Tag Archives: romance

Book Review: Dustwalker

I paid cash money for this book, so this wasn’t one of those free ARC situations. However, I am acquainted with 1/2 of the authors and converse with her via FB chat almost daily.

Neither of the above facts are going to color my review.

THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD.

There. That’s all you need to know. But, if you must have more, keep scrolling.

The Cover

 

The Blurb

A SYNTH SEARCHING FOR PURPOSE…

Walk. Scavenge. Destroy. Trade. A simple cycle that’s suited Ronin for one hundred and eighty-five years. With no clear grasp of his programming, the barren wasteland known as The Dust offers him purpose, a place where his armored undercasing, amped-up processors, and advanced optics can be put to use. The ramshackle towns on the edges of the waste serve merely as resupply stations between increasingly long treks. But one night — one human woman — makes him question everything.

A WOMAN WHO BRINGS HIM TO LIFE…

Lara Brooks struggles to survive under the strict rules imposed by the bots in Cheyenne. With her sister missing, she’s been on her own for weeks, and fears the worst. Her only hope comes from Ronin, a bot she catches spying on her. He promises to provide for Lara and search for her sister. All she has to do is dance. It should be easy; she’s done it before. But the longer she spends with Ronin, the harder it is to see him as just another bot.

A SANCTUARY HIDING DARK SECRETS…

In a city where humans are relegated to live in squalor, Ronin discovers a threat greater than any in the Dust — Warlord, Cheyenne’s tyrannical leader. When Ronin ignores the rules, he unwittingly puts Lara in danger. Warlord is as intolerant of disrespect as he is of mankind.

The Review

I’ll be honest. I might not have picked up this book if it wasn’t by someone I know. More honesty: my life is better because I did. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi romance, but I’m going to be rectifying that IMMEDIATELY.

I was hooked almost immediately. I love me a Romeo and Juliet story (although I prefer they not end with miscommunication and teenage suicide) (this one did not end with teen suicide due to miscommunication), I love rebellions, and I love the whole premise of the post-nuclear apocalypse with no real recollection as to exactly what happened, but a separation between the ‘bots and humans.

It’s a brutal world, and Tiffany Roberts does an amazing job describing that brutality in a way that really grabs at you and doesn’t let go. The world-building is fantastic and completely believable.

I imagine it’s difficult to write a robot (synth – a ‘bot that was programmed to adapt and change like a human) while maintaining their decided non-human characteristics. This book doesn’t have any trouble doing that. Ronin’s thought processes clearly keep him on the bot side of the spectrum, even when he’s becoming more “human” with his emotional reactions. I especially love the precision in which he measures time.

Lara is angry. Very angry. But this makes sense. She’s had a hard life. Human are subsistence farmers. Scrap gatherers. Subject to the bot Warlord who runs everything with cruelty. She’s had a brutal time of it, and most of that can be traced back to the bots of Cheyenne. The fact that she’s able to move past her anger enough to even consider softening to Ronin is amazing.

My only bone of contention with this story is the rape. It’s a flashback rape, but a rape nonetheless (and you all know how I feel about rape scenes – so many better ways, in my opinion, to torture someone and give them PTSD). But, in this case, I’m not going to deduct stars for it. Although I’m knee-jerk sensitive about rape being used as a method of torment, specifically for women, this violation added to the story and the protagonist’s character in a such a way that it’s hard to imagine it not having happened. (I’m still going to call out ever rape in every book I read, but I’ll always admit when I think they’re defensible.)

The Quotes

“I think, I reason, I react to the world around me. I question what I know and see, and I wonder what the future might bring, though I know it won’t likely be different than the past. I hope!”
– Ronin

Many humans viewed robots as tools, more akin to the handheld electronic devices they were so infatuated with than to themselves. Many others, like William, recognized our emergent consciousness, intelligence, and personality, and saw something inherently human in mind, if not in body.

[Lara:] “Smart ass.”
[Ronin:] “My ass is, at best, of average intelligence.”

 

The Verdict – 4.5 stars

This book was smart, funny, emotionally challenging, and all-around fantastic. I laughed out loud at parts (see above quote about the smart ass) and cried out loud (on the bus, damn you Tiffany!). This makes me eager to dive into everything else they’ve written. So do yourself a favor and buy it!

Book Review: Wordless by Mel Sterling

Although I typically read and review paranormal and fantasy romance a lot more than contemporary romance/romantic suspense, when Mel asked me if I wanted an ARC of Wordless, I immediately said yes. I’ve read some of her other stuff (in my primary genre) and loved it. PLUS, we’re practically neighbors and I have an obligation to help support my local economy by insisting that every single one of you buy this book right meow.

