Saturday, August 23, 2014

ARC Romance Mini-Reviews: I Want it That Way by Ann Aguirre & Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan


Title: I Want it That Way (2B, #1) 
Author: Ann Aguirre
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: August 26th, 2014

Aguirre's I Want it That Way is a relatively unexceptional piece of literature. It isn't the New Adult Series I'd recommend on a whim but, an important distinction to note is that I also wouldn't warn away from it. For me, it seems to be a new milestone in New Adult literature when I can find a novel that steers clear of slut-shaming, misogyny, rape, or other over-used tropes. Thus, though I hesitate to say it, Aguirre's I Want it That Way belongs to that new milestone of New Adult; not remarkable but a far cry from terrible too.

I Want it That Way is, at its core, a romance novel. Nadia moves into a two-story apartment complex and finds herself living above Ty, the gorgeously sexy single-father who works by day and studies by night. Nadia and Ty have chemistry--they can feel it, even from the vertical separation of a few feet, but with his son and complicated lifestyle there is no place for Nadia in Ty's life. But as Ty spends more and more time with Nadia he finds it more and more difficult to stay away. Just a brief place-holder relationship until The One came along...it couldn't hurt, right? But what if The One was there all along and Ty just won't open his eyes...?

I hardly feel the need to touch upon the love story within I Want it That Way. Just the way I like it it's a slow, tortuous burn and I appreciate the fact that Nadia and Ty get to know one another on an emotional, mental level before they broach a physical relationship with one another. It isn't easy for Ty to let Nadia into his life and, similarly, it isn't easy for Nadia to choose to be with Ty. Ty lives the life of an individual at least another decade older than he really is and for Nadia to adjust to that--and vice versa--is tough. Aguirre leaves no stone unturned, however, in exploring their relationship and its struggles and I found it a delight to read. Moreover, I really enjoyed Nadia's collegiate experiences bleeding into her romance. Whether it be a tiff with her best friend and roommate or lending a shoulder for another friend to cry on, the dynamics of these four roommates and Nadia's role in the midst of it, juggling her school work with her social life with Ty, was not only a balance to have to live through but also to write. Granted, Nadia's experiences as a college student are not the focus of this novel but their presence enhanced the tale and brought Nadia's unique decisions into broader perspective. Perfect for a lazy afternoon or a stormy night, I Want it That Way is quick, entertaining, and satisfying. While you can certainly ask--and expect--more from both Aguirre and New Adult, this is likely the best you'll read of them together.

Title: Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister, #4.5)
Author: Courtney Milan
Rating: 4 Stars

I find myself utterly charmed by the notion that the Brothers Sinister novellas shine brighter than their full-length companions. Whether it be The Governess Affair, A Kiss for Midwinter, or--now--Talk Sweetly to Me, each of these three novellas have contained tender, heart-tugging romances whose brevity worked to their advantage. That's not to say I don't adore the novels which make up this memorable quartet (or that I treasure A Countess Conspiracy or The Suffragette Scandal any less), but it simply wears easier on the heart to adore smaller volumes.

Stephen Shaughnessy, the infamous advice columnist for a women's magazine and a self-proclaimed feminist to boot, finds himself falling for the inexplicably brilliant Rose Sweetly. From the surface, Rose appears to be timid, shy, and painfully quiet. Not many know of her nor do they recognize the mathematical genius she possesses--but Stephen has. Initially having met Rose on the street, Stephen finds himself constantly seeking an excuse to bump into her, probe her analytic mind, and emerge from their discussions a different man entirely; one whose world-view has been shifted, ever-so-slightly. When the opportunity presents itself for Stephen to learn from Rose, employing her as his tutor, he eagerly pushes forth his luck. Stephen claims not to be seducing Rose but his every interaction, word, and gesture is simply too sweet to be true...or is it?

