Ever really wanted to make somebody’s heart spring a leak? Easy enough. Put these 678 pages in their face, thMY FANGIRL IS AT MAXIMUM CAPACITY, Y'ALL!
Ever really wanted to make somebody’s heart spring a leak? Easy enough. Put these 678 pages in their face, then BAM. Mission accomplished.
With a hero-name like Dancer and an evil family trying to murder-death-kill their son for a plot, this was destined to snake my feelings. But truthfully, an action adventure science fiction romance just can't go wrong in Sherrilyn Kenyon's hands.
Everyone, probably: Yeah, yeah, just tell us what the book’s about, would ya?
Right. So, the deal is that Dancer has done pissed off the wrong people and Sumi? She works for those wrong people.
Poor chick is their slave, so she gets sent in Black Ops style to go kidnap Mr. Big Hulking Warrior.
The book's got some external shenanigans, like a few rescue missions and a handful of combat engagements. But, for the most part, this ain't your run-and-gun kind of story. Dancer and Sumi spend lots of time unpacking their shit-tons of personal baggage whilst having sexy boinking and trying to, you know, not die.
While Sumi might not seem like it her first Meet and Greet, this chick is as tough as a damn diamond. Like, girl is hardcore for-realness a professional badass.
“I look forward to ripping out your spine and beating you with it.” - Sumi
*Cue all of my applause!* DAAAAAMN WOMAN!
Still, as hard as she is, this girl’s backstory is as brutal as Dancer’s is sad. Despite their warrior-ing it up all over the place, in the end our OTP are survivors. Please...allow me to give them ALL of my feelings, thank you.
Poor Dancer has his sexy butt tied to Miss Asshole Fiance Chick, and I swear this glitch is psycho-crazy evil, like a female Hitler-In-Space.
Poor Sumi is fighting to get her daughter back, which OMG that gave me a million tears, fears, and cheers.
And, lastly, poor OTP has The Big Evil that’s gunning for both of them.
Born of Fury is character-driven out the ass, with family and culture being huge in this novel. AND I AM SO HERE FOR THIS!
“Family isn't about the blood you share, it's about the people willing to bleed for you.” - Maris.
“Just remember, family isn’t perfect. It’s just perfectly ours.” - Shahara
This. Book. Is. So. Damn. Good!
The various settings and intricate world building and narrative flow, they all cued my fangirl-flailing, but as always, dat humor! It hit my funny bone SO good. Side characters and old favorites alike had my heart going boom boom.
“Shh! I’m being stupid and I have to concentrate for it.” - Nero
“We’re here to petition the Overseer. You’ll have to forgive my bodyguard, he’s a little irritable, but I can’t blame him. I’d be irritable, too, if I went a month without a bowel movement.” - Bastien
DAMMIT I LOVE THOSE BOYS!
But that love don’t hold a pigeon-smidgen to the agapē I was rocking for Dancer. Boy was a damn nuclear force on every mother-flippin' page!
No, really. As in, really really.
1. An alpha protector. 2. A beta personality. 3. A horrendously scarred warrior. ........4. Yes all of my catnip, thank you!
But on top of ALL that glorious fangirl bait, Dancer was a virgin. A VIRGIN OMG DO YOU KNOW HOW HAPPY THAT MAKES ME?!
His virginity having been so interestingly woven into his cultural identity and backstory was amazing, no doubt. But, GUYS! Reading a story where the heroine’s had the sexy-times but the hero has not?
HAPPY FEMINIST IS HAPPY!
I mean, when you consider the fact that touching Sumi equals death ouchy-ouchy for Dancer...? Can we say next-level?!
“For one touch of your precious hand, I gladly consign myself to death.” - Dancer
Great. Now I'm dead. Purple prose can go gag itself on a lawnmower, because when paired with the story's contextual framing, that was romantic as frickty-frack! But the powerful romance isn't the only thing that’s got me making out with this book.
Characters were constantly tossing out beautiful words of wisdom, dropping profound truth bombs like it was no big.
“Fain taught me early in my life to listen with my eyes and not my ears. Lips and tongue lie. But actions never do. No matter what words are spoken, actions betray the truth of everyone’s heart.” - Dancer
BOOM! Right in my feels! One minute Born of Fury lands a direct hit to my heart with elegantly moving words, and in the next?
