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Book Review: Club Blood, by Sarah James & Cassandra Celia

I accepted an ARC review copy of Club Blood (by Sarah James and Cassandra Celia)  through Pride Book Tours.

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Sin City just got extra bloodthirsty… Welcome to Club Blood.

Vampires no longer hide in the shadows and humans have adjusted, learning to coexist with the Known. But in a city filled with sinful acts and lustful affairs, it’s not uncommon for mistakes to happen.

Cecelia agrees to visit Ambrosia, a notorious nightclub run by vampires, on the night of her birthday. But as Cece stumbles across the murder of one of the Known’s most feared council leaders, she is thrown into terrible danger.

For Mercy, being at the top and conquering her kingdom has always been above all else. It doesn’t bother her when she has to rip the heart out of her boss in order to get what she wants, though she does find it inconvenient that there’s a human witness.

Mercy and her coven hold Cece captive in order to secure Mercy’s quest to reign. Soon, Cece finds it hard to separate fear and attraction, being drawn to the enticing danger of Mercy’s life, and Mercy discovers that there might be just one person she’s willing to protect more than herself.

Just being together is enough to upend both of their lives, hurling them towards a war neither of them ever wanted to start.

Mercy must decide whether having Cece could be worth losing her kingdom, and Cece must endeavor to survive in a world of danger and darkness that was designed to kill her.

Their lust might be worth the bloodshed.

my review

I’ve got to admit. I didn’t resonate with this book. The writing is quite readable, and even though I had an ARC, the editing felt competent. So, any complaints I have are really just of the how well the book did or didn’t gel with me sort. And I’m afraid I leaned more toward didn’t.

I liked the idea of the book. A female vampire, fighting the patriarchal vampire culture to rise to the top of her bloody and cut throat career/society. And I appreciate that James and Celia were playing with gender tropes a little bit. But I also felt the plot and characters was super cliched. I’m afraid making it an F/F romance, but keeping all of the characteristics of a M/F romance isn’t transgressive. It’s lazy.

[Spoiler] Here we had the villainous jealous ex. The jealous ex that is contrasted against the innocent love interest by her aggressively sexual presentation (in her clothing, attitudes, and actions). How many times have readers seen this same thing? Too many. There’s both the sassy (and promiscuous) BFF who tempts the pure main character to leave her safe bounds. Her promiscuity gets her killed, BTW. We’ve seen this a million times too. Then she’s replaced with the sassy gay BFF. This one is male, but still a character we’ve all seen in just this character position many times before. Let’s just stop there. But I could go on. The big shark who smiles to Mercy’s face but really duplicitously seeks to re-subjugate the woman who dared leave her subservient place? Yep, not new or interesting.

Really the cliched characters were more than I could handle. But the real reason this didn’t resonate was that it was inconsistent. Mercy is said to be so merciless, but if that was true she never would have let the events of the book go as far as they did without solving (or even acknowledging) the problem. Her very actions undermined the primary characteristic we’re given for her. Further, the whole reason she breaks character club blood photo(separately than the preceding point) to keep and eventually fall for Cece is a mystery. I mean it’s a mystery in the book. So, again, her supposed ruthlessness is undermined by her actions. Then there is Cece. She has a convenient personality shift that allowed for the happy ending. But it didn’t feel believable. It was too abrupt.

All in all. I had complaints. Several of them. But they are things that bother me. They don’t bother a lot of other people. I suggest reading the book and deciding for yourself.


Other Reviews:

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Book Review: Designed by Destiny, by Maya Tyler

I accepted a copy of Designed By Destiny from the author, Maya Tyler. But I want to take a moment to discuss how I ended up doing that. Because this book is one I wouldn’t normally have chosen to read. The author pulled a bit of a bait and switch on me. I don’t think she did it on purpose, I think she was just sending me her most recent publication. But the end result is the same.

Her Magicals series has been featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, I was aware of her books. When she messaged me to ask what I tend to read I responded that I’m a, “fantasy/urban fantasy/PNR reader” and “your books would def fit with my preferences.” To which she said, “ I’ll send you an ARC for my soon-to-be released para-contemporary romance, Designed by DestinyAfter writing an intense five-book series, I needed something light.”

