Why do I even bother reading sequels? I feel like every time I do, I'm only setting myself up for disappointment. Last month was especially bad for me with regard to reading sequels to books where I actually really enjoyed the first installment, but it looks like December might be heading for that same grim trajectory. THE MISTAKE really is aptly name - it feels like a mistake. It's a book that nobody asked for or needed, starring two hateful protagonists that want to find something approximating love, but is too selfish to be love, because they're both selfish people.
And before you brand me as a hater, I loved THE DEAL. THE DEAL was one of the books that got me into new adult romance, as someone who previously couldn't stand the genre. It was so refreshing, and did a 180 on all the most hated tropes. Hannah had hobbies and interests of her own beyond the love interest, and one of the sub-plots of the book is her learning to stand up for herself and chase down her dreams. Garrett was the perfect example of a dominant guy who can still respect boundaries and be a gentleman. Both he and Hannah had painful backstories, and a huge part of the story was the two of them learning to fight their demons. They helped each other through their problems but also tackled them independently. It was a team effort, not a rescue mission. I also loved how prominently the college featured in the storyline. One of the major criticisms of new adult college romances is that college/university feels like a wallpaper setting where the students mostly just party and go to rush week, and don't actually do any school work. Garret and Hannah meet when he asks her to tutor him for a class that he's failing - and they study.
By contrast, THE MISTAKE takes everything I loved about the first book and takes a big, fat dump on it. Grace, the heroine, is a virgin. Being a virgin is at the forefront of her mind, because she's suffering a major case of FOMO with regard to the "college experience" (e.g. wild, crazy sex). Logan, on the other hand, is obsessed with Garrett's girlfriend, Hannah. He wants her for himself, and since he knows he can't have her, he just uses a different girl every night (sometimes more than one). When he and Grace meet, he walks into her room by accident and they just watch a movie together. Logan has some problems, but the premise of their relationship isn't really founded on mutual understanding and affection. It's mostly physical; they just think each other super hot.
You could argue that part of Grace's learning curve in this book is dealing with toxic friendships, but I honestly hated the whole Ramona subplot. Grace was very judgey about her friend's appearance and behavior, and even though what Ramona did was wrong, I honestly didn't think Grace was much better. ESPECIALLY at the end, when Grace and Logan save Ramona from being gang-banged at a college party. Grace is absolutely awful about it, thinking to herself how "lucky" Ramona is that she (Grace) is a good enough person to still help her. NO, I'm sorry, but when someone is about to be raped, you don't get to leverage your intervention for good person status. That's super skeevy.
Grace and Logan also weren't together very long before he messed it up (and it was sort of a misunderstanding, really I didn't understand why they broke up over it. Just talk, you fools). Grace LITERALLY gives him a list of tasks to perform before she takes him back, including writing her a poem, taking boudoir photos on a red velvet chase, and having a professional hockey star do an infomercial for why he (Logan) makes a great boyfriend. It was absolutely ridiculous and I know it was supposed to be OH MY GOD, SO FUNNY, but really it was more like, OH MY GOD, BECKY OF THE GOLDEN VAGINA, WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? I mean really.
By the time I got to the end of the book, I was done. These people are trash.
One of the highest compliments I can pay a contemporary romance is to say that it reads like a good chick flick, which THE DEAL does. This is my second time reading the book and I honestly think I enjoyed it just as much as the first. THE DEAL takes so many of the tropes that I can't stand about New Adult romances and pole-vaults over them. And the funny thing is, I remember when this book first came out and the shirtless cover was filling up my feed and I rolled my eyes and thought, "Not again," little knowing that a few years later, it would become a solid favorite. I guess it just goes to show that you can be surprised. Pleasantly so. Go figure.
THE DEAL is the story of Garrett and Hannah. Garrett is the captain of a prestigious college hockey team, but he's about to get dropped after failing a totally BS philosophy course (as someone who has taken more than her fair share of philosophy courses, I can assure you that this is totally accurate - philosophy is 100% BS). Hannah is a music major, and also happens to be the only person who got an A on the philosophy exam. When Garrett finds out, he begs her to tutor him. She says no. But Garrett didn't get where he is by accepting failure.
Here's what makes THE DEAL work where so many similar books failed. Garrett is an alpha male, sure - but he's also a gentleman. He believes in consent, he mostly respects women, and he genuinely cares about his friends. I also really liked his banter - with the heroine, and with his friends - and thought it was genuinely touching that they bonded over schoolwork (we'll get to that in a moment). Hannah is also a pretty great heroine - she has a close relationship with her family, she has interests and hobbies outside of what the hero is doing, and a subplot of the book involves her learning to stand up for herself. She is also a rape survivor, and yeah, I did side-eye the whole "hero helps the heroine overcome trauma through boners" plot, but the focus is more on the importance of intimacy and how it's separate from sex, and not "you are broken and I must fix you." Plus, it took work.
I also loved how THE DEAL actually feels like a college story. There are a lot of parties, but there's conversations about how it will affect schoolwork and the importance of getting home safely. There are games, exams, projects, study sessions, and all sorts of other things that are key parts of the college experience, whereas in most New Adult books you would think that college involves virtually no work at all, beyond figuring out which parties have the best boys. Seriously, I can't tell you how much I loved this. I feel the same amount of nostalgia for college the way other people feel for high school; it's a good time, and that balance of fun and responsibility is such an important part of it.
THE DEAL is one of those books that seems like it ought to be vapid but ends up actually touching upon a lot of really deep topics in a meaningful way. It's a fun, light read that won't leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, and I really enjoyed the main couple. Can't wait to read the other books! I'm currently reading THE MISTAKE as I'm typing this out, and so far it seems promising. 🤞
I gave FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT a mostly positive review in spite of myself because I did like the mystery elements and I thought the antihero love interest, Reyes, was intriguing. My hope was that the author would realize that the childish sense of humor of the main character was dragging down the tone of the book and it would disappear in later books. After reading SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT, I'm no longer inclined to give the author the benefit of the doubt. If anything, Charley became even more childish in this book, and the mystery element of the first book - the thing I liked the most - was entirely overshadowed by the creepy "fated-to-be-mated" insta-love between Charley and Reyes. Like I care.
I'm also not super happy with Reyes's character arc. I don't understand why he likes Charley so much. It's kind of weird that he abandoned all of his plans just because she glows brightly. Is he a moth? Also, I'm all for obsessive love interests, but something about Reyes starts to seem a bit... well, smarmy. I don't like his "I know so much more than you but can't tell you anything for your own good" spiel, even though in Charley's case, that's probably true.
