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review 2018-12-15 20:59
Talk Sweetly to Me (Brothers Sinister #4.5)
Talk Sweetly to Me (The Brothers Sinister) (Volume 5) - Courtney Milan

The final story in the Brothers Sinister series centers on Stephen Shaughnessy, who has the barest of connections ever to the core three Brothers Sinister - he writes the "Actual Man" column for Free's newspaper, and Free is Oliver's half-sister. So really, no relation at all. Stephen's a carefree chap, but I didn't get the sense from the last book that he was an unrepentant lady's man. Oh, no, don't get me wrong. He doesn't pursue all those women he sleeps with. They pursue him. So it's okay. *rolls eyes* (Really, he’s a giant goober, lol.)

 

Here he's paired up with Rose Sweetly, who we've never met previously. She's staying with her pregnant sister, Patricia, who's doctor husband is off on tour with the British army. Rose also works with an astronomer as his computer - this being back when computers were people, mostly women, who did the mathematics for scientists. Rose is indeed sweet, dedicated to her job and astronomy and her sister - and keeping a proper public profile. Because you see, she's black, and that comes with a whole heap of issues when dealing with middle-class life in Victorian England.

 

There is some effort to detail what sorts of challenges Rose and her sister face, but this is just really too short to delve into them much. Most of it centered around her sister's pregnancy and the raging d-bag of a doctor she has to put up with.

 

Rose is insistent throughout nearly the whole novella to keep her attraction to Stephen under wraps because she knows how easily and quickly her reputation could be destroyed by mere association with Stephen. Most of her concern seems to be based on Stephen's reputation as a lady's man, with no consideration to her own social and racial issues. It almost seems as if Ms. Milan was unaware of the stereotype about WOC being overly promiscuous and wanton, that Rose would already be fighting against that stigma in her every interactions with men, much less one who is known to be a player. It felt a little superficial.

 

Anyway, Stephen's a fun guy and Rose is an earnest young woman. We spend more time with Rose's POV than with Stephen's, so it was hard sometimes to guess his reaction to things. I did love his attempts to flirt with bad math puns, and that he took the time to learn more about her interests. I especially liked that he didn't even hesitate to help her sister after Rose rejected him.

 

But...I don't know. This is sort of the same issue I had with A Kiss for Midwinter and I'm going to try to keep it from getting rambly.

There are many ways for a woman to be empowered and not all of them include having sex. Very few of them do actually. But here we are again with a woman giving up her principles and giving into hormones whereas the man doesn't have to compromise at all - the Sandra Dee effect, if you will. There's no reason that sex scene couldn't have been in an epilogue after they were married, you know? Not to mention that French letters were hardly equivalent to modern-day condoms but are treated in these stories as if they're fool-proof when really they're just better than nothing. And I'm not saying that Rose should have conducted herself in any specific way because of idiotic stereotypes, far from it, but given her characterization up to that point, coupled with her exhaustion and emotional vulnerability from being up all night with her laboring sister, did make this a little weird for me. It didn't feel intimate at all to me, but felt more like it's just what the story demanded, so it happened.

(spoiler show)

Okay, that got a little rambly, and I'm not sure it made much sense, but there you go.

 

So as I said, this needed to be longer to make me really buy this resolution and this pairing, cute as they were together.

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review 2018-12-15 03:23
The Suffragette Scandal (Brother's Sinister #4)
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

Frederica "Free" Marshall has been a delight from the first moment she graced a page in this series, and here we get to see the kind of woman she's grown up to be: an investigative reporter running her own newspaper, written by women for women. She takes her fierce spirit with her like a shield as she uncovers injustices and campaigns for women's right to vote.

 

Edward Clark is a scoundrel with a past he'd sooner forget and charm oozing out the wazoo. He's determined to save a friend from the machinations of his brother and is willing to use Free to do it. Only Free doesn't cooperate, even when he mansplains the futility of her goals - and he finds out he's no match for Free. 

 

Once again, Ms Milan finds a couple of protags who are evenly balanced for each other. They're both struggling with their paths in life, but while Edward has succumbed to the dark side of the force, Free embraces the light. She pulls Edward kicking and screaming into the light with her. Of course, he is a scoundrel and isn't telling her everything. Now, all of the books in this series involve a secret of one of MCs or the other, but the truth has always been spilled before anything physical happens. That's not the case here, so that kind of dampened the intimacy here for me. The resolution was also a little too neat and quick. I still really enjoyed this though and watching Edward falling hopefully for Free despite his efforts not to was a treat.

 

There was also a small f/f subplot with Amanda, who we met in The Countess Conspiracy, and an implication of a gay relationship between a couple of minor characters in a "squint and you'll miss it" or maybe even a "YMMV" kind of way.

