Two of my favourite authors had new books out this week and of course I devoured them! And because I read them back-to-back I have thoughts. So many thoughts.
What a week of reading!
So, Kylie Scott's Dirty dropped on my e-reader first and what can you do but open it. The first word is "Fuck." Not the most usual first line, but I was hooked! There's something raw about Kylie's writing. It sort of plonks you into the heroine's head and you get it all - swearing, doubts, hopes, fears, dreams. The trying to talk yourself into something, and talk yourself out of other things.
There's something about being inside someone's head that makes me feel relieved about my own headspace :)
Anyway, Dirty is book 1 of a new series (Dive Bar) which is a spin-off from the Stage Dive (rock stars) series. Vaughan is the hero, and we met him in one of the Stage Dive books when his band toured with Stage Dive. Vaughan's sister owns the Dive Bar. So our connection is made and we're into the new series with lots of links back to the band - who had their first gig at the Dive Bar.
Lydia arrives in Vaughan's house via traumatic circumstances which had me remembering Lick (the first Stage Dive book), although the circumstances are very different. Lydia, on the morning of her wedding, is sent a video of her husband-to-be and his best man enjoying the bucks night by screwing themselves stupid with each other. Cue the fleeing bride.
Although Lydia is heart-broken, there's enough humour to have you laughing at her epic disasters as she flees her own wedding. And this continues throughout - Lydia is funny. Vaughan is funny (and sweet). And so the story keeps rocking along, making you chuckle and smile - until the black moment - and then you're through that and back to sunshine.
I love that about romance. You feel good reading it. It makes your laugh, smile, ache, grin like a satisfied loon. Kylie Scott books always deliver that.
And then I picked up Never Sweeter. OMFG! I said Kylie Scott gets you into the heroine's head, well, Charlotte Stein digs you so far in you're trapped in all the messy glory of the heroine's brain. And Charlotte Stein does this in third person in this book (most people only manage it in first person).
I was trying to work out how these books are different, but for me both 5 stars, and I think I might have something - You know when you take a wedding photo, you can take one with the view, the crowd, the family, the gorgeous decorations as well as the bride and groom and bridal party. It's a stunning picture and shows everything that makes the day special - it's a priceless shot. That's Kylie Scott.
But you can also take a photo at the same wedding where you focus solely on the couple. The background is just a blur. There might be the edge of a bridesmaid and a best man, or maybe not. It's still a priceless memory. A beautiful shot. But the focus has changed. And this is Charlotte Stein. Couple on focus, everyone else blurred or not in the picture.
In Never Sweeter, Letty and Tate are the focus of the story. They're in college and they have friends, even family back home, they even have a horrible back story of high school together, but the major focus of the story is on the couple and their relationship. There's no setting up of a series. No extraneous detail. I couldn't tell you what country they're in, let alone what their college looked like. I know the bed is small in each of their dorm rooms only because they both have to fit on it.
There's an intensity to Charlotte Stein's writing that no one seems to match - and I think it's because of this zoomed in focus. No details unless they relate to the couple and the relationship.
The latest run of Charlotte Stein stories are darker than usual. This one deals with bullying - horrible high-school bullying that makes you gasp, ache, almost weep. One of Letty's high school bullies is Tate, who is now the hero of the story. And I wasn't sure you could redeem someone who'd gone so far...but Charlotte Stein did. Tate is gorgeous. He's making up for his mistakes. He's admitting his errors. And Letty is noticing that he wasn't entirely to blame.
This story rips at your heart. It's dark, intense, achingly beautiful - and yet there are funny moments, cute film references, sweet sweet exchanges. It's some magical balancing act that I'm not sure anyone else could actually pull off.
So, if you're looking for a fabulous panorama, can I recommend Dirty? But if you're after the close up, Never Sweeter might suit. But whichever you read, I hope you won't be disappointed. I wasn't.
(PS this is my 600th post - thanks for being here and letting me blah on! I'm so glad it was a post about fab books and fab writers.)