Books I read this week: Vol 19, May 20

Ecstasy Unveiled

Author: Larissa Ione

Series: Demonica #4

Tags: Paranormal Romance, urban fantasy, demons, vampires, werewolves, angels (ugh)

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!

 

LOLZ to these titles. Sexy Euphemism + Un + Concealed Pseudonym

Me and Thesaurus.com came up with a few more:

  • Ardor Uncamouflaged
  • Lust Unlidded
  • Yearning Unsheathed
  • Infatuation Uncoated
  • And the Waffle House Special: Passion Unsmothered, Uncovered, Unchunked, Undiced, Uncapped, Unpeppered, Untopped, and Uncountried.

 

Either the books are getting better or I am slowly being brainwashed into enjoying these books more. It's probably the latter, let's be honest.

 

PRO: I liked Lore more than the other brothers. He's one of those kinda dumb antiheroes. He's an assassin, half incubus, and recent addition to the family. He's got a bummer of a superpower (a touch to his right hand can kill anyone instantly) which adds acceptable levels of angsty to his character. But he's also charmingly irreverent and almost cheerful for his situation.

 

CON: UGH, Idess. She's an Angel in Training (swear to God, she is going to "earn her wings") and much too pure to be likeable.

Ugh, I hate too pure heroines. At the very least, they are annoying in a harmless way, but the more pure a heroine becomes, the greater danger she will become a flat character, and even a caricature to the point of being an insult to womankind.

 

CON: UGHHH ANGELS. Far too much pureness going on. And prophecies. And murky biblical illusions. World building around angels means you have to have a conversation about what "pure" is, and that's always unpleasant. In this one, Idess couldn't have sex, or drink anything stronger than wine, or do, like, fucking anything.

I'm putting angels on my list of Paranormal Creatures to Avoid in Romance Novels, right under fairies.

I fucking hate fairies.

 

So, she's celibate, but she's opposite an actual sex demon, so the things she can't do seem to lessen to the point I thought we'd get to The Loophole.

We didn't. 

But every time she was like, "let me help you..." I kept thinking. "God sees that, ya know."

 

I'll say again, Ione really wrote herself into a corner with this sex demon thing. I mean, romance novels are not about the sex. Not really. It's all in the lead up. There is way more sexual tension to sex ratio going on.  It's really hard (har har) to build the tension if they also have to have sex all the time too.

In book #3 the incubus had an anti-aphrodisiac to shoot himself with whenever things got too heated that was invented like, the day before he needed it.

In this book, Lore (and his sister Sin, who's in the next book) are only half incubi and OH SO CONVENIENTLY have only some of the characteristics. Handies: a-ok. Blue balls: not fatal. Thank god that half breeds exist and don't have to deal with the rules previously laid out by the author.

 

Deus ex machina (almost literally) showed up to give them the perfect mate bond where they live the same length of time, AND they both get to go to heaven afterwards. Even after she broke her vow of celibacy and everything. Man, it pays to be an angel.

 

Oh, and it felt super weird to have a dude narrator this time. This narrator guy rolls his R's, like he's auditioning for Gaston or something. Maybe that's another reason why I didn't like Idess very much. Good women sound kind of weird coming from a male narrator.


 

Sin Undone

Author: Larissa Ione

Series: Demonica #5

Tags: Paranormal Romance, urban fantasy, demons, incubus, vampires, werewolves, assassins, kick ass heroine, paramedic, paranormal hospital

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!

 

Ione's feisty females come off a little TOO feisty for my liking. Unnecessarily feisty. 

Sin is half incubus and an anomaly, the first female incubus recorded. And her incubus traits SUCK.  Not only does she need sex, her release is only activated by semen. (yuck) She is understandably a little fucked up from that.

How awful! To be completely dependent on others for your most basic needs. I think she got the shit stick out of all of them.

She's an assassin-turned-assassin overlord (break that glass ceiling, girl!), and she unwittingly started a werewolf epidemic with her kill power. 

 

I liked Conall. He's a chill guy; a dampire (vampire/werewolf hybrid) paramedic that stumbles into her hot mess of a life.

 

My only qualm is that they spend so much time dancing around each other, two emotionally unavailable people trying to break into each other's life. 

