Monthly Archives: November 2019

Review of Virtues of the Vicious, by Martin Wilsey

Cover of Virtues of the Vicious

I received an Audible code for a copy of Virtues of the Vicious, by Martin Wilsey.

Description from Goodreads:

Elizabeth Cruze came to Earth for one reason: to buy weapons. She never counted on ending up in prison. Never fear, though, she’s not planning on staying there long. 

Special Investigator Neal Locke has made a career out of catching the most elusive and dangerous criminals. He’s never failed to “get his man.” 

When Cruze escapes from prison, Locke is tasked to track her down. She should be easy to find…all he’s got to do is follow the trail of bodies. 

But Locke has been an investigator for a long time. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that there’s more going on than what he’s been told… 

Review:

Much in the style of Leviathan WakesVirtues of the Viciousfollows someone going about their galactic adventure and an older, somewhat jaded investigator tracking behind them, slowly learning that there is more to his investigation than meets the eye. 

I generally enjoyed the story. I liked the characters and Wilsey’s writing style. I liked that the main characters were older and there was some diversity in the cast. However, I also three separate times tried to check Goodreads, Amazon or Google to ensure this wasn’t the second book in a series. It completely feels like it must be. Characters are mentioned that aren’t introduced until much later, the political system of the universe is left for the reader to figure out, and there is simply a distance felt that I imagined was caused by a lack of previous books. From what I could discern, this is set in the same universe as Wilsey’s other books, but not connected. 

There were a number of too convenient to be believed events that solved problems for the crew, Cruze seemed to find that crew willing to go to war with her without even trying (that could actually just be part of the previous point), and the villain was dispatched a little too easily. It was anti-climactic. 

I also thought the pacing was inconsistent and dialogue needlessly formal at times. The farther into the book I got the fewer contractions I noticed, for example. I think Shore’s narration exacerbated this though. While I think she did a good job, some of the sentences that I felt needed contractions and didn’t have them felt even more stiff in her mouth. 

All in all however, despite these complaints, I’ll be looking for more of Wilsey’s writing. I liked what I saw.

Review of Deathless & Divided (The Chicago War, #1), by Bethany-Kris

I received an Audible code for a copy of Deathless & Divided, by Bethany-Kris.

Description from Goodreads:

Lies and love. This is how a war starts.

A life for a life. That’s the mafia way. Damian Rossi owes his life to a man who is ready to collect. That payment comes in the form of an arranged marriage to the daughter of another leading family in the Chicago Outfit. He’s ready to follow through, even if that means making sure Lily knows she’s his.

Lily DeLuca isn’t being given a choice. Forced home to marry a man she doesn’t know and back into a life she’d rather forget, her world is full of half-truths, buried pain, and uncertainty. But Damian is nothing like she expects. His motives aren’t clear. Her beliefs are being tested.

When it comes to this world, no man can be trusted. Someone is ready to flip the Chicago Outfit on its side all for the promise of something better. But no one runs a clean game and these men play for keeps. When blood begins to paint Chicago red, four families will be divided by loyalty, hatred, and revenge. There is no hiding. There is no safety.

No one is deathless.

No one.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, not what I expected going in, but not bad. I liked that Lily wasn’t a push-over and Damian was too charming for words. I really liked all the behind the scenes manipulation happening between the bosses, though I guessed who was behind it all from the beginning. The writing flows and Scarlato, the narrator, did a good job. 

I did think Lily got over her resistance too quickly and then the two of them were instantly in love and willing to go to any lengths for one another. It was a little too much too quickly. But again, not bad. 

I just had one big complaint (that has multiple facets). While it may be goshe to talk about sex, I’m going to…in some detail. My first big complaint came with the first sex scene. The whole premise of the book is that Lily has been called home to Chicago and her mafia family to be married off. She’s angry about this, feels like chattel, struggles against the whole idea. Damian—her intended—tries hard to convince her this isn’t the case. So, when in the very first sex scene he starts all the “tell me who this belongs to” (when talking about her pussy), “you’re mine,” “say you’re mine,” “you belong to me,” etc it smacked as seriously out of place. It should have undone all his work to convince her she wasn’t a piece of property. It did not fit any of the previous set up of the plot. 

