whoever doesn't make the grade is expected to resign--immediately. Gone. No longer welcome.

A prank war breaks out between the two would-be law firm partners, making each scene crackle with humor and chemistry.

One hilarious scene ensues when during an important court case one of Payton's beloved Jimmy Choo heels breaks; she catapults into the jury box, rips the seam of her pencil skirt straight up the back and exposes her thong-clad butt to the courtroom. All right then! All hell breaks out in the courtroom along with much hilarity.

Review: How to Misbehave (Novella) by Ruthie Knox

Ruthie Knox's Ride with Me was a favorite at Clear Eyes, Full Shelves in 2012. Both Rebeca aka Renegade and I immensely enjoyed Ruthie's clever, witty storytelling that was both light-hearted and grounded.

Her books very much have a Julie James vibe (good humor and great character chemistry) with more of a blue collar sensibility.

In 2013, readers can look forward to even more Ruthie, with two full-length books and a novella featuring characters in the fictional town of Camelot, Ohio. 

The novella, How to Misbehave, introduces Camelot and the family each story centers around by taking us back toY2K and introducing Amber Clark (whose siblings are main characters in the other two books in the series) and Tony Mazzaro, a contractor.

Amber and Tony meet at the community center where Amber works and Tony is supervising a construction job. As one does, Amber spends her spare time ogling Tony and his fine ass while he supervises the job-site. 

Amber is a rather unusual (at least to me) character in romance. While at first glance, she appears like a same old, same old shy romance lead, she's more complex--and that's quite a feat for such a short story (it's approximately 100 pages). Amber attended a Christian college but ultimately left that conservative world (and her virginity) behind. She's had boyfriends, but none have been particularly, uh... satisfying, if you know what I mean. 

Frankly, Amber could have easily been a stereotype, but one of the things that Knox does with How to Misbehave is play with the "good girl" archetype.

Review: All He Ever Desired by Shannon Stacey

“You are going to dance with Ryan before this party ends. I don’t care if I have to stand on a chair and announce to everybody that he has to dance with you.”

“If you do that, I’ll go to the library on Tuesday and check out every Nicholas Sparks book you have and not bring them back so you’ll have to tell everybody you don’t have any of his books. Forever.”

“You wouldn’t.”

Lauren smiled over the rim of her champagne glass. “Oh, I would.”

There aren’t a lot of Big R Romance writers whose books I’ll buy without a second thought.

For a long time, it was just Julie James, and then I found Shannon Stacey, whose Kowalski books published by Carina Press absolutely charmed me with their warmth and width. More recently, I discovered Molly O’Keefe and Ruthie Knox who both have distinctive (and quite different) styles. So whenever one of these writers releases a new book, I usually snatch them up ASAP. 

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the fourth book one of my go-to author’s, Shannon Stacey, Kowalski series about a boisterous New England family, which shifted the setting of the series from New Hampshire to Maine. I was worried that the magic of the first three books couldn’t be rekindled. Fortunately, I gave this series another shot and very much enjoyed All He Ever Desired, the fifth Kowalski novel. 

Ryan Kowalski left his hometown of Whitford, Maine after confessing his love to his best friend’s wife and being rejected. He has since married and divorced and built a successful career for himself in Massachusetts, but returns to Whitford to help his brothers refurbish the family inn. Lauren, the woman he begged to come with him years before is now divorced with a teenage son. 

Ryan discovers Lauren’s son Nick vandalizing the inn and rather than force Lauren to pay for the damage, he makes Nick work at the construction site. And, it provides him a convenient reason to see a more of Lauren, the one that got away. 

All He Ever Desired centers around the theme of “what if.”

Review: Can't Hurry Love by Molly O'Keefe

I have a a tough time reading the romance genre. Renegade is our Official Romance Correspondent, and she is so shrewd with her observations of what works an what doesn’t, and really articulating that in the context of the genre.

And, I think that romance is a very important genre. Yep. People who know me are often shocked by this. That’s because romance is the only genre that’s largely dominated by female readers and writers. This is a significant thing. 

However, I often find myself distracted by the tried and true character types and story structures. There’s nothing wrong with those things, it’s just they often don’t work for me. I like books that push the limits and take characters in unexpected directions. And more than anything, I want an emotionally authentic story. 