The publisher gave me all the books in this series for free in exchange for my honest opinion, but after this book, I'm thinking I might call it quits at book two. I'll check out the summaries and the spoiler reviews of the other books in the series to see if continuing might be worth it, but to be honest after this book I'm kind of sick of Charley and her "OMG! So random!" sense of humor. Naw.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
I might be rating this higher because I'm sick with the flu and my brain isn't working at peak capacity, but even so, I didn't fall in love with this book the way all my friends did. I'd heard mostly good things about the Charley Davidson series, but I always hesitate when I see a romance that's tagged as "humor" because it's been my experience that what most people find funny, I find lame. Case in point, WALLBANGER, which was just sad.
In terms of tone, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT is kind of like the Stephanie Plum series or Meg Cabot's Mediator series. Charley Davidson is the human embodiment of the grim reaper. As a result, she can see dead people - lots of dead people. To them, she appears to glow like a Stephenie Meyer vampire in full sunlight, and that's because her body is the portal to the afterworld. They have to fly through her to move on.
Still with me? Okay. So her father and uncle are both cops and in her free time (read: when she's not playing the role of de facto River Styx), she works as a PI. Do her supernatural powers help her in her work? Maybe. Do people mistrust her for knowing more than she should? But of course.
Her latest case involves a whole bunch of missing kids, a crime syndicate, and human trafficking. People who were close to solving the case on their own merit, without supernatural help, are turning up dead in droves. Naturally, they're quick to offer their help to Charley, because conveniently enough, their lack of closure over the case is what's in part keeping them from moving on. Pretty soon, people are trying to off Charley too, but she has something that the other people working on the case don't: a supernatural guardian angel who likes to mind-f*ck her in the shower when he's not saving her ass. She calls the sexual smoky presence the Big Bad, but doesn't really seem worried about this otherworldly force in her life, which is funny because I kept thinking of that quote from Harry Potter: "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain."
ANYWAY, I made it to the end of this book and it did entertain me, in between bouts of coughing, vomiting, and sneezing (woohoo). But I didn't really care for it as much as I have other paranormal romances. I think the humor actually worked against this book, to be honest. When you have a book about rape, child abuse, trafficking, and murder, trying to make it snarky and sarcastic and "cute" kind of seems grossly tone-deaf and insensitive. There's gallows humor and then there's "dude, have some proper gravitas, please" and I feel like this book falls into the latter category.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
So I actually really enjoyed CRAZY RICH ASIANS, but seeing as how this is my month of disappointing sequels, my expectations weren't too high for CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND. Consistency may be key, and yet so many authors fail when it comes to penning that follow-up to a successful first book. Not so here! While I was a little apprehensive at the beginning of CHINA RICH, I ultimately ended up devouring the book with the same amount of enthusiasm as I did the first. Rachel and Nicky are such a great couple and after the wicked cliffhanger of the first book, I needed closure about what was going to happen with their marriage, as well as with Nicky's relationship to his mother.
CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND takes off where CRAZY RICH ended. Rachel and Nicky are finally going to get married, in secret, after the shenanigans that Nicky's mother Eleanor pulled (if you read the first book in the series, you'll totally understand why). My fear was that now that the main tension of the first book was resolved, there wouldn't be any more delicious drama, but I was wrong because now there's a new drama to replace the old: Rachel's father. Remember how Rachel not knowing who her father was was a huge deal-breaker for the Young family? And remember Kerry's teary story about her own upbringing? Well, now we know who Rachel's dad is and, more importantly, who he became - and trust me when I say it's shocking.
Also, she has a brother. *gasp*
In addition to this new drama, there are new characters: Carlon, Rachel's brother; Colette, said brother's crazy-rich society girlfriend; and Corinna, lifestyle makeover artist to the rich and famous. Kitty Pong also makes an appearance, but now she's desperately (and with mixed, but mostly failed success) trying to remake her image. I really liked the Pretty Woman trajectory of her narrative ARC. I liked her character in the first book, so it was kind of hilarious seeing her waltz into the narrative again and break one social more after another in her attempt to be one of the "in" crowd.
CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND is a different story than CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which I think might be why some people are ambivalent about it. CRAZY RICH is a much more traditional "us vs. them" romance story in which the underdog heroine snags the dreamy prince, despite the fact that everyone and their grandmas are against them getting together. CHINA RICH is more like those bloated glitter-trash doorstop novels that were so popular in the 80s (a favorite of the late Jackie Collins). Think lifestyles of the rich and famous. Yes, there's still romance, but in this book the focus is more on the drama between all the different families as they seek wealth, power, and acceptance. It's an incredibly fun series, and even though it may be vapid, I think it's important to note that representation is important in all forms of books, not just high literature: trashy books with people of color are just as important as rep in literary fiction, if not more so. After all, this is pure escapism.
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. I mostly bought it because I'm obsessed with Ancient Rome, and the ebook is ridiculously cheap ($1.49). It's a short book, and until the end, when it takes a dark turn, is on par with one of the bite-sized Harlequin Historicals in terms of mood, style, and atmosphere.
Phadera is the daughter of a Senator. Her mother is dead, and money runs through her father's hands like water as he gleefully spends money to keep his Seat. To secure his political position and get $$$, he has decided to marry Phaedra off to another Senator, a man old enough to be her father: Marcus.
On the day of her wedding, Phaedra's father hires two gladiators to fight for the pleasure of the crowd. One of these is Valens Secundus, Rome's Champion. Phaedra finds him attractive, especially in contrast to her husband, and the two of them end up talking briefly in the gardens about fate and position in society, and pledging to change the lot that fate handed to them for the better.
Several years pass, and neither of them has forgotten the other. Phaedra's husband is now dead and Valens has mostly retired from the Arena. However, a new man has stepped into the picture. This new man is Marcus's nephew, Acestes, who wants Phaedra for himself. And he will stop at nothing to get her, even if it means blood. It's been a while since I hated a character so much. He was awful.
THE GLADIATOR'S MISTRESS was a fun read. Phaedra is kind of a passive, spineless heroine, but she didn't quite border on TSTL, and seemed to have located her backbone in the last act (but only after it was basically handed to her - *sigh*). I really liked Valens. He is a kind hero, and strong. The secondary characters, Terenita, Baro, and Fortunada, were good too, and I see that the second book in this series is about Baro's and Fortunada's story. Acestes, as I said, was a pig. I liked the action scenes and the descriptions, and I think if you like HQ historicals, you'll enjoy this book as well.
