Ok, I know this is out of order, but today is a book review post, and Friday will be Get Series(ous). Why? I need better pictures of the food made for the post. Which means I’ll have to make it again. le sigh. (snicker)
Before I get to the meat of the post…RUNNING UPDATE!
Ok, I just finished (we’re in a blog time machine) my extra-super-long-run. Like, just this side of a marathon, long. It’s actually the longest distance I run pre-mary. 20 miles. It was a bitch, and I struggled. I felt good, and strong, but my headspace was all effed up. It was like one of those times when one is having sex, and enjoying everything, but they can’t help but remember that they missed that one spot while shaving on the back of their thigh, and DON’T TOUCH THERE. (here…I have boobs…you like boobs! DAMMIT, MEN WHO MARRY 6′ TALL WOMEN ARE LEG MEN! SHIT!) That was how my running headspace was going.
I wanted to just focus on the run and talking to my run partner, but NO. I couldn’t. I kept looking at my Garmin, and could not stop watching my speed. GAH! Here I was, running a score of miles with one of my very best good pals who has run a few sub-3 marathons, and I kept looking at my freaking GPS as though he wasn’t pacing me. He flat out TOLD ME he’d pace me. That we’d set up our splits in 5 sets of 4 miles, and I only had to worry about running.
I was tripping over my own brain.
However, with his excellent pacing, I set out (mostly) what I’d wanted to accomplish. Our average was no greater than 8 min/mi, with some miles significantly faster, including 3 sub 7s. Oddly, our fastest miles were the miles I felt best. Let’s face it, the shin-crushing, side-stitching, mucus-running miles are only the best miles when my head is shoveling out darkness. Thankfully, the pain and endorphins are a pretty good plow.
book cover is link.
Now, you scamps know I love me some LH Cosway and Penny Reid. I was over the moon when I received an ARC of this book. I received it with no expectation of a review, and I already pre-ordered it. Therefore, it was like a pretty little gift in my inbox with a pink bow.
Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much.
Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite…
When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together.
What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is?
This book reminds me a lot of the confections featured throughout its pages, light, sweet, and too quickly gone.
When the book opens, it is immediately apparent that the tone of it is the quick-witted snarky humor that readers have come to expect from both LH Cosway and Penny Reid. Told in first-person, the story begins fast and that pace is held for the duration of the majority of the text.
What I loved.
The dialogue, both spoken and internal, was by far my favorite part of the book. Here’s a snippet.
Roses are red, violets are blue. I’m using my hand, but thinking of you.
How could I not love that, right? The banter between Annie and Ronan, or Annie writing as Socialmedialite, was spot-on hilarious. LH Cosway didn’t shy away from using UK sayings in her parts of the text to water it down for American audiences, and Penny Reid spouted ‘Merica fearlessly. Ok, I don’t know if she was writing this book while flying an American flag behind her head and drinking Coca Cola while humming “The Star Spangled Banner,” but that’s how I picture it happening.
Strike that, I picture her humming this:
I love that the characters were each strong and extremely well-suited to their occupations. In their professional lives, they take no prisoners. They are educated, intelligent, leaders in their field.
I love that two authors who depend quite a bit of the good word of bloggers did not pull any punches when it comes to the sort of banal trivialities that afflict social media and blogging. Because, let’s face it, the internet provides a great deal of anonymity for people hide behind. This, in turn, allows a great many a person to switch off their “good person” button, and become epic steaming shitpiles of douchebaggery.
I love that the “mean girl” trope was used, but not in the completely typical manner. Usually, I sort of hate the “mean girl” trope. It’s overdone, and to be honest, even though those women truly exist in real life, I feel like writing about them over and over again just perpetuates it. I’m way too feminist not to say “Hey, why must it always be the girl who is the asscandle?” This book featured an asshole *couple.* For some reason, that made the manipulative bitch pill easier to swallow.
I 100% realize that hating this specific trope is completely my own feminist hangup.
I loved the HEA. Of COURSE I did. *SPOILER ALERT* I won’t call a book a “romance” if there’s no HEA. It’s a romaybenot, or a bummermance, or you know, fiction.
The Hooker and the Hermit has plenty of chest–and other area–tingly bits throughout the text. I dare say this book is a bit more “in the sack” than Penny Reid’s other novels, but about on-par from what I’ve read of LH Cosway. (I’ve read four, and I think I’ll binge this weekend.)
I adored the chemistry between the two MCs. I thought the verbal tug of war was believable without being overly realistic. Because, duh. It’s a fucking romance. No one writes about how that one time your boyfriend once admitted to the fact he touched himself to images of his fourth grade gym teacher.
*that was a thing that happened.
I love that there’s enough rugby players on Ronan’s team from which to choose for sequels.
I love that the entire time I was reading, this is who I had in my head as Ronan:
Stuart Reardon…a real, live, just-look-at-that, rugby player.
This is him again…for comparison. Obviously.
I would not kick him out of my house for wearing boots indoors. I hear they’re good for knocking.
What I maybe didn’t love as much.
I really hate saying anything remotely negative about this book, because I truly believe you should read it. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and sessssy as hay-ell.
However, just a few, tiny things. GAH! I feel like dreck.
I thought the first 1/3 of the book was unevenly paced. It goes right into the action, great, hook us! Yes! But the romance felt less-genuine, a teeny bit rushed. The chemistry was there, all the fizzle and spark, but I had trouble connecting the two MCs and the reasons for their deeper attraction.
I felt as though the MC, Annie’s excuses and behavior in the final quarter of the book were in opposition to her inner dialogue, especially given how she purported to feel about Ronan. But! It does come to a satisfactory conclusion.
This last bit is again, 100% my own hangup…
The book was set in NYC. I happen to know a bit about NYC. I feel like the setting was very inconsequential, which saddens me, because NYC in and of itself can add so much to a story.
Again, that’s my New Yorker’s bias.
And guess what???
This book has a theme near and dear to my heart. If fact, I would argue it’s actually a bit of a motif–symbolism if you will. Annie loves herself some tea and desserts. The first thing we see of Annie, she’s having a bit at Tom’s Southern Kitchen. Then, we see her eating an eclair in the office, Ronan feeds her dessert, and even has one himself later in the book. Here’s the thing, only when she is dealing with inner turmoil does she turn to the sugary support beam. I don’t get the sense she’s eating her feelings as much as I do she’s using it as a substitute for stability. These things are always the same, even when I’m in upheaval. In the end, when she’s settled, there is no mention of cookies or donuts or eclairs or wine–anything. Just she and Ronan.
Obviously, I had to make eclairs for today’s post. It was that, or treacle tart, and eclairs won.
I also could not possibly be expected to make typical eclairs. Yes, I use the same Alton Brown pate a choux recipe everyone else does for the shell. Yes, I use the same epicurious recipe for pastry cream everyone else does. I make ganache exactly the same way everyone else does. HOWEVER, I folded peanut butter into the pastry cream. Because I could.
This is a process, not a recipe. Use THIS recipe for the eclairs, and pipe them into logs instead of dots. Same cooking time. Make THIS pastry cream and fold in 1/2 cup of Jif Natural PB. NOT the all-natural whole foods pb. This is not the time for that. Ganache is just 1:1 chocolate to heavy cream. I suggest dark or semi-sweet chocolate. Melt them together in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring between, and stir until smooth. Cut open the sides of the FRESH eclair and pipe in the peanut butter pastry cream. Dip in ganache. Either eat immediately or freeze immediately.