Friday, August 10, 2018

Tame the Kitten by Bianca Mori

💙 I read this for the Unapologetic Romance Readers' New Years 2018 Reading Challenge, for the category of: Motorcycle/MC Romance. For more info on this challenge, click here. 💙

Ladies and gentlemen (and other dignified personages who may not identify as either), today is a monumental day in history. Today is the day that I found a motorcycle romance that I actually loved.

I know. I didn't think it was possible either.

Motorcycle/MC club romances are my least favorite genre of romance. All the ones I've read have been awful Sons of Anarchy knockoffs, with total cavemen heroes who swear a lot and treat women like garbage. I know that does it for some people, but I hate the unintelligent brutish alpha male stereotype, and avoid reading them whenever possible because it never ends well.

However, my romance group - the Unapologetic Romance Readers - has a yearly challenge that encourages people to read romances that they might not typically enjoy or, indeed, even go out of their way to avoid, which is how come every year I end up reading things like Amish romances (although we retired that category this year), rock star romances (another disliked trope of mine), and yes, of course, motorcycle romances.

One thing I do like, however, are diverse romances. And while this is not a genre, it is a type of romance that often does not get the publicity or attention it deserves. Lately, I've gotten into #romanceclass romances, which are romance novels written and published by a group of Filipino women, and headed by Mina V. Esguerra. This month of August they are having this event where a number of their works are discounted or free each day, to encourage people to keep checking back to see which ones are the daily specials.

I bought TAME THE KITTEN after several days of deliberation. Even though it was a motorcycle romance, the premise sounded really great. The heroine, Kit Torres, is not Filipina (the first of these #romanceclass novellas I've read to not have a Filipina heroine); she is a Puerto Rican woman living in New York. She works as an HR manager for an investment firm, and enjoys sticking it to the mostly-male offenders (although she would not phrase it as such).

One day, her male boss comes to her and tells her that he has a rich and famous potential client who's acting highly reluctant about signing with them. He wants her to babysit the client and take him around New York to show him a good time. To cinch his Creepmaster status, he even leverages the promotion she's angling for, and makes it contingent on the would-be-client's membership.

Kit reluctantly agrees - and then is immediately outraged when she finds out that the client, professional motorcycle racer Fabrizio Magnani, is the same reckless driver who nearly hit her as she was getting out of her taxi as she was going to work. Initially, she dislikes him, but she also finds him very attractive. Something Fab capitalizes on when he tells her that he'll only agree to each stage of the membership process if she goes out on a date with him following each "step."

Friends, this is such a good book. It sounds cheesy, like so many other romances of convenience of this type, but manages to be better and deeper (heh) than any of them. First, there's some pretty hot fem-dom action in here, which I wasn't expecting but was totally welcome, because romance needs more sex scenes about woman taking charge. And take charge Kit does (and it's hot). Second, the characters actually have some really great discussions with one another which is the source of their gradual connection, and it's actually meaningful. Their dates are also great - at one point, they go to an authentic New York ramen shop, and at another they go to a vintage punk clothing store and pick out clothes for each other to try on. Third, this book has some great conversations about what it means to be a professional woman - especially a professional woman of color - without being heavy-handed. Kit has a conversation with her coworker, Tamara, that's very moving and accurate.

Who knew that the answers to all my frustrations with the romance genre lay across the ocean? I'm not kidding, all of these #romanceclass romances are gold, and I've read about ten of them so far, and they've just been subverting one trope after another, and featuring leads of color. I am shooketh.

Get on this romance train, you guys. #FilipinoRomances are the future.

4 out of 5 stars

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