The Blurb

Disaster reporter and internet celebrity Jack Tucker is disillusioned after a stint embedded in Iraq. The IED that destroyed his team’s Humvee brought him tragedy and regret, robbing him of the joy he took in his job–or anything else. He spends his days in a small Camden bookshop, struggling with writer’s block, until the elderly proprietor dies, leaving him adrift.

Lexie Worth abandoned a promising career to keep her uncle’s beloved bookstore alive. But the store’s tabby cat hates her, local poets invade twice a month for scurrilous readings, and she knows she shouldn’t get involved with sexy, troubled strangers like Jack. When the FBI comes knocking, with suspicions of fraud and racketeering, Lexie realizes someone’s after more than a first edition or two.

Someone’s been using the bookstore to hide their crimes. Someone dangerous–maybe even deadly. Jack wants to protect Lexie–if he can believe her. And if she doesn’t find out exactly who he is…

Wordless, book one of the Pink Sofa Secrets series.

The Cover

love this cover. It is so perfect. Judge this book by the cover. You will not be sorry.

RIGHT? Perfect.

RIGHT? Perfect. (This is a link. Click it.)

The Review 

The mystery – fraud and racketeering – was really well crafted. I’ll admit that  I can almost never figure out who did it in any mystery, and that drives me crazy. (I own almost every Agatha Christie ever written, courtesy of my father, and I’ve read all of them so many times. I can never remember who did it. Ever. EVER. Not even on the tenth re-reading.)

ANYWAY – the mystery. Although one of the bad guys jumped out at me right away, the way it played out in the end was not how I’d imagined it happening, but it was deeply satisfying. Plus, who doesn’t love intrigue and crime set in the midst of books? (My dream job would be to own a bookstore but not have to rely on it for income, because that sounds stressful. We would be open whenever I felt like it, and there would be coffee in the morning and wine in the evening and I could sit in a little alcove and write and occasionally make out with hotties in the rare book room. But in a non-book-damaging way.)

In addition to a finely crafted mystery, the romance was well-paced (although I always used to feel a bit skeptical when people in books got so serious so fast, it oddly seems more realistic to me now). Jack and Lexie are both damaged in different ways and it really felt like the damage informed their decision making more than becoming an excuse for bad decisions. It’s a fine line to walk, and I thought Mel walked it adeptly.

My favorite character – sorry Jack & Lexie – was Melville the cat. Melville was the best cranky cat ever. (My dream bookstore will also require one grumpy cat who is perfectly toilet trained.)

…he’d had plenty of dinner, but Melville considered any time spent in the kitchen without feeding the cat wasted time.

I feel you, cat.

The Quote

Usually when I do a quote in a romance novel, it’s something about love or commitment or whatever, but honestly, this (other then the cat quote above) is the passage that spoke to me the most.

All those folks who shopped the section and complained that the high fantasy shouldn’t be mixed in with the space opera – well they’d just have to tolerate elves on the spaceships a while longer.

I mean, right? Elves on spaceships! 

I’m not going to lie – I cannot get this image out of my head now.

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The Verdict

This book was really good. Good romance. Good suspense. Great cat. Space elves! (Not really. I don’t want you to be disappointed about that.) Plus, it’s set in a bookstore which is kind of where I want to live when I grow up. All this and some steamy, steamy sex. How on earth could you say no to that?

 

 

Book Report: Oria’s Gambit by Jeffe Kennedy

When I was at the RT convention in April, I had the extremely good fortune to be introduced to Jeffe Kennedy and we became Facebook friends (look at me, name dropping). A few weeks ago, her book Oria’s Gambit was released and it sounded extremely interesting. I will buy any book at any time, but if it’s written by someone I know, it’s definitely 1-click time.

Since Oria’s Gambit was the second in a series, I had to also buy the first. OBVIOUSLY.

You should buy them both and then be happy that the third is going to be released soon, too.

Book the First

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An Unquiet Heart

Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince…

A Fight Without Hope

When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception.

A Savage Bargain

Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.

Book the Second 

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The Blurb

A Play For Power
Princess Oria has one chance to keep her word and stop her brother’s reign of terror: She must become queen. All she has to do is marry first. And marry Lonen, the barbarian king who defeated her city bare weeks ago, who can never join her in a marriage of minds, who can never even touch her—no matter how badly she wants him to.

A Fragile Bond
To rule is to suffer, but Lonen never thought his marriage would become a torment. Still, he’s a resourceful man. He can play the brute conqueror for Oria’s faceless officials and bide his time with his wife. And as he coaxes secrets from Oria, he may yet change their fate…

An Impossible Demand
With deception layering on deception, Lonen and Oria must claim the throne and brazen out the doubters. Failure means death— for them and their people.

