jgreeley asked: WHERE'D YOU GO DAMMIT. YOU'RE SO FRICKIN' FUNNY - WTH. YOU CAN'T JUST ABANDON YOUR TUMBLR LIKE THAT.
I’m flattered! Thank you! Unfortunately there are two things competing for real estate in my brain right now:
-work (I got a new job last year and it’s way harder, but in a good way. I might even get a sweet promotion!)
-I’m seriously pregnant and while obviously that has not taken over my whole life I still have to do SOMETHING to get ready for a tiny needy human and while I am definitely still reading (rn it’s Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series), I am zooooonked and reading at like 1/10 of my regular speed. Someday I will return, but I can make no promises at the moment.
Meanwhile, feel free to peruse the archives, submit your own reviews, or … I don’t know, do something else. I’m not your mom.
Thanks for reading!
Once Burned: a Night Prince Novel, by Jeaniene Frost
I will forgive the wonky Photoshop on that cover because guess what! That guy actually looks like the main character is described! Awesome, right?
Also awesome: that guy that you’re looking at up there? He’s Vlad Tepesh. Aka Vlad the Impaler. AKA DRACULA. THAT GUY IS DRACULA!!!!! Depending on how much you like Dracula stories or how many times you’ve read The Historian even though it’s not that great or how much you dig Gary Oldman swanning around as the Foxy Prince Vlad with the Blue Glasses (among other Draculas) in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you will be either fucking psyched about this book or you will immediately know that this is not the book for you.
Targeted advertising works, because as soon as this book was released I saw ads for it on just about every website I visited, and it only took three or four views before I caved and bought this book. I was fucking psyched.
Jeaniene Frost is a great paranormal romance writer, and I was delighted to see that this new series will also be a part of her Night Huntress universe. I was also pleased that the heroine, Leila, was an ass-kicking take-no-shit supergirl, in the same vein as our beloved Cat. The hero, Vlad, has shown up a few times in the Night Huntress series, and has always been a delightful side character and he is an EXCELLENT romantic lead. But like I said, either the Dracula bit works for you or it doesn’t.
Leila has a spooky power over electricity and also some psychic abilities, which brings her to Vlad, and together they have to solve a mystery and find a guy who wants to kill Vlad, which doesn’t really narrow it down too much when about 50% of the vampire world wants to off him for one reason or another. Most of the book takes place in VLAD’S CASTLE, and if you’re like me, you’re freaking out a bit because OHMYGOD CASTLES, HOW COOL. The romance is fierce and exciting from the minute Vlad and Leila meet, and even though it shares some of the imbalances that the Cat/Bones relationship did, it works decently well. Most of the time. At least 60% of the time.
One complaint: this is obviously the first book in the series, and it feels like Frost cut it off in the middle of the story. I KNOOWWWWW that that’s the point of a series, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Like many of the Night Huntress books, this does not feel like a complete story. The ending felt very, very rushed to me, and while I’ll pick up the next book in the series, this one went out with a fizzle rather than a Dracula-sized clap of thunder or rushing mist or chase to beat the sunrise.
Recommended for: come on. For Dracula fans. For Jeaniene Frost fans. For people who don’t like their vampires to sparkle.
Scandal Wears Satin, by Loretta Chase
A NEW CHASE! A NEW CHASE! SING PRAISE TO THE HEAVENS, THERE IS A NEW CHASE!
Not only that, it is a continuation of her fabulously fabulous dressmaker series, which began last year with Silk is for Seduction. Are you ready for dress porn? Are you ready to read about sleeve puffs and chemises and luxurious materials and colors and the mechanics of dressmaking? ME TOO.
Well, okay, one thing I should tell you is that since this book doesn’t star Marcelline, the design queen of London’s most faaaabulous dress shop, Maison Noirot, we’re not going to get as much dress porn. Yeah, I’m sad too. And there’s a cute kid, but he’s not as great as Marcelline’s daughter, and not as prominently featured. So there’s all of that!
But, if we’re going to talk about old Chases, it must be said that Harry, the Earl of Longmore, definitely resembles everybody’s all-time favorite brawler, RUPERT CARSINGTON. I know, I was delighted.