I was disappointed by HEARTSTRUCK. I got really into the #romanceclass novellas over the summer, and preordered this one while caught up in the frenzy. Most of them are really good, but there's a couple in the line up that are either hit or miss, and I'm sorry to say that HEARTSTRUCK was a miss.
Alexa Zamora is the "It" girl of her high school but she has a secret...she used to be unpopular! People bullied her for being an orphan and said she was the reason her parents died in their car crash (WTF, seriously?) and she's afraid people will find out that she's a tough girl who practices martial arts and hurt somebody once! No, seriously, that is the entire conflict of this book.
When her childhood friend Theo transfers to her school, Alexa is terrified that her "secret" will get out. She's also attracted to him, despite knowing that she shouldn't be, but because her friends have branded him persona non grata (because despite being hot, he's "too broody"), she shames him and publicly humiliates him in front of them while expecting him to be understanding of her "dilemma."
While it was cool to learn about arnis, the Filipino style of martial arts, I couldn't get on board with a heroine that was so selfish. I hated Alexa, and thought the way she treated Theo and her friends was super annoying. How can I be expected to root for a heroine like this and want her to have an HEA?
Remember when the Anita Blake series was good, back when she wasn't the Special Snowflake Queen of Sex'n'Superpowers™? (Seriously, have you read the new books? How is her vagina not permanently on fire from all that friction? Also, girl has more special moves than freaking Ditto.) Remember how the series was edgy and erotic and did not condescend to its female audience? Remember how Anita used to kick ass? Remember when there were just TWO love interests and not an entire Siouxie and the Banshees concert-worth of Gothic rejects in frilly shirts suffering from existential crises? Ilona Andrews remembers. Enter Kate Daniels.
Ilona Andrews has a huuuuuuge cult following. I got indoctrinated almost two years ago with the Hidden Legacy series (BURN FOR ME was the book that got me back into urban fantasy). After speeding through the rest of the series like a cocaine addict burning through their stash, crying ecstatically over the series' rumored (and now confirmed continuation), and frantically working my way through the rest of the Esteemed Ilona Andrews Hoard
™, I finally found my way to reading the much-hyped and very intimidating Kate Daniels series. This series has freaking fans with a capital F.
It's a little scary, because I was looking at the publication date and this book came out when I was still in high school. Despite being over ten years old, though, the book still feels fresh. Part of that is because it hasn't become dated like a lot of other older PNRs. This is because in Kate Daniel's world, magic and technology are in conflict (they short each other out), and currently magic is at its zenith, so technology has yielded to swords, horses, leylines, and magical abilities. Holy father, Batman.
Kate has decided to seek revenge for the murder of her Guardian, using her own magical powers and her trusty sword as tools. But revenge isn't simple. The murderer has covered their tracks well, and worse yet - they also appear to be responsible for the serial killings of several shape-shifters, humans, and vampires in the area. What seemed like a simple goal befitting the most basic of heroes' journey plots suddenly becomes a supernatural Gordian knot riddled with sexy shape-shifters and necromancers (oh my). Andrews doesn't hold back on the gore, either. This book packs a mean body count, and you, the reader, are sitting right in the Splash Zone. (And that ain't water.)
So, my Completely Unbiased and Possibly Unwelcome Opinion
™ on this book is... that it was good but not great. People were telling me that this series is much better than Hidden Legacy (OMFG)
, and maybe that's true for the later books in the series, but honestly, BURN FOR ME has a much stronger hook. And as fun as Kate Daniels is, she doesn't have the emotional depth and aching humanity that made Nevada such a treat (and made her gradual transformation over the course of the three books that much more addictive and investing, as a result). She tosses off some good one-liners, but I don't really understand what makes her tick. She's a stiletto heel in human form: pretty, sharp, but not very empathetic or intriguing. Also, Curran is no Rogan (don't @ me). There, I said it.
Still, I'm curious to see where the books go from here.
I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed - but I am very disappointed. What is this, the month of disappointing sequels? I just had a similar issue with THE QUEEN AND THE CURE, where I loved the first book, but the second book had a new cast of characters and an entirely different tone. It was like the author took everything I loved about the first book and trashed it. Part of what I loved about RADIANCE, for example, was the slow-burn romance that started from friendship and camaraderie, and ended up becoming a very deep and meaningful relationship borne of a comedy of errors as both the hero, Brishen, and the heroine, Ildiko, attempt to overcome the culture shock of being with the other.
In this book, Grace Draven wields the mighty hammer of angst. There are demons called galla taking over Bast-Haradis (which, funnily enough, is a similar plot to both THE BIRD AND THE SWORD (Volgar) and THRONE OF GLASS (Valg). Evil destructive demons seem to be a very popular plot point in unnecessary fantasy sequels (authors, take note).
We have a new character named Kirgipa who is literally the dullest dull who ever dulled. I skimmed over a lot of this book, but her part was so boring I didn't even bother reading it. Who is she? Don't know, don't care. As Mariah Carey once said, "I don't know her." Not that the Ildiko and Brishen passages are much better. Gone is the deep affection and understanding from the first book as they either (1) bang everywhere, all the time or (2) whine and moan about how they cannot be together, and how they are going to sacrifice themselves for (a) one another or (b) the kingdom, and oh great gods and goddesses, how can they possibly choose between love or the fate of a kingdom???!!
Hi, let me tell you about this book. It was SO good and I say that honestly (#NotSponsored). But seriously, you know that I'm not afraid to take the utter piss out of an over-hyped book (see anything I've reviewed by Sarah J. Maas), so when I read something like this and say it's awesome, please know that I have absolutely no reason to lie. CRAZY RICH ASIANS is crazy good.
So what's it about? Well, the story itself isn't that original. We've all read and watched rags-to-riches chicklit, whether it's DEVIL WEARS PRADA (book or movie) or that mid-2000s classic, What a Girl Wants. There is something very satisfying about watching Jane Everygirl soar up the class system, sticking her nose up (very good sportsmanship-like, of course) at the people who oppressed and snubbed her when she was just a humble pleb. This is a story that nobody gets sick of. We, as a society, eat this story up like it's a nacho-cheese drizzled tray of curly fries at the fairgrounds.
No, what makes this story special is that it takes this tried-and-true formula and it sets it in Asia. And before you say, "What, what about MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA?" No, White Person (because you probably are a white person if this is your rallying cry). That is different, because MEMOIRS was written by a white dude from a white dude's perspective of what Asia is like. And as much as I enjoy that book (I did, guiltily), there is something vastly different about a book written by someone who is only observing a culture through secondary sources and someone who has experienced it firsthand, and is writing not just based on their observations but also based on what they, personally, experienced from within.
