Opening Hearts, by Iona Findley

opening hearts

Grade: D

Doing it at: 55%

Catnip: First Comes Baby; Firemen; Mature Adult Decisions; Bad Writing; Free!

Shame Scale: This book wasn’t even scandalous but I feel shame anyway, the writing is not great.

Book Description:

Pregnant and alone at 35!

Jessalyn O’Donnell returns from her best friend’s wedding with a surprise of her own. She knows how it happened — three sex-filled nights with a smokin’ hot guy, known only as Sam — but she has no way to get in touch with him.

When smokejumper Sam Ricci returns to his hometown after the annual firefighting season ends, he has no plans for fatherhood. His lifestyle is too risky, and he loves his job — almost as much as he loves women. Everything changes when he runs into Jessalyn again and discovers her plans for single parenthood.

Sam doesn’t want to be tied down. Jessalyn would rather go it alone than deal with an absent husband. So why, when a twist of fate brings them together again, does it feel so right?

If you’re a long-time (aka four months) reader of My Book Shame you might know of my quest to find the perfect bar baby book. A book that incorporates all the elements of my favorite Heart song with lots of doing it and a happy ending. I was already let down once this year, but still got my hopes real high for Opening Hearts.

let love in 1

Hope is always the first mistake, like John Cusack says in the seminal teen film Say Anything: “If you start out depressed everything is a pleasant surprise.”

Opening Hearts was not good.

Our story starts with Jessalyn having a shitty day, running late for everything, and then finding herself waiting two hours late for a gyne check up and discovering she’s late for something else all together. Jess is pregnant after a three-day cruise ship fling with Sam, who works as a fire jumper. Good start story, the writing was already a little weak but points for her baby daddy being an actual stranger.

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Come Away With Me, by Kristen Proby

Come Away With Me

Grade: D-

Doing it at: 19%

Catnip: All the Cliches; Bland Characters; Free!; Hate Read; Insecure Heroine; Actors; I Can’t Believe This Famous Guy Likes Me!

Shame Scale: I mean, I’m not terribly proud of the fact that I read this the whole way through.

Fantasy Casting: Robert Pattinson; Mae Whitman as Bland (Ann) in Arrested Development

Book Description:

“Being confronted on the beach by a sexy stranger wasn’t part of Natalie Conner’s plans for a peaceful morning taking photos. And why on earth would he think she’s taking pictures of him, anyway? Who is he? One thing’s for sure, he’s hot, and incredibly romantic, feeding Natalie’s wounded soul. 

Luke Williams just wants the world to give him a break, so seeing yet another camera aimed at his face has him ready to pounce on the beauty behind the lens. When he finds out she has no idea who he is, he’s intrigued and more than a little tempted by her. Natalie has a body made for sex, a sassy mouth and Luke can’t get enough of her, but he’s not ready to tell her who he really his. 

Natalie is a no nonsense girl who doesn’t do well with lies and secrets. What will happen to this new relationship when she discovers what Luke’s hiding?”

This book kept popping up on Goodreads lists next to other books I liked, and I’m pretty sure at least one of the authors I follow on FB has made some sort of a shout-out to Kristen Proby. Her name sounded familiar to me, and this book was on a list of romance books featuring pregnancies I was looking through while searching for something to read in anticipation of the new royal baby. I basically wanted Will + Kate fan fiction, and I ended up with Robert Pattinson fan fiction. I checked my kindle library and saw that I had downloaded it at some point (because Hi, my name is Mary and I’m a Free Book Hoarder), and thought hey, this could be ok. As I mentioned in our review of Deep, accidental pregnancy books are one of my fave types of catnip. Well. This book was terrible. I only finished it because I hated it so much.

Basically, our heroine is out photographing nature scenes one morning and is accosted by our hero, Luke, a famous actor that everyone else in the entire books recognizes from his starring role in a series of teen vampire movies, Robert Pattinson, who assumes she is taking his picture and wants her camera. When he realizes that Natalie doesn’t recognize him, he’s so intrigued and refreshed that he falls into deep, deep insta-love with her. Luke Robert decides not to tell her that he’s famous, and she’s a moron so she doesn’t pick up his big secret even though it’s completely obvious with all the anvils dropping all over the place. As you can see from the book description, this deception is the big conflict, and it’s over pretty quickly, with minimal drama. One blow up scene, then a delivery of “at least 50 dozen roses” with the most incredible “aroma” (lol), then forgiveness. I kept waiting for something to happen, for there to be anything exciting, but the rest of the book is mostly predictable mild relationship drama between a Stage 3 Clinger (Luke Robert), and an insecure twat (Natalie). And poorly written sex scenes that feature words like “waxed pubis,” and things like this:

“He’s braced himself on his fists on either side of me and is pushing into me over and over, hitting that sweet spot on the front side of my vagina, sending little glittery sparks of yumminess all through me.”

