Tag Archives: #DiverseRomanceBingo

Review of Certain Dark Things, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I borrowed Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s Certain Dark Things from the library.

Description from Goodreads:
Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…

Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.

Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.

Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.

And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.

Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?

Review:
I’m going to be honest. I picked this book up at the library based on the cover alone. It is gorgeous and caught my eye. The word vampire was there took and that’s all she wrote. I too this sucker home.

This is a technique for picking out books that has often led me astray, but in this case it worked out just fine. I quite enjoyed Certain Dark Things. I mean, Mexican vampires, or more accurately vampires in Mexico City! The main character is from an ancient Aztec clan, but there are African, Canadian, European, Russian, Chinese and vampires from other places too. Ain’t immigration grand? Not all of them represented in the book, but there are at least 10 subspecies of vampires.

One of the main character is a bisexual Latinx vampire, and the other is about the cutest 17yo boy you’ll ever meet. Honestly, with his tendency to be uncertain in social settings and open, naiveté despite living on the streets, I wondered if he wasn’t meant to be on the autism spectrum somewhere. But I think that might just be me, nothing in the book other than how I interpreted his behavior suggests this. Either way, I adored Domingo. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Atl, but Domingo stole the show for me.

I wouldn’t call this a romance, though I think it has romantic elements and a HEA of a sort. But I like it better for how it ended.

The writing is lovely and I really liked the voice a lot. My biggest complaint is that it is cliche to have a villain obsess over hunting a woman down to rape and torture because his advances were rejected. Yes, there’s more to it than that, but that’s a lot of what it boils down to and that’s just motivation that’s been used and used and used and used.

All in all, Moreno-Garcia is on my radar now and I’ll be checking out more of her work.

Review of Some Kind of Magic & A Boy and his Dragon, by R. Cooper

I borrowed a copy of Some Kind of Magic through Amazon and bought A Boy and his Dragon from Dreamspinner. Both are by R. Cooper and part of the Beings in Love series.

Description from Goodreads:
Being a police detective is hard. Add the complication of being a werewolf subject to human prejudice, and you might say Ray Branigan has his work cut out for him. He’s hot on the trail of a killer when he realizes he needs help.

Enter Cal Parker, the beautiful half-fairy Ray’s secretly been in love with for years—secretly, because while werewolves mate for life, fairies…don’t. Ray needs Cal’s expertise, but it isn’t easy to concentrate with his mate walking around half-naked trying to publicly seduce him. By the time Ray identifies the killer—and sorts out a few prejudices of his own—it may be too late for Cal.

Review:
A sweet little story of a werewolf and his mate, a human-fairy hybrid. I quite enjoyed it. I thought Ray’s frustration and Cal’s flirting were a hoot. However, the situation is supposed to have gone on for two years! Considering the events of this book are a matter of days and I was already getting tired of it, two years would be intolerable. Because mostly it all comes down to two people not saying the things that need to be said and that’s a plot device that doesn’t work well for me.

There is no on-page sex, but all the longing kind of made up for it. And I quite like the idea of Beings, with shifters, pixies, fairies, etc being out in society. Plus, each having species’ characteristics and tht they have to contend with legends that aren’t always true. Again, a sweet story that kept me interested enough to want to read the next one.


Description from Goodreads:
Arthur MacArthur needs a job, and not just for the money. Before he dropped out of school to support his younger sister, he loved being a research assistant at the university. But working for a dragon, one of the rarest and least understood magical beings, has unforeseen complications. While Arthur may be the only applicant who isn’t afraid of Philbert Jones in his dragon form, the instant attraction he feels for his new employer is beyond disconcerting.

Bertie is a brilliant historian, but he can’t find his own notes without help—his house is a hoard of books and antiques, hence the need for an assistant. Setting the mess to rights is a dream come true for Arthur, who once aspired to be an archivist. But making sense of Bertie’s interest in him is another matter. After all, dragons collect treasure, and Arthur is anything but extraordinary.

Review:
It was cute. I’ll give it that and I did enjoy it as a cute, fluffy read. But exactly like book one, it’s a book who’s plot 100% depends on two men not saying what needs to be said. In fact, it pretty much is the plot. The dragon won’t tell the human what he wants, despite hinting at it, and the human won’t believe the hints or admit to his own desires. Thus, they pine for each other for 240 pages. Again, it was cute and well written, but that wasn’t really enough for me. Plus, I thought the ‘tragic sister’ (who’s life didn’t really seem so horrible that her brother had to sacrifice so much for her, she certainly seemed capable enough) was a pointless and over-used plot device. I’d read more of the series though.

Review of True Colors, by Anyta Sunday

I received a copy of True Colors, by Anyta Sunday from Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:
Oskar used to be Marco’s best friend. His everything. His sunshine yellow.

But that was before. Before Marco stopped being a hot jock. Before he learned to live with scars and pain. And before Oskar tore their friendship apart.

Now the boy next door has returned home, determined to rekindle his friendship with Marco, and Marco’s more afraid than ever. Afraid of getting hurt. Afraid of being humiliated.

Afraid of falling in love. 

Can Oskar find a way through Marco’s fear, back into his heart?

Review:  Mildly spoilery
This was a very sweet second chances romance. I liked that it was a slow burn and both characters were just lovely and sweet. I could relate to Marco’s self-consciousness and Oskar’s guilt. The sex is hot, without being porny and I liked the family involvement.

But I had a few problems too. The biggest one being that, though I totally get that what Oskar said was traumatizing to Marco, as well as the self-sabotaging aspect of the event, but they had been best friends for nine years. I don’t think it would have been enough to suddenly (and I mean cold turkey) throw the friendship out the window.

Additionally, I couldn’t fathom the logistics of it. The book reads like the event happened and they never saw each-other again. For example, Oskar’s nose was broken the next day and years later, when they meet again, Oskar wondered how it happened. But they lived next door to one another. Their bedroom windows faced one another. Their families hung out. Marco was a second brother to Oskar’s sister and basically mentored her. So, how exactly did they simply never speak again? How did they manage to never find themselves alone together with Oskar apologizing, Marco accepting and both moving on in one way or another? It stretched my suspension of belief too far.

Similarly, there’s a bully from the past that shows up. Turns out he’s matured out of being a dick and sought out one of the characters to apologize. The one that moved away, I might add. So, why only the one and not the other, the one that stayed in town and was both more easily accessed and more grievously harmed?

I had a little trouble following Marco’s sudden turn around too. I mean, he had to stop hating Oskar at some point in order for the book to progress, but it felt very sudden. And this after I’d spent most of the book wondering how both families seemed to not know what happened between the boys. Or, if they did, how they could be so heartless and cruel as to so blithely force Marco together with someone who hurt him so badly. So, either they were all blind or hard-hearted or the author just hoped the reader wouldn’t look too closely at this point.

Lastly, while it’s interesting that the book was set in Berlin, Germany, honestly, it could have been New Brunswick or Nashville for all the difference the setting made to the story. While I’d have hated for the author to throw in a whole lot of German stereotypes, the book and its characters felt very American. If not for the city names I would have NEVER known it wasn’t set in some nameless American city.

I mostly loved this. I thought the writing was lovely and the pairing sweet. I also had no problem following it, despite it being a sequel. (In fact, I didn’t know it was a sequel until I finished it and looked on GR to review it.) I’ll definitely be reading more of Sunday’s writing, but I thought this one had some holes in it, leaving me with a few too many questions.