However, in the midst of being delighted, I was a bit less-than-delighted to realize that much of the plot and many of the characters seemed a bit - and it pains me to say this about La Chase - recycled. I’m sorry. I have to be honest.
Sophy Noirot is the scheming sister of the Noirot trio, and if you read and enjoyed Last Night’s Scandal, you might find echoes of Olivia Wingate-Carsington. Sophy and Olivia are distantly related, as a matter of fact, but that’s not quite a great reason to have so many similarities between the two. Like Olivia, Sophy is a skilled deceiver and an unparalleled trickster, and she’s always Up to No Good.
So of course Sophy Noirot and the rakish Earl of Longmore (I have to admit the schemer-brawler pairing was a new one for me) have to get together to save one thing or another and help the Earl’s sister, the recently-spurned Clara, ditch her grody fiancee and save the shop and whatever else needs saving in this particular novel.
To repeat a tired simile (and repetition seems to be the theme of this review), Loretta Chase is a lot like pizza - even when she’s not great, she’s still pretty damn good. This is not her best work. It’s not as good as Silk is for Seduction. But it’s fun! There’s enough wonderful dress descriptions to keep you from side-eyeing too hard. It’s not exactly a sturdy, filling romance, but it’s a perfect beach read (or at least it’s what a hastily-researched magazine blurb would call “a perfect beach read”). Worth it, but it’s because Loretta Chase always is.
A Week to be Wicked, by Tessa Dare
YOU WERE RIGHT, I WAS WRONG. This was a lovely book A wonderful book. Funny and charming and a total blast to read. All I had to do was get past the first quarter of the book.
You see, it starts off being like EVERY OTHER ROMANCE NOVEL EVER, in which Minerva (Greek name, take a drink!), the bookish bespectacled spinster (another drink!) comes up with a preposterous plan to pretend to elope with the rakish and womanizing (take a sip) Lord Payne (PAYNE? finish your drink) so that her sister won’t be ruined and also so she can attend a … geology conference.
Yeah, I know. Like I said, I really had a hard time getting through the first quarter of the book, where Minerva was all bookish and practical and having convenient little asides with Lord Payne (UGH THE NAME), but once they hit the road it became an excellent romance novel buddy comedy adventure story.
The thing that made this book special is, to me, the very natural and sly humor in the interchanges between Min and Lord Pay—let’s just call him Colin. Minerva is an academic spinster, but she manages to loosen up enough to trade barbs with Colin, and it’s never in a “oh look how clever I am” kind of way. The dialogue between them is organically funny and sweet.
Long journeys up to Scotland are pretty common in romance novels - you have to get the hero and heroine together in a confined room SOMEHOW, and it’s easier to be bad in the midst of strangers - and I personally think it’s difficult to pull off this plot device without the story becoming overly episodic or repetitive. To be fair, it is true that Minerva and Colin find themselves running in and out of various wild scenarios, characters we meet on one leg of the journey show up later to be a punchline, etc. With a weaker writer, it wouldn’t work, but it was seamlessly comedic and entertaining to me. Min and Colin’s relationship develops naturally (I keep going back to planty adjectives, sorry) and believably.
A Week to Be Wicked was an unexpected treat for me, and totally deserving of the lavish praise that has been heaped upon it. Strongly recommended!
Note: it’s been hard for me to consistently review the books I’ve been reading lately, but I have finally caught up with every other book enthusiast in the world and joined Goodreads. I’ll keep it updated with everything I’m reading currently. I’ll keep reviewing books here, of course, but reviews might be a little slower.
Dark Prince by Christine Feehan (audio version)
WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BOOK AND WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE IT?
I mean, hello. It’s been a while. In the time since I last posted, I’ve been busy, but still reading. Middlesex was fantastic, as you could have predicted. I finally got into A Week to be Wicked, and I’m sorry about those mean things I said before - it is turning out to be a completely wonderful book and I adore it.
I also started a new job with an hour-each-way driving commute. So. I strolled down to my local library (I literally live close enough to stroll down there, isn’t that great) and demanded the longest, trashiest-looking audiobook they had. Behold, DARK PRINCE, the author’s cut, in 16 (!!!) CD’s.
