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ARC review–Please Send Help by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

Please Send Help

4/5*

Published July 2019

Please Send Help is different from a lot of what I’ve read recently. Told via text and email, the post-college lives of Ava (the planner, interning at a tv show) and Gen (freewheeling, queer, and in hell in Florida at a newspaper job). Friends since high school, they struggle with adulthood and learn that you only get through life with the help of your friends.

I really like that the relationship the book is about is the two women. While each of them has romantic attachments at times in the books, it’s not the sole focus, nor is it the main one.

I’m curious to know how the authors divided up the work, because it feels incredibly authentic. The two voices are so distinct that the reader is pulled into the journey with them.

I think this book has pretty wide appeal–both for those who’ve yet to experience life post-college, and those who have.

Review-Day of the Dragon by Katie MacAlister

Day of the Dagon

3/5*

Published March 201

I received a copy of Day of the Dragon in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

I used to read Katie MacAlister books all the time. She was one of the authors who got me back into the genre after a long absence. But I got to that point where I’d read her whole backlist, and her new books weren’t coming out soon enough that I got distracted–probably down a Nora Roberts hole–it’s been twenty odd years and I still haven’t read her whole bcklist! But I haven’t read anything by her in a decade.

Day of the Dragon reminds me why I enjoyed her books, although my tastes have changed somewhat since then (more on that later). They’re light and fluffy–the sort of books words like zany and romp were made for.

Thaisa starts off as a character who is mousy, unsure of herself, and blames her appearance for everything that’s gone wrong for her. Archer starts off as an arrogant man–and he grows, but not nearly as much.

The problem for me was that I wasn’t all that intrigued by the main story. The most interesting character was Bree, a spite turned something else who always seems to know more than the other players, but is absurdly funny. As is the demon Thaisa calls up, but forgets to bind properly.

The big crux of the story was that there was an ancient piece of text that needed to be translated to find the location of the two missing halves of the Raisa Medallion, which was supposed to turn Archer and his brother into the first dragon hunters (dragons who hunt demons, not humans who hunt dragons).

The book fits in well with the rest of the dragon books written by MacAllister, but works as a standalone.

Here is my issue with it–The stakes are so incredibly low. We know that Archer is accusing his brother of murdering his fellow dragons, but there’s a twist that it’s all confusing and makes those stakes non-existant really. While Thaisa and Archer both undergo some changes and growth, that’s all low stakes, too. There are also some secondary characters who are charicatures—Thaisa’s best friend, who literally shows up once, and was married to her current boss, and given the way he treats Thaisa, I kind of want to know what her deal was, and that boss is also more outline than character. The story didn’t hold my interest, which is the biggest issue of all. I had to push myself through it. Without Bree the sprite and the demon, it would be a 2/5 rating.

Thalanian Dynasty Series by Katee Robert

Theirs for the Night (Thalanian Dynasty #1)

5/5*

Published 2018

A few weeks ago I reviewed an ARC of The Fearless King by Katee Robert, and absolutely loved it. While on Twitter, someone recommended this series as a hot MMF trilogy. Theirs for the Night was free (and still is at this second in time), so I dove in and ended up reading both the novella and the two full length novels in less than forty-eight hours.

The last triad book I reviewed was in the Dirty series by Jaine Diamond, and I mentioned that the triad had broken up into a couple and a single individual by the end. So I was thrilled to see the triad in this series stay intact.

Theo is the exiled prince of Thalania, and Galen is his former head of security. They’ve also been lovers for over a decade, and occasionally share women. After a stressful few weeks, they are up for a distraction when Meg enters the bar. For her part, it’s Meg’s birthday and she’s put the stress of not knowing where the money will come from for the next semester of college–so when two hot guys approach her for a threesome, what the hell, it’s her birthday, right?

That would be the end of the story, except Theo can’t stay away from Meg, and once he pulls her back into his orbit, Galen objects–not because he doesn’t want her (he does), but because he’s worried that someone could endanger her to get at Theo. When that happens, Meg is saved and has to go on the run with Theo and Galen in a hunt for the key to getting his crown back.

The two novels have a great deal of romantic suspense, which has been a running theme across the books I’ve read by Robert. The relationship building and maintenance for a triad is complex and Robert doesn’t skimp on that. Working things out takes effort.

This is a great series if you’re up for triad sex.

Unlimited Time and Money

Today’s MFRW prompt is What if you had unlimited time and money?

Without the constraints of time or money, so much would be possible. You wouldn’t have to balance things like work, time with family/friends, being a parent, taking time for your interests outside of writing, and writing.

Firstly, think of all the opportunities that unlimited time and money could provide for those in need. And while that might include you, it also includes anyone else who is struggling. Lifting others up is the right thing to do.

