Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mini-Reviews: The Best Man, A Certain Slant of Light, and Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake


Title: The Best Man (Blue Heron, #1) 

Author: Kristan Higgins

Rating: 4 Stars

It seems as if Kristan Higgins can do no wrong. Although Somebody to Love was a bump in the road, The Best Man certainly wasn't. From the beginning itself, it's difficult not to like Faith, the protagonist of this novel. After all, she's been dumped at the altar by her perfect boyfriend-of-eight-years, Jeremy, when he announces that he's gay. Thus, fleeing to San Francisco, Faith harbors a broken heart and a pool of hatred for Levi Cooper, Jeremy's best friend who convinced Jeremy to come out with the truth. Growing up, Levi never liked Faith. Not only was she extraordinarily rich, especially compared to his one-room house in a trailer, but she was Princess Super Cute - extra nice, extra peppy, all the time. Now, three years after her failed wedding, Faith is back home, still single and still detesting the very sight of Levi, now Chief Cooper. It seems fate, however, has slightly different plans for them...

I won't deny it - I struggled with the first third of this novel. I listened to The Best Man and while the audio book is good - not excellent, but still worth a listen - it tends to drag the break-up between Faith and Jeremy for too long. The Best Man switches between Faith and Levi's perspectives, one chapter in the present and one in the past, giving us a full overview of their lives. We grow to see Levi's difficult childhood - a father who abandons him, a life of scrounging for money, and the painful decision to join the army since he doesn't have $5,000 to pay for college even after a generous scholarship. We also see Faith's childhood, one that seems perfect on the outside but actually harbors a great deal of pain. Faith suffers from seizures and was in the car with her mother when she died. As such, Faith has spent her whole life attempting to atone for the fact that her mother was looking back at her, not the road. "Princess Super Cute" is all a facade to hide her pain and Jeremy - sweet, kind, perfect Jeremy - seems to be Faith's salvation. It takes a long while to reach this understanding, though. We are treated to pages upon pages of Faith remembering Jeremy with fondness, when, frankly, I would have kicked him if I was in her place. And yet, everything does make sense and Faith winds up being a much deeper character than we bargained for.

As always, The Best Man tackles a multitude of issues. Faith's family plays a huge role in this, particularly her widowed father, and Levi himself has an important family role as the sole caretaker of his younger sister, Sarah. If there is anything Higgins excels at, it is well-written family relationships. Levi and Sarah were my definite favorites, but Faith and her sisters, all going through different problems and at different stages in their lives, was utterly poignant as well. Furthermore, I loved how Levi and Faith's relationship developed oh-so-slowly. It's practically a tease - hell, it is! - and it was particularly interesting to see how Levi views Faith - as someone strong - compared to how Jeremy views her as vulnerable. And Jeremy. *sigh* You want to hate a guy for stringing a girl along for eight years and then leaving her at the altar, but you can't. Or, you can, but just not this guy. Jeremy and Faith's friendship was a highlight of this story as well and it was a refreshing change from the usual road of angst that many authors typically take. Higgins, however, is anything but typical. I love that her heroines have lives, are passionate about their careers and families, and even have pets (okay, DOGS) to keep away the loneliness. I love that her heroes are flawed - completely - and yet they are good men with good hearts. And I love these small towns. Not the vicious kind, but the sweet (but still annoying) type. All in all, The Best Man is yet another lovely romantic addition from Higgins. Needless to say, I cannot wait for the companion novel!

Title: A Certain Slant of Light (Light, #1)

Author: Laura Whitcomb

Rating: 3 Stars

A Certain Slant of Light is both a pleasant surprise and...not. On one hand, I am incredibly impressed with Whitcomb's story. It is a paranormal love story, but of a very different nature than most. Helen and James, the couple in question, are ghosts left behind in the Light, having been dead for nearly 130 years. Thus, when they find each other and take over two teenage bodies to be together, their relationship is an adult one - only in a teenage body. Needless to say, this brings up quite a few difficult situations, but Whitcomb weaves through these with ease. Not only does she present us with sticky dilemmas, but her solutions are just as complex. Furthermore, she never hesitates to answer many of the moral questions that possession brings up and the entire plot of this novel is nothing short of brilliant.

