Review: Hollywood on Tap (or a modern scenario in which I cannot suspend disbelief)

Hollywood on TapTitle: Hollywood on Tap
Author: Avery Flynn
Series: Sweet Salvation Brewery, Book 2
Purchase: Amazon | iTunes

I think contemporary romance is just not my thing, y’all.

I joined NetGalley recently and decided to change up my ARC requests a bit. I thought I’d try a modern romance, specifically the second book in Avery Flynn’s Sweet Salvation Brewery series, Hollywood on Tap. It has all the trappings of a potentially wonderful romance. Buttoned-up, Type-A Natalie Sweet and her sisters have recently inherited a brewery in their small mid-western hometown and she’s tasked with making it financially solvent. Her biggest problem is brewmaster Sean O’Dell and his resistance to her suggested business changes. Sean’s made a life for himself in Salvation and hidden his past as a hot Hollywood actor, but the growing attraction he feels for Natalie threatens to reveal his secrets.

Take one good-looking quiet dude in baseball cap, one buttoned-up librarian-type, add beer, romance, sex…Hot right? Not so much for me.

As a mostly historical romance reader, I’m totally willing to suspend disbelief at some of the crazy situations authors dream up for their characters–secret babies! a father the heroine never knew! a duke takes a serving maid as his wife! Most of it is context. It’s an unfamiliar time period with very alien habits, social norms and expectations, so I don’t need Hemingway-style realism in my historical romance. The same goes for fantasy romance–Yes, I believe that that winged antelope guy is totally going to pine after the blue-haired girl who is the reincarnated version of his former childhood crush (bonus if you caught that last reference). But for modern romance I just cannot get over the eye-rolling hurdle of contrived modern day situations.

In Hollywood on Tap, Natalie is an efficiency expert, which, ok, maybe they exist outside of Renee Zellweger movies, but she’s also a triplet, a super HOT triplet. That kind of takes the believability down a few notches for me. (Important note: I was not a Sweet Valley High fan girl, so take my anti-multiple storyline with that in mind). Sean is of course, a Hollywood superstar in hiding, which also raises the unbelievability rating of this story sky-high. I understand wanting to fantasize about these crazy contrived situations–I love a great story about a Duke, after all–but I just can’t seem to make it work for me in a modern context.

The romance itself felt a bit rushed. One minute they’re fighting attraction to one another, then after a sexual encounter suddenly feel as though they are in love. I understand attraction and lust moving quickly, but there wasn’t the steady emotional build needed to make it a believable love story. I’ve read historical romance where the H/h get married after knowing each other for approximately 2 weeks, but somehow, the author has made their love seem real. Or perhaps it’s just another issue of context/suspension of disbelief.

One of my lingering issues with this book was way the author kept trying to remind readers that this book was a series. Repeatedly included throughout the text were comments about the Sweet family history and how they were perceived in the town of Salvation. It just felt a bit heavy-handed and repetitive. I would have much preferred getting a sense of the Sweet family through the main characters’ interactions with the townspeople, instead of through the omniscient narrators’ comments. It’s just a pet peeve of mine. Show me. Don’t tell me.

Other readers on GoodReads loved the first book in the series and this one as well. I’m just not one of those readers. I found the characterization lacking, which just made for an ultimately unbelievable romance. It was light-hearted and fun in its own way, just lacking in the kind of substantive world and scene building needed for me to want to believe in a novel.


Swashbuckling Scots! Review of Black Raven’s Lady

Tasty Virtual Book Tour: Black Raven's Lady

Great highland Scots! I’m happy to be today’s stop on the Tasty Virtual Book Tour for Black Raven’s Lady by Kathleen Harrington. In addition to a review, I’m also sharing a giveaway for a $25 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller, so don’t forget to enter!

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

If you too are suffering from Hot Scots withdrawal now that Outlander is on hiatus, you’ll want to pick up a copy of this final installment in Harrington’s Highland Lairds Trilogy. The imposing yet rakish Laird Keir MacNeil meets his match in spunky Lady Raine Cameron, a spunky heroine reminiscent of old Julie Garwood lasses with sass. Plagued by rumors that she is not her father’s daughter, Raine sets out to find the man she believes to be her sire, a man wanted for treason against the King of Scotland. To do so, she must put herself in the trust and safekeeping of Keir, a powerful Laird and ship captain whose alpha-male presence has made Raine’s heart skip a beat since she was a young lass of seventeen. Thrust together at sea, Keir and Raine guard their secrets from one another well, but they can’t seem to fight the physical attraction to one another that’s plagued them for years.

Black Raven’s Lady is a swashbuckler, y’all, plain and simple. This charming novel will take you from mainland Scotland to the Sea of the Hebrides and back again. Rich in historical detail and fully-immersed in 16th century Scottish nautical adventure, you’ll feel as though you’re on board with Raine and Keir as they journey to stamp out a treasonous uprising. If you like your romance with a good helping of history and adventure, Black Raven’s Lady should be on your to-be-read list.

The romance between Keir and Raine had a hint of the enemies-to-lovers trope, with both lovers desperate to stamp out their physical desire for one another. Rather than give in to their lust, Keir and Raine keep each other at bay with harsh words and avoidance, the latter only making them more eager to give in to temptation. Although Raine was a strong-minded independent woman, she still, at times, suffered from the naïveté that often afflicts virgin heroines faced with their first real taste of desire. Thankfully, she was no shrinking violet in the captain’s quarters, but rather embraced her physical connection to Keir once it become clear that neither laird nor lass would be able to stay away.

If you’re a fan of alpha males, spunky heroines, and romance on the high seas, you’ll enjoy Kathleen Harrington’s latest.

Kathleen HarringtonAbout Kathleen Harrington

Kathleen Harrington, winner of the Colorado Romance Writers’ Award of Excellence, has touched the hearts of readers across the country with her sparkling tales of high adventure and unending love. Her historical romances have been finalists for Romance Writers of America’s RITA® Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice, Virginia Romance Writers’ HOLT Medallion, and the Phoenix Desert Rose Golden Quill. Her fabulous heroes have garnered the K.I.S.S. (Knight in Shining Silver) Award. She lives in Southern California.

You can follow Kathleen on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, and learn more about her novels on her website.

Enter the Giveaway!

Review: Moonlight on My Mind by Jennifer McQuiston

Moonlight on My Mind by Jennifer McQuistonTitle: Moonlight on My Mind
Author: Jennifer McQuiston
Series: Second Sons, Book 3
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

Jennifer McQuiston is a new-to-me author, and despite this being the third book in her Second Sons series, it’s the first one I’ve picked up thanks to a free copy from the awesome Avon Addicts program.

Mistakenly implicated in the shooting death of his older brother (the future Earl of Haversham), Patrick Channing has spent the past year rebuilding his life / hiding out in the Scottish town of Moraig. He has his two schoolboy besties, a fledgling veterinary practice, and a three-legged dog named Gemmy. What more could a fugitive want?

Enter Miss Julianne Baxter: red-haired germaphobe, scandal instigator and shameless flirt. It was her witness statement that damned Patrick to a fugitive’s life, but after the death of Patrick’s father, the old Earl, Julianne flees to Scotland to persuade Patrick to return home and save his mother and sisters from financial ruin.

Spoilers ahead…

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