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Thursday, February 1, 2018

What I’m Reading: Wrong to Need You

Starting today, every other month I will be participating in the ARRT Romance Genre Study.  You can click here for the full schedule, assignments, and notes as they become available. Because this is the first year in the last 5 that I do not have any administrative responsibilities associated with the genre study program, I will probably only attend half of the meetings [the ones closer to my house], but every other month, I will be completing the assignment and posting my feelings about the book I read. Then I will engage with the group in person, or through the notes after. Either way, there will be a post here with the book I read.

I am doing this because I don’t read enough romance on my own. Being in this genre study will force me to not only read more romance, but also to participate in conversation about my reading and how to help other readers. I will read, share and most importantly, listen to everyone else [either in person or by reading the notes]. And, whether I attend or not, I will also follow up by posting the notes of each meeting here for easy access.

Our first assignment was to read any romance. I decided to read the subgenre I am the least interested in personally-- contemporary, American set romance. Why is the least interesting to me? Well, while I totally understand why people like romance [quick read, good characters, interesting frames, happy endings], I much prefer horror for these same reasons, and that is purely because of the scariness versus heartwarming feelings the book gives, also I like the endings of horror better. But, if I am going to read romance, I tend to seek out historical because I also love historical fiction or internationally set ones because I love learning about new places.

Also, I should note, the sexiness level in a romance is not an issue I have, I really don’t care one way or another, but since steamier romances are a growing trend, I figured I would go with one of the best reviewed steamy, contemporary series of the last year.

In a few weeks, I will post the notes for today's meeting, but for now, here is my review.

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai is the second book in the Forbidden Hearts series. For non-romance readers, please note that romance series can be read in any order. Each book is a complete story of one couple. The series comes from the fact that different characters from the world get their chance to have their own book- and their own love story. So the setting and the cast of characters are the same, it is just the spotlight that shifts.

Here is the publisher’s summary via Goodreads:
He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow… 
Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother. 
Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist. 
An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past...and step into a future together.
Appeal: There are a few excellent appeal entry points for this story beyond the basic appeal of romance itself. First the characters are great. Sadia and Jackson of course, but the large family, cast of characters are well drawn.  This is an extended family of renown in a small town, with plenty of drama in their long tangled history between the whole lot of them. Plus, the characters are multiracial without being stereotypical. In other words they are realistically diverse.

The family saga frame here also leads to another appeal, the drama is high and interesting without being melodramatic. I hate when the drama veers toward melodramatic. Seriously, when I have to read a book where what keeps the couple apart is merely a stupid misunderstanding that escalates or is so over the top that it is ridiculous, ugh....I stop reading or caring. And the whole point of a romance is to care about the couple.  Well here, since these people all have a long, complicated history with each other, and the drama comes from a variety of angles-- both between the romance couple and their different relationships with friends and family-- it all felt natural and organic.  It is also good the the set up was predicated on the fact that these families are already the source of the town’s gossip.

Also, the obstacles between Sadia and Jackson are deeper than that he is her dead husband’s brother. There are a lot of layers here.

I really enjoyed Sadia’s relationship with her son. It was very sweet. Also the issues with her dead husband are well explored. And there is one scene where she really lays into her sisters for not bring there for her which I also liked. Her relationship with her sisters was realistic and relatable.

The themes of redemption, family secrets, and second chances at love are also an important appeal factor to note. As are the cooking and bartending frames.

The prose is engaging and it moves briskly without sacrificing the necessary details. The sex would be classified as steamy.

Following the various subplots, which all converge on the fact that family is the most important thing no matter how much baggage and conflict family brings, keeps you turning the pages.

Three Words That Describe This Book: family saga, second chances, steamy

Readalikes: There are many ways to go here. I will start with the fact that Wrong to Need You was on many “Best Romance of 2017” lists. Here’s one and here is another. If you have access to NoveList it is also in their list of the best romance of 2017. Any of the other titles appearing on these lists are a good suggestion for someone who does not have preferences about subgenre or heat index.

If you enjoyed the multi-ethnic hero and heroine and wants more like that, try this list.

If you want more second chance romance, try this list.

There is a “Sexy Times” shelf on Goodreads. This book has been shelved there a few times. The range of titles here is great. Since it is user defined and then aggregated with the most popularly shelved titles at the top, you get a very interesting and diverse list of possibilities.

Finally here are some contemporary romance authors I would suggest as a good starting point if the above lists are too overwhelming are:

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