Thursday, August 4, 2016

...Halloween TRICKED and a review of a romance novel...

"My experiments did not turn out quite like yours…

But science, like love, has her little surprises..."

~Bride of Frankenstein

Every year I read Christmas books and they completely get me in the mood for the season. This year, I decided it would be fun to read novels that revolved around Halloween. Get ready to laugh because this is a little glimpse into my life of mad mistakes and mishaps. Sigh.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I started reading and reviewing for Net Galley. That’s innocent enough, right? Well, this English Professor missed the fine print and it has come back to haunt me in a hilarious way.

I saw the novel The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine (August 30, 2016) by Kate Angell, Jennifer Dawson, Sharla Lovelace listed on Net Galley; the title and description completely drew me in. I’ll ask that you read the description below:

Welcome to Moonbright, Maine…Where the scents of donuts and cider waft through the crisp night air…with just a hint of magic.

It's time for the annual Halloween costume party at the cottage on Pumpkin and Vine, the perfect place to celebrate the pleasures of the season. Guests return to the picturesque B & B year after year to snuggle up in its cozy rooms, explore the quiet, tree-lined streets and enjoy all the spooky fun of the holiday. But local legend whispers that it's also a place where wishes have a strange way of coming true.

For three unsuspecting revelers, it's going to be an enchanted weekend of candy corn kisses and midnight black kittens, along with some real Halloween surprises—the kind that make your heart skip a beat—for many more celebrations to come…

320 pages
Publisher: Kensington (August 30, 2016)
Reads completely benign, right? The book was listed under *Romance* and *Women’s Fiction*. Well, now that I’ve read the book I can see some innuendo in that description but when I requested the book I was thinking Halloweentown meets a Lifetime movie; and, although it was July, I was ready to drink a literary version of a pumpkin spice latte. *clears throat* I let my Halloween-love cloud my reading. Y’all my inner Catholic girl about fell out of her chair while reading the first story but I’ll get to that.

The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine is a collection of three stories, one by each of the authors that focuses on the annual Halloween party at the Rose Cottage Bed & Breakfast in Moonbright, Maine.  B&B owner, Amelia Rose is portrayed as an innkeeper who is a bit of a matchmaker. She’ll read your cards and the crystal ball if you let her. Just be careful of her delicious cookies because they may put a spell on you, if you know what I mean ;)  The local legend is that Rose Cottage and its owner are magical. If you stay there on Halloween night, you will find love. No wonder the B&B is always booked!  These details made me think I was going to read a novel similar to the Hallmark Channel's Good Witch. Not even close.

The first story, “Charmed by You” by Kate Angell is rather short. It was my least favorite and honestly I wasn’t sure if I would continue reading the book after one of the characters has his privates exposed mid-story. Don’t let my prude ol’ comments startle you. I read all of Anne Rice’s erotica as a teen just like many of you but I was looking for descriptions of the B&B all decorated for the Halloween party and I got a character named Cade Maxwell helping Grace Alden, a demanding female boss set up the outdoor decorations for the party. There’s a large cat that scratches Cade’s jeans, which are clearly in need of some repair because the jeans tear and his penis flops out while they’re in the kitchen. I haven’t met a guy post-my undergrad years who doesn’t wear underwear, and I have to admit that the scene cracked me up but not in a laughing with, more of a laughing at way. I'm sorry but the characters were eating dessert and this was completely unexpected. Maybe as a novice Romance novel reader, I just didn't see this coming but I would have liked to have had a NC-17 warning prior to my fantasies of the pumpkin pie holiday.

I read the scene to my fella because that's what two English majors do for fun. Yeah, we once had a date in the bookstore where he read, in his best Irish accent, 50 Shades of Grey/Gray (gah! I don't even know how to spell it and I'm not going to do a Google-search because I don't want that kind of search throwing off my purchase suggestions on Facebook :P Yeah, I'm serious). Anyway, my fella just looked at me with a blank face and asked what in the world I had gotten myself into. 

Clearly, I am so not the target audience for this kind of book. It's a bit more HBO meets Lifetime sans Halloweentown than I would have liked. I enjoyed the descriptions of the decorations though. I did not like that the story ended with a hook-up/ start of a relationship *raised eyebrow* before the party. I mean, I was waiting for the party!!!! Then I realized that the stories are written pre-party, during party, and post-party.

So if you guessed that I liked the pre-party story better, you’re right. The second piece is “Mesmerized by You” by Jennifer Dawson. This story actually had a more realistic plot with fewer clichéd scenes and characters. Best friends Chloe and Jack head out for a vacation but end up at the B&B with only one bedroom left on Halloween. They’re best friends so it’s not a big deal that they’ll be sharing the room with the tiny little bed until they eat some enchanted cookies, that is. The two have to figure out if they have had a spell put on them or if they actually are in love with one another. Yay! There actually is a Halloween party in this story but overall it had fewer descriptions of the décor than the first story *sad face*.  

The last story is post-Halloween, “Enchanted by You” by Sharla Lovelace. The story is about a woman’s lost love and second chances. This one was the length of a novella. Nice premise but it didn't do it for me.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read a true *Romance* novel before; and, I probably won’t again. I completed this review only because I said that I was going to and I try to follow up on what I say I'm going to do. The Cottage on Pumpkin and Vine was a quick read and the stories had some cute moments but the sex scenes were too contrived and there just wasn’t enough focus on the season for my taste. Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know.
2016 NetGalley Challenge


  1. See I'm more of a die-hard romantic. I'm not really into raunchy sex stories... they gross me out. How can a writer intuit what everyone is turned on by? We're all so different. It's the same with tv anymore. I remember Gillian Anderson once speaking in an interview in the 90's about the X-files and that the romance between the two characters was a romantic love and not a physical love. I was struck by that because I have not heard anybody describe sex as "physical love" in god knows how long. I like the idea of love and not just...well, screwing. I think that's why I like the movie Practical Magic. Just the right dosage or romance and "physical love" without getting too in your face.

    1. That's a nice explanation of the difference. I loved Practical Magic. Maybe that's what I had hoped to read. I really didn't care about the characters in the first story so perhaps that was one of the reasons I was so blown over by their sex scenes. But then, if you don't like the characters you don't really care if they're even walking down the street together really ;)

  2. Ok that first story sounds ridiculous and not at all sexy. Jeez