Sunday, 30 December 2012

Switch by Megan Hart

I started this book all up on my high-horse ready to hang and quarter the publisher for being so tacky as to put "Fifty Shades, hotter than grey" on the cover. For those of you who read my previous blog/rant, you will know I went into it a little prejudiced. I was convinced I would hate it and was shocked when I was blown away by page one. This writer has a lovely way with words and a beautiful voice.

On page nine my little writers heart had a little climax of its own when I read this; "Most of all, I love the way a blank sheet of paper looks when it's waiting to be written on. Anything can happen in those moments before you put pen to paper." Excuse me I believe I am experiencing another little moment. That won me over a little too hard, and probably also raised my expectations a little too high.

I haven't been so pleasantly surprised by a read in a long time. It had moments that really floored me and connected with me on  personal level. There was a realness and a grittiness that got under my skin. But even though it got to me I do have a few complaints.

First of all as I was reading I was making a list of all the things I was going to criticise the Editor for. In the first chapter I was a disappointed by what seemed to be a lack of editing that let the writing down. Paige is looking for the perfect gift for her step-mother. We are told this, then shown this, then have memories of why, then are told again through dialogue, and then it is re-stated again! What editor wouldn't smooth that out, even if just to cut out that last line of re-stating? A good editor prunes the dead weight off a book, and I already had a terrible feeling that this read was going to have a lot of extra branches. It did. Mainly with too many memories, and too much back-story.

About a third of the way through the pace slowed, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what direction things were taking. I felt like the heroine was wandering around aimlessly. I felt this was large due to all the excess that needed to be stripped away in editing. There were sections such as her interactions with her boss and at work that seemed to not contribute enough to the plot to warrant the time invested in them. I thought they could be cut altogether and things would have moved much more comfortably.

Still I loved it. It made me cry in places. I really felt the loaded history with Austin. I really understood and believed all the family dynamics and situations. My biggest complaint is that it did not really feel like a romance for me until the very end because Paige is so indecisive and unsure about what she wants. The things that frustrated me and confused me during the book did all come together in the end. Although I felt it ended rather abruptly considering how the pace dragged.

One thing I have to point out. For something that is intended to be very erotic I really didn't feel the sex in this book. I liked it more for the plot. Maybe because it did feel too vulgar and something was just not right... Not to mention words like C*#T in a sex scene tend to kill off the romance a for me.

Is it for you?

IF YOU LOVE: Something gritty and real, that gets under your skin then this will get to you. If you like something a little kinkier then you will enjoy. If you like an assertive heroine you will like Paige.

IF YOU HATE: Vulgarity, excessive and unnecessary use of the F & C words and sex that feels well... dirty then you probably wont like this. If you like your romance pure and uplifting this is not going to do it for you. This is no warm and fuzzy kind of romance people. This heroine has issues and allot of the story will make you feel sad.

All in all, I am happy to have read this. I went to the bookstore and purchased the physical book instead of the cheaper Kindle option and I do not regret it. It is one I will probably re-read at some stage. I am very eager to read more by this author.

Characters 4/5
Plot 3/5
Voice 5/5
Love Factor (Possible 1 point Bonus)

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Fifty Shades Comparison Epidemic

There is nothing I love more than to wander down the aisles of my local bookstore. Although my kindle provides constant reading material, I still love to read a real book. For those of you who are the same, you may have noticed something startling has happened in those bookstore isles in the last six months or so.

Since the unprecedented success of the Fifty Shades franchise there is about ten times (I wouldn't quote my stats people) the amount of space dedicated to Contemporary Romances (Yay for us!), and there is real erotica on the shelves of even the smallest bookstores!

I could not be happier about this! Fifty Shades success has offered up enormous opportunity to erotica and romance writers, and has given readers a whole new range to choose from. But there is something else... Something I am not so happy about.

