I’ve had a mixed bag of reads lately.
Demon Bait by Moira Rogers
I’ve wanted to try a Moira Rogers book for some time, as they come highly recommended. I do not think I picked up the right one to start with, however. This story was interesting, but it also felt like fifty pounds of plot stuffed into a five pound bag. I had no idea what was going on for the majority of the story, and the continuity with the demons confused me. Why were there so many half demons if humans would lock down entire cities against demons? I had been picturing demons similar to zombies, but that didn’t make sense in the context of the half demons. I was also unclear for the majority of the story as to what purpose a summoner served. I did like the heroine, but I’m not inclined to read the next one in the series despite the really attractive cover.
Dragon Actually by G. A. Aiken
This was another book that came highly recommended as a different sort of paranormal romance. The heroine is Annwyl the Bloody, a warrior who is the head of an army and currently fighting her evil brother. She suffers a near-fatal wounding on the battlefield and is rescued by the dragon Fearghus. Fearghus doesn’t know what to make of Annwyl, but he finds her fascinating. I thought the set-up for this was terrific but the more we got to know the characters, the more it lost its allure for me. For a fearsome dragon, Fearghus was very mild and beta-hero-ish to Annwyl’s raging alpha heroine. When the attractive ‘human’ male showed up at the same time that Fearghus would disappear and Annwyl was incredibly attracted to him, I felt that we’d fallen into the same sort of story that’s been told a hundred times before and put this one down. It was a DNF for me. Nothing wrong with it other than it wasn’t to my tastes.
Dire Needs by Stephanie Tyler
Another DNF for me. This one started out interesting and was an intriguing set-up for me. Biker males who were also immortal dire wolves. The hero and heroine’s initial meeting scene made my eyebrow raise, and I had questions about the world building. I put the book aside when, in the first thirty pages or so, we are given a run down of the sequel bait – namely, the other dire wolf bikers named Jinx, Vice, Stray, Rogue and Harmony. Yes, Harmony, the immortal dire wolf biker who is also a rock star. I think authors should get an auto-DNF for that.
Odalisque by Annabel Joseph
This was a quick, sexy book that Jane sent and suggested I read. The set-up is that the hero is tired of relationships with all that ‘relationship’ drama, so he just wants someone he can fuck without having to think about. He purchases the contract of an odalisque, a trained modern woman who is paid $500k a year to be the love slave of whatever man buys her contract. The heroine of this book is deaf, which I thought was intriguing. Sadly, this story would have been much better if it would have had a different hero. This one was childish and revolting, and treated the heroine’s disability as if it were a burden that he must tolerate in order to fuck her. Good writer, but not my kind of book. Full review here.
The Auction by Kitty Thomas
Thomas has been recommended to me as an author to try for edgy reads, but this one fell into the same category that Odalisque did – flat main characters and scenarios meant to shock the reader, but it was a read without heart. I probably won’t try this author again. The story felt bland despite the titillating elements and I liked neither lead. Full review to come.
Heat by R. Lee Smith
I read this one a few weeks ago and it’s still with me. Two very different alien heroes. One is an extreme alpha, and the other is almost beta. One is law, one is chaos. There is a hella lot of rape in this book, too, but despite all of the problems, I devoured this read and looked for more books by this author. The full review is here.
Olivia by R. Lee Smith
Spoilers to follow. After reading Heat, I purchased Olivia without reading the sample. It sounded like the same sort of set-up. Woman is taken away by brutal alpha male and must learn to adapt to life with him. This one had the twist in that the alpha male was a monster. The bat-like men of this book steal a bunch of women from a small town and carry them off to their mountain to make babies with them. The women of the bat-people cannot breed anyone but monsters or children that die young, so their people are dying off and new mates must be acquired and impregnated. The heroine of this book is Olivia, naturally, and she starts out with a lot of promise. She’s taken captive by the leader because she doesn’t show as much fear as the others. She doesn’t try to escape, ever, and soon adopts the bat people as her own and becomes a leader of the human slaves and the apprentice of the spiritual leader of the bat people. All of this takes place inside a mountain with a slowly dying culture, and the worldbuilding in this one is again top-notch. However, when Olivia has sex with another guy despite being the mate of the leader, and then another woman shows up possessed by one of the gods of the bat people, I started to get an uncomfortable feeling about where the story was heading. I skimmed ahead and it looks like the book takes a very mystic turn and the ending is pretty depressing, so I put this one aside at 40% (which was 9,000 places in Kindle, the equivalent of two full length books). If you put the book aside at Olivia’s pregnancy, it’s pretty decent. It’s not the most romantic, but the culture that Olivia adapts to is very interesting, despite Olivia being a rather passive heroine who too eagerly adapts to her captivity. DNF
The Scholomance by R. Lee Smith
So far this one seems to be about a demonic version of Hogwarts. Mara is a woman who can read the minds of those around her. As a result, she’s very jaded about how people truly think and how they act. She’s the caretaker of her mother, who has descended into insanity, and seems to be very lonely. Her best friend Connie disappeared two years ago, searching for ‘the Scholomance’, which is where people go to learn magic powers. Ten students are accepted but the cost of the admission is the death of one of the ten. Connie went in search of the Scholomance two years ago and has not been heard from since, until the day that Mara gets a letter asking her to come and rescue Connie. It’s very interesting so far, but Mara is a rather remote and closed-off heroine. It’ll be interesting to see if this one is romantic or horrific. Or both.
On the TBR pile:
I have a copy of HP Mallory’s Witchful Thinking next up to read. I haven’t read the first two, but this one is supposed to be stand alone, so we shall see how stand-alone it is. I read the first chapter and it seems cute. I have also started Joey W. Hill’s Something About Witches. Very well written so far, but the world feels very kitchen-sink-ish. I’m going to get back into this one as soon as I finish The Scholomance.
There seem to be a lot of witch books lately, aren’t there?