Category Archives: Clean Romance

Flawed – Becky Bird

An okay reimagining of Pride and Prejudice with teens in high school

⭐⭐

I love Jane Austen and have read all her books. I’ve enjoyed all the miniseries and movies. I’m not a purist and have enjoyed sequel regency romance novels. I’ve also loved Austen storylines reimagined movies. My favorites are “Bride and Prejudice” and “Clueless” (Emma). So when I read this book was “Pride and Prejudice” reimagined with teens in the modern world, I was fully prepared to love it. Unfortunately, I had some major problems with it.

It’s cute and sometimes amusing. I had no problem finishing it. I wasn’t bored, and it didn’t drag on. The writing was okay. I kinda liked it. But you can tell I’m not really excited by it.

These were my major problems with it:

1. Dialogue straight from Austen, some of the most memorable quotes, did not sound realistic coming from modern teenagers. It felt forced and fake.

2. Overused clichés – mean girls, the destruction of a dress right before a fashion show, a prom-like climax, and others. It felt too “Gossip Girl”.

3. The “Bingham” character was far too shallow and narcissistic. He also punched out his windshield, twice, which indicated anger control issues. It made me worry Jade (Jane) would be abused later.

4. The entire book takes place within the time “Pride and Prejudice” is being discussed and quizzed on in Mia’s class (Elizabeth Bennet). The timing wasn’t clear. I don’t know how many weeks passed between the start and the end. But it felt way too long to be discussing one book. At least my English teachers never would have taken that long on a single book.

5. Along with the last point, the action unfolds so the class talks about the plot points in P&P as they correspond to what’s going on in Mia’s life. This forced the comparison, as if I wouldn’t get it otherwise, when it was blatantly obvious all along. It also made me doubt Mia’s intelligence as she doesn’t see the similarities between the book and her life.

1st person present tense with alternating chapters from the two main characters. I did like getting into the mind of Finn (Darcy).

Clean romance appropriate for young readers. Nothing beyond kissing. No foul language. Little violence – mainly the punching windshields thing. No OM/OW drama.

HFN, which felt more appropriate than a HEA.

Grammar:

Dialogue is very often separated from the action sequence that identifies the speaker. Sometimes one character speaks twice, in two separate paragraphs. This made knowing who was speaking difficult to figure out in places. There weren’t any unnecessary dialogue tags, but there were places where necessary tags were missing.

Commas weren’t routinely missing, so not using them wasn’t a choice. There were 9 missing commas.

Other error count:  15 (misspelled, wrong, extra, and missing words, and missing punctuation marks)

So it was readable but not a good job.

My favorite quote comes from the school principal as she is about to announce the king and queen of the winter formal dance: “Pipe down, you pompous—” Potter lets out a loud whistle. There’s dead silence as she finishes her sentence with “…little turdfaces!” More awkward silence follows, and Principal Potter gives a wry smile. “Firstly, I want to say I’m drunk.”

Crossing the Line – Joy Slaughter

Great EMS Romance

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Crossing the Line grabbed me and held on. It’s a story about building trust, not only with others but with yourself. With trust, comes love. It’s a romance between a man and a woman, but it’s also about both of them rebuilding themselves to be capable of giving and receiving love after life has broken them down.

The setting for this is the Emergency Medical Services, and it’s compelling. EMS is a completely new world for me, and I loved it. So you won’t need to know anything going in to enjoy it. It’s certainly not just for EMS workers or those who know them. My curiosity compelled me to Google several things, but it wasn’t necessary. It felt like reading science fiction or watching a medical drama, where I trust the characters know what they’re talking about or doing when I don’t. I found several things shocking, like the work hours. I found all of the little details interesting.

Both Megan and Nathan are complex, interesting characters. They have their strong and weak moments. They do good, bad, wise, and stupid things, and I liked them. I hated Todd and wanted to torture him slowly, so he’s a very good bad guy. The supporting characters provided flavor and were memorable, even a radiologist who only appears for a page (See? I remember her!)

The writing is very good, fast paced and entertaining throughout. We are shown instead of told. We don’t get a load of backstory at the start. Many things are slowly revealed with hints, like light slaps to the face, telling us something is not okay.

I liked the occupational slang and that it wasn’t dumbed down or explained to the reader, even if I didn’t understand it. It gave me that fly on the wall feeling of realism.

A staccato rhythm of thoughts and feelings, leaving sentence structure behind, is used to convey indescribable terror and pain in a very credible way. This is how the mind works, or doesn’t work, when we can’t deal.

I also laughed out loud many times. The humor is great at relieving tension, just as it is in life, and keeps this from being a depressing read. It made me sad, angry, hopeful, shocked, proud, amused – It made me feel!

Favorite quotes:

Past tense. 3rd person close to both Megan and Nathan but no head-hopping.

Sections are separated with time and place headings. I find this format difficult to follow at times, needing to flip back to see how much time passed.

Almost clean romance – no graphic sex scenes. What is shown is camera obscura or high-level lens.

No cheating or OW/OM drama.

Triggers: Verbal and physical abuse and rape, not graphically described. Some other violence and medical gore. Suicidal ideation.

Occasional foul language.

Grammar was great for most of this. I was reading an ARC and sent what I did find to the author. Fellow grammar curmudgeon’s need not beware.

Sort of HEA but definitely a satisfying ending. No cliffhanger.

Loved it. Would I want to read it again? Yes! So 5 stars. I highly recommend this!

The McClane Apocalypse, Book 1 – Kate Morris

Makings of a good story, shame about present tense + grammar

⭐⭐

At the start of an apocalypse, Reagan escapes the college she’s been at and goes home to the family farm. The McClane’s are clearly preppers. One of Reagan’s sisters is married to a an Army Ranger. He is brought home wounded by his brother and a friend. So we have three hot military men for three beautiful McClane sisters.

This story is written in present tense throughout, which was shocking to my system and difficult to read until I got accustomed to it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel in present tense before and have decided I’m not a fan of this choice.

There are many grammar and spelling errors. At some point, there was a search and replace that replaced the second half of certain words with “Where”. Yikes. Unnecessary dialogue tags are everywhere. Dialogue and action are placed in separate paragraphs. The same word is used to describe things in adjacent paragraphs. This novel could have seriously benefited from an editor.

Now the story is actually pretty good in parts. I love the whole post-apocalypse romance genre, which is why I decided to try this even after reading bad reviews. I found I don’t agree with the complaints that the women are weak. Reagan is a sharp shooter and goes with the men to defend some neighbors. In the beginning, she kills her attackers. She’s got the makings of a strong character, but her thinking she is ugly because of some scars seems quite far fetched.

It makes sense that Grams and Hannah would be cooking all the time. There are no more microwaves! Cooking for that many people is actually quite strenuous. And Sue is heavily pregnant and then taking care of an infant while still managing an enormous garden, which is hard work too. These women aren’t weak just because they are doing “women’s work”. Women’s work is frigging hard!

The fact that Reagan and Hannah are both virgins makes sense for their characters. Reagan has been far ahead of her age group in school since before she hit puberty. Hannah was home schooled because she didn’t want to go away to a school for the blind. I don’t find it ridiculous. When Hannah decides she wants a man, she isn’t shy about showing him.

The story ends before it’s complete, but it’s not really a cliffhanger. I don’t feel like I have to know what happens next. Since I found present tense so uncomfortable, I don’t think I’m going to find out. If the series is ever properly edited and put into past tense, I would definitely read it.

There were no sex scenes in Book 1, so it is a clean romance. However, the romance itself didn’t get very far in this book.