Tag Archives: reviews

Y is for You [A2Z]

You’ve Got Mail is my favorite romantic comedy. It stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, both outstanding, and it’s written and directed by Nora Ephron. I love the build-up of conflicted feelings between Kathleen and Joe, who not only are business rivals but also are with other partners as the story opens. (Both sets of couples break up before K&J get together.) None of that can overcome their growing attraction toward each other though ~ and for quite a while it’s not a physical attraction, which is the best part to me. It’s a combination of an emotional and intellectual connection sustained in writing via chats.

I’m not gonna lie: it’s always been my preference/dream to find this with someone before meeting in person and discovering that it translates to physical chemistry as well. Probably this is why I was so magnetized by the idea of dating sites in the first place. But just like in this movie, most men are deceptive in chats; in real life, though, the ending doesn’t work out so happily ever after.

To me, You’ve Got Mail is simply perfect, the epitome of a romcom. The best of the best. I only wish I could have saved it for last, but there’s one day left…

X is for Xenobia [A2Z]

Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James is a perfect Regency romance novel. It has everything a fan of the genre wants. There is a beautiful and headstrong heroine, who is determined to live life on her own terms, even if it is 1799. We also have an arrogant, handsome, bastard son of a duke, focused on marring someone sweet and biddable. Said sweet miss is terrified of the bastard and would much rather hang with the affable country doctor. School friend comes to visit bastard and says hey nice decorator you got there… shame if some other man took her away from you. Bastard doesn’t like that idea!

Very fun book with little Easter eggs (homages) to other pieces of literature buried in the pages. I probably missed some. Explicit sex scenes abound.

W is for When [A2Z]

When Harry Met Sally is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love the characters and the humor. Once again, I think Rob Reiner does an excellent job of directing. I used to list WHMS as my favorite romcom, but now I don’t, even though I still adore the film and rewatch it yearly.

Harry and Sally meet right when they’re graduating college at University of Chicago and share a ride to New York City. They get to know each other a little on this trip, and dislike each other, arguing continuously about the nature of relationships between men and women. Over the next decade, they bump into one another repeatedly in various venues as they attach and detach from other partners.

There’s so much wonderful humor and profound insight about the complexities of relationships here, not to mention fabulous quotes. I treasure the supporting cast as well ~ in fact, when I rewatch the movie now, it’s the instant spark between Marie and Jess that really affects me.

I know the on-again, off-again, passionate drama between Harry and Sally and his crazy run through the streets of Manhattan on NYE is what makes this movie such a beautiful piece of art, but but but…

When Marie (Carrie Fisher, RIP) and Jess hit it off immediately, jump into that taxi, and spend the rest of their lives together without all the BS… that gets to me. I mean, Harry and Sally had to keep sleeping with other people (and in Harry’s case marry one) before they finally figured out hey duhhh we’re right for each other. But Jess and Marie don’t have to hurt each other to love each other.

I like that. Of course I get that the smooth path doesn’t make an interesting movie. But I still like it!

V is for Valley [A2Z]

Valley Girl is a cute romcom starring Deborah Foreman and Nicholas Cage. It’s essentially a conflict between social class and peer groups. Julie is part of the upper middle class “Galleria” crowd, all about being popular at her high school, dating a football player, looking cute at all times, etc. Randy is an edgy Hollywood dude, part of the tougher L.A. scene “over the hill,” and shunned by Julie’s friends after he crashes into their world one night.

Though the movie is about high school kids and can seem silly at times (not to mention dated now), it still has the universal theme regarding choices we make, even as adults, and how difficult it is to step away from our social group and their expectations and prejudices.

U is for Until [A2Z]

Until We Kissed was such an enjoyable read that I went and downloaded the other 6 Pine Valley contemporary romances right after I finished it!

Librarian Livvy believes she’s dating the perfect man until she meets writer Mason. Sparks fly immediately. Why doesn’t she feel this amazing chemistry with Mr. Perfect, the doctor? It’s a mystery she’ll have to solve as Mason returns to the library day after day to work on his next novel.

