Monday, June 24, 2013

Arrgghh!! I HATE Serial Novels!! Why Do I Keep Reading Them?

Yes!  You Heard It Here!!  I HATE Serialized novels, and yet it seems that I keep ending up with them.  I'm not talking about those series of stories that are made up of stand alone novels.  Those are good and we have all enjoyed those to a fault.  But full length novels that aren't anything more than a part of a much larger story??  Much too much like real life for me.  I want my HEA and I want it NOW!  Yet I keep on getting sucked into these books that leave me hanging.

One in particular has gotten me really exercised over this issue.  I found this initial story on All Romance eBooks and bought it -- it seemed like a good story and it was only 99 cents.  Good deal, right? From a literary stand point, no way.  It got me hooked on Sebastian and Sophia's story, and by the time I was done I knew the story wouldn't turn me loose.  Sebastian Lock is a man that Sophia discovered when a mysterious door in the back of a seedy bar yielded to her curiosity.  She found a whole different world beyond that door--plush surroundings, a very upscale cocktail party going one with expensively dressed women and wildly gorgeous men, all of whom were obviously wealthy, prosperous, and having a very good time.  Nothing kinky at first glance, but there were other mysterious doors that Sophia didn't venture to open that night.  As she was nervously nursing her drink at the bar, a suave and beautifully dressed man began a conversation with her.  Yet Sophia managed to extricate herself from that scene, little realizing that she had become the focus of this powerful man's interest and he was not going to let her slip through his fingers.  This was a novella that starts the reader on the journey with Sophia as she is courted, in a manner of speaking, but a man who is willing to pay $400 to her law firm for one hour of her time in order to convince her to begin seeing him.  Yet when she tried to get to know him he retreats behind a wall of secrets, generalized responses to her questions, enigmatic statements about his business ventures, etc.

The second novel in this serial novel is even more frustrating because it lures the reader even deeper into Sebastian and Sophia's relationship, one that seems to be on a sure footing and moving forward for a time and then seems to stall.  At a social event to which she was invited, Sophia meets one of Sebastian's business associates--another bachelor who is handsome and obviously well-heeled--and yet his words to Sophia are a warning not to get attached because Sebastian will never stay with her long-term.  He will leave her behind like he has every woman in his life since his failed relationship with his fiance.  Now the reader must keep in mind that Sophia is an attorney with the kind of curiosity that lawyers need and use to solve riddles and resolve legal issues and find answers when no one else has the patience to keep looking.  It is this curiosity that got Sophia involved with Sebastian in the first place, and it is that same curious streak that keeps forcing her into areas of Sebastian's life where he clearly doesn't want her.  It is when this kind of fact-finding mission that seems to precipitate the major stall in their relationship and one that brings the reader to the cliff-hanging final paragraph in this portion of their story.  Argh!!  So frustrating!  I almost threw the eReader across the room.  Would have, too, if it hadn't been for the fact that I like the device a lot and have lots of books on it.

Yet my final word on this for now is that author Maya Cross has written a wonderful story, one that is so fascinating that it was literally impossible to put it down.  There was that underlying tension that was inescapable:  that Sebastian was hiding some pretty heavy-duty stuff, yet he wanted in the worst way to have Sophia in his life.  The "come here, get away" style Sebastian had for dealing with Sophia was a part of the frustration of reading this novel.  Sometimes he was endearing, tender, and so very caring for Sophia and her concerns.  Other times he was distant, cold, unfeeling, and seemingly out for the physical satisfaction he found in her bed.  Yet the reader has this hunch that there is much, much more to this story and that is what really hooks the reader.  And for someone like me who loves a good mystery anyway, I was a goner.

I will indeed continue on with this story.  I'm stuck in every sense of the word.  Just don't assume that I like it.  I have also come to the conclusion that I am my own worst enemy.  Always a sucker for a good story!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

They May Be Really Bad Boys, but Baby, They're Really Good Men . . . New Series by Melissa Schroeder

He's visiting a military buddy in a medical rehab facility, a man who is in the throes of a lot of pain, right at that point in the rehab process where it would be so easy to just forget about ever getting well.  It's just too painful!  Enter a hardnosed, bratty, brash, and bossy physical therapist whose indomitable spirit is packed into the most attractive "package" that Leonardo Santini has ever seen.  And so begins the saga of these two unlikely lovers, both of whom have seen the worst and the best of the military life and neither of whom are really in the market for anything permanent in their lives that has to do with love and romance.

Author Melissa Schroeder has become known in the literary romance fiction genre as one who brings the various aspects of military experience into her sizzling romances.  As a military "brat" she is well equipped to flavor her stories with the realities of being a member of a branch of the armed services, the challenges to personal relationship, the hurt and destruction that seems to characterize many stillborn relationships that go "south" because of distance and long absences.  This four-piece series of novellas has brought the Santini family to readers, four brothers who are all serving in one of the military branches, and all four still single.  They all love their folks, they are deeply committed as brothers to one another and share that deep allegiance to country, but none have taken the time or perhaps have not been willing to open themselves up to the challenges of being in a love relationship that will be tested strenuously by absence and distance.

These are not the first of Schroeder's work that I have read and reviewed.  She is one of those authors whose work almost automatically ends up on my reader--when I see her name I just buy it.  Without fail the reader will heat up noticably, and all her stuff is full of zing and sizzle and romance that keeps the reader riveted to each page.  No matter how long her pieces, they are never long enough.  Her characters are people who are strong and independent individuals, experiencing life with all its warts and bunions, dealing with hurts that are common to us all, but trying to find a way to keep balance in their lives.  She writes about unapologetic alpha males, many of whom are living within a version of the BDSM lifestyle, who are not reluctant to make a case for being in charge in the bedroom, but who treat women with respect that is often "over the top."  I find these men to be interesting in that they are not afraid of being who they are, willing to allow a woman to be who she is, but who have a very definite sense of how it's going to be between them and their lovers/partners.  That's just who they are.  Perhaps it's Schroeder's own upbringing among authoritarian types where she witnessed the best and the worst that comes when men are given that kind of authority over others.  I know that the six years that hubby was in the Army certainly taught me the difference.

Each of these novellas stands alone yet the reader can get a bit of continuation in the lives of the brothers featured in previous stories as the series moves along.  I found book one to be very intense and book two to be somewhat less so.  But looking back on them, I think the intensity level has as much to do with the characters' own personality, their style of relating to others.  Leonardo and Gianni are more outgoing than Marco who even within the family framework was the "quiet" brother.  Gianni is the youngest and his sense of self, though just as developed, is still more of a work-in-progress kind of thing.  It shows up as such in the way he woos his lady.  The final novella,  Vincente, in now available and I have only just downloaded it.  Vince is the oldest brother and sort of the "last man standing" among the four.  Yet his love interest has been long in coming to him so his story has been the last to be told.

Lastly, the covers on these books are definitely drool-worthy.  I know we all recognize the usual poses on many of the romance novels we read, but these are very attention getting and what female reader wouldn't just like to sit and gaze, eh?  There may be snow on the mountain top but there is still fire deep down inside, or so I have been told.

Don't hesitate to invest in these novellas.  I don't think I would have bought them if it hadn't been for the fact that I just happen to really like this author.  But in the end, I'm glad to have read them and I wanted to share them with you.