I groaned right then. Here’s the problem. When I said her books would match my preferences, I was looking at the “intense” PNR with fairies and wizards and strong fantasy vibes. I don’t really do light. I actively avoid contemporary romances. And experience has taught me that para-contemporary romance means contemporary romance with a minor sprinkling of ‘para’. Which is what this book is. It’s a contemporary romance with a side of fairy godmother. Not something I’d have volunteered to read. I’ll take fairies and wizards and intense plots any day of the week, but light and sweet…nah, you can keep that.

I considered writing the author back to say, ‘That’s not what I meant to volunteer for.’ But opted not to, since it was my own lack of clarity that led to the situation. But I wanted to vent a little here and also admit, going in, that I was probably never going to be a 5-star reader for this book.

Regardless, on to the book.

Confirmed bachelor Nicholas Grey is more than the playboy perpetrated by the tabloids. Now his position as CEO of the architecture firm Grey & Company is on the line, and his mother’s interference is making things more difficult. Nick’s committed to his work, but, in order to be taken seriously, he needs to land a huge project. A stable personal life will help guarantee the contract.

Fairy Godmother Faye Delmore hears Nick’s plea and steps in to help. Posing as a publicist, she suggests a strategy to polish his public image, which includes convincing Beth to play his wife. Faye knows Nick needs the huge project to save his job, but she also knows he needs Beth in his life.

What happens when you add a fairy godmother who loves playing matchmaker into the equation? A future designed by destiny.

my review

As I said above, this is not a genre I gravitate toward. However, the writing is clean and easy to read, the editing is tight, and the plot holds together. So, for those who do like contemporary fake relationship plots, this is a perfectly competent one. Unfortunately I do not.

This is farther complicated by the fact that I never came to like Nick, other women were almost universally shown to be jealous and villainous (how cliched), and I thought the fairy godmother aspect just cluttered the plot up. It would have been better as a straight contemporary romance, IMO. And I say that as an avid fantasy reader!

All in all, I think the right reader will love this. There really isn’t anything wrong with it other than being wrong for me. Unfortunately this simply got into the hands of the wrong reader. (Despite the author’s best efforts.)

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Other Review:

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Book Review: Vampire Tower #1-3, by Kelly St. Clare

I picked up a free Amazon copy of Kelly St. Clare‘s Blood Trial about this time last year. (Actually, a year ago tomorrow. LOL) Then I purchased Vampire Debt and Death Game in order to finish the series. I read them all back to back. So, I think I’ll just write a single review for the series, instead of for each individual book. But here is the blurb for book one, to give you an idea of what the series is about.

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The dice are rolled at midnight.

As the twenty-one-year-old heiress to the Le Spyre fortune, my life should consist of strawberry mojitos and golf carts.

Right? But I’m determined to forge my own path. Desperate to escape the meaningless games of the rich, I flee my family’s estate.

Secret alias—check.
Place to sleep—uh, kind of?
Job—crap!

I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but that’s the least of my worries. My city is a giant board game. The players are supernatural— freakin’ vampires—including an overbearing crown prince whose unwanted attention could spell my demise.

Now, I must play their deadly game, or my grandmother and best friend will pay the ultimate price.

my review

As I said, I purchased and read all three books (well, the first was a freebie). So, I can’t claim I didn’t enjoy the series. Otherwise I wouldn’t have continued. But this is one of those series that I enjoyed on the surface. I liked the characters. There’s some humor. The writing is engaging. The female main character had a backbone of steel and a sharp wit. The male romantic lead was forced to grovel in a satisfying manner and I liked how he let his heroine lead in so many situations. I was invested their outcome. I enjoyed it…so long as I didn’t think too deeply about it.

Because there just isn’t any getting around the fact that the hero owned slaves, saw nothing wrong with owning slaves, and had not changed his opinion about owning slaves by the end of the book. It’s gets awful hard to keep the ‘romantic’ in the ‘romantic male lead’ in such cases.

Similarly, there just isn’t any was to ignore the fact that (as is so often the case in romance books), by the end, he had gotten everything he wanted without sacrificing anything for it. While she had to go through hell and willing give up almost everything she valued in order to earn her man. Why are women so often expected to suffer for love, while men just have to exist?

And lastly, there’s just something a little classist and elitist about the way she was made out to be so exceptional because she grew up wealthy and was therefore trained to be more. Sure, she avoided her wealthy friends’ snobbish fate because she had and valued a poor friend. But the whole thing was just icky.

All in all, as I said in the beginning, this is a fun (if slow) series, so long as you don’t think past the surface plot.

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Other Reviews:

Mini Reviews | Vampire Towers Series by. Kelly St. Clare