This is why I appreciate the two novels I’ve read by Molly O’Keefe so much—they work for me because they’re emotionally complex and the characters surprise me. Can’t Buy Me Love was remarkable in how challenging the characters were, pushing all sorts of boundaries in terms character motivation and development. Can’t Hurry Love, the companion novel featuring different characters but set in the same Texas ranch, featured similarly challenging characters, one of whom was simply unlikable in the previous novel. 

But (also as in the previous novel) Can’t Hurry Love explores damaged people finding a path forward and coming to terms with their own pasts and figuring out a future together. 

Joint Review: Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox

Ride With Me by Ruthie Knoxa joint review by Sarah & Rebeca aka Renegade

After Rebeca discovered Ruthie Knox with About That Night, which charmed us both, Racquel from The Book Barbies insisted that we read Ruthie’s other book, Ride With Me. Our arms were twisted, so we had a little Clear Eyes, Full Shelves readalong. 

Ride With Me is, in a lot of ways, a classic road trip/oil and water type of book, except it’s set against the backdrop of an epic bike ride across the U.S. Lexie places an ad for someone to cycle with her, and winds up with Tom, whose sister answered her ad on his behalf, unbeknownst to him. The two clash, as Lexie’s by-the-rules personality and Tom’s laissez faire approach make for amusing cycling companions against the backdrop of their cross-country cycling tour.

On the Plot

Sarah: I love that this is a road trip novel. I mean, they’re on bikes, which doesn’t sound too fun to me because of the whole sore ass thing, but hell, yeah roadtrips. Throw in the bonus of the opposites-attract trope, and I’m sold. I don’t know how creative Ride With Me’s plot is at its core (there are a lot of tried and true plot devices), but it feels fresh and fun regardless. And, I thought the bike ride made for a great backdrop—there’s something about the pursuit of something physically challenging that works for me when it’s done well. Yay sports and all that. 

Rebeca: I’m not a big biking fan either, but reading this book made me want to try this route out myself. Knox does a good job of conveying the feel of the country. Hillsborough even made an appearance for one of the best scenes, the hot-sauce challenge. I bought the need for these two clashing personalities to stick together despite their disagreements. Sparks were a natural result of this forced intimacy, setting the stage for a really fun story.

Sarah: I am, however, not convinced as to how realistic Tom’s, uh, “prowess,” would be after all that bike riding. Yeah, I’m talking about this.

Rebeca: The first time you shared that article I had to leave the room. My DAD rides his bike to-and-from work every day. Eww.

Early Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

What happens when the center of your universe dies?

Scientists  determine the location of black holes by watching the behavior of the  matter that surround them. They’re impossible to see on their own as  they suck down all light or any probes that might trace their  perimeters.

Billy  is at the center of Sarah Mayberry’s Within Reach, her death the black hole. She is the  impetus for the plot, the invisible force that sets events in motion,  but the book isn’t about her. Instead, Within Reach chronicles the lives  of those most affected by her absence: her husband Michael, her  children Eva and Charlie, and her best friend Angie.

Prior  to Billy’s death Angie and Michael were never particularly close. They  related to each other through Billy rather than any special personal  connection. In the wake of her death they pull together, sharing the  devastation of losing the most important person in either of their  worlds.

That’s why when Michael needs a kickstart, Angie is the one to  give it to him.

You  think this half life is doing any of you any good? When was the last  time you left the house to do anything other than drop Eva at school or  go to the supermarket? When was the last time you did something because  you wanted to rather than because you had to?

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

I was terrified to move, breathe, exist in this moment. On TV, teenagers were portrayed as happy, carefree. Echo and I would never know such a life. My parents died. I got screwed by a system supposedly in place to protect me. Echo…Echo was betrayed by the person who should have laid down her life to protect her.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarryWell… at least the cover depicts an actual scene from the book and no one’s decapitated.

Every once in awhile, I read a book for which I’m simply not the right audience. Katie McGarry’s debut, Pushing the Limits, is one of those books.

If I were an Actual Teen, I probably would have adored this book. If I were an avid adult romance reader, I would probably love this as a fresh young adult take on a traditional contemporary romance. But, I’m neither of those, so Pushing the Limits sits solidly in the same place as Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry series—that is, equal parts engaging and frustrating. 

Echo Emerson doesn’t know what happened to her the night she almost died at the hand of her mother, but it changed her life forever. The physical scars and psychological trauma transformed her from popular cheerleader to social outlast. She meets another outcast, Noah, thanks to their shared therapist at school (the therapist assigns Echo as Noah’s tutor). Noah has a reputation as a bad boy/troublemaker type. He’s in the foster care system because both of his parent died in a fire—and he’s separated from his beloved younger brothers because he protected another foster child from an abuser and is labeled as dangerous as a result. Naturally, opposites attract and sparks fly, which we see from both Noah and Echo’s first person points-of-view.  

