Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Romance

Menon, Sandhya
4 stars = Really Good

Sweetie Nair is fat. She doesn’t care, but her mom cares. Like, a lot. A lot a lot. Definitely too much. So much that so when Ashish, a hot local boy from a good (and crazy rich!) Indian family tries to date Sweetie, Sweetie’s mom shuts it down. But Sweetie won’t give up without a fight, and so she, Ashish and Ashish’s parents hatch a plan in which the kids will go on four dates. If it works out, they’ll tell Sweetie’s parents. If not, no harm done. Plus, what can happen in four dates? Turns out, a lot.

If you’ve read any of Menon’s other books, this one is completely on brand. I’ve read her other two books, and this one might be my favorite? It’s up there with Dimple, for sure. It’s a funny romantic comedy with endearing, mostly believable characters from a culture that’s different from mine. In addition to reading an adorable book, I get to learn a little bit about Indian Americans. This one has an added element of pointing out our society’s horrible ways of treating fat people. The way a folks react to Sweetie will have you seeing red – but you know it’s unfortunately totally realistic. Luckily, Sweetie is a self-confident young lady, and it was a joy to see her grow throughout the book. Ashish isn’t too bad himself! He has a very believable journey through the course of the book, and was a male lead you could root for even as he made a few terrible decisions.

TLDR: If you’re looking for a light, funny and very swoony read, this one will do it for you. I know it put a smile on my face.

Sandhya Menon is coming to PPLD to be the keynote speaker for Mountain of Authors! Meet her, listen to her give a talk and get a book signed on 27 April at 21c. More information about the event can be found here:

Thanks to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for the advance copy, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. There’s Something About Sweetie will be available for purchase on 14 May – don’t forget to put your copy on hold!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Orczy, Baronness Emmuska
4 stars = Really Good

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a wonderful book that incorporates the idealism of the French Revolution to create a unique setting. The historical adventure story is filled with a great blend of suspense, thrills, and romance. The developments included in the story are well-executed and the characters are all full of life. The overarching plot is also intriguing and will captivate the reader until the end of the book. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who like a bit a history.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Sense and Sensibility
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

In the classic Jane Austen novel "Sense & Sensibility", three sisters -- Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret -- face a new life after their father dies and they are forced to move to a new home. The sisters' relationships are tested as they balance emotional turmoil, suitors, and new beginnings. I loved this book -- partly because Austen's writing style is straightforward and far easier to read than most classics -- and because of how much time Austen took to masterfully develop her characters. The relationship between Elinor (who is sensible and logical) and her sister Marianne (who is emotional and has a love for drama) is deep and complicated. As the story progresses, we see different sides of the sisters as they struggle to grow in their new environment. I absolutely loved this story. Honestly, there isn't a single negative thing I can say about it. I would highly recommend it to someone who doesn't like classic novels, because I think "Sense & Sensibility" could definitely change their minds.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Back in Society
Beaton, M.C.
2 stars = Meh

Mildly entertaining, The "Poor Relations" Series isn't nearly as suspenseful, nor well-written as Marion Chesney's popular "Hamish MacBeth" Series, nor as interesting and comical as the feisty Agatha Raisin of the "The Agatha Raisin Series". With the exception of a few of the characters, such as the loathsome, ill-mannered Sir Philip and the interesting Lady Fortescue and Harriet, the former cook and now the Duchess of Rowcester, the heroine of this book, Lady Jane is a Lilly-livered character who although young, cannot stand up for herself in any situation. She is so unlike the sharp-tongued, independent, although vulnerable Agatha Raisin that her character is seems like a "doormat". Unlike the first book of this series "The Poor Relations", which heralded the strength of character, independence and backbone of each character, the plot of this book seems contrived and somewhat unbelievable, perhaps because no young woman in this day and age would be as weak as it's "heroine" Lady Jane. This book was written in '94, under the pseudonym of Marion Chesney, perhaps when M.C. Beaton's was developing her writing style. However, in this day of strong, independent women, the Cinderella story of being rescued by Prince Charming this hackneyed story seems boring and mundane.

The excellent writing of M.C. Beaton seems to be absent in this novel, and the "damsel's in distress" theme of "Back in Society" is dated and uninteresting!

Reviewer's Name: TD
Steel, Danielle
4 stars = Really Good

This story kept you wanting to know more. The author made you feel like you were there and a part of the family.

Reviewer's Name: Joan
Book Review: Unmarriageable
Kamal, Soniah
4 stars = Really Good

Unmarriageable is a very charming Pakistani retelling of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. If you aren’t familiar with the original, all you really need to know is that it’s a period romance with a lot of social commentary around sexism and classism. Unmarriageable is a very faithful adaptation set in Pakistan in the early aughts, so I think if you like the original, you’ll also enjoy this one.

