Books I read this week: Vol 20, May 27

Eternal Rider

Author: Larissa Ione

Series: Demonica #6, Lords of Deliverance #1

Tags: Paranormal Romance, demons, vampires, angels, hell hounds!, apocalypse, prophecy

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh

Meh.

What can I say? This is the 6th Larissa Ione book I’ve read in a row, and it’s pretty much on par with the rest.

Four immortal demon/angel siblings are cursed to become the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Each has the capacity for great evil, an alter ego that won’t come into play until their “seal” is broken. Much like a video game boss, they have one weakness that, if broken, will be their downfall. Once all four become evil, the apocalypse starts. Gotta catch ’em all!

Their happy-go-lucky brother has turned into his evil alter ego Pestilence at the beginning of this book, so this shit is on.

…And somehow, in the midst of all this end of the world shit, they find girlfriends.

First up is Ares, alter ego War (obvs). He’s the boring brother. Wamp wamp. He’s wise, no-nonsense, takes care of his family, and has a military bent.

He’s actually kind of a wuss for a 5000 year old war demon that was the inspiration for the Greek god Ares.

I always thought of Ares as the dumb jock of the pantheon. He’s war, yeah, but he’s not SMART war. That’s Athena. Ares is just the guy that’s along for the ride.

If I were to write Ares the Greek God, I would probably write him as a somewhat unhinged, uber-masculine guy’s guy who’s way more into fighting and drinking and reeking havoc than doing anything useful.

Or, actually, I wouldn’t write Ares at all. Cuz fuck that dude. Athena is so much cooler.

This Ares was kind of just…meh.

But at least he wasn’t an outright asshole, like some of the incubus brothers from the previous Demonica books.

I actually kind of missed the incubus brothers, because you who does show up in this spinoff of the original series? KYNAN.

Oh. Fuck. That. Dude.

Onto the next!


Author: Larissa Ione

Series: Demonica #7, Lords of Deliverance #2

Tags: Paranormal romance, angels, demons, vampires, prophecy, apocalypse

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.

You know when you’ve been reading too much paranormal romance when…

Graphic design is part of my real job. I was working on a project the other day, and noticed that the photos I used in the project were not very diverse. I said to myself,

“There are a lot of human boys in this.”

…human…?

You know you’ve been reading too much paranormal romance when you feel the need to preface a classification with “human.”

As opposed to demon boys, obviously.

Every good graphic designer knows you need to visually represent the full spectrum of gender, race, and demon/human orientation in promotional materials. That’s like, Graphic Design 101.

Anyway, it’s #2 of the Horsemen series, and this one is about the horse(wo)man Limos (aka, Famine). She, guess what, meets a guy.

Limos is unwillingly betrothed to Satan, and must stay chaste to avoid having to marry him. Enter Military Human Arik, who tumbles into her hot mess of a life, gets accidentally tortured, and decides to marry her to get her out of her contract with Satan.

Limos needs one hell of an upgrade in badassery. She’s a fucking horseman of the apocalypse for godssakes. The sole female horsewoman. Get your shit together!

Despite being immortal, near indestructible, previously evil, compelled to participate in all great famins, witness to and harbinger of 5000 years of the worst evil on Earth, she STILL takes a backseat to her brothers and her puny, often injured human boyfriend.

Weirdly, the fact that he’s a human never really came up as an issue. All the other books spent a lot of time on

“oh no! She’s a human, and is so weak and puny and short lived! I shouldn’t love her! Forbidden love! I’m doooooomed!”

*cries in corner.*

Limos talks a lot about how strong and capable he is, never mentions his frighteningly short mortality, and is soooo happy to finally have some strong arms to lean on.

Oh, wah.

You know you could crush him, right? His tiny, fragile little body? YOU COULD CRUSH HIM.

Luckily, Arik wins immortality by a strange fluke at the end of the novel.

Basically, Limos is the spoiled baby of her family, who found a man who will continue to spoil her into eternity. So, don’t take responsibility for your actions, Limos. It’s fine.

