Call It Chemistry – Romance Novel Addicts Book Review

RNAA Rose Rating – Four Roses

Title: Call It Chemistry: A Golden Grove Series Small Town Sweet Romance

Author: D.J. Van Oss

Genre: Small Town / Sweet Romance

Synopsis:

Is it ever too late for a second chance?
Kate Brady never thought she’d set foot in her hometown again. After all, Golden Grove was the scene of the biggest embarrassment of her life, back when she was “Katie Braces,” the high-school art nerd. But if she’s going to climb the corporate ladder at her demanding Chicago design firm, she has to take on a re-branding job for Nitrovex, the big (and boring) chemical plant on the outskirts of her Iowa hometown. And to do that, she’s going to need the help of her old next-door-neighbor, Peter Clark, the cute guy she’s never really gotten over.

Before he lost his dad, Peter Clark had planned on a prestigious career as a chemical engineer doing cutting-edge science. Now here he is, still stuck in his small hometown, teaching chemistry at his old high school. The last thing he expected was seeing his childhood crush, Katie, back in Golden Grove. But when one trip turns into multiple visits, he wonders if this is a chance to heal old wounds – and maybe more.

Will Kate be able to get the job done while enduring all of these heart-thumping distractions from Peter? And will Peter take a chance on finding love with the girl he once let get away?

What I Loved About this Book:

The plot involved actual chemistry, which I thought was rather clever. Katie and Peter were engaging characters with fully-developed stories and backstories. Former friends and nearly high school sweethearts, the two connect years later when Katie returns to her hometown on business. Peter is a high school chemistry teacher and is the perfect person to help Kate with her important advertising account for the town’s chemical company. The side characters were engaging, too, if slightly pushy and annoying. Then again, haven’t we had pushy and annoying neighbors and other characters in our lives??

 

What Could Have Been Better:

I found the plot engaging and enjoyable to read, but this was one of those books where the central plot was set up in the beginning without much new information being introduced. Perhaps it could have benefited with a little more conflict or maybe some new developments being scattered throughout.

Sexual Content: None. The book is billed as a clean romance, and delivers on that promise.

Overall: A clever, engaging story about romantic and actual chemistry.

Related links:

Amazon 

Author website

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Why Should Readers Leave Book Reviews?

It’s a frustrating Catch-22 for authors – most readers rely heavily on reviews when deciding whether or not to buy a book, but most readers don’t leave reviews.  Posting a review on Amazon can literally take less than a minute, and will have a profound effect on an author and her career. 

Why Reviews Matter

Reviews have a powerful effect on the Amazon algorithm, meaning the more positive reviews a book gets, the more visible the book can become in Amazon’s ranking. Some have speculated that the magic number is 50 reviews for a book to get a boost in visibility on the Amazon website. 

Many advertising opportunities are only available for books that have a minimum number of reviews. A book with insufficient reviews can and will be rejected, therefore robbing the author of a chance to get the book in front of more readers…and to try to get more reviews. 

Most consumers wouldn’t buy any product online without first reading the reviews first. If a book has only a few reviews or perhaps none at all, most readers will pass on the book. It could be a terrific story, but it will get lost in the shuffle if no one has reviewed it. 

What You May Not Know

Most authors obsessively check their reviews on Amazon, and it can be pretty demoralizing when none appear for days or weeks at a time.

Writer’s social media groups and message boards are flooded with hand-wringing discussions about what to do to get more reviews. Book reviews can be an afterthought for readers, but authors often feel that they live and die by them. 

Amazon cracks down hard on reviews from people the author knows personally. That means, for the most part, the author’s friends and family members cannot help him by posting a review of his book.  Amazon has ways of knowing who is connected with an author on social networks, and will pull reviews from someone who appears be personally connected. This is especially frustrating because this includes other authors and business contacts who the author frequently does not know personally. 

There are a number of paid services that authors use to try to get honest reviews. These services frequently involve a fair amount of money and a great deal of time on the author’s part. The author gets a list of potential reviewers, and then has to email these people directly offering them a free of the book in exchange for an honest review on Amazon. The majority of these emails go unanswered and, worse, it’s not uncommon for the author to send the book for free, only to never hear from the “reviewer” again. 

Reviews on Goodreads are nice, but are nowhere near as crucial as reviews on the “buying” page of Amazon. It can be nice, yet maddening, to get a five-star review on Goodreads but not on Amazon where it is desperately needed.