Neither Livvy nor Mason are flawless, and they overcome their imperfections to become better and build love and trust. Some readers dismiss books where protags are imperfect, but I like to see characters work on themselves as humans do (ideally) and become their best selves with the help and support of someone who cares for them deeply. When that happens, I find the happily ever after to be more satisfying.

This romance novel does not have explicit sex scenes.

T is for Train [A2Z]

While You Were Sleeping is a sweet romcom starring Sandra Bullock, one of my favorite actors. “Train” comes from the fact that Sandra plays Lucy, an employee of the CTA who works at the booth where people drop their tokens before boarding. She’s a single gal (with an adorable cat, natch) who fantasizes about one particular handsome man who passes by each morning. He’s always perfectly dressed in a suit and coat, and Lucy imagines herself to be in love with him.

On Christmas morning, the handsome man is mugged and pushed onto the train tracks. Lucy leaves her booth and runs out to help; she rolls him away from the oncoming train. He’s unconscious, and when he wakes up in the hospital, he has amnesia.

Due to a mumbling misunderstanding, the hospital staff believes Lucy is the man’s fiancée. When his family shows up, Lucy is introduced not only as his fiancée but also as the person who saved his life. She is overwhelmed with their gratitude and the mistaken identity farce rolls on.

But then the handsome man’s charming and adorable brother arrives.

Sandra is so great here. I just love her. I also loved her in Miss Congeniality, but I couldn’t use that as one of my romcoms unfortunately because although MC has the happy ending, I did watch MC2, which shows Sandra’s character and her man from MC1 breaking up. Too sad! Not that I didn’t love MC2 too, mind you. But it was one of those girl power movies, which are great in their own right. Sandra also rocks those. She’s fabulous in everything. 💖

S is for Splash [A2Z]

Splash is a fun, fantasy romcom starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah in the lead romantic roles, and it also has the ever-hilarious John Candy (RIP) and Eugene Levy. The movie was directed by Ron Howard. Tom Hanks has done a lot of comedy, and also many serious roles too, but I like him best as the good guy in a romcom. We’ll be seeing him again toward the end of the alphabet.

What’s interesting to me about the plot of Splash and so many of these romcoms and romance novels too is that one or both of the protagonists are absolutely sure of what they want, and don’t want, in a life partner. This is just like real life, especially now in the age of dating sites when we have our lists of must-haves and can’t-stands. We know the kind of person we’re attracted to and have a hazy picture of him or her in our mind already before we’ve even spoken to anyone. We kinda know how tall they should be, their age, their body shape, their political positions, their hobbies, what music and movies they enjoy, how much money they have, what kind of traveler they are, their feelings on kids and pets, and most importantly exactly how many miles away they live. Someone might be perfect, but we don’t want to drive more than 27 minutes to date them. God forbid.

In real life, and in fiction, we treat people like objects, to be examined for flaws and then rejected in the endless quest for a better one. But in fiction what happens is that the situations are contrived so that the protagonists are forced to spend time with each other. During this time, they realize that their preconceived ideas of what makes a perfect partner are wrong and that this other person, who seemed like “a bad match” on paper because s/he didn’t fit into the checkboxes, is actually the right one for them.

Dialogue between the brothers in Splash:

Allen: I don’t understand. All my life, I’ve been waiting for someone and when I find her, she’s… she’s a fish.

Freddie: Nobody said love’s perfect.

Allen: Oh, Freddie, I don’t expect it to be perfect! But for God’s sake, it’s usually human! Every day, people meet, they fall in love, every day! And look at what I got.

[…]

Freddie: Yeah? Well, that’s a crock. It doesn’t work that way. Look, do you at least realize how happy you were with her? That is, of course, when you weren’t driving yourself crazy. Every day? Come on. Some people will never be that happy. I’ll never be that happy!

So, this is why I like the fantasy stories with the guaranteed happy endings, unlike real life where fussy people end up alone.

R is for Romancing [A2Z]

Romancing the Stone is an adventure romcom starring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. I mentioned it in my review of the romance novel Heart of Fire because that story also involved a heroine trekking down to the jungle, etc. But in RTS we have a city girl (a romance novelist!) who is not an archaeologist and is totally unprepared to brave the dangers of Columbia. However, off Joan goes to rescue her sister, who’s being held for ransom by some baddies.