“He runs one finger down my cleft, from my clitoris to my anus, and I cry out. “Argh!” Ohmygod! “Honey, you are so wet.”

Also, nitpick here:

“I push and pull him in and out of my mouth, my teeth sheathed behind my lips.”

When writing a beej scene, aren’t sheathed teeth implied? I’m pretty sure you’re only supposed to mention teeth if you’re using them.

The whole book reads like a list of bad romance cliches like, “We didn’t fuck, we made love,” and “I need to know if there is any competition, because I don’t share.” And omg, he just loves to see a girl who eats! Can you even imagine? Also, one of Natalie’s big quirks is that she has a bunch of tattoos that sound like inspirational memes, except written in languages she doesn’t even speak, in all the college girl places. Because she’s really deep, you guys. Natalie was a total basic girl. In fact, this whole book was pretty much basic.

The writing made me cringe over and over (and over and over) again. It was a frequent abuser of one of my biggest pet peeves: describing hot clothes that sound ugly (he wears DOUBLE-BREASTED SUITS), and describing amazing meals that sound like Applebee’s dishes. For example, when Robert takes her on some glorious date to a chateau he’s rented out for the night and they sit down for a five-course dinner with wine pairings, they eat: Chili garlic calamari; Hawaiian-style chicken skewers; Mojito-marinated halibut with mango, avocado and black bean salsa; Pork tenderloin and New York steak with Yukon gold potatoes.

Mmmmm Yukon gold potatoes. How gourmet!

If you’re trying to impress me, those potatoes should be fingerling at the very least.

And here is a picture of a jerk in a double-breasted suit so we can all agree how ugly and un-sexy they are:

Double breasted suit


Great Bear Inn: Bearback Lust of the Alpha, by Ursula Maya

Great Bear Inn

Grade: D (Probably should be a D-, but it made me guffaw)

Doing it at: 0%

Catnip: BBW; Werebears; Rope; Shifter Menage Erotic Romance; WTF; Free!

Shame scale: Red Hot Burning Shame. Obviously.

Fantasy casting: Some blonde plus-size model and a rugby team

Book Description:

Big, beautiful Hannah is innocent and alone in the mountains. Alone except for the uncommonly big men at Great Bear Inn. The men share a secret, and they are hungry to share Hannah. 

Hannah hasn’t had the kind of appreciation the big men of the mountain have to give her. 

They are the last of their line and Hannah is their only hope. But will she, can she take the heat of their rough and rising needs? 

WARNING: This story bursts with red-hot sex. Not advised to be read in public.

I subscribe to Bookbub emails because free books, and I’m constantly seeing links to BBW Shifter Menage books.  I guess this is a thing?  They’re almost always 99 cents, which is a fortune so I pass, but when I saw that “Great Bear Inn (Sassy BBW Alpha Werebear pack BDSM shifter menage erotic romance): Bearback Lust of the Alpha (Werebear Alpha BDSM Book 1)” was available for free, I thought why the fuck not?  I like to think that I subscribe to the Dan Savage perspective on kink: It’s not my kink, but it’s cool if it’s yours. Obviously, I knew that this was a fetish book going into it.  And I’ll try anything once (or thrice).

This was a novella length, so no big commitment.  Hanna struggles with her weight, her mom bullies her, yada yada yada.  She takes a trip up to the Great Bear Inn to photograph some nature, and upon checking in, the giant, bearded proprietors make it clear they want to get on with the banging, and the plot can fuck right off.  The shifter bits are very secondary to the plot, and felt like they were just shoved in there to make it fit the genre.  Even the sex was fairly formulaic, and entirely too one-on-one for a menage.  I had seriously high hopes for this book, because the cover was all “look, the catnip is all in the title!” All in all, the writing was god awful and they didn’t deliver on all the shit they promised.  I was eye rolling, lol’ing, and highlighting the crap out of all the text I wanted to send to Cleone.  Also, this may seem like I’m nitpicking, but there is a double space between each paragraph, like you normally see when there is a change of scene, and it kept making my brain think we were pausing and moving on to something else with every single new paragraph.

Without further ado, I’m just going to leave these excerpts here for you, because this book really should speak for itself:

Her voice shook, “What if somebody comes?” His voice was a soft growl, “Nobody will. Only you.” He raised his head and looked into her rolling eyes. “A few times, at least. Then me.”

His tongue. Her clit felt it’s wet strength.

When they came, they crested together. They both held each others’ hands so tight it was a wrestle and, as the beads stood out on his brow, he buried his head in her full enfolding breasts and he shouted as he blasted his fountain of love against the soft needing darkness deep within her.

His fountain of love, you guys.