Post an Honest Review, but Remember that There is a Real Person Behind the Book

 

Never forget that the author is a real human being with feelings. She most likely spent months or even years writing this book. She probably poured a lot of herself into the story and the characters, and had high hopes that the book would do well. It was brave of her to put her book out there into the world, where she knew it might get rejected. By giving a book a one-star review, you may feel you are getting “revenge” on the writer for wasting your time if you didn’t like the book. The author did not write the book to make you mad. She hoped you would like it. She may even have given you the book for free, as many authors do in an effort to get more reviews. 

Not all authors read their reviews, but I would wager that most do. If you gave a book a one-star review, the author probably saw it. And it hurt. It hurt a lot. It also tanked his overall rating, even if all of the other reviews were positive. Maybe the author was able to brush it off, or maybe he spent the rest of the day second-guessing himself and his talent as a writer. Negative reviews go with the territory of being a writer, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t devastating.

In my personal opinion, a book is not one-star worthy simply because I didn’t like it. A one-star book is one that is poorly written and riddled with lazy, grammatical errors. Or perhaps it’s a book that bills itself as a clean romance, but in fact contains explicit sex. Both of these examples constitute a betrayal of reader expectations as far as I’m concerned (I still wouldn’t give a one-star review to anyone ever. I just can’t do that to somebody. In those cases I simply will not leave a review at all). Any author who has ever done a free promotion of her books can tell you that’s where the majority of low ratings came from. For some odd reason, readers tend to feel more entitled when they get something for free.

Frankly, giving an author one star for a book you got for free is like having someone give you a free piece of candy, and then you spit it back in their face because you didn’t like it.

It’s fine to tell the truth in a review if you didn’t like the book, but there’s no reason to be cruel. Be honest, but be constructive. “This book was stupid” is not helpful. Saying something like “I didn’t like this book because I felt the plot really lagged in the middle. The story just didn’t hold my interest.” is still going to hurt the author, but it can help her at the same time. 

As a reader, you may by unaware of the tremendous power you wield. Even an honest, three-star review with constructive criticism can be helpful. Best of all, you can really help an author – and the reading community at large – by leaving a positive review for a book that you genuinely enjoyed.

The writer life can be a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, sometimes all in the same day, and there’s just no feeling in the world like checking your Amazon page and finding a review from a reader who really liked your book. You don’t have to write a lengthy review. All you have to do is post a rating of 1 to 5 stars, and write one or two sentences about how you felt about the book. 

Write a review today – and be a book lover’s hero!

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Tell Me What You Want – Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous Book Review

RNAA Rose Rating – Four Roses

 

Title: Tell Me What You Want

Author: Susan Sheehey

Genre: Small Town Romance

Synopsis:

The Cardinal rule for Knights is never fall for a client. But in a business were rules are meant to be broken, how can he resist…

Book One – Renner
Showing a woman her worth is his specialty.

Renner Shaw’s priority as a Knight—a luxury escort with Knights of Texas—is making clients feel safe and secure. 
Intimacy is a perk, and one of his fortes. A position he was surprised to be well suited for with his charm and unrivaled focus. But he never expected the likes of Cassie Summer to come calling.
Cassie never expected to call an escort for the sole purpose of helping her sleep after a sudden tragedy. She certainly never anticipated the sizzling Renner Shaw would be the light that helps guide her out of grief. Only, it may be too late to salvage her splintered heart.
Making his client feel safe and secure is harder than Renner ever imagined, but he’s determined to fulfill his role to perfection. To change her gray and dreary world into one of colorful pleasure.

Knights of Texas novella series
These noble protectors of pleasure bring their expertise and determination to showing a woman her true worth. 
Revealing a woman’s value is their devoted mission, and these southern charmers can all but guarantee kindling a woman’s heart.

What I Loved About this Book:

This book portrays grief realistically and doesn’t pull punches when it comes to showing what it’s like to have your husband taken from you suddenly. The hero, Renner, is sexy, as well as being physically and emotionally protective. He works for an escort service, specializing in clients who desire military men. A former marine and bodyguard, protecting others is in his nature. I liked Renner and enjoyed reading about him, and I liked the premise of this book.

