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REVIEW:  Real Vampires Know Size Matters (Glory St. Clair #10) by Gerry Bartlett

REVIEW: Real Vampires Know Size Matters (Glory St. Clair #10)...

Real Vampires Know Size Matters (Glory St. Clair #10) by Gerry Bartlett

Dear Ms. Bartlett,

Every time I see your heroine’s name, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” starts playing in a continuous loop through my brain. Granted, in no way, shape or form can Gloriana Sinclair be compared to the deity to which this song is sung – though, given her predilection for falling into trouble and finding her way out of it, it might be a close thing. The poor vampire’s world IS rather like a war, with skirmishes and battles won and lost so that the greater war can be decided.

When Glory Sinclair was made a vampire, thin definitely was not in. Thin meant you were either poor, dying, cursed or all of the above. Unfortunately, as society progressed, so did ideals of beauty – and her big hips became a big no-no. But our intrepid protagonist has quite a bit more to worry about than the lush sweep of her curves. Not only has her mother, a goddess from Olympus, found her again – but she’s saddled her with a junk food addicted, snarky recovering Siren who’s searching for the meaning of her diet in the bottom of a Ben & Jerry’s pint (which Glory can’t eat). Glory’s boyfriend of decades, the fangalicious Blade, suddenly reveals that his ex, a powerful voodoo priestess, wants him back – and won’t take no for an answer. Then, to top all that fun off, Glory has to clean up another of Israel Caine’s messes, putting herself deeper in hock with various entities, deities and bottom feeders than ever before.

All I can say is that this book was busier than a K & W Cafeteria on half-price senior citizens night. Most of the current story was overshadowed by endless repetitions of everything that went before. It wasn’t enough that one friend or set of friends had to be told about some part of the plot or situation, there had to be on-screen repetitions, repeatedly. The Department of Redundancy Department called and wanted their plot back. They sent an email to follow up, just in case readers didn’t get the phone call. For every step forward the story took toward developing the lives, characters and plot, it took two steps, a backflip and a cartwheel in another direction that vaguely resembled “back.” It could just have been me missing the point of how interconnected everything was, but I somehow suspect that, yes, Glory’s back story is just –that- convoluted and packed with insanity that I’d need a flowchart, a relationship guru and a native Sherpa just to keep up.

All that aside, however – this was a wonderful story that thrived on character development and solid storytelling over flashy writing tricks. I loved how we got to see Glory develop a bit more, discover her confidence and power within herself even as she tried to put out every fire that cropped up. With each book in the series, readers have been able to watch her grow as a person, gotten to see her self-confidence build just a bit more. That’s not to say she’s an island who needs no one – she depends on her friends and loved ones, leans on them in times of need. They’re her support system, even though she’s the one who has to do all of the heavy lifting.

The secondary characters and their development truly help the story pop. The characters have become friends of the reader over the series – each one is as rich and lifelike as Blade and Glory. They aren’t treated as extensions of the story or props, but as the story themselves. As new characters are introduced, their relationship with the reader grows naturally through their relationships with the other characters. It’s almost like we’re standing on the fringes of this awesome group of people, watching and listening in, but not expected to contribute.

There’s such an amazing joy and beauty in Glory and Blade’s relationship, despite all of their hardships and trials, that it makes persevering through some of the repetition worth it. Granted, there were a few times it felt as though Glory’s romantic life was getting a touch, shall we say, Anita Blake-ish, but she got pulled back from the edge of that bed and tossed right into the arms of the man she loves in a realistic manner that had me cheering and bouncing in my seat – until she got pulled out of those arms. Again. I’m convinced Blade needs to develop a new vampire superpower of rubber arms, just so he can keep up with all the directions his beloved is pulled in.

I’m definitely going to give this book a thumbs up. Despite the redundancy and some minor niggly bits with slightly unrealistic reactions, overall it was solid and well-written. Now, however, I have to go back and reread everything that came before. While not wholly inaccessible to new readers, I’d definitely recommend tackling the others in the series before curling up with a glass of wine (red, of course) and this one. C+

Wishing MY Mother was from Olympus,

Mary Kate

 

As a reader who’s old enough to know better and young enough to not care, I’ve breezed through the gamut of everything books have to offer.  As a child, I used to spend summer days happily ensconced in one of the Philadelphia public libraries, reading everything and anything I could get my hands on, thanks to the love and support of my parents and aunts – teachers, mothers and/or librarians all.  One aunt started me with Nancy Drew books (whose pages are worn from hundreds of re-reads) while another thought I needed introduced to C.S. Lewis’s land of Narnia.  By the time I was 8, I’d read everything the library’s children’s section had to offer and had “graduated” to the adult room downstairs.  Fortunately for my very supportive parents’ sanity, I didn’t discover romances until college.  My days are currently spent working in law enforcement (dispatchers unite!), working with first responders, and trying to dig my writer/editor/reviewer husband out from his latest pile of books.  I’m a devoted fan of all manner of romance (though I prefer my romance to have a hint of laughter and self-awareness), mysteries, and urban fantasy.

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REVIEW:  Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham

REVIEW: Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham

mine-under-the-mistletoe

Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can’t wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

Dear Ms. Latham,

While drumming my fingers as I (impatiently) wait for the follow-up to “Knowing the Score” (hint, hint), I decided to see if you had any other offerings at Carina. Yay, you did and I caught it just in time to add to our holiday novella reviews. Christmas in London – what could be better? Well, as it turns out, falling in love during Christmas in London.

The opening set up is reminiscent of the film “The Holiday” wherein international house swapping goes awry. Oh, if only a super gorgeous, single, nice English guy ended up naked in bed with all visiting super cute, single American women – I think the British Tourism agencies need to look into this pronto. It’s not exactly a meet cute since there is a bollocks kicking as Ashley isn’t a helpless female and poor Ollie was so knackered from a fruitless wait on the tarmac at Heathrow before they called it a day that he didn’t realize there was a Goldilocks in his bed. Things just had to improve from there.

Ashley’s efforts to achieve a picture perfect Dicken’s Christmas seemed a tad schmaltzy at first, though hints are provided for the reason, until the grand reveal at the end but Ollie goes along with it and decides to help show around the pretty American whose knickers he’d like to get into. His reasons for trying to avoid the holiday cheer also make sense and they’re are a bit more fleshed out earlier in the story. I liked that the fact that both characters actually open themselves up and tell these dark, past issues to each other is used as a step forward in the relationship.

What seemed trotted out from angst plotting central is Ollie’s almost split second relationship panic leading to his decision to bolt just when the plot required it as was his change of heart and reversal a short time later. If Ashley and Ollie had more time together before this happened, I wouldn’t be quite so nitpicky but it felt more rote than real.

I did enjoy the virtual experience of Christmas in London which managed to avoid all the tacky tourist traps. The flower market would be wonderful to wander through as would the stalls of arty knickknacks. And Panto – well, who knew? Are there any youtube entries of this because it sounds like something I just have to see. Also thank you for letting Ollie be a commoner. Sometimes I get the impression that every other Brit is a Sir or Lord Something.

The wait for the next entry of your rugby series might seem endless but this helped it go by a little faster. The trip to London and English holiday traditions was fun even if the romance didn’t quite hit the spot. C+

~Jayne

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