Cannonballer kdm posted Entertainment Weekly’s list of the best romances of 2017. Some people (Prolixity Julien) found it unconscionable that Lucy Parker’s Pretty Face was not on the list (the link leads to Mrs. Julien’s review). I was surprised that I had read only 2 books on the list, though I only remembered reading one initially.
The two books on the list I had read were Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union and Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal. I read and enjoyed Tessa Dare’s book, but had nothing to say about it. The review I linked to was written by Malin, who liked it very much. I found Alyssa Cole’s book interesting more than engaging, but her book is the one that has stuck in my mind.
Best of lists are, of course, subjective, but interesting. I found this list particularly interesting because Entertainment Weekly isn’t known for being part of the avant-guard. And yet, at least five of the authors on this list are quite vocal on twitter about representation, diversity, and feminism. Of the other seven books on the list, I bought two, am interested in a third, and have zero interest in four.
Monica McCarty, Going Dark (no)
Jill Shalvis, Accidentally on Purpose (no)
Alisha Rai, Hate to Want You (bought, will review)
Christina Lauren, Roomies (interested, but not $8 interested)
Sarah MacLean, The Day of The Duchess (bought, will review)
Beau North, Modern Love (no)
Eloisa James, Seven Minutes in Heaven (I have given up on EJ, will read for free, but not buy)
Most of the authors are on the newer side, and only Eloisa James and Tessa Dare are what I would consider grocery store known. Sarah McLean and Christina Laurens are in the next tier. Take the Lead is Alexis Daria’s debut novel.
I’m not sure I’m qualified to have an opinion on the current state of romance. I would say from this list that it was perhaps more of an interesting year than a year that gave us many forever classics. I don’t know that Take the Lead will go into my romance reread pile, but I will read more books by Alexis Daria. I thought it was a good debut. The characters were interesting, there was both pining and steamy sexy times, and it had emotional complexity and maturity.
Gina is a professional dancer on a reality tv competition that pairs celebrities with dancers. Her celebrity partner, Stone, is on a reality show about his Alaskan off the grid family. Gina needs to be part of a winning team to guarantee a new contract with the show. Stone doesn’t want to do the show, but his family needs the money. The two form a partnership, a friendship, and then a romance. Daria does a great job with establishing Gina and Stone and building their relationship. There are some realistic obstacles between them and their happily ever after.
Where I thought the book fell apart was towards the end. Endings are hard. I think as Daria matures as a writer, she could get a better handle on handling the ending. I wish there had been a little less wish fulfillment fantasy, and there were aspects of the characters’ end choices that didn’t make sense to me.
For a debut, I think it was very good. Does it deserve to be on a best of the year list? Maybe. I hope some of you will read it too.