Review: Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

I read Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger for the “Competency Boner” category of the Heaving Bosoms Reading Embrace. I read Romancing the Werewolf last year and thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m happy to report this author is the gift that keeps on giving.

This is a wlw novella featuring a parlourmaid eager to be ruined and a mature inventor anxious to avoid the mistakes of the past. Both work and live in a local vampire hive (it’s Carrigers world so vampires and werewolves are just facts and I’m all the way on board). Imogene, the parlourmaid, is smitten with the inventor on sight and despite herself Genevieve, the inventor, is as well. The barriers to them being together are understandable and I was cheering for the couple throughout. I also loved the friendship between Imogene and Major Channing, the hero from Romancing the Werewolf.

I will definitely be checking out the rest of Carriger’s catalogue and if you enjoy Victorian Fantasy Romance with likable, realistic characters I suggest you do as well.

Review: His Naughty Waitress by Bella Love-Wins

I read His Naughty Waitress by Bella Love-Wins for the “I’m a Waitress!” category of the Heaving Bosoms Reading Embrace.

This is a very, very short read, only 69 (*snicker*) pages. The premise is simple; a billionaire and his friends stop by a diner on their way to their annual hedonist retreat. There they meet the heroine, a waitress stuck in a small town in a dead-end job. The hero and the heroine hook up in the bathroom and then he invites her over where they hook up again and she agrees to go back to New York with him and they are in love. It’s most contemporary romance novels just ramped up on speed to hit the required page limit and not go too far over while still giving the reader an HEA and a minimum of two sex scenes. Both were written well. I don’t read many billionaire novels (this may have been my first actually) but he was the right balance of cocky without being an arrogant dick head which is the way I feel most billionaires skew. If you want a breezy read, pick this up. It’s one in a series I probably won’t be reading but it’s still good fun.

Review: A Midwinter’s Wedding by Melanie Cellier

I read A Midwinter’s Wedding by Melanie Cellier to fulfill the “Frog” category of the HB Reading Embrace. I DNF’d at least two, if not three, books to get to this one. We could say that I had to “kiss a few frogs” to find my prince of a book but even I will not go that far with puns. I will say that I’m happy I ended up landing on this one because I was almost to the point where I was going to just read a novelization of The Princess and The Frog and call it good but here we are!

For those who may not know the story of the Frog Prince, a Brothers’ Grimm fairytale, I’ll offer a quick rundown. A princess drops a gold ball she is playing with in a pond and a frog tells her that he will retrieve it for her in return for a kiss. She agrees, they kiss, and he transforms back into a handsome prince. In this retelling the princess is one of seven children (oof), Cordelia, who is going to a midwinter wedding between her older brother Rafe and his bride. Before she leaves she is given a gold ball by her younger sister who tells her it is a godmother’s gift and will help their brother find his true love. Cordelia accidentally drops the gold ball into an icy pond and Captain Ferdinand, “Ferdy” to friends, retrieves it for her. He’s a froglike looking man with bulbous eyes and bent knees and at first Cordelia is startled by his appearance. As they spend time together and work to stop an evil plot against the royals they grow closer and Cordelia looks past his appearance and finds that she loves him. Since it’s based on a fairytale I don’t consider it a spoiler to say that she ends up kissing him and he transforms into a handsome prince and they live happily ever after.

This is the 3.5th book in a series so there was definitely context I was missing that would have made the other characters matter. I liked the heroine and was curious about the “curse” she kept talking about related to her younger sister. I also liked the hero of the story and the way the author paced their relationship and gave them plenty of opportunities to get to know each other and bond before they were in love. Obviously it’s still a speedy romance because it’s a novella and it has to get to an HEA ASAP but it didn’t feel ridiculously hurried. That might in part be due to the fact that she isn’t attracted to him initially. The traditional romance formula I’ve found is two people identify each other as attractive and then feelings stem from there. It’s a formula that works, you want the characters to be attracted to each other, but I liked that their relationship was based on more substantial things from the start. Granted, the hero is attracted to Cordelia even though she frets that she isn’t THE most beautiful princess in her land, but even still you could see the reasons he fell for her beyond her beauty.

This is a brief read but Cellier still provides good worldbuilding and though the major conflict was resolved pretty briskly, I can’t fault her for that because, again, novella. I enjoyed this story and might check out the rest of the series. The only reason it isn’t a definite yes is because with seven siblings it’s likely a long series and I’m trying to stay on track with my reading challenges. But we shall see!

