Highland Velvet, Jude Deveraux

Highland Velvet, Jude Deveraux

Title: Highland Velvet

Author: Jude Deveraux

Sub-genre: Highlanders! Historical Romance

Rating: Yuck.

Holy shit, this book was written in 1982. This book is older than me. I don’t really think genre books stand the test of time.   I’m pretty sure dog years apply, which means this book is fucking ancient.

This is the first Deveraux I read, to my knowledge, so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but I did know that I would have to make some allowances for the age. You know, like when you sit down for a chat with your racist grandmother.

It was alright for most of it. The woman’s kinda dumb, but whatever. The characters do a love/hate back and forth for most of the book, mostly dealing with her hotheaded behavior. Felt vaguely Taming of the Shrew-ish (which is, by the way, another one of those where you have to walk in saying, “okay, this will be sexist.”)

90% of the book is them rolling around in the Highlands, with misunderstandings and hijinks and then HOLY HELL shit goes down out of nowhere! Maybe I should have known it was coming (this is the second of the series after all) but I was lulled into complacency with absolutely nothing happening for most of the book, then wham! Murder of a dog, a rape, and a suicide, all in one go.

It entertains me to no end when my ideals are tested through fiction. Most people know that I’m a take-no-shit kind of feminist, and then turn around and read trashy romance novels. My favorite game to play is, “so I’m okay with [insert institutionalized form of sexism]… but not [similarly heinous action/ undertone/ metaphor/ plot device]?”

With this book, my reactions went like so:

Taming of Shrew type undertones?

Insert eyeroll.

Gratuitous rape?

A strongly worded mental reprimand towards the author, complete with shaking a finger and saying, “shame on you!” in hypothetical conversation with author.

Dog murder?

I WILL KILL YOU ALL.

I was so upset I took off my headphones (I’m listening to it through audiobook), threw up my hands, and started sputtering in outrage in my cubicle at work. I was ready to give up on the book completely.

What the fuck, Jude? What did a dog ever do to you? Besides love you, like the adorable, big-eyed creatures they are?

I WILL Go John Wick On Your Ass

I HATE it when authors/directors kill dogs. It is a low blow. I mean, it’s a desperate grab for an emotional reaction, since dogs are pure in their goodness. Dogs don’t have mean parts to them, they love unconditionally, and they have nothing to protect themselves. They can’t even speak, so they don’t ruin their goodness with some dumb shit thing they said once.

So, yeah. If you are an author and you can’t handle making a character complex enough that is good without being insipid, that we would miss if they were gone, by all means. Kill a dog. Kill a whole pack of them. But I’m not going to be there when you do it.

I also hate it because even though it’s low blow, it works. Every. Fucking. Time. I am often way more distraught about the happenings of whatever dog on the screen than anything happening with the characters.

Seriously, they should put warning labels on the dog killing books and movies.

The Hierarchy of Innocent Things to Kill

I have this theory that there is a hierarchy of Innocent Things To Kill For Easy Emotional Reactions. The more you take away from the character, the more innocent they seem, the higher the tragedy.

From least to most powerful, I would say the order goes: girlfriend, wife and kids, kid, adult that is impaired, kid that is impaired, sentient robot that can speak, cat, sentient robot that cannot speak, other animals that have bonded with a human, dog. And, off the charts, is puppy. DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED.

Sometimes there are combos. Like in AI when Haley is a kid AND a robot. Not fair. Also, impaired robot is also a thing. Do you think Bumblebee would be as interesting in the first Transformers if he didn’t do all that cutesy remixing, and instead just spoke like the rest of them? Doubt it.

Think about it. Why does every love R2D2 but hates C-3PO? Because C-3PO keeps opening his damn mouth. It’s really hard to superimpose feelings of innocence on the guy when he’s being all talky and annoying.

This superimposing of innocence is all kinds of bigoted, of course. The character no longer has agency, or characteristics; it’s only a vehicle for some plot device. The characters that have the luxury to be a dickhead are the characters with the real power.

ANYWAY.

Not that any of this matters. *Spoiler Alert: the dog (Rab?) is, thankfully, not dead. He was just wounded (by an axe?) and comes bounding up later to the very surprised heroine. I was hoping that the other plot line would conclude in just kidding not dead and not raped, but no such luck. Ah, well. I finished it, so that’s saying something.

I try to give authors second chances, so I’m trying out another of Jude Deveraux’s. So far no dogs, dead or otherwise, so here’s hoping.


UPDATE!

I just finished an abridged version of The Duchess by Jude Deveraux. I did not hate it as much as I did Highland Velvet. This was most likely in large part due to the 100% survival rate of all dogs in the book. There were none, true, but there were also none with an axe sticking out of their neck.

There are more Deveraux’s in Overdrive, but I think I will stay away from her for a while.

In loving memory, XOXO Rab.

 

ONTO THE NEXT BOOK!

Rule, Jay Crownover

Rule, Jay Crownover

Title: Rule

Author: Jay Crownover

Sub-genre: Bad boys? I dunno.

Rating: Meh.

Aww! Look at them soulful blue eyes, and fake sleeve tattoo! He looks super young, and in fact he is. I don’t think that character is older than 23. Makes me want to call him a Dashing Young Whippersnapper.

This is the first I’ve read from Jay Crownover. When faced with a whole series of romance novels that don’t have dukes, princes, werewolves, vampires, ex-cops, or Simple Girls Moving Back to Hometowns, I was a little dumbfounded. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. You are a boy with tattoos, and, what? A shapeshifter? Nope? Just a boy with tattoos? Okay.

