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review 2016-09-21 16:28
Tamer of Horses - Amalia Carosella

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.


                Arranged marriages are tricky things.  People don’t know each other very well and back in the day, quite a bit was riding on an arranged marriage.  And then, well, what do you do if your intended comes from a totally different culture or tribe?


                Carosella’s new book is, in part, an answer to that question.  Pirithous is king of the Lapiths in ancient in Greece, before the Trojan war.  His marriage to Hippodamia is supposed to bring peace between the Lapiths and the centaurs, who are related to the Lapiths.  Hippodamia, a human girl raised by the centaurs, was raised seeing that marriage should be between two people who love each other and not simply a business arrangement.  Needless to say, Pirithous feels a bit differently.  He wants his cake and to eat it too.


                The book, in short, is like many romance novels in that the hero and heroine struggle though commutation all the while shagging each other until they discover true love.  This isn’t necessary a bad thing, and if a straight forward romance with a somewhat unconventional ending is what you want, then this book will deliver it.


                Additionally, Carosella’s knowledge of Bronze and Heroic age Greece is excellent.  She does not modernize terms or Hollywoodize the action.  This is hardly surprising considering her degree in Classics, though considering that some writers play a bit fast with history in fiction, it is nice to see Carosella not do that.  Her interpretation of the Hippodamia and Pirithous story is interesting, especially in regards to the use of a girl raised by centaurs.  It is true that some more of centaur culture would have made the book a bit stronger.  Carosella hews closely to the idea of the centaurs as ruled by passion and possessing a tendency to over-indulge in alcohol (and there are a few scenes where she plays with ignorance of wine quite nicely).  Yet outside of the centaurs mating for life, nothing else is really made clear, unless you count centaurs in a rut (sexual rut), though how this is entirely different than the lust that Pirithous and Hippodamia feel for each other is not entirely clear.


                The main problem is that neither Pirithous and Hippodamia is all that interesting in this book.  Hippodamia does grow a teeny bit towards the end of the novel, but the change is a little sudden and at that point, one is so tired of Hippodamia’s whining and somewhat spoiled behavior that you don’t entirely care.  And despite the title of the novel, she doesn’t really do much in the way of horse tamer.  Pirithous comes across as a little better, he is more aware of responsibility than Hippodamia, but his attraction to his wife seems to be only physical.  This is also true for Pirithous quasi-romantic rival.  The reader’s response is “why does anyone care”.  The answer seems to be because she is hot and talented but still a virgin.  Yet, he comes across as cruel at times.  It is hard to care about the couple, especially when at times page after page is constant hashing over of the relationship.  He loves me not, he loves me – get a damned flower please.


                In fact, the one interesting couple is Theseus and Antiope who not only really seem to be in love – unlike Pirithous and Hippodamia – but don’t talk about it over and over.  It isn’t fully just a question of maturity and wisdom, but Theseus and his wife work in a way that the other couple doesn’t.  The reader can believe in them, unlike the central romantic pairing.


                When the book veers away from the constant whining about the relationship between the romantic couple, it actually gets pretty good.  The action sequences as well done and the description of battles work.  It is almost gripping in those points.  It just takes so long to get there.  Instead of chapter after chapter of going over the same issue (over and over) some more action would not been out of place.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-06-24 00:43
ROMANCE: PARANORMAL ROMANCE: Twin Grizzly Pursuit (Shifter MFM Mail order bride Menage romance) ((Contemporary New Adult Paranormal Romance)) - Serena Taylor

Wow, I get it must be hard to find a woman who wants a three way, but perhaps if you didn't see all women as vaginas, it might be better. Also, trafickking and the use of rape is not my thing.

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review 2016-06-07 23:55
Good Story and Characters
LUST: A Bad Boy and Amish Girl Romance (The Brody Bunch Book 2) - Sienna Valentine

Hannah is a former Amish working in a bar not too far from her former community. With her sisters sneaking from their community to see her, she enlists Ash and his brothers to protect them from the dangers that made her never to return.

