Jan 13, 2018 | Blog, Books I Read

Adorable sidekick mummy brigade, and some talk about vampire bun hair | Another Christmas themed novella I didn’t realize was not the same as the Christmas theme novella I have already read | Bothy Bonkin’ | 99 Problems and a Duke Ain’t One.

Sex, Lies and Vampires

Author:  Katie MacAlister

Series: Dark Ones #3

Tags: paranormal, vampires, twins!, hidden superpowers

Format: audiobook, Audiobook Challenge (Paranormal, M)

Rating: yay.


To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to these books.

Fun! Yay! Pretty on par with the other two books I read from this series.


This one is about an American girl who takes a gig in Europe to steal a fancy ancient ring for a vampire. She meets our hero while he is also trying to steal it. Our hero is The Betrayer: he is hated by the Dark Ones for betraying his kind. And he is SO INTO his moniker. One of the best parts of the book is the ongoing joke of him unsuccessfully attempting to make the heroine show deference to him.

“I am The Betrayer, I am hated and feared by all my kind. I do not answer to ‘Bunny Cakes.'”


She gets mixed up in his brother’s plot to make some kind of vampire army (because: reasons). Mad cap race to find That Special Ring (there’s always one, isn’t there?) ensues. People are confused, betrayed, and throwing other people through windows. There’s a switcheroo because TWINS. Christian and Ally from book 2 think that The Betrayer is the bad guy. GuessWhatGuysHesNot.


Adorable sidekick of the day is… mummies!

Instead of the an ever growing cast of plucky ghost sidekicks (book 2), we have mummies! She accidentally raises mummies from the dead while in a museum, and they gleefully follow her around and gum her arm with desiccated lips.


Now that I finished book three, it’s safe to say I have the pattern down. Here are my findings:


PRO: Freedom of choice for heroines.

I mentioned the heroine’s freedom to choose their future in the post from two weeks ago. This time, she chooses on her own to mate bond with him. She just does it, and he’s like, “wait, no! I need to tell you more stuff!” “Too bad!”

It’s nice to see, also, that he at least attempts to bring her up to speed on the whole mate bonding thing.


PRO: Heroines are plucky, irreverent, and inquisitive.

Adrian (aka The Betrayer) has this weird thing with his eyes; they change drastically in color with every emotion. At one point, she figures out that they change color every time she touches him. As any person worth their salt would, she goes, “Whoa!” and then starts and stops touching his arm until he yells out “stop that!”

There are a hundred crappier ways to use the eye changing thing. MacAlister could have used it as an excuse to insert flowery language, or had the hero explain it through exposition. How much more fun is it to see a character, notice and test out new situations?

Lots more, is the answer.

Her inquisitive nature leads to many hilarious moments. My favorite exchange:

“What about bun hair? Can you make your hair into a huge bun like that guy in Bram Stoker’s Dracula?”

“We will discuss bun hair later.”


PRO: The heroes can be grouchy, but at least they aren’t dicks.

So far, no grandstanding, no coercion, no cringe-worthy behavior of any kind from these guys. Yay for observing consent! Knock on wood that they stay that way.


PRO: sidekicks and hijinks

Ghosts, goths, fake vampires, witches, mummies, a paranormal society named SPIT… Lots of opportunities for fun and humor.

Long ago, when I watched the BBC series of Robin Hood, I always wanted guest characters to join the troop. I can just see Robin Hood shouting out in his over cheerful voice, “And, you, sir! Will you join our merry band??”

The answer should always be yes.

And the answer is always yes here!



PRO: You don’t have to read them in order.

Only minimal contact with previous books. Previous characters show up in later books, but it’s not as if you need to know their story. In fact, this book might have been better if I didn’t know who Christian was. Then I wouldn’t know if “Christian” was a good or bad guy.


I’m having fun reading these, but I’m not 100% sold on the series for some reason.

A list of Cons to round out the review:

  • The heroines can get annoying.
  • Maybe a little too cutesy with the adorable sidekick brigade?
  • The heroes seem kind of bland. IDK, I am just a sucker for the broody hero.
  • Not enough sexual tension. There was hardly any in this book. Never mind insta-love; these guys acted like the were already married. There was very much a pre-paired couple feeling.