A Man Named ESPN 3

“Rule” is the first book of Crownover’s Marked Men series. I love that this series is just titled whatever butch name the author could think of. Rule. Jet. Rowdy. Nash. Rome. The only way it could be more butch is if the author titled them Random Masculine Objects: Knife. Barbecue. ESPN 3. Camouflage. Libertarianism.

I could do this all day.

I’m not personally into the Bad Boys thing. I feel the same way about Cirque De Soilel: it’s fluff and nonsense. You gotta back it up with something beyond the tattoos and lip rings, or I’m not interested. That being said, it was a refreshing to step away from the masterful manly man ex-cop that is pervasive throughout romance novels set in modern times. So many authors are still from a generation where getting one small tattoo on your butt is still considered Full Scale Societal Rebellion. It’s nice to read something that is closer to how my generation sees things.

I finished the book. It didn’t piss me off. But also didn’t pull me in.  Two things that bothered me. If you read romance novels you might have noticed that most female heroines suffer from an olfactory obsession. How many times have I read “he smelled good”? And then they try to explain it, usually ending with “and something indefinably male/ [guy’s name]/ him.” Well this dude, Rule, rolls out of bed after a crazy night of debauchery, throws on some Axe body spray, and hits the road with the girl, taking a one hour drive in a small car. All I could think was, “omg, he must smell awful.”

You Whippersnappers and Yer Sneak YA

Also the girl isn’t even 20 when the book starts. This series is not billed as YA, but I kind of think that this is a Sneak YA, something that is billed as adult but will attract young adults in a Omg-I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-Reading-This way. The characters are coming of age, still connected with their families, adjusting to life as an adult as well as the typical romance. If those are not YA themes, I don’t know what are. I can just imagine my high school self stumbling upon this book and freaking loving it. Now that I am an old, bitter, jaded woman I can’t help but shake my fists at these youngins, with their lives ahead of them, telling them they don’t know their minds being so young. Turn down that music! And stop driving so fast! No one has compassion for my poor nerves…

Of course, it can’t be YA because there are a few explicit sex scenes. Nothing too crazy, but I did learn some interesting things about piercings.

Also, at the end of each book, the author lists a “soundtrack” for that novel. Awww! If I liked that sort of thing, I would track down the songs and listen to them while I read the next ones. But I don’t. So I won’t.

Probably won’t read the rest of the books available. Except maybe Rome. He’s the older brother and has his shit together more than the other boys introduced in this novel, so I might entertain the idea of skipping the rest and reading that one. We’ll see.

Long story short, I could see someone being into this series if you 1) like bad boys or 2) are tired of all the cops, ex-military, and cowboys that make up the Non-Magical Present Day Romance section.

ONTO THE NEXT BOOK!

2016 Book List

Thanks in large part to audiobooks that I listen to instead of the radio or streaming while working, driving, cleaning, and lately instead of TV, I have read a shit ton of books this year. Goodreads said I read 126 books in 2016, but I looked back on it and I think I actually read 199, some even in paper form!

Despite the fact that as an English Major, I can talk ad nauseum about the merits and downfalls of plot line, character development, literary devices, etc., I actually think the 1-5 star system is kind of bullshit. Especially for genre books, which are mostly your favorite brand of escapism. In the end, you like what you like, and there’s not much others can say about it. Buttttt….who doesn’t like to rate things? That’s why I’ve created an incredibly sophisticated rating system.

Wendy’s Incredibly Sophisticated Rating System

Yuck. – It’s safe to say I will not try this series, author, or even subgenre, depending on how deep my ire for this particular book goes. Rare cases may induce twenty minute rants of everything wrong with this book from yours truly.

Meh. – Maybe mildly entertaining, maybe just bothersome enough to finish the book and then be done with the series. Strong feelings are reserved for other books. I may read another of the series if it were easily accessible,  or I may part amicably from the series/author.

Good. – in between meh and yay. The feeling is most accurately described with a thoughtful nod gesture. “yeah. It was good.”

Yay! – Rolicking good fun! Swashbuckling adventures! Angsty soulful love affairs! Characters that don’t suck! After reading a Yay! I may even seek out the rest of the series or author to finish it! High praise indeed.

SUPER YAY! – Yay +! Some of my favorites. I may even purchase these books!


2016 Booklist – Books that aren’t Romance

A hilariously small list of books that I read that do not have a single duke or vampire in them.

AuthorTitleRating
Ajayi, LuvvieI'm Judging You: The Do-Better ManualYay!
Alameddine, RabihAn Unnecessary WomanMeh.
Benchley, PeterJawsYuck
Crouch, BlakeDark MatterYuck.
Dean, JeremyMaking Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change StickMeh.
Mullan, JohnWhat Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles SolvedYay!


