Review of A Dance Like Flame (Of Magic & Machine #1), by Tammy Blackwell

I borrowed a copy of Tammy Blackwell’s A Dance Like Flame from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Unmarried at the age of six-and-twenty, Lady Elizabeth “Bits” Warner has become a burden to her family. Therefore, she isn’t surprised when they pack her on a train bound for Scotland and a fiancé she has never met. She’s not surprised, but she is terrified.

In Corrigan, a walled-off city that serves as refuge to those capable of using the aether to cast spells and concoct potions, Ezra Nash is devoted to healing the sick and injured. Between his work as a surgeon and caring for his sisters, he doesn’t have time for distractions.

When the train Bits is traveling on explodes, she finds herself inside the gates of Corrigan and under Ezra’s care. The two are drawn to one another, but it will take more than attraction to overcome the difference in their stations and the secrets they hide from the world.


I didn’t dislike this. I just felt like it had so much more potential than it lived up to. There were many moments I felt there must be a previous book because the story felt built on something the reader didn’t have access to. The hero’s resistance seems forced and then his sudden turn around seems out of nowhere. The villain is a caricature and his ultimate goal isn’t even revealed in this book, nor is the purpose of the event that brought the heroine to faery land in the first place. And it felt a bit like the author just brought in whatever elements she wanted willy-nilly. It felt disjointed.

Having said all that, I appreciated that the couple was a little older than normal. The blend of fantasy and aether-punk is interesting. And the diversity was welcome. I’d read more of the series. But I’m not in any hurry about it.

Review of Scorpius Rising (Scorpius Syndrome #0.5), by Rebecca Zanetti

I picked up a copy of Scorpius Rising (by Rebecca Zanetti) at Amazon, way back in 2017. I’ve held on to it because Z-authors are always a challenge to find for my yearly alphabet challenge.

Description from Goodreads:

With a deadly disease spreading like wildfire across the country, microbiologist Nora Medina needs to focus all her energy on stopping the pandemic. Playing with dynamite—in the form of her way-too-hot ex—is the last thing she should be doing. ​But forced to work with Deacan McDougall against unexpected enemies with the seconds ticking by, she knows the explosion is coming…


Honestly, I thought this was pretty bad. The plot has too many holes in it. The heroine is spineless and the hero is a neanderthal jerk. (I can handle an alpha a-hole hero in a paranormal romance, where being a werewolf or vampire or sea monster explains away the assholeness. But in a plain old human, he just feels abusive.) The sex wasn’t sexy, being of the no foreplay, “he pounded/hammered/slammed into her” sort. The science was hand-wavy. And the whole thing just felt ridiculous.

Review of Must Be Magic, by Patricia Rice

I’m on vacation, slash, visiting my mom. Which means I get to read and write my reviews in the St. Andrew Bay sea breeze. Today I finished Must Be Magic, by Patricia Rice. I borrowed an e-copy from the library before I left home.

Description from Goodreads:

An Explosive Attraction…

Lady Leila Staines has always felt like an outcast among her magically gifted sisters. Desperate to discover her own talent, she seeks out Dunstan Ives, a dark and brooding aristocrat with a scientific bent who may hold the key to unleashing Leila’s hidden powers.

Can Create A Spark That’s Pure Magic…

Dunstan has shunned the decadent society that wrongfully condemned him of murder, and he’s vowed never again to succumb to the spell of a beautiful woman. But the bewitching Lady Leila makes him a proposal no man in his position can resist.


Generally enjoyable. I appreciated the slightly older couple (a widow and widower), the unusual inclusion of an illegitimate child, and that the female character was given sexual agency throughout. I did find the mystery easy to decipher and thought Dunstam was a little too driven by his lusts (though I did like how he fully owned that he went brainless in the presence of an attractive woman).

This is book two in a series and I was able to read it easily, even without having read book one. I’ll happily read the rest of the series.