This is the first book I’ve read from this author. It was a pretty decent, definitely had some dark undertones. I guess my main problem, most likely because I didn’t read book 1 first, is the fact that Hannah is basically the opposite of what the Amish represent (for understandable reasons), so the tagline of Bad Boy and Amish Girl really doesn’t apply. Hannah is very damaged, and thus, very sexual. I loved reading Ash’s POV the best and watching him change his ways as he falls for her. I highly recommend.

**I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review

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review 2016-04-17 22:36
Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey

Everything you hear about Carey's writing style is true. There is preponderance of words, there is a breathless tone to, and Phedre is, quite frankly, at times a bit annoying and a bit princess perfect.

Yet, this is a damn good book. I've read it more than twice. Just recently re-read it, and despite the flaws, Carey draws you into the word. In many ways, it really is what 50 Shades and the like wants to be. Phedre's talent or curse is what she resents at time; her own sexuality never. Additionally, unlike many books I can name, rape is handled in an adult manner.

It is also a wonderfully good political fantasy.

Does anyone else wonder if this book was written in part as a response to Martin's work?

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review 2016-03-06 21:09
I liked this
The Calum (The Calum Series Book 1) - Xio Axelrod

Disclaimer: I know the author of this book. She did not solicit this review or my purchase of the book. I brought my copy because (1) her telling of auditioning narrators for the audio book was hilarious (2) she made me feel welcome and (3) for every author that is a douche, there are at least ten who aren’t and who deserve a readership. The only way to find those is to read.

The disclaimer doesn’t cover everything, however. This book is classified as New Adult (which for the longest time I confused with New Age), and I have been quasi avoiding books in the genre because several people whose opinions I respect really have posted some rather strong reviews about the genre. I can say that I would not have brought this book if I hadn’t heard Xio Axelrod tell the audition story (and honestly, get her to tell this story if you meet her). Largely most of the reviews I have seen about New Adult seem to involve a bad boy who should be gelded, and who is based on Twilight stalkers.

Thankfully, this is not the case with The Calum.

Lovie goes along to Scotland with her friend Jo, for Jo wants to find the living embodiment of the Calum, a hero from a romance book. (Yes, I was thinking Outlander too, and we all know how many women would want Jamie, but you know what, I like modern plumbing and voting against racist assholes). Once there (bonus point for setting the story somewhere other than Edinburgh), Jo meets the Calum (who name is Hamish because there is a rule about setting a story in Scotland and having a character with the name of Hamish or Angus). This leaves Lovie on her own, but that is fine because Lovie has meet a good shot of slow burn Scotch by the name of Duff, who is close friends with Hamish.

The plot enfolds pretty much the way you would think a romance plot should, and let’s be honest, when you read a romance, you pretty much know the standard plot. What makes a good novel, therefore, are pretty basic – writing, how twists are handled, and characterization.
Xio Axelrod does pretty damn well with all of these.

The novel’s weakest point for me (and this is relative) is that the sense of place could have been stronger. While, you never lose the sense that you are in Scotland, there a few times when the reader is told of the beauty but never really shown the beauty in the terms of the description.

However, this lack is more than made up with the characters, foremost being the characters of Lovie and Jo. There is a tendency in books with women leads to have the lead be the most adult, most responsible woman in the novel. The end result of this is that the female lead comes across as a right bitch or a long suffering martyr most of the time. Xio Axelrod avoids falling into this trap, and there is a brilliant sequence when you are showed exactly why Lovie and Jo are friends. Jo is simply not an airhead blonde. It was my favorite part of the book.

Well, maybe one of them because I also really loved the portrayal of women going for what they want and not feeling guilt for it.

Lovie, too, is a wonderful character. Smart and pretty, but not super skinny. She has her issues, but has enough self awareness that she does grow as a character. The romance she develops with Duff is just as believable as she is, making it a romance that reader wants to work as opposed to one that the reader simply knows is going to work. And one of my favorite scenes involves Lovie, her hair, and Duff’s grandma.

And Duff – a romantic hero who is not doing anything illegal, who has problems that are oh so human, and who thankfully, acts like a man who deserves the woman. He may not be wearing a kilt, but wow.

You have no idea how nice it was not to read a romance book where I didn’t feel an urge to arrest the romantic lead.

And the writing – the writing is hot!

So when are the sequels coming out?

As a last word, after reading this book, I brought a copy for a friend. That is how much I liked it.

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