Devyn: Guess what? Guess what?! I grew a monkey, Uncle Hauk! Vik: Not that I haven’t been the sacred embryo’s monkey from birth, but this is a little ridiculous. Don’t you agree? Hauk: Vik? Vik: Who else would the bonebag torture THIS badly? I would be more upset about it, but look. Opposable thumbs!
Vik: Got it. Want me to run it? Hauk: Nah. Why don’t you sit there and stare at it for a while? Vik: Syn, could you please remove his anal probe?
Whoomp, there it is. The undeniable proof this novel deserves your eyeballs.
It’s funny, it’s badass, it’s cute. It’s got moments that will rip your heart out in itty-bitty bloody pieces…The heroine beats up the bad guys, the hero is adorable, and both are POC characters.
You, dear reader, got exactly zero excuses to not read Born of Fury. Now shoo.
(If you like my writing voice or you think I’m funny...[or you just really wanna laugh at a fangirl for fangirling]...then SHAMELESS YOUTUBE CHANNEL PLUG IS SHAMELESS! I review romance novels and Asian dramas, so that is a thing and now you know.)
Hi, my name is Jacqueline, I'm a bibliophile, and I'm in love with this book.
This thing kicks ass. And, I don't mean in the "let's-create-comedic-commHi, my name is Jacqueline, I'm a bibliophile, and I'm in love with this book.
This thing kicks ass. And, I don't mean in the "let's-create-comedic-commentary-for-the-sake-of-an-amusing-hyperbolic-review" kind of kick-assery. I mean legitimate, I-glommed-this-mofo-in-one-day level of quality. So, what's this puppy about? Okay, quick run down; The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lie, a historical romantic mystery set in China during the Tang Dynasty which follows Yue-ying, a scarred indentured servant working in a Courtesan pleasure house, and Bai Huang, a privileged aristocratic playboy, both of whom are set by circumstances to solve a Who-Done-It murder mystery. And subsequent awesomeness ensues.
First off, let me just put it out there that while I do have some issues regarding the story (we'll get to those a minute), I have to say it; The Lotus Palace is basically the literary equivalent of the TARDIS. I shit you not, from Chapter One this sucker takes you out of your Modern Day Bore-ville and transplantes your ass to ancient China. The textures of the writing are hardcore realistic. So much effort is put to the smallest details in the setting, from Chinese social class structure to the character's attire to dietary rituals, making your brain feel immersed in awesome culture all without becoming boring or textbook-ish.
That said, while I'm fangirling over this thing like a Belieber at her first Justin concert, there are a few figurative landmines sprinkled in the recipe of this novel. "The characters, perchance?" you might be thinking. Nope. In fact, I am completely on board with the ideology that says Huang and Yue-ying are IRL people. While Yue-ying does seem to be given more character development, with Huang kind of feels pushed to the back-burner, I'm okay with this criticism. For the most part, The Lotus Palace is largely told from our heroine's point of view. So such favored attention makes sense. Both characters are still likeable, believable, and interesting.
"The plot?" you could be pondering. Nope-nope. The external conflicts of this piece of fiction, while obviously serving as the Forced Proximity Vehicle by which our two leads are granted interaction, it works. The mystery is believable because just enough focus is directed its way without feeling like a Scooby Doo special. What's more, it paves the way for allowing the book's secondary characters to feel fully realized and dynamic.
"Screw you, Jacquie, I'm done playing your guessing games!" you're now thinking. Okay! Here it is; the big ol' answer to What The Hell Is My Problem is basically the romance between hero and heroine. Yeah, okay, so that was a lot of hyperbolic expository buildup for not a lot of payoff; sue me. As is, while I was in copious love with the initial sexual tension and relationship dynamic between Huang and Yue-ying during the first arc of their story, it kind of died a quiet death from the second to third act. I really can't explain what happened, either; which is not helpful, I know. The two had really rockin' chemistry in the first several chapters, but after the story got rolling it's like their relationship was simultaneously rushed and ignored. What's worse, along with getting fewer relationship development scenes the more the story progressed, I also really struggled buying them as couple-material.
