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What January is Reading – 2/11/2012

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Currently reading:

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.

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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.

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There seem to be a lot of witch books lately, aren’t there?


January Janes

January likes a little bit of everything. She's partial to unique paranormals, erotic romances, contemporary, and YA. She has a fondness for novellas and trying self-published works, though more of those are misses than hits. She still refuses to read anything that smells like literary fiction. January also changes this bio on a regular basis depending on her reading mood.


  1. Renda
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 11:00:27

    I bought a GA Aiken dragon bundle when it was on special for $9.99. I can’t get into it at all. There are so many characters and so many strong personalities and I can never tell if they are in dragon form or human form. Then the characters apparently live for war and strategy and I just don’t get the conflict. It seems as if they are fighting all these wars just because that’s what they do.
    I **think** if the characters had more mainstream names, I might be able to follow it easier (even knowing the unique names are expected in this type book ). I loved the Laurenston were books. I was expecting the humor (and it is there, I just don’t get it/follow it) and, well, cohesion of the Laurenston persona. I don’t feel I am getting it in the Aiken persona. When will I learn to download samples. I rarely DNF, but this will probably go there.

  2. Darlynne
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 11:49:37

    This sounds like a dire mixed bag indeed. Maybe it’s time for something completely different?

  3. Dabney
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 12:28:51

    I am reading Heat and can’t put it down. It has made me think a lot about how much of one’s sense of erotic is out of one’s control. I find Kane horrific and yet his scenes with Raven are often erotic. I also think the author does a stellar job of making her characters indelibly real and unique. It may be a troubling book but it sure is a hell of a read.

  4. DA_January
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 12:41:44

    @Renda: I didn’t mind the names but it just felt very…I don’t know. I had been expecting something uproarious and different and this was just familiar waters. It’s not that it was a bad book, just not what I was looking for when I picked it up. It felt very cliche, but perhaps it gets better later in the book. I didn’t stick around past the first hundred pages or so.

  5. DA_January
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 12:46:29

    @Darlynne: I struggle with asking for suggestions because I get easily frustrated by some authors and I am very picky. I would love to find an author that does very interesting erotic paranormal novellas. Or just any erotic novellas that don’t involve cowboys or romantic suspense. I do enjoy trying self-published authors (in a sense that one enjoys mining for gold) but more often than not it comes up fruitless.

    If anyone has suggestions for self-published authors to try that they enjoyed or erotic novellas, I am in the mood for more of those.

  6. DA_January
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 12:49:48

    @Dabney: I am glad you are enjoying it. Kane is horrific but I appreciated that a happy ending could be had without changing who he was. That is so rare in romance.

    I am currently reading The Scholomance and it is very, very different. The heroine is fascinating in that she is a sociopath. I do not think I have read a heroine like her before. I am 60% of the way through and it is not really a romance, though.

  7. Dabney
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 13:43:18

    @DA_January: I tried to read Heartsick and couldn’t.

  8. Rhian
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 14:18:28

    Based on this post, I downloaded and have just finished reading the sample (oh Kindle samples, how I love thee!) for The Scholomance – and am about to buy it. I’ve been a little jaded by some poor recent reads, but R Lee Smith’s writing is compelling. Mara is really intriguing and it makes so much sense for her to be the way she is – definitely agree about the sociopathic tendencies – although I did roll my eyes at her having an absolutely perfect body.

    The summary for Olivia reminds me very much of a short erotic horror story on Literotica about a woman kidnapped by bat-people. I wonder if there’s a shared influence there?

    I read a G A Aiken book a while ago, but I think it was a mid-series title, and I definitely felt like I’d missed something. In the right mood (and having started from the first book) I might enjoy it as light silly fantasy fun, but it wasn’t really my thing and I felt like I’d seen it all before.

  9. DS
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 17:26:06

    Curious to see what you think about Witchful Thinking. I like my fantasy (Urban or Otherwise) without the Paranormal romance feel– although I do enjoy romance in my fantasy (if that makes sense). This one really frustrated me. I thought it was way too repetitious and obvious. And be warned– cliffhanger ahead. I’m not sure that going traditional has helped her writing.

  10. DA_January
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 20:31:48

    @DS: I will post on DA what I think of it. I read the first chapter and it seemed entertaining. I read somewhere that it was written so people could pick it up at book three, so I’m going to see if that is the case. I’m not enthused about the thought of a cliff hanger, though.

  11. Merrian
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 21:52:55

    I’m not planning on reading more in the Demon Bait series by Moira Rogers after reading this first one. I am a fan of the Red Rock Pass books but this didn’t work for me. I have tried two books in the Blood Hounds series alternate steam punkish west with vampires and werewolves as sort of Texas Rangers guarding the bad lands border. The first novella frustrated me because the plot was quick fixed to pull it together. I enjoyed the second which is a slice in time as the h/h survive a crash and journey to safety together. I think they do really good world building and I feel like the short form gets in the way of their storytelling strengths. I want to know more aaoubt the world and how it works and creates and affects the characters.

    I love Shelly Laurenston and have read several of the GA Aiken books and they didn’t work for me in the same way. The humour in the SL books has heart in the GA books it is snark for it’s own sake. I also think the GA books reveal authorly weaknesses unkindly – everything is obvious and the quality of the humour doesn’t carry the books so paper thin plot and world building are much more of an issue. Basically I don’t care enough about the characters to keep reading.

  12. LG
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 23:32:43

    Is The Scholomance really only available through Amazon? Darn, I would have liked to try that one. As curious as I am about Heat after reading the review and readers’ responses to the book, The Scholomance seems a bit more up my alley.

  13. DS
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 06:42:24

    @DA_January: I had not read any of Mallory’s books until I received an uncorrected proof of this one although I did know her history as a self publishing phenomenon. I can vouch that someone who hasn’t read her previous books can pick up this one without a back story problem.

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