Think of traveling to wherever your book is set and doing some first hand research. When I wrote Capturing the Moment, I set it in Siem Reap, Cambodia and there are many places, people, food, and sights in the book that I experienced. Plunder is set in the Caribbean–and maybe I can’t visit 1700, but I could see what the water looks like and the weather feels like and so forth. For that matter, with unlimited funds, I could also probably pay someone to make a costume similar to the ones my characters wear and understand firsthand what it’s like to put on a period gown or sailors clothes.

For that matter, think about traveling anywhere you’ve ever wanted to. The pyramids? Done. Vegas? No problem. Greece? When do you want to leave?

Don’t own your own home? Buy one. Don’t like your current house? Buy a new one or renovate the hell out of your existing house. Need a writer’s shed (which is my dream)? Build it.

Don’t forget to help those who need homes. In Silicon Valley, many people have had to live in campers that are parked by the side of the road. Not just one or two here or there, but easily ten at a time along the park, along a major road, etc. Those families need homes, too. Look around, and help ensure that you’re not the only person with the home they need.

Unlimited time means you can spend that time with your loved ones, or get that extra time alone that you crave. The unlimited money means you don’t have to worry about it. And it will allow you to pass on that gift to others.

What would you do?

ARC review-Roll the Dice by Mimi Barbour

Roll the Dice by Mimi Barbour

2/5*

Pub Jan 2014

I received a copy of Roll the Dice from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Before I get into the meat of the review, I want to state up front that there needs to be a content warning for rape. Aurora’s partner is recovering from rape, and is unsure if the baby she’s carrying is her husband’s or her rapists–which is a big part of the plot. The rapist also assaults several other victims. The rape is all off screen, but I think this would a difficult read for a sexual assault survivor.

Having said that, I didn’t hate Roll the Dice, but I didn’t love it either.

Aurora is a detective with the LVPD, and Kai is her new partner, as her old partner, Debbie is on maternity leave. Aurora is after Earl Rhondo, the man who assaulted Debbie. Kai is after him because Rhondo raped his sister, who eventually suicided because of the rape trauma. The book is their hunt for him.

My biggest complaint is that this doesn’t really work as a romance. It’s a gritty crime thriller where the leads just happen to hook up once. There are some feelings, but the love story is not in the foreground of the book. If you are looking for a story that is primarily a romance, you might not be happy. If you like the In Death series, but wish there was less sex, you would probably enjoy this.

My second biggest complaint is that there are some lazy characterizations.

Ham, the ethnically Irish cop says “The skinny little eejit, he’s a bold one he is.” But unless I missed an immigration story in book 1, this feels like just an excuse to write an Irish cop.

A bar owner is referred to as a “Polack,” which even in 2014 was in poor taste.

Finally, the sex. As written, not my cup of tea.

Honestly, if it hadn’t been a Netgalley book, I would have DNF’d it. 2 stars instead of one because it wasn’t a painful read.

Writing Conference

This weekend I am attending WorldCon 76. This is a writing/fan con, and the first that I’ve attended as an author. I’m looking forward to classes like

  • Writing About Fighting
  • Self-Publishing 101
  • Young Adult: Looking at the World Through a Skewed Lens
  • Successfully Negotiating Book Contracts
  • New Ancestral Myths
  • Deep Dive: Idea Versus Story

I won’t have a post Friday or Monday because of the convention, unless there’s some downtime at the con.

This con is aimed primarily at Science Fiction writers, but it’s only twenty minutes away, and I can easily transfer the lessons to romance. And who’s to say I might not want to turn my head that way? I’ve already had a sci-fi story published in Coming Together: Among the Stars. So I’ve learned to never say never about a certain genre.

Signing up for this con and looking at the classes makes me so sad that I couldn’t go to the Romance Writers of America convention this year, and makes me determined to go next year.

 

Under the Mistletoe is closing submissions soon!

I’m so grateful and overwhelmed by the response I’ve gotten for my call, Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe.

However, it’s not too late to submit a story or poem!

book cover coming soon

Want to help your chances? Things I haven’t seen enough of include…

  • Queer characters
  • Persons of color
  • Non-Christmas holidays (Hannukah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, and even though it’s not technically a December holiday, I’d totally be open to a Diwali/Deepavali story)
  • Non-US locations

This doesn’t mean I don’t want you to send in your Christmas story, merely some additional info to inspire those still thinking of what to write.

My story will be the next installment in my North Pole series, which features shape-shifting reindeer, so there’s no idea that’s too out there as long as the story is good. (My North Pole Series stories New on the Naughty List, and A Reindeer by Any Other Name are currently free on my website.)