{Review} Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe

… she realized she wanted more. Not a husband or a bunch of kids burping on her clothes … but a life. A real one. A chance to figure out who she was…

Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe

When I read that Molly O’Keefe’s main character in Can’t Buy Me Love was inspired by Tyra Collette from Friday Night Lights (“Tyra times 10” is how she referred to her), I immediately set aside my deeply-held philosophical objection to images of creepy waxed man chests* to check out her take on one of my favorite fictional characters. 

What I found in Can’t Buy Me Love was surprising. 

You know I’m not a voracious romance reader, nor an expert on the subject like Rebeca is, so I probably have a lot of preconceived notions about what a Big R Romance is. Most of those notions went straight out the window with Can’t Buy Me Love. 

Tara Jean Sweet is a prototypical woman from the wrong side of the tracks. She’s spent much of her life scrapping and fighting for every little thing she has. When she’s offered a stake in a Texas rancher’s leather business (she already designs items for the company) in exchange for a pretending to be his fiance in hopes of luring the rancher’s estranged children back to the ranch, she jumps at the chance. This is her opportunity to have something that’s hers, that’s legit—even if the means to that end are sketchy.

That rancher’s son is Luc, aging professional hockey player who’s literally suffered too many blows to the head as his team’s enforcer, and is facing a potentially career-threatening, if not life-threatening, brain injury if he doesn’t stop playing. His father soon dies after Luc and his sister (who’s a main character in O’Keefe’s novel, Can’t Hurry Love) descend on the ranch, leaving him obligated to fulfill a series of conditions of his father’s will—and making him Tara Jean’s boss. 

More than anything, I was stuck by the character development of both Luc and Tara Jean.

{List-O-Rama} Memorable Reads: 1st Half of 2012, Take 2

Well, CEFS contributors may not be known for their “blind acquiescence” but I’ve finally managed to scrape up a list of my favorite books so far in 2012.

Note: we just happened to randomly remember a few of the same books. Please disregard any repeats, as they have absolutely nothing to do with Sarah’s excellent taste. Her head is big enough already.

YA Novels

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols - I finished this book last night or, more accurately, early this morning. When a book is better than sleep you know you’ve found a keeper. Echols does an excellent job portraying some wounded, imperfect characters you can’t help but love. {Review | Amazon | Goodreads}

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - If Nicholas Sparks drives you nuts, this is the book for you. It’s an incredibly moving, honest, cliche free exploration of illness and mortality. And it still managed to make me laugh (sometimes through the tears.) Though I generally prefer less serious subject matter, this book is special, and worth the red eyes. {Review | Amazon | Goodreads}

Urban Fantasy

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs - In an attempt to save up for my trip to Europe, I decided not to buy the insanely expensive ebook (Sarah complained about this too) and instead got on the endless waiting list at the library. I lasted several days before I online stalked the non-holdable library copy, and raced in to snatch it up like the desperate reader I am. This is devotion. As the third novel in Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series, this book explores some of the ramifications of earlier plot developments. And yes, it was worth the trouble. {Amazon | Goodreads}

About Last Night by Ruthie KnoxThe romantic hero of About Last Night is named Neville. Oh yeah, you heard me.

For anyone who’s ever enjoyed a Harry Potter film or movie (and I sincerely hope EVERYONE has had that pleasure), this is obviously a dream come true. It doesn’t hurt that his character reminds me of my favorite YA hero, Wes from Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever.

The heroine isn’t too bad herself. Mary Catherine is a former Catholic schoolgirl with a painful history and an intense love of art. She’s trying to break into curating for The Victoria and Albert Museum in London by assisting them in putting together their new knitting exhibition. She has no credentials, but plenty of expertise and passion.

Cath sees herself as a screw-up. She doesn’t trust herself, so she can’t trust anyone else either. She tattoos herself to enumerate her many self-perceived mistakes.

It had taken four hours for the tattoo artist to inject the warning she’d devised into the soft flesh of her belly, and she’d welcomed every bite of the needle, hoping the pain would become a carapace she could use to protect herself from repeating her mistakes.

