Review of You’ve Got Tail (Peculiar Mysteries #1), by Renee George

I picked up a copy of You’ve Got Tail, by Renee George. I think I got it from an Instafreebie giveaway.

Description from Goodreads:
Sunny Haddock, an animal-loving vegetarian psychic, is stoked to leave California behind to start a new life in the Ozark town of Peculiar with her best friend Chavvah Trimmel. She ups the moving date when Chav goes missing, and Sunny high tails it to the small town. What Sunny doesn’t realize is that she’s moving into a community of were-shifters, and they don’t want a human resident. Especially one dumb enough to arrive a couple of days before the full moon—the only night of the month shifters have to take their pure animal forms.

When the gorgeous Babel Trimmel, Chav’s younger brother, (along with the sheriff, the mayor, and some other nice folk) suggests Sunny haul her U-haul and butt back out of town, she’s undeterred. Her psychic abilities might be out-of-whack, and blood makes her faint, but she’s not a quitter. Besides, she’s not about to go anywhere until she finds out what happened to Chavvah.

But Sunny has more to deal with than unfriendly townsfolk…like disturbing killer visions and the dog-like animal no one else sees that seems to be stalking her every move. To make matters worse, she is finding Babel to be more irresistible than crack on a donut.

Sunny needs to get her ability and her hormones under control if she wants to solve the mystery and save her best friend.

Review:
This review contains an oblique spoiler.

Corny but cute. All in all, I’ll call this a middle of the road read. I liked the characters but I I didn’t really feel the romance develop at all. Honestly, the writing was fine, but the plot left a lot to be desired.

The villain(s) are obvious very early on, one of them because it’s always this person in such books. I mean ALWAYS. Is there a crazy ex-girlfriend who is hostile for no apparent reason other than she’s not the heroine or in the heroine’s circle? Well, there you go. That’s you villain. ALWAYS. And as a woman that always makes me irritable. (I don’t need the constant ‘other women can’t be trusted’ lessons, thank you very much.) What’s more, very little of the book actually focused on the bad guys. So, I never really felt the tension. You literally never even meet some of them.

Anyhow, it was an ok fluff read. I didn’t dislike it but wasn’t floored by it either.

As a side note: Publisher, if you are going to draw your covers, could you please at least have your designers/artists read the description of the characters? I understand when using stock phots you can’t always find an appropriate match. But you drew Sunny and she’s clearly described in the book (several times) as having brown hair.

Review of The Scot’s Bride, by Paula Quinn

I won a copy of Paula Quinn‘s The Scot’s Bride through Goodreads. Conveniently, I was also looking to read a book by an author beginning with Q for my alphabet challenge.

Description from Goodreads:
AN IRRESISTIBLE SCOUNDREL
Highlander Patrick MacGregor likes his life just the way it is. Fighting for his coin, enjoying a woman’s charms, and bearing no responsibility at all. Aye, that’s the life for him. That is, until Patrick sees her-a raven-haired beauty with eyes as dark as midnight. Patrick swore never to fall in love. Not even with a lass as wild as he…especially when she’s from a rival clan.

AN UNDENIABLE DESIRE
Charlotte Cunningham knows Patrick is trouble the moment she sets eyes on him. Her only goal is to escape the possibility of marriage. Any marriage. But as the summer days turn into sultry nights, enticing her beyond reason, Charlie is forced to choose between the freedom she craves and the reckless rogue she can’t forget.

Review:
Note first that this book is apparently part of a large series that I’ve not read. It stood alone just fine, though I could feel some history was there that I was missing. But I don’t think it effected me too much. It seemed to mostly centre around the male MCs family’s sense or honor and therefore I should know what kind of man he really was, even as he acted a rogue.

Note also that this whole Historical Romance, Historical Highlander Romance (which seems to be its own subcategory) is new to me and one I avoided for a long time because I’d never read anything in it I liked.

Not also that I recently read The Scot Beds His Wife, by Kerrigan Byrne and didn’t hate it. I had a few quibbles. It contained some of the things I dislike about the genre, like men who kiss women even when they’re being told not to and women who then melt for them. But it also had a lot I liked. I decided I had judged the genre too harshly. So, I thought I’d give this one a try.

Note lastly that I was wrong. This book has all the things I dislike about the genre squashed into its pages. I cannot tell you how many times I made gagging noised while reading this book. I cannot tell you how incensed I was that Patrick pursued Charlie even as she adamantly told him not to. I cannot tell you how angry I was that he kissed her when she told him she didn’t want him to and how much I disliked that she then, of course, groaned for it. I cannot tell you how sick I was of reading how physically perfect both characters were. I cannot tell you how little respect I had for a woman who recognized a rogue and all his tricks and still fell for him. I cannot express how annoying the artificial and excess drama was. Why do we need bandits and people randomly trying to steel wives and dead neighbors and returning lost loves?

Outside all of that, I found a lot of the language too flowery and occasionally anachronistic, the writing painfully repetitive and the book just too long. I suspect that I was never going to like this book. If I’m going to enjoy this genre, I’ll have to find a way to tell the difference between this sort of book and ones with a bit more substance, a few less winking rapscallion heroes, and heroines that are strong and independent in ways beyond being mouthy. I tried. Now I know better.

Review of Learning to Want, by Tami Veldura

I think I picked Tami Velbura‘s Learning to Want up in a Instrafreebie giveaway. It was certainly something along those lines.

Description from Goodreads:
Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.

Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.

Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.

Review:
So, I found my experience with Learning to Want mixed at best. Picking up a book about a master/slave relationship (and not one in which characters play master or slave, but a real one in which one is actually owned by the other) is always an iffy proposition. Add to the mix that the enslaved character was a free black man, even if the enslaving character is black scaled (he’s still of the dominant, slave owning culture) is an uncomfortable echo of recent Western history. Though, if this was just the authors attempt to include some diversity I have to appreciate the effort.

There was just a lot of squink around the edges of the story. Even the Ohiri, the perfectly bland race that entered enslavement willingly and was supposed to be an example of unproblematic slavery, were raised from birth to submission. There willingness was coerced at best and they’re completely dismissed in the book. Background fodder, basically.

But my main issue is that, with the exception of transport in the beginning, which we’re told was 20+ days, but we don’t see, the whole book is about a week. In that time a free man was captured, molested, sold at auction, fondled some more (with some dubious consent), introduced to BDSM (which was really JUST SPANKING), come to NEED it, fallen in love, accepted and appreciated his ‘collar and cuffs’ (a euphemism of slavery), performed a perfect power-play sex ‘scene’ in front of hundreds, formed a soul bond and lived happily ever after (as a slave). And I was just like, “Ummmm, uh-uh. No way. We have skimmed over some major trauma here.”

Some books have a magic peen, where someone has sex one time and everything is magically perfect in the plot. This book had a magic paddle. One spanking and Khoram released all his guilt over being a drug dealing slaver in the past and accepted his lot as a sexual slave, craved it even. NO. Big fat No.

This book seemed to want to have both slaves and consent in the same people. In fact, that the slave must consent is stated more than once by characters in the book, seriously stressed even. And that just can’t work. It can’t. Veldura tried real hard, but IT DOES NOT WORK.

The writing is fine. In fact there are the occasional turns of phrase that are really beautiful. And the editing didn’t stand out as problematic. But the plot did. It is too rushed and the ‘free and consenting slave’ is an impossibility that Veldura failed to make feel anything but icky. As fluff, ok it’s fine. I could even like it. But think even the smallest amount about the plot and the whole thing collapses in on itself.