Keystone, Dannika Dark | Sins of a Wicked Duke, Sophie Jordan | Wildfire, Ilona Andrews
I’ve been having trouble meeting my weekly deadlines as of late, so I decided to change the blog name to simply Books I Read. I’m going to change my posting days to the second and fourth Sunday of the month. The third Sunday will be the podcast!
Author: Dannika Dark
Series: Crossbreed #1
Tags: paranormal romance, super hybrid, vampire, mage, shifter, ragtag team, secret society of vigilantes
I’m sorry, Dark, you are now on my Skip List.
Is it just because you had a great editor in the Seven series? Is that it?
This book is so bloated. Copy/paste everything I said about the Mageri series, but leave out the adorable Cheetah dude.
She’s uninteresting, very uselessly defensive, and is pretty much a carbon copy of Silver.
Also, now I’m getting a sense of what the first book of the Mageri series might have been, because this first book of the series had lots of set up, very little romance, and very little action.
There was a set up for a romance, to which I roll my eyes, and say “here we go again…” Dark is falling in line with the more popular paranormal romance plot line of Lots of Tension Not Alotta Sense. They are nonsensically attracted to each other, nonsensically fighting it, unreasonably acerbic to each other, unreasonably possessive of each other.
All that AND it’s a set up for the next book.
The opposite is Christian from the Mageri series. He muddles along, barely passing as a hero. Luke warm feelings towards him, and I’m not that hard to please (when it comes to heroes). I give him a C+ average.
The group is probably best part, and even that’s a B-. It all feels very predictable. Ragtag team of misfits? Check. Varying powers, archetypes, and backgrounds? Check. Vigilante mission to bring order where there is none? You’ve got your manic pixie dream girl, strong silent type, comic relief jokester, and older male leader with a stick up his ass? Check, check, check, and check.
I love how they all have to live together. This group here is a overexcited puppy’s idea of a team.
1: We shall put together a team of the finest minds, each with their own strengths…
2: AND CATCHPHRASES??
1: What? I guess… We will tireless work together…
2: AND LIVE IN THE SAME HOUSE??
1: …I mean…sure. But we will work together to bring justice to…
2: THE DINNER TABLE?
1: …the.. dinner…?
2: WE HAVE TO EAT DINNER TOGETHER EVERY NIGHT. EVERY NIGHT, HEAR THAT, LISA?
Lisa: Yeah, yeah.
1: But back to the…
2: AND WE HAVE TO SIT NEXT TO OUR PARTNERS, WE HAVE PARTNERS, RIGHT? SO, WE WILL SIT NEXT TO OUR PARTNERS, AND PASS THEM THE POTATOES AND PEAS AND WE HOLD HANDS TO SAY GRACE AND THEN WE HIGH FIVE EACH OTHER BEFORE BEDTIME SNACKS AND STORYTIME AND WEAR MATCHING PAJAMAS WHILE ALL GOING TO SLEEP PILED AGAINST EACH OTHER IN ONE BIG BED.
1: I think you’re missing the point here…
2: WHAT’S OUR GAME ROOM GOING TO HAVE IN IT? OOH, I KNOW: SKEEBALL.
As for everything else–the drama, the mystery, the sexual tension–I’m giving it a hard pass.
Also, where I can I get me one of them Cheetah shifter males? They “highly value” all women, make sure they have food, pamper them, they can cook, they purr when they are happy…
Put my name on the top of the pre-order list, please.
Sins of a Wicked Duke
Author: Sophie Jordan
Series: The Penwich School for Virtuous Girls #1
Tags: historical romance, Regency romance, finishing school friends, servant, breeches part, Dukes!, angsty
Honey, sweetie, baby chile! Thinking the thinks is hard, isn’t it, Mr. Duke?! And the feels! Who has the time to feel the feels if the thinking needs thinks?!
Not the brightest duke in the shed. (OMG is there a shed full of dukes?? I just made up my own metaphor, and then fell in love with it.)
The duke has a hard life. He’s fabulously rich, attractive, can get any woman he wants, is weirdly fit for someone who lives a life of leisure, and has wandered the world seeking idle dissipation. Such tragedy! To make it worse, his grandfather was overly stern with him! He even has a scar on his hand!
Someone pass me my smelling salts, PLEASE!
Meanwhile, our heroine is being hounded by men with power over her on all sides. Thank God she meets the duke…and is hounded by him while he has power over her situation….
…because that’s better…?
It was a silly little book.