Also, she for some reason wants a “traditional” (a laughable use of the word, considering how old she is) American human wedding, with a fancy gown and wedding cake and everything.

WTF.

Limos, you basic.

Much like the other girl’s (Sin’s) story, I liked Limos’s story better than some others, but not enough to say I liked it best. I think there’s some correlation going on. Ione’s women have greater capacity to be vulnerable, but end up being too vulnerable for my liking, far too heteronormative on the whole.

Limos’s story marks the last of the Larissa Ione novels in OverDrive! Oh noooo! It was a fun (if somewhat frustrating) ride while it lasted.

I’m bummed because I’m FINALLY interested in an Ione novel, and they don’t have the audiobook. It’s the next one: Thanatos, or Death’s book. He is so severely angsty, and a bit of a lost puppy, so he sounds more my taste. I may even be tempted to read it in book form.

Thanatos, and my compulsive desire to finish all of a series, might bring me back to Ione in the distant future.

Not right now, though. Lots of paper books waiting in the wings.

TTFN, Larissa Ione!


Author: Meljean Brook

Series: Iron Seas #1

Tags: Urban Fantasy, Historical Fantasy Romance, Steampunk, Dukes!, detective, kickass heroine, Edwardian, nanobytes, dirigiblebles, pirates!, sea captain!

Format: ebook

Rating: Yay!

Yay! So much fun!

This was the book for our next Getting Lit podcast that we will be recording this weekend. And it was great!

It was darker than I thought it would be. I guess the only exposure to steampunk has been Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, and that is nothing if not irrevocably silly. But I had to take a break from the series once in a while, cuz that shit went deep.

Iron Duke opens ten years after the downfall of an oppressive ruling force called the Horde. They control most of the world, placating citizens of Europe, Africa, and other places with nanotechnology “bugs” in their bloodstream. The Horde can change the mood of person, can graft metal apparatus to their bodies, can make them go into breeding “frenzies.”

Horror stories galore. On one hand, the bugs keep the person healthy, and stronger. On the other, they were once ruled by them.

The idea of someone else controlling your own body is very disturbing.

The Iron Duke manages to topple the Horde’s defense, and England is for the first time in centuries under its own rule again. England is still recovering as a nation during the first book.

It’s interesting that it starts a few years after the major event that frees the nation. It’s easy to  write a dystopian novel where the curtain closes on the hero/heroine toppling the oppressive government. Job well done! Everything will be peachy now!

Nah.

The characters we meet are all broken in one way or another, trying to overcome the trauma from years of oppression, horror, maltreatment, abuse.

It’s a little rough.

But it’s also all so fascinating. The world building is great. It’s one of those you just have to jump in. What is the Horde exactly? I still don’t know. They don’t look like Englishmen…maybe Asian… Middle Eastern? How’d they invent that technology? Where are they now? How did they get that way?

Fuck if I know.

I don’t know if reading any more of the series will enlighten me.

But, ah, the Duke. He’s, better yet, a pirate turned Duke! He latches onto the heroine and pursues her aggressively, almost too aggressively, like whoa, get a grip. Halfway through he turns into that character that all heroines hope for: the Alpha who focuses all his energy on loving and protecting her.

There’s a part where the Duke finds a newspaper cartoon depicting her in a disgraceful light, and he runs around shaking it in people’s faces: “Who do I kill for this? Who can I torture and kill?”

Who to kill for public ridicule?

Like, everyone.

I also love his sidekick Scarsdale, maybe the most of them all. The heroine is pretty kickass. At one point, she dangles from a rope to harpoon a mutated giant squid in the eye.

There’s a lot of racial and gender discrimination tension, but luckily the heroine Mulans her way into the hearts of the public with her heroic acts. Has that ever happened before in real life? Someone redeemed in the eyes of the public by some heroic act? So much so that said public overcomes whatever prejudice they hold against the hero?

I can’t think of one either.

I don’t know if I will read another from Iron Seas Series. I will have to ponder that.


