skygiants: Cha Song Joo and Lee Su Hyun from Capital Scandal in a swing pose (got that swing)
[personal profile] skygiants
I think the release of Courtney Milan's Hold Me officially marks the end of this fall's Sequel Season for me! It was also great timing because the book came out right as I was about to board an 11-hour flight from Europe to San Francisco, while plague-ridden, and having a new Courtney Milan was the only thing that made this experience tolerable.

(Well, that and the fact that my flight was practically empty so I got a whole row to myself. SUCH LUXURY.)

Anyway, Hold Me is the sequel to Trade Me, in which financially-strapped student Tina traded lives with a billionaire student Blake, resulting in romantic hijinks and -- relevantly for Hold Me -- the formation of a household consisting of Tina, Blake, and Tina's roommate Maria, the heroine of this book.

Maria is a trans Latina woman who bonded with Tina over being one of the few non-eighteen-year-olds in their undergraduate class, and who has spent the last several years writing an increasingly popular blog featuring various apocalyptic scenarios built on statistical math projections. Her current problems include:

- the fact that sharing a household with a couple who just had a whole romance novel feels a lot less comfortable than sharing a household with just her buddy Tina
- the oncoming fact of graduation and resultant need to get a sensible job as an actuary, and possibly spend less time blogging
- relatedly, an ongoing ambiguous flirtation with a long-time commenter on her blog that is taking up a lot of time and attention that she should probably be using to research sensible actuary jobs
- the fact that she keeps bumping into her brother's new bestie Jay, an asshole with a lot of unexamined assumptions about makeup/fashion/visible femininity and how those things don't go together with intelligence or scientific achievement

Physicist Jay na Thalang is, of course, both the long-time blog commenter and the romantic lead of the story, because this is an unabashed Shop Around The Corner trope with no bones about it. His problems include the unexamined sexism and a host of familiar academic woes of the 21st century (imposter syndrome, grant-writing, job instability, the dream of tenure....)

Jay also, for the record, has a tragic backstory involving suicide of a loved one and resultant family complications which didn't ... not feel real or integrated? ... but did feel like it got possibly a too-snappy resolution -- I liked both Jay and Maria's families, but I think overall Trade Me did a much better job of making me invested in the protagonist's parents/relatives and integrating them into the plot; it was one of that book's great strengths. (Tina's mom is still my favorite.) I would've liked to see more of Maria's brother and grandmother, especially. That said, I loved Maria and the loving detail poured into her nerdy math-science-apocalypse blog TREMENDOUSLY, and I like Shop Around the Corner tropes, and all the university/college/grad school stuff felt extremely well-drawn to me; overall this continues to be one of my favorite Milan series.

Date: 2016-11-04 03:13 am (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
I've just picked this up, though there's a little pile of library due dates betwixt it and me. Good to know that it's something to look forward to!

Date: 2016-11-04 07:43 am (UTC)
aella_irene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aella_irene
Honestly, I found Jay's Emotional Resolution, and how he's changed, unsatisfying, and not entirely convincing.

Date: 2016-11-05 06:07 pm (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
I really hope that she can strike a reasonable balance sometime. I love the attention to the heroines, yet the heroines are worth reasonable partners, too....

Date: 2016-11-04 08:29 am (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
and resultant need to get a sensible job as an actuary

{boggled}OMG, the heroine's an actuary?{/boggled}

Date: 2016-11-04 08:33 am (UTC)
aella_irene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aella_irene
She is. She is, and she enjoys it.

Date: 2016-11-06 06:27 am (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
Absolutely, but not normally in a romance novel!

Date: 2016-11-04 04:08 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
NGL, I picked up this book because of a twitter convo among my book fandom friends. Someone had linked to a V. ANGRY Amazon review where the person had given the book 4 stars but had been MORTALLY OFFENDED that there had been no warnings about Maria being transgender or Jay being bisexual. #THEHORROR

So I started reading it and ended up giving that angry Amazon reviewer a pointed O_o look.

TBH, I read the book more for Maria and the general nerdery than the actual romance. Like, I understood Jay's backstory and I gave him props for realizing that he wasn't as much of a feminist dude as he thought he was.

BUT his jackassery really grated my nerves. Also, I agree with you in how the family storyline wasn't as smooth as it could have been (Jay's family especially.)

Maria reminded me of Elle Woods in the fact that being ultra-femme is part of her personality as well as her armor.

If anything, I liked the book enough to go back and start Trade Me (even though I know that Tina and Blake end up HEA.) I'm halfway through that one and enjoying it just as much. :)
Edited (Had to fix my grammar.) Date: 2016-11-04 04:09 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-11-05 06:13 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Bookworm)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
I'm thinking that the person might have not read Trade Me? Who knows?

Yes, part of the reason why I didn't full-on hate Jay (the way he treaded Maria (in person) was TERRIBS!) was because he acknowledged that he needed to move past that kind of sexism (which is sneaky af.)

