Wednesday, January 18, 2017

[ARC Review]: "The List"

romance novel cover, contemporary romance, The List by Tawna Fenske
The List by Tawna Fenske
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched (January 30, 2017)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

As the millionaire owner of a chain of computer shops, Simon Traxel isn’t normally hands-on with mundane repairs. But when a fretful brunette shows up with her fried laptop and killer green eyes, he makes an exception. And as it turns out, she needs more hands-on help than Simon imagined.

Brainy soil scientist Cassie Michaels has spent her whole life feeling like a grungy tree trunk beside her delicate flower sisters. To make herself more interesting, Cassie invented stories about her wild sex life—stories she’s expected to retell in vivid detail at a bachelorette party. Cassie’s attempt to catalog her biggest whoppers goes awry when she spills wine on her laptop and lands in Simon’s shop with her sexy list frozen on the screen.

But Simon’s interest is piqued, and the two strike a deal to make Cassie’s make-believe sexploits a reality. From steamy public romps gone hilariously awry, to sexy antics with kitchen utensils, their quest to conquer The List is equal parts scorching hot and adorably awkward. 

As they near the end of The List though, Cassie and Simon second guess their pledge to shake hands and say goodbye when they cross off the last item. But will Simon’s big secret make that the one fantasy that can never come true?



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My Review:



Simon owns a computer repair empire. Yes, empire. He's filthy rich (and handsome, of course). While in one of his stores, a woman comes in, clearly upset about her computer problems. He offers to help, only to quickly realize that she doesn't know who he is -- she thinks he's just a worker there at the store. He, of course, keeps quiet because he's tired of women always seeing his name and money and only wanting to use him. Cass is a welcome change from that.


Cass's laptop froze . . . right in the middle of a sensitive document: The List. The List includes all the crazy sex stories she's told her sisters and their friends over the years. The stories are completely false. Not wanting to be just the boring soil scientist sister, she started telling the wild stories to gain her sisters' respect. Now her embarrassing list of (fake) sex tales are frozen on her laptop's screen and of course the repairman is sexy -- and giving her ideas. Once the laptop problem is fixed, Cass decides that maybe it's time to finally cross these items off her list -- for real. And who better than Simon?


The premise for this story is so fun. A heroine who needs to check items off her sex bucket list and a hero who is more than happy to help? Yes, please, you've got my attention! Which is why I picked this one up. But I have to say, the execution of it wasn't the best and left me wanting more. Basically, this was hit-or-miss for me. Some parts I really liked, other parts had me rolling my eyes, and the ending was very rushed. So let's break down the good and the bad for you.


The comparisons/similes were more than a bit exaggerated, and showed up quite a bit. For example:



My dick responds like she's calling it by name and offered a Scooby Snack, and I realize I want her more than I've wanted anyone in ages.



Now, I don't usually mind some silly/crazy/over-the-top descriptions and lines in my romances. So maybe it was Fenske's voice that made me roll my eyes at these statements rather than taking them as funny.


I didn't actually find the sex scenes that hot; I think this ties back into voice and the fact that I didn't feel a true connection to either Simon or Cass. For me, those two things (and more) determine whether I find a scene sexy. Simply using explicit words is not enough on its own to make the act steamy. The sex wasn't horrible, by any means, but it was just "meh" for me -- nothing special, but nothing snooze-inducing, either. Of course, my "Is it sexy?" level would vary from yours, so take that as you will.


But I will give Fenske credit for some of the interesting -- and sometimes funny -- sex scenes related to Cass's list.


First, Cass's exploration of #8 (kiss a girl) was done well. No, Cass isn't bi -- not even after the kiss, though she was happy with it (and slightly turned on by it). What I liked was the fact that Cass wanted to try this for herself -- not just for the list and not because she thought Simon would find it hot, but because she wanted to. I'm all for heroines that love to explore their desires like that, period.


To clarify, her exploration is limited to a kiss and a little first base action.


Of course after said kiss, Simon and Cass barely make it to an empty room at the club (closet or something, I can't recall) and go at it. Again, it wasn't bad, but wasn't really anything special for me.


