A Batch of Romance Mini Reviews

This is a mixed bag of romances, two rather good ones and one that was decidedly underwhelming. See if anything catches your fancy!

 

The Princess Wore Plaid (The Oxenburg Princes #2.5) by Karen Hawkins
Published on March 21, 2016 by Pocket Star.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Pocket Star for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: historical romance.

My rating:

This is a novella from The Oxenburg Princes series and it was actually my favourite story so far. I usually dislike reading novellas because the characters or the story always feel underdeveloped, but this certainly wasn’t the case here! The novels focus on the brothers – princes – of the royal family of Oxenburg, a made up East-European country. They somehow end up traipsing through Scotland and falling in love. This novella features their royal cousin, the princess Tatiana and a recluse of a Scottish Lord. I didn’t enjoy the princes’ stories as much because they were domineering and very alpha, but Lord XX is a damaged man who allows XY into his life and heart despite his opinion that a young woman has no business spending time with a crippled loner. The heroine has been in a carriage accident and has suffered some memory loss, and is now employed at a country inn as a kitchen maid. I liked how she thought about her life as a royal and the things that made a person good, she really changed and grew up as a character, which, as you know, is very important to me. I’ve read most of Karen Hawkins’s books, so I’ll most definitely be reading the last part of this series as well – it’s the crown prince’s story! :)

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Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark #16) by Kresley Cole
Published in December 2015 by Gallery Books.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Gallery Books for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: paranormal romance.

My rating:

Oh, Kresley Cole… I have such a love-hate relationship with her. I absolutely adore the first… eight or so instalments of her Immortals After Dark super-series. Though her heroes are alpha males (yes, males, they’re demons and werewolves and whatnot) and often overbearing and insistent to the point of being pushy, her heroines definitely knew how to handle themselves and mostly kicked the men’s asses into submission, rarely taking shit from them. But once Cole started writing NA paranormals (seriously, don’t even bother with those, they’re horrible, or at least the first one is, I never continued with the series) and erotica (which kind of made me want to wash my eyeballs), the quality of her characters has slipped, I think. 

I… read Sweet Ruin in a day or so, the story is still good and the writing pretty addictive, but I wish for more truly independent women, not just superficially “strong” heroines who conform to their partner’s wishes. Eh. Also, this one opened up the world of the Lore, which is already complicated as fuck, to a whole other dimension of super deities, which worries me a lot, because it looks like we’re in for another sub-series of crazy-powerful individuals, who are mostly male, which always troubles me when they’re paired with women who can’t really cope with that kind of strength. I mean, before, the couples in her romances were valkyrie and a werewolf, for example, both were immortal and the woman was more than capable of slapping the man around. But now … things just aren’t so level anymore, and I never like such imbalance. Eh. We’ll see where the series goes, I might give the next part another try for old times’ sake.

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Playing For Her Heart (Gamers #2) by Megan Erickson
by Entangled Publishing.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Entangled Publishing for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: contemporary romance/erotica.

My rating:

Ooh, another ARC debt. I actually enjoyed this one a lot. It’s a contemporary romance bordering on erotica with some role playing involved. The couple hooks up at a SFF convention (I really want to visit ComiCon or something someday, not for the sex, obviously, but for the amazing cosplay!), they are dressed as characters from the same video game, and the sex is off the charts hot. But then the girl disappears from the room and the guy is left wondering if he’ll ever see her again. He does, of course, as she’s his best friend’s shy sister – she only lets go when she’s playing a role, so he accepts that, but knows he wants more than just games from her (he’s playing for her heart, hint hint). Anyway, this was a nice surprise, as I haven’t had much luck with Entangled romances in the past (which hasn’t prevented me from reading them, *sigh*). 

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Did you read any of these? What did you think?

Do you stay loyal to authors even after they’ve disappointed you?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • Sad to hear that the Immortals After Dark series has perhaps gone a bit off the rails :(. I really like that series a lot despite the Alpha males for precisely the reason you mention – the women usually don’t take any of their crap. The books I’ve read in the series have been a little uneven. Do you have a favorite?

