Tag Archives: pwf

betwixt

Book Review: Betwixt, by Darynda Jones

I borrowed a copy of Betwixt, by Darynda Jones from the local library. You guys, I actually went INTO the library and browsed the shelves. It was the first time I’d been able to do that in months!

betwixt

Divorced, desperate, and destitute, former restaurateur Defiance Dayne finds out she has been bequeathed a house by a complete stranger. She is surprised, to say the least, and her curiosity gets the better of her. She leaves her beloved Phoenix and heads to one of the most infamous towns in America: Salem, Massachusetts.

She’s only there to find out why a woman she’s never met would leave her a house. A veritable castle that has seen better days. She couldn’t possibly accept it, but the lawyer assigned to the case practically begs her to take it off her hands, mostly because she’s scared of it. The house. The inanimate structure that, as far as Dephne can tell, has never hurt a fly.

Though it does come with some baggage. A pesky neighbor who wants her gone. A scruffy cat who’s a bit of a jerk. And a handyman bathed ink who could moonlight as a supermodel for GQ.

She decides to give it three days, and not because of the model. She feels at home in Salem. Safe. But even that comes to a screeching halt when people begin knocking on her door day and night, begging for her help to locate their lost objects.

Come to find out, they think she’s a witch. And after a few mysterious mishaps, Dephne is beginning to wonder if they’re right.

my review

I generally liked this. It was fun and easily readable. I’ll say that up front. But I have complaints. For one, I halfway suspect it wasn’t initially written as a Paranormal Women’s Fiction book. Of course, I can’t know one way or another, and maybe it was and just isn’t steeped in the genre. (But I really do half think it was rewritten to fit the new fad.)

I’ll grant the heroine is 44 and there are paranormal elements…so, Paranormal Women’s Fiction. The book even starts with the seemingly requisite mid-life divorce. But beyond that I didn’t feel Defiance’s age at all. Any quip or memory she referenced was from high school or below, as if she hadn’t had an additional 2 decades of life experience to draw from. Her parents still play a large part in her life, as if she hasn’t aged past just leaving the nest. She still gets excited over band t-shirts and binge drinking. She just didn’t feel 44 and neither did anything else about the plot. So, I kinda feel like the book is Paranormal Women’s Fiction in name and window dressing only. At least the hotties were described as silver foxes, instead of young studs, I guess.

Beyond that, I did laugh a lot. But I also frequently felt like it was trying too hard to be quirky and funny. I liked the characters, but thought they all took to the previously unknown paranormal world far too easily. And I like the sexy hero, but there is so little progress in that department and so little interaction between him and Defiance that it was soundly disappointing. And the whole thing often felt unfocused and erratic.

Despite all that, as I said, I did enjoy it in general. I probably will continue the series (for Roane more than anything else). But I’m in no great hurry about it.

Perfect Pending

Book Review: Perfect Pending, by Lucia Ashta

I picked up Lucia Ashta‘s Perfect Pending (Witches of Gales Haven, #1) as an Amazon freebie, last summer.
perfect pending lucia ashta

Marla’s ancestors saddled her with frizzy red hair, sarcasm on tap, the Gawama last name, and the urge to run from her problems.

Her bloodline was also supposed to guarantee she’d be a powerful witch.

She isn’t, not by a long shot.

Only those with magic are allowed in her hometown. Now that her teenage children are awakening, and sparking enough power to be a fire hazard, she’s headed back.

Even if she isn’t ready. Even if she’s fresh out of divorce court.

Home is where her family is. Her nan is head of the council, and her aunts claim multiple orgasms are the source of their limber joints.

But then Marla and her kids all but blow up the town on day one. And her first boyfriend, the one who broke her heart long before her ex did, seems better than ever.

He has his eye on her…

So does everyone else.

Somehow it’s on her, and the magical creature who won’t get out of her head, to save Gales Haven. Before her former mother-in-law redecorates the town in baby pink … and breaks the centuries-old spell that keeps it safe and hidden.

