Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Romance Mini-Reviews: My Sexy Sensei and Bad Things

Yes, I am back with another installment of erotic romance mini-reviews. I bet you're all just so excited.

No, wait, come back! I've got a fantasy review, a movie review, and a sporking all planned for this week!

I know, I know, I keep trying to move away from sub-par erotica on this blog, but it's been hard to avoid when I've been consuming an uncharacteristically high volume of erotic romance in the past six months or so as "research" for my own romance series I've been trying to write. So yeah, now I have a modest backlog of books, although I can promise you that these will be the last two romance novels I'll be reviewing for quite a while. Yes, really. But hey, if you're one of those people who actually stick around for my erotic romance reviews, then I can also promise you that you haven't seen the last of them forever. Also, if you're interested in seeing how my own sexy writing measures up, maybe give some love to my alter-ego Siena Noble? Not to honk my own horn, by I think my freshman effort at romance is pretty not horrible. Or at least it will be, if I ever finish it. Which I totally will, by like, October. Or maybe August. It's not the only thing I'm working on at the moment, ok? I've got a secret fantasy project in the works, too, plus this blog which is still my baby and needs some serious TLC.

What was I talking about? Oh, right. Like last time, I've got one bad book to rant about and one decent book deserving of mild praise. First up: My Sexy Sensei. Let's get this over with.

(WARNING: Rant mode very much activated. Some possible spoilers ahead, but I hate this book so I really don't give a fuck.)

My rating: one star out of five


I almost wish that could be my whole review right there, but I'll try my best to put together a few coherent paragraphs before I lose my words from rage.

It's kind of sad how hard it is to find fiction--books, movies, whatever--with an Asian man as the romantic lead. I thing things are slowly changing, but they still don't seem to get enough love. Considering the love interest in my current writing project happens to be Asian, I figured it would be worth it to check out what was already out there. Unfortunately, there wasn't much I could find that appealed to me, and frankly a number of them seemed to be more geared towards readers with a fetish for Asian guys. I did manage to find a few that were pretty decent. However, I also stumbled across THIS.

This book is so full of outdated, sexist cliches that I can't even. The phrase "Male Chauvinist Pigs" is seriously used by one of the characters... and we're supposed to find that cute and funny! The non-romance part of the plot heavily leans on the tired "female character in male-dominated role/job faces the derision/grossly immature sexual harassment of all the male characters and has to prove she's just as good if not better" trope. It's so cliche, overdone, and over-the-top that I'm surprised my eyes didn't roll out of their sockets by the end of the book.

Oh, but that's not even the best part! The really funny part is how Asian men in particular are such chauvinist cavemen. Wouldn't want to miss out on the cute scene where two white ladies are laughing together over how adorably misogynist their Asian men are!

Even ignoring that lovely bit of racist sexism (or is it sexist racism?), all the man-bashing, and all the "sage wisdom" about how women are more in touch with their emotions and men are idiots who don't even know what love is, the romance in this book is just awful. It starts out normally enough I guess, but neither the blurb nor the story up until that point prepared me for the sharp turn into rage-inducing territory about a quarter of the way in. I guess you could call it a "marriage of convenience", but that it has no real point except to make the "hero" look like the biggest douchebag in history. How did the story even continue at this point? Why did the stupid heroine just go along with it? And not only does this asinine plot drag on for the rest of the book, but this stupid miscommunication bullshit about how they can't admit that they love each other and each believe that the other doesn't love them gets dragged into the mix.

The writing itself was ok. Nothing special, but not particularly bad. The sex scenes were pretty boring and pretty much all the same. Oh, and I can't forget the repeated mention of "his lean fingers". I swear to god if I have to read the phrase "lean fingers" one more time I'm going to lose it.


Ok, deep breath... glad that's over. 

My rating: three and a half stars

If you read my review of In Flight, you're probably shocked I'd give a positive rating to the same author whose writing I previously called "the literary equivalent of monotone", and whose debut novel was little more than a dull ripoff of Fifty Shades. But it seems like with a few books under her belt, R.K. Lilley's craft has improved enough that--with a few caveats--I would actually recommend this book.

I wouldn't exactly call this a book I couldn't put down, but the writing was engaging, and for roughly the first half and the last quarter I was pretty engrossed in the story. The sex was mostly hot, the characters had chemistry, and even if it was pretty troperiffic (not necessarily a bad thing), the premise was relatively original and executed in a creative way.

Unlike with Bianca's narration in In Flight, Danika's personality did shine through in her narrative voice. She felt real and relatable; she's certainly not perfect, but both she and the author acknowledge her flaws. One of my few complaints about her is that the blurb talked about her "single-minded focus" in regards to her future, but we never really get to see that.

Here's something else you probably never expected me to say: I actually kind of liked the "bad boy" love interest, Tristan.

Well, I thought he was sympathetic, and I applaud Lilley for pulling off a guy I could actually root for in spite of (and maybe even because of) his deep flaws. I didn't fall in love with him, though, which some people might argue is half the point of a romance novel. Also, his extreme jealousy issues and piss-poor anger management got to be way too much for me by the end.

It was pretty refreshing to see a love story--and not just in romance--that was so self-aware and harshly realistic. They had serious issues, and the novel actually acknowledged that they were issues. It was also refreshing that they started out as friends. The sexual tension was there from the beginning, but there's no insta-love here.

Lilly can't seem to avoid the "designated evil slut character", though. In In Flight, we had Melissa; here, it's Natalie, Tristan's ex who just won't go away. I guess it's an improvement since she's at least sort of relevant to the plot, but it doesn't help that almost every young, attractive woman is a slutty groupie who either fucked Tristan or wants to, and Danika definitely isn't like all those Other Girls! Ugh, can we just let that trope die already?

Still, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes their romance a little bit kinky and a little bit angsty. The angst is mostly light in this one, but it's a prelude to a tragic train-wreck of a relationship in the sequel (yes, I did read it, too; I'll review it... eventually).


I feel like I should come up with more creative ways to end my review posts. Maybe I should be like Jeremy Jahns and ask what your favorite (or unfavorite) romance novel trope is. "Comment below, let me know!" Heh, and I call myself a creative writer....

Whatever, I'm tired.
Stay tuned this week for the first exciting chapter of my The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones sporking!

No comments:

Post a Comment