1 star review, 5 star review

Openlibrary Review – After the Night

After the might

FAITH DEVLIN: A poor, outcast child in Prescott, Louisiana, she’d always adored the town’s golden boy from afar. But he called her white trash that sultry Southern night when his rich, respected father disappeared, along with her pretty Mom. Now Faith wanted to hate Gray Rouillard…not to feel a powerful surge of desire. But she couldn’t quench her passion, any more than she could hide the truth about the past she had waited so long to unravel.
GRAY ROUILLARD: Even when he raised hell, he did it with style. Reckless, charming, and backed by Rouillard money, Gray controlled the town of Prescott — and Devlin was a name he never wanted to hear again. But when he gazed at Faith Devlin, all he saw was a swirl of tangled sheets and her silken flesh beneath him. To care for her was impossible, unthinkable…because Gray Rouillard planned to use all his power to ruin her.

So this one is another Openlibrary (read for free legally-just get pdf not epub) AND Shame File. And unlike Shades of Twilight, I am just going to go ahead and admit, yes, I have actual shame for enjoying this book, despite the fact I’ve gone back to it on numerous occasions like an addict looking for my next fix.

Here’s my obligatory warning, there will be spoilers here. I can’t very well discuss the issues if I can’t say what they are. Also, trigger warnings, all the trigger warnings.

So it starts with Faith Devlin as a small child. She is infatuated with Gray, and as she grows older (she is a young teen now) this infatuation turns sexual in nature-of course. In any event Faith grew up in the town’s trashy family, and her mother is having an affair with the town scion who happens to be Gray’s father. When the two disappear, it starts a chain reaction that culminates in Gray and law enforcement going out to the shack the Devlin’s live in and running them out of town. It is the middle of the night and Faith is in a nightgown trying desperately to get her family’s thing packed as LEOs are throwing their stuff in the dirt. The cop cars have their headlights on and it turns her nightgown transparent and all these grown damned men, particularly the “hero”, are gawking and lusting after this teenager, thinking how she looks sexy like her mother. Hence the title – After the Night.

Eventually Faith grows up and finds out her mother actually didn’t run off with Gray’s father, so she heads back to her hometown to find out the truth. And back home all anyone can think about is how Faith looks like her mother and must be a trashy whore like her too. Sparks immediately start striking off Faith and Gray, and while Faith may be a feisty one in any other situation, when it comes to Gray she is a perpetual and unremitting doormat. He pushes her, and coerces her, and manhandles her and is in general a misogynistic a-hole toward her. And basically she just lets him treat her that way and the least little bits of anything remotely resembling kindness she just soaks it up like a sponge-forgiving his every transgression. Never mind that he and his family would have cheerfully bought out her house and run her out of town if she hadn’t bought it outright, that they would have messed with her banking if she hadn’t kept that out-of-state, that he turned the entire town against her so that she couldn’t buy gas or groceries in town, never mind any of that-he says he’s proud of her and she preens. This is a woman who needs freaking therapy, not the dubious love of a jerk who holds literally all of the power in the relationship.

Eventually they do end up together, but he never really apologizes for any of it, and then there is quite possibly the creepiest thing EVER said by a so-called hero. They are talking about the night that her family was thrown out of town and he tells her it wasn’t all bad because he wanted her then. That’s right the most traumatic night of her entire life wasn’t all bad because she gave him a boner when she was 14 years old. Add to that the fact that apparently the villain had been using Gray’s sister as a sexual surrogate for their mother, and she felt compelled to let him so her wouldn’t leave like their father supposedly did, and there are entire levels of sexual creepiness here. And that last was just gratuitous, there wasn’t a real need for it to further the story.

So why do I keep circling back to it? Damn but there are sparks there. And their banter is often hilarious. And Gray could also be funny and humorous, and once he quits trying to run the heroine out of town he’s oddly likable. And there is this just intense and funny and bonding intimate scene that I always go back to. Linda Howard just has a way of writing characters that I can always come back to.

In this case I think I shouldn’t come back to it. There is everything wrong and really nothing really redeemable about this story. And looking at it objectively, the things I enjoy about it should never have outweighed the bad. It is just that I never looked at it objectively. As it always left me on an emotional high, that is the way I always think of it, and I never went past the surface of the emotions I was left with.  ANd now I am looking at it objectively, and it is objectively horrifying…and yet…I still enjoy it. What does that say about me I wonder?

In any event, I should probably quit picking exclusively on Ms. Howard, whom I still love and who has some of the absolute best and favorite books, the author who got me to see that birth control in romance is a good thing and that it can be sexy and funny and good, and that heros could make me cry too. It is just that I have read and reread her books so many times, and her characters and stories are complex so that it was inevitable that some would have issues. So I think I’ll pick another excellent one next, and then try to pick on someone else next time.

