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REVIEW: Debutante’s DIlemma by Elyse Mady

REVIEW: Debutante’s DIlemma by Elyse Mady

Dear Ms. Mady:

I liked your voice and I liked the character interaction. I liked the idea of the novel but this novella was just that, an idea. It was a sketch and because of the brevity, I couldn’t buy into anything. I didn’t believe that there was an HEA for these three because there was no emotional exploration of such a thing.

Debutante's DilemmaI admit that I looked at this book a couple of times at NetGalley but shied away because I wasn’t sure whether this was a love triangle. Love triangles are not a favorite of mine. But then, you sent me this very nice query with the book attached and I started reading it that night. The story is about seven chapters in length (including an epilogue) and a little under 80 pages. Normally, that would be enough for me in a novella but the issues that this story raises are simply too large in scope for the novella.

Miss Cecilia Hastings is the envy of every girl in London. During her first season, she managed to secure the attentions of Lord Jeremy Battersley, sixth Earl of Henley and His Grace Richard Huxley, fourteenth Duke of Wexford, Both gentleman were wealthy, well favored, and the best of friends. Both fell in love with Cecilia and have offered for her. Their love for Cecilia is the first thing to come between the two friends.

Cecilia is having a difficult time deciding between the two because she wants to have a marriage with passion and neither suitor has attempted one stolen moment with her. I actually liked this because it gives a nod to the restrictive time period when a woman’s reputation could be ruined by spending even a short time alone with a man sans chaperone. So many novels have the heroine gallivanting around the countryside without a worry about her reputation.

Further, you make much of the merest touch of clothing between the two characters which makes sense when the characters have had to confine their romance to dances, stolen tete a tete’s, and sidelong glances:

The ballroom could have been empty at that moment because, for just for an instant, as his strong arms cradled her, his satin breeches brushing daringly against the soft, sheer folds of her gown, he could nearly swear that the passion rushing through his body was flaring in hers too.

I liked that the metaphors and similes used by the characters seemed in keeping with the time period.

If unrequited lust were a terminal disease, Richard Huxley's friends and relations would have been well advised to put by a goodly supply of black-edged handkerchiefs, such was the severity of his affliction.

It is true that some of the writing is a bit florid, but I didn’t mind that. I think that kind of prose, again, gives a nod to the period and to the genre itself. It’s not that I don’t like spare prose because I do, but a little floridity and drama seems appropriate for the genre.

Yes, there was a lot I liked about the story including the setting, the voice. But the story reminded me of some proposals I’ve read for full length novels. Cecilia is a girl who has it all. She is in love with two men. The close friendship of the two men is nearly destroyed by the idea that Cecilia would choose one over the other. In short time, this conflict is resolved and we are on to the HEA with little explanation about how the friendship and jealousy will be resolved. The issue of jealousy is never really addressed, leaving me to wonder what these characters felt; how they would navigate an HEA after the story ended. The issue of jealousy was particularly poignant as there is a scene in which one suitor gives the other suitor the cut direct.

Cecilia, herself, has to make no difficult decisions. She is the picture of having your cake and eating it too. Her agnst at wanting to marry for passion seems almost to be petulant given her abundance of choice and in the short space, not enough of her character is fleshed out for me to be truly sympathetic. Further, because of the historical setting, the resolution of the dilemma would be an  anathema  for most families.

[spoiler]In the end there is a committed threesome but the issue of succession for the characters is never, ever addressed and given the time period, the non marriage and no legitimate issue would be a huge deal.   I’d almost rather have had no epilogue than the epilogue that is given when the three are in a committed relationship and there is no discussion of how one ancient family would end up with no direct heirs.   [/spoiler]

When I read the last page of the novella, I kept thinking, boy I wonder how the real story would have read instead of this outline.   I am giving this a fairly low grade because I felt the story was incomplete, but not because I didn’t like the author’s voice. There simply wasn’t enough romance, plot or character development for me to be satisfied with this story.   I would definitely read another Mady book but this one just left me scratching my head.   D

Best regards,


Book Link | Kindle | nook | Sony| BooksonBoard | Carina Press

Dear Author

REVIEW: The Claiming by Trinity Blacio


Maili, I understand you just finished reading (or is that too generous of a word) the words compiled into one PDF known as The Claiming by Trinity Blacio published by Siren Publishing-Bookstrand, Inc. The Claiming is ostensibly about a young woman whose family was killed in a bomb explosion on the family boat 10 years prior to the start of the story. Tabatha (also referred to as “Tab”) receives a frightening phone call from someone claiming to be responsible for those long ago deaths and promising to finish Tabatha off now. Tabatha believes that werewolves might be responsible for her family’s death but this doesn’t stop her from dressing up (or undressing given the scanty nature of the costume) for a Halloween party held at the local werewolf club. There she discovers that the Alpha is her mate and that a demon named Chax, summoned using her stolen car (don’t ask), is also her mate.