AND THIS FACT KILLS MY SOUL! Why the text-screaming? Because the quality of this story was frackin' phenomenal! The writing was amazing, the pacing was amazing-er, and the characters were the book-people equivalent of chocolate+orgasms+free money; basically all the things that make life awesome. Sadly, our two leads just felt stale, especially when considering their relationship culminates at the end of the book in a pretty unbelievable way. Without activating the Spoiler Bomb, I will say that while I straight up demand an HEA in my romances, I want my Happily Ever Afters to not feel as fake as Pamela Anderson's chest. Even more of a bummer, the ending of The Lotus Palace does give me my couple being a couple, but it does so in a very rushed, unsatisfactory delivery.
Still! Aside from all my bitchy bemoaning, I still gotta give high fives to the author of this little gem. Jeannie Lin kept me hooked throughout my reading experience with this book. I did genuinely care about the characters, and my attention was all wrapped up in the story like a puppy with a ball made of bacon. Yes, I do wish more time had been spent on Huang and Yue-ting's relationship, and yes, while I seriously regret this author's use of time-fast-forwarding in the book, I still stick by my recommendation. Ms. Lin, your book was awesome. Please, give me more!
Seriously. Shut up and know all ye THIS BOOK IS FUCKING FAN-DAMN-TASTIC!
Well, so, yes, I might have just secured my one way ticket to the pillowed
Seriously. Shut up and know all ye THIS BOOK IS FUCKING FAN-DAMN-TASTIC!
Well, so, yes, I might have just secured my one way ticket to the pillowed-wall room complete with self-hugging jackets for that crazy-sauce outburst, but it was so worth being committed over. Alas, lock me away Johnny, for I have recently come to the sad conclusion that books are not healthy for you. In fact, they're a bit dangerous to your well being, and unquestionably no-good for your sanity. Books like No Good Duke Goes Unpunished make it very, VERY difficultimpossible emotionally traumatizing to separate fiction from reality. Why? Well!
When a book kicks much ass, you want that thing to be real, dammit. And, let's face it, we're all secretly convinced that Temple and Mara are walking-talking people. Those two characters are the epitome of a huge honkin' bowl of Awesome sprinkled with a sugary goodness pile of Emotional Agency. Yes, yes, our characters are believable, they're likable, they're strong; they're all of that. But, far, *far* more importantly, their back-stories, their personal identities, AND their personal growth, both independently as well as a couple over the course of novel, brings these two fictional peeps into a hot, zesty fiesta of damned good reading.
Oh, and that's not even broaching the topic of the plot! This story is just damned good; all of it. DAMNED GOOD I SAY! The conflict is nuanced and layered, operating as an external crisis driven by internal emotional pain. The progressing of plot points is so well executed in sensical construction that even the most ADHD spasmodic, "Oh-Look-Something-Shiny!" reading attention span would remain hooked throughout every friggin' chapter. The smexy smokin' sensual chemistry (yay for alliterations!) that sparks in every scene between our hero and heroine is, in my obnoxiously unimportant opinion, serious justification for making this Book-Crack-level worthy.
Not good enough for ya to be convinced to read this glorious collection of words? Well, fine! Then how about a story chock full of piss-your-pants-roller-coaster-ing emotional hits within the plot? Temple's Mr. Angsty-Angst man from Angstville level of mistakenly misplaced self-hate? Or Mara's I'm-Apparently-The-Most-Bravely-Bad-Ass, Most-Independently-Self-Reliant-Vagina-Owner moniker holder in Romance Land? Still not convinced? FINE! Throw in some amaze-balls beautimous writing, some burn-this-mother-down hot sex scenes, AND majestic perpetual plot momentum! Because, ya know, as great effing books do. SO HOW? ABOUT? NOW?!
I really do.
Post Review Postscript:
Dear Sarah MacLean: You're birthed in win, and your DNA is basically the equivalent of diamonds dipped in liquid gold. This has long been acceptable scientific truth for you, for your books up until No Good Duke Goes Unpunished have proven as much. Here I must put it to you, though, that you are a mastery of awesomeness. That itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny way you just SHOCKED THE EVER LOVIN' CRAP-LOVE out of your readership with those last two lines of the epilogue about a CERTAIN surprise you've been harboring over the course of three novels? Well. You are officially Queen of Romance. Here's your well deserved fist bump, good woman.