On the other hand, though, I couldn't really connect with the characters. I liked them well enough and I especially enjoyed their depth, but I wasn't wholly invested in them for some reason. By the time this short volume was over, I was overjoyed. I couldn't wait to leave this narrative voice, despite having been stunned by it. I can't say where A Certain Slant of Light went wrong, but I doubt I'll be picking up the companion novel to this anytime soon. I would, however, highly recommend it for fans of romance, ambiguous morality, and ever-so-slightly open endings.

Summer Series Reading Challenge: 16

Title: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1) 

Author: Sarah MacLean

Rating: 4 Stars

Although I am a meticulous planner and organizer to boot, when it comes to books, I follow my gut. And when my emotions scream that they want light, escapist romance fiction, I nearly always turn to historical romance. I find there is something alluring about this genre that keeps me coming back for more, despite the horrendous covers, and I'm thrilled to have discovered another author I can pile up onto a pedestal next to Lisa Kleypas: Sarah MacLean.

Historical Romance falls into three categories. We have, first and foremost, the horrible kind where our heroes are raping our heroines but they fall in love anyway. We have the typical trysts and romances that are filled with unbelievable scenes. And then we have the truly good, deep and emotional yet extremely realistic and sensual love stories. Seeing as the latter is so hard to find, I don't fault many readers for avoiding this genre entirely. Yet, the feeling that can be found when you have a good historical romance novel in your hand is hard to recreate.

I love this book. Callie, our protagonist, is sick of being a spinster at just 28 years of age. Instead of throwing herself at the nearest suitor, though, she resolves to enjoy her life and accomplish all the scandalous tasks she's ever wanted to, such as gamble in a men's house. I love that Callie is so fed up with her role in society and life that she takes matters into her own hands and finds herself once again in her adventures. Along the way, the notorious rake Ralston becomes intrigued by Callie and their gradual romance is sizzling. While the love story in this is unparalleled with swoon, I enjoyed this book mostly for its hilarity, pure fun, and mainly Callie. There are few things I enjoy more in this world than strong female characters and Callie is the epitome of that and more. If you're looking for some pure, uninterrupted, and fiery amusement, this is the perfect read. I'd immerse myself back in Callie's world of wit and charm in a heartbeat.

Summer Series Reading Challenge: 17

16 comments:

  1. I'm glad you hear that you enjoyed The Best Man but I don't think it's for me. It seems like characters are too old for my liking, same as Nine Rules to Break..it really sounds good and interesting I hardly ever read historical romance. While them might not be for me A Certain Slant of Light seems like something I'd enjoy. It seems different and that's the word I love. Still it's bad when you cannot connect with the characters, it always ruins the pleasure of reading. Great review Keertana :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I find it interesting that you mentioned that A Certain Slant of Light embodies an adult relationship under a YA guise. I find that to be awfully misleading on the publisher's part, and I doubt it would be for me, if only for the genre confusion. I do love how articulate you are even in your mini reviews though, Keertana! Thanks for sharing! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oooo I need to read The Best Man Keertana! It sounds like it's antagonistic relationship to start and you know how much I love those! Plus I've heard amazing things about Kristin Higgins' books, so I really need to give her a try. I'm a huge fan of Sarah MacLean though, I'm so glad you loved Nine Rules!

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Best Man was my first Higgins and I really enjoyed it, finding myself laughing out loud even in public during certain parts of the book. I'm really excited to continue with the series and even beyond this series and read more of her work because it does seem a bit lighter than other adult contemporary romance (which I still love). I've never read any historical romance unless Outlander by Diana Gabaldon counts - but I'm talking about the romances with the covers like you have pictured down below - I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy them, but I won't know unless I try one at some point. I have A Certain Slant of Light on my shelves but to be honest, I'd forgotten about it until I saw it here on this post! I think I feel similarly to Melissa in that I didn't realize that the characters are adults in teenage bodies - although I'd still read it and see how that plays out and see how the author handles it. Great reviews, Keertana! These are almost like three regular reviews in one!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I adore Sarah MacLean's books!! They're so fun and the type of historical romance I looove. I'm glad you enjoyed it as well!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Looks like the romances win in this set of reviews. Oh I do want to try a Higgins novel because they have pets in them. I enjoy that. I've heard that a Certain Slant of Light is hard to connect. Too bad, it looks like it could have been stellar.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Girl, I really don't consider these mini-reviews to be actual mini-reviews yet, haha. ;) You're getting better though, and of course, they were fun to read as always!

