P.O. Box Love by Paola Calvetti

P.O. Box Love was an interesting read. Even after two day I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m not sure what I expected after reading the blurb we got from the author. It sounded interesting, and the story was. I just never fell in love with it. It needed more emotion.

P.O. Box Love is written as love letters and a story. Meaning part of the time you’re reading love letters between two characters and the other time you’re reading the story from the main female’s POV. The main characters are Emma and Federico. Emma’s a fifty something bookshop from living in Milan and Federico is a fifty something successful architect, working in New York City. Emma is divorced and has been for many years. She has a son, Mattie, whose graduating high school and about to attend University. Federico on the other hand is married and has been for twenty some odd years. He and his wife have a daughter, Sarah, who’s also a teenager.

Emma and Federico, in their youth, had been boyfriend/girlfriend and something happens to break them up. Now after all this time, Federico finds Emma in her bookshop, Dreams & Desires. Dreams & Desires is a bookshop designed and furnished for romantics. All Emma sells are romance novels, it doesn’t matter the size or shape. This is the part that confuses me, Emma is such a romantic, yet I didn’t get much feeling from her. She can remember just about every book she’s ever read, yet she forgets her personal history. She does this on purpose, which doesn’t make sense to me. I would’ve thought she’d care about her memories, since romantics usually do. (At least romantic writers that is, their memories give inspiration.)

When Emma and Federico decide to start corresponding with each other they do so by writing letters. These, hand written, letters are the only line of communication they have, because Emma has decided technology is a bad thing. She doesn’t own a cell phone and she dislikes the internet and computers. Needless to say she doesn’t touch either. So the story starts with former high school sweethearts becoming “pin-pals.” It’s truly a twist on You’ve Got Mail, without the technology. Emma and Federico us a P.O. Box to send, receive and store their letters so no one will find out. Their affair including the correspondence spans over six years during which Federico opens up to Emma about his life and emotions. Things he can’t share with his family. Emma begins to look at life a little different too as she adds architecture to her life. What I mean by this is that she starts looking at the beauty of buildings, whereas she’d never done that before. She seems to like hearing about Federico’s work on the Morgan and she tells him about different bookshops around New York City. They also talk about their lives but not too much. Federico stops in the stores she tells him about and he starts to enjoy the peace the stores and parks give him as he writes to her.

This affair isn’t just the letters that these two former sweethearts share. They actually do become lovers ad meet once a year on an island. The island fits their “prefect” affair since it doesn’t get any service for phones or internet. In these short encounters we get the most “emotion,” still I expected more. Don’t expect the details of their sex life, it’s not there, what we get is how they fit into each others life. That they enjoy each others company and the outside world means nothing. We the reader know this relationship is doomed even Emma knows it. She tells us so. Yet when Federico talks about his wife and his actions Emma basically says she’s okay with the status quo. She seems to like being a mistress. This is something else I don’t understand, because I don’t know why she’d want to be the other woman.

As the relationship heads to a close the book seems to skip or loss something. You find more spelling errors and sentences that don’t completely make sense. This also goes along with Emma somewhat losing herself. Plus we have the end of Federico’s letters which doesn’t seem like the right spot, especially when Emma references it within her letters. She states it’s been two weeks when it’s been two months almost to the day. Still she doesn’t make any call to see if everything is okay. There’s also a point when Federico asked to see her about a month or so before his last letter and we see nothing of that encounter. We don’t know if it happened or not, Emma doesn’t even respond to the invite if she could make it or not. Both of these events confused me. But I’d say the ending is what really through me and how we got there we don’t know. There needed to be more so that this ending made sense and could flow. As it stands you have an ending and something like an afterthought. The first would have been fine, the reader could’ve thought of their own “true ending”. What we get falls flat, and doesn’t seem to fit what had been going on.


Review on Tessa Armytage Bess, Nicholas and a Dog Named Bones.

At the end of Nov. the Dolls were asked to review a book called Bess, Nicholas and a Dog Named Bones. With so much coming in they sent out a call to their honorary Dolls for a little help, and I accepted their request. As many of you have probably figured out from other reviews I’ve given and if you’ve stopped by my blog, I rarely read romance novels. I have nothing against them; I just prefer mysteries and urban fantasies since I write in those genres. But the tidbit the Dolls gave me peaked my interest.

“Bess Saint Clair is about to lose everything and the only man who can save her is Nicholas Blake. It’s just a pity she can’t stand him.