Rachel Chu is a likable, intelligent, girl-next-door type professor of Economics who has been dating her fellow professor/Singaporean boyfriend for two years. When one of his old chums is engaged to be married, Rachel is invited to accompany him back to Singapore as a guest of the wedding, but also to meet the fam. She's excited - THIS IS THE BIG NEXT STEP - but also a little afraid. Nick, her boyfriend, has never said much to her about his family before, and this worries her. And she should be worried, because they are basically the Carnegies of Asia. They have their fingers in all the pineapple pies, and want nothing to do at all with Rachel, the gold-digging interloper (in their minds).
What follows is several hundreds of pages of drama, running the gamut of conspicuous consumption and materialism, cheating and adultery, cruel hazing, superficiality, gossip-mongering, family drama, abuse, lies, and MORE. It should have been vapid, what with all of the name-dropping of luxury products and jet-setting, but it wasn't. The only other author who I've read that was able to do this "ennui of the rich and famous" style of writing was Jackie Collins, and based on what I've read thus far, Kevin Kwan is basically the Asian Jackie Collins, which was incredibly refreshing, because there are only so many times that you can read about rich white people living it up in London, New York, and Los Angeles, before you start to feel a little, well, bored.
Rachel is a really likable character and except at the end, when she starts blaming her mother for something that wasn't really her fault, I was constantly rooting for her and Nicky. I loved Astrid, Nick's troubled and gorgeous socialite cousin. I liked Peik Lin, Rachel's conveniently rich BFF (and advocate). I loved Rachel's Mom, Kerry, and her backstory at the end nearly broke my heart and left me teary-eyed. It just goes to show how much mothers will sacrifice for their children. That said, the only thing I didn't like about this book was the lack of closure. The book ends in a very inconvenient and unfinished spot (probably because there are two sequels), but it feels very anticlimactic since things are never really squared with Eleanor, Nick's scheming snobby mother, Francesca, the resident mean girl, and also between Nick and Rachel themselves, who are a constant will they/won't they? This was very disappointing and I felt like it wasn't fair to the reader. It wasn't fair to ME.
I desperately need to find out what happens next. The two sequels are already on hold at the libs.
I've been really into The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina lately, and when I saw this cover pop into my feed on Goodreads, I was struck by the resemblance of the girl on the front of it to Kiernan Shipka. Especially since it purported to be a dark romance involving the occult. As Sabrina would say, "Praise Satan!"
I seem to have a tepid love-hate relationship with Brianna Hale's work. The first book of hers I read was MIDNIGHT HUNTER, which received a lot of push-back from the romance community because the love interest was a Stasi officer. I thought she handled the subject pretty respectfully and actually really liked the romance and historical elements, and bought her other book, SOFT LIMITS, which was a romance between a stage actor famous for playing villains (think a young Jeremy Irons) and the young woman writing his biography. Both of those books became instant faves and I sang their praises to the high heavens.
And then... the author gave me an ARC of her book, THE PROTEGE, and I really did not like it.
You know that feeling you get when you didn't like a book that you completely, 100% expected to like? Imagine that, and then imagine that the person you wrote it is someone you are friendly with and respect a lot. I almost didn't post the review, but I felt like that would have been almost as dishonest as giving the book false praise. So, with reluctance, I posted my critical review.
I still wanted to read her other books, though, and was excited about her new one, COME TO DADDY. You can imagine my surprise when I saw THE NECROMANCER'S BRIDE turn up like a bad penny in my feed, with its Kiernan Shipka-lookalike gracing the front cover. Oh, yes, I thought. A dark fantasy romance about a sexy necromancer? I was getting Naomi Novik vibes, only X-rated. And I think we can all agree that the idea of a pornographic UPROOTED is what the world needs.
***WARNING: SPOILERS TO FOLLOW***
The beginning starts off strong. The heroine is a child at her deathbed when we first encounter her. Their town is downriver from a place called "the capital" that is apparently full of magic, and this magic is as toxic as nuclear waste or lead (*cough* Flint's been without water for 1,657 days now, right? *cough*), and as with such crisis in this world, nobody cares because they're poor, so periodically children sicken and die from magic poisoning. But the heroine's parents have managed to get the help of the elusive local necromancer, who places his mark upon her as payment.
The other villagers are put off by the mark and she is shunned and abused, until the sickness that nearly killed her comes to their village again (curse that magic), and she returns to the necromancer again for help. He agrees - but at a price, and given that this is an erotica, I think we can guess what that is. He does it with all the subtlety of a pizza guy showing up at a porno shoot, too.
Let me just say - when reading the other reviews, nobody told me that this was going to be on par with monster erotica. Remember COME FOR BIGFOOT? This is the necromantic equivalent of that. I mean, girl has a wet dream about being fingerbanged by a corpse hand, and then the necromancer brews up some magical slime that he uses on her as a vibrator. But the slime vibrator can also double as lube in a pinch (and there will be a pinch, because he's a fan of butt stuff). Oh, oh, and just in case things couldn't get more weird (they do), when she has menstrual cramps, he heals her by using a leech - yes, a LEECH - as a dildo, fingering her while it's in there, and then pulling the leech out afterwards and tossing it in the fireplace like Christian Grey did Ana's tampon in that scene.
But my favorite scene is at the end. You see, the necromancer is under a curse that keeps him from getting it up (so when they do butt stuff, he has his pet lich, which is basically an undead flesh zombie, bang her instead) because he was cursed by a spurned lover. So at the end, when the heroine returns to him and kisses him with true love's kiss, his "drooping rose" blossoms, IYKWIM. You know, just like in Beauty and the Beast. I bet you didn't know that the rose symbolized dick.
I don't know if this was supposed to be hilarious, but I found it wildly entertaining. It is nothing like her other books, and I can't help but feel like this was Hale's "trick" for the quintessential question of whether one ought to trick or to treat. My only complaint is that this book would have been better to save for April 1st than Halloween. What a truly epic prank to play, making you readers think they'd get fantasy daddy kink, only to surprise them with dildo leeches and vibrating magic splooge. I'm sorry, I can't right now. This was A+ trolling.
I'm so happy that you appear to have taken my Tweet to you to heart, in which I bemoaned the lack of discounted Kindle books of your manga line, and earnestly professed my intent to read more of these should they go on sale.
Since you have honored your side of the agreement, I have been sure to honor mine as well, and have been buying each of these puppies as soon as I see that $1.99-or-less price tag.
