Short Take Reviews: Roommate, Without You, Torn, Mackenzie 's Mountain

   

4.5 stars
Any new release from Sarina Bowen makes me happy, but returning to the True North world is extra special. Both Kieran and Roderick were characters that I loved and both had family and/or relationship issues that made my heart hurt. Kieran (he's a Shipley!) was a bit of a grump, while Roderick was a ray of sunshine. They were thrown together first by their jobs and then by ending up as roommates. They both had a kind of vulnerability that made me want to give them a hug. Their chemistry was off the charts and I loved watching as they navigated a friendship and then more. There were cameos from much-loved characters which was a fun bonus. The narration from Teddy Hamilton and Stephen Dexter (two of my favorites) made Kieran and Roddy come to life and made the reading experience extra-special.

4 stars
To be honest, I largely downloaded the audio of Without You because Teddy Hamilton was one of the narrators. This one ended up surprising me and being more than I expected. Both main characters were dealing with grief and it felt so genuine. They were born pretty broken and it was easy to be sympathetic. Deacon was grieving the loss of his younger brother. Julian, his deceased brother's boyfriend, had been part of the family for years and, with no family of his own, was devastated by the loss and also unsure if he still had a place in his boyfriend's family. There was such long-standing simmering friction between Deacon and Julian and it took a long time for them to resolve that and move forward. But when they did, the relationship that formed between them was so solid and I loved the unconditional support they showed each other.

   

4 stars
When I saw a trusted Booktuber rave about Torn I decided to give it a try. This was a taboo/age gap romance, further complicated because Toren had been an "uncle" of sorts to Kenzi since she was born. They had always been close, with a unique bond, but by the time Kenzi was graduating high school both of them were experiencing feelings that went beyond friendship. This could have come across as prurient or salacious, but Carian Cole took the time to really set the foundation, build the relationship slowly, and highlight the conflict that both characters felt (especially Toren, who truly struggled with his feelings). At 400+ pages (12 hours on audio), it felt a little long at times, but it was also necessary to tell the story in a way that actually had me pulling for Kenzi and Tor. There was one aspect of the ending that I wasn't a fan of, but overall this was a solid story that impressed me.

2.5 stars 
I could not get past the issues that permeated the whole book. The whole thing felt extremely dated, and I don't mean because it was published in 1989, because it would have seemed dated even then. Several times I had to remind myself that I wasn't reading a historical romance. Main character Mary was the prissiest character I have ever encountered. She came across as some Little House on the Prairie character with her antiquated views and speech. (Only shameless hussies would wear a skirt without a proper petticoat underneath. I can't make this up, y'all.) She was in her early 30's and constantly referred to herself as an "old maid schoolteacher" ( sixteen times, according to my Kindle).  When it came to the male lead, a Native/Indigenous American named Wolf Mackenzie, the language used when talking about him stopped me mid-sentence several time. At their first meeting Mary asked Wolf if he was a "half-breed." Yeah, that happened. At one point she fantasized about him wearing a loincloth, and the term "savage" (when referring to Wolf) was used on several occasions. I mean, WTH? Maybe Linda Howard was intentional in her terminology to show how sheltered Mary was (I'm reaching here, I know it), but the whole thing just screamed out of date and out of touch. It's unfortunate because the storyline was interesting and Wolf and his son Joe were intriguing characters.


HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?


20 comments

  1. Whoa, Mackenzie's Mountain sounds very problematic!

    I do want to read Sarina Bowen at some point!

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    1. You know I'll push Sarina Bowen every chance I get! LOL

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  2. You read some pretty good books for the most part! I feel you about historical romances though, such a hit or miss.

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    1. Sadly, the one published in 1989 (Mackenzie's Mountain) actually would have worked better if it really had been a historical. It sure read like one.

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  3. I have read none of these, but I do wonder what the author's goal was with Mackenzie's Mountain. I am impressed you finished the book. You know I wouldn't have.

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    1. I probably should have DNF'd but I think it turned into something of a hate-read. LOL I was actually enjoying picking it apart. Ha!

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  4. I loved grumpy Kieran! I loved those cameos, too! Great mini reviews.

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  5. I read Roommate and liked but not as much as you did but her books are always worth a read.

    You had (mostly) a great week of reading!

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Something about Kieran and Roderick just clicked with me, I guess. :)

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  6. That Sarina Bowen book sounds so good! Mackenzie's Mountain sounds pretty cringeworthy so I think I'll be skipping that one, lol.

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    1. Sarina Bowen is so dependable for me. I always know I'm going to look what she writes.

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  7. OMG NO! Just reading your review about Mackenzie's Mountain has me swearing out loud. WTF?! That's... Wow. No. With the exception of that one, all of these sound really good! I definitely need to check out more books by Bowen! Great reviews 😊

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    1. Yeah, I was pretty shocked at Mackenzie's Mountain. I realize it was written 30 years ago but even so... yikes. :/

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  8. YAY for loving Roommate by Sarina Bowen! I have a few credits that are going to expire today on Amazon and I had just texted Arielle which Sarina Bowen books MUST I have?! LOL. This sounds like one of them! And I'm so sorry that Mackenzie's Mountain just didn't work. I've heard wonderful things about her books but it doesn't seem like that one would work for me either.
    Jen @ Star-Crossed Book Blog

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    1. I think I'm getting as antsy/excited as Arielle for you to read something by Bowen. LOL

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  9. I love Teddy hamilton(s voice too! He narrated The Roommate (teh one by Rosie Danan) and it was amazing!

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  10. Great reviews! I'm really wanting to read Roommate, but I also really need to catch up on her True North series first.

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    1. It can definitely be read as a standalone but I think it's more fun when you already have the background and know the other characters. :)

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