Nicholas is a record industry hotshot with a reputation for being a Big, Bad Wolf. That’s okay by publicist Bess – she’s the sort of Little Red Riding Hood who eats wolves for breakfast. From the moment Nicholas and Bess clap eyes on each other they share a common bond: they want to tear each other’s throats out.

When Nicholas discovers that the man he has hired for the job is a woman, he’d like nothing better than to boot her out of his office. When Bess discovers he is one of those creatures of prehistoric legend – a male chauvinist – she’d like nothing better than to flip him the bird and turn on her heel.

But he needs her talent and she needs his money.

Each is hell bent on teaching the other a lesson. Both are about to learn a lesson they’ll never forget. The battle over who will wear the pants will be fiercest when neither is wearing any.

Funny, tender and deeply sensual, Bess, Nicholas & A Dog Called Bones is set in a picturesque valley vineyard and features a heroic, shameless sausage extortionist of a dog who is almost as human, and every bit as unforgettable, as Nicholas and Bess.

Let me start by saying I finished reading this book in under 24 hours. I started in the late afternoon and read until 6 A.M. slept and finished when I woke. So yes I had a hard time putting the book down but that isn’t because I fell completely in love with it. I just wanted to see how it would end.

The story is about Elizabeth “Bess” Saint Clair and Nicholas Blake, Elizabeth gets a job interview as a PR rep at Nicholas Blake’s recording company Falling Star. At first these two are like oil and vinegar, butting heads and saying the wrong thing. Blake doesn’t want another female PR person after what happened with the previous three women he had in that position. Elizabeth won’t take no as an answer.  Blake decides to take her on for one assignment. He sends her off to his property in the country.

This is where the story gets interesting as we watch their relationship develop. Well sort of, you never really know if they have a relationship. There is loads of sexual tension between them which after a scary night of hypothermia becomes what seems like a month long sexual affair. As we get into the affair the book takes on an erotic nature. While the two are alone and intimate their relationship is compatible, but when people are around Nicholas is cold and distant. He likes Bess, which he nicknamed her, to be dominated yet it turns him on when she pushes back. However he always has to have the upper hand and he can flip the switch between lover and boss, at the snap of his fingers. When Nicholas is in lover mode, I was drawn in, and the scenes are hot, erotic, and very tantalizing. You may want your significant other around when you read those. However when he’s boss, it’s a flip of the coin on if you want to finish reading or not. Granted Bess doesn’t help. At the beginning she’s strong, she’s even strong during the affair but when things go icy between them she loses himself. I understand this can/does happen to women after break-ups, but she takes it to an extreme.

And this is where the book starts to lose me. There were a handful of chapters were I thought it was going to end. Then Bess would do something or when and I expected her to kick the bucket and bite the big one. She wouldn’t go after what she wanted but she’d pine for it. I wanted to smack her. At times she would have her back bone but it didn’t last long. When you thought the outcome was about to change the chapter would end and she was back to crying in a new chapter. The last handful of chapters or more were jarring in this way. And I had to go back to see if I’d missed something. Granted those weren’t the only jarring bits but I‘ll get to that. Even at the end you thought Bess was going to go one way and then it seemed like she changed her mind until you were at the very last scene. All the while she seemed emotionless, like a wet noodle or dead fish, pick your poison. So when the book finished I didn’t feel for Bess. I had no emotion left for her. It ended up being emotionally draining, and I don’t think that’s Ms. Bennett intended. She had me invited for about half the novel, then lost me.

There were other things that lost me, along with jarring me out of the novel. At the beginning when scenes change she uses asterisks, which were fine but the scenes didn’t seem to make sense when they changed. Some I didn’t know why they were in the novel. It wasn’t until halfway through the book that you got the full content of the opening scene. There really wasn’t a clear breaking point the scene would stop suddenly and it file like it was just there to take up space. When I got past the asterisks and the story started to flow, the asterisks became small chapters. One pagers or a page and a half. These at least made a little sense as to why they were in the novel but they seemed to be lacking emotion and/or substance. I wanted more from them but we jumped to something different. The last thing that jarred me out of the story was the instants where there were blatant typos, wrong words or words missing. I’ve talked openly about being dyslexic here and on my blog; I say this, because there are times when I don’t notice these issues. But when I do, I have to say that’s a problem. If it’s jarring for me, and I can normally ignore those issues (I add and or leave out words all the time), it may end up jarring others out of the story too.