Review: Snow White and the Seven Murders by Amorette Anderson

Trigger Warning: A character has cancer, repeated discussions about diets

The process getting to this book was a comedy of errors.

First, I was reading Enchanted which I DNF’d (Did Not Finish) because I just wasn’t feeling it. Then I thought ok, fairytale retelling, let’s do this, absolutely forgetting that I wasn’t reading Enchanted for a fairytale retelling. No, I was reading Enchanted to fulfill the “Frog” category of the Heaving Bosoms Reading Embrace which I decided to interpret as a “Frog Prince” retelling. I didn’t realize this until 30% into this short read and decided to just see it through. Hopefully the next review you’ll see here will be for “Frog” though I won’t lie, it’s hard for me to find one that interests me so far.

Snow White and the Seven Murders is a “romantic cozy novella” that takes the Snow White characters and story and gives it a modern twist. In this story, Sara White writes articles for the business column of a paper with her friend Cinda (yes, last name Rella). Her stepmother hates her because they both competed in a beauty contest and Sara took first. I don’t know if this means that her stepmother is around her age or if it was just a broad age range competition, the author leaves it up to the reader to decide. In any case, her stepmother made her life so difficult she chose to leave and move into a room rental at a cottage where seven older blue collar workers live.

Quick note: Would read a novella about Snow White and seven mature men who make a living with their hands. Just throwing that out there.

The novella is quickly paced but not so much that I felt like I was missing important information. Sara covers a story about the acquisition of a rare earth elements mine that has been bought by a new company, owned by the dashing and handsome Prince Amir Malick of Qu’abar. The company was up for sale because the owner died suddenly and as Sara does research she finds that all six rare earth element mines that have been snatched up by Prince Amir’s competition also died before being bought. She fears Prince Amir is in danger and senses that her business story is much bigger than it seems and pursues the clues.

As I said, I enjoyed the pacing of the story. It didn’t lag in any places and I felt that the reader touched on the major hallmarks of the Snow White story. I enjoyed the twist that Sara was the one saving the Prince. There was some stuff that felt a little confusing, like the beauty contest angle and the fact that Sara’s big secret that her stepmother threatens to expose is that she didn’t finish school so she doesn’t have a degree. This is only an issue because technically I think she’s not qualified to do the job she has at the paper and only has it because her dad is the editor. And while I understand that blackmail sucks, I have to admit all I could think was she genuinely wasn’t qualified so if she had to go back and get her degree that seems fair? Also in the end she’s offered a scholarship so clearly the news about her lack of degree comes out anyway.

The choice to make the Prince a person of color was well-intentioned but the language and choices around his characterization felt a little off. Sara stresses over how to pronounce his name which I somewhat understand because you don’t want to insult someone but also… Amir Malick is not hard to pronounce. That just felt a bit like unintentionally reinforcing the way white people view names that aren’t Germanic by going “ooh it’s so Different and Exotic how to pronounce??” Also she talks about how she expects he gets around via camel and holds a bunch of really unfortunate stereotypes about what she expects the Egyptian prince’s life to be like. I will warrant that maybe the author was trying to acknowledge these stereotypes most Western people have, and the prince does correct her, but it still rankled a little. Especially since she aspires to be a newspaper editor and you would think she might have an interest in familiarizing herself with global affairs. Also, and this is a small thing that I may be blowing out of proportion, he is described as a handsome Egyptian man with dark hair and “caramel skin” (not cool – do not describe people of color as foods) and then he takes off his sunglasses and he has striking blue eyes. And I know that no eye color is specific to one region or race, but we so rarely get appreciation and representation for brown eyed protagonists and it felt like a real missed opportunity to describe and appreciate eyes that aren’t the classic Princely Blue.

Another quite note about something that I felt was an odd choice that took me out of it a bit was Cinda’s consistent talk about the diets she’s on. When it starts she’s doing Paleo and somewhere in the middle she talks about possibly switching to another diet. It felt oddly out of place and inconsistent with the character. It might have just been done to help the reader really understand that these are Modern Women with Modern Women Issues but maybe let’s not have the main personality trait of a character be that she’s always on a diet. Maybe let’s leave that in the 90s.

Overall it was an alright read. I don’t feel compelled to keep reading in the series but I did like the twist on the classic story. Also the cover and descriptor of the novel as a romance felt a little bit mismatched. The characters definitely flirt with each other and share a kiss but the romance felt very second tier in importance. Granted that might have just been my bias reading it because I was more interested in the story and newspaper aspect of things. It was also a quick read so if you’re looking for something light and quick, this is probably a good choice.