Bookit Review: Vision in White

(Blogger’s Note: I am behind with my June posts, so you’ll be getting 3 posts today to catch up. I apologise for the wait)

Title: Vision in White (Book 1 of the Bride Quartet) 
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication: April 28th 2009
Edition/Format: Paperback  (Larger size, regular print)
Genre: Romance
Rating: B
Bookit 2009 # 8

Nora Roberts seems to be one of the bigger names in romance novels, and I’ve read several of her novels.  In fact, I have read this book before, but it was years ago around the time of its initial publication (I believe I got in after book 3 was printed but I can’t remember exactly).  She is a prolific writer, and one of my favorites of the romance genre.  She does however fall into the formula issue when it comes to genre writers as prolific as she is.  She often writes book series featuring a group of friends and or siblings who all find love in the subsequent books.  This series is no exception.

The Bride Quartet focuses on a group of friends who run Vows, a wedding consultation and venue buisness.  The first book focuses on Mackensie (Mac), the photographer of the group (hence the the ‘vision’ in the title).  She has a difficult relationship with her parents,in particular her narcissistic mother who manipulates her daughter a lot.  At the time of the story Mac is slowly growing the courage to finally cut her mother out of her life (to a point) but still has many hold-ups in regards to love, relationships, and expectations of herself.

Another trope that Nora Roberts likes to use is the childhood love reignited one.  The male lead of this story is Carter, who had a crush on Mac when they were in elementary school, and having met her again falls for her once more.  He has some heartbreak in his past as well, but it kind of takes a backseat in the story, and is really only touched upon in regards to Mac’s own issues.  Which makes sense to a point:  Mac is the feature character.

The story takes place over 3 months (January to March) and I feel some of the angst/drama elements were a bit too quickly resolved to fit into that time frame.  Macs issues with commitment and expecting things to last seemed to be fixed fairly quickly to give us the Happy Ending we all expect in this genre.  Given the time since I last read the series, I am wondering if perhaps some of these issues will show up as a background detail in a later book to fix the artificial convenience in the first book.

This book isn’t a hard hitting story, its light, fluffy and fits into the romance genre as one would expect.  I enjoyed the story, even if parts seemed a bit too contrived/fixed.  I’m giving the story a B.  I can suggest this book for a rainy afternoon or any time you just want a happy ending. 

Now onwards to book two:  Bed of Roses.

Bookit Review #7: Playing For Keeps

Title: Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay #7)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publication:  January 22nd 2019
Edition: Paperback  (look, an actual paper book) 351 pages
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  B-

Bookit 2009 #7

Alright, this book took me a while to read, half because it was hard to stay into it at first, and half because the last two months have been crazy in my life and probably won’t let up for awhile.  But that’s neither here or there when it comes to this review.  The book was alright.  There wasn’t anything I particularly hated or loved to be honest.  Its not going to be going in my re-read pile.  That being said, if someone asked me if I recommended it to them to read?  I’d probably say sure, its a nice light read.

The plot of the book starts with Sadie Lane and Caleb Parker finding a stray/abandoned dog that they name Lollipop. They have been crushing on each other in their own way for about a year now, but Sadie has issues accepting emotional connection and Caleb has a few issues of his own. They navigate their relationship around these things.

I did like the fact that this book takes into note mental health issues, but I feel like it wasn’t the right vehicle for it.  There always felt like we got the summary of things but nothing really in depth about these two characters. It was there just to keep the pair from being together long enough for it to be a novel.

And the adoption of Lollipop, a dog they find is actually far less involved then you would expect.

I’m hoping that alot of the minor details being missing is because this is book #7 and probably were mentioned in an earlier book but I honestly don’t know.  There are a few lines I found difficult not to laugh at too not because they were ncessarily jokes, but because it was just awkward phrasing  (The main one happens in one of the last chapters and involves psychic boobs).

So since I don’t feel particularly strong about this book in either way other then what I previously mentioned, I’m going to give this novel a B. 

Bookit Review: Perfectly Clueless

Title: Perfectly Clueless (Book 3 in the Bayfield High Series)
Author: Madeleine Labitan
Publication: September 19, 2018  (115 pages)
Edition:  Kindle (via Kindle Unlimited)
Genre:  Teen Romance
Rating:  C-ish
Bookit 2009 #6

This is the final released novel in the Bayfield series.  I’m not sure if this is the final novel, or if Ms. Labitan plans on writing more.  Like its two predecessors Truth or Dare and Kiss and Make Up,  this is more of a novella then a novel at only 115 pages.  Its the longest of the three, but oddly enough not the best one.  I believe the first novel felt the most complete, even if it was short and could have used some development.

