In the Clear by Tamara Morgan

Grade: C
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, novella, holiday.
Series: Winter Rescue #1
Published: 11/11/13
Reviewed by Anne
96  pages

Lexie might come across as a ditz who gets into ridiculous scrapes, but she’s a great at her job and has a close family.  She is a bit jealous of the close relationship that her twin Sean with his best friend Fletcher.  Fletcher is practically family to Lexie and Sean, and he’d never want to ruin that, so he’s hidden his feelings for Lexie for years.  But suddenly Lexie is looking at him differently when an article in paper exposes the secret double life as a search and rescue volunteer.  She’s pushing her way into his life to figure out what else about him she didn’t know, and that’s putting her a bit too close to Fletcher’s hidden feelings.

I love Tamara Morgan, so it’s with much sadness that I admit that this story really didn’t work for me.  It was ok, but I felt like the author pushed things around to set up the circumstances she wanted to the point that it didn’t feel natural.  I know that’s pretty much what every author does, but when it’s done well, you read it and think “That could happen.”  In this case I had to keep telling myself, “Just accept it.”

One thing I did enjoy about the story was the way that Fletcher and Lexie saw each other’s true selves.  Even more clearly than others around them, Fletcher and Lexie saw how the other’s faults were also strengths.  Once they came together it was easy to see how they would lift each other up.  That was nicely done.

Maybe I went in with expectations too high.  I’ve really loved Tamara Morgan in the past, and I generally love holiday novellas.  In the end, this was just an ok read for me.

The Best Corpse for the Job by Charlie Cochrane

Grade: C
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m, mystery
Published: 11/24/14
Reviewed by Anne
298 pages

Robin is an inspector on the police force and he’s not thrilled to be called to scene at his old primary school.  There aren’t a lot of happy memories for him there.  Adam is a school teacher he meets there during his investigation.  They’re immediately attracted to each other, and the case keeps throwing them together, but neither of them wants to compromise the investigation.

I’d read a story by this author earlier in the year and enjoyed it.  I was saw this book listed on NetGalley’s romance section and I thought I’d give it a try.  I thought it worked well as a mystery, but was weak as a romance.  Unfortunately, I’m a romance reader who enjoys a mystery now and then, not vice versa, so it didn’t work very well for me.

It’s a typical large cast who-dun-it mystery.  I had a bit of hard time keeping everyone straight, but I know that’s part of the mystery.  I really enjoyed that Robin and Adam had a lot of chemistry but were responsible enough to keep it in their pants during the case.  It was also cute how they were happy to find reasons to contact each other.

While it wasn’t a great read for me, I’d recommend it for mystery lovers.

Anastasia by Emma Taylor

Grade: C
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Fairy Tale, f/f
Published: 10/15/14
Reviewed by Anne

Anastasia’s father casts out her mother and younger sister, suspecting that they’ve corrupted the magic that kept his farm producing well.  Anastasia, still a child herself, goes with her mother.  Soon her mother remarries and Anastasia has a new step-sister who likes to sit covered in ashes, Elle.  This sets in motion an interesting re-telling of Cinderella.

As a fairy tale, it was an interesting read, but as a romance it failed.  I was fortunate enough to get an ARC from NetGalley, and it came with a warning that this was not an explicit romance.  I have no problem with that, especially when I know it going in.  My problem with the romance was that I felt like their attraction to each other came off as sisterly.  This is due, in part to their young (elementary school) ages when they meet each other.  To me they always seemed like sisters.

I also had a few problems with the world building in the story.  It’s presented as a place where women have few options.  Ana’s mom prostitutes herself to keep them in a crappy apartment before she marries Elle’s rich father. Later mom encourages Ana and Elle and little sister to attend the prince’s ball because marrying him will keep them safe in the future.  So, this picture is painted of the world, but then things happen that seem out of place in the world.  Ultimately Ana and Elle’s financial problems are solved through connections they made, not marriage.  That’s cool with me, but it really caught me off guard in the world the story took place in.

There was a Big Bad in the story that I enjoyed, but it felt a little rushed into the last part of the book.  It was also handled fairly easily.  That actually worked for me, since I don’t particularly care for suspense, but I know others might have a problem with it.

I’d recommend this book for someone who enjoys a fairy tale retelling, but it didn’t really work for me.