I wonder how I would like MacAlister’s historical romances. I’ve heard great things about The Naked Duke. Unfortunately, OverDrive doesn’t have any of them on audiobook.

Oh well! On to the next!



Once Upon a Christmas Eve (novella)

Author: Elizabeth Hoyt

Series: Maiden Lane #12.6

Tags: Christmas, historical, pre-regency, country party, snowed in

Format: audiobook, Audiobook Challenge (Historical, completed, catching up on new additions to the collection)

Rating: Yay!


Totally thought I had already read this book.

And no wonder! There is very little separating this with the book I confused it for.


Wait, is this that Christmas themed novella from a long Regency series that I love and mostly completed by an author I love with a girl in a green dress on the front?

Or is it the other author I love, of comparable popularity and themes, taking a stab at the Christmas novella trend by inserting a love story about previously ancillary characters somewhere in the middle of her most popular series?

Oh yeah. That one.


Don’t you think that the romance publishing world is a small one? I mean, there are only a few authors that consistently rise to On Sale at Target Level. They must be constantly rubbing elbows.

If they weren’t published on such different dates, I would guess that they drew straws over who gets which title. “Christmas Eve” (2017) makes so much more sense than “Winter’s Eve” (2011).

Christmas Eve turned out to be the better book, IMHO. I was so not keen on the hero in Winter’s. Wow. I REALLY didn’t care for the book, seeing as my review was “It was a thing.”


Hoyt, my darling authoress, one of my top Go-Tos, captured me once again with yet another broody, dastardly rake, brought down by his love for a sensible woman.

She gets me, Hoyt does. Always.


There’s not much to tell. It’s pretty simple. Snowed in during country house party. Rake meets spinster. Falls in love. Close quarters, resisting each other. Trysts while playing parlor games. Jealousy! Sexy times! The magic of the vag wins again!


I forgot to mention in the last post that Hoyt is fond of the D. And well she should be. She’s writing romance, after all.

In the Duke of Desire, we have a whole scene dedicated to the heroine getting to know her husband’s D for the first time. Like, really sitting down and getting up close and personal.

And isn’t that a magical time? Your first D? Like, what’s the deal with this thing everybody’s been talking about? and Why is it so weird? and I can’t believe half the world has these things.

It reminds me of a recent Crazy Ex Girlfriend episode.

Or really, your first anything. Once, my English professor said with glee, “I can’t believe that you’ll be reading Emma for the first time.” I had already read it, and I was almost a little sad that I wouldn’t be experiencing it for the first time along with some of the others in the class.

What would it be like to read Pride and Prejudice for the first time again, truly not knowing what will happen? Waiting for the third volume to come out, tearing your hair out over Darcy’s botched proposal?

Reading it wasn’t even reading it for the first time for me, since I had already watched the mini series.


Part of historical romance’s allure must be the virgin trope, the characters experiencing it all for the first time. Re-experiencing/rewriting your first time. Retconning your first experience into its ideal, as if your faults, his faults, society’s pressures, and all the bullshit that comes with this modern age never existed.


Yeah, that’d be nice.

The Scottish Witch

Author: Cathy Maxwell

Series: Chattan Curse #2

Tags: historical romance, highlanders!, rake, spinster, glasses, witch, mistaken identity, cat sidekick, curse

Format: audiobook

Filed Under: Audiobook Challenge: A to Z Historical Romances (completed, new addition)

Rating: yay!


I read the third of the series in 2016, and totally wasn’t keen on the mystical/historical romance mashup. Maybe it’s because nothing was explained in the third book, and it was more explained here. Maybe the climactic magical resolution threw me off. For whatever reason, I liked this one!

There is a curse on the Chattans. If they fall in love, they will die. A Scottish witch cast the curse multiple generations ago. Now Harry (Englishman and ex-military) is going up to Scotland to break the curse. His brother is in love and dying (book one). Our heroine is an English spinster living in the Highlands, trying to make ends meet. She hears about Harry’s reward for curse knowledge and pretends to be a witch to get the money.

Mystery! An actual witch! An actual spell book! A bothy to bonk in!


I love the word “bothy.” It is hilarious sounding. It is (so says Maxwell) a small hut for shepherds if they are stuck in the rain and need some place to camp out. Otherwise known as MAKEOUT CITY! xoxoxoxo <3 <3 <3

Getting stuck in the rain in a hovel is one of my favorite tropes, and highlanders is one of my favorite genres, so:

Hovel + highlander = bothy!!!