But success might mean an alliance powerful beyond imagining…

The Review

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this series thus far is that Lonen and Oria are equals. She might be more physically fragile (and was treated thusly by her family and others in Bára), but their relationship is one of equals.

They have a real rapport and although trust is slow, they aren’t doing stupid things like actually refusing to share information when it could benefit the other. There are too many books out there where the main romantic protagonists waste so much time not communicating to the detriment of all when you really want to shake them both and just yell, “Talk to each other already!”

Oria and Lonen talk. She’s reluctant to share information that could mean her death if her people find out, but she ends up sharing because it makes sense! I love sensible romantic leads!

The world building is quite well done. I have such a clear picture of the lushness of Bara (built with stolen water, those bastards) with rooftop gardens and hummingbirds flitting about as well as the more desolate regions where the Destrye are trying to rebuild their lives after the brutal war ended. I like a world where there are clear magic rules that the author has obviously put some time and thought into – and the rules of sgath and grien that the residents of Bára possess.

As for the sexy-times – this is definitely an area in which Ms. Kennedy shines. Due to the nature of the magic that Oria possesses and the differences between their two peoples, Lonen and Oria cannot have skin to skin contact without causing her immense pain. This obviously makes sex extremely hard. (heh. twss.)

The sex scene, which involves no actual skin-to-skin contact, is still wicked hot. Remarkably so. I read a lot of romance books and I was impressed.

The Verdict

This was one of those books that you hate to reach the end of, because you need more, dammit! I’m hopeful that the “book three coming in September 2016” means that the wait will be extremely short. The love story of Lonen and Oria is just beginning and if I don’t get more soon, I’m going to be extremely upset.

The Disclaimer

I paid for this book with my very own cash money and Ms. Kennedy has no idea that I’m writing this review. Hopefully we’re still FB friends after this.

Waking up under a blanket of sea snails

I was at the coast last weekend. That’s what we have in Oregon. A coast. We don’t “go to the beach,” we “go to the coast.” Probably because the water is, according to reputable sources, ball-shrivelingly cold, even in mid-May.

The Bean had a blast, though. He wants to move into the ocean and go swimming and play in the sand and live there forever and ever amen.

This is about 30 seconds before the first wave knocked him down and he giggled hysterically before yelling, "AGAIN!"

This is about 30 seconds before the first wave knocked him down and he giggled hysterically before yelling, “AGAIN!”

 

Alas! I was unable to fulfill his desire to move into the ocean because there were no outlets in which to plug my laptop, making it a terrible remote work space. We wandered around the beach, looking at all the “she-shells” (they were 95% rocks, but why argue with a 3-year-old?).

We looked at some rock formation thingie because I was hoping for tide pools and starfish, but instead it was just barnacle-y and covered with what looked like tiny snail shells.

Last night I dreams that I woke up on the beach covered in those tiny shells.

ARGGHHHH!!!! Why is this a thing?

EXCEPT, instead of empty shells, they were alive and crawling all over my body leaving their icky slime trails behind and the tide was coming in and what is wrong with my brain???????

Moving on.

Three Things Thursday

1. I cannot believe it’s only Thursday. I woke up this morning convinced it was Friday and then it hit me. Nope. Thursday. I have a couple things today I’m looking forward to, but overall, not impressed with the length of this week. I think someone snuck in an extra day somewhere.

2. I am 100% done with crappy books, and I’m reaching a critical stage where I think they might all suck. You know what? If your MC is the strongest and apparently smartest person around, you don’t make her (it’s always a her) a virtual subject of the strong male protectors who make decisions about her behind her back. That is lazy, sloppy writing. THIS IS FANTASY! THERE IS NO NEED TO CREATE FANTASTICAL PATRIARCHAL SOCIETIES WHERE THE MEN HAVE ALWAYS TRADITIONALLY BEEN IN CHARGE AND SO THEY JUST DO THAT BECAUSE THAT’S HOW IT ALWAYS IS! THERE ARE VAMPIRES FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Ahem. Anyway, if you’re going to write a strong female character, then for the love of the Morrigan, Freyja, and Kaumari, let her be strong. (BTW, doing a pelvic exam on an unconscious and unconsenting woman who is not in dire medical need of such a procedure is sexual assault.)

3. Three day weekend coming up and next weekend is the architect’s birthday surprise! He’ll be 45 on Friday next and I’m super excited for the getaway I got me us him. Plus, the actual gift? Awesome. I’m doing fairly well at maintaining my zen butterfly state at work, so that’s good. I haven’t even had to talk myself down from a maiming in almost two weeks! Go Team Me!

 

Happy Thursday!