Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1)

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


When I first started reading this, I was genuinely impressed.
And my impression was that I have picked up a well-written ‘hunting Jack the Ripper’ type novel sprinkled with some romance as a bonus.
When the balance of “Georgian era mystery/porny content” shifted from 70/30 that I imagined it would be, to about 20/80, I felt genuine disappointment.
Still, I think this is a very well-written book. The writing and world-building are extensive, detailed, and both real and imaginative. The writing is very very solid. I just could do without a few of the bedroom scenes. Especially the ‘I will heal you with my touch’ kind.
As someone who actually found herself empathizing with the character of Caire because of some shared characteristics, the turn of ‘he felt the pain because he wasn’t loved and it will be all healed by love’ turn felt disappointing.
I’m interested in continuing to read these series, at least for a while, but I feel like I’ll have to do so fighting against the disgust towards covers and titles… I feel like these novels were done a big disservice with these choices.



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Bodyguard by Jennifer Ashley

Bodyguard (Shifters Unbound, #2.5)

Bodyguard by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Now here we have an actual comfort book of romance variety.
Although, admittedly, rather short and swift. Problems in this book get solved swiftly, main characters fall in love very swiftly, bad guys get dead very swiftly, and so on. Which, likely, is what this book needs. It’s a romance focused on themes of protection, saving people, and especially children, from shitty circumstance, unconditional care, trust. There’s a Papa Bear and a heroine who can think for herself, take care of herself, and doesn’t take shit from anyone. The writing is on the simpler side, but not cringy (with the exception for the head-hopping… it’s bad), and the romance-related scenes don’t actually feel ridiculous.



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Chasing Earth: Saving Askara Part II by J.M. Link

Chasing Earth: Saving Askara Part II (Tori & Aderus #2)

Chasing Earth: Saving Askara Part II by J.M. Link

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(This review is for both first books combined.)
I’m in that place of mind where I grab a book that says ‘sci-fi romance’ on the cover myself, and then promptly get genuinely surprised why the characters won’t stop thinking about sex.
This book has a multitude of interesting sci-fi premises, which tease the imagination and made me think that I would like this book more if any of them were actually addressed… but the characters have a lot of difficulty to find time to indulge in such things as providing more detailed worldbuilding, whether regarding the Earth history and why are they suddenly so friendly towards another race that they appear willing to fight their battles, or Askara, their ship, their war, multitude of briefly introduced side characters, any actual relationships between them, how their group operates, and so on… because they are too busy with all the angry sex. (At least the author stopped using the P word for the lady parts after the first time, it was a giant relief. Also made me glad that the hero wasn’t human and we avoided cringy language choices in that respect.)
The main character is entirely too unconvincing in her setting. She is supposed to be a medical professional, and enough of a professional to be the one sent into the midst of things when humans supposedly make their very first contact with extraterrestrials. Which kind of calls for an expectation that she must be a highly skilled, reputed, and respected medical professional. Instead, she gawks, gets injured, is too embarrassed to properly talk about reproductive system, rushes head first into unprotected sex with aliens without thinking about any kind of consequences, and doesn’t really do anything medicine related for 80% of the story but ‘go on rounds’ with the alien medical professional which are never shown in detail, and are only mentioned as a background setting for characters to think about sex or actively try to not think about sex.
I have a strong nagging I should be feeling like an idiot for trying to take these books too seriously. I was trying to read it as a sci-fi, when it probably was written mostly as a PWP (the ‘plot what plot’ variety).



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Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book gave me too much anxiety.
Not that it means it’s a bad book. I suppose for those who like to be kept on their toes while reading and constantly worry who will betray who, who will give up on who, who will have to sacrifice what, how much longer will we need to suffer interactions that involve the evil queen that is too evil and too powerful, how many will die… it’s a big plus.
Yet, personally, I don’t need even a milligram of extra anxiety in my life and it made this book damn hard to read (I had to put it down a couple of times and read 2 other books while reading this one to dilute it).
Though this book does introduce a character that I feel like will be my most favorite in the series (but now I’m also feeling anxiety regarding the fact that they might be killed off in near future).



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Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn

Laird of the Mist (MacGregors, #1)

Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Would be a good comfort book of romance variety if it wasn’t for rather unfortunate quality of writing, at times bordering on cringy, and undeveloped/missed story opportunities that stand out like thorns. Also, very unfortunate cover design that is likely scare people off. If you can ignore the writing and cover problems, then you might discover some interesting side characters and a heroine who seems to know what she wants and listens to people around her for a change. I think the main thing about this book is that it avoids a lot of angst by featuring people who are actually willing to think for themselves and change their mind about things, without remaining stubbornly blind for too long.



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Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

Heartstone (Heartstone #1)

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This re-telling had a lot of potential, as an idea, but some things just didn’t work… The contrast between ‘grumpy and misunderstood’ persona and ‘lovable’ persona of the hero was just not represented organically. The change between the two personas was too drastic, and the fact that Alastair constantly referred to common people like trash and said ‘loving someone like her is beneath him’ was too much and should not be forgiven/explained by temper. A lot of his actions didn’t look like something that could be explained by grumpiness and temper, but in stead appeared to be genuine cruelty. It was overplayed and not believable. In fact, there were a number points about the writing I’d like to pick on… Like the fact that the hero was constantly referred to by his family name, even in places where it felt unnatural, because there were multiple members of his family present in the scene.
The first half of this book was very mild and slow paced, presenting dozens of little mysteries of ‘why could’ve that person said that/acted that way’ in a constant stream. In that classic style of the literature this takes as the basis. Unfortunately, I feel like half of them were not even addressed properly by the end of the book. It builds a lot of mysteries, and then drops them in a very anticlimactic way. Too many questions not nearly enough answers.
And the ending was too rushed and mangled. It was both too bloody and too trivial. As in, there were supposedly all these lives lost on the background, cities destroyed, and many Riders who were supposedly as strong as the main heroes dead where named characters survived, and it didn’t even look like we were supposed to care much.
The human nemesis was dealt with behind the scenes on the background which was a throw away.
In fact, I’m not sure what exactly were we supposed to care about at that point… the revenge story line was skipped over, most of the war was skipped over, the romance was mostly skipped over, weddings were skipped over… None of the events of the ending were really brought into focus, and collectively felt like a short summary, compared to the slow pace of the first half of the book.
Also, the ultimate sacrifice by the ‘love rival’ felt like an unfortunate plot choice. Another life just thrown away in a convenient way (how much cooler it would be if she just cut out herself from the worm instead, eh?).



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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book is like a modern version of old Slavic, or European in general, fairy tales. In both good and bad ways.
It has a magical, has a fully developed world, heavily based on Slavic influences yet still original.
It also asks you to believe and accept a lot of things shrewd modern minds would like to question.
What I didn’t really enjoy is how unnecessary bloody it turned towards the end. Really, the numbers were entirely disproportionate and stood out like a thorn in my eye. Though I suppose it matches the fairy tale style of old.
I also wish we would have gotten a bit more insight into Dragon. While the book works seamlessly as one told from the POV of the main character, it feels like I’m missing a big chunk of story.



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