Monthly Archives: July 2015

Review of Bound With Passion, by Megan Mulry

Bound with PassionI received a copy of Bound With Passion, by Megan Mulry, from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Lady Georgiana Elizabeth Cambury has been a “wild romping girl” all her life: dressing in trousers, riding astride, and doing just fine, thank you very much. Her father’s exceedingly generous bequest—and her mother’s liberal views of the world—have ensured that Georgie will never be a slave to the barbarous institutions of marriage or motherhood. Or so she thinks.

When she returns from five years in North Africa to boring Derbyshire for a brief, obligatory family visit, she finds herself in the midst of a legal snarl involving Mr. James Rushford and Lord Trevor Mayson—neighbors, lovers, and her two closest friends. Mayson’s father has declared that he must marry or forfeit his vast inheritance, so Georgie blithely offers to walk down the aisle, in name only. Problem solved.

But try as she might, Georgie cannot ignore the passion that quickly blazes between all three of them. When her marriage of convenience turns into something much deeper, Georgie must decide if she is willing to give up the independence she has fought so hard to achieve—or if love is worth the ultimate surrender.

Blerg. I mean seriously, blerg. I mean it made me want to toss my Kindle and have a Feminist melt down, blerg. I get that some people like this sort of heroine and this sort of story but I’m not one of those people and I feel a little tricked. Because I think the first couple paragraphs of this book’s description lead the reader to expect a strong, confident, capable main character. Instead, the only sentence you should really pay attention to is that last one about surrender.

I’ll start with a few quotes. That will make this all go by more quickly.

Trevor loved talking about her that way, as if she were some object that James and Trevor were assessing, like a fine brandy they were passing back and forth between them. And she liked it too, from the look of melting lust in her eyes.

Georgie’s body reminded him of the crucible steel he’d seen in Sheffield: all strength finally burning so hot that it nearly begged to be bent and molded into something new and useful, unlike what it had always been.

“Yes, picture him doing that to me you dirty thing.”

During the night, even after they had snuffed all the candles and collapsed onto the bed for much-needed rest in complete darkness, Trevor had somehow known how to best adjust her body in ways that were more comfortable than she herself knew how to move.

So, throughout the book she’s objectified and described as enjoying rough, dehumanizing sex (because she hates anything soft, loving and emotional–in other words anything feminine). She’s not seen as useful as a human person without a man to remold her. She’s dirty for even thinking about something that the men aren’t described as dirty for actually doing and she’s so unaware of her own body and self that she can’t even get comfortable without the man to do it for her. She’s also selfish and incredibly unpleasant. Of course she is, she has the emotional development of a child after all. BLERG!

But my main issue was with the absolute contempt for womanhood in this book. It infuriated me. But I so wanted that strong heroine that the blurb set me up for that I even spent half the book making excuses for her. I thought, maybe it’s not hatred of femaleness, but a hate for the constraints on woman of the time. But no, that didn’t seem to be the case. Then I thought, maybe she is trans and actually feels herself more to be a man. But no, that proved not to be the case either. The book simply presents the reader with a woman who despises all things female and needs to be summarily punished for being a woman before she can submit, as all good women must, to having sex with a man (which of course she loves and all is right with the world.) BLERG!

Then there is the odd fact that despite being a rare relationship model in the 1800s, everywhere the characters went they met with other poly families and LGBT+ couples. It’s great and all, but there were almost no straight people in the book at all, which isn’t so much a complaint about representation as of unrealistic simplicity of the plot. There were simply too many people in non-normative relationships who were very open about them during a repressed time period. If this had occurred only within the characters’ circle I wouldn’t mention it, just assume they surrounded themselves with people they could relate to. But its everywhere they go and everyone they meet.

Then there is the Egypt scene. I don’t want to be too spoilery, but this may be. James  is introduced to a man and has a 2 minute conversation with him about fabric, and then feels comfortable asking him if he can bring his lover and his wife to his house to let the man’s two wives seduce her in order to somehow excise the stubborn willfulness from her, so that she’ll be a more appropriately pliable wife (as they all secretly watch). First, how did he know that man would be ok with that outlandish request (or his wives)? Second, what on earth made him think being seduced by two unknown women would have that effect, especially since she’d never shown an attraction to women in the past? Third, how exactly does that work? It was this kind of magical, the author says it’s so, so it is, even if it makes no sense kind of writing that made me really dislike this book in the end.