On the way home today, I was listening to CD 11. And girl, I am fucking DONE. Done done done done done with this whole ridiculous book and this series and this author and I am just going to up and quit. SBTB has a pretty good takedown of why these books can get repetitive and annoying, but I have one question: WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP CALLING THEM ADDICTIVE AND READ 18954879 BOOKS BEFORE QUITTING? You don’t have to do this to yourselves! There’s good paranormal romance series out there! Read those instead!
Here’s the plot. I will describe it briefly, you can just pretend I spent 1200 pages telling you about it because this shit is LONG:
Raven Whitney is a psychic girl who helps detectives find serial killers (in an unofficial capacity - this part is not really explained well. Do they know she’s psychic? Why do they know to come to her in the first place? It’s just as well this plot device is abandoned halfway through, because you never get any juicy procedural information). She just finished tracking a particularly nasty killer and is in the Carpathian mountains to recuperate.
Yes, her relaxing dream vacation is apparently in the Carpathian mountains. Forget Bali or Tahiti or St. Lucia, Raven Whitney wants complete and total isolation, which means that she’ll fork over her hard-earned money (Do they even pay her to catch serial killers? This is of course never mentioned.) and head straight into the middle of vampire country. Except she has no interest in vampire myths. I really can’t commend her enough on her vacation choice here.
Anyways, she meets Mikhail, who is a big sexy Dark Prince and he sees her and knows she is his “lifemate” and he begins to feel emotions and see in color again. I’m not kidding, that actually happens.
Mikhail and Raven hook it up, despite Raven having 100 existential crises, Mikhail using his magical vampire* juju to send her to sleep 100 times, and Mikhail using his magical vampire dick to sex her up a lot more times. You guys, I actually got BORED with the constant sex. I don’t even know myself anymore.
*technically, Mikhail is not actually a vampire, but if it looks like a vampire and drinks blood like a vampire and is overprotective and broody and exchanges blood during sex like a vampire in a paranormal romance novel, it’s a vampire.
Raven is a total Bellaand even though she nominally opposes Mikhail and stands up for herself, she is weak and boring. She also has long legs despite being impossible small, and of course she has “full breasts” and a tiny waist. Those things are described a lot. Her family, her interests besides vacationing in the Carpathians and sexing vampires, her preferences, and her history are not described at all. At all. Her past is dismissed with “She had no real family back in the States” so … she might as well just hang out with a vampire prince?
It could just be that the audiobook made the repetitiveness of the book more evident, or perhaps I didn’t really like the reader (I didn’t), but today something in me snapped and I decided that if I heard “But Raven … you are my lifemate” one more time I was going to run my car off the road.
Read it if Twilight wasn’t sexy enough, or if Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series wasn’t boring enough.
The Demon’s Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow
GOOD LORD is that an awful cover.
I got this book because I still don’t want to read A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare. Sorry.
Most of you will only have to take a look at the title to see why this book instantly appealed to me. And many of you will be delighted to hear that the main character, Chess, is really a librarian. She has an advanced degree and everything! Whether or not the lead guy, Ryan (or Orion, in case you thought you’d escaped from Paranormal Nameville) is ACTUALLY a demon is up for debate. He is half demon, or DRAKUL. If you’ve seen Bram Stoker’s Dracula 187 times like I have, this name will be familiar. If not, don’t worry. Lilith Saintcrow (don’t you LOVE that name?) packs a lot of exposition into this book.
Unfortunately, said exposition is not exactly seamless. This is one of the few (only?) paranormal romances I’ve read recently that’s not part of a series, and Lilith Saintcrow (I’m just going to type that as many times as possible) has pretty lofty ambitions for a standalone book. There is an Order (there’s always an Order), and different kinds and classes of demons, and people called Maliks who are humans, and Maliks are protected by Drakul. Chess does not QUITE fit into the scheme of things. She discovered a ~*~SECRET LABORATORY~*~ in her library and is doing her best as an amateur demon hunter on her own.
Can you believe how many parenthesis are in this review? I predict more.
