Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: One More Summer by Liz Flaherty

One More Summer
One More Summer by Liz Flaherty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I made the mistake of reading this at work. I thought, from the blurb and the cover, it was going to be a humorous Southern romance. It wasn't. It was Southern, but it wasn't funny and it wasn't a romance. I define a romance as a book that is focused on the relationship between two people with the obligatory happy ending. One More Summer wasn't about Grace and Dillon. It was about life and loss and all the messy things in between. This is not a happy book. There is death. The ending isn't 'happy' so much as it is hopeful. Everything is going to be okay, it says, you just have to keep moving forward.

I don't read a lot of fiction, so I'm not the best judge, but this felt quintessentially Southern to me. From the pace of the dialogue, the emphasis on community and food, the weather, it felt like I was there, observing these characters.

A lot of angst happens, but it's not angst for the sake of angst if that makes any sense. This story is told over the course of months, not days, and the characters react naturally to the events. Their emotions, their decisions, their relationships with each other, it all made sense to me. It felt logical, it felt real.

To be quite frank, I find myself a bit of loss for words. One More Summer is not for everyone and, if someone had told me what it was really about, I probably would have never read it. However, if you don't mind books that will leave you in tears and frantically trying not to smudge your eyeliner, read this. Read this and be comforted that someone else understands what you are going through or be grateful for a life free from this kind of pain.

I'm going to conclude this with a quote from the last chapter because it's representative of the book as a whole and demonstrates the author's gift with words.

“Remember the ‘hidden paths’ Jonah and Maxie had in their marriage ceremony?” she said. “I think all of life’s going to be that way. The paths will be curvy and maze-like sometimes, and even if you walk them two-by-two, there will be other people on the walk with you.”

“You’re probably right.” He held her gaze. “But do you want to stay on that two-by-two walk with me? I’m talking a lifetime here. No time-outs for good or bad behavior. If I have to concentrate on being your brother’s best friend for a while, you have to come with me. If Faith needs you more than I do, I’m coming along.” He looked around the room. “We come out of the attic together.”

“I’d like that more than anything.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Review: Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice

Dangerous Passion
Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Blah blah blah. First off, this book was not as well edited as the previously two. There was a lot of repetitive language. Secondly, the heroine is very, very passive. She meets the hero, literally, in a hail of bullets and proceeds to turn over all control over her own life. No railing against fate, no recriminations, no 'let me at least pick out my own damn clothes,' nothing. She's perfectly content to remain trapped within four walls, painting, while the hero arranges everything. She doesn't even express an opinion about the food. It's all 'la la la, I love you, I shall go wherever you lead, la la la.' She does ask the hero at one point if he's a drug dealer. I could never be with a drug dealer, she says. No, he doesn't sell drugs. He sells weapons instead. You know the bad guy we saw in Dangerous Secrets? The hero is a kinder, more user-friendly, version. What. The. F!

The hero was very well-developed and very distinct, mainly because he was the driving force behind the plot. I actually liked him, despite his very clear anti-hero status, but next to the heroine's wispiness, he came off like a bit of a chauvinist. I feel like his feelings for the heroine were so intense that if she'd pushed at all or asked for anything, he would've made it happen, so long as it didn't compromise her safety.

Thirdly, the book felt very open-ended. There was a mole on the hero's staff and he was never punished for his betrayal. The author made a point of telling us how there was one 'servant' that the hero trusted above anyone else and then we never see them again. Even the Big Bad's downfall was, if you'll forgive the spoilerish pun, remote. There really was no closure on anything.

This would have easily been a four star book if the heroine acted like an actual person rather than a poseable sex toy. With regards to the series as a whole, I would definitely recommend the first two books. It's not even really a series as the books are basically stand-alones and don't appear to be connected at all. As far as Dangerous Passion goes, I'd give it a pass and jump right into the Protectors trilogy (starting with Into the Crossfire, which is actually inter-connected.