"You need to feel!"

"No, YOU need to feel!"

It's cute, but after a while, c'mon.

 

I was super excited to see Luc, a werewolf side character, get his romance in this book. Ever since his last girlfriend was killed in the first book I've been waiting for his story. I wish that we spent more time on it. Also, SUPER BUMMED that the narrator didn't use a growly werewolf voice in this audiobook. 

 

This audiobook series has a bad habit of changing narrators and do not like it. Going from some ladies, to Renee Raudman, to some weird dude, back to some ladies is driving me a little nuts. Usually narrators are consistent throughout a series. The good ones have developed voices for each of the characters, and manage to maintain those voices throughout the series.

It's amazing what a simple change in intonation can do. The longer you listen, the more you associate that tone with that character. Changing the intonation halfway through the series is kind of like a friend deciding, without mentioning it, to suddenly start talking to you in an Australian accent. 

I spend a lot of time thinking about how narrators choose the tones for their characters. For Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series, there was a bad guy who consistently showed up in each book, a handsome blonde slightly insane duke that blackmails people for fun. His character was portrayed with a high, squeaky, effeminate voice by the narrator. However, when he got his own book and became the protagonist, his voice dropped two octaves.

Funny, that.

Luc was first portrayed with a wolfy growly voice in the first book, which is a personal favorite of mine. He completely lost it in this one.

Also, Con's voice wasn't very different from others. Sometimes I got him mixed up with the girl characters. Woops.

 

Anyway, it was fun, went on a little too long, with too many plot twists, but now they are one big happy family. Obvious Tie In to Next Series came riding in and out of this book long enough to accomplish his goal. Next up for the Demonica series: the four horsemen of the apocalypse!

 

So is there a part in Revelations where the four horsemen get girlfriends? Cuz it's happening.

*Crosses fingers* Just please, no more angels.


 

The Forbidden Duke

Author: Darcy Burke

Series: The Untouchables #1

Tags: Historical Romance, regency, dukes!, recluse, stick in the mud, ruined woman

Format: paper book!

Rating: yuck.

 

Ugh, this book was awful.

It takes a lot for me to not like a Regency Romance, but this book is an overachiever.

It, along with #2 of the series, was a gift from my romance book of the month club. So, of course, it was suitably bad. But autographed!

 

It's pretty obvious this book was self-published. The first thing I noticed was that it was a strangely fast read. I was to 100 pages before I knew it. Really? I felt cheated out of feeling accomplished. The book has weirdly small dimensions, with weirdly large margins, so that the actual text is the length of brochure content.

 

Everything else? Just boring, bad. The writing's not great. The motivations of the characters were scatter brained. The hero had hardly any reason to be who he was or to like her at all. He was hack-Darcy, staring out of windows, and morosely sitting in a corner during parties. She was, I don't know, something. Not much character development there.

 

Worst of all, the steamy scene wasn't even good. She throws herself at him for no reason, at the risk of everything, after knowing him for a little while. And it was generally pretty awkwardly written after that.

What a ho.

 

THANK GOD he likes her for no reason and decides to marry her one second after bedding her. Cuz that could have gone horribly horribly wrong for her.

 

The storyline is Previously Ruined Destitute Woman Gets Second Chance at Finding a Husband with the Help of a Duke that has a Boner for Her and Ends Up Messing Up Her Chances For Marrying Anyone Else But Him.

If you want to read something like that, don't read this one. Read instead In Love With a Wicked Duke by Lorraine Heath. It's considerably better written, and far steamier than this boring, tiny little thing. Bonus: steamy scene involving brandy.

 

Despite the fact that I own the second book, I will not be reading it, or anything else by Darcy Burke in the near future.


 

Desire Unchained

Author: Larissa Ione

Series: Demonica #2

Tags: Paranormal romance, urban fantasy, demons, vampires, werewolves, angels, accidental mating, BDSM, curse

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.

 

Well, Shade and Runa’s story ended up being a bummer and a half.

 

Though he’s one of the main players, you don’t get much of a sense of Shade throughout the rest of the series. He is pretty much Second Brother Chill Brother, the peacekeeper. Other than that, he chews gum, loves his kids, and says “Hell’s bells.” That’s pretty much it.

