When my brain can’t take any more revisions or phone calls or work crises, it pretty much shuts down and goes “bluh bluh bluh bluh”. Which means I need stories that don’t require a ton of brain power for me to enjoy them. Which means I read a lot of romance novels during these times. I mean, I know I read a lot of romance novels in general, but more so during the low brain function times. And novellas in particular. Like these ones.
I hadn’t read anything by Erin McCarthy before I picked up Perfect 10, though I do think I’ve got one of her New Adult books on my Kindle. Katrina is a freelance social media manager. She gets a new phone, doesn’t bother to take the tutorial to understand how all the features of said phone work, and ends up syncing her BootyBook app to her profile (I’m guessing this is a Facebook profile, though it never actually says what social media site it is). BootyBook was a way for her to keep track of dates and hook ups, reminders of yes, she’d see him again or good god, woman, run away. In amongst the angry comments and the suggestive requests, a text from the only man who came close to scoring a perfect 10 makes her cringe.
One drunken encounter gave her the best sex of her life and ruined one of her closest friendships. They haven’t spoken in almost a year because of it. She goes to apologize for the unfortunate BootyBook incident, and they end up rekindling their friendship – and more. But is he only after scoring that perfect 10?
I liked McCarthy’s voice. It was easy to see why her New Adult titles are popular – the dialogue was fresh and witty, the uncertainty both characters feel realistic. There were times, though, that I wanted to smack Trina upside the head. That woman could be as dense as a rock sometimes, unable to see that Drew was clearly making an effort to be with her and not just spend time rolling around in bed together.
I was all set to rate this book over on Goodreads as a 4. Then I read the end. The night I’d finished this story, I’d had to stop in the middle of a chapter, so I thought I’d pick it back up, read to the end of the chapter, and then go to bed and finish it in the morning on the way to work. I turn on my Kindle, tap to the next page and…
That’s the end.
W the fuck, bro? I tapped back and forth a few times, then stared at my cat, wondering if maybe she’d magically eaten several pages. Needless to say, the ending was abrupt. Did she stop because she’d reached the max word count (Cosmo stories max out at about 35,000 words)? Did she run out of story to tell? Could she not think of more conflict? I think McCarthy could have easily gotten another couple of pages out of Drew and Trina, and that she didn’t, for whatever reason, downgraded my rating to a 3.
I’ve spoken of my love of Delphine Dryden many, many times, and Mai Tai for Two is no exception. Julie and her “work husband”, Alan, each win an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii. Both single, Julie opts to bring her best friend, Amanda, along, while Alan flies solo after unsuccessfully trying to pawn off the trip on his parents. What’s he going to do at a tropical resort? Because banging Julie silly isn’t an option.
Or maybe it is.
Circumstances end up throwing the two together, and after one night of fantastic sex, Julie wants more, but she’s scared to go for it. Miscommunication and misunderstandings throw multiple wrenches in the works, and the clock is ticking on their holiday fling. Will they sort it out, or will they forever have their heads up their asses?
Dryden is known for nerdy characters, and Julie and Alan (especially Alan) both qualify. Their chemistry is built from their friendship, the shared jokes (motherfuckin’ turtles, yo) and the “remember when?” moments are often sweet and cute. It’s clear from the beginning that Alan and Julie want to be together, but her commitment to work and his desire to not make things uncomfortable for Julie keep them apart. The overall tone of Mai Tai was definitely sweeter than most of her other stories, with both characters rolling over to expose their soft bellies on occasion. I thoroughly enjoyed it – a refreshing change of pace from Dryden.
If you haven’t picked up any of Harlequin’s Cosmo Red Hot Reads yet, you really should. So far, they’ve all been fast, fun escapes, and I’ll definitely be picking up more of these.
Copies of Perfect 10 and Mai Tai for Two provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.