Tabatha is claimed by the two men, transformed by their seed “part werewolf and demon, being able to shift as she saw fit, and living as long as they chose.” There’s other stuff that goes on including that her brother isn’t really dead but has been hiding for 10 years and he gets to join a threesome claiming of his own.

Your email said that you were rocking slowly in a dark corner. Is there any one thing that you can point to that finished you off?


“Then they heard Chax bellow his rage from the living room. He came storming into the room. He stopped at the foot of the bed and stared at them. His clothes flew off his body. Ever so slowly, he crawled onto the bed with them.”

It’s either that or at department store Macy’s, Tabatha somehow managed to floor two fierce demons by kneeling their balls. Or when fighting at her home, she suddenly shape-shifted into a werewolf and then a demon, to deal with a couple of demons. I’m not sure why she managed to do this when she didn’t at Macy’s. Actually, perhaps it was that moment when everyone stopped fighting after the Master of Hell – out of the blue – shouted, “Stop fighting!” There were so many. I think I was finished off by page 2, actually.

I just can’t get over that there was virtually no world-building. It seemed so random. Tabatha is probably the most inconsistent character I’d come across. What did you think of her?

I admit that I was skeptical when I started this book as I was alerted to it by a reader who informed me via email it was the worst book that she had read; that she was never going to buy another ebook again; and that the author used “neither hole” twice in place of nether hole.

(neither hole exhibit A) and (neither hole exhibit B)

I didn’t fully appreciate how truly awful it was, however, until I started reading. It wasn’t just simply the lack of a coherent plot or the lack of worldbuilding but the consistent misspellings; lack of proper grammar; inconsistent details from page to page; and total disregard for use of punctuation. It actually read like a test you might give to a copyeditor who is applying for a job.


Yeah! I don’t think anyone would dare to use it as a test because it’d take longer than an hour for a copyeditor to highlight all errors and inconsistencies. It’s the constant inconsistency that almost killed me. Chax’s height varied throughout the story. As far as I could remember, he was seven feet and one inch tall and somehow, became six feet and a half. In one scene he had shaven chest and in other scene, he had chest hairs same colour as his red hair. Oh, speaking of his hair. It was long enough to touch the floor, but the length varied since then. Down to his waist, his shoulders, his knees or God knows where else. A black-haired woman became a blonde bimbo. Some actions were repeated. Tabatha pulled her t-shirt off twice in one scene. Once in a while, it happened on the same page.

The Claiming read as if it was a first draft and completely unedited. I suspect the editor – if there was one – ran a simple spell check because we have so many WTF? words. Cheek for check, rapid for rabid, story for store (“Glancing around the story she noticed everything back as if there had never been a fight” ), and their for they’re (“Yes, they know their not too happy, but I didn’t care.“). It was truly crazy.

Toward the end of the story, I was unsure whether the author’s native language was English. As you noted, rapid dog was used (twice in fact). There was a “coat cheek” and “he cheeked every nook of her body”.

The use of pronouns was optional:

"I thought you would like to have our ceremony with Melody’s. We could have out there by the lake."

The transitions were stunningly bad:

Tabatha blushed and looked up at her mates’ glaring eyes. They didn’t say a word to her as they disappeared from the store. Her head rose up and she glanced up and her headboard greeted her vision. Face down on the bed she tried to turn around but her…

Consistent tense is forgotten:

“Tabatha couldn’t believe it. This hunk of a man could dance, and he is gorgeous to boot.”


Someone responded to a recent DA article about the etiquette for reviewers that a reviewer should find something good in a bad book. I honestly tried to find one in The Claiming. The nearest I could find: the author has had an interesting concept. Not original, but interesting. I could see the skeleton of her story, but the execution is so poorly done. There was no story structure and… I’m sorry, it was unbelievably bad.

Well, it did have some memorable bits. Such as these: -

  • Ben laughed a sad laugh as two cups of coffee flew at him.
  • She bent down to pick it up when she felt the wiz of something fly by her ear.
  • Tabatha stopped for a minute, thinking about it, and continued walking to the car.
  • Shane grabbed hold of her, stopping her progress. “Wait, let me check outside.” His nose sniffed around the door. He poked his head out doing the same thing. Okay, everything is clear.”

There are some poorly plotted stories that have good erotic scenes, but the erotic scenes in The Claiming aren’t erotic at all. All were the ‘Wham-bam-thank-you-Ma’am’ type. I wouldn’t even brand it bad porn. I wonder if the author skimmed the details and the world-building to fit the word count for a 85-page novella? Or is it too charitable of me to think that?


You have to wonder how any house can put this work out and maintain a reputation as a credible publisher.


Especially when the ending made it clear that there will be a series to come. I hadn’t read a Siren Publishing book before and having read The Claiming, I’m not sure if I’m willing to read another.


If there was a grade below F, I would give it. I truly believe this book is unpublishable in its current state. It gives Siren a bad name and, by extension, epublishing a bad name. No self respecting publisher should put out this kind of product. I intend to read another Siren book to see if The Claiming is an aberration.

This book can be purchased via Bookstrand (unfortunately you have to buy a $5 voucher and the book itself is only $4.50).