What Could Have Been Better:

The book is quite short. To be fair, it is billed as a novella, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. Even so, the writing was terrific and I felt there was plenty of room to expand on the characters. I would have loved to have gotten to know the heroine, Cassie, a bit better. All we really know about her is that she was a devoted wife and a wonderful mother. We don’t get much insight into her other than her grief. We don’t get to explore her hopes and dreams, her career, her past, or anything like that so it makes it a little harder to lose yourself in the romance. Renner loves her for her devotion to her family, but what else? Even though it is part of a series, the book does not end on a cliffhanger, which is good.

Sexual Content: Just a little, and it was relatively mild.

Overall: A well-written, bittersweet story with a sexy hero that can be read in one sitting.

Related links:

Amazon

Author Website

Join the email list for Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous and get a FREE romance novel.

I HATE William Faulkner

Okay, so this article is book-related, but not romance-related. This was one of my most popular posts from my old writing-related site, and I couldn’t help but want to share it here. It’s as true today as it was when I first wrote it.

Buckle up – it’s rant time…

I (STILL) HATE WILLIAM FAULKNER

As an English major, I had to take an entire class on William Faulkner. I hated him then and I hate him now. Before taking this class I had read some of his short stories, which were halfway normal. Nothing to write home about but nothing to get all up in arms about either.

Then I was introduced to his novels. It wasn’t long before I started referring to him as the Dark Leader of Literature. I wore all black clothes and listened to the Darth Vader theme music on the way to class (I really did. It was like my own inside joke and helped me get through the misery).

I really really hated him.

If you’ve never read any of his books…you’re luckier than I am! Haha, I kid.

No I don’t. I wish I’d never heard of the guy… Anywho, in case you had nicer teachers than I did and you were never subjected to his work, Faulkner’s novels are written in some kind of wacky, stream-of-consciousness, incomprehensible way that lots of people think is brilliant but I think it just reads like old Willy was sniffing glue. Half the time you can’t figure out who the hell is talking and you can’t decipher what they are prattling on about.

Seriously, reading his books is like trying to solve a math problem. Not exactly fun to cozy up with in bed with a cup of tea.  I was too busy throwing the book at the wall and shaking my fist at the sky (when I should have been shaking it at the ground. At least that’s where he should have ended up after putting me through a whole semester of torture.)

It just annoys me when people go on and on about how brilliant Faulkner is and about how his wonderful books are a superb commentary on the South and all that. I’m sure there’s some brilliance in there SOMEWHERE, but I’m too busy trying to figure out what the hell is going on. It’s hard to lose yourself in a story when you can’t even tell which character is talking and you find yourself fantasizing about setting the book on fire and slowly watching it burn….

I confess it’s been eighteen years since I took that class. I’m older, wiser, and have written five novels and ten screenplays as of this writing (Fun Fact: William Faulkner was a failed screenwriter. Hahahahha! Sorry…back to the blog…) I’ve read a lot and written a lot since then. Perhaps I should go back and read some of his work as a mature adult to see if my opinion has changed.

Yeah. Not gonna happen.

If I’m not getting graded and I don’t have to write a paper on it, I’m not going near Faulkner’s books.

On the plus side, Faulkner’s dead so he can’t write any more books!

Sorry, that was mean. But I’m okay with it.

If you wanna talk classic literature, this guy is way more my speed.

“My books are water; those of the great geniuses is wine. Everybody drinks water.”  – Mark Twain

Well said.

Suck it, Faulkner.

  • Linda Fausnet

P.S. I wrote this article several years ago and I am happy to state that nothing has changed. I STILL hate William Faulkner, and have enjoyed my Faulkner-free years with much verve and gusto.

I was in Barnes and Noble a few years ago and, just for funsies, I took a look in the fiction section to see where my books might end up should I ever get traditionally published. Looking under the FAU fiction section, it dawned on me that my books would be smack dab right next to my good buddy Faulkner.

As a self-pubbed author, my work isn’t exactly on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. However, my debut novel *is* on the library shelves:

I get a huge kick out of the fact that my rainbow-colored novel about gay equality, QUEEN HENRY, is nestled snugly next to Faulkner’s “classic” novel, THE SOUND AND THE FURY.

I don’t know if Faulkner is chuckling or rolling in his grave, but this sure made me smile…

Believing in Wishes by Jennifer DeCuir – Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous Book Review

RNAA Rose Rating – Four Roses

Title: Believing in Wishes

Author: Jennifer Decuir

Genre: Small Town Romance

Synopsis:

Fairies and wishing circles don’t belong in Tully’s Grove!