The best part of Unmarriageable, to me, was the social commentary. Not only does Kamal approach the sexism and classism from a more modern Pakistani lens, but she addresses racism and colonialism as well. Pakistani culture in the early 2000s apparently had some attitudes towards women’s place in the home and sex and sexuality that somewhat mirror that of Georgian England. It was (is?) frowned upon to have sex or most types of sexual contact before marriage. Women were expected to tend to the home. Light skinned folks were seen as being more attractive than darker skinned folks. Kamal addresses all of this and much more quite deftly without compromising the swoony romance.

Speaking of romance, if you like Pride and Prejudice for the romance, Unmarriabeable will make you quite happy. Alys Binat and Mr. Darsee are just as likable as their original counterparts (so, in Darsee’s case, it may take a minute to warm up to him). Their chemistry and enimistry is almost palpable. The book definitely swings hard towards being cheesy at times, but that didn’t really compromise my enjoyment of the book.

The other thing I really enjoyed about this book was the Sherry (Charlotte) character. I always thought Lizzie was kind of horrible towards Charlotte, and Sherry and her relationship with Alys get a lot more time and consideration in this version of the classic.

Clearly, I really enjoyed this one. If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice, you should definitely check this out. It’s perhaps a bit too close to the original, but as an Austen fan, I wasn’t much fussed by that. 4 stars.

Thanks to Ballentine Books and Netgalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Unmarriageable is available now!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Escaping Reality
Jones, Lisa Renee
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

The series The Secret Life of Amy Bensen has my three favorite elements: characters I care about, a believable action plot, and scorching hot sex. I noticed few grammatical errors, common in ebooks. My only criticism is of the misplaced clauses in especially long sentences -- they require re-reading to understand. I know I'm picky but someone needs to be, since the editors at Simon & Schuster aren't.

Reviewer's Name: Cindy
Rowell, Rainbow
4 stars = Really Good

"Fangirl" of Rainbow Rowell, a beautiful story of love and finding yourself, shows that often times things are not always as they seem. This book is a page-turner; the way Rowell writes flows easily and you can tell her words hold meaning. This book is told from the perspective of an anxious college freshman, making many readers (like myself) connect due to relating to the feeling of new surroundings and people. However, I not only liked this book because of the instant connection, but the way the plot was so interesting and engaging. This book does include some older topics, so it may be inappropriate for younger audiences. If you like happy endings, "Eleanor and Park" or more by this author, or a well written and attention-grabbing read, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Ink and Ashes
Maetani, Valynne E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

I love this book! I am in 7th grade and this book gave me goosebumps and look behind me when I'm turned around in fear of the "evil" characters in this book. (Granted, I get scared very easily). Ink and Ashes tells the story of teenage girl Claire Takata, and her horrifying experience that was brought upon her by her dead father's passing and his sketchy life. This story perfectly blends mystery and Japanese culture, and is one of the most unique mystery books I have ever read. I highly recommend this book for mature middle school readers who don't read much mystery and want to "test the waters". However, all kinds of readers from 6th grade and up would enjoy this book! Don't hesitate to try it out!

Reviewer's Name: Anna C.
Little Women
Alcott, Louisa May
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Little Women is a classic piece detailing a few years in the life of the March family. It is a beloved tale and for good reasons. This book shows the true inner workings of a family during the civil war and how love is stronger than even death. I really enjoyed Little Women because it included the historical details of the time that I find interesting, such as: having home servants even when in poverty, the intricacies of the dress, and social commentary. Little Women shows the true heart of sisterhood and friendship, along with the bonds made between parents and children. Through thick and thin, the March sisters are there for each other. Truly a delightful read for anybody.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
The Time Traveler's Wife
Niffenegger, Audrey
4 stars = Really Good

I find myself somewhat conflicted between two mediums whenever a book is made
into a movie. On the one hand, I truly enjoyed The Time Traveler's Wife
(2009) when I first saw it. While the book the movie was based on has a lot
more material, it became obvious that a lot of this material could easily be
cut for the movie and very little would be lost in the narrative. Despite
this material (which I'll get to in a bit), the book is lavishly and
poetically written and was a joy to read.

With a main character who can time travel, I'm having a tough time
determining if the foreshadowing in this book was brilliant or just a bit too
heavy-handed. I'm also not sure if I even like the main characters themselves
since they're essentially the definition of "white privilege" (with all the
trust funds, alcoholism and casual drug use, and "academic" or "artistic"
professions to boot). What stood out in this book, though, was the enormous
amount of sex. I almost wondered if this was supposed to be erotica. While it
was even shocking at times (I'm looking at you, ending), I can't help but
wonder if it's considered cheating when a husband has sex with his wife at
different times in their relationship.

All this being said, the strength of the writing helped to cover up some of
its weaknesses. Sure, you could make the argument that this is a study in
Stockholm syndrome, but you could also give it credit for creatively handling
the science fiction theme of time travel in an interesting and unique new
fashion. There are a lot of questions that inevitably pop up with the
continuity of a time-traveling character, and I felt that the worldbuilding
done to ground this concept was particularly exceptional. In the end, The
Time Traveler's Wife is a descriptive and heart-warming/wrenching tale that
at least deserves one read-through.

