Tag Archives: shifters

Review of The Devil to Pay (Shayne Davies #1), by Jackie May

I borrowed an audio copy of Jackie May‘s The Devil to Pay through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

As a fox shifter, Shayne Davies gets no respect in an underworld run by the fearsome and powerful—werewolves and vampires, sorcerers, demons, and mythical faerie creatures. Even at home, Shayne is still treated like the brat of the pack. Her mom constantly nags; her intended (but unwanted) mate ensures plenty of awkward silences, and Shayne is even expected to act submissive to the pack’s future alpha…a six year old.

Yeah. Time for Plan B.

All Shayne wants is to prove that she’s got what it takes to run with the big dogs, not just to feel like she matters, but, more importantly, to give a big middle finger to anybody who ever doubted her. Which is why she is constantly hounding Nick Gorgeous to make her an agent at the “Double D”, the Detroit Division of the FUA. That’s an easy “No” for Gorgeous, who keeps a strict “No Shayne Davies” policy. Well, never say never. When mysterious underworld criminals steal a load of bomb materials, the FUA picks up a messy case nobody wants to touch. It’s bad enough that a demon horde is involved, but now the annoying FBI has sent out an agent to babysit the investigation. To make matters worse, notorious master vampire Henry Stadther has control of what may be the only key to breaking the case: a human detective with a beautiful man face, but a broken past.

The whole thing’s a hopeless disaster.

So guess what, Shayne? You’re hired!

Review:

This book tricked me. When it first started I groaned and wondered if I’d manage to finish it. I didn’t have high hopes. I was annoyed that the main character broke the fourth wall to speak directly to the reader. I disliked that it seemed so focused on sex (though I appreciated that she was allowed to be sexual). I thought Shayne seemed too silly to relate to and I disliked that she was basically lying to everyone about actually working for the agency. It felt very child-like. As did the fact that the agency captain allowed her to pull the tricks she did. It was like watching an adult pander to a child. I honestly almost just gave up. 

But as I continued, I found I like Shayne a lot. Her ditzy blond routine was just that, an act. She was a lot more capable than her unreliable narration led me to believe. I appreciated that while there were hints at romance somewhere in the series, this book is UF, not PNR. And even having finished this book, I’m not sure which way the author will take it. The writing is snappy and there’s quite a lot of wit, though you sense the characters work at it. This could easily have felt like the author trying too hard, but I took it more as the characters trying to one-up each other. 

All in all, despite the rough start, I’d be more than happy to read more of May’s writing. And as Chandra Skyye did fine with the narration, I’d listen to her again too.

Review of Ravensong (Green Creek #2), by T. J. Klune

I borrowed an audio copy of T.J. Klune‘s Ravensong through Hoopla. I reviewed book one of the series, Wolfsong, last year.

Description from Goodreads:

Gordo Livingstone never forgot the lessons carved into his skin. Hardened by the betrayal of a pack who left him behind, he sought solace in the garage in his tiny mountain town, vowing never again to involve himself in the affairs of wolves. 

It should have been enough. 

And it was, until the wolves came back, and with them, Mark Bennett. In the end, they faced the beast together as a pack… and won. 

Now, a year later, Gordo has found himself once again the witch of the Bennett pack. Green Creek has settled after the death of Richard Collins, and Gordo constantly struggles to ignore Mark and the song that howls between them. 

But time is running out. Something is coming. And this time, it’s crawling from within. 

Some bonds, no matter how strong, were made to be broken. 

Review:

Oh man, Klune broke me. I cried so much. Not big wracking sobs, but these quiet little tears that just slipped through. But I think maybe the narrator, Kirt Graves, was part of it too. Multiplying the effect. I thought he was too flat with a lot of the characters’ dialogue. But he sure had the voice of agony and betrayal and longing down!

I did get a little annoyed with the repetitions. Some of it was purposeful, reusing the same phrases for effect. Some of it just felt like a lazy cut and paste job. Similarly, a lot of the abrupt flashbacks threw me for a loop. Maybe if I’d been reading it, instead of listening, it would have been more quickly apparent when a sudden shift was a flashback. But as it was, I often was momentarily confused.