2016 Bookliest – Period Romance

Periods include: Regency, post- and pre-Regency,  Victorian, nebulous pre-Regency olden Highlander times, Vikings (?? Never again.), and even alternate reality steampunk Victorian.

authortitleSeries#RatingOther thingsComments
Alexander, VictoriaSecrets of a Proper Lady Last Man Standing3Yuck
Ashe, KatharineCaptured by a Rogue Lord Rogues of the Sea2Meh.pirates!
Ashe, KatharineI Adored a Lord The Prince Catchers2Meh.
Ashford, JaneThe Bride InsistsMeh.
Ashford, JaneMarried to a Perfect StrangerMeh.
Ashley, JenniferThe Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie Mackenzies & McBrides1Yay!Highlanders!Aw! Ian! He almost has superpowers, what with his nebulous undiagnosed autism
Ashley, JenniferThe Many Sins of Lord Cameron MacKenzies & McBrides3Yay!Highlanders!
Ashley, JenniferThe Duke's Perfect Wife MacKenzies & McBrides4Yay!Highlanders!I love this one. He's so sneaky, makes all these plans, and then loses it every time when he's around his GF
Ashley, JenniferA Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift MacKenzies & McBrides4.5Yay!Highlanders!
Ashley, JenniferThe Seduction Of Elliot McBride MacKenzies & McBrides5Yay!Highlanders!
Ashley, JenniferThe Untamed MacKenzie MacKenzies & McBrides5.5Yay!Highlanders!
Ashley, JenniferThe Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie MacKenzies & McBrides6Meh.Highlanders!
Ashley, JenniferScandal And The Duchess MacKenzies & McBrides6.5Meh.Highlanders!
Ashley, JenniferRules for a Proper Governess MacKenzies & McBrides7Yay!Highlanders!
Ashley, JenniferA MacKenzie Clan Gathering MacKenzies & McBrides8.5Yay!Highlanders!
Balogh, MaryA Secret Affair Huxtable Quintet5Meh.
Balogh, MaryThe Secret Mistress Mistress Trilogy 3Meh.
Balogh, MarySimply Perfect Simply Quartet 4Yay!
Banks, MayaSeduction of a Highland Lass McCabe Trilogy2Meh.Highlanders!
Barrett, JoHighlander's Challenge Challenge1Meh.Highlanders! Time Travel!I might read the rest of these.
Beverley, JoA Shocking Delight Company of Rogues15Meh.
Beverley, JoTempting Fortune Malloren2Good.
Boyle, ElizabethAlong Came a Duke Rhymes With Love1Yay!
Boyle, ElizabethAnd the Miss Ran Away With The Rake Rhymes With Love2Yay!
Boyle, ElizabethIf Wishes Were Earls Rhymes With Love3Yay!
Boyle, ElizabethThe Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane Rhymes With Love4Yay!blind
Byrne, KerriganThe Highlander Victorian Rebels3Meh.Highlanders!
Camp, CandaceEnrapturedSecrets of the Loch3Meh.regency with a side of magicCouldn't finish it. Regency woman was surprised to find that archeologists don't take her seriously! The horror!
Campbell, AnnaSeven Nights in a Rogue's BedSons of Sin1SUPER YAY!Love this series! This is my favorite one!
Campbell, AnnaA Rake's Midnight KissSons of Sin2Yay!Love this series!
Campbell, AnnaWhat a Duke DaresSons of Sin3Yay!Love this series!
Campbell, AnnaA Scoundrel by MoonlightSons of Sin4Yay!Love this series!
Campbell, AnnaCaptive of SinYay!Not one of Campbell's best, but it had enough of her patent soul-twisty angst that I love
Campbell, AnnaTempt the DevilYay!
Campbell, AnnaUntouchedYay!
Campbell, AnnaMidnight's Wild PassionYay!
Carlyle, LizThe Bride Wore Scarlet Fraternitas Aureae Crucis2Good.regency with a side of psychic abilitiesMagic politics
Carlyle, LizThe Bride Wore Pearls Fraternitas Aureae Crucis3Good.regency with a side of psychic abilitiesMagic politics
Carlyle, LizThree Little SecretsMacLauchlan Family4SUPER YAY!regency with a side of psychic abilitiesI liked this one the best. The Fraternitas series is a continuation of this series. But I got less and less interested in the other series.
Carriger, GailHeartless Parasol Protectorate4Yay!steampunk victorian paranormal, vampires and werewolves oh my!This one made me LOL. Very cute series! I want to read more, but I first have to track down the first of the series.
Chase, LorettaLord of Scoundrels Scoundrels3Yay!
Chase, LorettaDukes Prefer Blondes The Dressmakers4Good.
Chesney, MarionMiser of Mayfair A House For The Season1Yuck.Ugh. Marion Chesney/M.C. Beaton. Stop writing boring regency! They are clogging up my audiobook selection.
Clare, TiffanyThe Seduction of His Wife Hallaway Sisters1Meh.
Dare, TessaRomancing the Duke Castles Ever After 1Yay!blind
Dare, TessaSay Yes to the Marquess Castles Ever After 2Yay!
Dare, TessaWhen a Scot Ties the Knot Castles Ever After 3Yay!highlanders!
Dare, TessaA Night to Surrender Spindle Cove 1Yay!Favorite series!
Dare, TessaA Week to Be Wicked Spindle Cove 2Yay!Favorite series!
Dare, TessaA Lady by Midnight Spindle Cove 3Yay!Favorite series!
Dare, TessaAny Duchess Will Do Spindle Cove 4Yay!Favorite series!
Dare, TessaDo You Want to Start a Scandal Spindle Cove 5Yay!Favorite series!
Dare, TessaOne Dance with a Duke Stud Club 1Yay!
Dare, TessaTwice Tempted by a Rogue Stud Club 2Yay!I liked this one!
Dare, TessaThree Nights with a Scoundrel Stud Club 3Yay!
Dare, TessaSurrender of a Siren The Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy 2Meh.pirates!Not as exciting as Dare's other stuff
Duran, MeredithThat Scandalous Summer Rules for the Reckless1Yay!
Duran, MeredithFool Me Twice Rules for the Reckless2SUPER YAY!I love the ones where the men are raging and angsty and the women go, "calm down, dude. You smell like feet."
Elliott, CaraTo Sin With a ScoundrelCircle of Sin1Yay!
Elliott, CaraTo Surrender To A RogueCircle of Sin2Yay!
Elliott, CaraTo Tempt a RakeCircle of Sin3Yay!
Elliott, CaraScandalously Yours Hellions of High Street1Meh.
Elliott, CaraSinfully YoursHellions of High Street2Meh.
Elliott, CaraPassionately YoursHellions of High Street3Meh.
Elliott, CaraToo Wicked to WedLords of Midnight1Yay!
Elliott, CaraToo Tempting to ResistLords of Midnight2Yay!
Elliott, CaraToo Dangerous to DesireLords of Midnight3Yay!
Enoch, SuzanneA Beginner's Guide to Rakes Scandalous Brides1Yay!
Enoch, SuzanneTaming an Impossible Rogue Scandalous Brides2Yay!