Joan encounters Jack (popular name for protags), who is also seeking the treasure map Joan needs to deliver to her sister’s kidnappers. Naturally, Jack is the antithesis of everything Joan dreams of in a man, but she changes her mind yada. I’m not too impressed with this storyline in my twilight years, since it mirrors reality too painfully ~ woman having to adapt to man instead of the other way around. In real life, you so often end up alone despite contorting or erasing your self to please Mr. Man, or you wish you were alone.

I mean, how many times are we going to need a snarky macho dude with lightning-quick reflexes to chop off a deadly snake’s head while we are trying to have a convo with him about something important to our heart? I’d rather have the empathetic verbally adept guy with mediocre snake-chopping skillz. Yes, I understand that it only takes the one deadly snake… so you spend your life adapting to snarky jerk just in case there’s ever a snake, and you never find anyone to fucking hear what you have to say.

Be that as it may, RTS is still a fun flick, and Danny DeVito is always hilarious.

Sorry to have digressed into a mini rant in the middle of this thrilling review series that no one cares about! 🙄😂🤪

Q is for Quite [A2Z]

Not Quite Dating by Catherine Bybee was a fun, fast read. Not gonna lie to my readers: I chose it solely for the Q factor. Needed one to fill the spot in the alphabet bloggery, and I wanted a book available on Kindle Unlimited. I wasn’t thrilled with the tame cover, which makes the novel appear to be about some prairie girl looking for Mr. Right in a country church, but when you desperately need a Q, you can’t be so picky.

First, the cover is deceptive. No idea why it was chosen since it’s all wrong for the book. The story takes place out in Ontario, CA, and features a hot Texas cowboy trying to seduce a California waitress. There is a lot of drinking and a lot of kissing and a ton of chemistry. It’s not a tame romance novel.

Second, it has a crazy, twisty plot semi-snitched from Taming of the Shrew. Jessica isn’t a shrew ~ she’s super sweet and kind ~ but she is looking for a rich man and won’t consider dating “poor” Jack when he hits on her after showing up in her diner in dusty clothes and driving a beat-up truck. He decides not to tell her who he really is, instead opting to become her friend and “help” her find her dream guy.

Third, though the HEA ending is a given, the path there is not, and the navigation is unpredictable. Side characters are clearly set up for spin-offs of their own, which is a good thing in my book.

The only issue I had with NQD (besides the cover) was that too much suspension of disbelief was required. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of disguised identity romance novels, but they do seem to work better when set in Ye Days of Olde. It’s just not reasonable that people aren’t going to google stuff. And if you have a heroine who doesn’t question outlandish gifts and obvious ridic things, she begins to seem stupid, which is no good.

But here I am, a person who is totally immersed in a show featuring dragons, complaining that some silly woman believed her crappy car burnt up at the Toyota repair shop so they’re gifting her a brand new SUV. Maybe if a dragon had been involved… 🐉 🔥😂

P is for Pickles [A2Z]

Okay, okay… the romcom is called Crossing Delancey, and it stars Amy Irving (also Peter Riegert, which is a P too, but I haven’t been putting male names in these titles because honestly don’t men get enough attention already? Geez!), but pickles are an important part of this movie.

What we have here is a snooty New Yorker, Isabelle, who thinks she is a bit too upscale for pickle seller Sam, even though he is undeniably sexy, witty, charming, and kind. He’s overtly religious, and though Isabelle is Jewish too, she’s more attracted to a narcissistic writer who she thinks is a better match. Complications ensue!

What makes this romcom different is that the heroine is flawed and needs to see the error of her ways to actually become worthy of the good guy. Most romances are the opposite, with a noble female lead and an imperfect dude who has to change to win her lurrrrve. Plus, he must go on quests and solve crimes and do other cool things, while she just needs to be pretty and breathe. Or, depending on the genre, maybe not breathe, but I digress. It’s why we call them fantasies, amirite?

In real life, everyone is flawed and it’s a miracle any two people can stand to be with each other for more than five minutes. Or maybe that’s just me, huh? Probably me. 🤣😂🤪