Welcome to December 2018!
I hope the holidays are treating you well and that you are finding good books to sink into in your spare moments. Maybe one of these will be that book for you! This month I have reviewed a “new adult” romance with an asexual character that I loved and a science fiction romance with a nonbinary alien, which left a lot to be desired.
Books I’ve Read Recently
Title/Author: Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Summary: Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting—working at the library to pay her share of the rent. Except that her girlfriend ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual. But then she meets Takumi and now she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for. (Uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!) When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.
Genre/Sub-Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Romance
Book Format: Hardcover
Length: 277 pages
LGBTQ+ Orientation: Bi-romantic asexual
Ratio of Sex/Plot: All plot
Well Written/Editor Needed: Well-written
Would I Re-Read?: Yes
Personal Thoughts: This book made me very happy! This is more New Adult (adults in their early 20s) as Alice has just finished her first year of college, but is written for teens, so teens can definitely enjoy this one too. Alice was fun to read about. Her bi-romantic asexuality was handled realistically and she was trying hard to be an adult about her situation, including talking to a therapist, which I appreciated. The diversity of the characters was also good, and I think the racial issues that popped up from time to time were also handled very well. The one thing that did bother me was that her romantic interest, Takumi, was too perfect. He always knew what to say, he was good at a wide variety of things like cooking, working with children, photography, and the guitar among other things. But for some reason, I felt like I could let that slide because over all, this book was a true joy to read, even when life was getting tough for Alice and her friends.
Title/Author: Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood
Summary: It might take the arrival of an alien being to remind an isolated man what it means to be human. With a stressful job, his boss breathing down his neck, and an estranged wife and daughter, scientist Kurt Lomax doesn’t think life can get much harder. Until a nonbinary extraterrestrial with an otherworldly beauty, captivating elegance, and a wicked sense of humor inconveniently shows up at his apartment. Vardam watched the destruction of their own world, and they don’t want to see the same thing happen on Earth. They are lonely, and they soon develop feelings for the supposedly straight scientist—feelings Kurt reciprocates, much to his confusion.
Genre/Sub-Genre: Science Fiction/Romance
Book Format: ebook
Length: 310 pages
LGBTQ+ Orientation: nonbinary
Violence: Attempted suicide
Ratio of Sex/Plot: Heavy on the plot
Well Written/Editor Needed: Developmental edits needed
Would I Re-Read?: No
Personal Thoughts: (Spoilers and trigger warnings ahead.)
I liked that this was set in England, and the author did a very good job portraying Vardam as nonbinary, including the use of they/them/their pronouns throughout the book. Unfortunately, there were a lot of things I didn’t like, starting with the fact that Kurt’s pregnancy and subsequent suicide attempts, both major plot points, should have been in the blurb of the novel for readers who don’t like mpreg and/or suicide in their romance novels. While I’m on the topic, the pregnancy could have been handled better. Kurt gets accidentally pregnant because of a misunderstanding in the heat of the moment with Vardam. Soon after, Kurt attempts suicide because of the pregnancy, twice. His coworkers keep him drugged for the amount of pain he’s in (the baby is growing in his stomach) and to keep him from committing suicide before he can give birth. He does not get emotional/psychological help, yet does a complete 180 once the baby is born and wants more kids, which in my opinion, is not plausible or realistic and undermines the whole romance plot.
About the two “main characters” themselves: Vardam, and the entire Var race, are too perfect: superhuman strength, always happy, able to self-heal, and able to survive extreme conditions (which explains how the baby Var can incubate in Kurt’s stomach), among other things. Meanwhile, Kurt is closed off, angry, grumpy, and bad at dealing with other people. Since the Var don’t have words for emotions, and don’t tend to select a specific mate, I’m not sure what Vardam sees in Kurt. I also never got a romantic vibe from Kurt, who remained unlikable and closed off throughout the book. Part of the reason for this is that Kurt hardly interacts with the other characters for the first half of it. We spend a lot of time with secondary characters, told through the point-of-view of Tom, a young man who failed out of school, but is brought in to communicate with Vardam because he knows British Sign Language. Tom is also falling in love with a doctor at the facility, Rashad, in a sweet romance I really wanted more of.
In short, if the book had delivered what the blurb promised, or if it had been about Tom and Rashad, this would have been a great romance. Since that’s not the case, I find it difficult to recommend it to anyone.
Books I’m looking forward to reading
Title/Author: The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards
Summary: Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Court, is hired to search for Lady Judgment's missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, the island city where the Atlanteans moved after ordinary humans destroyed their original home. With his companion and bodyguard, Brand, he questions Addam's relatives and business contacts through the highest ranks of the nobles of New Atlantis. But as they investigate, they uncover more than a missing man: a legendary creature connected to the secret of the massacre of Rune's Court. In looking for Addam, can Rune find the truth behind his family's death and the torments of his past?
Series/Standalone: The Tarot Sequence #1
LGBTQ+ Orientation: Gay
Reasons I’m Excited About It: I love a good fantasy novel with LGBTQ characters and the same goes for mystery novels. Since this seems like it will be a bit of both, it should be double the fun! It’s also getting a lot of good reviews on Goodreads, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, so I’m looking forward to diving in and letting you know my thoughts.