A GAME OF VOWS is based off a book of the same name by author Maisey Yates. I feel like I've read another adaptation of her work but can't remember what it was. This book was pretty good. It's one of those enemies-to-spouses books, which is apparently a pretty common theme in Harlequin novels. Who knew? Not me, but I kind of love it.
Hannah is on her way to be married when she is kidnapped by her ex-husband. Only since he never filed the divorce papers, she is actually about to become a bigamist. Whoops. She's also illegally changed her name and fraudulently crafted her reputation in order to go to college, and her ex-husband, Eduardo, tells her under no uncertain terms that unless she returns home with him as his wife, but also as his business partner, he will ruin her.
So she goes, because what choice does she have?
I thought this story was OK. Hannah was a bit of a con artist, but she also had a traumatic history. So did Eduardo, who suffered a major head injury that has caused him to suffer amnesia and debilitating migraines. I liked that his head injuries weren't miraculously cured by love, and it was clear that it was something he was going to have to deal with. All too often, romance novels buckle under the "healed by love" trope, which I find as problematic and insulting as it is harmful.
Hannah was not a nice person, but she had backbone and wasn't obnoxious. The dialogue and art were also good, although for some reason the author made their torsos ridiculously long and their shoulders very boxy. At one point, Eduardo is in a suit and he literally looks like a box with legs (vaguely reminiscent of those bodyguards in that artsy French cartoon, The Triplets of Belville (2003)). I've read several other manga Harlequin adaptations with similar plots this week, and A GAME OF VOWS was definitely one of the better ones. It won't be topping any of my favorites lists but it passed the time quite pleasantly and what can I say, but that I'm a sucker for HEAs.
Man, what is it with me and marriage of convenience romance novels? I just can't seem to stay away, especially with a title like ENEMIES AT THE ALTAR, which hints at yet another one of my all-time favorite romance novel tropes: enemies to lovers. I wanted to like this book a lot, really I did, but it just had so much working against it. I can't even say that I particularly liked the art style, either, which features really round, almost bubble-shaped heads and eyes and super derpy expressions. I actually went through my Harlequin manga collection, because it reminded me of another book I read where the cover is literally so derp, called RED-HOT LOVER, and lo and behold, the cover artist is the same. Rieko Hamada, why??
Sienna's mother used to work for the Ferrante family as a maid, although she spent a lot of that time working on her back IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Sienna actually found out about her mother's affair with the Ferrante patriarch from the son, Andreas, after she tried to put the moves on him. When his father caught them, Andreas got all high and mighty, like, "Unlike YOU, I don't doink the help." Shortly afterwards, Andreas's mother died, and Sienna's mother blamed herself, made a HUGE scene at the funeral, and then became an alcoholic. Nice.
Years go by, and Sienna gets roofied by a guy who then films themselves doing it and makes it a sex tape. Humiliated, Sienna flees to a museum where she meets a sympathetic old guy who invites her to marry him and become his beard so he can continue seeing his male lover. The old guy is rich and kind, but also apparently incredibly stupid, because somehow he forgot to write a will leaving Sienna anything for her sacrifice (and the lover, too, it sounds like), so all of his assets went to his greedy homophobic relatives, leaving nothing for Sienna, who is now poor. We meet her at the funeral for Guido Ferrante, where she meets Andreas again for the first time in years, and the two of them are horrified to find that they have both received the bulk of the Ferrante fortune with one condition: that they must get and stay married for at least six months. I believe that's what lawyers call "the douchebag clause." I call it, "fucking with people from beyond the grave."
Sienna pitches a major fit but then decides, "hmmm, money." Andreas thinks she's a major slutpants, but is also like, "hmmm, that ass." The two of them get together and hate themselves - and each other - for it, but if you think that stops them from making such inane decisions, pull up several seats, my friends, because you must be new here. Eventually, Sienna learns that he actually cared about her all along and was just hurt by his Daddy issues, and Andreas realizes that Sienna wasn't such a slutpants after all and clears her name from the sex case scandal by implicating her attacker of rape. There's time for one last flounce, of course, after a double wedding with Sienna's twin sister, but Andreas redeems himself with a public accusation of Sienna's attacker and then boom, wedding #2, for realsies edition. They decide they love each other after being major garbage people. The end.
Oh man, this book was so lame. Derpy art aside, I just couldn't really get on board with either character. I don't like Poutypants heroes who act like jerks because of their Oedipal/Electra complexes, and Sienna was such a little twit. Her brash, obnoxious attitude reminded me of Celaena from that stupid THRONE OF GLASS series, which naturally made me want to deck her in the face. There's a difference between being strong and being a blowhard, and this character hasn't the faintest idea what that difference is. The dialogue is also very forced and artificial. I like how ridiculous and over-the-top this book was but in terms of art and story alike, it is lacking.
How do I keep winding up with Harlequin manga illustrated by Earithen? Something about her art style just rubs me the wrong way. Her characters' mouths are too pouty and her covers always look like someone went overly crazy with the Dodge Tool. That said, this is one of her better efforts, and it's currently on sale in the Kindle store, too. THE TWELVE-MONTH MISTRESS is an adaptation of a Harlequin novel by the same name by Kate Walker and it's, well... it's something.
Cassandra is in love with Joaquin but he's one of those snooty rich dudes with Mommy and Daddy issues: his father slept around, most of his siblings are bastards, and there was no love in his parents' arranged marriage as a result. So, instead of taking time to see a therapist or have some serious self-searching, Joaquin decides to date around and break up with his girlfriends after one year. Cassandra doesn't like this bargain but her feelings for him are so great that she reluctantly agrees, even as she's miserably counting down the days to the end.
On the last day of their relationship, Cassandra flees to Joaquin's half-brother's house, Ramon, who she is friends with. Joaquin finds her there and assumes that she's been cheating with Ramon. He offers to marry her to keep her away from his brother and she refuses. As he makes his rich boy pouty-pants flounce out of the apartment, he falls down the stairs and gets amnesia from hitting his head. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here, thinking, "What is this? The male equivalent of Bella Swan?" Cassandra feels guilty and decides to take care of him in absolution. Joaquin has forgotten the last month and has no knowledge of their breakup, but when he proposes marriage, this time in earnest, Cassandra refuses and once more, Joaquin accuses her of being an opportunistic slattern. When he finds out the truth, he feels terrible and finds Cassandra working a minimum wage job while heavily pregnant and proposes to her yet again. She agrees, and the pouty pantersons have their HEA.
