Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Down London Road by Samantha Young

Down London Road
Down London Road by Samantha Young

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was actually not a huge fan, personally speaking, of On Dublin Street, mostly because I didn't like the heroine. As a result, I put off reading Down London Road.

However, I loved Down London Road, mostly because I felt it was on the realistic side of things. Every time I started to roll my eyes or be like 'really?', the characters would stop and reconsider their actions. They acted like adults, mature adults. This isn't to say that they didn't make mistakes or do boneheaded things, but the way Young wrote it, you understood why they were behaving this way and it seemed very natural.

What made the book even more fascinating to me is that nothing extraordinary happens. There was no mystery stalker or sudden windfall. This really is just a story about two people, one rather messed up (Jo the heroine), falling in love. The instant attraction, the getting to know yous, finally getting together, the inevitable first fight, that make or break moment, and then the certainty of being in love. As a result, the pacing reflects the slow growth of the relationship between Jo and the hero, Cam.

Joss and Braden also returned. I don't know if it was because of my original dislike for her, but Joss felt like a completely different character to me. She was sharp and sarcastic, and I liked her much, much better. Braden also got a chance to flex his alpha muscles. In addition, Young introduces Jo's younger brother, Cole, who's just an all-round awesome kid, albeit one who should really look into therapy at some point. Other new characters include Olivia, Jo's cousin, and Nate, Cam's best friend. These two will be the main couple of book three, Before Jamaica Lane, and Young very subtly laid the groundwork for them in London Road. Like, I had an inkling, but I couldn't be sure until I saw the posting on her blog.

It should be clear by now that I loved this one and I definitely recommend it, but I do have a caveat: if you're looking for a book that's exactly like On Dublin Road, you're going to be disappointed by Down London Road. Despite the cameos made by the previous characters, London Road really stands alone and that's how you should approach it. If you go in with a negative opinion about Jo and the kind of relationships she had prior to Cam, you're not going to like it as much as I did.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: Born Wild by Julie Ann Walker

Born Wild
Born Wild by Julie Ann Walker

My rating:  3.5 stars.

So on the Friday during BEA, before it opens, I'm standing on line with a friend and she's all excited because Sourcebooks will be giving away copies of Born Wild at its booth that day. I admit to her that I've never read anything by Julie Ann Walker and she looks at me as if I just admitted that I occasionally stroll in work naked. Therefore, I made sure to snag an ARC.

Normally, I like to read a series in order, but since I'm not a big fan of the whole 'alpha male dispensing justice from the back of his motorcycle' trope, I kinda figured 'screw it,' and just started reading. Y'know what, though, Born Wild stood alone pretty well. I think I missed out on some of the emotional payoff since it appears these characters made cameos in previous books, but I never felt lost or like I was missing something.

The book was good enough that I checked out the first two from the library. I thought the mystery was great and that the identity of the Big Bad was skillfully revealed. However, the romantic relationship hinged on a lot of 'let's talk around the giant conflict and create more misunderstandings rather than deal with it like adults.' I'm not a big fan of that. You have the balls to disarm an IED, but you can't be all, 'You should've returned my calls'? Pfft. Both the hero and heroine suffered from this failing which annoyed me and would probably lead to couples counseling down the road for them. If the mystery hadn't been so compelling, I likely would have bailed halfway through.

I wanted to rate this book three stars, but after thinking it over, I'm bumping it up to four, because a lot of this book simply wasn't for me. I think Walker's fans will enjoy it and it's definitely accessible to new readers. I see it as a cross between Lora Leigh's Elite Ops and Jaci Burton's Wild Riders, so if you're a fan of either of those series, you should check out Born Wild.