Enoch, SuzanneRules to Catch a Devilish Duke Scandalous Brides3Yay!
Enoch, SuzanneThe Handbook to Handling His Lordship Scandalous Brides4Yay!
Enoch, SuzanneThe Devil Wears Kilts Scandalous Highlanders1Yay!Highlanders!
Enoch, SuzanneRogue with a Brogue Scandalous Highlanders2Yay!Highlanders!
Enoch, SuzanneMad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid Scandalous Highlanders3Yay!Highlanders!Least favorite. I hate it when the woman has to browbeat the man into liking her.
Enoch, SuzanneSome Like It Scot Scandalous Highlanders4Yay!Highlanders! Breeches partOmg I love Bear.
Galen, ShanaWhen You Give a Duke a Diamond Jewels of the Ton1Yuck.
Haymore, JenniferA Touch of Scandal James Family2Meh.Omg, the woman in this is such a hussy
Heath, LorraineFalling into Bed with a DukeThe Hellions of Havisham1Good.
Heath, LorraineThe Earl Takes All The Hellions of Havisham2Yay!Twins!
Hill, SandraThe Outlaw Viking Viking I2Yuck.vikings, time travel
Hoyt, ElizabethTo Taste Temptation Legend of the Four Soldiers 1Yay!
Hoyt, ElizabethTo Seduce a Sinner Legend of the Four Soldiers 2Yay!
Hoyt, ElizabethTo Beguile a Beast Legend of the Four Soldiers 3Yay!
Hoyt, ElizabethTo Desire a Devil Legend of the Four Soldiers 4Yay!
Hoyt, ElizabethWicked Intentions Maiden Lane 1Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethNotorious Pleasures Maiden Lane 2Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethScandalous Desires Maiden Lane 3Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethThief of Shadows Maiden Lane 4Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethLord of Darkness Maiden Lane 5Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethDuke of Midnight Maiden Lane 6Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethDarling Beast Maiden Lane 7Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethDearest Rogue Maiden Lane 8Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethSweetest Scoundrel Maiden Lane 9Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethDuke of Sin Maiden Lane 10Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethOnce Upon a Moonlit Night Maiden Lane 10.5Yay!regency vigilante!
Hoyt, ElizabethDuke of Pleasure Maiden Lane 11Yay!regency vigilante!
Hunter, JillianForbidden to Love the Duke The Fenwick Sisters Affairs1Yuck.
Hunter, MadelineHis Wicked ReputationWicked Trilogy1Yay!
Hunter, MadelineTall, Dark and Wicked Wicked Trilogy2SUPER YAY!lawyerfavorite of this series.
Hunter, MadelineThe Wicked Duke Wicked Trilogy3Yay!
James, EloisaAn Affair Before Christmas Desperate Duchesses2Meh.
James, EloisaDuchess By Night Desperate Duchesses3Meh.
James, EloisaWhen the Duke Returns Desperate Duchesses4Meh.
James, EloisaFour Nights With the Duke Desperate Duchesses8Meh.
James, EloisaDuchess in Love Duchess Quartet1Meh.
James, EloisaA Kiss at Midnight Fairy Tales1Meh.
James, EloisaWhen Beauty Tamed the Beast Fairy Tales2Yay!doctorI love growly surly type guys.
James, EloisaThe Duke Is Mine Fairy Tales3Meh.
James, EloisaThe Ugly Duchess Fairy Tales4Meh.
James, EloisaOnce Upon a Tower Fairy Tales5Meh.
James, EloisaEnchanting Pleasures Pleasures3Meh.
James, EloisaMy American DuchessMeh.
Jordan, SophieA Good Debutante's Guide to Ruin The Debutante Files1Meh.
Kleypas, LisaTempt Me at Twilight The Hathaways3Yay!
Kleypas, LisaLove in the AfternoonThe Hathaways5Yay!
Kleypas, LisaMarrying WinterborneThe Ravenels2SUPER YAY!Growly department store owner. It's so cute!
Kleypas, LisaCold Hearted RakeThe Ravenels1Yay!
Ladd, Sarah E.The Headmistress of Rosemere Whispers on the Moors2Yuck.
Laurens, StephanieLoving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair Casebook of Barnaby Adair3Yuck.Ugh Laurens books seem too long and too serious for me. But I may try again when I get to the Letter L in audiobooks.
Leigh, Eva Forever Your Earl The Wicked Quills of London1Yay!
Leigh, Eva Temptations of a Wallflower The Wicked Quills of London3Yay!
Maclean, SarahNine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake Love By Numbers 1SUPER YAY!
Maclean, SarahEleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart Love By Numbers 3Yay!
Maclean, SarahThe Rogue Not Taken Scandal & Scoundrel 1Yay!
Maclean, SarahA Scot in the Dark Scandal & Scoundrel 2Yay!
Maclean, SarahA Rogue by Any Other Name The Rules of Scoundrels 1Yay!
Maclean, SarahOne Good Earl Deserves a Lover The Rules of Scoundrels 2SUPER YAY!Favoritest!
Maclean, SarahNo Good Duke Goes Unpunished The Rules of Scoundrels 3Yay!
Maclean, SarahNever Judge a Lady by Her Cover The Rules of Scoundrels 4Yay!Breeches part
MacKenzie, SallyBedding Lord Ned Duchess of Love1Meh.
MacKenzie, SallySurprising Lord Jack Duchess of Love2Meh.
MacKenzie, SallyWhat to Do with a Duke Spinster House1Meh.
Maxwell, CathyThe Devil's Heart The Chattan Curse3YuckSome sort of magic nonsense
Maxwell, CathyA Little Thing Called LoveMeh.
Noble, KateThe Game and the GovernessWinner Takes All1YuckThe dude's a tool.
Putney, Mary JoLoving a Lost Lord Lost Lords 1Yay!
Putney, Mary JoThe Bargain Regency 1Yay!
Sands, LynsayDevil of the Highlands Devil of the Highlands1SUPER YAY!Highlanders!
Sands, LynsayTaming the Highland Bride Devil of the Highlands2SUPER YAY!Highlanders!
Sands, LynsayThe Hellion and the Highlander Devil of the Highlands3SUPER YAY!Highlanders!
Sands, LynsayAn English Bride In Scotland Highlanders1Yay!Highlanders!
Sands, LynsayTo Marry a Scottish Laird Highlanders2Yay!Highlanders!
Sands, LynsayThe Heiress Madison Sisters2Yay!
Sands, LynsayThe Husband Hunt Madison Sisters3Yay!
Sands, LynsayThe Countess Madison Sisters 1Yay!
Sands, LynsaySweet RevengeYay!Highlanders!
Sands, LynsayThe SwitchYay!Twins!
Sands, LynsayAlwaysYay!Highlanders!
Sinclair, MicheleA Woman Made for Pleasure Promises Trilogy1Meh.
Sinclair, MicheleThe Highlander's Bride The McTiernays1Meh.Highlanders!
Styles, MichelleThe Lady SoldierYay!Breeches part

