Books I read this week: Vol 16. April 29

Written in Red

Goodreads

Author: Anne Bishop

Series: The Others #1

Tags: Urban Fantasy, Alternate World, werewolves, vampires, crow shifters, bear shifters, coyote shifter, elementals, elemental ponies!

Format: Audiobook

Rating: Yay!

 

I am in love with this series.

 

See, this is why I like the chance aspect of reading the OverDrive romance collection from A to Z. I never would have picked this series. Yet, here I am, and I can’t hardly put it down.

 

I talked a little bit about it when I read Vision in Silver (#3) last week. A race of highly adaptable magical beings stand between the human race and the forces of nature. Most of them adapted to one kind of animal (wolf, crow, bear, coyote, etc.) for millions of years, and then later adapted to also shift into a human form. They call humans “clever meat” and look upon them as prey that make cool stuff like TV. They mostly ignore humans, only intervening when humans start getting too destructive or cocky.

I love how The Others seem so separate from humans. They are mysterious and scary; imagine living among beings who can and do take down and EAT your own species. And yet, you end up sympathizing with them, because there is a sweetness to them. Besides, humans are dumb and greedy and mess up the environment and each other all the time.

 

And then blood-prophet-turned-Pollyanna-of-werewolves-and-vampires comes in and shakes it all up. 

 

Meg is so adorable. She is sweet without being weak or timid, emotional without being overly sentimental, she sticks up for herself, and works hard to protect the people she loves. 

She walks into an Others community and steals their hearts so hard they question everything they know about humans. 

 

There are a lot of cute, innocent moments in the series. The Others adopt characteristics of the animals they shift into. The Wolves like to rough-house or chase play, will snap their teeth when angry, and whine when sad or frightened. The Crows are chatty, playful, and obsessed with shiny things. Meg has to come up with ways to get around their behaviors.

In one scene, a Crow named Jake took all of the pens she uses for her job. She knew he liked to build things with them, so she bought the equivalent of K’Nex building toys, but told him he can’t have them until he brings back her pens.

He leaves her four pens on her table in the morning. 

She leaves out four toys.

He leaves her some more pens.

She leaves him more toys.

He brings back the rest of the pens.

She lays out the rest of the toys for him to take back to his house.

The next day, another Crow walks in, looking sheepish. “Those were great toys you gave Jake…”

“How many boxes of toys do the rest of the Crows want ordered?”

The Crow holds up her hand, fingers spread out: “Five, please.”

 

Compare that adorable scene with the one where a couple of Crows eat the eyes out of a still-alive trespassing human, and you get a pretty interesting book.

 

There’s also a few scenes where the big, scary Wolves find out how awesome dog beds are.

 

Gah! I love it. Can’t wait to read more.

Actually, I can, because I’m on the wait list for the second book. *Shakes fist* Curse you, OverDrive!


 

RR: Falling Into Bed with a Duke

Goodreads

Author: Lorraine Heath

Series: Hellions of Haversham #1

Tags: Historical Romance, Victorian, Dukes!, secret identity, masks, boudoir, PTSD, merchant’s daughter, forthright female, discalculia

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!

 

This is a reread. I read it before, and wanted to revisit it since I finished the others of the Hellions of Haversham series.

Just so you know, the second and third ones are:

The Earl Takes All – Live Twin Dead Twin Switcheroo!

The Viscount and the Vixen – mysterious past! Widow! Hasty arranged marriage! Man who can’t love!

 

My general impression of Lorraine Heath is that I like her books up until the ending. The ending drones on too long, and then I get bored.

I think my favorite of this series is this one, Falling into Bed with a Duke. The Viscount is far too moody, and I got bored at the end of the Earl. However, I like one aspect of the Earl. Dead Twin’s wife whispers secrets into Dead Twin’s right ear because he lost his hearing in that one. So when Live Twin takes Dead Twin’s place, he hears everything that she whispers.

FYI, I know the names of both Dead Twin and Live Twin, I just like calling them Dead Twin Live Twin.

 

There’s nothing really stand out about this book to make it my favorite. I think I the heroine the most. She is one of those forthright females that I love. She decides to get rid of her v-card, and goes to one of those brothels where women of the aristocracy are also invited. Here, they call it a boudoir. 

I’m calling bullshit on that whole boudoir idea. Victorian England aristocratic females hidden under masks, choosing sex partners? Nuh uh. The amount of times an establishment like that shows up in a romance novel versus the amount of boudoirs that actually existed are probably very different numbers.