I was excited for the breeches part. She dresses up as a man, becomes his footman, then his valet (…how exactly? That doesn’t seem like a historically accurate career path), then is found out, then becomes a maid again, then does not take his offer of becoming his mistress, but still stays and has sex with him, but then leaves, and then meets his grandfather, and performs an Asshole Exorcism of the grandfather, and then the duke shows up again, and says “just kidding, I’ll marry you, I guess,” and happily ever after!!!
Too bad she couldn’t perform the same miracle turnaround with the duke, because he is an asshole throughout. He’s aggressive, possessive, angsty, and “doesn’t feel,” which is code for “can’t be arsed to figure out his feelings.”
And she’s not interesting.
I like books where the woman consciously decides to give up her virtue. Like they have a little monologue, “okay, I’m going to do this, and I will deal with the consequences.” Their first sex scene just kinda happens. On the kitchen table, no less. Romantique!
It just kinda happens, and then it just kinda happens again. Because he’s sad! Here, take my vagina, sad boy! Increase my risk of baring a child out of wedlock and therefore ruining my entire future because you feel bad, you poor rich sexy duke!
Out of all this, in terms of emotional labor, the duke’s herculean efforts seem to be:
- Have a feel.
- Try not to have sex with the help.
- Try not to have sex with the help too much.
- Extend the emotional vulnerability of keeping a mistress.
- Have a feel again.
- Miss her while she’s gone for LIKE A MONTH.
- Go to his goddamn dying grandfather’s deathbed because he told her to, and also because he’s a human being.
- I guess, marry her or something, cuz that’s what she wants.
Yes, standing ovation, duke.
Also, this Penwich school for girls is totally Lowood, I don’t know who she thinks she’s fooling. She was even punished for her red hair like some of the Lowood girls were. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan slipped in a bit about “meeting some weird girl named Jane Eyre who wanted to talk to me about passion and God and death, but I was like, ‘I’m only 8, dude, I just want to play with my dolls.'”
I think this book is in want of a good editor. There was at least one grammatical error, some word repetition of note, and the second sex scene just felt repetitive.
The last line before the epilogue was something about him brushing his “calloused fingers” across her face. Calloused from what? Drinking wine?
TL;DR: if you want a good breeches part book, don’t read this. Read Duchess by Night by Eloisa James or Switch by Lynsay Sands.
If you want a servant/lord pairing, don’t read this. Read Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran. Or, alternatively, servant/lady pairing Leopard King by Elizabeth Hoyt.
Just, don’t read this.
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3
Tags: paranormal romance, alternate world, superpowers,
Rating: SUPER YAY!
Sorry, I had to wait for the fireworks of pure joy to finish in my brain.
Dammit, Andrews, you did it again.
Allow me to refer you to all the good things that I said about Andrews:
And all the good things about the Hidden Legacy novels:
I don’t have much to add except that it’s a-MAZ-ing!
The same great characters with more development, the same troubles with new complications, families working together, kickass super couples, cool new powers… I just. I’m getting overexcited again.
The Evil Grandmother makes her appearance in this book and man, is she kickass. She has a great couple of scenes.
The younger kids of the Bayler family are growing up, and you get to see their awesome powers at work. I love the build up to Leon discovering his powers. And Annabelle (the younger sister) had a surprise power that blew me away. I have been waiting three books for this to happen, and the suspense was killing me. Well played, Andrews.
And of course, Rogan and Nevada are navigating the waters of a relationship in complicated times, and it is glorious. Rogan’s old fiance makes an appearance, and Nevada gets +100 points for not being unreasonably jealous or petty, for recognizing her feelings of jealousy and putting them in the right place, for trusting Rogan to make his own decisions, and to exercise empathy towards the woman who she could potentially see as a rival. Rinda, too, is not as two dimensional as you would think.
I just hate those side characters that are basically Conflict With Boobs: petty, man-stealing, cruel, two-faced, overly pretty women that only appear to cause havoc in a newly established relationship.
It’s internalized misogyny, thanks, romance novelists for keeping that going.
It cheapens everything: the heroine for demonizing a pretty woman she sees as a rival, the other woman for being reduced to her function as Sexual Threat, the hero for somehow having the potential to fall for this behavior, their relationship by making it superficial enough to be derailed so easily…
I could go on.
Rinda though, has reasons behind her pettiness, and development past being used as speed bump on the main character’s relationship. Rogan manages to view her situation with compassion and deals with her in a totally reasonable way like a mature human would do, not like a guy lead by his dick.
So, yay, Ilona Andrews! Y’all are awarded The Official Recognition of Human Characters Acting Like Humans Instead of Plot Devices, brought to you by Feminist Book Readers: Human Characters are Humans, Too.