2016 – Paranormal Romance

These are usually set in modern times, and most often start as “I’m just a normal girl making my way through a world of ___” Vampires, werewolves, psychics, witches, shape shifters, and whatever the hell else you want to glean from folk lore.

authortitleSeries#RatingOther thingsComments
Alexander, CassieNightshiftedEdie Spence1Yay!werewolves, vampires, etcShe's a nurse in a paranormal hospital
Alexander, CassieMoonshiftedEdie Spence2Yay!werewolves, vampires, etcShe's a nurse in a paranormal hospital
Andrews, IlonaBurn for Me Hidden Legacy1SUPER YAY!kickass heroine, more paranormal than romance-ishI'm excited for more books of this series
Andrews, IlonaMagic Bites Kate Daniels1Yay!kickass heroine, more paranormal than romance-ish
Andrews, IlonaOn The EdgeThe Edge1Yay!kickass heroine, more paranormal than romance-ishVery interesting premise. The world between magical and nonmagical worlds
Andrews, IlonaBayou Moon The Edge2Yay!kickass heroine, shifter, more paranormal than romance-ishAw William! What a nice guy!
Ashley, JenniferBodyguard Shifters Unbound2.5Yay!Shifters, werebears
Ashley, JenniferHard Mated Shifters Unbound3.5Yay!Shifters
Ashley, JenniferMate Claimed Shifters Unbound4Yay!Shifters
Ashley, JenniferPerfect Mate Shifters Unbound4.5Yay!Shifters, werebears
Ashley, JenniferLone Wolf Shifters Unbound4.6Yay!Shifters
Ashley, JenniferTiger Magic Shifters Unbound5SUPER YAY!ShiftersTIGER + MAGIC = TIGER MAGIC!
Ashley, JenniferBear Attraction Shifters Unbound6.5Yay!Shifters, werebears
Ashley, JenniferWhite Tiger Shifters Unbound8Yay!Shifters
Banks, MayaGolden Eyes Wild Series1Yuck.Shifters
Barrett, JoHighlander's Challenge Challenge1Meh.Highlanders! Time Travel!I might read the rest of these.
Brady, KiraHearts of Darkness Deadglass1Meh.ShiftersKinda long winded. Lots of Shifters politics.
Brady, KiraHearts of Chaos Deadglass3Meh.ShiftersKinda long winded. Lots of Shifters politics.
Cabot, MegInsatiable Insatiable1Meh.vampiresIt was funny, but it was a little cutesy for a paranormal romance. In the end, I didn't want to look for the others in the series. I think she usually writes ChickLit, so it's a step out of the box for the author.
Camp, CandaceEnrapturedSecrets of the Loch3Meh.regency with a side of magicCouldn't finish it. Regency woman was surprised to find that archeologists don't take her seriously! The horror!
Carlyle, LizThe Bride Wore Scarlet Fraternitas Aureae Crucis2Good.regency with a side of psychic abilitiesMagic politics
Carlyle, LizThe Bride Wore Pearls Fraternitas Aureae Crucis3Good.regency with a side of psychic abilitiesMagic politics
Carlyle, LizThree Little SecretsMacLauchlan Family4SUPER YAY!regency with a side of psychic abilitiesI liked this one the best. The Fraternitas series is a continuation of this series. But I got less and less interested in the other series.
Carriger, GailHeartless Parasol Protectorate4Yay!steampunk victorian paranormal, vampires and werewolves oh my!This one made me LOL. Very cute series! I want to read more, but I first have to track down the first of the series.
Cassidy, DakotaThe Accidental Dragon Accidentals9Good.dragons, vampires, werewolves, etcFun. Cute.
Cole, KresleyThe Warlord Wants Forever Immortals After Dark 1Meh.vampires, valkeriesThis one was just a little bit too silly, but it was short and on audiobook so I finished it.
Dark, DannikaSeven Years Seven1SUPER YAY!ShiftersSeven guys live in a house together…. It must smell like feet.
Dark, DannikaSix Months Seven2SUPER YAY!ShiftersAw! Reno!
Dark, DannikaFive Weeks Seven3Yay!Shifters
Dark, DannikaFour Days Seven4Yay!Shifters
Dark, DannikaTwo Minutes Seven6Yay!Shifters
Dark, DannikaOne Second Seven7Yay!Shifters
Feehan, ChristineDark Prince Dark1Meh.Vampires
Feehan, ChristineWater Bound Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart1Yay!psychic, elemental abilitiesWhy are all these Russian supersoldiers coming to one small town in CA to shack up with ladies? I don't know but I still kinda like it.
Feehan, ChristineSpirit Bound Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart2Yay!psychic, elemental abilities
Hill, SandraThe Outlaw Viking Viking I2Yuck.vikings, time travel
Maxwell, CathyThe Devil's Heart The Chattan Curse3YuckSome sort of magic nonsense
Putney, Mary JoA Distant MagicGaurdians2Yuckpsychic, elemental abilitiesFar too much telepathy going on here.
Sands, LynsayA Quick Bite Argeneau 1Meh.Vampires

