We spent Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle in Tennessee. They have a lovely place outside the city—land, hot tub with a view, walking distance to the river, etc. Visiting them is always a little mind-blowing for me (in a good way).
From my house to theirs is a six hour drive. We stayed Thursday and Friday and then drove home last night (Saturday). That’s twelve hours in the car to read and then quite a bit of time while there.
You see, I love my family, but thanksgiving is always big and loud and chaotic. So much love in the air, but also just so many people. And I’m an introvert. I invariably get super overloaded and spend the day after Thanksgiving laying on the couch reading. It’s my way of being in my family’s presence, but allowing my introvert cells to recharge. The point is, you might not think such a short visit wouldn’t allow for much reading. But I read six books.
I’m going to review them all here, with the caveat that I took no notes and reading a book and then waiting to review it means I never remember quite as many details. For example, I do remember that one of these book needs further editing. But I don’t now remember which one, so I can’t mention it in the review. Similarly, some of the reviews might be on the short side. Pleasantly however, I liked them all. There have been years I couldn’t say that. Here we go.
Vengeful Prince, by Mary E. Twomey:
I’m undecided about this book. Some things I really loved, but others I thought it pulled a bait-and-switch on the readers about, and it includes one of my BIGGEST PET PEVES. Let me address that first, since I probably won’t be able to concentrate until I get it out of the way.
One of my biggest pet peeves: When the male MC falls in love with the female MC because she talks back to him in a way no one else will. (Here it’s actually not any of the male MC that do this, but it’s someone super integral to the plot. So, I’m calling it same-same). My problem with this logic as it plays out here (and almost every time authors do this) is that people don’t talk back to this powerful individual because he’ll kill or punish them if they do. But he doesn’t kill or punish the female MC when she does this…because she’s special…because she does it? It’s circular. And presumes she’s special prior to the very thing she’s being singled out as special for. Arg. I hate this so much and Lilya is seriously mouthy to people she shouldn’t mouth off to and gets away with it. What’s worse is that she’s no where near as brave with other people, so it doesn’t even fit her personality in the rest of the book.
A positive, Salem. I loved Salem. Why didn’t we get more Salem? And why does poor Salem get so shafted? We have a heroine who will loom and yell at a king, but can’t tell a man who she longs for that she’s not disgusted by him? Three friends who will do anything for each other (including changing the whole structure of society), but neither of the other two will clear up the VERY OBVIOUS MISUNDERSTANDING to bring their best friend and love some happiness and end of distress?
The bait and switch: It’s a reverse harem. Two of the three men are handsy as heck. They sleep together and make out, etc. But there’s not a single sex scene in the whole book (even after months having passed after marriage). It sets up an erotic plot line and then doesn’t deliver any…at all.
For all that, I basically enjoyed it. I don’t know if I’d seek out the sequel for any reason except to see Salem finally get his happy ending. But I didn’t not enjoy it.
House of Ash & Brimstone, by Megan Starks:
I surprised myself by liking this book a lot more than I expected. (Though I do love the cover.) I expected it to be a lot more YA than it was, which was a pleasant surprise, and I think I might move heaven and Earth for Beast and Shade. Oh my, they were both wonderful in their own way. (Though I have to admit that it was Shade’s desperation I loved about him and that’s just a little cruel of me.)
Gi-Gi was only a so-so heroine for me. I didn’t dislike like her by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn’t love her either. She seemed to make split second decisions and act on them without much thought. Some good (taking in Beast), some bad (hating Shade so extremely based on so little).
Also, I never fully understood the motivation of her brothers. Beyond being generically evil the reason for everything they did isn’t really explored very deeply. I was especially interested in the oldest brother’s motivation.
Lastly, I have to quibble with the cliche manner in which the only female villain (and only woman with any political cachet) is evil because she was denied a man. Anyone else ever wonder if there are no other motivation for female villains available or something? I’m so tired of always seeing this same one.
All in all however, I liked the book and would happily pick up the next one in the series.
A Taste of Honey, by Rose Lerner:
This was wonderful and sweet. I liked how food tied into it so intricately and that it was the woman who took the initiative. I also loved that the two were so open to exploring and trying new things. However, I thought it was a stretch to go from I-couldn’t-possibly-kiss-you to pegging in less than a week. Despite that, the message of openness and willingness for those you love was one I appreciated. Not to mention Lerner just goes places that a lot of such authors don’t. All in all, a successful read for me.
Machine Metal Magic, by Hanna Dare:
I generally enjoyed this. I loved the caption’s sarcasm, Jaime’s sass, and Rylan’s ceaseless attempts to do the right thing. I did think the whole thing wrapped up a little quickly wondered if Rylan would really have been dishonorably discharged given the extenuating circumstances. Despite that I’ll be looking for book two.
How to Marry a Werewolf, by Gail Carriger
I adored Channing in Changeless and I was too happy to see him get his happy ending here. I appreciated seeing him meet his match; and what a match Faith is. A always, Carriger carries it all off with humor and too much tea. I can’t wait for more.
Mainly by Moonlight, by Josh Lanyon:
I mostly enjoyed this. I liked the world Lanyon created, the characters, and the mystery plot. But I never felt the spark of the romance at all. I know the author tried to address how the two could meet, fall in love, buy a (and decorate) house, and plan a wedding (including planting a special made garden) in two weeks. But I couldn’t buy it. And that wasn’t the only thing. Several other things didn’t hold together for me. There’s a pretty big reveal at one point that I simply can’t believe that Cosmo didn’t see coming, for example. For all that, if I suspended my disbelief far enough I found it a cute little read.
There you have it, reviews of the six book I read on my 2019 Thanksgiving holiday. Honestly, it’s more physical reading than I’ve done in a while. I’ve been mainly listening to audio books, which I love. But I find it was like coming home to spend some time with my Kindle.