Racing the Sun, by Karina Halle

racing the sun

Grade: A+

Doing it at: 53%

Catnip: Italian Stallion, A Foreign Affair, The Nanny, Jane Eyre, Italian Pillow Talk, Banging the Boss, Lady Boner, Motorcycles, Sexual Healing

Shame Scale: Zero. Zero shame.

Fantasy Cast: All the people we were thinking of for this one came up shy. But this all pretty much nails it.

What do we taste like?: So sweet. Dolce.

What does he taste like?: Like the honey tones of scotch and of faded smoke and mint

Book Description:

It’s time for twenty-four-year-old Amber MacLean to face the music. After a frivolous six months of backpacking through New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia, she finds herself broke on the Mediterranean without enough money for a plane ticket home to California. There are worse places to be stuck than the gorgeous coastline of southern Italy, but the only job she manages to secure involves teaching English to two of the brattiest children she’s ever met.

It doesn’t help that the children are under the care of their brooding older brother, Italian ex-motorcycle racer Desiderio Larosa. Darkly handsome and oh-so-mysterious, Derio tests Amber’s patience and will at every turn—not to mention her hormones.

But when her position as teacher turns into one as full-time nanny at the crumbling old villa, Amber finds herself growing closer to the enigmatic recluse and soon has to choose between the safety of her life back in the States and the uncertainty of Derio’s closely guarded heart.

CleoneWe love Karina Halle. Mary and I think she’d be fun to get drunk with and *semi* stalk her on social media. So, we’d been greatly anticipating this release.


Mary: I have the hugest fantasy friend crush on Karina Halle. She has a gorgeous instagram feed that’s a joy to follow, and it’s nice to feel like you know something about the person writing the stories you love. And her books sound like love letters to places we really want to visit. The travel writing is incredibly evocative, and this one transported me straight to coastal Italy.

Her heroines are the most relatable women ever, they remind me of some of my closest friends – with the lusting and the swearing, and their life choices in general, and Halle manages to capture the feelings of being in your 20’s like no one else. And Christ, she writes the hottest men. Karina – I love your taste in fantasy men! We’d have so much fun texting each other! Do you want to join mine and Cleone’s group text? We send each other funny screen shots, and creeper pics of hot meter men and kindergarten teachers and playground dads. I think you’d love it. Also – I feel like I can say this Karina, because I don’t know you IRL: your husband is kind of a fox.

C: Karina, if you’re reading this and Mary’s fangirling is creeping you out, I can promise to keep her 100 feet away from you at all times.

M: I was really looking forward to this book. It’s the follow-up to Where Sea Meets Sky, which was fantastic (emphatic recommendation from the Bookshame Ladies). This book picks up with Amber, after she leaves Josh and Gemma in New Zealand.

C: Amber has been backpacking across Europe, staying in hostels and keeping a travel blog, trying to prolong returning to her life in the states for as long as possible. She’s made it to Positano, Italy (google it, Italy is beautiful and we should all move there), where due to funds she finds she can travel no more. She doesn’t even have enough money to buy a plane ticket home. Amber is spunky, and funny, and hapless at times. I liked her immediately:

And so here is Positano. I’d been so busy closing my eyes and praying that I’d never really gotten a good look at the town.

It’s fucking charming.

C: Girls who swear copiously are girls after our own hearts.

Continue reading

Cleone’s Gateway Books

Gateway Book: any book that leads you to seek out stronger, dirtier, trashier books.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- you show me a girl who feels passionately about Jane and Mr. Rochester and I’ll show you a girl who could easily fall into a Regency Shame Spiral.

2. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews- Classic trash, this books (and its sequels) have everything: children born from incest, terrifying matriarchs, attics full of badly done arts and crafts, picnic baskets, yet more incest.

3. Exchange of Hearts by Janet Quin-Harkin- In my early teens I read probably 15-20 of these Sweet Dreams teen romances which were like Harlequins minus the doing it, this one about a teen girl from England who falls in love with her exchange student brother in Texas, was my favorite by far. The brother was surly, went by the nickname Taco, and was a legitimate cowboy. It hit all my catnip before I knew what my catnip was.

4. The Beloved Scoundrel by Iris Johansen- This book was the first time I ever encountered chair sex, and that is something that changes a 13 year old girl forever. It also has an awesome plot that involves the Balkans and detailed instructions on how to make stained glass, which is almost as fascinating as chair sex.

5. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer- I think Twilight was the undoing for a lot of us reading girls. Everyone was doing it, no one could fully say why, and anyone over the age of 18 was rightfully at least a little ashamed.

6. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire- Beautiful Disaster popped up in my recommended reads on my Nook last year, when I was still reading Real Books. I didn’t know what I was doing to myself. This book is awful; the hero is basically a stalker and I pictured him as Weevil from Veronica Mars the entire time. I couldn’t put it down and its been all shame reads ever since.

What were your Gateway Books? Or did you plunge fearlessly into romance without any layovers in classics, poetry, and the great American Novel? Tell us how you’d arrange your shelves autobiographically.