2016 – Modern / Non-Magical Romance

I try these out once in a while but as you can tell, it’s not really my bag. For some reason I can’t turn off my inner feminist if it doesn’t have an element of whimsy to it, and the characters in these drive me up the wall. Save me from books that have “A Novel” in curling script under the title. Also, who cares about murder mystery, really? I don’t like my books straying too far from the genre of romance, and that means more than cursory plot development for whatever mystery, crime, or supernatural war in the mix. But thumbs up to books about firemen!

authortitleSeries#RatingOther thingsComments
Ashley, KristenBreathe Colorado Mountain4Yuck.Cop, small town
Barton, BeverlyDead By Midnight Griffin Powell 11Meh.MURDER.
Bernard, JenniferHow to Tame a Wild Fireman The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel4Good.Firemen, Small Town
Bond, StephanieBaby, Drive South Southern Roads1Meh.The South, Construction, Ex-Military
Bond, StephanieBaby, Come Home Southern Roads2Meh.The South, Construction, Ex-Military
Bond, StephanieBaby, Don't Go Southern Roads3Meh.The South, Construction, Ex-Military
Brockmann, SuzanneOver the Edge Troubleshooters3Meh.Marines, MURDER
Brockmann, SuzanneBody LanguageMeh.

Why I Art

In order from favorite to least favorite: charcoal, colored pencils, watercolor, acrylic, markers, pens, pencils, other paints, alternative media (anything I can get my hands on), writing, flower arrangements, knitting, cross stitching, latchhook, cake decorating, quilting.

Subjects: portraiture, self portraits, people, photos of people, live things, colors, abstract.

Why I do it:
There’s a need in me to make art. I’ve done art for a long time now. I always thought that of I didn’t have the structure of classes, I would stop making art altogether, but here I am, still trying to find a way to make more, get better, ease myself into the artistic world.

I’ve been very afraid of sharing my work. For a long time, I was afraid to do anything creative related as a career. Though I have always been interested in creative writing, I haven’t written much of anything in the past decade. Now that I work creatively, I can’t go back.

It’s not just about opening myself to ridicule, though that is a large part of it. It’s about opening up at all. I use art as a mood regulator. Usually I am compelled to make something out of this great need to get a feeling out. I journal, but words sometimes leads you down the “why?” trap, that is a downward spiral. Most of the time, I don’t need to know why, I just need to feel it, and words are too black and white for the full spectrum of what I feel.

“Art is a great way to say what you want without saying it,” said one of my art teachers. It’s true: you can clamp down on your pen and scribble ferociously, saying I’m so mad at you. And people will read the anger in it, sometimes subconciously, but they won’t know who or why or even if you are actually angry. The moment is communicated, but not, and passes quietly.

Google search “creativity excess emotion” and you can read a bunch of articles on how therapeutic art can be. Sometimes I combine the two, journaling and drawing together, or sometimes I journal and my brain loses words, and I start making a line, diagram, or image of what I mean to say but can’t. I hate to see my extreme emotions so clearly written in words, visible for chance encounters while I flip through the pages of my journal, so I sometimes draw over them. Charcoal over penciled words engraved on the page make an interesting relief to view so slightly, almost know what the words are saying. 

The scary thing about sharing my art is that it is my journal: that’s my heart out there. Though maybe you can’t read art and see the emotions behind it, I certainly can. It’s scary to know that people will see me at my most extreme, when I was most depressed or angry or self-denegrating, or sad or lonely or just trying to weed out some sense in the mass of feelings and confusion that is my brain.