After the Night

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1 star review

Outlander: A book report by a grown woman

outlander

Warning: Contains spoilers and rape discussion. You’ve been warned.

When my lovely friend Erin asked me if I wanted to review Outlander by Diana Gabaladon, I screamed like a dying horse, and agreed in the most nonchalant way possible. Then I realized that I’d have to look at the book with a more critical eye than

“OMG, he took that kilt off, and they SMOOSHED”!

But, then I came to the conclusion that she wouldn’t have asked me if she expected scholarly…or coherent. I’m who you go to for belligerent, hysterical fangirling.

I was introduced to Outlander by a friend who described the book as being “inspired by an episode of Doctor Who, and there’s men in kilts…EVERYWHERE”! Enough said. I was sold. She must have been a salesman in a previous life. I found this book to be more Game of Thrones than Doctor Who.

Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon with her husband of six years, Frank. They’ve only spent two months of real time together. The rest was spent apart during war, but now it’s 1945 and it’s time to lose them drawers. They’re in Scotland, so Frank can do some research because nothing says honeymoon like research. Pace yourself, tiger. (fans self)

After visiting some Scottish Stonehenge  in the middle of the night (without good ole Frank) she trips the light fantastic, and is thrown back in time, landing on a soft cloud of loin devastating kilts.

The sex for the first half of the book was handled a la Greek tragedy. It all happened off stage left somewhere. Where, I presumed it happened without incident and everyone enjoyed themselves for how vague it was. But I will say that I understood the author’s intent. With Frank, it was to keep you from being invested in him as a love interest. Once Claire began her sexy relationship with Jamie she slowly introduced more details as their relationship grew. Very creative use of writing to withhold an emotional connection, and then to foster one later on. Applause all around. Very well done.

Now, I have a bone to pick with Ms. Gabaldon. Her overuse of the words “dirk” and “gorse” drove me insane. At one point I literally invented a drinking game where I took a drink every time I read either word. I almost couldn’t finish reading the book and had to go to bed. She stops the over usage after about page 400-ish, but until then it is almost unbearable.

I have tried to stay away from spoilers for those that haven’t read the book that are planning to read it, but I must discuss one more thing. There is a lot of discussion of rape. Almost rape to be exact. Which, is not necessarily a problem for some, but it was a problem for me. I didn’t enjoy it, and I didn’t find it see why she needed it in the book to show Claire’s vulnerability, or the vicious barbarity of the time frame. Just my two cents. Then, there is the rape of Jamie by Jonathan Randall. I can only describe it as viciously brutal, with such psychological savagery that it left my stomach upset well after I had laid the book down. I understood that it was vital to the books plot, but I still did not enjoy reading it, and this is my warning to anyone else who finds such things disturbing to put this book back on the shelf. It’s not for you.

I will repeat that this is a well written book, it is unfortunately not my cup of tea. I would not read it again, nor will I be reading the other books in the series. The author is repetitive, and uses certain themes that hit me the wrong way. While I could discuss those, I think they’ve been better stated by far better writers of reviews on this particular book. I’ll let you read those instead of repeating the same sentiments with less succinct words.

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1 star review

Review – Cat’s Lair by Christine Feehan

Cat’s Lair
by Christine Feehan


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leopard’s Prey returns to the feral underworld of her astonishing Leopard novels in an arousing new romance of forbidden animal instincts…
Cat Benoit has finally escaped the past—and the man who was the source of her nightmares. She’s off the grid, underground but watchful, and creating a new life for herself in Texas, far from the torrid dangers of her native New Orleans. She’s safe. He’ll never find her this time. Cat has to believe that. It’s the only thing keeping her sane.
Yet she can’t escape the attention of Ridley Cromer, the instructor at the martial arts dojo where Cat takes lessons. She arouses the animal in Ridley—and something feral comes to life when their body heat rises. Cat is in no position to let her guard down with anyone, especially someone who could be endangered by her past. But Ridley has secrets of his own—secrets only Cat would understand. If she dares to trust him..

Do you hear that shriek? That’s the sound of being completely irked because you want to quit a series, but you’re still waiting for one particular character’s story.
Honestly, why do I do this to myself? It is usually not a good sign when you almost dread starting a book and when you keep putting that book off. But I really did enjoy Wild Rain, Burning Wild and Savage Nature, so I figured (hoped) I’d settle in after I started reading.

Maybe my reticence in reading this one, and my opinion of this book was colored by my opinion of Viper Game? Maybe it was that the character wasn’t the one I was anticipating? (Small spoiler, it isn’t Elijah Lospostos.) Whatever it was, I couldn’t really get into this story. Were previous heroines as insipid and fawning as Catarina? I don’t think they were, but now I fear going back and rereading them and not enjoying them anymore.

