Fangirl + The Chocolate Rose (Reading Challenge #8 and #9)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
As with a few other books on this list, I’m not sure that Fangirl really counts as “romance” as the genre is usually understood and in the way this challenge intends. But I’m a big cheater and don’t care. An establishment obsession with keeping literary fiction separate from genre fic, and genres separate from each other, has contributed to the maligning of romance. (That, and those Fabio, buttery chest covers.) Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is one example of romance books with explicit sex scenes that people have been reluctant to label romance — because they are well-written and really good. (And I admit have other elements, like historical fiction, too.) This strict classifying is unnecessarily snobby and restrictive — and thankfully changing.
So Fangirl might not be a Romance but it is soooo romantic. Lots of sweet moments happen between Cath and Levi. And Rowell really knows how to write shy introverts. One of my favorite experiences of reading was recognizing someone so much like myself (minus the Harry Potter-esque fan fiction obsession).
I could have done with fewer Simon Snow excerpts. And I’m still conflicted about Reagan, Cath’s new roommate and Levi’s old-girlfriend-turned-best-friend. (I’m kind of jealous of and hate her? But she’s so cool and fun and, ultimately, nice? Does that make me hate her more or less?) But this was really a delightful read that I plowed through in one-and-a-half days.
The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand
Though I don’t typically enjoy stories with guys like Gabriel (arrogant, aggressive, willful) I ended up liking him quite a bit and thought that kind of overly-confident-but-ultimately-sweet character was well drawn. The budding relationship with Jolie was entertaining and cute, despite some cheesiness. (Warning: Gabriel personifies his heart waaaaaay too much. It reminded me of Ana’s super-distracting and ridiculous inner goddess in the Fifty Shades stories, though not quite as bad.) Read this for something light, quick, and fun that also involves food, France, and chocolate!