The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Grade: C-
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Don Tillman #2
Published: 12/30/14
Reviewed by Anne
287 ebook pages

I loved The Rosie Project. It was one of my favorite reads last year and one I’ve mentioned to friends off and on. It was funny and sweet and romantic.   When I saw that The Rosie Project was coming out, I jumped at the chance to read an ARC of it from NetGalley.  It was a disappointing read for me, mostly because I was expecting something funny, romantic, and sweet.  So, in an effort to present an honest review, I’m just going to use the back cover blurb for the book to explain what it’s about:


GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world’s most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.

Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.

Then Rosie told me we had ‘something to celebrate’, and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.

I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.

The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace.

And of losing Rosie forever.

To me this blurb read like a marriage-in-trouble romance.  As it turns out, The Rosie Effect is not a romance. It was funny in places, but more sad than sweet. I’ve read marriage-in-trouble romances before and enjoyed them, because the focus in fixing the marriage and things getting better. For about 90% of this book things just get worse and worse. It’s painful to read, even though there are many funny parts.

Don’s friend Gene is back and I hate him even more than in the last book. There’s an evil social worker I couldn’t stand and very, very little interaction between Don and Rosie.  Seriously, Don and Rosie don’t have a whole lot of on page time together.  A lot of their problems would have been resolved if they’d been honest with each other or even just talked a bit more.  Instead, Don had several people giving him advice that he keep things from Rosie in the name of not adding to her stress level.

It was good as fiction, but it sucked as a romance.  As just general fiction I’d give it a B, but for romance I give it a D.  I’ll average those to a C- or 3 stars.   Giving this such a low grade is sad, because The Rosie Project was such an incredibly good book.  Is there a series that went off the rails for you with the second book?

Let Down Your Hair by Fiona Price

Grade: C
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, Fairytale Retelling
Published: 12/11/14
Reviewed by Anne
281 ebook pages

Sage is a modern day Rapunzel.  She’s was raised by her grandmother in a very unorthodox and extreme feminist manner.  It’s left her very sheltered and naïve about a lot of things and very suspicious and judgmental about others.  She even got her college degrees through online studies.  It’s not until she’s starting her PhD that she has many interactions with the outside world at all.  So she’s very, very surprised when she looks out her office window and into a classroom window and sees a nude man.  She’s also curious, and scared that her grandmother will get the man in trouble, so she dashes down and into the classroom.  That’s where she meets her prince, Ryan Prince, nude model for drawing classes.

As a contemporary set fairytale retelling, this story does an incredible job.  As a romance it really isn’t very good at all.  I think if I’d gone into it just looking for a fairytale, I’d have enjoyed it more.  However, it was listed as a romance, and that brings certain expectations with it, and unfortunately it didn’t meet those expectations.

For me, reading a romance means reading a story that is centered on a romantic relationship between the main characters.  In this story there is a romantic relationship, but the focus of the story is on Sage’s personal journey, and Ryan is just one of many characters in that journey, and he’s actually not even in the majority of the story.  Additionally, Sage’s journey ended up reminding me of a Danielle Steel novel – the kind where you walk with the main character through the darkest times in their life.  I avoid stories like this if I can.  While this one wasn’t as extreme as some examples I’ve read, I just don’t appreciate watching the heroine struggle and be taken advantage of.  It doesn’t make the resolution and happy ending sweeter for me, it just brings me down.

Another strike against the story is that its main subject is feminism as much as it is the fairytale and much more than it is the romance.   I consider myself a feminist, so I bring that bias in with me when I read the story.  I don’t mind a story that features feminism, and I don’t even mind about reading the costs and benefits of a life with and without feminism.  I did get tired of it being so much of what the story was about.

On the positive side, it was an extremely creative retelling of the Rapunzel story!  The tower that Rapunzel was in wasn’t quite literal, but it was the way her grandmother raised her.  There was even a cool look at two different types of towers Sage was kept in.  I really liked this version of Rapunzel.

For all of these reasons, the story was difficult for me to grade.  As a fairytale, it gets and A+.  As a romance it’s a D or an F.  So I’ll settle for a C+.  I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy a great fairytale retelling, but don’t expect too much romance.  Can you recommend a fairytale retelling that does have a great romance, too?

A Baby for Christmas by Joanna Sims

Grade: C-
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, holiday
Published: 11/13/12
Reviewed by Kate
219 pages

Luke is a wounded war veteran heading home to his family’s ranch to recover.  But he dreads what is waiting for him-his twin brother’s pregnant widow Sophia.  Luke’s twin Dan died in the war right before Sophia found out she was pregnant.  Luke is determined to be a part of the baby’s life, even if it means battling the ten year attraction he’s had for Sophia.  With Luke’s parents and brother away visiting family for Thanksgiving, Luke and Sophia must deal with each other without the buffer of family to help them deal with their feelings.

There were a few things that called me to this book.  First off, it’s that time of year and I was looking for a Christmas read and my library kindly provided a basket filled with Christmas romances for my perusal. When you throw a baby into the mix, I was pretty much hooked before I had even read the back of the book.  I was a little hesitant about it being a one-brother-then-the-other book thought.  I’ve read that before in historicals where it was written as more of a marriage of convenience and it worked for me, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it in a contemporary framework. It turns out it didn’t work as well for me as the historical setting did.

To start with, the angst of both Sophia and Luke really drove this story.  Sophia is 8 months pregnant, which means her husband (and Luke’s twin) has been dead for less than 8 months.  They are both still morning and coping.  Neither one has started to move on yet.  So there’s just a lot of emotions with this story.  Luke’s family (when they get back after Thanksgiving) is extremely accepting of the idea of Luke being with Sophia.  They’ve all know he’s been in love with her for years.  I found that a little hard to swallow.  But my biggest complaint (and I know it won’t be a factor for some of you) is that there is only one sex scene, and it starts on page 203 of 219 and ends on page 204.  It is only 19 lines long-and some of that is dialog.  I just wanted there to be more (and for it to be hotter)!

But all my complaints aside, if you’re looking for an emotional Christmas read this is one for you.

One last note:  The title A Baby for Christmas makes me a bit mad because the baby ends up not arriving until New Years.  Does that kind of thing bother anyone else?