I think my main problem with this one is that there was no build up in the novel.  We are supposed to believe that Dylan and Bianca have been in love for awhile but Dylan has been in denial but its not really there in moments.   Side characters are finding it so obvious but it doesn’t seem as obvious as we are supposed to believe.  Perhaps if it was drawn out into a full novel we could have gotten more moments where we could see that Dylan is feeling it too outside him being a jerk to Bianca’s dates.    This story might also have worked better if the characters were a little older.

I also have an issue with romances that decide to make the character who is the competitor in the one character’s affections somehow a horrible person in order to make it okay that the main characters did whatever they did.  I find that unnecessary.

My final grade is C-ish due to it feeling its unfinished and also because of the troublesome bits.  This author shows promise, and I look forward to what she writes in the future, but I’m hoping that with experience in writing will come some more depth to the novels they write.

Bookit Review: Kiss & Make-Up

 Title:   Kiss & Make Up (Part 2 of the Bayfield High series)
Author: Madeleine Labitan
Publication:  June 11, 2018  (86 pages)
Edition:  Kindle (via Kindle Unlimited)
Genre:  Teen Romance
Rating:  C-ish
Bookit 2009 #5

This is the sequel to Labitan’s debut novel Truth or Dare,  and continues to take place in Bayfield High school.  This time around, the star is  Madison Cooper, the girlfriend Adam dumped for alleged cheating in the previous novella.  As Kenzie and Sean learned in that one, Maddie had in fact not cheated on Adam, and he spends this one trying to win her back.

This story is remarkably shorter then the first.  I’m wondering if perhaps all three novels were supposed to be a collection together rather than sold separately.   It takes over more time within in the novella, although it doesn’t have much of a driving plot other then “Adam tries to win Maddie back.”  Many of the minor characters aren’t developed enough to be interesting, which is fine as they don’t have anything really to do.  I wish the author could have the characters from the last novel in this one a little bit more to develop more of a connection and flow in the series.

I feel like this would have been better set as the b-plot in a combined novel.  Both the other novellas in this series were longer and had a bit more depth to them.

I ended up giving this a C-ish grade because I feel it could have been developed into a deeper story, or added to fill out one of the other novels.  It wasn’t horrible, just quick and lacking the development in full-length novels.

Bookit Review: Truth or Dare

Title:   Truth or Dare (Part 1 of the Bayfield High series)
Author: Madeleine Labitan
Publication:  February 27, 2018  (105 pages)
Edition:  Kindle (via Kindle Unlimited)
Genre:  Teen Romance
Rating:  Bish
Bookit 2009 #4

So this was recommended to me because I was reading the Scandalous series by R. Linda so I decided to try it out.  Its relatively short, and I was able to read it, and its two sequels in about 2 and half hours one morning.  So its definately one of those short-and-sweet novels. 
Because its so short, the action of the plot is relatively short.  I feel like this story had the promise of more, but hadn’t been given the time.  This entire story takes place over a couple hours for the most part at a teen party with underage drinking.  There is a slight element of ridiculous in the set up of the events, but I think they would be more forgivable if more happened.
In the first novel (of 3 I read) the main character is Kenzie, who spends half the novel helping her best friend enact  revenge for his cheating on her.  Cheating is a recurring element in these stories.  This story sets up the second book with that same theme.

Kenzie has a prank war with Sean, her love interest in this novella.  However after several mishaps over the night and getting stuck in the bathroom while his girlfriend cheats on him in the other room, Sean relates that he started the pranks as a way to get her attention.  
It’s hard to summarize this because its so short.  Its only around 90 pages long (the book has a bunch of samples at the end).  I think its a nice start, but could have used some more plot in the background.  On the other hand the angst side of things isn’t dragged out endlessly.  

I am going to give it a B-ish.  I feel that this author has potential, although she does have a problem with length.   Maybe in the future she can reissue this series with more backstory development and lengthen the story in general. Till then it almost seems like I’m grading something unfinished. That being said, if you have a wait somewhere and want to read something quick, this book could work for you. It didn’t make me want to (figuratively) throw my kindle in annoyance either.

Bookit Review: Christina & the Rebel Affair

 Title:  Christina and the Rebel Affair (Book 6 of the Scandalous Series)
Author: R. Linda
Publication:  October 16th 2018 217 pages
Edition:  Kindle (via Kindle Unlimited)
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  C
Bookit 2009 #3

Previously reviewed:  Bailey | Indie | Kenzie | Harper | Audrey

Oddly enough, this story actually does Audrey a better job then the book she starred in.  We see more of the after effects of her trauma, and how those around her help her deal with it.  The leading lady of this novel is Christina, however, who is a call back from Bailey’s novel.  In Bailey’s novel, Christina had been her best friend who betrayed her by sleeping with Bailey’s boyfriend Chace and then being completely horrible to her. 