You know what I love?...Bad-ass heroines who rock capability and personal agency like it's a Def Leppard farewell tour.
You know what I really, reallyYou know what I love?...Bad-ass heroines who rock capability and personal agency like it's a Def Leppard farewell tour.
You know what I really, really love?...Independent, confident females that save their own damn ass while busting out that personal identity.
You know what I love more than anything?...That kinda chick, in a HISTORICAL romance!
Artemis is my favorite non-person person, 'cause life has screwed her blue, but dammit she's a survivor. She's fascinating and strong and bold. This girl did so many awesome things that made me wanna stand up and tackle-hug her.
Her counterpart Maximus, though? Um...Not so much.
This novel rocks it with heroine and plot...but kind of sucks mammalian testicles when it came to the man business.
Maximus is believable? Yep! He's got legit internal conflicts? Double-yep.
...But lord have mercy on a cinnamon bun, he's flat as all hell. Boy is just sort of there, looking a lot like a second fiddle next to Artemis. Why the frickity-frack is that? Well, maybe it's the writing being heroine POV heavy? Maybe it's the big focus-little/pay-off Maxi-boy plot? Maybe it's Maybelline?
But, hey! While our boy is second to our girl, that isn't exactly a criticism ya know. Plus, he's STILL a good character. We see him feel his feels and make an impact on the story and do all the book-character-doing stuff.
Oh! Speaking of the story...(you like that segway? I worked on it all week)...simple story was, well, simple. I'm okay with simple plots, but I'm not okay with plots that cram in unneeded subplots.
That right there is partly why this book didn't bank the Whoot-Whoot 5 Stars.
Real talk, that whole St. Giles subplot could have been ripped ass-first outta the story with like, almost no consequence. Sad to say, that big swashbuckling, Vengeful-Hero-of-the-Night felt randomly forced and boring to boot.
There's a hero's family subplot and a St. Giles subplot and crap-ton other stuff that my brain just went, "Doooooooooon't caaaaaaare." Thank fluffy ducks those subplots were just small road bumps, but still yeah no; not a fan.
Wanna know what I WAS a fan of? DAT ROMANCE YA'LL!
I totally bought that Artemis+Maximus ship, and thank God it sailed because bless their smexytimes, for real.
This OTP's chemistry was next-level, and their emotional journey got me feeling some kind of way! I LOVED THEIR LOVE...buuuuuuuuuut truth to tell I felt their Big Giant Scene was, well...how to put this?...Basically it felt rushed. It went from, "Let's resist!" to "Now let's bang!" back to "NOW let's avoid each other NO NOW LET'S LOVE DAMMIT!"
I still had a happy when the two did the love speaking doo-dah, but instead of reacting like "OH MY GOD YES YOU TWO ADORABLE BASTARDS LOVE EACH OTHER UNTIL THE END OF TIME YASSSSS!" Rather, I was more...
It WAS a lot of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, but you know something?
By no means was it sucky. It was anti-suckage, and soooOooOOooOOOoooOO worth your time, I pinky promise.
Just, READ IT BECAUSE I'M SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS! Okay? Okay!
(If you like my writing voice or you think I’m funny...[or you really just wanna laugh at a fangirl for fangirling]...then SHAMELESS YOUTUBE CHANNEL PLUG IS SHAMELESS! I review romance novels and Asian dramas, so that is a thing and now you know.)
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a single mistaken assumption must be in want of a glorious ass kicking. What could I possibly be referring to, you might ask? Well, that being MY ass kicking, obviously, and of course MY epic Bitch-You-Crazy-Wrong initial assumption about this book. To quote myself,
"Eh, almost 75 pages in and a distinctive lack of deep POV. This one might not be a gem."
... Yeah. Say, can we hop in the TARDIS real quick-fast and go deliver a ginormous kick to the forehead to Past Jacqueline?
