First, if you’re in the US, happy Labor Day!
Happily, it’s been a while since I’ve had to post a DNF list! Sadly, August was not the best month for me as far as reading goes. Here’s the latest roundup of the books I started but did not finish:
Playing Dirty by Helenkay Dimon
I cannot tell you the exact number of Helenkay Dimon books I’ve started and abandoned, but there has been a handful. She’s a popular author but for some reason, I just have trouble getting into her writing style. She’s so good at writing action and suspense, but I find the romance element lacking (or just too slow to build for my preferences). Not even my go-to narrator, Christian Fox, could hold my interest with the audiobook version.
Must Love Wieners by Casey Griffin (ARC)
I was so excited to read this. I love romances that have a dog in the story. First, let’s talk about the title. Because the heroine volunteers at a wiener dog rescue, get it? And she’s studying to become a vet! oh, the puns. This book reminded me a lot of a Kristan Higgins novel–there’s quite a bit of humor. Unfortunately, the reason I no longer read Higgins is also present here–the heroine is put through the humiliation wringer, all in the name of comedy. I’m in favor of slapstick or a mishap or two, but putting the heroine through multiple publicly embarrassing situations does not work for me.
Smut by Karina Halle
This is another romantic comedy, but the prologue squicked me out immediately. I have a ridiculous vomit phobia and the heroine vomits on someone in the very first part of the book. ugh!! Aside from that, I enjoyed the comedic elements, but quickly lost interest. I found it tough to like the heroine–she’s an aspiring writer but she’s idealistic about it in a way that can only occur when one hasn’t been subjected to rejection yet. She’s also somewhat arrogant about it. In her first email exchange with the hero, she throws around a bunch of SAT words in an attempt to outsmart him. Even though he has a reputation for being a ladies’ man, I found her attitude really unappealing and unnecessary. Lastly, since the plot involves a writing project, there’s a meta aspect to the story, which serves as commentary on the publishing industry, especially the romance genre. It comes across as kind of…preachy?…to me and rubbed me the wrong way.
Stud for Hire by Sabrina York (ARC)
This is another one that I was super excited to read, but sadly, the book didn’t work for me. It has some of my favorite archetypes: cowboys and male strippers. (Even better when they’re together.) My expectation was that this would be a fun romp, but the actual premise turns out to be laden with drama. The heroine has agreed to marry someone she doesn’t love in order to save her father from financial ruin, but it seemed to me that surely there had to be an easier way to get out of that mess. Also, there’s quite a bit of deception on both the hero’s and heroine’s parts–essentially, they’re both lying to each other about something. That hardly seems like the strong basis for a relationship. Lastly, the writing itself struck me as odd because the author used a lot of vocabulary that, to me, felt more appropriate for a historical novel rather than a contemporary.
Nailed by Opal Carew (ARC)
Opal Carew is becoming one of my favorite erotic romance authors, but sadly, I couldn’t get into this story. The initial premise is interesting: the heroine holds a Kickstarter to start her own nail polish business, only to find out that her old college flame is the top backer. He’s now quite wealthy (not my favorite type of hero). The story then flips back and forth using flashbacks and present time. There are many allusions to some type of traumatic event in the heroine’s past. The college atmosphere in the flashbacks gave the story a new adult feel, but I felt like the book couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be NA or a straight contemporary. So I chose not to finish this one.
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All in all, not a great streak, but I have a feeling that September will be better.