I want to share it but I don’t. I want people to know when I hurt, but I don’t want it to be edified so much as to put words to it. I put on a cool exterior and I’d like people to think of me that way. Why would people need to know that happy, easy going Wendy is not as cheerful as she seems?

Some people, such as myself, need to come to terms with the fact that they feel. That’s what art is to me.

Because I use art as a journal, the feelings behind them are barely ever positive. I can look at the accumulation of my work and thjnk “what bright, violent colors I use. What moments of anguish and despair. Surely I am not like that all the time.” And I’m not. Those are just the most extreme.

I guess all that is to say that art is:

Expressing my emotions in a way that doesn’t hurt people.
Expressing them without becoming them, “I am a person who…”
A search for order and sense in the tumult of emotion without words.

You should try it sometime. You don’t need to have talent to express yourself through art. It’s remarkably freeing to not worry about defining anything, to speak only in the language of color and lines.

Why self portraits:
My art teacher (the same one as earlier; he teaches classes at The Drawing Studio in Portland, best teacher I’ve had. Look him up if you want some classes) said that he switched from abstract to portraiture because he realized that without a subject, his abstract art all came out the same. It’s true: without limitation, its harder to be creative. Your actions slide back into your normal pattern, and you don’t challenge yourself. Portraiture is a subject that he can focus on to try this and that, always something new to see and try.

I wholeheartedly agree. I like portraits because there is nothing more interesting than people. I often forget to worry about background, position on the page, etc. Its the subject I work best through, and I don’t want to trouble myself with supercillious details.

I choose myself as my subject because 1) I’m always free for a sitting, and I don’t have to stand the embarrassment of asking someone . 2) pictures are fine for a while, but the real challenge is to translate a live object to the page.

But mostly the reason is that I often experience what I like to call moral vertigo. I made the term up. I empathize too much, put myself in other peoples shoes so easily, always see two sides of same story, focus on the future and past and what people might think till I’m so turned around I have lost my footing in the world. It’s like when you stare at words so long they just become shapes. Self portraits help me come back to me, to reality. “This is my nose, these are my cheeks…” Often I am searching for the real true version of myself, the accumulation of all that I am, minus fake things like future and what should be and what others might think. The search is of course impossible, but the experience brings me back to me in a way that little else can.

Staring at myself for a period of time, following my shapes with my charcoal reminds me that I am in fact a human being, flesh and blood, not a dark cloud of thoughts and feelings that stretches out every which way.

Now that you know my secrets, you can see some of my art at

http://ghostwendy.tumblr.com

Yes, I judge your online dating profile

Ah, the Internet. Where the saying judge not lest ye be judged should be changed to judge away, for ye will never see sirrah in person. We all judge and are judged and leave the Internet world unscathed, unless you become part of a flame war.
Online dating sites are particularly fascinating, since people, with all their stunted self knowledge and literary skills, are required to describe themselves. Ever stumbled upon a friend of yours, and thought “is that what you think you are?” It is scientifically proven that we usually think better of ourselves than we are in reality. But what about those people who are completely off the mark? The uptight “laid back” person or the “spontaneous” planner? And how many of us, really, “like” to exercise, or claim to have a hobby we haven’t picked up since the ’00s?
The problem is not just our self knowledge, but also language: its limitations, connotations, how we use it and how much we think about what it means. People use “laid back” because they hear it a lot, because they’re not a complete tight ass, or if they are they don’t know it. But if at least half the population of heterosexual men on dating sites are laid back, does that word even hold meaning anymore?
I’m not saying that my profile is any better or more accurate. Heaven knows the other half of the Internet saying is ye will be judged but not know it so ye will save your fragile psyche. But as an English major and a lover of language I have SUCH a hard time getting past the words to see the person on the profile.
So judge away, ye hypocrite. Here is the latest list of common mistakes on online profiles.

1. Laid back / laid-back / chill / easy going

Much like the word hardworking on a resume, this phrase is so ubiquitous it no longer holds meaning. I have now begun to translate the word as “lazy” and “dumb” because it is usually their first few adjectives, now a knee jerk reaction to writing a profile.

What is a laid back person anyway? They go with the flow? They don’t make tough decisions? Do they not care enough about their situation to take a stance on something? I tend to go with the flow but I would not describe myself as laid back. Sure in social situations I sometimes take a backseat, but I have passions, dammit. I make choices.

2. Hardworking 

Is this a resume? Even if it was, you’d still be failing because hardworking lost its meaning in the 70s. Have you ever thought about what that means? “I work hard” as in “I try hard.” That’s it? You’re not, like, good at your job or efficient or smart or innovative or personable? Just an “A for Effort” kind of deal?
My friend and I joke about people who use the adjective hardworking to describe themselves as if it’s a personality trait. Oh, God bless those hard workers–the worker bees, the work horses, the rule followers, the Hufflepuffs. There is a place for them in the world, and thank God they exist because I would never want their jobs. Lots of people are hardworking, but that’s kind of a base trait for other more notable traits. If a person was hardworking and efficient, there would be no reason to mention the first one; it’s implied. And absolutely no reason to mention it on a dating profile, unless you are trying to get across that you have a job, any job, though not an ambitious one. So thank you taking that job at the DMV, but I will pass on a person who lacks originality.

