Tag Archives: romantic sci-fi

What I read over Thanksgiving Holiday 2019

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.


the cover of vengeful prince

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. 


Cover of House Ash & Brimstone

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.

Review of Seduce Me in Dreams (Three Worlds #1), by Jacquelyn Frank

cover of Seduce me in Dreams

I borrowed an audio copy of Seduce Me in Dreams, by Jacquelyn Frank through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Dark. Mysterious. Sensual. When Bronse Chapel, the commander of a specialized unit of the Interplanetary Militia, begins to dream about a beautiful and exotic brunette, he wants to dismiss it as being induced by lack of sleep . . . or perhaps lack of sex. But his instincts tell him it’s something different, something far more dangerous.

Ravenna is the leader of the Chosen Ones, a small group of people from her village born with extraordinary powers. She doesn’t know that draws her to Bronse’s dreams night after night, but she senses that he and his team are in jeopardy. Ravenna can help him, but first Bronse must save the Chosen Ones from those who plan to use their powers for evil. Together, Bronse and Ravenna will be unstoppable. But Ravenna is hiding something that could endanger them all.

Review:

I only have myself to blame. I borrowed this from the library. I’ve passed it up several times, expecting it to be horrible. Experience has taught that older PNR (this is from 2011) and I don’t usually get along. Gender tropes are often too strongly reinforced for me. Women are always small and delicate and men are large and dangerous. Women are victims, men are victors, etc. But I’ve listened to pretty much all the PNR that my library has available via OverDrive/Libby, so I gave in and rented this. 

It tricked me. I thought it started out well and I began to think maybe I’d been wrong….then it all went to shite. Or to be more precise, it all went exactly as I’d previously anticipated. I lost track of how many times phrases like “her sexy little lips,” “her pert little bottom,” “her sweet little hands,” “her bright little eyes,” etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Ravenna’s character development seemed entirely based on her ability to withstand misery and Bronse’s in his ability to berate himself for his attraction and kill things. Of course, if Ravenna considered killing someone it had to be avoided at all costs, because it would be sooooo harmful to hermental state. Why is this only ever true for women?

I did think the universe this was set in looked interesting. But I didn’t feel like it was well developed. Nor were any of the side characters. Lastly (and importantly), there is a pretty big mystery that moves the plot along. It isn’t solved. The book ends with a, “I guess we’ll never know why.” Ummmmm, no. That’s 100% not acceptable to me. 

All in all, not AS bad as I expected. But not great either.

Review of The Queen’s Gambit (Rogue Queen #1), by Jessie Mihalik

I borrowed an audio copy of The Queen’s Gambit, by Jessie Mihalik, through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

When the Quint Confederacy and the Kos Empire went to war—again—young Queen Samara wisely kept her Rogue Coalition out of the conflict. But staying neutral in a galactic war doesn’t pay the bills, not when both sides refuse to trade with neutral sectors.

With her people on the brink of starvation, Samara hatches a daring plan to snatch the kidnapped Kos Emperor from the Quint mercenaries holding him. The Kos Empire will pay a fortune for their emperor’s return, enough to feed the Coalition’s citizens while they wait for the return to a begrudging peace.

But when her plan goes sideways, Samara finds herself evading Quint mercenaries with the very man she intends to capture. And the more time she spends with Valentin Kos, the more she realizes that he’s not the coldly indifferent villain she imagined. Torn between duty and desire, Samara must decide if saving her people is worth giving up the one thing she’s always wanted.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, it was just kind of weak. The plot was weak. The romantic development was weak. The world-building was a little less weak, but still not strong. It felt like someone had taken a knit comb to a full length novel and picked out everything that fleshes a story out. What we’re left with instead is an unlikely couple who experience almost insta attraction, a galactic war in which the two largest, most powerful, wealthiest combatants can’t swat a minuscule fly of a woman, political intrigue that can be solved with an email or two, and a happily ever after that is so pat it feels like an afterthought. 

Now, I know none of that sounds positive. The story development really was lacking. But once you get past all the gratuitous-to-the-plot physical descriptions of the male lead (which I wouldn’t have minded if they had been balanced with more actual plot development) the story is entertaining. And when it comes right down to it, I value that over a lot of other elements in a book. 

Now, a word on the narration: I disliked how Dulude read this. I thought she made everyone (but especially Emperor Kos) sound a little too soft and….well weak, which was problematic with an already weak plot. But more that, her speech pattern had regular micro-pauses (I don’t know what else to call them) that interrupted sentences, broke them into pieces. It drove me absolutely batty. To be fair, it might not bother anyone else at all though.