 

So imagine my surprise when Chill Brother turned into Enormous Angsty Bitchy Brother for the majority of his own story.

 

Shade (incubus) and Runa (werewolf) had a month long failed relationship, and are thrown together again a year later. Shade’s Bad Brother captures them and tricks them into creating a mate bond.

Enter excuse to be bitchy: Shade has been under a curse that ensures torture and death if he ever falls in love. Hence the dastardly plan to mate bond him to someone.

 

So, they are forced into hanging out with each other, which is a great plot device (mate bond of convenience) if Shade wasn’t so set on being a dick to avoid attachment.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be hanging around some dude who insults me and never tells me what is going on, mate bond or no. Just because you are cursed to live forever in unending torture, that doesn't mean you have to be a dbag about it.

 

And speaking of dbags, Kynan shows up again in Part 2 of dbagging his way to love in three parts. Ugh. Kynan. I hated him when he was good. I hate him when he's tortured and self destructive. I hated him when he was on the path of recovery. I just hate him.

 

Ione got super into the idea of a “dark” side (shade, dark, shadow, get it? Get it??) and went straight for BDSM. But don’t get too excited, kinksters, because he hates that part of himself. The whole hating thing left me more than a little confused about it showing up in the first place, and ultimately I wanted to throw the whole BDSM thing out the window. Even though he’s the D, the non-consenty vibe is coming from him. It’s suggested he has to do it because of his demon heritage.

 

Yeah, thanks but I’ll pass.

 

Awww, I kind of wish he was an actual umber demon, instead of an incubus with umber demon heritage. Umber demons are described as dark gray scaly humanoid demons that are the prey of the underworld. They are gentle and loving, they have tight knit families and live in caves, they can sense the good and evil in people, and their main magic is the ability to blend into shadows. Awwww. How adorable.

 

That’s kind of the issue that I have with Ione’s series. The world building is excellent. Lots of fun new demon species, superpowers, exotic lands, situations, etc. I just don’t like the main characters very much. I wouldn’t go as far to say that it is bad character development, since Lord knows I don’t ask for that from other romance novels.

I think it’s just that the super angsty isn’t my brand of catnip.

 

BTW, the Bad Brother is straight up Voldemort. At the beginning of the series, they think he's dead, and he progresses into various forms of half living throughout the series. Where's Professor Quill? Someone check under his turban!

 

Oddly, I think my favorite of the series so far has been the spin-off short story in an anthology that I read before all this. The story was called Vampire Nightclub and I LOVED it. Fight clubs! Night clubs! Treachery! Weird surprise demon species! None of this incubus bullshit.

 

Ah, well. Onto the four horsemen.


 

Hannah and the Highlander

Author: Sabrina York

Series: Untamed Highlanders #1

Tags: Historical Romance, Regency, highlanders!, scarred, stutter, big fella, managing female, strong and silent

Format: paper book!

Rating: super yay!

 

Jackpot!

 

Highlander! Strong and silent type! Managing female! Big hulking dude with a soft heart! All my catnip rolled into one.

 

Loved.

It.

 

Aww this dude is the biggest sweetie. He writes her notes because he’s afraid to stutter around her. She gets annoyed because she thinks he’s being impersonal! AWW!

 

The cutest moment was when she devises a “game” where they write to each other instead of speaking. Her understanding of him goes from “gruff, distant husband” to “OMG HIS SOUL IS BEAUTIFUL FRAGILE FLOWER WITH PUPPY EYES AND RAINBOWS FOR PETALS.”

 

I sped through it, had one of those moments where I wanted to know what happened so bad that I skipped ahead, and forgot to skip back.

The politics, I grant you, are not that interesting.

BUT THE PUPPY EYES.

HIS INSIDES ARE WHAT BABY PANDA FUR MUST FEEL LIKE.

 

Congrats, Sabrina York, you are now on my Authors to Watch For List.

 

Also, can we take a moment to talk about the highlander sport of caber tossing? Dudes just throwing logs. Like, actual twenty foot logs. As hard as you can. That’s the sport.

Jesus, that's manly.

The opening scene is the heroine overtly ogling the hero as he wins the Let's Throw Actual Trees Around competition.

Um, yes, please. I'll take one of those for the road.