3. Loyal

My first reaction to the mention of loyalty is”… And?”. Thank God this man is loyal, otherwise I would never expect a relationship that starts with dating and inevitably leads to monogamy as stated by years of heteronormative human mating habits. It’s like they want a gold star for it or something. Might as well add on a couple more super awesome personality traits such as “won’t beat your kids” and “am 38% less likely to murder you in your sleep.” 1000 points. Platinum Level. You win a girlfriend. 
My second reaction is, wow, I am super lucky to never be cheated on. It must be my lack of experience that has not jaded me to the trickeries of mankind. It seems like most people I know have at least one cheat story. Imagine the naivete of me expecting loyalty, should we embark on a monogamous relationship together. Even worse, lack of personal experience has had me come to the conclusion that not all cheaters are manwhores or crazy bitches, that sometimes an affair is a symptom of a greater problem neither party wants to admit. I’m sure my day will come when I learn otherwise, but for now, it’s hard to accept the thinly veiled hostility in the word. 
A few subcategories of this are “Poor Me” “Nice Guy Rant” and “Not Like That Last Bitch”. People say the weirdest things on profiles. I’ve read a few where they actually spell out how many times they’ve been cheated on. And the Nice Guy: holding over our head that you will give us basic respect is not the pinnacle of altruism. No gold star for you. Also, whenever I read “I want a girl who’s loyal or trustworthy” I always add mentally, “not like that last bitch I dated. She’s a whore.”


4. I have a job / car / mortgage / etc

Ah,  the sad reality that this is somewhat needed. As much as I cringe at the implication that “a job” is enough to make a person desirable, I learned a while ago not to make allowances for guys who don’t have their shit together. 
I like Mindy Lahiri’s example of Boys versus Men as shown by a conversation between two women (paraphrased).
“So, he’s going back to school for another Master’s? Doesn’t he have five already? How many more does he need?”
“Oh just one more, I think.”
Having standards and being superficial are not the same thing. And you know what? If you are superficial, and recognize you won’t date anyone under a certain tax bracket, then you own it and rock on with your bad self. At least you are being honest. No one should make you feel bad about who you are, least of all the gender most likely to put “no fatties” on their profile page.
But like, “a job?” That’s it? I mean, a job could be 20 hrs at Burger King. I mean, a paycheck’s a paycheck, but I’d also like to meet someone with passion, and hopefully enjoys what they do.

5. I’m 185 lbs / brown hair / brown eyes

I’ve actually seen this. I’m not sure if they are are at the DMV or on a dating site. Never mind the fact that this is a super strange way to start your profile, I also have no idea what to do with your weight. What does 185 lbs look like on man? What is that supposed to be? Skinny, fit, fat, buff? I mean, depending on your height and build, it could mean any of those things.

Women usually have preferred body types, but they have little to do with the exact number on the scale. I wish instead he would describe himself in squishiness. Things like:

“1-3 inch stomach squishiness, but muscly arms.”
“No squishiness, skinny AF, can probably wrap your arms around me twice.”
“Excellent amount of squishiness. I’m basically a giant meat pillow in bed.”

I don’t give weight much thought except to discern optimum cuddle-ability.

6. I like sports

Yes, we have established that you are a heterosexual male. That’s why you’re in my search results. The fact that you like sports is implied. What would be unusual (and for me, preferable) would be you NOT liking sports.

I don’t give a flying fuck about sports. Never have, never will. And that’s okay. I watch a lot of crappy wedding themed reality shows, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to mention it on my profile. Chances are, if you list watching sports as one of your main/only hobbies, then we will probably not have anything in common.

Last but not least,

7. Any kind of spelling or grammar mistake OMG WTF

In the age of smart phones that autocorrect and browsers that put little squigglies under words that are spelled wrong, how in the HELL are people getting away with spelling things wrong??  One man said he loves “intelictual” conversation. How do you get past “inteli” without some form of technology correcting you? And when did using capitals and periods become passe? This is not a text message, people.

I once made the rule to not talk to anyone unless they use proper grammar structure. I didn’t talk to anyone for two weeks. As much as I lecture myself about how this is an age where literary acumen is not a prized trait, and there are a lot of different types of intelligence out there, I just cannot get over it. I’m not asking for definitions of plural perfect possessive or whatever. “I am a man.” is more grammatically correct than most of the sentences I see.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve been holding this in for years. YEARS. YEEEEEAAAARRRSS. There’s probably more I can think of, but omg I’ve complained enough. The silver lining in all of this is that it doesn’t matter how many are not right for me, because I don’t need an overwhelming majority. I just need one.

I told my friend once that dating for me was hard because I was kind of a niche market. She laughed and said “everyone’s a niche market.” I suppose that’s true. So on with the search.

P & P

Don’t mind me I was just thinking about the ideal situation of me in Pride and Prejudice and who I would want to sleep with most, Darcy or Elizabeth, because they are both pretty awesome, though I thoroughly respect their relationship and wouldn’t want to mess it up so maybe I would just be BFFs with Elizabeth and admire Darcy from afar because he is kind of scary, and I would hang out with them a lot and Elizabeth and I would get drunk and giggle and I would hope that Darcy had friends like him but of course he does not because he’s fuckin DARCY, he don’t need no friends except Bingley who is a puppy and not my type at all and married to Jane besides, so of course I don’t meet anyone and would just be a spinster taking up space in Pemberly which is fine cuz they got like a gazillion rooms, and maybe I would marry Col Fitzwilliam because he seems nice though he’s not Darcy though Darcy’s kind of scary so maybe that’s a good thing. But FO SHO girl time with Elizabeth NONSTOP we will be the best of friends and it will be awesome.