This book brings her back as supposedly having grown up and become a better person.  She meets Bennett over spring Vacation and the two hit it off only to find out that Christina is Bennett’s teacher after taking over for Bailey when the later is going on Maternity leave.  The problem with this book, beyond being a little weird with the teacher/student thing is that it almost seems like the author can’t decide if Christina is supposed to be likable or not.  Bennett on the other hand seems almost too good.  He’s made out to be the perfect friend and perfect “boyfriend” material.  In the end I don’t really find myself interested in either of them, more interested in the already established characters, particularly Bailey and Ryder who were in the first book.  Audrey and Bennett’s relationship is basically in a weird status where they are best friends but also perhaps a bit codependent and perhaps not healthy for any of their other relationships.

The book also alludes to the return of the villain of the series Chace in a future book.   My guess is Jack might be the next leading character for the series, but we will see.  Nothing has popped up so far so it looks to be still in production.

My final grade is C.  I feel this book could have had a bit more depth to it, and it could have gone further then just the last couple chapters in showing how Christina had changed.  Also, there is references to things that aren’t really fleshed out that perhaps could have been to make Christina’s motivations more clear. 

Bookit Review: Audrey & The Hero Upstairs

Title: Audrey and the Hero Upstairs (Scandalous Series #5)
Author: R. Linda
Publication Date: July 31st 2018 216 pages
Edition: Kindle (Via Kindle Unlimited)
Genre: Romance
Bookit 2009 #2

Rating: C+

(previously reviewed: Bailey | Indie | Kenzie | Harper )

This is one of the series I think I always imagine I liked better when I see a new book comes out and I end up reading it and realising it wasn’t as good. In this book, the focus changes to Audrey, the woman who in a previous book Nate & Brody saved from a devastating house fire that killed her family. Audrey has a lot of issues to deal with which is apparently is something that disappears once you have a boyfriend. I imagine that was not what the author intended to get across (given what I have read in the next book) but I feel like Audrey’s book should have dealt more with her helping herself by getting help for her issues rather then the awkward relationship with Brody.

I did not hate this book. It was a light read, and I didn’t find anything particularly bad to complain about other then it focusing more on the idea of the relationship solving things. But this a romance, so I’m going to excuse it for the moment. I do have to admit that given Audrey’s age and her trauma, some of the other character reactions seem a little unbelievable. Like her foster parents being okay with everything. But this novel is only 216 pages, so perhaps the length is part of the reason some of this wasn’t developed more.

But then again, the next book in the series is about A student/teacher relationship (he’s 18 at least). I think perhaps it is time to either end the series or focus on the couples already in the series.

Also maybe just retcon the fact that it takes place in California, because over the course of the series it was clear the author was not from California. Or the United States. This story has people handing an 18 year old a glass of wine like its no big deal (which I honestly agree with, but its against the law in the US). I’ve read a bit of the next book and it has someone offering a 18 year old free beer as an incentive to work at his establishment, which would probably cause him to lose his license to sell liquor. (I’m not entirely sure about CA’s laws but its likely). Had it not expressed in the first book that it was California It probably wouldn’t throw me so much when I read it. It’s not necessarily something that would stop me from reading but it stops the flow when I do read it.

So my end assessment is that it was okay – but not going on my greatest hits list.

Bookit Review 19: Beautiful Player

Title:  Beautiful Player (Book 3 of the Beautiful Bastard Series)
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Romance/Adult
Publication Date: May 29, 2018  (reissued – original date is 2013)
My Grade: B
Format: Paperback

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel.  It uses the Friends to lovers trope, but feels natural and not awkward in its pacing. It was a nice change from some of the romance novels I’ve been reading this year that have really awkward pacing or decide to forego a natural feeling plot for more sex scenes.

This book is adult, and has descriptive love scenes so I don’t recommend this for younger readers.   However I don’t feel the love scenes override the character development and plot progression (what little plot there actually is) which as I said I’ve been finding happening a lot in this genre.  The minor characters aren’t really developed well, but I found out afterwards this is part of a book series so perhaps its assumed that we are aware of the characters already.  I feel a little development would have been nice since this series is built on being interconnected novels that you can read individually and not as a series. I’m a bit weary having found out the first book is a revitalized Twilight fanfic (those haven’t turned out to be good reads for me because I never liked Twilight that much to begin with) but I’m willing to give it a chance.

This is the third book in the series, so I might read the other ones since I found this one enjoyable and not overdone.    I did find the summary given in some of the advertising was a bit much. The whole “My Fair Lady” comparison is a little thing. I think I might have enjoyed more of the main couple without a focus on each other but then again this is in fact a romance novel so it goes with the genre.  My perfect book however would blend a good plot with good romance.

My final grade is a B-.  I enjoyed it, but it could be better.  Again, it is descriptive so it’s not for younger readers.  I may or may not read the other books in the series to get a better sense of Christina Lauren’s writing.  I’ll probably skip the first book though.  I also feel it could have used a more supportive backlot to frame the romance part of it.