 

The woman who narrates these books has a bit of a warble in her voice, and it makes every character sound eighty. Also, at the end they had a dude narrate the epilogue. Strange. They usually only do that when the main book was in the POV of the woman, and the epilogue is in the POV of the man. But this one switched off POV throughout the book… so I don’t know why they went the extra mile to get another voice actor.

Maybe because epilogues are lame?


 

When the Duke Was Wicked

Goodreads

Author: Lorraine Heath

Series: The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James #1

Tags: Historical Romance, Victorian, Dukes!, widower, writer, cancer, childhood sweethearts

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!

 

Okay, I take it back. This is my favorite Lorraine Heath so far. 

Which is not to say that is it one of my all-time-favorite-ever-super-awesome books, but it was fun. AND I didn’t get bored at the end!

And ooh, a bit steamier than her other books. I wouldn’t say that the Duke was wicked wicked, but he’s a bit more wicked than the usual historical romance.

 

Does Lorraine Heath only write about rakes who “can’t love”? Cuz it’s 4:4 as far as the heroes in the books I have read of hers.

“I can’t love, I just lust after her, obsess about her, respect her as a person, want to hang out with her during non-sexy times, will sacrifice everything for her, and oh fuck”

 

His reasoning is that he can “never love again” after his wife dies / guilt / generally just being a stubborn butt about it. He sets out to help a family friend find the right husband, and then categorically destroys all her chances by sneaking her off to dark corners to make out/other things. Then he’s like “PSYCH that was just a demo to show you what a gentleman should not do,” and then prances off like it was a totally reasonable excuse.

Fair warning, this dude is a first class A-hole. His hot and cold approach of making out with her and then telling her it was nothing is beyond rude, bordering on manipulation. I wasn’t as mad about it as I usually am, though, because of the way she handles him.

The heroine has been in love with the Duke since childhood, and when she starts her husband hunt she enlists his help ostensibly to get him out of his grief funk, but is really playing a long con to get him to notice her as a woman. He’s doing all the pursuing, but she seems way more in control. I liked her.

 

And the cancer! Cancer, the ringer of tear-jerkers. I have to admit I got a little misty eyed at the end. Of course, I also get misty eyed at Say Yes to the Dress, so take that with a grain of salt.

At least the heroine suggested her operation included chloroform. Fanny Burney, a contemporary writer of Jane Austen, had a mastectomy without modern anesthesia.  Yikes!


 

Public Reading! Unmentionable

The Arkansas Literary Festival is happening this weekend!

I managed to hit one of the events already: a public reading of the book Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill.

This book is definitely on the top of my TBR pile now that I know about it. I have a sneaking suspicion that I already know a lot of what she writes about from my own interests of English Literature / ridiculous historical romance sexy scenes. Oneill has a sarcastic tongue-in-cheek tone to her narration that could be fun! Or could be annoying. We will have to see.

 

Oneill’s introduction included mentioning her Master’s in something about Victorian Literature, and my first thought was, “you lucky duck.” 

 

Can you get a Masters just for fun? Because I would do that for English Literature.

Actually, scratch that. I know you can get a Masters just for fun. The real question is, can you do it without amassing large amounts of debt?

No, you can’t. 

Ah, well, back to the grindstone, I suppose.

 

If you’d like a distilled version of her book, you can check out her Mental Floss article 7 Things Historical Women Wore Under Their Skirts. Very interesting read!


 

My One True Highlander

Goodreads

Author: Suzanne Enoch

Series: No Ordinary Heroes #2

Tags: Historical Romance, Regency, Highlanders!, lairds, Dukes!, Kidnapped!

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!

 

LOLz to this janky ass audiobook cover(below). I saw those big dark clouds, and I thought,

“Ahh, another balmy summer day in Scotland.”

I sent it to my sister who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and she pretty much confirmed it by taking a photo of the view from her window.

Exactly the same skyline!

Audiobook Cover
Scotland, IRL

The book was fun, somewhat nonsensical, pretty much what you expect from a Highlander romance. I liked the little boy, the hero’s youngest brother, who takes home orphaned animals and hides them from his brother.

There’s also a side romance between the heroine’s oh-so-proper slightly older lady’s companion and a Scottish blacksmith. Ha!

 

The heroes themselves don’t seem to know which way is up as far as their motivations go, but whatevs. I hate you turns into I hate that I love you turns into I hate that you love me turns into I love that you love me lets get married.

People are getting kidnapped left and right in this book. At one point, the hero turns to the heroine, and he says “All you alright?”

“Yes,” **sniff sniff** “I’m just getting a little tired of getting kidnapped so often.”

#EnglishLadyintheHighlandsProblems

#StruggleisReal

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