All in all, however, I really enjoyed this. Even as it shredded my heart. And though I’m not a person prone to re-read books, I really think I’m gonna have to borrow Wolfsong and listen to it. I wish I’d done that before listening to Ravensong, honestly. So, I could have experienced them together.

Review of Claim The Wolf King (Wickedest Witch #0.5) by Meg Xuemei X

I borrowed an audio copy of Meg Xuemei X‘s Claim the Wolf King through Hoopla. 

Description from Goodreads:

It’s a one in a million chance that the sexy-as-sin and savage wolf king finds his fated mate–me, the curvy warrior–on the most hostile alien planet. But you can’t call him one lucky bastard.

I can’t be his–I’ve sworn a blood oath to another. And I haven’t the time for mating when I have to lead a gang of the worst criminals to fight off the vampire hordes, cannibals, and Akem’s creatures of nightmare to find the veiled portal to go home.

The mating call doesn’t care for my difficult situation. It affects me with a fever like no other. Its frenzy bursts in my bloodstream, tormenting me with lust more than I can endure. But if I fail to resist it and break my vow, I’ll doom not only myself but everyone I protect, and we’ll never escape this inferno.

The ruthless, red-blooded wolf king isn’t one to listen to reason. And he has no intention of preserving my virtue and honor. He wants to mate with me more than his life is worth, and keep me as his forever. Nothing and no one can stop him on his way to claim me.

Review:

I’m going to be honest. I picked this book up expecting it to be complete shit. (I mean look at that cover!) But it was December 17th and I’d not yet read an X-authored book for my yearly alphabet challenge, didn’t even have one available to me. So, I grabbed this in a bit of a panic when I saw it. Any X would do at that point. 

For about half the book I was happy with it. Pleasantly surprised that, while the sex talk (and actual sex) was just as overwrought and cheesy as you’d expect, the main character was self-possessed and refused to kau tau to the normal cliches of shifter erotica. In fact, I thought the author was making a point to avoid them and was thrilled to find an author who did. But then she (the author) seemed to lose her way.

[Spoiler in this paragraph] Up until about 2/3 through the book, I’d have called it a 3-star read. Then the most cliched of cliched erotica tropes was dropped like a pile of loose shit on the plot. The only female shifter to be included in the book at all turned out to be the violently jealous ex of the hero. She waltzed into the plot and tried to kill the heroine, while claiming she would take the man back. As I said, this is extremely cliched and over-used. But it’s also insulting to women everywhere (as it is almost every time this plot point is used, and pretty much EVERYTIME it’s the only woman of a group). As if we only exist in relation to a man. As if we can’t trust each other. As if we are in constant competition for a man’s attention. As if we have no value if we can’t re-claim it. Right there I dropped a star. Probably would have DNFed the book if it hadn’t been for a challenge. 

What’s worse, in this case it went contrary to the world-building too. If finding your fated mate is so big a deal, I don’t believe anyone would think they could step between it. I don’t believe anyone would allow the ridiculous challenge she threw. Plus, after going on and on about how he’d kill anyone who threatened her, the hero just let the woman who literally tried to kill his mate and the man who facilitated it walk away. 

Adding to my feeling that the author floundered and didn’t know where to go with the plot, so she took the path most traveled, was the fact that the sex scene after this was full of his dominance and her submission (the heroine had not been the submitting type at all) and described with such violence that I had a hard time envisioning it as sexy and not just painful. In fact, the author even used the phrase ‘the assault of it’ at one point. It seemed to be ranked on how erotic it was by how many times the word ‘cock’ could be used. 

All in all, this was almost a good read. I honestly think the author set out to write a strong female character and avoid a lot of the misogynistic bullshit that often hides openly in erotica. But she didn’t seem able to avoid falling into the same pit as so many authors before her. I finished it rolling my eyes (literally) and disappointed. 

Felicity Munroe did a fine job with the narration. I have to give her props for getting through those sex scenes without sounding ridiculous. 

Addendum: When I posted my review on Goodreads, I realized I’d read another book by this author (The Siren). I laughed because I read it on Dec. 15th. So, I imagine it was the same end of the year, scramble for an X-authored book as this year. It made me laugh when I saw it.