THE TWELVE-MONTH MISTRESS was amusing but not really romantic. I thought Joaquin behaved like a child, and Cassandra also somehow always managed to make the worst possible decisions. If I want a couple to succeed, I either have to like them both or buy their chemistry, and with the characters in this book, neither of those was the case. I didn't like either character and didn't really understand what they saw in one another beyond looking really really ridiculously good-looking. However, YMMV. It's cheap right now, so it might be worth the experiment.
This is another HQ manga that is on sale right now in the Kindle store and it is so good, combining several of my favorite romance tropes to great effect. Siena used to be a rich heiress but now lives in government-subsidized housing while working two jobs as both a waitress and a cleaner. One day, she runs into a ghost from her past: a man named Andreas Xenakis. He wants revenge on her for past wrongs, which ends up resulting in her becoming his mistress/prostitute, basically. But oh, whoops, they sort of end up falling for each other.
I am a huge sucker for enemies-to-lovers stories, and FORGIVEN BUT NOT FORGOTTEN? was a great example of the forced-mistress trope done right. First, it's not icky. There is consent and the heroine outlines the terms. Second, the sex scenes are hot (this was pretty racy for a HQ manga). Third, the hero actually has a valid reason for being mad at the heroine - what she did was really awful. Fourth, the heroine had a reason for being awful that doesn't excuse what she did but goes a long way towards explaining it and actually feels realistic.
I rate these manga adaptations based on the art, the story, and the overall quality of how well I feel the mangaka did on condensing a romance novel into comic book format. Here, Nanahoshi pulled all the stops and I felt like this is easily one of the better Harlequin manga I've read. I liked the dark-but-not-too-dark storyline, the big cast of characters, and the mounting sexual tension between the hero and heroine as they try to navigate their evolving feelings for themselves, and also their loved ones.
Greetings, fellow romance-lovers. This book is currently 99-cents in the Kindle store right now, and trust me when I say that it's worth every penny. MARRIAGE ON THE REBOUND is a manga adaptation of the romance novel of the same name by Michelle Reid, and even though the title is eye-roll worthy, the story and the artwork are both actually very cute.
Shaan is set to be married to a man named Piers, the younger son of a wealthy family. However, on the day of the marriage, he abandons her at the altar for another woman. His older Rafe arrives shortly afterwards to announce that he is in love with Shaan and will be marrying her in Piers's stead since his younger brother was kind enough to stand aside for the sake of love. Privately, he tells Shaan that this jilting is bad for business, and it's up to him as the oldest son to repair their company's image by any means necessary. How sweet.
Rafe is the polar opposite of Piers, and I do mean polar - this guy is so chilly that he poops out ice cubes. Shaan finds him incredibly intimidating, and yet is intrigued by his manly ice sculpture nature. He is also one of those classic tsundere characters who acts all tough and aloof, but gradually lets down his guard as he begins to trust others, and seeing that softer, vulnerable side of Rafe makes Shaan fall harder.
If this sounds too easy, wait - there's more. While in Hong Kong there's a good old fashioned "whoops, I misunderstand something I eavesdropped on the phone out of context" misunderstanding that creates ~tension~ between Shaan and Rafe, and when Piers makes a reappearance in the last act, the reader can't help but wonder if her new feelings for Rafe are enough to compensate for how she felt about Piers... that is, if the reader has never read a romance novel before in their life.
This is one of those romances that manages to take cliches and still be fun and charming. Rafe is a great romance hero and doesn't come across as creepy or sleazy. I like the strong, icy silent types. I also thought Shaan was a good example of a shy, quiet heroine who doesn't seem like a TSTL idiot. Also, the art in this one is beautiful (the cover doesn't really do it justice). Smashing good read.
THE ITALIAN SURGEON is based off a 2005 Mills & Boon publication of the same name. The ratings for the original novel are pretty low, 2.86 as of this posting, and it doesn't have very many reviews. I was a bit surprised, to be honest, since these adaptations usually seem to be of authors with a cult following, like Penny Jordan or Sara Craven, so it was a bit odd to see a relative unknown like Meredith Webber in the mix.
The plot of the manga is pretty basic. Rachel is a talented nurse who works in a pediatric cardiology hospital for personal reasons, because in the romance novel/soap opera universe, the only reason you ever become a medical practitioner is because someone close to you died and you must use it as a form of catharsis to release your inner demons. Her life is pretty satisfying, especially since she has made it so she never has to interact with the teary-eyed parents who she finds way too triggering. Then one day, an Italian surgeon comes to the ward and he thinks she's pretty hot, so faster than you can say hostile work environment, he's all up in her business, pick-up style.
Here's my two cents about "alpha" type dudes in romance: you can't have your alpha cake and eat it too. Authors want to take these aggressively forward men and make them nice guys, but it usually doesn't work. Either you write an alpha dude and you stick to that formula, even if it means he behaves in ways some might find unpalatable, or you write a straight-up nice guy who is respectful. If you try to combine the two, you get some smarmy, icky dude you imagine calling himself a nice guy, even as he's texting his ex-girlfriend to tell her what a slut she is for not deigning to sleep with him.
I feel like the author really did try to make Dr. Luca so dreamy, and it has a bit of a Grey's Anatomy vibe (another show that sometimes toed the skeevy line with love interests). I mean, making the doctor a pediatrician who saves babies is like having a veterinarian carry around a bouquet of small, mewing kittens he's just saved from the side of the road. He's a hero who likes small, cute things. That's only slightly less desperate than taping a sign to his back that says PLEASE LIKE ME. And I wanted to, but his skeeviness in the beginning was just a bit much. I was unconvinced.
THE ITALIAN SURGEON also had some wtf moments, as I feel like it was very heavy-handed and emotionally manipulative regarding the difficult decisions parents have to make when faced with a terminally ill child who might not survive. I didn't like that it painted the people who elect not to perform these surgeries as basically bad people who are giving up on their kids. I don't think not wanting to force your child to live a life of constant surgeries is selfish or giving up. If someone is not equipped to deal with all of the gravity and complications that come with taking care of someone who is sick, or even just unable to afford it, then I think it's understandable to not want to go ahead with such a procedure. It made me wonder if maybe this is some thinly-veiled "pro-life" propaganda wrapped up in a pink romance novel bow. I've seen moral grandstanding in romance novels before and I always find it quite jarring and distasteful.
There's also a weird terrorist plot thrown into the last act, which feels slow because the romantic tension has already essentially resolved itself, so this felt like padding to flesh out the last quarter of the book. Some Middle Eastern family with political ties comes to the hospital to have their child operated on and their opponents phone in a threat to blow up the hospital. Then Dr. Luca has to flee to the Middle East to perform the surgery safely(?), and Rachel bravely follows him, despite the danger. *eye roll* I thought this was lame, and it felt highly unnecessary and irrelevant.