Trade Me was sweet...until the 75% mark when the THING happened and I was like WTF, WHERE THE HELL IS THIS SECRET!THING COMING FROM? I really liked Tina and Blake (together and separately), but never warmed up to Adam Fucking Reynolds. #UnpopularopinionsinceeveryoneLOVEDhim
Edited Date: 2016-11-05 06:15 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-11-05 06:43 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
Tina's mom and dad were FASCINATING! I loved the dynamic between Tina and Mabel too. Would legit read a whole series about them. ;__;

Date: 2016-11-04 09:48 pm (UTC)
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookblather
...trans Latina woman?

BRB buying this book.

Date: 2016-11-05 06:14 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
Yesss! Book 5 (which will be F/F toooooooo!) This series is hitting all of my buttons. :)

Date: 2016-11-05 06:16 pm (UTC)
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookblather
I AM EVEN HAPPIER

Date: 2016-11-05 06:16 pm (UTC)
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookblather
SQUEEEEEEE

I am 1000000000% down for books with queer heroes and heroines. Just. 10000000000000000% there. Even if I don't like the book, I want to support the idea.

Date: 2016-11-05 06:22 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
*butts in* If you're looking for a series with lots of queer people, may I recommend Kris Ripper's Queers of La Vista series? The first book is M/M, the second is F/F, the third is trans!dude/cis!gal, the fourth one is M/M/M, and the last one is F/F.

First three books are out. :D!

Date: 2016-11-05 06:24 pm (UTC)
bookblather: A picture of Yomiko Readman looking at books with the text "bookgasm." (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookblather
YES YOU ABSOLUTELY MAY OMG

RECOMMEND ME ALL THE QUEER ROMANCES PLEASE

Off the top of my head...

Date: 2016-11-05 06:51 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
*pulls up chair* Well!

Kris Ripper has another series called The Scientific Method that is about an M/M couple who then end up with a boyfriend. Then the bf meets a gal and begins dating her too. It's slightly more in the BDSM vibe.

Oh! and Cass Lennox is about 2 weeks away from dropping Blank Spaces (Nov. 14), the first book in her Toronto Connection series. It's an M/M romance in which one of the MCs is asexual. The 2nd book drops in January and it's about an asexual cis!gal/trans!dude. Book 3 is M/M (March 2017) and Book 4 is F/F (May 2017). IIRC, some of the protags are queer POCs.

Date: 2016-11-06 12:15 pm (UTC)
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
From: [personal profile] vass
Finished it yesterday. Agreed that the family complications felt rushed. I got the feeling with Maria's Nana in particular that having her buried in trial prep was, while serving to demonstrate how she and Maria interact, also a good way of moving her offpage because already she was already wrangling a lot of characters.

(There was a non-binary minor character! Who got hardly any characterisation beyond being nb, but didn't get a lengthy paragraph explaining how their pronouns work or what non-binary means! I'm so excited! I want THEIR book.)

Have you read Year of the Crocodile? 10K word short story in which Tina is bringing Blake home with her for Chinese New Year, and he wants her to invite his dad, but she's rightly concerned that, while fireworks are traditional, there is such a thing as Too Much Fireworks, and Hong Mei Chen and Adam Fucking Reynolds under one roof would qualify as that.

It has some really epic Hong Mei, including a scene in her bakery where she decorates a cake. And Blake and Mabel destroying everyone else at Pictionary.

It also has a Reveal about AFR, which I had already guessed from Trade Me, and then some additional stuff in the author's notes at the end, which in combination made me approximately infinitely more excited about Adam's book, and more forgiving about the fact that Hold Me was so delayed because his novel ate her brain.

I want so much more about day to day life at Cyclone. Canon or fanfic, I'm not fussy. (Why DIDN'T I ask for this for Yuletide?) Especially when Peter was alive. And more about Sai and the few other people who can stand up to Adam. And Blake and Anj as tiny white hat hackers. I've read the one about the nanny software, but I want mooore. *whines*

Date: 2016-11-07 06:26 pm (UTC)
jadelennox: due South, Ray/Ray confrontation: "It never seemed quite right to hold it all at bay" (due south: v/k jealousy)
From: [personal profile] jadelennox
I really enjoyed it, if not as much as Hold Me. One of the things I love about where Milan has been going with her protagonists is that the romantic denoument is frosting on the character development and narrative cake. In these 2 moderns, the heroine has a complete development as a character, and it's really important in both cases that she resolves that separately from--and before--the romantic relationship.

Date: 2016-11-09 08:41 pm (UTC)
izilen: Paz, from GC (Default)
From: [personal profile] izilen
You know all the reasons that Jay's backstory was entirely Too Much for me, so goodness knows I can't engage with this with anything resembling impartiality, but the one thing that DIDN'T bother me about it was the 'snappy' resolution. I mean, it was only snappy from a narrative POV (which is ofc what matters re: this being a book), since Jay and his parents struggled with this, it is implied, for many years. I don't resent and am grateful for Milan having offered familial reconciliation and love.

I do feel like this was a care of Milan trying to do way too much at once. The fact that she does this well at all is a credit to her writing and her sensitivity, but it does mean she doesn't do as much with individual characters, plot points and themes as she could.

Idk what the point of this reply is? Your post is good and I agree 99%.

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