It is the Fifty Shades Comparison Epidemic! There does not seem to be a Contemporary Romance available on the shelves at the moment that doesn't seem to have a sticker, or tag, or even embossed right onto the cover a phrase such as "Like Fifty Shades", "Hotter than Fifty Shades", "If you liked Fifty Shades then..." you get my drift?

Maybe that wouldn't be so bad if these titles actually were like Fifty Shades. That does not seem to be the case however.  Apparently any New Adult romance, or any romance with erotic or BDSM themes, or hell anything written in the first person is compared to Fifty.

I recently purchased Beautiful Disaster by Jamie MCGuire. It had a big shiny sticker on it "Read after Fifty Shades". Now anyone who has read Beautiful Disaster (whether you loved it or hated it) would have to admit anyone expecting a read comparative with Fifty Shades would have been sorely disappointed. The only comparison is that there was an agnsty heroine of the same age. If people were expecting hot sex scenes coming off their Fifty thrall, the sex in this book was very much that of a YA writer who is obviously uncomfortable writing about sex. I know so many people loved this book so I hope I haven't alienated half my audience right there, but I think we can all agree this was not a sexy read.

Now let's be clear; I do not go looking for Fifty Shades comparisons. I am not hoping to find something the same. I enjoyed Fifty Shades. I didn't love it and I have my issues with it. But, I got the same thing out of it that most people did. It gave me erotica and an intro to BDSM in a lighter, more romantic, less hardcore package.  It just really bugs me that everything has to now be compared to it, and piggyback off its success. I have picked up a few erotic romances recently all with "Fifty Shades" stickers attached. For the most part they could not be compared to Fifty because they are full blown erotica without the softer mainstream voice that made Fifty accessible to non-erotica readers.

I vowed not to buy anything again with a Fifty Shades sticker attached. It seemed I would be fresh out of reading material if I held myself to that. So I purchased Switch by Megan Hart at the bookshop, it has "Fifty Shades - hotter than grey" embossed right on the cover. The blurb sounds interesting so I will give it a go. Stay tuned for my review, I won't be holding back.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

A Review of Down to You by M. Leighton 4/5

Olivia Townsend is torn between two gorgeous identical twin brothers Cash and Nash. Cash is the quintessential bad boy that Olivia knows is all wrong for her yet feels so right. His twin Nash, wrapped in the same sexy package but without the bad-boy persona, might just be perfect. Problem is he is taken - by her cousin no less!

Ahh a love Triangle with a twist! We do love one of those, what it is that sucks us in? Down to You has established Michelle Leighton as my new favourite Indi Author. Even if I have not given it the almighty FIVE, for me it surpassed Sylvia Day Crossfire series. While I have not given this a FIVE and I do have some criticisms in the end it came down to the fact that I enjoyed this read and it had some really good points.

I enjoyed the voice of the writer and laughed out loud a few times. The plot it's self kept me turning the pages and I have to admit I was blown away by the twist. A few things I did not buy into- Olivia's trip back home for one felt off and unnatural for me, as did her reasons for not pursuing her own desires. Olivia could have used a few more likable characteristics although she seems to fit in with what is making for best selling heroines these days so don't let that dissuade you too much.
This is a 'insta-love' type romance which most people will either love or hate. I don't mind it as long as by the end I feel there is merit to the relationship. I did here, not all the way but there was enough that I wanted them to make it in the end.

At $0.99 this is a great value read.
Is it for you?
IF YOU LOVE: Crossfire Series, Fifty Shades (this is not BDSM), Beautiful Disaster this has a similar voice. If you are crazy for Love Triangles then this will deliver. If you just want scorching sexual tension a couple of great twists then this is for you.
IF YOU HATE: Nondescript heroines who all the boys love/want/need anyway then this is probably not for you. If you require complex layered characters and emotional depth and love that is truly earned, then look away. This is escapism, sexy romance people. It is not literary fiction or inspirational romance - so please don't expect to find it here.  

Characters 3/5 Plot 4/5
Voice 4/5

LOVE factor (possible 1 point Bonus) +.5
Rating = 4 out of 5

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