Tag Archives: romance

A Cougar Among Wolves

Book Review: A Cougar Among Wolves, by Kali Willows

A Cougar Among WolvesI picked up an Audible code for A Cougar Among Wolves (by Kali Willows) bouncing around the internet somewhere, probably Free Audiobook Codes.

A sadistic attack leaves Klaya, a Puma Clan Cougar, critically injured and the last of her family ferociously slain. She stumbles into Black Hills wolf territory and collapses. Now under the protection of the pack, she finds herself whisked away to hide out in a cave until her old friend the alpha returns. Potentially the last of her shifter kind, she has nothing left to lose, but her life and a chance to avenge her brother.

After a dangerous rescue, on the edge of pack territory, Seth and Rogue take a woman on the brink of death back to the pack. Her identity and why she was brutalized is a mystery. The pieces soon fit together proving this assault was no coincidence. The Black Hills wolf pack faces a bigger threat than they could even imagine. The trio soon find themselves on a tumultuous journey of life and death and relentless lust.

my reviewMeh, not horrible (if you like this particular subset of erotic fantasy) but not great either. Honestly, I found a lot of it cheesy, ESPECIALLY THE VERY LONG SEX SCENE. I literally rolled my eyes and made gagging sounds. I was just so super cheesed out! But the brother-mates are sweet (which is a pleasant change from the alpha-asshole norm) and I appreciated the heroine’s independent streak. Just don’t go into this one expecting any depth or a complex plot and you’ll probably enjoy it well enough.

 

Mystic Love, by JJ Keller

Review Mystic Love, by JJ Keller

Mystic Love

I picked up a free Audible code for a copy for Mystic Love, by JJ Keller, probably from Free Audiobook Codes.

About the book

Ericka Gilmore dabbles in life and death when she tries to conjure a ghost lover. But when flesh and blood, Joe Reeves appears on her doorstep in the midst of a storm, she has to rethink her destiny.

A car accident left the former cop with the ability to foresee death. No longer willing to watch people he cares about die, Joe goes in search of a shaman to remove his “gift”. His remedy until then is to avoid all relationships. But like a lightning strike, he experiences a strong connection with Ericka. A nearby mystical ley line could be Joe’s solution if he and Ericka combine their gifts. But her secret past and his fear of seeing her death keep them at odds.

I thought this was OK, sweet even, but still not a huge winner for me. The reason is that, as satisfying as seeing two likeable characters fall in love is, I can’t help but notice that they both find and accept their destiny. His is to accept his premonitions of death and serve fate by saving lives; her’s is to become his wife. The two are presented as equal. So, he gets a whole active destiny and she gets to…what, not become an old maid. We could be generous and say ‘support him.’ But that’s still only a supporting role, which is so often the crumb women are offered and told it’s a whole piece of toast. Now, I’m well aware that our culture preaches that becoming a wife is a goal in itself, but I hate when it’s a woman’s only goal, especially one who is otherwise smart and accomplished, as the heroine here is.

You know, there’s another complaint I’ve made dozens and dozens of times in my reviews. it’s when authors don’t label parts of a series as such. This book is the sequel to The Ghost Inside (as far as I can tell)  and it’s not labeled as such anywhere that I’ve yet to see. And it matters, because despite not being labeled, I so felt the lack of history that I went and read the blurbs of all the author’s books until I found the one that comes before this book, 100% certain there would be one. So, obviously I felt the lack of a first book. It is readable alone, but you will know there is a book before it. I sure did.

All in all, not a bad book. The writing is perfectly readable and the narrator did a fine job. But not a winner for me personally. It did get me through a whole day of stripping wallpaper though, so there is that to appreciate.

otehr than title

Review: Other Than, by Mia Jo Celeste

other than mia Jo celestI picked up a free Audible code for Other Than, by Mia Jo Celeste, somewhere around the internet. I can’t say that I recall where though.

about the bookIt only takes one drink from the Water of Immortality to kill Evie Woods—halfway. Trapped in undead flesh, the world’s last skin-slider wakens on an island purgatory where a cursed spring bubbles with immortality, and zombie cannibals crave living flesh. Her only hope of escape rests in the hands of the one man who would see her fail. Lord Victor Lowell, the man of her dreams and darkest nightmares. Contrary and intractable, Victor preys on others to maintain his angelic charisma and preternatural prowess.

Trapped in an ever escalating war they can’t stop, Victor and Evie fight time for a cure, but as the long days pass, blackness tears at Evie, ripping her thoughts from her one memory at a time. Victor will do whatever it takes to prevent her from deteriorating into a rotting husk, even if it means dooming himself, but Evie won’t surrender his soul without a fight.

my review
Slightly spoilerish

I will admit this wasn’t anything like what I expected. The blurb’s reference to escape left me expecting a grand, sweeping tale of attempting to get off the cannibalistic island. It’s not that at all. In fact, it’s setting and plot are small and intimate instead, taking place almost entirely within the confines of a single plantation, with a relatively small cast. The thing is that even if it wasn’t what I expected I enjoyed it. It went directions I didn’t expect. The writing is sharp and the Keira Stevens did an excellent job with the narration.

It’s not without it’s problems though. In fact, I’d call it flat out problematic in some of it’s tropes and stereotypes. There’s the fact that it’s set on a plantation for one, and the hero is the lord of the manner. Now, the slaves in question aren’t black people, they’re the ‘zombies.’ But the people of color in the book are definitely represented in the same manner as slaves. They’re derogatorily referred to as ‘the darkies’ at least once, though to be fair that language came from a villain. (Actually, now that I’ve said all that, it’s never articulated that they aren’t actually enslaved, so maybe they are in addition to the zombies, as opposed to instead of.) Either way, it’s hard to see a slave owner as a hero and, while Victor is definitely shown to be trapped into doing some of the evil things he does, this one isn’t addressed at all.

Then there are some of those black characters. Most are fairly characterless, but the cook isn’t. She 100% fulfills the stock-character tropes of being both a “Mammy” and a “Magical Negro.” Large, joyous and female (but stripped of any sense of sexuality) existing solely to assist the white characters and containing the mystical knowledge and sacrificial fortitude to save them all. (In a bit of a twist, this mystical knowledge is the Christian God.)

And since I touched on femaleness, I’ll point out that, other than the heroine, there are three female characters. There’s the Mammy. There’s the hero’s scorned previous lover (whose state of free vs. enslaved isn’t clear, so calling her his mistress is iffy, but that’s how she’s referred to in the book) who is an enemy of the heroine. And there’s the hero’s harridan of a mother who is also an enemy to the heroine. A large part of the book’s plot hinges on her anger at being a set-aside wife. So, all women who compete for a man’s sexual favor are suspect, only sexless women are safe. Gee, that’s a trope I’ve never seen in a book before. Not.

Lastly, there’s the religious aspect of the book. The evil to be defeated is a ‘native’ mystical power, possibly goddess (again, can’t trust those females), and the Mammy’s Christian God is instrumental to saving the hero and heroine (who converts) and are therefore the only ones worthy of survival. I mean God doesn’t come down in a fiery ball of save-your-ass or anything, there is a very real ‘do for yourself’ theme here. But the religious undertones are NOT subtle toward the end of the book.

File this book under sometimes you can enjoy something while recognizing that it has problematic aspects. This book 100% does. But it was still a largely enjoyable read.

Edit: I’ve just looked at a bigger image of the cover, such that I can actually read the tagline, which refers to a character as a slave. So, I suppose that answers the slave question.