Author: Ilona Andrews

Series:  Kate Daniels #3

Tags: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, shifters, vampires, necromancers, kickass heroine, cop, bounty hunter, underground fighting ring, rag tag team of misfits

Format: audiobook

Rating: super yay!

AWWWWW Ilona Andrews!

I forgot Andrews existed for a little bit, especially since the Kate Daniels books are in such high demand that is takes FOREVER to get one from the library.

But, aw, coming back to Andrews is like coming back to an old friend. No matter what weird, frustrating, or daft romance I’m reading, I can always count on an Ilona Andrews to be good.

Imaginative, immersive, fascinating world building? Check!

Characters with strength and vulnerability? Check!

Kick ass ladies? Check!

And all so much FUN. I rarely have as much fun as in an Ilona Andrews book.

You know what else is great about this series? Besides the above, I mean.

The wealth of relationships outside of the romance/family nucleus.

Women who are friends. Men and women who are friends. A sidekick. A ward. All without any type of romantic attachment.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that Kate and her long time ally, coworker, and friend Jim have no romantic attachment whatsoever. Not even in the dead end idle flirtation that happens in love triangles. NO LOVE TRIANGLES. Thank fucking god for that.

She hangs out with a lot of dudes that seem like alright guys, and are definitely hot, and it’s not a problem. She hangs out with women who are as hot as her, also single and there is no competition.

I’d say it’s like the real world, but even the real world doesn’t pass muster. Men and women should be able to be friends, if stupid fucking gender rules didn’t get in the way.

This book ended too soon, and now I have wait to get the next one. Stupid OverDrive!


Author: Jeanne St. James

Series: N/A

Tags: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, FBI Agent, domestic abuse, scientist

Format: audiobook

Rating: yuck

Fun fact: Romance, Erotic Romance, and Erotica are three different things.

It’s part of the reason I protest whenever someone says that romance is basically porn. It’s not!…but it kind of is… and some of it really is…but some of it’s not!

I mean, just because there are sex scenes, doesn’t necessarily make the entire book porn. Otherwise, HBO would be all porn.

Early in my OverDrive days, I used to use Audience filter to filter out “Mature Adult” from “General Adult.” For some reason I thought it would weed out romances about old people.

Oh, naïve Wendy!

Now that I have gone through the bulk of OverDrive’s romance audiobooks, I can tell you that the “mature” filter seems to just be added willy-nilly. There were a lot of non-racy books with the tag, and then many more that probably should have been marked so that weren’t.

So what really separates erotic romance from romance? From extensive research, I’ve seen one difference. I’ll give you a hint as to what it is.

It starts with a b.

And it ends with utt stuff.

No, actually, it’s explicit sex scenes and paper thin plot lines, but whatever.

I was frankly expecting less of a plot than I got. But the plot that’s present has issues.

The heroine is recovering from a bad relationship, and runs into an FBI agent coming home from a long stint deep undercover. The way he acts makes me uncomfortable, especially for this girl that just came out a physically abusive situation.

So glad she got out of that old relationship to run into the arms of man who is also overbearing, paranoid, controlling, and mildly bigoted, but not physically abuse! Yay!

Pattern of dysfunctional behavior much?

He thinks she might be in danger, and instead of talking to her like a normal person, he goes the Ethan Hawke-White Fang route and throws verbal rocks at her until she leaves. He starts treating her like her ex treated her. It’s not just awful, it’s straight up triggering. How can you do that?

Then, just a few months together, a few weeks apart, and one near-death situation later, he asks her to marry him while he’s being wheeled into the ambulance.

I don’t know about her, but I would say HELL TO THE NO. You have the gall to propose to me, while I’m feeling grateful you saved my life, high on endorphins, and afraid that you might not survive?

Nuh uh.

Come back to me after six months of living with me, after you’ve rehabilitated from your injuries, and retirement from the force no longer holds its novelty. Yeah, it’s not as romantic, but I don’t want any unpleasant surprises farther down the line.

I’m putting proposing while being rolled into an ambulance on my Bad Ways to Propose to Wendy list, right under flash mob. (I fucking hate flash mobs.)

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