Second, I kind of wonder if Bethany-Kris doesn’t usually write MM romance, instead of M/F, because Lilly is the soppiest woman I’ve ever heard of during sex. There were so many references to things like HER cum leaking down her legs. I mean, that she’s wet is great, and maybe she’s a squirter (but none of that is mentioned) just lots and lots of HER cum. Merriam Weber reminds me that cum can be used as a noun to mean orgasm, but that’s not really how I sensed it being used here. It read like the fluids coming during orgasm, which Merriam Weber also dictates as specifically semen. So, all this cum felt off when referring to a CIS female character. I don’t think we had a single reference to Damian’s semen though. 

Lastly—and again this leads me to wonder if Bethany-Kris isn’t more comfortable with MM—the anal sex. I have no problem with this being included. Heck, change it up on occasion. Great. But the way it was build up as being something special and momentous irritated me. The way her giving him her ass is somehow more meaningful than any of the previous sex, like it’s a culminating act, felt contrived and pointlessly titillating. Plus, I knew with 100% certainty that was going to happen as soon as he mentioned it in the first sex scene. So, it was disappointedly predictable, not taboo and exciting in any fashion. 

All in all, as much as I like a good erotic book, the sex in this one often rubbed me the wrong way (pun intended). But I generally enjoyed the book.

Review of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower

I received a free audio copy of Charming Her Rogue, by Dawn Brower.

Description from Goodreads:

Lady Catherine Langdon is special, and not because she’s the daughter of a duke. She comes from a long line of individuals born with extraordinary gifts, and she is one of the few that has a variation of all three. On the brink of war she makes a decision that will irrevocably alter the course of her life—love or duty.

Asher Rossington, the Marquess of Seabrook, decided at a very early age that he would not live an idle life. His father forbade him from being a spy for the crown, but he chose to ignore it. Ash never regretted his choice, but wished he could have repaired his relationship with his father before he died. Now with the fate of the world in turmoil he has to make another hard decision—remain a spy for king and country, or go home and honor his father’s title.

The Great War brings Catherine and Asher into each other’s lives. Only time will tell if their destiny is to be together, or if they will ultimately serve a higher purpose.

Review:

Both the title and the book description are inaccurate.Wildly so. I kind of even question it’s classification as a romance. At least in the sense that the romance genre is one in which a a love story is central, where the “main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work.” That’s present yes, but it’s barely central.

I’m not actually claiming this isn’t a romance, just that it doesn’t feel as if the romance is central to the plot. The characters fall in love within a chapter of meeting and the whole rest of the book is the war. They pass each other on occasion and tell each other how much they love each other. But the love is established early and there is NO TENSION OR CHALLENGE TO IT. Only the inconveniences of war. And honestly Asher seems to have free movement around France. So, it hardly even feels like that much of an impediment. 

Even the hard decision referred to doesn’t exist. The two are firm in their non-decision to stay in France (as in they never even discuss anything else) until a singular event makes them both decide to return to England. (And that isn’t honoring Asher’s father’s title. That is never a consideration in the narrative.) Since they both have the freedom and funds to make leaving happen in a day there is no difficulty in it.

Also, it’s war and they can leave in a day. That tells you how much tension the war is really creating in the narrative. Not much.

Then there are Catherine’s abilities. They are mentioned. But if you took them out of the book the plot wouldn’t change at all. The single vision she tries to act on doesn’t come to pass and the one that you’d expect her to act on (based on past behavior) she doesn’t. The ‘gifts’ are a pointless plot device. 

And as to the title? Asher is in no way a rogue. There is nothing even remotely roguish about him. In the last chapter he thinks to himself that he had been a rogue before meeting Catherine. But that’s it. He’s kind and gentle and loyal and respectful throughout the book, and there is no reference to him chasing other women in the past. HE’S NOT A ROGUE at all. 

The writing here is perfectly competent, as is the narration. But I felt like the book was just a random series of events with very little tying it all together. Even characters appear and disappear with no point. Why did we meet James, have him disappear and be replaced with Julian? Plus, (as I said above) the description totally is inaccurate. This wasn’t a total flop for me, but I didn’t finish it particularly thrilled.