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The Journals Of Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott, Joel Myerson
Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
The Awakening
Kate Chopin
Ulysses
James Joyce
Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders
Henrietta Webb, Josephine Ross
Becoming Jane Austen
Jon Spence
The Portable Dorothy Parker
Brendan Gill, Dorothy Parker
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Anne Brontë
Don't Tell Alfred
Nancy Mitford
Autobiographies (Collected Works, Vol 3)
Douglas Archibald, William O'Donnell, W.B. Yeats
First Star I See Tonight: A Novel (Chicago Stars) - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of the best romance authors of all time, so it greatly saddens me that I can't wholeheartedly recommend her most recent book. First Star I See Tonight is full of SEP's usual ingredients: heroine with an interesting job, sports star hero, snappy dialogue. Parts of the book made me laugh out loud and SEP's writing style is confident and, frankly, of a much higher quality than you get from the vast majority of romance authors. 

 

Unfortunately, the book is marred by lame subplots, weak characterization, and unappealing sex scenes. Several of the secondary characters are POC with little to do other than get rescued by the white hero and heroine. Both of the main characters have feminist moments but for the most part, think and behave like regressive dude bros. The heroine in particular comes across as an aggressive asshole who makes a lot of assumptions about other women based on their appearance. 

 

The sex scenes are pretty terrible. I got the distinct impression that SEP is tired of writing them, which I totally get. I skip past the sex scenes in a lot of the romances I read because they're frequently the most boring part of the book. But these--they're short, unsexy, and vague. I found myself craving an emotional connection to either of the main characters as I wrapped up the book. I couldn't understand why they fell in love, and I didn't fall in love with either of them. 

 

The book ends with a stereotypical romance epilogue, complete with twin toddlers. I settled on a rating of 3 stars because the writing is solid, but this would have been a 1- or 2-star book in the hands of a lesser author. 

 

Side note: am I the only one who read the first page and thought the hero was coming out of a one night stand? I eventually figured out he was letting some woman sign his thigh in a public park, which is fairly odd.