Whenever life gets busy and/or stressful, I turn not just to ice cream, but also to fluff books that don’t really make me think. The last couple of months have been pretty busy, and, combined with some other weird stuff going on, I’ve just been in the mood for reading some lighthearted romance.
I also seem to have accumulated roughly a billion books on my Kindle, so this summer I finally created a spreadsheet to actually make some sense out of them. While I realize spreadsheets aren’t really the answer to ALL of life’s problems, I’ve found that it’s always a great place to start. :-D Anyway, this spreadsheet has helped me actually start reading my Kindle books, because now I can tell at a glance if the book is part of a series or not (I hate starting in the middle of series) and go from there. It also gives me a place to make a couple of brief notes after I’ve read a book, because I can’t always remember whether or not I liked something.
All that to say, I had three different boxed sets, by three different authors, consisting of the first three or four books of three different series, that had at some point been purchased for less than a dollar or possibly even for free. While enjoyable, none of them quite warranted spending more money to continue/finish the series, so here are a few notes!
Romancing Wisconsin Series by Stacey Joy Hetzel
These stories definitely felt a lot shorter than full-length novels. I actually really enjoyed these stories and the way that the characters from the different books interconnected, but the next boxed set was like $10 and it just wasn’t worth it to me. Even though the first story is in July, and the rest take place within the next couple of months, all of them actually were Christmas-themed, starting with a “Christmas in July” field trip to the zoo, and they all had a cute mistletoe theme to them. However, there was definitely too much sex, and the books were just too short for me to justify spending the money to continue the series.
Cupid’s Coffeeshop Series by Courtney Hunt
I have a total weakness for stories that are set in restaurants/coffee shops/hotels/basically anything in the hospitality industry. I co-owned a coffee shop in the past, and have spent a lot of time working in the those types of settings, and it always makes me happy to be “behind the scenes” of events. (I think that may be part of why I love Nora Roberts’s Bridal Quartet so much.) This series was supposedly about three cousins who inherit a coffee shop (with strings attached, of course) and have to work together to make it work. Which is why I was super confused when, about three chapters into the first book, the story abruptly departs from the cousins and focuses on two completely random people who happened to have met in the newly-reopened coffee shop.
So these were perfectly fine little romances, but the whole series would have made much more sense if the author had focused on the cousins as the beginning of the series and given a base to build from. Instead, these were four books about completely random individuals who sorta kinda cross paths in the same coffee shop, with about two or three chapters in each book about the cousins and how things are actually going with them. It made the stories feel disjointed, and I just couldn’t get into them enough to pay for the rest.
Summer Lake Series by S.J. McCoy
When I got done with the first boxed set, I was startled to discover that, somewhere along the line, I had also purchased the second boxed set! So I actually had the first six books of the series to read – and wouldn’t you know it, that’s still only halfway, and it looks like the rest are $4 each, so even though I actually am quite interested in these characters and where everyone is going, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to justify the budget needed to finish this series!
These books start out by being focused on a group of four friends – Emma, Missy, Pete, and Ben – who all grew up together in the same small town in northern California. Throughout the series, they find themselves being drawn back to their hometown, and of course finding love and happiness along the way. The problem is that McCoy has a habit of introducing new characters all the time, and then going off and telling their story in the next book, until the connections to the original group are rather tenuous. So Emma gets together with Pete’s business partner, Jack. Then Pete gets together with Emma’s best friend, Holly. Then Missy matches up with Jack’s brother, Dan. So far, so good. But I’m actually really interested in Ben, who has a mysterious back story that we still haven’t heard. But INSTEAD, we get a story about Jack and Dan’s cousin, Laura, who gets together with their pilot, Smoke (seriously). Then, meantime, another old friend has returned to town, supposedly one of the original gang – Michael. So the next story is about him falling in love with Megan, who isn’t related to anybody, and then the NEXT book is about Megan’s sister! So now we’re through Book #6 and still no Ben story! And I suppose a normal person would just skip to the book that has Ben’s story and buy just that one, but I’m not one of those wild and crazy individuals who is capable of dipping in and out of series at will: it’s in order or nothing! :-D
While I really did enjoy the characters and stories, these books had a LOT of sexy times, which is the other reason I just don’t want to purchase the rest. While I don’t mind skipping stuff sometimes, in a few of these books it was just excessive. It also started to feel like McCoy was using good sex to equal a good relationship. Because all of these relationships got so physical so fast, I wasn’t always completely convinced that the characters were actually going to be good together long term. I don’t think that you have to shag someone to know whether or not they are going to be a good life-partner, and McCoy’s books seems to say just the opposite – that the ONLY way to tell whether or not someone is going to be a good life-partner is to shag them!
So yes, overall too many mixed feelings over these books to invest another $24 or so into finishing the series!