Perfect Pending is a Paranormal Women’s Fiction novel. If you love snarky stories with women so empowered they’re a force to be reckoned with, then you’ll love Perfect Pending, the first book in the Witches of Gales Haven series.

my review

You know, as a 43-year-old woman I am loving this newish Paranormal Women’s Fiction genre. Getting to have all the paranormal fun with heroines that are my own age is a hoot. As with any genre some of the ones I’ve read have been better than others. I’d call this one middle of the road. The writing and editing are perfectly readable. But the whole thing—with militant hedgehog mothers, talking mice, sex obsessed geriatrics, etc—was just a little too over the top cutesy for me. It felt very much like it was trying too hard.

Having said that, I liked Marla and her kids. (And the kids were tolerable. So often kids in such books are ridiculous in one manner or another.) I appreciate that the love interest was gentle and kind, no alpha ass-hole in sight. And the theme that family persists is a good one.

All in all, I’d read another Ashta book.

 

Leveling up 1-3 kf Breene

Book Review: Leveling Up (#1-3), by K.F. Breene

leveling up 1-3 k.f. breene

After seeing them recommended in a Fans of Urban Fantasy group, I picked up copies of K. F. Breene‘s Magical Midlife Madness, Magical Midlife Dating, and Magical Midlife Invasion while they were free on Amazon.

magical midlife madness

Description from Goodreads:

A woman starting over. A new house with an unexpected twist. A cape wearing butler acting as the world’s worst life coach.

“Happily Ever After” wasn’t supposed to come with a do-over option. But when my husband of twenty years packs up and heads for greener pastures and my son leaves for college, that’s exactly what my life becomes.

Do-over.

This time, though, I plan to do things differently. Age is just a number, after all, and at forty I’m ready to carve my own path.

Eager for a fresh start, I make a somewhat unorthodox decision and move to a tiny town in the Sierra foothills. I’ll be taking care of a centuries old house that called to me when I was a kid. It’s just temporary, I tell myself. It’ll just be for a while.

That is, until I learn what the house really is, something I never could’ve imagined.

Thankfully forty isn’t too old to start an adventure, because that’s exactly what I do. A very dangerous adventure that will change my life forever. I have a chance to start again, and this time, I make the rules.

my review

I adored this. Yes, a couple jokes felt forced. As much as I loved Jessie giving the men how-to-be-better-for-women lectures they felt a little didactic at times. The idea of a magical house choosing a keeper isn’t new, and Jessie was just a little too flippant in her confidence sometime. But…but…but…but I just loved her and the story. I laughed so hard and so often reading this book that I couldn’t even steady my wine enough to sip it.

As a 43yo woman I could relate to so much of her struggle. I appreciated that she didn’t want getting a youthful body back to be the solution to middle age, especially for a woman. She liked herself as so many of us want to like ourselves in our older, more experienced bodies. The side characters cracked me up. The suggestion of romance was on a back burner and not focused on sex.

All in all, I had a hoot with this and can’t wait to jump into the next one.


magical midlife datingDescription from Goodreads:

The decision has been made. Jessie has taken the magic, and all the weird that goes with it. Including wings.

There’s only one problem – she can’t figure out how to access them.

Through a series of terrible decisions, Jessie realizes she must ask for help. Gargoyle help.

But she could’ve never predicted who answers her call – he’s an excellent flier, incredibly patient, and a good trainer. He’s also incredibly handsome. And interested.

Maybe flying isn’t the only thing she needs help with. Maybe she needs help getting back on that saddle, too, emerging into the dating pool.

Except, the new gargoyle is also an alpha, just like Austin, and the town isn’t big enough for two.

Turns out, flying is the least of her problems.

my review

I liked this one, but not as much as the first book. I understood her desire to get back in the ‘dating’ saddle again (really she just wants to try sex for the first time since her divorce and I respect that), but I didn’t understand why she didn’t call D on all his RED FLAGS before she did. I still adore the friends-for-now relationship she has with A though.

I was massively disappointed that, after saying in book one that she didn’t want getting a more youthful body to be the solution to middle age, especially for a woman, she essentially did just that. Maybe she didn’t go whole hog and get her 20yo body back, she just got some aspects of it back. But the way the book moved from her wearing chucks and no make-up in book one to slinky red or sparkly dresses, heals and smokey eyed make-up in this one negated the goodwill book one developed on that front. I almost felt it a betrayal. Whats more, it was just rude that she took those upgrades and didn’t think to do the same for the guardians who are all well past 40yo.

