Filmed in black and white, the horror romance film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a gorgeous movie, managing to be both ominous and wonderfully sweet. It tells the story of a vampire “who preys on men who disrespect women.” The director, Ana Lily Amirpour, is Iranian-American, and the movie is spoken in Persian with English subtitles. Amirpour describes her film as “Iranian Vampire Spaghetti Western,” and it is, sort of, but it’s also so simple and beautiful it’s far more than that snarky description.
Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
Sugar Jamison’s The Bad Boy CEO is a deliciously satisfying contemporary romance, with a sparkling-hot main relationship and plenty of interesting secondary characters, some of whom will no doubt get their own books. Here’s the synopsis:
Colt King has spent his whole life trying to prove he’s not the trash his hometown of Destiny, Nevada, thought he and his brothers were. As soon as he was old enough he left town, vowing to make a name for himself and never looking back at the place that looked down on him. But that plan goes out the window when his ailing elderly aunt asks him to come home.
Towards the end of last month Anchor, the final book in M. Mabie’s The Wake Series, was released and for many romance readers this moment was by far the highlight of 2015. The Wake Series is a series of contemporary romances that follow Casey, Blake and significant secondary characters, highlighting both the harsh realities and celebrated pleasures of life.
(Readers, please note, this series is not for the faint-hearted. If you enjoy questioning every thought, decision and judgement you have ever made, and if you are willing to push your own boundaries, then this series is for you, changing you in ways you never thought possible.)
This series is about flaws, imperfections, mistakes and heartache. Paired with determination, belief, persistence and perseverance, M. Mabie writes about Love. All encompassing, life changing and heartbreakingly beautiful LOVE.
Bait introduces us to Casey and Blake. If they had met in different times of their life, this meeting would have been perfect and faultless. Unfortunately timing isn’t in their favor and readers are drawn into a tumultuous journey of forbidden love that is imperfectly perfect.
I intended to write this piece as a straightforward, concise and informative review. Like normal people do. Honest. Alas, it morphed somewhat into a collection of distracted and disjointed musings on the book itself and my personal scattered reactions to it. Regardless of the end result, I’d like everyone to acknowledge that I started off with a plan, and the best of intentions. Sadly, the plan quickly went to hell, which coincidentally – as my gran would say – is paved with good intentions. Then usually a swift clip around the ear would follow.
Marketed as “the German Brokeback Mountain,” Free Fall depicts a complicated romance between two police officers. Be warned, the ending is unclear, but the story itself spools out well, building up the tension and the conflict of the lead character. It’s available for streaming on Netflix (and one of its leads also stars in the Netflix-streaming Sense8).
In Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte created two incredibly memorable characters. The titular Jane is “poor, plain, and little,” but she is also the most stubborn heroine ever, and knows her own worth: “I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”
Her foil, her true soulmate, is the irascible Mr. Rochester, whom Jane describes as having “broad and jetty eyebrows; his square forehead, made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair. I recognized his decisive nose, more remarkable for character than beauty; his full nostrils, denoting, I thought, choler; his grim mouth, chin, and jaw—yes, all three were very grim, and no mistake.”
Rochester is arrogant, as stubborn as Jane, proud, obnoxious, and manipulative. And yet? And yet he is an iconic hero in literature, and his type shows up in romances as the Alpha male (most recently as a Billionaire rather than a wealthy man with an estate). Since Edward Fairfax Rochester is such a memorable hero, it’s time to round up the Top 4 On-Screen portrayals of Rochester (I stuck with four because these are the ones I think of when I think of Rochester; other people mentioned the William Hurt portrayal, and then there’s Orson Welles hamming it up against Joan Fontaine, but those aren’t MY Rochesters):
Teddy Bear (a horrible title, by the way) is a Danish movie about a very shy bodybuilder finding true love in Thailand. It’s available for streaming from Amazon, free if you are an Amazon Prime member. Here’s the synopsis:
The 38-year-old bodybuilder Dennis would really like to find true love. He has never had a girlfriend and lives alone with his mother in a suburb of Copenhagen. When his uncle marries a girl from Thailand, Dennis decides to try his own luck on a trip to Pattaya, as it seems that love is easier to find in Thailand. He knows that his mother would never accept another woman in his life, so he lies and tells her that he is going to Germany. Dennis has never been out traveling before and the hectic Pattaya is a huge cultural shock for him. The intrusive Thai girls give big bruises to Dennis’ naive picture of what love should be like, and he is about to lose hope when he unexpectedly meets the Thai woman Toi.
