Usually when a plot line is as over the top as this series by Tiffany Reisz, it is difficult to get your emotions committed. It may an entertaining or enjoyable read, but when characters are so far out of my definition of "believable" it is hard to empathize with them.
I can't imagine living the life of these characters. Maybe there are people out there that are this far out (and not just in their own imagination). But I found I could still relate to them. The emotions and angst that drove the behavior and actions of the characters was totally understandable, even if the characters themselves were not. That seems like a good definition of good character development.
The third book in the series delves much more into the history of Kingsley and Soren and they are both tragic characters on the scale of a Wagner opera. I might not believe these two characters could exist in the real world, but I kind of wish they did, and if they did, I would like to know them. It also spent more time on Wes, who to me is the weakest and least interesting of the group. He doesn't seem interesting enough to ever catch Nora's attention. But that is just a little quibble.
Her books aren't for the faint hearted or the squeamish, but Ms Reisz is a great story teller. She has a unique style that I thoroughly enjoy.
This was not a bad book. Parts of it were enjoyable. It just didn't last. The narration was very good. But I listened to this author's debut book Ain't Misbehavin and thought it was an incredibly well written, entertaining, unique book. The characters were all well developed and quite eccentric. While they were easily recognizable as a certain type of character - a proud, native Texan from a small town, they weren't stereotypical or a caricature of the species.
I don't usually like books that focus on characters from a specific region or heritage. The author usually goes into overkill making the characters the epitome of the obnoxious Texan, or New Jerseyian or Italian, or whatever. That just makes the characters sound stupid and should be insulting to someone who comes from that region or shares that heritage. The author avoided this in Ain't Misbehavin. She doesn't in Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
I felt the characters in this book were not nearly as well developed. And when their actions seemed unbelievable, they weren't just quirky - they really were unbelievable. And they were just too Texan, from good ole boy name of the hero to the fact that every other scene takes place in the same honky tonk. Even the narrator, who is a favorite of mine seemed to spread the Texas a little too thickly. I never understood why Donny Joe was a partner with Etta's grandmother in the B&B. And I certainly didn't understand why everyone seemed to think of Etta's sister's desertion of her only child as only irritating. It went beyond irritating. It not only made Etta's sister Belle a completely unlikeable character with no redeeming qualities, it made Etta less likeable. Her reaction to her sister's actions was so mild it made me think almost as poorly of Etta as it did Belle.
Finally, this book lacked the humor and warmth of Ain't MIsbehavin. I didn't find the characters funny, engaging or particularly likeable. It is hard to like a book if you don't like the characters.
Every so often Heyer wrote a novel that was essentially about a journey, usually dealing with a serious but misunderstood hero who comes across as aloof but is really a hopeless romantic and a scatterbrained heroine who is wise beyond her years and is exactly who the hero has always wanted, even if they didn't know it. Or the scatterbrained female is young and she leads our hero to back to his faithful one true love. Sprig Muslin and the Foundling are two examples. This is another. It was just so formulaic I was frustrated reading it. If it was the first time I read this plot, I would have enjoyed it. But I've read it too many times before.
I am not sure why this author made reading this series so confusing. I enjoyed quite a bit about this book but the entire time I was reading it I knew that there was a great deal of background fact that I knew nothing about, so chunks of this story made very little sense. The gaping holes meant I had difficulty following the plot and understanding the characters.
So I went to her website hoping there would be a FAQ or some other section that would explain what I clearly didn't get. That made it even more confusing. I discovered that the book I was listening to, which Audible labeled Malcom and Suzanne Rannoch Book 1, was originally written as Charles and Melanie Fraser Book 3, although chronologically it was Book 1, except for a new prequel that was just released. There was an attempt to address the character name change - some publisher issue, but that really didn't help, since it seems she continues to refer to Charles and Melanie on the website. The website has "letters" written between Charles and Melanie and a few other characters. I thought they might fill in some of the background, but like the books, they are not published in chronological order and it looks like many are no longer available. I then read the prequel about how Malcom and Suzanne or Charles and Melanie met and married, but it was written after Vienna Waltz and the explanation in the prequel doesn't match the information in Vienna Waltz.
I finished this book and started the next book in the series. But I don't know that I will finish it. I enjoyed Vienna Waltz, but there was just too much I didn't understand, it was too difficult to follow and the writer seems intent on intentionally keeping the series confusing. I think it will take way too much effort to read this series and it isn't well enough written to go through the hassle.
This was a fairly strong debut. The series has promise. It seemed slightly disorganized at the beginning, as if the author thought the reader already had quite a bit of background knowledge. But eventually it made sense. Then the climax got a little jumbled. But while it seemed pretty obvious that Mercy's sister wasn't was saintly as we were led to believe, the author did surprise me with the other villain. If there were a lot of clues, I missed them. And some of his actions prior to the big reveal didn't make much sense in hindsight. But the fact that I was surprised at the big reveal, shows the author has some promise. I am not dying to get my hands on the next book in the series. But I will definitely read it. And I expect it to be an even better experience. The narration was kind of a non-issue and that is a good thing. It didn't overpower the book.