But all the side characters still made me laugh. I still like the main character and am having fun with the series. I have book three and I’m looking forward to reading it.


Description from Goodreads:

Jessie is well on her way to learning her new life and settling in. The tough alpha, Austin, has joined her team, and she has painstakingly learned to fly. At the moment, life couldn’t get any better.

But it can get a whole lot…more irritating.

Her parents have decided to visit. They don’t know anything about magic, about Jessie’s new digs, or about the crazy crew living in and around Jessie’s house. She must do everything in her power to keep the truth away from them.

Which would be much easier without the unfelt presence lurking within Ivy House’s borders. It seems an enemy has figured out a way to magically bypass Ivy House’s defenses. Jessie is completely exposed.

The real battle, however, won’t be with the incoming force. It will be between Mr. Tom and Jessie’s mom, each intent on being the most helpful. Mr. Tom might have met his match, and he is not pleased.

Just when things were finally settling down, Jessie is in the thick of it again, and this time, the turmoil is all around her.

my review

I’m flying through this series and still enjoying it. This one, book three, felt very much like a middle book though. Things happen—the visiting parents provide opportunity for slapstick comedy, Jessie and Austin remain in each-other’s orbits, a battle, members joining the council, etc. But the whole thing kind of lacked series arc focus in the way so many middle books do, done with the introductions, but not moving toward any kind of conclusion yet. All in all, I read it, enjoyed it, and am looking forward to more, but book one is still my favorite by a mile (so far, anyhow).

I do want to make a note here of an experience I had literally minutes after I finished book two. I finished the book, put down my Kindle, and picked up my phone, so immediately after. I was checking in with the same Fans of Urban Fantasy group and someone had asked

Can someone please explain this whole paranormal women’s fiction thing of 40 year old women who have grown children, and no life at 40 (until their husband dumps them and they get a hot faerie bf, obviously)? As a 40-something woman myself, i am not finding I’m able to identify with this anymore than I can with the hot 22 year-olds who predominate in UF…

She went on to also mention women so often being inexperienced in sex. This prompted discussion, obviously, with responders all over the map from agreeing whole-heartedly to stating, “It’s fantasy, Karen.”

But as the debate rolled along, Breene popped in to comment. Now keep in mind PWF isn’t a particularly old genre. I don’t know a lot about how it came to be, but there seem to be 13 authors recognized as the originators and Breene is one of them. And while her response was NO WHERE near Author Behaving Badly level, she did say things like “But as the co-creator of pwf, I figured I’d better stand on the front lines and return fire.” And I just thought it was an oddly defensive stance, characterizing a reader discussion about preferences and dislikes in a genre as combat or an attack. In fact, that was my general read on her responses in generaldefensive, as if personally attacked, which wasn’t how I took the original post.

Facebook screen shotI made several comments (some of which I deleted because the commenters seemed to be starting to take sides and I didn’t want to find myself offending anyone by accident), one of which she ‘corrected.’

This was someone recommending Breene’s series to the woman who dislikes the divorce component. (Magical Midlife Madness starts with the heroine getting a divorce.)

Again, I thought it oddly defensive. Her clarification essentially said the same thing I did in the comment she was responding to. There had been a lack of good sex in the main character’s life. But the “ I won’t apologize for that” again seemed defensive. No one was criticizing her or even the book, nothing had been said that would necessitate an apology. The intent of my comment was solely to make sure the OP, who had just been recommend a book that contained the very element she stated she dislikes, knew that before picking it up. I wasn’t discouraging anyone reading it. In fact, I said I liked it.

As stated, I don’t think Breene was in Author Behaving Badly territory. But it was enough that I’d be cringing  and cautious if this post and review were a bad one. I’d wonder if and how she’d respond. Because she’s shown herself to be defensive, IMO, and willing to step into readers’ spaces to “return fire.” I’m noting all this here should I choose to pick up another of her series in the future. I probably will, I have enjoyed what I read of this one so far, but I don’t want to end up embroiled in any drama.