That’s the last thing Olivia Donnelly expects to hear from her new neighbor, Tristan Moss. An artisan, she specifically moved here to start her own business crafting fairy gardens because the residents embrace the fae folk. With a young daughter to support and a fixer-upper draining her bank account, Olivia can’t afford to let the town’s veterinary euthanize her dreams, even if he is too sexy for her own good.

Tristan may have a heart of gold, but those conniving fairies betrayed his trust as a child, and he refuses to let them disappoint his daughter as well. His plan is simple: he’ll run for chamber of commerce president and use his platform to remove the fairy theme. It’s better for tourism branding, better for his peace of mind … and a dagger to his plucky neighbor’s plans.

Can Olivia and Tristan find a way to heal the wounds from his past before he puts her out of business? It might take more than a pinch of fairy magic to pull this one off.

What I Loved About this Book:

This was an intriguing book with a clever twist on the small town romance trope. This particular town’s claim to fame is its fairies. Not only do these magical creatures exist, but they will grant one wish per person. The author sets up some great conflict in that the romantic leads, Tristan and Olivia, have goals that are entirely at odds. Olivia’s dream is to open a business selling specialized fairy gardens, while all Tristan wants is to get rid of the fairies and any mention of them throughout the town. If he becomes head of the Chamber of Commerce, he may just be able to pull that off. Both single parents, both Tristan and Olivia are likeable, well-developed characters with pasts that still haunt them. The two made a wonderful couple, and I enjoyed reading the tale of their blossoming romance. 

What Could Have Been Better:

The romance moved a bit slowly, and it took quite a while for the two lovers to get together. I felt like there was enough good conflict in the book that the two could have become a couple earlier in the story, and it still would have worked as an engaging story. 

Sexual Content: Just a little, and it was relatively mild.

Overall: An engaging, sweet story with a clever twist of magic.

Related links:

Amazon

Nook

Kobo

Author Website

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Two Minutes to Midnight – Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous Book Review

RNAA Rose Rating: Four Roses 

Title: Two Minutes to Midnight

Author: Willow Salix

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis: 

Two Minutes To Midnight a Carpe Noctem Novel, the first in a brand new series from DragonCat Press.

Topaz Thompson was happy as she was, thank you very much. A string of bad relationships and disastrous blind dates has done little to restore her faith in a happy ever after. And now here she is, spending her holiday time going on yet another wild goose chase of the supernatural kind. The last thing she expects to find in a pretentious goth club in Edinburgh, is the man of her dreams.

Logan McGregor had always known he could never love anyone as much as he loved his wife, who was tragically murdered many years before. So imagine his surprise when the beautiful Topaz crosses his path, stirring up long forgotten feelings, showing him that there might be hope after all.

This is a story of a love that spans centuries, proving that when fate has you in her sights, not even death can keep you apart, true love will always win out.

A Soul Mate is forever.

What I Loved About this Book:  

This was a highly entertaining, sexy, and romantic read. It featured a strong female character, a witch, who falls in love with a vampire. The hero in the book is sexy and strong, and the two leads make a terrific couple you can really root for. The book had the perfect amount of worldbuilding for my tastes; enough to set the scene but not so much that it was boring or overwhelmingly detailed. 

What Could Have Been Better: 

There were a few too many typos. The writing was quite good, but the book could have done with maybe one more proofread by a professional editor. 

Sexual Content: Yes. Steamy, sexy, well-written sex scenes. 

Overall: 

An entertaining, sexy paranormal romance with the perfect amount of worldbuilding. I would recommend this book even for those who don’t normally read paranormal romance. 

Related links:

Two Minutes to Midnight on Amazon or Kindle Unlimited.

Author Website.

Goodreads.

Join the email list for Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous and get a FREE romance box set.

A Kiss in the Shadows – Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous Book Review

RNAA Rose Rating – Four Roses

Title: A Kiss in the Shadows

Author: Eve Kincaid

Genre: Romantic Suspense/ Thriller

Synopsis: 

A woman afraid to trust…
Erin Grady will do anything to bring a mental health clinic to Lost Coast Harbor, even if it means accepting money from the local police chief—the father who abandoned her. She’s willing to overlook where the money came from, until a determined and very sexy prosecutor literally crashes into her life…

A man tempted by desire…
Will Patton is desperate to leave the small town of Lost Coast Harbor and rebuild his struggling legal career. To do that, he must expose the dirty police chief—but he never expected to be so drawn to the man’s irresistible daughter. 

