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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-17 22:33
The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter
The Darkest Torment (Lords of the Underworld) - Gena Showalter

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Baden, former Keeper of Distrust, has something new living inside him, something darker than any mere demon. Bound to the King of the Underworld, he struggles to fit into his new role of assassin, however his biggest challenge comes in the form of Katarina - a dog trainer that happens to be the wife of a very troublesome man.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

Let me start by saying that this instalment's number twelve in an ongoing series (Lords of the Underworld), and at the beginning - it's been seven years since I picked up the first book - I absolutely adored Showalter's steamy and mythological world. My very first reviews are of this series, where I found the characters, the stories, and the sexual heat all new and captivating. I even gave five star ratings to a couple, The Darkest Pleasure and The Darkest Passion. I had nothing but praise.

That time has unfortunately passed.

Whilst these books will always have a place in my heart, and I'll probably, against my better judgement, continue on until they come to a final conclusion, I'm truthful to myself in that I'm not enjoying them as I once did. At this point I'm just regurgitating my complaints, and it feels more like a chore to get down my thoughts. I'll however try and be coherent about my reasoning - why do I now largely dislike what was once beloved?

- The characters tend to fuse together, becoming indistinguishable. They're too similar, often having the same mental outlook, the same behaviour and even the same dialogue. Say a bunch of them were in the same scene and it wasn't directly stated who was speaking, well, I honestly wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

- The sex has become stale and it fails to thrill me anymore. What was once downright dirty has turned tame. I don't need an excuse to prefer the eroticism that once dominated the romance.

- Plot inconsistencies are plentiful. I'm not even going to go into detail, but it's clear that Showalter made a decision to change already established storylines. Baden's past in particular completely confused me.

- The writing's declined on a monumental level. Full sentences are a thing of the past. Example:

Heart pounding, she jerked her hands away from him. “Sex...from me?”

“Yesss.” A hiss. “Only from you.”

Only. Amazing how one little word could send pleasure soaring through her, warming her. “You told me never to touch you.” Which she’d just done, she realized. My bad.


Which brings me to the dynamic of Baden and Katarina, and how she ultimately considered him an animal in need of training. When someone doesn't even think of their significant other as an actual person, then there's undoubtedly something wrong with the relationship. I liked the hellhounds, though, but that's the only thing, and it's not enough to justify a higher rating.

As for the whole William and Gillian debacle - I just didn't care.

In conclusion: I initially rated this two stars, however I believe one to be more appropriate in regards to how I feel. I'm not into this series anymore, but I feel an obligation to trudge onward. If only I could walk away.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/17/the-darkest-torment-by-gena-showalter
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-04-05 22:22
Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Mirror Dance - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is a novel that grows on you. When I first read it back in 2005, I reasonably liked it. Except for Cordelia's Honor it was the best part of the saga up till that point in the narrative, but I didn't love it. So I only reread parts of it, but never in its entirety - until now. And boy, this time I absolutely fell in love with it. It has a bit of a slow start (which costs it the half star-reduction), but once the shit hits the fan it's one tour de force of psychology and emotion that keeps you biting your finger nails.

 

After 2 years, Mark turns up and basically kidnaps the Dendarii posing as Miles for a raid of House Baraputhra's cloning facilities on Jackson's Whole (where he was created as well). Miles races after him and arrives just as the mission fails spectacularly. He ends up shot in the chest and put in a cryotube which then gets lost in the following chaotic retreat. Mark and Elena have the unenviable task of relaying the news to the Vorkosigan parents which means for Elena a return to a difficult past - and for Mark a step into an uncertain future. But the race to recover Miles (dead or alive) isn't over, and Mark won't stop until there's certainty of his clone-brother's fate.

 

This is Mark's story, who he was, who he is and who he ends up to be. The various roles he has to or chooses to play showcase this, from impersonation, to reluctant and unsure son, to brother and business man - dealing with doubt, guilt, and all the aftereffects that his upbringing with Galen (which is elaborated on here) left him with. Add to that the torture he's put through here, and you get a young man who's somehow toeing the line towards insanity, but nevertheless has never felt more sane and true to himself. It's a veritable tour de force to come to that point, and some chapters are incredibly difficult to read (the black gang's emergence) and make no mistake, Bujold doesn't pull any punches here. This might be the most explicit book in terms of violence and torture against one of her main characters in this saga so far (and overall), and even immoral acts perpetrated by a main character, but it's so rewarding nonethess. Honestly, up till now I've never liked Mark, but in a way Bujold managed to bring him to life in just one (albeit very long) book just as much as she did with Miles. And the Vorkosigan-universe is richer for it.

 

Miles himself takes the backseat here, but of course he gains a new perspective in life - having an brother, not just a clone, for once not being in the heart of things... and a glimpse of mortality. But his resurrection doesn't come without a price as we'll see. Among all the psychology and character-drama the plot surrounding the Duronas and the despicable machinations on Jackson's Whole get a bit sidelined. But I guess we'll revisit both. Overall, I love the image of reciprocity in this novel: every action has a reaction, just like in the Mirror Dance, a popular dance on Barrayar, and that's transferred to practically everything that's going on here.

 

Other than Mark himself, the parts that most fascinated me (and the ones that I kept coming back to) are set on Barrayar: the effects Miles' not-quite death has on the Vorkosigans, Mark's introduction into this family, Aral's health crisis which suddenly turns an academic question of succession into a very real one, Cordelia going toe to toe with Simon Illyan, even the small glimpses and huge nudges of Gregor and Kareen Koudelka who both accept Mark for who he is from the start - not just as Miles's clone, but as an individual.

 

Overall, a stunning novel.

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url 2017-03-29 19:45
2017 RWA RITA and Golden Heart Awards Finalists

Here is a complete list of each category's nominations.

 

Also, Beverly Jenkins will be awarded the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony in July!

 

Finally, the Librarian of the Year Award will go to Danielle King, Alafaya Branch, Orange County Library System (Orlando, Florida).

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review 2016-10-15 08:57
Fifteen-year-old me would've loved this.
Marrying Mister Perfect (Reality Romance Book 1) - Lizzie Shane

Thirty-something me has no patience for gutless heroines pining after oblivious idiots.

 

I still love tropes pining and angst, but first give me a character I can stand to watch pine. Give me someone who isn't afraid of living and going after something she wants and give me a real reason why she should pine in silence instead. Don't give me "for four years she was his doormat and loved every second of it because of his kids." 

 

The rating wavered between one and two stars, but I've read worse. Much worse. 

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review 2016-10-09 06:55
Liked it
Act Like It - Lucy V. Parker

I really liked the story, writing and characters, but in a few weeks or months someone's going to ask me recommendations and I won't remember the title or the author. And that'll be a shame, because most people aren't as jaded about romance genre as I am. 

 

So, if you like the "faking it until it's real"-relationship romances, you should read this.

 

 

 

P.S. A heads up. Come New Year, I'll be walking away from Booklikes. It's become unusable with the browser of my choice (Tor) and I don't feel like just handing my data to faceless entities who don't even pretend to care about people who are generating their income. 

 

You can find me on Twitter if you really want, but there aren't any blogs or other bookish social media sites I update with any regularity. Good luck to you all.

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