I loved the art, but the story fell flat for me. I think I'm done with Meredith Webber. If you're curious, though, the novel edition of this manga is available for purchase in the Kindle store for $1.99.
P.S. The heroine has a flamboyantly gay best friend named Curt, and yes; he is a walking stereotype.
I feel personally attacked by this book because it was so bad, and after liking the author's other book, LIONS AND LACE, so much, I felt like she had done me - and her other fans - dirty by publishing this... this dreck. THE GROUND SHE WALKS UPON is real bottom-of-the-barrel historical romance, with enough cheese to start up its own artisinal shop in downtown Berkeley. Seriously, wtf was going on with this author when she published this book? How can you go from LIONS AND LACE to this?
I picked this book because I needed a Celtic themed romance for my Halloween challenge. This book, sadly, doesn't mention Samhain, but it does mention Beltane (the other major Celtic holiday), as well as the concept of a geis (also spelled geas), which is a sort of fateful pact that must be fulfilled, at the cost of grievous consequences.
Lord Trevellyan is an English/Irish lord who rules in Ireland at the time of the Protestant Ascendancy. At the start of the book he is nineteen, and told of a geis that is part of a curse put upon his family for basically taking the lands away from the Irish. If he does not marry the woman he is fated to be married to, who must come to him freely, then his lands will all fall into ruin. He is then led to a cabin with a beautiful woman lying on a bed - the woman is dead, but she has a baby. He is told, in no uncertain terms, that this is his future wife, which reminded me uncomfortably of that SNL skit, Meet Your Second Wife. Or that imprinting scene from BREAKING DAWN.
Nineteen-years-ish later, Lord Trevellyan is now almost forty years old and the heroine, Ravenna, is a teenager. She's freshly back from school, where Trevellyan sent her after he started getting icky feelings about her when she was scarcely prepubescent, and the feelings are now much ickier. He's quite cruel to her because all of his previous marriages have failed in one horrendous way or another and he's been told by everyone around him that it's because of the geis, and he is a man who does not like having fate wrested from him, so naturally he decides to basically hold her captive in his house and threaten to murder all the men around her, while also putting the moves on her and treating her like a whore, and then at one point even going so far as to lock her in his dungeon so she won't run.
Ravenna is one of those irritatingly plucky heroines that seem to populate 90s bodice ripper romances. They stomp their dainty little feet and act hopelessly outraged, and seem bewildered by their traitorous bodies. This one is an author, and large chunks of the book contain excerpts from her self-published fantasy novel that, interestingly, mirrors her own life and slow "romance" with Niall Trevelyan. This is ironically the most realistic element of the book, in that like many self-published hobby authors, she does not have talent and her character is a self-insertion Sue.
I couldn't quite get over the "here is the baby you're going to f*ck" in 19 years beginning. I thought that was gross. I also didn't like Trevellyan. I thought he was weak. Obsessive heroes are usually my cup of tea, but he felt more like a creepy pervert, and he was so angry all the time, and also so insecure about the red herring love interest in this book. The Ascendancy was also not handled very well. I recently went to Ireland and learned about how the Crown seized land from Irish people and oppressed them systematically by preventing them from having titles, voting rights, or political power, and it was pretty sickening. I am totally fine with unpleasant acts of history being written about (I have, for example, read a controversial historical romance with a Stasi love interest), but they have to be realistic and they have to at least make a token effort at being respectful and doing the culture and the time they are writing about justice, and I did not really feel like that was the case here.
Yeah, no. I'm pretty bummed, and I bought several of this author's other books after liking LION AND LACE so much, so I'm hoping that this was the exception, and not L&L. :(
This Harlequin manga is an adaptation of a romance novel of the same name written by Carol Marinelli. I haven't read the original, which is the case for most of the romance novel manga I read, but it's always a blast to check out the trashy soap opera-esque storylines in a fun new format. The quality of the stories and the art varies a lot too, with some being incredibly fun and beautifully portrayed and others... not so much.
PLAYING THE DUTIFUL WIFE falls smack-dab in the middle. The art is very nice but the story is incredibly OTT and cheesy and feels like an excerpt from one of those long-lived soaps that certain people refer to as "their stories." Meg is the legal consult for her parents' real estate business and terrified of flying. One day, she finds herself in business class seated next to the Brazilian millionaire, Niklas. Initially, he's not very nice to her but when he sees how scared she is, he goes out of his way to comfort her which results in some hanky panky and an honorary membership to the mile high club.
With an unplanned landing in Vegas, what better way to consummate their below-the-sheets fondling than a Vegas wedding and above-the-sheets fondling + bona fide hanky panky? Of course the next day, Niklas tells her it was all a mistake and absconds with Meg's heart, leaving her more terrified of flying than ever before, as well as with a fear of being abandoned and betrayed by men.
When some of Niklas's female employees contact her, she is less than thrilled - but then they tell her that Niklas is in jail and in need of her help. He's been accused of fraud, a crime of which they claim he is innocent, and they have the proof to free him... as long as Meg can sneak into the jail and give him specific instructions. How does she do that? By arriving as his wife for some conjugal visits.
This book... was so OTT and cheesy. It's like the author had a checklist of all the big romance cliches and was inserting them one at a time, before scratching them off. Everything from an orphaned hero to a virginal heroine to a mysterious twin to betrayal to unplanned marriage - it was all here. I'm finding that to be the case with some of these Harlequin adaptations, which probably speaks to why those tropes became tropes in the first place, if so many of these books have them. I did have a lot of fun reading the book, though, and if it had been a bit more developed, I'd have given it a solid 4.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
I bought this book because it was 99-cents in the Kindle store, and if you have a better reason than that to buy a book, I don't want to hear it. Look at that cover. Just look at it. Oh, yes. One look, and I knew I was in for a gourmet cheese-fest and I came prepared with crackers and wine.
The premise behind this one has worn a little thin. It's one of those poor girl/millionaire romances, which seem to comprise 99% of the Harlequin Presents line based on what I've read. Bella is a waitress who also helps out at her aunt's spa. She meets this guy at her bar and has a one-night stand with him after he drives her home after saving her from a sexually aggressive customer. Turns out he's the same millionaire who bought out her aunt's spa, which she could no longer afford after her cancer treatments. Bella has mixed feelings about that. So does Michael, who tells her that she can have her aunt's spa back if she agrees to sleep with him again. What a creep.