I don’t have all that much to say about this book. My two main complaints are that the exposition is a bit clunky, and also this is a romance that’s pretty lacking on the romance. They kiss. That’s it. You will probably find yourself saying “That’s IT?” I’ve read YA books that are more explicit.
All in all, this was not a bad use of my epic train commute, and it’s pretty good if you like books and wish Buffy had read more. I’d be willing to check out more Lilith Saintcrow on the basis of her name alone, but she seems like a decent writer and I’ll keep an eye out for more.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Oh this is such a lovely book in so many ways. To start, there’s this cover with the attractive keys on it. There’s also an appendix filled with wonderful illustrations and a list of characters by the castle librarian, who basically the best character ever. There’s love, there’s mystery, there’s intrigue, and there’s a big fucking castle where it all takes place.
Kristin Cashore’s first book, Graceling, is one of my favorite YA novels EVER, and it introduced the character of Bitterblue, who at nine years old becomes the queen of her country (Monsea) when SPOILER ALERT: her insane sadistic father is killed.
Bitterblue follows the now-18-year-old queen through the challenges of trying to be a good monarch to a broken (and barely healing) country, in the midst of lies and deception and mysteries and a past that never really goes away. At night, Bitterblue escapes the drudgery of day-to-day queening (and really, there is a LOT of paperwork involved) by sneaking out and seeing the streets of her city. She meets a boy with purple eyes. He’s pretty awesome.
This is a stand-alone novel, but I think it is best enjoyed if you read Graceling first, because Po and Katsa are back in a MAJOR way, and you won’t feel the ~*~*~ if you don’t already know them. That said, as much as I loved Graceling, I think Bitterblue is a better book. Bitterblue is far more complex, the writing is stronger (in my opinion - I prefer the florid descriptions of castle life and art to the very sparse and simple style of Graceling, but your mileage may vary). It’s also a pretty long book, which I really appreciated - I waited for over a year to read this book, and I was glad to be able to spend a long time in Bitterblue’s castle, and to visit a lot of new and old characters.
This book deals a lot with truths and secrets. Cyphers, codes, and keys are all integral to the story. These are all plusses for me, since there’s nothing I love more than a good mystery, particularly if I get to hear the full story in the end. I would be the tuning in every Friday night to watch a Robert Stack in a show called Solved Mysteries. Don’t get me wrong - not everything in this book wraps up neatly or is perfectly resolved, but the big questions are answered.
Recommended for any and all fans of YA, fantasy, strong female characters, good books.
The Pleasures Trilogy is not Eloisa James at her best. While they have a certain amount of charm, all three books suffer from that most dreaded of romance tropes: a misunderstanding between the couple that comes about because they are too dumb to talk to each other.
Also, these covers. Good Lord.
So, Potent Pleasures features Charlotte Daicheston. A friend convinces her to sneak out and go to a reputation ruining lower class dance, in disguise of course. Charlotte meets a masked stranger and proceeds to be so overcome by pleasure that she has sex with him. It ends abruptly when he realizes she’s a virgin. Her debaucher is Alex Foakes, the oldest of twins and an earl of some such. He and his brother, Patrick, are a bit wild, so they are sent abroad. Alex to the Continent; Patrick to India. Of course, Alex and Charlotte come thisclose to meeting in society before he leaves.
Years pass, Charlotte is now friends with Sophie York. She spends her days painting and her nights reluctantly attending balls. Then she gets Eloisa’s favorite Regency make over: empire waist dresses and short hair. And wouldn’t you know, Alex is back from his travels. Needless to say, Charlotte and Alex reconnect, sparks fly, and there is pleasure aplenty. Charlotte realizes Alex was the masked stranger, but he assumes that she has gotten him mixed up with Patrick. Charlotte does not do much to contradict his belief. Alex behaves like a complete ass, which does not stop him from sexing up Charlotte six ways from Sunday. They have a couple rough patches that could easily be resolved if they would just fracking communicate! Ultimately, it takes Patrick smacking Alex upside the head and Charlotte’s near death to right things.
Patrick and Sophie take center stage in Midnight Pleasures. Sophie makes the most of being single, collecting a slew of admirers. Thanks to her parents’ disastrous marriage, she determines to marry the dullest peer available. She is smart as a whip and has a knack for languages, which her awful mother tells her to conceal from the world. For his part, Patrick kissed her once and hasn’t stopped thinking of her since. He spent his time abroad working for the foreign office and is roped into a sensitive mission back at home.
