Well, well, well...
New Adult is a tricky genre, to be sure. When it's done right though, there's nothing that can make me as teary-eyed. I know, I don't get it either. I think it's just the intensity of that time.
This was New Adult done right, yet again. I love assholes. And I don't just mean the jerks that say the wrong thing now and again or are insensitive. I mean the real jerks. The sharp, insecure ones that don't let anyone close. Zeke was one of these, without a doubt. And though his backstory was one I don't particularly connect to-poor little rich boy-it was actually more compelling than others I've seen using this defense mechanism. Now, I fully realize I'm in a category of weirdos when it comes to these heroes. Ben from Truly by Ruthie Knox. Love him. Jimmy from Lead by Kylie Scott. He's my favorite hero of hers. These don't seem to be wildly popular opinions. The problem is that it is so easy to go wrong here. An asshole can quickly turn into a dark, terrible, controlling, alpha-hole. I was breathing sighs of relief at the fantastic way Sara Ney avoided this trap.
It was evident from the grocery store scene how subtly Zeke was caring for the people around him. Unfortunately, it wasn't clear if he meant to do it, or if he just filled the gaps.
As we figure out he quietly helps people out without destroying making them ask or destroying their pride. And as Jameson figures him out in this scene, how he's irritated with her for beginning to see through him.
The use of the little brother (Kyle) relationship. Yep, he was rough around the edges-clueless really-with the kid, but also steady. And dear god I almost sobbed when during their conversation in the car when he let him know it wasn't Violet that helped him, but Kyle.
And for me, this piece was also very important (Him and Violet after the big fight):
"I'm... I can't explain why I acted like an ass, and I feel like a bigger asshole for apologizing; it makes me feel like one of those pricks who treat women like shit. I'm not that guy."
Her hazel eyes regard me thoughtfully. "If you're not careful, you could be."
Honestly, whoosh. I thought that was so important for both of them. And I haven't even gotten to Violet, who I absolutely adored by the way, and I'm not sure I can do her justice. I loved the way Zeke saw her, but I also loved how she saw herself. She's the self-aware one, where he's resigned himself to being an asshole. Anyway, the scene in the study in the library is the piece that makes some NA so emotional for me (and why I love it). Violet was willing to accept him, love him, challenge him to be better--up to a point. And her point was a very reasonable one. When he basically denies her in the library in front of his friends and he seeks her out to explain, she lets him have it so good, and so clearly that I could hurt for both of them. And wow, his broken apology kind of undid me in that scene. (I'm married to a non-apologizer, friends. They exist. Big time. Apologies from them are not reactions like for others-and I'm in the midwest where I think it's even worse. Big Deal.)
Anyway, they were lovely complements to one another, with Violet's quiet and accepting strength and love pitted against Zeke's fear and armor.
As I stated in an update, intense broken heroes are my jam, and this is no different. I was really pleased to see Violet bring what she did to the to the table as well.
How to Date Your Dragon is the initial offering in Ms. Harper’s new audiobook-first Mystic Bayou series. The book takes place in modern-day Louisiana, in a world where a limited number of humans know about the existence of the paranormal beings who live among us. The League for Interspecies Cooperation is one group who knows about the paras and is preparing for the day everyone else finds out.
Jillian is sent to the town of Mystic Bayou by the League to study how different paranormal species and humans coexist peacefully, and catalog it so that it can be used as a guide for future towns once the general human population discovers paranormal exist. She is sent at the last minute because her boss was injured in an accident involving a unicorn. The town’s folk are generally welcoming of Jillian, most especially the mayor, Zed who is a bear shifter, and Jillian’s love interest: Bael, who is a dragon shifter and the sheriff. However, after she arrives, a few of the paranormals are murdered, putting Jillian in the middle of a criminal investigation.
Overall, I really enjoyed listening to How to Date Your Dragon. It’s trademark Molly Harper humor, but a little less snarky. Jillian is smart and kind; she can be precious and darling, but also a firecracker. And Bael is a perfect match for her (and she for him). Bael is gruff, but he cares about the residents of Mystic Bayou, something unique among dragons, making him a bit of an outcast in his family. I love how Bael just jumps headfirst into his feelings for Jillian, even if she’s a bit reluctant.
In addition to the romance, the book features a solid mystery. Residents are being brutally murdered, something that hasn’t happened in the small town in years. I like how Bael and Jillian work side by side to solve the crimes. And then there is the aspect of the rift, about which we learned very little, but is exciting, and I hope we get more soon.
The narration from Ms. Ronconi is exactly what I’ve come to expect. She hits all the southern dialects and seems to alter her voice just right to fit high-speed Jillian and more laid-back Bael and Jed. I started at 1.25x speed since that’s what I always use for her narration; however, I needed to speed it up for Mr. Davis, and then just kept it at 1.5x speed. Mr. Davis’s narration took a little getting used to, probably because I’m so used to Ms. Ronconi going solo. I liked his voice for Zed and most of the males. The females are a bit soft. My biggest issue with his performance was the high volume of production errors where it is evident his parts were re-dubbed after the fact. It became very annoying.
In the end, I loved listening to How to Date Your Dragon and cannot wait to see what Ms. Harper does with this wonderful new series.
My Rating: A
AR narration: A
JD narration: B+ / B- (the production issues are the only thing bringing down his rating)
Well this one was a disappointment. Alexa and Drew meet when they're stuck in an elevator together and on a whim Drew asks Alexa to be his date to the wedding he's there to attend. Talk about a meet-cute, right? Sadly, it's all down-hill from there. The banter is clunky and there is a lot of telling, not doing. All these two seem to do is have sex. I have no idea what they see in each other besides their physical attraction to each other. And although they are thirty something professionals (the mayor's chief of staff and a paediatric surgeon, respectively) the miscommunications, and the conflict that result from them, are decidedly immature and could easily be avoided if these two ever actually talked. But maybe I was expecting too much? This book came with a beautiful cover (it actually got bumped up a half star for this cover), a lot of hype and a $15 price tag. I suppose I assumed it would be a little more polished. *sigh*
All that said, there is actually a lot to like about the book. The heroine is a successful, curvy, black woman and the white hero clearly respects her and listens to her. They have explicitly safe, consensual sex and there are some great points made about privilege. There was just so much about this book that I wanted to like, just not quite enough technical skill to pull it off.