The next crazy sex scene though . . . It didn't work for me at all. On a person level, that is: sex in the snow. They head up to the mountains, find a clearing, and get busy. Luckily it's not IN the snow bank, but they are standing in the snow. Instead he pushes her against a tree. STILL. That would be so fucking cold! I don't know about you all, but the thought of cold winter air on my sensitive bits is NOT a turn on. And yet, magically Cass was aroused the whole time and Simon had no problem keeping his erection in the chilly temps. As for me, I cringed through the scene, especially when his cold hand wanders down to play with her clit. NOOOOOoooope, that would be an instant clit-killer.


Obviously, if cold sexy-times are your thing, that's great. But it's a hard pass for me.


To be fair, that scene, while not at all realistically sexy for me, was fun and made me smile, so there's that.


And the other sex scene that stood out was in a changing room at a fancy spa they went to. While they're in the locked room, doing their thing, Cass's masseuse knocks and tries asking her about her preferences for her appointment. That scene was quite funny, as Simon doesn't stop and there they are, quietly having sex while the woman is outside the door asking about pressure and preferred touches and tightness. It was enough to make me giggle and I shared quite a few quotes from this part. Here's a tease:



I take a few deep breaths, hoping that’s the end of my conversation with Henrietta. Hoping we can get back to the business at hand. 

But Henrietta has other ideas. “Are there particular areas where you’re feeling tight right now?” 

Simon grins at me. Those brown eyes flash with mischief. Slowly, oh-so-deliciously, he eases back. Then he slides in again, never once breaking eye contact. It feels exquisite. It feels— 

“Oh my God,” I whisper. 

He draws back again, then slides in deeper. My body clenches around him as he leans close to whisper against the side of my neck. “I can tell her where you’re feeling tight,” he murmurs. “So tight. So hot. So wet. So—” 

“My shoulders!” I shout a little too loudly. Simon shakes with laughter as he turns to plant a kiss on one of the shoulders in question, shoving aside the fabric of my fancy Turkish spa robe.



I think that scene might have been my favorite part of the entire book.


On the opposite end, the thing that bothered me the most? Simon keeps his identity a secret until 85%. And then -- OF COURSE -- Cass only finds out because she runs into him while she's out with her sisters.


Simon has a sister who has a disability (Down Syndrome) and he loves her dearly, doing so much for her. It also means that he doesn't do relationships because he doesn't want his sister to get attached to a woman that's not going to stay in his life. So here Cass thought they were building something together beyond the sex list, and then she bumps into Simon (and his sister, whom she didn't know about) and finds out she's not been hooking up with a mere computer repairman -- she's been hooking up with the millionaire owner of the whole damn company! This, of course, leads to their break up and Simon must find a way to grovel and get her back.


First of all, I always have a hard time believing that a person wouldn't recognize someone rich and famous, especially after so many weeks together. They were out in public together a few times so how could such a scene never happen before that? Second, their biggest conflict -- that he's actually filthy rich and doesn't do relationships because women always use him for that reason, not to mention his worry that his sister will get attached to any girlfriend he has -- is completely wiped away after the Oops-Busted scene. Completely. Yes, he grovels and gets her back, but they never discuss any of those things and suddenly it's the epilogue for the HEA. I wanted more. I needed things to be discussed and actually worked out, and that just wasn't there. The entire thing was wrapped up far too quickly.


Overall:


Did I like The List? Yes; there were some misses for me but nothing too terrible.
Would I recommend it? Yes, I think many readers would enjoy it.
Would I try another from Tawna Fenske? Sure; I'd like to see if it is her writing/voice in general or this book specifically that left me a bit underwhelmed.
Other notes: Dual 1st POV
Quickie sell: Soil scientist and tech millionaire team up to cross items off her "Fucket List".


3 1/2 STARS! 


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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Tawna Fenske; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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If you want to see some of the other quotes I shared, check my Twitter!



Enjoy!


Until Next Time,


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