Meet Cute is one of those books with a cute cartoon cover that disguises some serious subject matter within. I'm starting to get used to these, but it still throws me if I don't carefully read the blurb. In the prologue, we meet Daxton and Kailyn, both attending law school together. The title refers to their first and second meetings, in which Kailyn walks right through Daxton's frisbee game and then spills coffee all over herself when trying to get into the seat next to him in class, the only seat available. Oh, and Daxton just happens to be the star of Kailyn's favorite teen drama of all time, so she fangirls and then is horribly embarassed. (He's essentially Dawson from Dawson's Creek.)
Sometimes I want to live in a haze of fluffy romances filled with heroines who are underestimated and stodgy heroes who need to loosen up. And The Lady Is Daring fit the bill perfectly. Is there some suspension of disbelief needed? Obviously. Is there a moment of “I know something bad is going to happen, why don’t the characters see it coming?” Yes. But here I am before you as someone who loves wrapping herself up in these stories.
Arctic Wild is about second chances, new adventures, and the dynamics of caring for each other. We meet imperfect people where their lives unravel, and watch them unfold beautifully into who they really are. The story honours learning to accept help and asking for what you need –physically, emotionally, and sexually. It's more about that journey than it ever is about the plane crash or being stranded together.
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I never underestimate the skill it takes to make something new out of something beloved, and Jalaluddin did it (seeming with ease) with Ayesha at Last. Retellings can be a difficult type of book because something as beloved as Pride and Prejudice comes with the expectations of everyone who loved the book (or zombie book), or the miniseries, or the movie (or zombie movie). As a reader, there’s this hope that all the beats will be there and that all of the characters you love or hate will be there too.
Josh Copeland is looking for a new start. After realizing that his long-time girlfriend was not changing her mind about having children anytime soon, he has ended that three-year relationship and moved across the country to work in the same firehouse as his best-friend. He has an empty apartment full of boxes, bills for appliances he no longer owns, and guilt and frustration over the relationship in equal measure. The last thing he should be doing is falling in love with a unavailable woman like Kristen, but the more time he spends with her the more he is convinced she is his “unicorn”.
The third book in Kelly Bowen's Devils of Dover series pairs two doctors who both happen to be smugglers as well. Katherine is the daughter of a smuggler and was brought up in the family business. She studied under a midwife and then went to war, and has since been patching up the locals. Harland is a Baron and also a doctor, something his late wife hated him for. Since they both have a disastrous past relationship and are trying to keep secrets (very poorly), their relationship progresses in fits and starts.
Almost nothing seems to bring people together like how troubling a specific trope can be (let’s be honest, it’s the secret baby trope that gets mentioned most often). Seconds later, the conversation will turn to “Oh, but I loved this secret baby book by…” because there is also always an author who manages to defy expectations of a trope.
Here, the Love in Panels team talks about the books and authors who have managed to defy difficult tropes.
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It is hard to jump into a long-running series, especially one with a dozen interconnected books, but Nalini Singh’s Wolf Rain makes it easy. Although there are a lot of familiar characters for long-time readers to enjoy, the story focuses tightly on Memory and her journey to learn how to live outside of captivity. While Singh continues to develop the current Psy-changeling Trinity arc, primarily through alternate POV chapters peppered throughout the novel, it doesn’t distract from the central romance. Long-time readers however will be pleased by a return to the SnowDancer Wolf Den, and its playful and vibrant pack. Alexei’s grumpy and protective personality is the perfect foil for Memory’s fierce but fragile fury.