My recent strategy of first befriending other writers on Twitter and then (eventually) reading their books isn’t a bad one. Penny impressed me with her humour, her thoughtfulness and simply with being a mother of two, working full time in clinical research (like me!) and still finding the time to write. Not mention that she’s one of those self-publishers, and even designs her own book covers. Which are by the way totally beautiful and professional. I have absolutely no idea how she does all this without burning out. She’s also one who understands how social media marketing works, so go, follow her on Twitter, she’s no shouty, link-spamming person at all.
The Neanderthal books were on my reading list for quite some time now, but I never got around to actually read them. So yesterday, on a whim and at midnight, I started the first one, “Neanderthal seeks Human” – and of course, I couldn’t put it down. I read until three in the morning, going to bed after the first kiss. I basically read all of Sunday, until I finished the second book “Neanderthal marries Human” at half past eleven PM. Yes, besides sleeping and reading I didn’t do much else. Penny labeled the books “smart romance” and yes, it’s not quite the usual romance. Both books are peppered with random scientific facts, which a) make you smarter and b) must have been taken a lot of time to look up, because I can’t quite believe that Penny knows all this on top of her head. But then, Janie does, so maybe Penny does too. I also like that the protagonists, Janie and Quinn, don’t fall head over heels for each other – or, rather the romance between them unfolds over several weeks, there is stuff they have to get through together – it’s actually quite an adventure. I’m a sucker for adventures. The books are also not only heartbreakingly romantic (1) but also hilariously funny (2).
The protagonists, Janie and Quinn, are no cardboard cut-outs, but feel like real people. This is important to me, but might not be for you. They both have interesting and believable character development arcs. Janie also drove me quite crazy at some points, but never so far that I disliked her. She’s quirky. That can get on your nerves. Quinn, on the other hand… he’s an alpha male done right. Meaning he’s dominant, but not a jerky, scary asshole (3). He respects Janie as a person. I don’t know if he and I would go along well, being quite the alpha myself, and I wouldn’t have tolerated a lot of the stuff he just naturally does. Like ordering food for Janie. But I can’t deny that he’s a fascinating man. We don’t learn a lot about him in the first book, which is only written from Janie’s point of view, but the second book remedies that.
Being a writer myself I often get annoyed with romance books because they are so predictable. Of course, the recipe has to be always the same (4), but that doesn’t have to mean I can make check-marks on my imaginary plot point list. Penny manages to not walk into this trap. In fact there are some twists in there I absolutely didn’t see coming. Of course there’s a black point, but I didn’t expect it to be what it was. I also love that in the second book the focus is on the development and deepening of their relationship, not an encore of pulling them apart and getting them together again. And I love it, I absolutely love it that Penny gives us the chance to see what comes after the “happily ever after” ending of book one. That even perfect book couples have to learn to get along with each other. I wish more writers would do this.
So 5 stars from me, and I urge you all to read Penny!
Neanderthal seeks Human (Amazon DE link)
Neanderthal marries Human (Amazon DE link)
(1) I cried, oh god, I cried. Especially at the end of book 2. And with that I don’t mean I had water in my eyes, no, I actually had to blow my nose because I was totally undone. So there.
(2) If I wasn’t crying, I was giggling, snorting, screaming with laughter. It’s a rollercoaster. An amazing rollercoaster.
(3) *cough* Christian Grey *cough*
(4) Get them together, get them apart, get them together again for good.