One stranger in particular fascinates her. She nicknames him City, because his clothing and his habits make her think he works in the City of London, the financial district at the center of town. She sees him in the mornings on their commute in to work and on weekend runs. She muses in her journal about him. But she never even dreams of introducing herself. In fact, it’s only after he’s rescued her from an ill-conceived night on the town that she finally tells him her name.

“I’d never heard you talk before. You ought to do it more. It’s charming.”

“People who talk to themselves at the train station are generally understood to be crazy. Especially in your country.”

“I hardly know you.”

“I’m superb,” he said. “You’re going to like me.”

She does like Nev. Hell, so do I.

Review: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

The TV said you should ignore bullies and they would stop harassing you. In practice this worked about half the time. The other half, you ended up with two tall boys shadowing you through a trailer park, their fingers taking little nips at your clothes, like dogs.

At first glance, Jennifer Echols’ new YA novel, Such a Rush, has all the tell-tale signs of a typical YA romance: two attractive boys, absent parents and high-stakes drama.

And, yet, between the covers (and what a gorgeous cover it is), you’ll find a sensitively-crafted story of an 18-year old girl, who’s never had it even remotely easy, trying to figure out what sort of person she’s going to be. 

Leah is a girl who’s grown up in trailer parks, most of which have been by airports. She lives with her mother who floats from town to town based on promises from each new boyfriend—promises that never come to fruition. Often facing eviction because her mother rarely works, Leah’s life has always been in upheaval. That is until at age 14, she and her mother move into the trailer park next to the Heaven Beach Airport. 

Leah’s world opens up when she gets a job working in the office at Hall Aviation, a company that tows banners in the air up and down the beach. Mr. Hall, the owner, takes Leah under his wing (ha! puns!) after she starts saving her paychecks for flying lessons. Eventually, after years of working at Hall Aviation and flying with Mr. Hall, Leah is eighteen and ready to start working as a banner plane pilot she graduates—it’s her ticket to a better future.

However, all of those dreams are threatened when Mr. Hall dies of a heart attack shortly after his oldest son is killed while serving in the military and the Hall twins, Grayson and Alec, take over the business.

Leah is certain that Grayson and Alex cannot keep the business going, so she starts looking for another pilot job—her best bet being working as a crop-duster pilot for another company at the same small private airport. Those plans are derailed when Grayson (the trouble-making, reckless twin that Leah’s always crushed on from afar) blackmails Leah into flying for Hall Aviation during spring break. Oh, and she doesn’t just have to fly for the company—she has to try to date his brother (the golden boy). 

Okay, so I know that sound likes a triangulated love fest, but it’s not—I swear.

I Only Have Eyes for You by Bella AndreOne of my favorite themes is the ever-poignant friends-to-lovers storyline.

What could be more wonderful than a love that develops because of a deep understanding of one another?

What could be more terrible than unrequited love for a “kindred spirit”?

The best part of this storyline, in my opinion, is the balance point, the metamorphoses of a friendship into something more. Bella Andre’s I Only Have Eyes for You seems to rush past the shift in thinking that characterizes this moment.

Sophie, one of the 8 Sullivan siblings, has loved her brother’s friend Jake since she was 5 years old. Her love has grown and changed with her own development, but Jake has never acknowledged her as a woman. At one of her brother’s wedding, Sophie decides to shake things up and make Jake reevaluate his preconceptions.

“I told them all I wanted was to have fun with the hairdresser and makeup artist. But I was lying to them. And to myself.” She looked him straight in the eye. “I did it for you, Jake. To see if I could finally get you to notice that I was alive. To see that I’m not a little girl anymore with a silly crush. That I’m a woman.”

It was at this point in the novel that Andre lost me. We’re told Sophie loves Jake. We’re told Jake has struggled to conceal his growing interest in his best friend’s sister. Then the sexytimes commence.

There’s no chance for tension to build, no opportunity to learn about the characters ourselves, before they’re succumbing to their passion.

I've Got Your NUmber by Sophia KinsellaOveridentifying with a Sophie Kinsella character is often a sign that you’re on the verge of:

a. a nervous breakdown
b. being arrested for fraud
c. Finnish Finnish Finnish
d. all of the above

Well, Finnish Finnish Finnish because I loved Kinsella’s latest, I’ve Got Your Number, and totally related to the main character, Poppy.

I mean, who isn’t absolutely, life-on-the-line dependent on their cell phone? Who doesn’t think the Lion King was the greatest musical?! And who hasn’t pretended they were an answering machine when accidentally picking up a call?

Crickets on the last one? Well, FINE. You’d be surprised how easy it is to pull off though.