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review 2018-12-07 05:00
Guardian Spirits (Spirits #3) (Audiobook)
Guardian Spirits - Jordan L. Hawk

The final book in the Spirits trilogy is adequate. This hasn't been my favorite series by Ms. Hawk by a long shot. I never really felt the romance between Henry and Vincent, the ghost adventuring is pretty standard though she does bring a certain flair to it, and the narrator is listenable, but nothing to write home about.

 

The plot here was again predictable and I could see every twist and turn coming from a mile away. While it makes emotional sense that Vincent and Jo would make the incredibly stupid decisions they make, it still felt like all the characters were given a case of the dumb-dumbs in order for the plot to happen, which is why this got downgraded half a star.

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text 2018-12-02 18:23
November Reading Round Up
Things Slip Through - Kevin Lucia
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Hollow Shell: A Zombie Epic - Part One - Mark C. Scioneaux
Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues - Diana Rowland
V for Vendetta - David Lloyd,Alan Moore
The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness,Jason Isaacs
After: First Light - Scott Nicholson
The Wind in the Willows (Kindle in Motion) - Kenneth Grahame
The Rose Master - Valentina Cano

 

 

I've missed a lot of round ups this year so thought I should post at least a couple before the end of the year.

 

Just the 10 reads for me this month, but only 1 comic was included so that's a plus.

 

Yearly Reading Challenge update - 122/140

 

Read in November - 10

 

Audio - 0

Novels/novella/short stories - 9

Comics/Graphic novels - 1

 

5*

 

Things Slip Through - Kevin Lucia  A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness,Jason Isaacs  

 

4.5*

 

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues - Diana Rowland  The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman  

 

4*

 

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins  V for Vendetta - David Lloyd,Alan Moore  After: First Light - Scott Nicholson  

 

 

3.5*

 

The Wind in the Willows (Kindle in Motion) - Kenneth Grahame  

 

3*

 

Hollow Shell: A Zombie Epic - Part One - Mark C. Scioneaux  The Rose Master - Valentina Cano  

 

 

Just gearing up for the end of the year now, I'm pretty much done with my Christmas shopping and only have to post a couple of presents off to Oz for friends. 

 

I'm working this Christmas which is shit and I've noted in my recent pay that it has STILL not been sorted which now makes it 6 months of management pissing around. 

In all honesty I don't think I can stay there full time anymore, I've really hit my limit and the frustration of several elements is driving me insane. 

Next year will bring a few changes work wise but I'm not quite sure what that will be at the moment. 

 

I'm off on leave at the moment and tomorrow I'm taking Boo to the vet to have her neutered so I'm feeling a little anxious about her having an anaesthetic. I'm sure Suzy will love this as it will give her several hours of peace and quiet.

 

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review 2018-12-01 21:17
Playing in the Dark (Glasgow Lads #4)
Playing in the Dark - Avery Cockburn

When this series started, I hated Evan with a passion for hurting Fergus the way he did, skipping off to Belgium to be with some other lover. Only in Play Dead, we learned that things were not as they seemed, and I got instantly way more interested in learning more about him. And about Ben too, I guess. *whispers* I actually forgot who Ben was! shhh!

 

Evan's trying to get his life back together after a horrifying ordeal and when he met Ben in Playing With Fire, he was pretty much resigned to living a lonely life as the bad guy on the team. But he and Ben connected instantly apparently, and they pick up on that attraction here and move incredibly quickly considering the sort of life Evan lives and the secrets he needs to keep and lies he needs to make. (I should do a reread one of these days because I was having trouble keeping a lot of these couples straight ... but not straight-straight. You know what I mean.) 

 

I admit, I started getting a little worried by the halfway point about where this story might go. I don't know why, since Ms. Cockburn has always avoiding cliche pitfalls before, but there's always a first time right? Not here, I'm glad to say. This story was more about two characters learning how to be more fully themselves and realizing that in order to do that they actually had to let go of some of their previous preconceptions of who they were. That didn't stop me wanting to smack them more than a few times when they were making stupid mistakes, and there were a few chapters with a few too many sex scenes too close together at the beginning, but that evened out and we really got to see how they work as a couple and not just in the sack.

 

I did like learning about Ben's Bahá-í faith, which I never knew about before. It did feel a tad on the preachy side a couple of times though. I really would've liked to see some more of Ben's mom and Evan's family. Evan's job with MI-5 was also interesting and well-paced, with a layered quasi-mystery to drive the plot. Evan was a little reckless at times, and this teetered just over the line into unprofessional professional a couple of times, but I could understand why Evan made the decisions he made.

Though it doesn't make much sense why he couldn't tell Ben he'd been in Belfast but he could tell Fergus. I guess because Ben was getting a whole lot more details than Fergus  was.

(spoiler show)

 

I was happy where this book left them though and they're both clearly where they need and want to be by the end of it. I hope we get more of them in later books and novellas.

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