A romantic book wrapped tightly in a single sci-fi element, I give The Time
Traveler’s Wife 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Albertalli, Becky
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Becky Albertalli's novel "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a wonderful coming of age book that shows the hardships of being different in high school. Simon Spier is your average high school student. He has a close group of friends who he loves, he gets decent grades, loves participating in theater, but he keeps a secret about himself from all of those around him.
"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is a great story for those who love love, drama, and just being a teenager. Truly a story for the ages.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
The First Grave on the Right
Jones, Darynda
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

This book is the first of a 13 book series and it is FANTASTIC!!!!! It is hilarious, the characters are very well developed. The story line is very intriguing as well as entertaining. All around this book is a great mix of romance (beware it seems a little surprising how descriptive it is), supernatural and comedy!!

Reviewer's Name: Meg
Meyer, Stephanie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Twilight Was a great book! This book is about a girl named Bella who moves to the gloomy small town Forks, she just wants to go back to her mom and the sun. She has her first day of school ahead of her and dose not expect to find anything that she likes, but then she meets Edward Cullen. He and his siblings are strange. they seem different, even flawless. The moment Bella walks into her bio class and is forced to sit next tho Edward she knows that he dose not like her, or as she thinks. As Bella and Edward draw closer and she discovers his greatest secrete, a secrete that could kill her. Bella dose not know it but Edward begins to love her. how far will they go for love?
Grade 7 reviewer.

Reviewer's Name: Annek S.
The Elite
Cass, Kiera
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

I love this series! Each book gets better and better as it goes on.
Although this one might not be my favorite out of all the series, it still is an amazing book. I loved every bit of it. If you read the first book you already know that there are some scenes that are more for teens and not kids, but only a few. Overall this book was so much fun to read and go through everything with the characters.

Reviewer's Name: Tierney B
Metro Girl
Evanovich, Janet
1 star = Yuck!

I can honestly say, this is the worst book I have read in 2018. I couldn't believe it was written by Janet Evanovich. It lacked her usual wit and laugh out loud moments. I actually thought I would love it since I enjoyed the graphic novel. But no. I didn't care about any of the characters.
I thought the story line plodded along and at the end, I just didn't care. I was hoping a canister of nerve gas would just destroy every copy of this book so no one else who's thinking of reading will suffer.

Reviewer's Name: Melissa M.
Crossing Ebenezer Creek
Bolden, Tonya
3 stars = Pretty Good

Living as a slave her whole life and with it many stories and scars, Mariah and some family and friends are finally saved when the Yankees come and take them along as they march towards the war. The slaves will be dropped off at a free state, but they must endure the troubles. Mariah meets Caleb, someone who assists the soldiers. He ends up falling in love with her, but is too afraid to become attached to someone due to experiences in the past. As Mariah tries to overcome troubles and thoughts, Caleb fights his internal struggle, both hoping for something more.
This book is based around a real event that happened during the civil war at Ebenezer Creek, and the author did a wonderful job illustrating and spreading a story not much have heard. I recommend this story to anyone who is into war history and romance.

Reviewer's Name: Mona H
Tess of d'Uvervilles
Hardy, Thomas
3 stars = Pretty Good

Written in the Victorian Era, Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy follows the story of Tess Durbeyfield and her tragic downfall. When Tess’s father discovers that he is the descendant of an ancient noble family, the d’Urbervilles, he sends Tess to the d’Urberville mansion hoping that Mrs.
d’Urberville will make Tess’s fortune. After being forced to take a job at the mansion to provide for her family, Tess is taken advantage of by Alec d’Urberville and is forced to live in shame and exile. After meeting a man named Angel Clare, Tess and Angel fall in love, but Tess has neither the strength nor the heart to tell Angel of her shameful secret. When she finally does, her secret tears their relationship apart, but will their love triumph over this “sin” ? This novel by Hardy truly reveals the division of men and women during the Victorian period and how a sin commited by a woman, even if not by her own fault, had everlasting consequences back then. I recommend this book to mature readers, as there is mature content and sexual references, but I highly recommend reading it because it holds both culture and themes that are present even in modern society.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Book Review: Doubting Abbey
Tonge, Samantha
2 stars = Meh

Very stereotypical chick lit. Not particularly well-written but I finished it so it was okay.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Longest Ride
Sparks, Nicholas
4 stars = Really Good

The novel “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks unravels two beautiful romance stories. The two stories are more different than alike but each love story have its own unique characteristics. The first story is about a man named Ira. He gets into a wreck on a snowy night and starts hallucinating his wife, who died 9 years ago. They start recapping their “Longest Ride” together. There love story came to be in the 1900’s around World War 2, making for some tough times and some beautifully romantic times. The other story is about young Sophia and Luke. Sophia is in college and Luke rides bulls. They meet at a rodeo and their totally different worlds collide. They soon start a relationship that is different than any other they’ve had. I loved this book because I love romance novels. I recommend it if you love sappy romance.
Reviewer grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Reaghan D.