It’s a really sweet movie, even though it sounds somewhat odd.
Jennifer Malone Wright is my favorite new paranormal romance author. Jennifer is best known for The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter series, but my personal favorite of her books is Keeper vs. Reaper from the Graveyard Guardians series. What I love most about Keeper vs. Reaper is the combination of action, paranormal romance, and fantastic characters.
In Keeper vs. Reaper there are two rival families in conflict with each other. There is the Keeper family, whose main priority is to protect the souls of the graveyards while the souls are waiting to be transferred to the next life. Then there is the Reaper family, whose main goal is to consume souls that have not yet passed onto the next life because the souls give the Reapers supernatural strength. The Keeper and Reaper families are naturally supposed to stay away from each other. There is even a painful, burning sensation amongst the two if their skin touches. When the main man, Jack, is ordered by his mother to kill a Keeper, Lucy, he is puzzled to find he does not feel the painful sting when he touches Lucy.
M. O’Keefe, a new pseudonym for Molly O’Keefe, is a brilliantly intense romance between two actually damaged characters. O’Keefe has never flinched for writing the ugliness of human nature, even in romance, where such scrutiny is rare. This book is actually less painful to read than some of her other books, which is interesting, given the characters’ respective situations. Here’s the blurb:
I didn’t think answering someone else’s cellphone would change my life. But the stranger with the low, deep voice on the other end of the line tempted me, awakened my body, set me on fire. He was looking for someone else. Instead he found me.
And I found a hot, secret world where I felt alive for the first time.
His name was Dylan, and, strangely, he made me feel safe. Desired. Compelled. Every dark thing he asked me to do, I did. Without question. I longed to meet him, but we were both keeping secrets. And mine were dangerous. If I took the first step, if I got closer to Dylan—emotionally, physically—then I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. I would be exposed, with nothing left to surrender but the truth. And my truth could hurt us both.
The heroine Annie is fleeing an abusive situation and her backstory is unfolded naturally, and we come to learn the hero Dylan’s story as well, albeit less completely (probably his story will be told more fully in the second book, The Truth About Him). The two embark on a relationship that occurs entirely over the phone, giving Annie a comfort level she would not have if she were meeting Dylan in person.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the story is told from Annie’s point-of-view, which is in first person, and Dylan’s, which is in third (Apparently the next book flips that, so Dylan’s POV is in first, and Annie’s is in third.)
What make this book totally work is that Annie — and Dylan, to a lesser extent — is resolved to take risks in her life, where she never did before (because her earlier life didn’t work out so well for her, as the bruises at her throat attest). It’s less a romance than a novel where there is some romance, but the focus is on Annie and her own growth — dyeing her hair, getting a job, doing some previously forbidden things, discovering her own sexuality — and although Dylan is a crucial part of that, it’s clear that Annie was primed to do this, and Dylan’s presence in her life is the catalyst, but not the sole reason. It’s edgy women’s fiction, if that were a genre. Which perhaps it is now, thanks to O’Keefe. This is the kind of book you could possibly share with your litfic-loving friend without them turning up their nose (and she might even ask for more like this).
Be warned; this book ends on a helluva cliffhanger, so don’t expect resolution. It’s got a satisfying conclusion in some aspects, but definitely leaves you dying for The Truth About Him.
Viking romances have been an underrepresented genre in historical romance, but there is plenty there for romance fans to find appealing:
- Fierce warriors with interesting facial hair.
- Viking women had more rights than other women during that time period. They could ask for divorce and inherit property.
- Vikings were very concerned with hygiene.
- They had kickass gods (Thor, anyone?)
- They’re not afraid to go the distance — literally! They traveled huge distances to accomplish their goals.
If you haven’t read any Viking romance, there are some available for free from the EverAfter app:
- Chelsea Chaynes’s Dominated by Vikings: Act 1
- Lexy Timms’s Celtic Viking (Heart of the Battle Series #1)
- Lacey Edward’s Bearly a Viking (with bonus paranormal shifter goodness).
Are you planning to watch The Last Kingdom? Do you like Viking romance? Any recommendations?