Tag Archives: #DiverseRomanceBingo

Review of Nocturne (Hours of the Night #2), by Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt

I received a copy of Nocturne, by Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt, from the authors for review. I reviewed others in the series here, here and here.

Description from Goodreads:
For generations, the White Monks have treated the vampire Thaddeus Dupont as a weapon in their battle against demons. However, when a prominent matron drops dead at a party, Thaddeus and his lover Sarasija are asked to find her killer. Their investigation leads them to an old southern family with connections everywhere: Louisiana politics, big business, the Church, and an organization just as secret as the White Monks.

Meanwhile, an esoteric text containing spells for demon-summoning has disappeared, Thaddeus is losing control of le monstre, and Sara is troubled by disturbing dreams. These nightmares could be a side-effect of dating a vampire, or they could be a remnant of his brush with evil. As the nights wear on, Sara fears they are a manifestation of something darker – a secret that could destroy his relationship with Thaddeus.

Review:
I really think this was my favorite so far in the series. I liked seeing a bit more of Thad’s “le monstre.” I liked that there wasn’t so much angst about his perceived sins and I liked that Sara had struggles of his own, outside of getting Thad to accept his love. Plus, they were sweet together and I thought the writing was just really good.

I did think it dragged just a little and I was disappointed to end the book not knowing what’s up with Sara’s situation. I assume this is the next book, but it was a pretty big issue to go not only unresolved, but undiscussed even.

All in all, I can’t wait for the next one.

Review of Sightlines (The Community #3), by Santino Hassell

I received a copy of Santino Hassell‘s Sightlines through Netgalley. I reviewed the first two book in the series, Insight and Oversight, earlier in the year.

Description from Goodreads:
Chase Payne is a walking contradiction. He’s the most powerful psychic in the Community, but the least respected. He’s the son of the Community’s founder, but with his tattoo sleeves and abrasive attitude, he’s nothing like his charismatic family. No one knows what to make of him, which is how he wound up locked in a cell on the Farm yet again. But this time, the only man he’s ever loved is there too.

Elijah Estrella was used to being the sassy sidekick who fooled around with Chase for fun. But that was before he realized the Community wasn’t the haven he’d believed in and Chase was the only person who’d ever truly tried to protect him. Now they’re surrounded by people who want to turn them against their friends, and the only way out is to pretend the brainwashing works.

With Chase playing the role of a tyrant’s second-in-command, and Elijah acting like Chase’s mindless sex toy, they risk everything by plotting a daring escape. In the end, it’s only their psychic abilities, fueled by their growing love for each other, that will allow them to take the Community down once and for all.

Review:
I hate to say this, but I think my love affair with Santino Hassell’s books is over. On the sites I’m forced to use a numerical start rating, I almost gave it 2 stars. The end dragged it up to a third, but it was a close call. I simply didn’t like it. I didn’t like the characters. I didn’t like the narrative style. I didn’t like the pacing. I. did. no. like. it. And if I’m honest, the last several books by Hassell that I’ve read have skirted this same edge. And it makes me so sad, I lovedhis early works. But all his characters feel the same now and here I felt Chase was taken to such a grumpy extreme that I couldn’t overcome it enough to enjoy his character. And Elijah was a shadow, barely there. As always, the mechanical writing is good but this book was a bust for me.

Review of A Kind of Justice, by Renee James

I received a copy of Renee JamesA Kind of Justice through Netgalley.

Description from Netgalley:
Against all odds, Bobbi Logan, a statuesque transgender woman, has become one of Chicago’s most celebrated hair stylists and the owner of one of the city’s poshest salons. She is finally comfortable with who she is, widely admired in her community, about to enjoy the success she deserves.  

Then her impossibly perfect life falls apart.

In the space of a few weeks, the Great Recession drags her business to the brink of failure, her beloved ex-wife needs help in facing a terrible tragedy, and a hateful police detective storms back into her life, determined to convict her of the five-year-old murder of John Strand—pillar of the community—and a sexual predator.

As the detective builds an ever more convincing case against her, both of them will be shaken by revelations—about themselves, about their own deeply held secrets, and about the bizarre ritual murder of John Strand. 

Review:
I’m having a complicated reaction to this book. To start with, I didn’t know it was a sequel until I went to Goodreads to review it, after finishing it. So, now I wonder what I missed, having not read book one. One the upside, the fact that I never felt I was missing anything until I knew there was a previous book means it stands alone just fine.

Secondly, I liked Bobbi. I loved her relationship to her ex-wife. I thought it was one of the sweetest things I’ve read in a while. It wasn’t perfect, they had some issues to work through. But work through them they did and made a family of sorts and I LOVED that. I liked that Bobbi had close platonic friends and that generational differences within communities was addressed. Not to mention that she was a tad older than the average heroine.

I disliked the detective, but appreciate the transformative journey he went through. I liked the possible love interest and that the book doesn’t end with an unrealistic perfect Happily Ever After. It might get there, but wasn’t at the end of this novel.

I liked that this book isn’t just a murder mystery with a transgendered main character. In a very real way, it’s about being a transgendered woman around whom there is a mystery. It’s why I picked the book up in fact.

Having said that (and here is my complication because I don’t want to sound like I’m saying, ‘the trans book was just too trans’), I felt bludgeoned by Bobbi’s transgenderism. Trans/transsexual/transgender/transwoman/transwomen/tranny is used 197 times in the 320 page book, not counting that the charity is called TransRising and any time it’s talked about but not named. Now, my issue isn’t with the individual words or subject that I felt bludgeoned by, but that I felt bludgeoned at all.

I don’t want to take away from the importance of Bobbi’s real world experiences. They are important. I rather just mean the writing was heavy-handed at times and the constant emphasis on one aspect of the character, even an important one that would be expected to effect every area of her life, blotted out some others that in a mystery novel needed more page-time to develop.

Other than the occasionally heavy-handed writing and the fact that I thought the book was slow at times, I mostly really enjoyed it (even having not read the first book). I’d be more than happy to read another story by James.