As far as creep millionaires go, Michael isn't that bad. Some of these Harlequin novels, the sex scenes border on rape. Here, it's consensual. His problem is that he blames himself for his father's death and younger brother's disappearance, which are actually the result of a freak accident. Lo and behold, Bella has similar soap opera origins, so she can understand him like no one ever has, and because he is a romance novel hero, this makes him angry and defensive because he is like the wind, and cannot be captured or tamed or understood or any of that nonsense! So of course, whenever he opens a window into his soul, he also has to slam a door.
I'm giving this a positive rating because the story was okay, the romance was okay, and I liked the art. For 99-cents you really have to peeve me off to give you a low rating, and this book did not do that. For the price, I liked what I got. It's kind of a sappy and unrealistic story, but it made me happy and I did not have buyer's remorse afterwards. If you're into the whole bargaining trope/millionaire trope, you'll probably really get into THE PLAYBOY'S PROPOSITION. Added bonus: no OWs/cheating.
Wow, this was really good and ticked all the boxes I have for my manga expectations. The art was great, the story was good, it felt like a good adaptation of the original work, and the heroine was strong and no-nonsense. Can you ask for more in a comic based off of a Harlequin novel? Because I honestly can't.
Marlene's mother was the mistress of a wealthy Italian man named Paolo who came back to them when he learned that he was suffering from heart complications that would hasten his death. When Marlene's mother (also named Marlene) died in a car wreck, the tragedy of it shocked Paolo into dying shortly after. Now Marlene lives alone with her baby half-brother, watching over the industrial sized herb garden that was her only legacy, until Paolo's will is read, and the child and representative of said child's estate come to contest it.
Rocco's father is the family lawyer for Paolo's family, and Rocco has come to the U.S. with the legitimate daughter as a representative for his father. He's struck by Marlene's beauty and thinks that she's just a gold-digger, who will be as quick to jump into bed with him as she was with (he thinks) Paolo. Unfortunately for him, Marlene is fluent in Italian and doesn't like what she hears him and the daughter saying about her, but she pretends that she can't understand what they're saying and files everything away for later, for when she goes to Italy to attend the board meeting for Paolo's company (he left her many shares), as well as to see the villa she inherited.
I loved all the secrets both families had, and the cattiness of the real family. There weren't any ridiculously over-the-top shenanigans, but I liked that, because you don't have to be extreme to be cruel enough to cut to the quick. I also liked Rocco's slow transformation. He was the perfect blend of icy restraint and possessive, without seeming pouty and childish (as many of the heroes in these Harlequin adaptations are). The romance between them was great. I honestly have no complaints. The heroine was strong and did what she had to do to stand up for her brother, and was willing to cast the hero aside when she thought that he wouldn't be able to respect that. *slow claps*
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
If there's one thing I love, it's Harlequin romance novels. Most of them are contemporary in nature so when I saw that Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series had not only been adapted to manga but were also on sale, I bought books I and II. Apparently the actual novels are very erotic so it was hilarious to see how tame they were in these comic books, which did not contain that much more mature content than your typical shoujo manga for older girls (think Ceres: Celestial Legend or Black Bird). Even though the heroine was a Sue of the highest caliber, and the world-building was questionable at best, I devoured the first book. It was bad, but in a really fun way. Like Charmed.
I did not like the second book quite as much. The first book had a lot more action in it. This book was angstier, focusing more on the relationship between the hero and the heroine. Since they have a major case of insta-love, this was not that interesting to me. Especially since they're pledging to die for one another by the end of the book. I've already read the original Romeo and Juliet. Subsequent retellings of it pale by comparison.
That said, the art style is pretty okay and I liked the story enough that I'm kind of curious to see what the original novel (which I haven't read) is like with all the sex scenes and violence left in. The mangaka left an amusing after note, cautioning about the "passionate love scenes," and adding, "I almost want to tell girls younger than junior high kids to wait until they're adults to read this." Lol, why don't you leave that up to the parents, though? Seriously, what is the age demographic these Harlequin manga are targeting? Because in the U.S. at least, I don't think anyone quite knows and I always see these in the clearance sections of my local comic book stores (lucky for me, haha).
I've read a Harlequin adaptation by Earithen before and I didn't like it. The book in question was called THE BLACKMAIL MARRIAGE. It was a case of bad story, bad art, bad execution. When I saw LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLD on Amazon for 99-cents, my reaction was one of skepticism. I'd heard of Gena Showalter's series, but had written it off as being too cheesy. Plus, the adaptation was being done by Earithen.
...But on the other hand, it was only 99-cents.
So, after reading this book, it looks like I may have been wrong about both Earithen and Gena Showalter. The art in this is leagues better than the art in THE BLACKMAIL MARRIAGE and I enjoyed the cracktastic trashiness of the story so much that I'm seriously considering hunting down and reading the actual Lords of the Underworld novels now.
Ashlyn is a psychic at a paranormal institute in Budapest for work. She decides to miss her flight, however, when she hears two people talking about a tower where angels live. She goes to the tower to plead to the angels to take away her power and instead meets a large, sexy man with a sword who threatens her.
This girl, Ashlyn, not having a self-preservation bone in her body, hunts him down and clings to him, demanding that he take her with him. Because he's hot and he literally quiets the voices. Surprising himself, he does, and she sees that he has a whole bunch of other large, hot men who also reside with him. All of these men are thousands of years old, and figures from Greek mythology. Originally they were guardians of the gods, but after committing an act of treachery, they were punished by being forced to house demons of various types within their bodies (wrath, lust, violence, etc.).
They are being hunted by people called, appropriately enough, Hunters and are not convinced that Ashlyn isn't bait. So she's imprisoned in this castle with demon-possessed hunks, and the hero, Maddox, can't decide whether he wants to destroy her or have his way with her or both, because his demon is the demon of wanton violence, and once started, he won't stop until satisfied.
Writing all this out like this makes me realize how cheesy this story sounds. I'm already side-eying the mythology a bit. It's a little of Pandora's box, a little of the Four Horsemen, and a little of the Seven Deadly Sins, with a slapdash of Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark. Both of these authors seem to treat their paranormal romances like a communal stew where you can just dump whatever into the pot and hope it tastes good. It honestly kind of reminds me of a Quizilla story I read back in the day called "Would an Angel, a Demon, or a Vampire Fall for You?" I believe the author of it named herself "icemakesyoumelt." It was a really bad story in which "you" were the name character and it was written in second person. I guess it just goes to show that no matter what age you are, or which medium you choose to consume your stories, we always fall for the same old trash.