This book was literally more than half navel gazing on the parts of both Cat and Eli. Both before she found out he betrayed her and she didn’t know who he really was, and afterward. And what wasn’t naval gazing was some serious control freak stuff. Feehan has always edged into non-con, but this particular story wasn’t just excessive dominance, it seemed more coercive and controlling to the point of being abusive. Cat never had her own foundation to stand on, and Eli did very little, except teaching her self-defense, to help her with that. It felt very Stockholm like, and I think the issue here is that this series has slid way over to the Twilight/50 Shades side when it comes to characterization and storytelling. Did E.L James work on this? I couldn’t respect Cat, I could only pity her. She went from the hands of one sociopathic controlling monster, to one who merely wasn’t a sociopath. But she was still a fairly blank slate and he trained and groomed her to be whom and what he wanted her to be. I mean that quite specifically, Eli literally thinks how lucky he is that no man has ever had her and that he can mold her into what he wants and needs. I found Eli fairly monstrous and nothing about his interactions did anything to make me see him in a different light. Part of the problem was the aforementioned navel gazing. Since there wasn’t actually any plot, there wasn’t anything for us to really see. Being in his head thinking how much he loved and needed her didn’t help. This was all tell, no show, and irritating. It was very irritating. We never even really saw her training in self-defense, we were just told she did so.

What little development we saw of her as a person at the start was completely eclipsed by Eli when he first kidnapped her. She thinks of nothing but him. Not her friends, not her future. It is just the now and how Eli is shaping her.

I can sum this book up with a few simple words:

Coffee
Food
Mine
Tattoo
SexSexSexSexSexSexSex
Guilt/Shame
Control
Boots
Skirts

Sadly, this had the bones to be a fairly decent book. The first few chapters (asides from a bit too much naval gazing), a few interspersed spots in the middle, and then the last couple of chapters were fairly good. But either about 200 pages needed to be cut out, or completely rewritten to make it tolerable. I am assuming Feehan is chasing the 50 Shades crowd, which isn’t surprising since she has always trended that direction. But for me at least, in doing so, she has lost the things that made me enjoy her works.

Really, at this point I have to ask myself more seriously, why do I keep doing this to myself? I have an enormous TBR shelf of things that don’t fill me with dread. There innumerable books out there that I am sure to enjoy. I don’t enjoy reading things I dislike. I don’t enjoy leaving negative reviews. My goal isn’t to excoriate anyone or anything. I don’t enjoy wasting my time or my money as those are scarce resources. Probably the only reasonable answer is that I am a sucker and I am not a quitter and I have significant difficulty dealing with lack of closure. I don’t hold out much hope for Elijah’s book, but I’ll likely read that too, hoping I can finally let go.

If you enjoyed this review please consider “liking” it on Amazon or Goodreads.
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1 star review

Review – Falling for a Redneck by Eve Langlais

Falling for a Redneck
By Eve Langlais



So this is the second story in a row that simply hasn’t worked for me. And not just random stories, but things that should have worked. I don’t know if I’m heading into a slump or it’s just awful luck for this weekend, but whatever it is, I hope it straightens out PDQ.

Be forewarned, there WILL  be spoilers and ranting.

So generally speaking, even if Eve Langlais books don’t make my top favorites list, I can at least count on solid enjoyment. This is in fact the first book of hers that was completely wrong for me. It should have been right dang it. We have an uptight, germaphobe, white collar woman, and an earthy blue collar guy with two adorable plot-moppets to melt her icy facade. But this reprint should have stayed safely in the past.

From this point on there will be spoilers and rants, feel free to skip out, but if you haven’t read anything by Eve Langlais, skip this book and try her Freakn’ Shifters (ignore the horrible apostrophe usage) or Furry United Coalition (yes that does spell FUC). Both of them are full of humor, whimsy, and sexy times.

