Review of Coveted, by Shawntelle Madison

I picked up a signed copy of Coveted, by Shawntelle Madison in a second-hand shop.

Description from Goodreads:
For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home—and the two discover that the spark between them remains intense.

Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a more immediate and dangerous problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is their first target in a turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all of her strength to save her pack and, ultimately, herself.

Review:
This was not very good. It was simply dull and inconsistent. One moment the narrator was going on about how Nat had no friends, the next her best friend was showing up on her doorstep. One moment she’s being treated like a pariah by her family, the next they’re there for her. (And visa versa, they flipped several times.) For the whole book Nat was completely spineless, super subservient and inferior to everyone, then she randomly whipped out the alpa attitude.

Then there was all the back and forwards with Thorn. The fact that he abandoned her five years earlier and basically ruined her life wasn’t ever addressed. This irritated me on two fronts. First that the loss of a man ruined her life and no one seemed to blame him for the dick move or give her time to grieve. (Instead they made her condition significantly worse by being inconsiderate and then further blamed her for the predictable results). Second he was never expected to apologize or even explain and she instantly forgave him. Worse, she’d been waiting for him for 5 years without word and didn’t seem to need to forgive him.

This forgiveness for men carried over in the whole book. Nat was thrown out of the pack and practically disowned by her family for not behaving just as they want (they called it being weak). But her brother was a womanizing ass, her father a killer, the alpha cruel, and her love was fickle and disloyal. Still, no one ever did anything by praise and support them.

I disliked the book. I can come up with a dozen reasons why, but the main one is that Nat was so weak, and whiny that I basically hated her. I thought her OCD was interesting, but that wasn’t enough to make me warm up to someone so willing to be a doormat and who shows NO GROWTH throughout the book.

Review of Death Days, by Lia Cooper

I received a copy of Lia Cooper‘s Death Days from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
By day, Professor Nicholas Littman works as an itinerant professor at a small college in the Pacific Northwest. He teaches seminars on mythology and the intersections of folklore and magic in the ancient world. By night, he’s the local necromancer, a rare magical talent that has left him alienated from other practitioners.

All Nick wants from life is to be left alone to run his magical experiments and teach kids the historical context of magic without anyone being the wiser. Unfortunately, his family is sworn to sit on the council of the Order of the Green Book—a group of magicians dating back to the Crusades—and they aren’t willing to take Nick’s no for an answer.

As though that wasn’t bad enough, a coven of Night Women has arrived in town, warning Nick that there are wolves at his door he had better take care of. But what can one necromancer do when every natural and supernatural card seems stacked against him?

Review:
I was totally confused by this book. I went in thinking it would be m/m Paranormal Romance, because that’s what I’ve read from Lia Cooper in the past and it’s a lot of what Nine Star Press publishes, but it’s not. The main character is gay and there is a character that might be a romantic partner in some future book (if one is coming), but there’s no romance here. So, do yourself a favor and go in expecting Urban Fantasy and you’ll be a lot happier with the result.

Of course there’s nothing really wrong with not being the genre I expected. That’s not a sign of poor quality. Poor marketing maybe, but not quality. But I wasn’t all together thrilled with the book in general. If anything, it felt like a 250 page prequel to a larger novel. I finished the book feeling very much like, “Well, we’ve got the background sorted. Now the story can start.”

None of the various threads wrapped up. I mean NONE. The big mystery is set up and never even addressed. Nick spends the whole book avoiding being roped into the council, but we don’t know what happens with that. There’s the set up of a maybe romance. But it’s not delved into at all. Nothing ends…just like in all those silly ‘prequel novellas’ that were popular last year. And do you remember how I feel about them?

I found the mechanical writing fine and the banter between people was good. But the story is slow and I found the narrative a bit flat. Things happen, but I never felt much invested in the outcomes. Nick seemed equally concerned that he submit end of terms grades on time as with the ‘hole in the world,’ new werewolf, and creeping vampires. And if he couldn’t hustle up any emotional reaction, neither could I.

All in all, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I’d read the next to try and see the outcome. Now, I gave this a 3-star rating on Goodreads, but if it turns out that this is meant as a stand-alone I’ll going coming back and rerating it a one star. There’s no way this is complete.

Review of Bullheaded, by Catt Ford

I bought a copy of Catt Ford‘s Bullheaded.

Description from Goodreads:
Aging bull rider Cody Grainger needs bullfighter Johnny Arrow for more than just protection in the ring. Their bond of trust goes beyond the professional and into love, but while their relationship holds up to the need for discretion imposed by their sport and repeatedly having to watch each other put themselves in the way of dangerous animals, other barriers still tear them apart.

For one thing, Cody is ten years older than Johnny. But instead of contemplating retirement, he focuses on winning the championship, desperate to stay on top. Johnny is only beginning to find the professional recognition he craves. When frustration leads Johnny to walk away, Cody’s season slumps. While they’re apart, they both slowly realize they are meant to be together. But machismo abounds in the sport of bull riding, and their pride might be an obstacle too big for love to overcome.

Review:
I was really looking forward to reading this. I went to my first real rodeo this summer and it made for the perfect backdrop for this book. For sure I could hear the announcer clear as day. However, despite that, the book wasn’t a winner for me. Starting on about page 30 I was just frustrated with it the whole time.

For one, there is just too much sex. I’m not a prude. I like a good sex scene or three. But this book just about literally has one every ten pages like clockwork. It’s a 320 page book! The sex definitely got in the way of the plot, cluttered up the narrative and just go old.

What’s more, a lot of that sex was actually when the two men were broken up. So, it’s not even meaningful sex. It’s fucking filler. Yes, the men were supposed to be learning life lessons because of it. But I didn’t need every rest-stop hookup and angry anonymous blow job to see this. What’s worse, it made Cody look like a total douche, the way he treated his partners. And trust me, Cody didn’t need to be made to look like more of an ass. He’s a large part of why I disliked the book.

Cody was arrogant, smug and cocky. Johnny left him for legitimate reasons, Cody (at 32) seemed too self-obsessed to understand why, and this never changed. Johnny, the more mature to start with showed growth, Cody did not. He just got his was as always and the author pretended it was a happy ending.

And here-in lies my bigger issue. Johnny left because Cody made everything about himself. He couldn’t separate what was good for himself from what was good for anyone else. Then, Johnny came back to Cody because Cody needed him. Making it all about Cody again and pretending there had been some growth that there hadn’t actually been. Johnny even said, “You’ve changed,” to Cody. But I saw no evidence of this. Cody never said or did anything that made me think he was any different than when the book started. Thus, I finished the book frustrated and angry.

I didn’t understand why Johnny was with Cody to start with. They had no relationship outside of explosive sex and they were supposed to have been together for two years. Two years and Cody is such an narcissist he literally never asked Johnny Arrow what his real name is, his coming out story, what his tattoo means, etc.

Then there were all the repeat conversations. I think there must have been fifteen versions of “When you retire…” “But I don’t want to retire…” “When you retire…” “But I don’t want to retire…” Then there were all the conversations about these conversations. No, I was bored with it.

All in all, this was not a fun read for me. I finished it through force of will and nostalgia from see my first rodeo in…..Cody, Wyoming.