A town full of corruption… 
The darkness in Lost Coast Harbor runs deep and wide—and exposing the truth will require Erin and Will to reveal their hearts…no matter the risk.

What I Loved About this Book:

This book works well as a page-turning thriller with some surprises thrown in. The heroine, Erin, is strong and independent, which is always a plus for me. She has a good heart, as her main goal in life is to open a clinic for the mentally ill in her small town. The romance is both sweet and steamy, which is my favorite kind of romance. The hero, Will, is strong and protective but not an alphahole, which I liked.

What Could Have Been Better:

This book was heavy on the thriller plot, and relatively light on the romance overall. The couple spent a fair amount of time in the book apart. MINOR SPOILER. There was a point toward the very end where the main crisis had passed where the hero just abruptly stopped talking to the heroine for no apparent reason. I guess it was supposed to be for dramatic tension purposes, but it really didn’t make any sense to me.

Sexual Content: Yes.

Overall: 

A good, fast-paced thriller with sweet, steamy romance.

Related links:

 AMAZON

iBOOK

KOBO

AUTHOR WEBSITE

 

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Wanderer: The Moncrief Legends by Carol Sabel Blodgett – Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous Book Review

RNAA Rating – Five Roses

   

Title: Wanderer: The Moncrief Legends

Author: Carol Sabel Blodgett

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Thriller/ Paranormal

Synopsis: 

Beyond the wall of computers, all the books rested. Perhaps I belonged to every one of them. Fiction: Immortals aren’t real. Romance: I had a lovely wife who I adored. Horror: She died, in my bed, with my best friend. Mythology: I wish all of this was a myth. There she was. Curled up in an overstuffed chair. Like a child, I darted between the rows of books. She would give the occasional smile as she read. We stayed like this for some time—her reading, me watching. This was exciting. A new person. She was beautiful. That was three days ago. I’ve been reduced to watching her from afar, from this secluded spot across the street from her house. I’m Seth. I was named after Adam and Eve’s third child. It’s been centuries since I’ve been with a woman. Immortality can be a nuisance like that. The time, where does it go? I must make her mine. Some would say that I stalk. I don’t see it that way at all.

What I Loved About this Book: 

This is an expertly-crafted supernatural thriller/suspense novel that will keep you guessing until the very last page. The book features well-drawn characters that are unusual yet relatable and are easy to root for. Lots of terrific twists and turns, and room for plenty more in the series. Don’t miss this one!

What Could Have Been Better:

This book was a bit darker than what I usually read, but that’s not really a criticism of the book. It’s more of a personal preference. 

Sexual Content: Yes. 

Overall: An intense, romantic, intriguing read. 

Related links:

AMAZON

Join the email list for Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous and get a FREE romance box set.

Pairing Off by Elizabeth Harmon – Romance Novel Addicts Book Review

 

RNAA Rating – Five Roses

 

Title: Pairing Off

Author: Elizabeth Harmon

Genre: Sports/Figure Skating/Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:

American figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in the United States, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is paired with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to be confronted with their past…never mind share the ice with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?

What I Loved About this Book:

This was one of those books where I found myself getting annoyed when I had to do other things when all I wanted to do was sit down and read! I absolutely loved this sweet and sexy romance. Anton is my favorite kind of romantic hero; strong, sweet, and protective of the woman he loves. This book was engaging from the very beginning with well-developed characters and a nice, steady pace. Lots of conflict and drama and, for the most part, the author avoided the whole “most of the conflict is based on a misunderstanding” plotline. There were plenty of opportunities in this book for her to go that route, and I was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t. 

What Could Have Been Better:

There was very little that I didn’t like about this book. I will say that (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER AHEAD!) was that the ending was just the tiniest bit too perfect. Carrie’s father had a pretty sudden change of heart and her being pregnant with twins was just a tad over the top. That being said, I wanted a happy ending and that’s what I got. 

Sexual Content: Yes, but not super-explicit. 

Overall: A highly engaging read and one of the best books I’ve read in quite some time.

Related links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Author Website

Join the email list for Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous and get a FREE romance box set.