    The Best Man sounds like a very complex story, and I'm loving the sound of the family relationships, as I LOVE those in books. It's also so interesting that Faith and Jeremy actually end up having a friendship, because my initial assumption was that she would be super angst y about it. (I probably would have been too!!).

    A Certain Light just sounds... meh. Very much so. There seem to be some interseting questions of morality raised, but it doesn't seem to have the depth that I look for in these kinds of stories. I think I'll be passing on this one.

    Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (I laughed so hard when I originally saw that title, hahaha) (yes, I have my immature moments) sounds like a great romance! I must admit, I'm not the biggest fan of the cover though, but it's good to see the inside is far better. The MC sounds like one I would absolutely adore for her strength and refusal to stay within the confines of society.

    Lovely (not so) mini-reviews Keertana! ;) <3

    ReplyDelete
  8. I was just thinking whether nine rules ... Is any good and your review had made me want to read it now! I love hilarious novels with a strong female protagonist. Great review ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've never given true Romance novels a shot (whether Contemporary, Historical, or anything in between). I've been afraid to get burned by the genre, but your reviews of The Best Man and Nine Rules convinces me there are good ones out there, Keertana. I just need to go looking for them! I will be going to Sarah MacLean when I'm ready for a good Historical Romance. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I read A Certain Slant of Light years ago when it came out and absolutely loved it, but my taste has changed so I wasn't sure what I would think of the companion. I ended up really loving it though.

    I'm not a big romance fan but I've had Nine Rules for years and it actually sounds really good!

    ReplyDelete
  11. So happy to hear Sarah Maclean was a success for you! I discovered her this summer and she was EXACTLY what I needed. I hope you're planning to check out her Scoundrels series, too, which is just as good IMO.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I really want to read The Best Man! I love stories like this one and Faith and Levi sound like great characters, and I can't wait to see their relationship develop! As for A Certain Slant of Light, I really like the sound of the premise, but I really don't end up enjoying a book if I can't connect with the characters or open endings. I don't know if I'll pick it up just yet. I love and always enjoy historical romance, and NRtBWRaR sounds great! I can't wait to meet Callie! She sounds fantastic! I'm glad you enjoyed all of them, in one way or another Keertana! Great reviews! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

    ReplyDelete
  13. The Best Man sounds wonderful! I would want to strangle Jeremy for wasting 8 years of Faith's life, though! I love audio books but one drawback is that you can skim and speed read through bits that are boring you. Something you could've benefited from doing in the beginning it sounds like.

    A Certain Slant of Light sounds like an original premise, and I'm intrigued. I actually have a copy of the second book.

    Another historical great?! I'll have to investigate further!

    Great reviews, Keertana! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Best Man sounds wonderful! I would want to strangle Jeremy for wasting 8 years of Faith's life, though! I love audio books but one drawback is that you can skim and speed read through bits that are boring you. Something you could've benefited from doing in the beginning it sounds like.

    A Certain Slant of Light sounds like an original premise, and I'm intrigued. I actually have a copy of the second book.

    Another historical great?! I'll have to investigate further!

    Great reviews, Keertana! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh the travesty! 3 stars to ACSOL and 4 to a historical romance! Hah, I totally understand, though. You gotta go with your enjoyment/gut feeling.

    I'm sorry you didn't enjoy SLANT as much as I did. It's a difficult book for a lot of readers, and if you aren't a fan of the writing style and themes, I can see why it'd be hard to connect with.

    Have you read Sarah MacLean's YA novel THE SEASON, by the way? Frothy and fun!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    ReplyDelete
  16. Did you know you can shorten your links with Shortest and get cash from every visit to your short links.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from my readers and I read, reply, and appreciate every one of the comments I receive!(: If you're a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog - I'd love to drop by!

Unfortunately, this is now an award-free blog. I simply do not have the time to respond and forward on the award, but I truly appreciate the nomination regardless.