Two tropes for the price of one!


I want a shirt that says “Bothy Bonkin’.” That’s my new favorite thing. Sometimes I hate that. This time I didn’t mind.


Anyway, he’s an asshole rake in an attractive way, and she doesn’t seem to be too dumb, so it was enjoyable to watch them Nancy Drew their way through the Highlands (while having lots of sexy times, of course). Neither of them are Scottish, so you miss out on kilts and such, but oh well.


But they don’t solve the mystery. He falls in love and starts dying and just goes “welp, that’s it for me. Guess I’ll die now.”

Luckily, three books look better than two books. The third book is about their sister. She freaks out when she finds out he’s married, takes one look at things, and goes, “Fucking finnnnneeee. I’ll solve the witch curse mystery!”

The end of the book is her rolling up her sleeves, ready to get shit done.


I have to admire her gumption. It almost makes me want to reread the third book. I don’t remember much of anything about it. I guess she kicks down the door of the grandson of the Scottish witch, and goes “listen up you!”…? I guess?


This book has a lot of Attracted To You For Unspeakable Fate Reasons, if you are into that sort of thing.

Blame it on the Duke

Author: Lenora Bell

Series: The Disgraceful Dukes #3

Tags: historical romance, blue stocking, linguist, kama sutra, alzheimer’s, rake

Format: audiobook

Filed Under: Audiobook Challenge: A to Z Historical Romances (completed, new addition)

Rating: yay!


Okay, romance novelists. I understand the importance of making cutesy titles with familiar phrase + Duke pun as a way to lull your readers into trusting that your story will be nothing more than cute, vaguely familiar fluff, but this has gone TOO FAR.

Blame it on the Duke? Really?


Overdrive has a widget that plays the audiobook straight from your home screen of your phone, so any time I unlock my phone, I see the title of whatever book I’m reading at the time.

Which means that every time I unlock my phone these days, I start singing:

“Blame it on the Du-du-du-du-duke…”

“Blame it on the Du-du-du-du-duke…”


Man, if I had a nickel for every song I started singing because a dumbass title of a romance novel reminded me of a song…

And some are the most inappropriate.

Bear Necessities for bear shifters?!

I’m working on If I Only Had a Duke right now. Somehow, my broody duke is getting mixed up with the visual image of loose jointed, cheerful Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz.


I mean, G rated movies, quaint phrases, old-timey songs make sense. But a hip-hop song?

Here are some more potential book titles:

  • DespaDuke-o
  • Oops! Duke Did it Again
  • I Don’t Duke Wit’ U
  • Duke’s Paradise
  • It Was a Duke Day
  • Nuthin’ But a Duke Thang
  • Whatta Duke
  • Get Ur Duke On
  • 99 Dukes
  • Big Dukin’
  • The Humpty Duke
  • Gin and Dukes


Oh man.

I think my favorite of those is Gin and Dukes. Can’t stop my brain putting Darcy in a low rider laaaid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind…


I think I was supposed to talk about the book.




The book was exceedingly adequate. Blue Stocking was blue-stocking-y! Tortured duke was tortured-y!

She’s a linguist, and has to a passion for translating the lost texts of Kama Sutra (of course). He has a father with Alzheimer’s (read: “mad”), and is pretty sure his sperm is a vehicle for crazy ass progeny.

Enter: marriage of convenience to experience conjugal pleasures.

Enter: marriage of convenience with stipulation to never produce children and carry on the family curse of madness.


The father obviously had Alzheimer’s, but I kind of wanted the big reveal at the end to be that all his ancestors were crazy purely because they had syphillis.

“Good news! It’s not my genes! Just rampant unprotected sex in the age of debilitating venerial diseases!”


I liked the father character, and the ragtag team of unlikely servants. Turns out the duke sneaks sane people who have been wrongly committed out of bad asylums as a hobby. Good for you, Duke, and your weirdly specific vigilantism!


Fate has caused me to read this series backwards, it looks like. I’m on #2 right now: If I Only had a Duke. In case you were wondering, the first book is called How the Duke Was Won, so really nothing at all related to popular songs, unless you count that Barenaked Ladies song.


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