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TBR Challenge: The Guy Most Likely To...

Sensuality Rating: Tending Towards Torrid

The Theme: We Love Short Shorts! (Short stories, novellas, or category romance.)

Why This One?: My personal rule is that all books have to come from my print TBR. I was pleased to find a book there that fit the theme so well — short stories and category romance — plus, I won it at Wendy’s blog.

The Word: I’m not a big fan of either romance short stories or the Blaze line, and putting them together did not improve them.

This anthology includes three unrelated stories, two of which link to other books by their authors. All three are about couples whose past relationships were thwarted by the guy, for various reasons. Now the couples are meeting again at their 10 year high school reunions.

“Underneath it All” by Leslie Kelly. Lauren was devastated and humiliated when her boyfriend Seth skipped town right before prom, leaving her a Prom Queen without a King. She only agreed to go to the reunion because Seth wasn’t supposed to be there. But Seth turns up anyway, hoping to finally make things right with the girl he could never forget.

I had trouble with both characters in this story. Lauren’s devastation is understandable, but it’s quite obvious that something major happened to Seth and his family, which makes her long-time hatred towards him seem self-absorbed and immature.  And if Seth had pined for Lauren all these years, why didn’t he make more of an effort to get in touch with her? The ending was cute, but then it got spoiled by going way, way over the top.

“Can’t Get You Out of My Head” by Janelle Denison. I loved the premise of this story. Geeky Will’s dreams had come true when gorgeous cheerleader Ali agreed to go on a date with him, but a beating and threats from a guy on the football team forced him to cancel. Now he’s hoping for a second chance.

I was disappointed that Will shows up for the reunion devastatingly handsome and super successful. Ali had liked him the way he was — why did he have to become like every other romance hero? The rest of the story plays out as you’d expect, and in a very bland manner.  Props for being the only story in the collection featuring safe sex. (Dudes, “I’m clean” does not constitute safe sex!)

“A Moment Like This” by Julie Leto. Bad boy Rip refused to get involved with good girl Erica when they were in Catholic school together — but they’re adults now, and things are very different, especially Erica. I think this story could have been good if it weren’t squeezed into too small a space — with some of that limited space given over to sequel baiting. It needed more backstory.

Overall, a meh collection. If you enjoy Blazes, you’ll probably like it more than I did. You can buy it from Amazon in print or for Kindle here.

Published by Harlequin. Review copy won from a blog contest.

6 Comments »

  • I’m hesitant about novellas in general (although I gamely keep trying them) and I could totally relate to your thoughts about the novella in Blaze form. Sad to hear that it didn’t live up to its potential – and what IS the deal with the formerly geeky guy having to be buff and successful and whatnot. Doesn’t everyone know that the geeks will inherit the earth – and then turn it into a much better version that will require software upgrades?
    At any rate, thanks for sharing your review!

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  • Hmm..I do like short stories and novellas, but I’m not sure they work as well for me in the Blaze line. I enjoy some of the Blazes but I’ve noticed that the short stories tend to go heavy on the sex without connecting it to much of an actual story, and it sounds like that’s at least part of what’s happening here.

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  • @Jenn @ Lost in a Great Book: Hehe — exactly!

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  • @Lynn Spencer: Yes, the heavy emphasis on sex really doesn’t work well in this format. Because it’s a Harlequin category, it can’t just be about sex, like straightforward erotica, so they have to shove everything else in too and it doesn’t fit.

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  • And to think I also sent you all those angsty, angsty HPs :)

    I’m a sucker for high school reunion stories, but the Blaze line has always been wildly hit or miss with me. This was part of the massive RWA Literacy Signing leftovers – so I probably have a copy of this in my library’s collection! Maybe I’ll have to check it out, if only for the Denison story…..

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  • @Wendy: And I love you for them. :-)

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