Talk Sweetly to Me is a novella of intense longing. From the beginning itself, Milan presents us both with Rose's perspective and that of Stephen's as well. Juxtaposed alongside one another it isn't difficult to see that both parties are already besotted with each other--they just don't recognize the full extent of their affection for one another. Thus, to read of their crackling dialogue, witty banter, and charged movements is only to prolong the agony, the wait, the slow-building sexual tension. Moreover, as can only be expected from a novella with a title of Talk Sweetly to Me, the story is extremely, extremely sweet. Not only is Stephen, known as a notorious rake, a complete gentleman at all times but he never allows Rose to lose sight of herself, which I love. What's more, as a colored heroine Rose adds another dimension to the otherwise Caucasian-dominated historical romance genre. From her early struggles as a woman pursuing the STEM fields to the drawbacks she faces (and witnesses!) due to her race and the color of her skin, Talk Sweetly to Me isn't always laughter and charm. Over such a short expanse of pages Milan manages to pack an entire era, truly, but all with Stephen and Rose's romance remaining sharply front-and-center. Despite the fact that there remains a tinge of bittersweet longing for more of the Brothers Sinister in my heart, Talk Sweetly to Me is a short, all-consuming love story with the sweetest of endings. Truly, the perfect coda to a perfect quartet; I can't wait for more, Milan.

14 comments:

  1. Milan always sure pack a heavy punch. Not your usual type of lovey dovey romance

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  2. It looks like you had two great romances, that is awesome! I love a good historical read and this one sounded great. I have been wanting to try the new Aguirre book as well.

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  3. I've seen some very positive reviews for I Want it That Way, but I recently read a not so positive review pointing out issues that will probably bother me, like Ty constantly pushing Nadia away and Nadia trying to convince him to love her. I'm a little worried now, Keertana. It's also a bit longer that a lot of romance books and I usually find that doesn't work for me. The story usually feels like it's dragging along when it comes over the 300 page mark when it's just a romance. I guess we'll see, but I'm happy this worked for you, it's gives me some hope again. I have this for review as well. Glad to see you enjoyed the historical romance as well. I don't pick them often but I usually enjoy them when I do. :)

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  5. I was never aware that Ann Aguire had written so many novels. I am so shallow--only knew about her YA novels -.- She sounds like she's even better at adult fic!

    Lovely reviews, Keertana <33

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  6. My favorite thing about I Want it That Way (and the other two books, which I also read and loved) is the extreme realism Ann went for. Everyday tasks for regular people, no fabricated drama, nothing of the like. It felt like real life transferred to pages, which I appreciated. I'm glad you enjoyed it overall!

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  7. I actually said almost exactly the same thing about I Want it That Way. It's DEFINITELY a milestone for NA which is what makes it so special in my opinion. It's not a novel that's going to blow your mind or leave you star struck but it expands the boundaries of NA. It's more than what we've all come to expect of NA and that's what makes it so special for me! :)

    I haven't read any of the novellas from the Brother's Sinister but you may have my attention with Talk Sweetly to Me. A MALE FEMINIST? Hell yeah! And a colored female lead? If that isn't enough to make me want to check it out, I don't know what is.

    I am glad you enjoyed both of these, Keertana!! :)

    Lovely reviews! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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  8. I actually said almost exactly the same thing about I Want it That Way. It's DEFINITELY a milestone for NA which is what makes it so special in my opinion. It's not a novel that's going to blow your mind or leave you star struck but it expands the boundaries of NA. It's more than what we've all come to expect of NA and that's what makes it so special for me! :)

    I haven't read any of the novellas from the Brother's Sinister but you may have my attention with Talk Sweetly to Me. A MALE FEMINIST? Hell yeah! And a colored female lead? If that isn't enough to make me want to check it out, I don't know what is.

    I am glad you enjoyed both of these, Keertana!! :)

    Lovely reviews! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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  9. The chemistry between them as well as the gorgeous cover sounds like something that I could enjoy as well

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  10. The romance and chemistry have my attention.

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  11. I enjoyed the Ann Aguirre book as well. Even though parts frustrated me, I also liked the slow burn to romance. I also like Courtney Milan so I am putting this novella on my wishlist. Plus you said... "...the perfect coda to a perfect quartet; I can't wait for more, Milan." What can I say I love music metaphors. :D

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  12. I didn't quite enjoy I Want It That Way as much as you did, but I'm happy Ann is getting into more romance or New Adult or whatever this is. :) She's an author whom I haven't quite figured out just yet.

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  13. WOO HOO!!! I'm so glad you enjoyed I Want It That Way too Keertana! I loved it for all the reasons you mentioned - the romance took time to develop, and everything just felt real, from her financial situation to her interactions with her roommates. Can't wait for more in this series. And I definitely need to read Talk Sweetly To Me!

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  14. Thanks for sharing! I think I Want It That Way sounds like a nice change from a lot of the New Adult that is currently out...not as dark, and more realistic.

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