I am not usually a fan of "sweet" fiction. And while I will read some fantasy, I don't really care for unexplained magic. But every time I pick up a book by Sarah Addison Allen, I know, without understanding why, that I will like it. Typically, a lot. I can't explain why I don't find her books saccharine-y annoying and why I tolerate random acts of magic with no explanation. I just do. She writes genuinely, with obvious care and respect for her characters. And she gives them just enough historical sorrow and difficulty so they are human. I tolerate their uber-sweetness and goodness because there is something terrible in their background they didn't deserve.
I loved the characters in this book. Especially Eby and Devon. And I loved the way the plot meandered to the expected but still very satisfying end. There is something magical about this author's writing. And that is probably why I tolerate the magic in her books.
This was an enjoyable, easy read. Not at the level of Molly Harper's or Elizabeth Hunter's books, but definitely worth the time. If this series was narrated by someone other than Xe Sands, I would have already purchased the next two books in the series. Instead, if I decide to read the rest of the series later on, I will buy the ebook versions.
I like Xe Sands narration style. But it works with specific books. And it didn't work on this book. She is too monotone, relaxed and breathy.. She sounded world weary and worn out. She didn't narrate this she read it. And she sounded like Siri as she read it. I actually fell asleep listening to her.
This book needed someone with passion and attitude narrating. As the main character was contemplating the strong possibility that she might have to sacrifice her own life, she sounded bored.
The character development in this series is wonderful. I want to know Cormoran and Robin personally. They are both complex and fascinating, although it takes longer to appreciate Robin's depth than it does Cormoran's. He ranks as one of the best detective characters in this genre. And in this book, the secondary characters of the murder victim's wife and daughter were an added bonus. They were both so quirky and in many ways difficult to love that they became quite endearing.
However, I thought the plot in the first book in the series was somewhat convoluted. Unfortunately it becomes even more so in the second book. There was just too much going on and the murder was so over the top as to be unbelievable. The author expects a great deal of the reader and in many ways I appreciate that. I like books that make me think and pay close attention. But this plot goes beyond that. And the plot would have been better told and more understandable if the book was only about 75% of its length. Way too much clutter.
I will continue to read this series because I love the main characters and am enjoying getting to know them. But I hope future books rely more on the characters and less on fantastical and implausible story lines.
The narration continues to be spot on. I recommend this book. But be prepared to be confused and read it when you have the time to follow the complicated plot closely.
I didn't have great expectations when I started reading this book. I knew nothing about it, beyond that it was a translated book by a Spanish author. I thought the love story was touching and uniquely told. I appreciated the well-developed characters. I got a little frustrated with the thick-headedness of the heroine in the last 1/3 of the book. But she got over it and the postcards redeemed the end.
I thought the narration was very good as well. I really recommend this book and hope I get additional opportunities to read this author's work.
I read this before the first book in this series, Big Girl Panties. I am glad I did because if I had read Big Girl Panties first, I would not have read this book. Even though Amanda and Chase were the only likeable characters in Big Girl Panties, I was so frustrated with that book I never would have picked this one up.
Throughout most of The Sweet Spot, Amanda and Chase are an enjoyable couple to get to know. I had a couple of issues with Amanda. First, she is originally developed as a strong-willed, independent, ambitious and successful woman. As she falls for Chase, all of those strengths seem to disappear. I understand that being in a relationship with such a famous person might necessitate changes in her career and personal time priorities, but her change was far more dramatic than that. I also think that the author used the couple's mild "kink" as the excuse for this dramatic personality change. Which seemed terribly judgmental, narrow-minded and unrealistic to me. Finally, I thought her handling of the crisis was entirely out of character of the woman she is in the first half of this book.
In spite of this, I still enjoyed the book. Parts of it were quite humorous and as inconsistently written and as disappointing as Amanda was, by the end of the book, Chase was a well developed and consistently portrayed character.
The narration was very good.
I really disliked the main male character in this book. I found him incredibly shallow. It seemed all he had going for him was his good looks. And if that is all that there was that made Logan lovable to Holly, then that diminished my opinion of her. I actually enjoyed her character through most of the book, but the way she got revenge also lowered my opinion of her as well.
I wanted to be happy for Holly because she successfully changed her life for the better. Instead, in some ways her life became as shallow as his.
This book sent a very clear message about the negativity of obesity and made me believe that the author truly feels that someone who has struggled with weight her entire life is unworthy to be loved. It also attempted to make the male character's prejudices seem acceptable. And they are not. He was the one unworthy of love. Not her.
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