So I read a romance novel…and I liked it

I’d been thinking about giving romance novels another shot because I had turned into a little bit of a literary snob but yet so many women that I admire, intelligent women, really love their romance novels. Some of them even write them! But considering I haven’t picked up a romance book since I was like 14 and snagging my mom’s Danielle Steel novels off of the bookshelf, I didn’t know where to start. Somehow I discovered Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, followed it for a while, and when the opportunity to review a book for them came along, I jumped on it in the hopes that this would give me a good excuse to dive into the genre.

So here it is, my review of Beautiful Disaster as it appeared on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

The summary:     

Mia Wells’s eco-friendly career goals are about to become a reality-but her life-altering moment is interrupted when an unexpected call ushers in her tremulous past. A man who’s never left Mia’s memory: Flynn, the enigmatic, passionate man whose disappearance broke her heart, has mysteriously resurfaced.

Now back in her life and in the hospital, Flynn is gravely injured. Mia keeps a bedside vigil- terrified that he will die, awestruck at the prospect of his survival. In a story filled with sweetness and suspense, Mia’s what-ifs are endless. And Flynn’s return ignites an achingly powerful tale about the most enduring love, one that is greater than honor, or friendship, or the passing of time.

And here is April’s review:

Before I share my thoughts about Beautiful Disaster, I feel like I should probably mention that romance isn’t really my genre of choice. While I do like to indulge on occasion, which is why I check Smart Bitches, Trashy Books for recommendations, I’m more of a transgressive fiction girl myself. So what you’re getting is an honest opinion from a reader with no preconceived notions.

Having said that, Beautiful Disaster is an excellent choice for someone like me who doesn’t really have any expectations when it comes to plot, characters, or dialogue. In fact, I’d say that this story is just as much a suspenseful thriller as it is a romance novel. I mean it’s got everything from serial killers to shady business deals. Oh and a little bit of steamy sex thrown in, of course.

Flynn, the main (male) character, is everything you’d expect of a typical Bad Boy, right down to the tattoos and motorcycle. But he’s a Bad Boy with a secret past, a past that college co-ed Mia doesn’t seem to concerned about but that Roxanne, Mia’s snobby BFF, can’t seem to let go. Without relying too heavily on stereotypes, author Laura Spinella manages to create characters who breathe enough to make you want to either hug them or smack them. (Seriously, Roxanne? I wanted to reach through my Kindle and strangle her. Just how bitchy and controlling can a brilliant doctor with pageant princess looks be? And Mia’s husband Michael? Let’s just say that it’s easy to see why she was still in love with someone else.)

The story of Beautiful Disaster flips back and forth between the present, when Flynn ends up unconscious in the ER, and the past, when Flynn first rides his way into Mia’s life and into her heart. The transition from then to now and back to then is pretty seamless. There are a few plot twists that seem a little far-fetched at first but, by the end, they are all tied up with a slightly disheveled bow.

Overall, Beautiful Disaster was an enjoyable and exciting read, a solid A- in my book. If Laura Spinella can create something this riveting as a debut novel, I’m looking forward to whatever she has to offer in the future.


I read a book: The Language of Flowers

I actually read The Language of Flowers a few months ago but I wasn’t posting book reviews on a blog or anything, just on Goodreads and Amazon, so I’m just copying and pasting it here which is why the first paragraph references the Goodreads rating system of up to 5 stars.

The Language of Flowers is another one of those books that make me wish Goodreads allowed “half stars” because then I’d give this 3.5 stars. It deserves more than 3 but there are some aspects of the book that cause me to hesitate on giving a full 4 stars.

I was intrigued by the idea of using flowers and their meanings as a major part of the plot. And I was curious to read the author’s perspective on a child who ages out of the foster care system, especially since she is a foster parent.

The main character, Victoria, is certainly believable, with her feelings of being unwanted and unlovable and her determination not to become attached to any one person. (Side note: if this were real life, she probably would have had 25 different caseworkers throughout her life rather than just one.) All of her acting out, as a child and as an adult seems entirely understandable, given her experiences of growing up in foster care.

My problem was with the other characters. Some of their words and their actions seemed really bizarre. For example, Renata, the florist who gives Victoria her first job, seems more than willing to pay high wages to a total stranger for very little work. (I’d love to find a job where someone hands me a wad of cash and tells me to come back and work a couple of hours next month!) She seems to not need Victoria’s help very often because she’s not that busy, but then if she’s not busy then a) why is she hiring staff and b) how can she afford to pay so much to someone who works once every few weeks? But then Renata’s sister rents a closet (literally!) to Victoria who then sleeps on the floor and it’s presented as this extraordinarily kind favor. If it were me, I would’ve preferred the halfway house to a closet with no bed. And something about the relationship between Elizabeth and Catherine didn’t make sense to me. I felt like there was something missing, something we weren’t being told, that would explain why one sister was so adamant about a reconciliation and the other absolutely refused. I finally just chalked it up to both of them being stubborn and maybe a bit dysfunctional due to the brief description of their own mother.

I wondered if maybe I was projecting my own misanthropy onto some of these characters and that’s certainly possible. It just seemed odd to me that people who are practically strangers would be so generous towards strangers. And I wasn’t really getting any sort of vibe from Victoria that would explain why all of the characters, from the “adoptive” mom Elizabeth to Renata and her family, would be so determined to keep Victoria around and so insistent on being allowed to remain part of her life. If she’s really all that cold and unemotional towards people, what motivation do they have to want to be her mother, her friend, her lover? But, again, this is probably my own feelings and perceptions and my own personal “connection” to Victoria that are affecting my view of these other characters. Or maybe they saw something in Victoria that I wasn’t getting.

Regardless of some of my confusion and frustration, it’s still a very good book. Much like a rose with thorns, The Language of Flowers is both beautiful and painful.