No, this was not a winner for me. In fact, despite having a wonderful m/m pairing, it still basically represents everything that makes me reluctant to read het romance in the first place. Is it really so much to ask for a heroine who doesn’t need a man to teach her how to be human? Georgie, didn’t know herself, didn’t know her emotions, didn’t know how to love, didn’t even know how to get comfortable in her own body, family or home until these men came along and taught her. In fact, she didn’t even know that she didn’t know all those things. I say again, BLERG!

Review of The Golden City, by J. Kathleen Cheney

A note before I get to this review: Most summers my in-laws come for an extended visit to play with the kiddos. That includes this year. I currently have house guests. They will be here for six weeks. As you can imagine, trips to the zoo, dinners, socializing and basically having a grand old time is cutting into my reading time. So, for the next month and a half you can expect reviews to appear less frequently and probably in spurts. It will pick up again, I promise.

The Golden CityI won a paperback copy of The Golden City, by J. Kathleen Cheney from a Goodreads giveaway.

Description from Goodreads:
For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores….

When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana survives because of her heritage, but she is forced to watch her only friend die.

Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

I’m pretty ‘meh’ about The Golden City. I liked the writing. The editing was fine. Finding it set in Portugal was a change from the regular US/UK based fiction one normally finds (though I’ve seen others comment it wasn’t accurate, I don’t know one way or another) and Selkie, Otterfolk and Seria were outside the norm magical creatures.

I even liked Oriana and Duilio. But I found them dull. Really, they seemed to exist in parallel plots that they then occasionally talked about. And they were so bound by social convention that there seemed to be no passion in them at all. And Oriana has to be the worst spy in history.

The mystery seemed shaky. Almost 50 people disappear and no one notices? I mean sure, employers might be oblivious, but did none of these people have families or friends that might report them missing? The great magic that was supposed to happen seemed questionable at best, though even the book admits that. And it all seemed to fall apart for no real reason at all. Oriana was still walking around as if no one was after her, and it didn’t seem anyone was despite claims to the contrary. Sure, Duilio dodged assassination attempts, but it’s Oriana that’s supposedto be in danger, but I never once felt that.

And I was distinctly dissatisfied with the ending. It’s not a solid HEA, which I don’t always have to have, but it felt like something had been left incomplete. In fact, what it felt very much like was an obvious tie-in for a sequel, which irks me.

All in all, I would call this OK, not great but not wholly bad either. I’d read a sequel if I came across it for free or could borrow it. But I doubt I’d spend money on it.

Review of Ascension (Tangled Axon), by Jacqueline Koyanagi

AscensionI got a copy of Acension (by Jacqueline Koyanagi) from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.

Oh man, this book disappointed me so hard. When I first heard of it, I thought, “Lesbian POC as a main character? Hell yeah.” Then someone referred to it as a lesbian Firefly and I ordered it the same day. Man, what a let down.

★Let’s start with the writing, it’s obscured, full of phrases like this: “His voice eventually tore in half, and he was quiet.” What the hell does that mean? It meanders. It repeats itself. It’s too flowery to be functional.

★Then there is the sex, which relates to the obscure writing. It was (I think purposefully) vague about what went where, such that phrases like “she slipped into her” felt very P-in-V. Surely, in that example it was meant to be a finger or some such, but lacking that information it resulted in the most hetero-feeling lesbian sex scene I’ve ever read.

★Then there is the romantic angst. My god, it drug out FOREVER because the MC would neither ask for clarification nor allow anyone to explain it to her. It was drawn out far beyond what could feel natural.

★Then there is the main character. I simply didn’t like her. She was reckless and a little TSTL. She created problems everywhere she went doing stupid things. And no one ever called her on it.

★There is almost no world building. Info bombs are dropped and never explained. For example, ships are referred to as alive but it’s never explained what that means or in what manner (and that’s far before the final reveal). There is no known political system. The science is basically hand waving.

★Outside the main character, there is no character development (and only a little for the MC). You don’t get to know anyone in any depth.

★The finale came out of left field and didn’t feel tied to the rest of the plot at all. And true, even considering the book basically just wonders around almost aimlessly in general.

★But worst of all, the book was bloody boring. There is so much internal angst and philosophical nonsense that my attention started to drift. This is the only book I have ever read that managed to make the genocidal destruction of an entire planet and research station, including people important to the characters, dull. Honestly, there was nothing.

So basically this book was a fail for me, made even more strongly so by my having such high hopes for it, going in.