Eloisa teases us and makes it seem like they are going to have a grand adventure in Turkey. Sadly, that is not to be. Patrick steals Sophie from her dull fiance and thanks to her mother’s bad advice they have nothing but misunderstanding after misunderstanding. Which of course means minimal sexy times. Boo. Again, open communication would have helped.
I couldn’t really get into this one, but even so, I found myself genuinely moved and teary eyed when tragedy befalls Patrick and Sophie. They work things out and are closer for it. There is also a sweet B plot with Sophie’s jilted fiance.
Book three brings a secondary character to the fore. Quill Dewland was injured in a riding accident. Although recovered, he is unable to ride horses or ladies without getting the worst migraine ever. So, his father arranges for his younger brother, Peter, to marry the daughter of a man that has leant him money over the years. Quill is immediately taken with clumsy plumb Gabby. Peter not so much. Gabby grew up in India with her eccentric father and is lacking in many of the refinements expected of English ladies.
Obviously, Quill swoops in and marries Gabby with the expected result: one awesome night followed by three days of hell. Quill refuses to talk about the issue resulting in a ~misunderstanding~ a-freaking-gain. Somehow, Gabby and Quill get roped into some foreign office affair having to do with a missing Indian prince to pass the time since they aren’t constantly pleasuring each other. Gabby finds the time to summon a doctor she knew in India to help her with Quill’s issue. She must resort to subterfuge to help him and nearly ends up dead for her trouble. Quill finally learns to communicate and all is well.
I like Eloisa James enough to give these books a 3 out of 5. They are fun and light for the most part with a few touching moments. They also drive home how important it is to talk to your partner. Plus, the pleasure parts are quite…hot.
Thank you, lobstie!
That, dear friends, is the steampunk vampire hero who manages a traveling circus in a fantasy world.
He is the hero of this paranormal romance novel.
His name is Criminy Stain.
On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
You guys probably know that I think Julia Quinn is totally overrated. If you didn’t know that, then I have a newsflash: I think that Julia Quinn is totally overrated. Or at least I DID. My change of heart came about after my friend Ali badgered me to read this book, which I did. Then I had several glasses of wine to drown out the horrid baby epilogue. Then I came here. You see, I reserve my best self for you guys.
Hold on, I’m going to get some ice cream.
I got some.
Okay, so the guy in this picture is Gregory Bridgerton. There are a whole lot of Bridgertons, and they go in alphabetical order from Anthony, the oldest, down to Hyacinth, the youngest, and this is the very last book. Since it is the last book, there are a lot of appearances from all the other siblings (although I can’t remember anything about Eustace or Freud or whoever E and F are). But the one we care about is Gregory. Got it?
The lady is Lady Lucinda Abernathy, and her best friend is the epically hot Hermione
Granger Watson. Hermione gets all the dudes. INCLUDING our own Mr. Bridgerton. What a twist, right?
Lucy decides to help Gregory flirt, since she is already “practically engaged” and you know what I am totally bored with plot summary, let’s move on.
So my problem with Julia Quinn before was that her romances (okay, let’s be real, I only read one) were totally standard, you know? They (it) weren’t really that funny. I was not impressed. HOWEVER: this book had all the wit and charm I had been expecting. I quite enjoyed it! And, at the end (and this is totally rare): I DID NOT KNOW HOW IT WAS GOING TO RESOLVE ITSELF. It was not immediately obvious! So I quite enjoyed that.
WARNING: This a book that is more sweet than sexy. There’s totally sex, but not a lot of it.
Side Note: DO ANY OF YOU READ TESSA DARE? I tried to read A Week to be Wicked but I got through literally three pages before I put the book down in disgust. I will try again but I promise nothing.
I also reread this but have not reviewed it, yet: Sloppy Firsts
Next up: MOTHERFUCKING BITTERBLUE IS OUT TOMORROW, Y’ALL!!!!
Apology: sorry, I wrote this under the influence and it’s totally half-assed.