A Holiday (not) to Remember (by Helen R. Myers) -- FAIL

I truly wanted to love this one...


I saved this Harlequin Special Edition romance from LAST YEAR.  It's from November 2012, and it was advertised to me as part of the "holiday" line of romances.

Since I didn't get to it last year, I saved this one - totally anticipating the day when I could read about her saying "I do," and then pulling the ring box off the pizza - like the most delicious topping of all time, cheese dripping all over the place - but she doesn't give a shit because she's so damn happy! - but NOooOo. This one was bland as all hell.

I will probably never remember the story. I don't even remember their names anymore. I know they were in Texas and there was real estate drama 'bout his ranch he inherited or whatever - and it was just awful.

I will only remember the cover. With the pizza solitaire engagement.

Also, not that it matters to every reader ever, but there are constant/consistent errors about the Marines and the USMC, so everything automatically feels fake to readers who will know.  There is also most ZERO chemistry / romantic development between the characters - suddenly we're in love and we can't stop thinking about each other, right?  I got three-quarters of the way through this book, and I realized too late, "Wait, this isn't getting good at all..."  I skimmed as much as I possibly could on each page - still nothing.

And lastly: This doesn't take place during the Christmas season at all.  It ends right before Thanksgiving.  WTF.

I had to give it one star on Goodreads.

Massive disappointment.

I want my four bucks and four hours back.


So Tough to Tame (by Victoria Dahl)

The Mac n' Cheese of romance reads.

Comfort food contemporary read.  Will not disappoint and there's no crazy ingredients to upset your stomach/taste buds.

So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

Conflict  Reputation ruination and soulmate salvation.  The reputations were already ruined in the past, but it's still a fresh concern (and arguably - at one point, every character in this novel has a moment where he/she is concerned for his/her reputation).  The soulmate salvation isn't as "drastic" as that seems (as if it would be for a paranormal) but Charlie Allington and Walker Pearce reconnect and fall in love at just the right time in their lives. Timing is everything, eh?  They've definitely got it, because they were both unhappy and now they've got their HEA.

What I loved:
  • Average guy hero
  • Organic writing-style; feels like you're there talking to a friend - real language
  • Again, it's just a really GREAT contemporary read. I can recommend this to any one of my female romance reader friends and I'm pretty sure they'd really enjoy it.
Why do I empathize with this heroine?  Charlie is the sort of girlfriend you really want to help out.  She has been dealt some bad cards with the jerk relatives, psycho bosses, and scumbag exes, but she is still smart and doesn't let any crap keep her down. Never once did I feel frustrated with her. She has the strong enough emotional intelligence to look at her past, move forward from that, and focus on her present situation adjusting to life back in Jackson Hole. And she champions the hero into following his passion, and well, it's so refreshing just to read a book about genuinely good couple (despite all their mistakes) finding their HEA, not in a saccharin overdose sort of way either.

Overall:  Victoria Dahl has a new fan in me. Christ, is she funny! I've never been to Jackson Hole, but this one makes me want to go, and I'll pick up the remaining books in her Jackson series, also.

Jackson Hole, WY: Lookin' all rustic and wintery
(Sadly, not my pic - it's from some Visit WY website or something.)