So, in the spirit of not hating too much on the sins of the past, I have to admit that...well, past Jacquie was wrong, but only to a point. This novel DOES rock the stadium down to rubble, but only a bit after page 75. The first four chapters of this little story are atrociously painful. If the Spanish Inquisition were led by Hitler and Jigsaw, even that level of discomfort couldn't compare to how bad this novel tries getting off the ground. When the reader is first introduced to our two lead characters, everything's chaotic. The introductions of their existence is chaotic, the character's initial meeting with on another in the story is chaotic, hell, even the first several exchanges between Griff and Pauline AFTER their "Hey, I'm A Person With A Name And A Face" are just insanely, well, chaotic!
SO MUCH MADNESS! While there is a healthy dose of info-dump that occurs at the onset of the book, most notably during our heroine's first on-page scene, the early part of the book's tone is painfully hurried. Heroine's doing this while running to go do that, and ooh, look! There's THIS factoid about Pauline, all while the hero's hurrying to enact his Hero Plot here and then just OH MY GOD SO MUCH CRAP! ... Honestly, so much was going on for the setup to get Hero A and Heroine B together that I was so, so worried whether or not these two people were going to be believable.
And, yet, I worried for nothing! After an extremely spasmodic sequences of events, once the plot gets underway, Tessa Dare thankfully does slow her roll. Pauline and Griff do begin developing a very keyed up dynamic that is deeply rooted in point of view. These two people become believably grounded in emotional depth the longer they are on-page, both together as a couple and independently as characters. At the beginning of the story, our hero seems just an irresponsible bachelor while our heroine seems just an uncouth servant. Thank spicy tacos these two explore much deeper realities than their initial characterizations. They are beautiful people, dammit, and their romance story is SO wonderful and YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND!
Yeah, yeah, admittedly tropes are all over the place in this book, but to me, that's a good thing for I love tropes. Any Duchess Will Do is basically a Cinderella story, if Cinderella the character weren't a pushover lackluster dweeb. (Pauline is so much a better heroine than ol' Cindy!) This is the fairy tale that we WANT to believe, that is believable because all the plot points, all the emotion, all the buildup and drama culminate into a romance and HEA that feels real. If the aching feelings of this book could be bottled and sold, world peace would be instantaneously A Thing. The construction of emotions, dialogue interplay and sexual tension (oh sweet smexy goodness, the chemistry!) alone guarantee Pauline and Griff the gold medal for Most Beautiful Romance, Ever. There exists an open honesty between these two that is so uniquely refreshing. It culminates into one effing hot, most sexy, most intense romance love confessions from the hero truly -ever- written!
"You believe I'd value a strand of jewels above your life? I know we've had our differences, Simms, but that's low. You truly think so little of me?...Tomorrow I can buy my mother another necklace. A better one. A half dozen of them if she likes. Jewels can be replaced." "So can serving girls." "Don't. Don't play that game. When I heard you cry out...it was like a saber to the gut. I wanted to die. I could have found you broken or bleeding, or-" His voice broke. "Or worse. Don't tell me I care about polished rocks on a chain. I want to believe you know me better than that." "I do." "And yet you believe I'd be so upset about a necklace that I'd send you away?""
And, hey, that's just the beginning of the scene. This love confession goes into one seriously beautiful outpouring of manly feels, and it is a thing be witnessed! Griff is such an amazing hero, so elegantly written that he will rip your heart out all over the place. When a man, fiction or otherwise says the following, you love him dammit, whether he exists or not!
"You're an intensely attractive woman. You do know that, don't you? You'd believe me if you could see yourself." "I have seen myself. That's the snag, you see." "No, no. Not in a mirror. I know how mirrors work. They're all in league with the cosmetics trade. They tell a woman lies. Drawing her gaze from one imagined flaw to another, until all she sees is a constellation of imperfections. If you could get outside yourself, borrow my eyes for just an instant...There's only beauty."
Oh, God. You just don't even know! This book is entirely emotionally driven, and the few external moments of conflict are spawned by the internal turmoil within our two leads. The drama is believable, but more than that the story is good. The social confines and boundaries these two face are believably overcome. The quite torturous pain Griff deals with throughout the book is creditably dealt with, and the HEA is plausible. This story reaches into your soul in a way that is shockingly intense, and despite the very rocky start to the book you believe it, lock, stock and barrel. The tropes are fun, yes, and the characters are wonderful, of course, but best of all the book is strong, and the story is gorgeous.