I’m Reading Trouble by Samantha Towle and 10 Years Later by J. Sterling

I knew it was going to happen, and this week I hit the wall: I ran out of reliable NA romances to keep me occupied between the time I stop writing at night and the time the Kindle hits me in the head as I fall asleep.

Sigh. #FirstWorldWriterProblems

So I tried out Trouble by Samantha Towle. It was decent. The story wasn’t easy to read; the main female character suffers abuse at the hands of her father and her first boyfriend, and as a result, she’s also bullemic. That’s not light-hearted fare; it’s a long way from ‘I’m tutoring the hot football/hockey star and even though I’m not popular, I think we’re in love.’ Still, the writing was good, and the male character was both lovable and flawed. Their slow dance toward each other was interesting and realistic, and I enjoyed it, as well as the twist I hadn’t expected. The supporting characters were also likable and well-drawn. I’d read more from this author.

Once I’d finished the first book, I decided to take a chance on one I’d seen in my suggested reading from the ‘zon for quite some time. The premise was promising: two people who clearly had some kind of high school history are about to reconnect at their ten-year reunion. The female lead has a cool career, working for a popular radio show in LA, and the male lead is an undercover cop. Lots of promise.

Unfortunately, the promise didn’t pay off. There was a lot of trite build-up, quite a few situations that could’ve led down intriguing paths but which the author never pursued. We eventually find out what went on between the two in the past, and the payoff was a little anti-climatic. Part of that could’ve been that the flashbacks were way too much telling and not enough showing. There wasn’t enough dialogue or action therein, and it didn’t make me care about the characters. Honestly, I was a little bored, which was really too bad, because again, the characters could have had so many dimensions. This book almost felt like a short building up to the real story.

So now I’m back in the same place, looking for the next read. Cora Carmack’s All Played Out releases in less than a month, but I’m not sure I can wait that long. I’m open to suggestions here.

I’m Reading Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott and The Ivy Years by Sarina Bowen

When you’re a reader-connoisseur of a certain genre of books, you tend to develop a sixth sense about those books. I can usually tell from a blurb–either how well it’s written or its content–whether a book is for me or not. Sometimes, though, I choose to read a book despite its blurb. At times this works out, and others it does not.

This week, I read three really excellent books that fell into this category. I wasn’t enthralled with any of the blurbs, but I went for it anyway and was pleasantly surprised.

The first book is Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott. I’d read four of her other books; the first two were really excellent (This is Falling and You and Everything After–LOVE those titles), and the other two were only so-so. I’m happy to say the newer books were the better one, so it was clear Ms. Scott’s writing has been evolving. But on the basis of those first two, I bought Wild Reckless even though it seemed to be a little YA.

I loved this story. The characters are amazing, three-dimensional, well-rounded and well-written. There is a lot of angst and trauma, but none of it is manufactured or dwelt on too long. It’s just the sucky stuff that happens in some lives and how we move on from those situations, living past them without letting them define us.

Owen and Kensington had terrific chemistry, and their story developed at the perfect pace. I really enjoyed this book, and I’d love to read more in this world. (Hint, hint, Ms. Scott!)

After finishing Wild Reckless, I started reading The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen. I wasn’t sure about this. The main female character was in a wheelchair, and I wasn’t sure how that would be handled. As it turned out, I was impressed that while the challenges of Corey’s condition certainly were not ignored, again they did not define her. They were part of the situation that allowed her to meet Hartley, and they added some complications, but they only made the ultimate coming together sweeter. Again, well-written characters set into a plot that didn’t have too much contriving.

I enjoyed it so much that I went directly into the next book, The Year We Hid Away, and I loved it, too. Possibly even more! I even read the novella The Blonde Date, and found it wonderful. I highly recommend The Ivy Years books.

And now I’m looking for a new read. Any thoughts? Ideas? Books that are making you sigh?

I’m Reading The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan

Today, I’m continuing my string of New Adult romances with terrific characters in The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan. I’m a little shocked that this was Ms. Callihan’s first contemporary romance (I guess she’s written some paranormal). Frankly, I was a little miffed because I want more NOW.

Again, the plot of this story isn’t anything earth-shattering. Boy meets girl. . .and in this instance, boy and girl feel instant attraction. Boy is willing to pursue, girl wants nothing to do with boy because he’s the BMOC (is that a thing anymore? It was in my day.) Dude’s a football star, 2-time champion and Heisman trophy winner. Anna Jones is the type to fly under the radar after getting shunned by the popular crowd during high school.

But Drew Baylor doesn’t take no for an answer. Not in a stalker, creeper way, but in the sense that he’s taking advantage of every opportunity he gets to see and talk to Anna. When they finally hook up, she lays down some rules in her own head (which is something else I liked: she doesn’t tell Drew the rules, it’s just understood, which I think is so much more realistic): no kissing on the lips. No telling anyone. No staying the night. No falling in love.

Of course it becomes more. You know it will, I know it will . . . so why do we get hooked by hook up stories? Because it’s about falling in love. It’s about two damaged characters who are fighting being together until the absolute senselessness of it makes being apart impossible.

The only problem I had with this book was that I want the next one NOW. Yesterday. And there’s not even a release date. I’m a little bitter.

I think I might need a 12 step program for new adult contemporary romance.