So, we start out meeting Marissa, the pro-Domme, in full regalia in a session. Except this isn’t her kink, it’s a job she does so she can punish men and vent her anger at all men over the horrible way her ex-husband treated her. So yeah, we have another BDSM practitioner doing it in lieu of therapy, a trope I quite despise. It actually gets worse though because her former therapist is the person who turned her onto it. So, yeah, that happened. And then she doesn’t even own it, she’s all conflicted over it. Enter the sexy redneck Dirk and his adorable plot moppets. I settle in thinking alright, this is working for me. I’m even getting into the mystery of Marissa’s stalker. And I’m especially enjoying getting to know Dirk and seeing him as a person and his back story unfold. Then WHAM, another trope/comment I abhor. Marrisa refers to her pro-Domme activities as “…as bad as prostitution”. Literally, WTF? First off, that’s just an awfully denigrating way to think about or write about prostitutes. Considering prostitutes as ” bad” is just not something I can condone. There’s plenty of ways to think about prostitutes (and that’s definitely a debate for another time), but that dismissive horrified line of thought is one that just pisses me the hell off. And secondly, if you aren’t having sexual contact with a human being for money (which she wasn’t), then it isn’t prostitution. It’s a service right up there with paying for massage, hair cuts, or spa services. Yes it’s a little out of mainstream for the general population, but it still isn’t sex for money. So she’s going to quit because she’s tired of it anyway, and her anger’s all cured by the love and care from her redneck and his magical peen. That’s a little bit of magical thinking, but I tend to accept it in romancelandia. Whatever, on with the story. So Dirk takes her to his parents house to be safe from the stalker. It’s a farm, which makes for some fairly funny scenes. We get to find out plenty more about Dirk and his kids, and both he and Marissa really open up. The plot moppets’ bio-mom even breezes in giving Dirk closure and forcing both of them to confront their feelings for each other, and then conveniently breezes right out with no real repercussions or consequences. So Dirk and Marissa head back to real life, and she’s figured out her stalker is actually one of her now-former client’s wife. She sets up one last appointment with the man to lure his wife in, and this part I actually did like, she talks the wife down and teaches her to dominate her husband as he likes to be dominated. Those two go home a happier and kinkier couple. Then Marissa finally confesses to Dirk that all her angst and anger came from the fact she had cervical cancer which resulted in a hysterectomy, and that her husband knocked someone else else up and left her. Yes, that’s very miserable, but Dirk is a sweetie who explains she’s not half a woman, she’s the other half of his heart. They get married and our formerly very starched and buttoned up clean freak doesn’t even freak over the handprints the plot moppets leave on her wedding dress. It’s sweet.

Now, if that were the end of it, at least it would have been a high note. Still not a great or even good story, but a high note. But of course I wasn’t that lucky, we then have the epilogue from hell. A year later they wake up and find a freaking baby on their doorstep. The plot moppets’ bio-mom has popped out another kid and left it on their doorstep as a belated wedding present. WTF?!?! I guess someone must think that’s a happy ending of massive wish fulfillment proportions. But personally, I just found it creepy and weird.

I think what frustrated me so much, is that there was the bones of a great story in there. And Dirk and his backstory were just excellent. He’s one of my favorite heroes so far this year. I actually kind of even liked Marissa. But the story around them just completely irked the hell out of me. How on earth does an author even write characters I like in a story I can’t stand? There’s some sort of voodoo going on here, but I’m still giving this story 1 star.


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1 star review

ARC Review – The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die by Marnie Riches

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die
By Marnie Riches





I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

“When a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam, aspiring criminologist Georgina McKenzie is asked by the police to help flush out the killer.

But the bomb is part of a much bigger, more sinister plot that will have the entire city quaking in fear.

And the killer has a very special part for George to play…”


Theoretically, this should have been right up my alley, thrilling and with a brainy heroine. I mean, there’s plenty going on, people blowing up, a serial killer, assaults, kidnappings. But somehow it was just boring and plodding. I didn’t care, I felt no urgency. And some of it was because I couldn’t care less about the characters. George and Ad fell flat for me, George seemed a little less than advertised, and the villains weren’t any more engrossing.

Frankly, I found myself skimming trying to get it over with. I even jumped to the end to see if seeing the ending could inspire some interest (sometimes for me it will), and that wasn’t any more successful. There was nothing, so far as I could tell, technically wrong with this book, I just found it uninspiring.

1 Star
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1 star review

ARC – Rocky Mountain Miracle

Rocky Mountain Miracle
by Christine Feehan

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

This book gets a great big fat 1 star from me, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, I assumed that this was a new novella. It is most assuredly not, and while this one wasn’t so memorable that reading the synopsis tweaked my memory, once I started reading it reminded me of all the things I disliked about it before.

So, this story was first published in The Shadows of Christmas Past, which includes another paranormal Christmas story from Suzanne Sizemore. It was then recycled with other previously released Christmas stories in A Christine Feehan Holiday Treasury, which is almost certainly available in your library (and the other stories in this particular anthology are much stronger IMO), or on Amazon for extremely low prices in print. So if you are considering this book, first check your shelves and then maybe check your library. I just can’t see this book as being worth $4.00.

As for the story itself, I now faintly remember disliking it the first time I read it, and it simply hasn’t improved with time or re-reading. Maia is insipid, Cole is irritating, I kind of like Jase and the story between the two brothers, but the dialogue for this thing really just kills me. I accept a certain amount of info dumping dialogue in paranormal and urban fantasy because sometimes the world building needs it. But this is essentially a contemporary with a bit of paranormal, so it is just frustrating and irritating. And even without the info-dumping aspect, I just could not get behind the characters or what they had to say. So I recommend this to no one and want to shame the publishers for not posting up front that this was previously released.

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