    • Gah, yes, it’s one of my favourite paranormal romance series, so I was really bummed about the quality slipping. Um I particularly enjoyed Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (that’s Bowen and Mari’s story) and Dark Desires After Dusk (Cadeon and Holly). Wow the titles are ridiculous! :D I like her werewolves and demons better than her vampires, that’s for sure.
      Do you have a favourite? :)

      • Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night is my favorite as well (and yes the names are completely ridiculous)! I like how she makes them werewolfs AND Scottish lairds, lol. Way to combine two uber popular hero tropes Ms. Cole.
        However, I really like the vampires:) and am sort of ambivalent about the demons mostly because I don’t think I’ve read the other one you mentioned. I’ve only read Kiss of the Demon King and it was the only one of the series I kinda hated.

        • Yeah I didn’t like Kiss of the Demon King, either – that one’s about Cadeon’s brother if I remember correctly. The one I mentioned (Dark Desires After Dusk) features a half-valkyrie who is a computer coding mastermind and she’s been raised by human parents (adopted), so the fact that she meets Cadeon also means she’s going through this journey of self-discovery (I mean, there’s nothing *deep* here but I liked their story compared to the others).
          HA and yes, scottish lairds + werewolves :D This series is ALL OVER THE PLACE, it’s ridiculous, really, but I’m still fond of (most of) it.

  • OKay, I need to read The Princess Wore Plaid. I have read some Megan Erickson, but not too much. I know many people like her stories.

    • I think I read some of Megan Erickson’s new adult books? Possibly. It’s horrible how some of these stories and authors get mixed up in my head – unless they’re an absolute favourite, I always have to check Goodreads to see what I’ve already read.

  • So many mini reviews! I actually haven’t read any Kresley Cole, the number of books puts me off and honestly I can’t see how any series that long standing can keep it up with delivering good reads. I think that is shown by your review. It’s disappointing when an author just can’t sustain a series after a while. There is always the risk a formulaic read I suppose.

    I do like the sound of that Megan Erickson one though. I need good romance in my life and that sounds fun, I mean conventions and awkward hook ups? I am all over that. And the Karen Hawkins one sounds weirdly good. I may need to treat myself (when don’t I need to treat myself?) and read this. I mean princes of a fictional country in Scotland? That kind of concept sounds so weird it has to work.

    • Yeah, I know, there are so many of Cole books out there. I found her when I got one of her historicals to translate – If You Dare might be my favourite of hers even now. The rest of the trilogy isn’t as good but the first is pretty solid for a historical.

      And I agree, it’s probably hard to keep up with reader demand, but she does have other series (both new adult and erotica, as I said), but they just aren’t that good. Really, it’s her historicals and paranormals that made her famous, but I guess she tried (or had to?) follow the trends with erotica and NA.

      If you haven’t read anything by Hawkins, don’t start with the Oxenburg Princes series, try the previous one first (The Duchess Diaries, the first book’s called How to Capture a Countess). I liked it better overall.

      • I reckon authors are both trying to follow the trends when they write in these different genres, but also they’re probably trying to challenge themselves. I think romance authors especially are very beholden to trends in the romance genre. Different sub-genres are continually getting big and being the genre to read, and the type of books people want to read are continually changing so authors have to follow it. It must be a nightmare really. I may give her books a chance if I see them at the library (although I continually think that about books and then end up impulse buying something when I see it going cheap).

        And I may just explore some of Hawkins’s books. I really need to attempt to not spend all of my money on books, but I am in one of those weird reading ruts where I’m still reading lots and enjoying the books I’m reading but feel like none of them are waiting I fancy reading. It’s a weird feeling because I can’t claim to be in a reading slump or to not enjoying the books I’m reading, but they’re missing something. Who knows. Maybe this is why I’m always buying so many books and am so easily swayed to buy another.

        • I know what you mean, your books lack that *something* that makes them magical? I feel that way sometimes (I did for the whole of January and February) – none of the books I read were BAD but I just wasn’t feeling completely satisfied. I find that it usually helps to switch genres a bit.

          Let me know if you give Cole or Hawkins a try, I’d love to hear your thoughts!