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reincarnation

REVIEW:  Mine Tomorrow by Jackie Braun

REVIEW: Mine Tomorrow by Jackie Braun

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Devin Abernathy secretly dreams of escaping to a simpler time. It’s why she owns a vintage clothing shop, fulfilling her lifelong fantasy of surrounding herself with period style. All she has to do is slip on a garment to be spirited away to a bygone era—in her imagination, anyway. But lately she’s also dreamed at night of a passionate affair with a handsome World War II naval officer named Gregory Prescott, who seems oddly familiar.

Fantasy becomes reality when Devin dons a mysterious estate-sale coat and is suddenly whisked back in time—to New York City in 1945 on V-J Day, where she’s welcoming Gregory home with open arms and ruby-red kisses…. All she wants is to stay in his powerful embrace, but to do so means choosing between his past and her future.

Dear Ms. Braun,

Okay so this is a novella – maybe a long novella – but still short so my question on starting it is “will I believe in the HEA as it zips towards me at the speed of sound?” You’ve neatly taken care of that by Devin having dreamed of Gregory for years. She knows his face, she knows he loves her, she knows she (at the very least) has the hots for him. He is, literally, the man of her dreams. So when she finally actually meets him, most of the heavy lifting of falling in love is done.

Since she’s also described as someone who loves the 1940s more than any other time period – the clothes, the manners, the style of living – she fits in a bit better than the average TT “fish out of water” character. Good thing Gregory already knows she can’t cook so the antiquated kitchen doesn’t trip her up either. The quasi reincarnation “memories” that she has also come in handy in allowing her to “blend.”

The insta love from the dreams is a good “out” but Devin and Gregory do take time to get to know each other better which is good given their fast wartime courtship and marriage. Then a year passes. They get to know each other really well then!

This is where I found myself a little disappointed though I think it might be due to word count space constraints. Here’s Devin, in the decade of her dreams for over a year and we learn almost nothing about how she views the reality of it. Earlier on she had wondered what she would think of the racism and sexism prevalent then. She also comes face to face with the lack of wrinkle free fabrics and handy kitchen appliances but there is no mention how she coped with or learned about any of it.

The story is also remarkably free of concerns about TT, any specifics of how it works, how it doesn’t work, when it works, etc. Readers more obsessed with this just sit back and accept it. Let concerns about all this roll off.

The extent to which Devin keeps believing her initial foray into TT is all a dream goes to extended and almost unbelievable lengths. Vivid dreams are one thing but tactile dreams with boinga-ing, getting dressed, travel … I like that there is initially something that she can hang onto in order to keep from screaming in disbelief still it does go on. But then, this a TT novel so I need to let loose. When first Gregory and then Emmie are told about Devin’s Big Adventure, they are suitably wide eyed and “don’t say anything that might set off the crazy lady” so that made me happy rather than having them accept it immediately.

The way the story ends, we’re left with a HEA but as I closed my ereader I did begin to ponder some issues. In this modern age of technology where no one can go unnoticed by gov’mint how is Gregory going to be eased into society? With his SS number, he’s going to look like a 90 year old man. How will he get a job, get health insurance, get anything like that? I know, I know, I’m taking this all too seriously.

Gregory is a great hero with a wonderful romantic streak. I did feel that the two of them were deeply and truly in love. The finale of who ends up where did allow for them to end up with a HEA plus family relationships intact. I did enjoy the story despite what I wished had been explored that wasn’t. But without the issues and questions related to the difference in eras being answered, I did wonder why they were mentioned at all. C+

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Downfall by Rob Thurman

REVIEW: Downfall by Rob Thurman

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Dear Ms. Thurman,

I’ve read your Cal Leandros books since they first started coming out. It’s been a ride. I can’t believe we’re already on book 9! It’s rare that I stick with a series this long. In many ways Downfall feels like the end of the series — it’s not (I think there are a couple more books slated to come), but if someone wanted to say goodbye to the series, this would be a good place.

(Note: This far into the series, I can’t talk about anything without spoilers so I apologize for that.)

Downfall splits the narrative between Cal and Robin. As we learned earlier in the series, Cal and his brother, Niko, have reincarnated throughout time and Robin has the (mis)fortune to know them in all their previous incarnation. I say misfortune because the boys have a thing about dying young and badly. Readers can probably guess where I’m going with this — the time to collect has come.

Cal’s half-Auphe side has finally won the battle within him. It’s starting to come out. Cal’s hair starts turning white. His eyes start turning red. His already shaky moral compass becomes shakier. To make matters worse, the Vigil is determined to assassinate him. His ex-girlfriend, Delilah, now controls all of the werewolves in NYC. And his brother, Grimm, isn’t done with him. Suffice it to say, the cards are stacked against him.

Now Robin, who recognizes the signs and knows that the brothers’ end is near, isn’t willing to let them die without a fight. He’s tried to save their past incarnations without much success but this time is going to be different. Why? Because he’s done with them trying to save themselves. They obviously suck at it (no kidding) so he’s going to have to do all the heavy lifting. So he does.

I think the reason why Downfall has a sense of finality around it is because it refers to a lot of things that have happened in the brothers’ pasts. Previous books, previous encounters, familiar faces reappear (George!), all of that. It’s not that things get tied together into a tidy bow because they don’t, but it seemed like things had come full circle. This isn’t a criticism, but it’s an observation. I can tell there are still options to explore in future books, but they almost seem anti-climactic after this one.

Robin’s always been once of my favorite characters, so I was glad to see him get more attention. I also liked the glimpse into his relationship with Ishiah. I laughed at the thought of this angel not knowing what to do about this puck who lusted after him, then “watching out for him” (yeah, okay, Ishiah, talk about self-delusion), and then when he fell/retired/whatever, ended up with said puck — who then proceeded to thoroughly corrupt him. It’s epic, and I love that. Even if Ishiah did a shitty thing to the boys when they were younger.

On the other hand, I normally associate this series with energy and over the top emotion (which I like) and, in my opinion, both were missing here. Downfall is more introspective than previous installments and for me, that made it easy to stop reading and put down. I obviously finished the book, but it had a different tone and I think that is partly what contributes to the “final book” feel.

One thing I keenly felt in Downfall is a lack of major female characters. I get it. The series is about the brothers and Robin, and the focus should be on them. But I felt like women were more prominent in previous books so the cameo from Delilah and her Lupa pack and a phone call from a certain psychic didn’t feel like enough.

I wouldn’t say I was let down by this book exactly, but I’m not sure I got the Cal Leandros experience I’ve come to expect. Maybe I need more time to process. I did love Robin in this book though. C+

My regards,
Jia

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