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Twelve Tasks

Twelve Tasks - Therese Woodson

Delightful enemies-to-friends-to-lovers story shown over the course of one year.

 

Likeable characters, witty banter, and Eliot's friend Pete hilariously making moves on drunk girls who sing "You Oughta Know" at karaoke. I was that girl! Where's my Pete?

The Grand Sophy

The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer

3.5 stars? I am nonplussed.

I will tolerate the casual racism typical of Heyer's work as a product of it's time--the excitable French and lazy Spaniards are usually drawn with some affection. But in this book we get an outright Shylockian loan shark, greasily "Semitic", hooked nose and all--which goes several steps beyond too far. 

However, here is the conflict: Sophy is one of my favourite heroines. She is tall and brassy and fearless. She sails into an unhappy household and briskly sets about improving everything. She copes with tyrants, engagements, a Spanish Marquessa, Typhus, the aforementioned loan shark, several ducklings and a monkey. The story is a witty tangle of plots and plotting, and I enjoy it very much evey time, except for wincing over Mr. Goldhanger for a few pages in the middle.

The Toll-Gate

The Toll-Gate - Georgette Heyer

Umpteenth re-read. I love this book. Nell is one of Heyers older, sensible heroines, John is steady as a rock but very nosy and delighted to stumble across mysterious and sinister goings on. Heyer is in top-form here, there are a host of memorable secondary characters, and the language is simply wonderful.

John to his mother: 
"I don't mean to offer marriage to any girl who don't give me a leveller. So I daresay I shall remain a bachelor, for they don't--any of 'em! And if one did," he added thoughtfully, "It's Lombard Street to a China orange you wouldn't take to her!"

A little while later: 
He stood as though stunned, for he had received his leveller at last.
*dreamy sigh*

An exchange between John and a farmer:
"What kind of knock-in-the-cradle do you take me for, dry-boots? You hand over the half of a fiddle!"
"How was I to know you was a downy one? I thought you was a cawker."
"You go and milk a pigeon!"


Joe the groom to John:
"I should say as there's three of 'em as needs watching. Holt--he's Mr. Henry's man--ain't no better than a clunch--and oyster-faced at that!--but Roger Gunn, which calls himself Coate's groom, is a regular ding-boy, or I never seen one! Whatever it is them pair o' shog-bags is up to, he's in it, up to the chin!" 

Nat Coate at the local pub:
His fancy had prompted him to sport a striped toillinette waistcoat under a coat of corbeau-cloth, and this combination, worn, as it was, with breeches of Angola cloth and hunting-boots with white tops, so powerfully affected the Captain that for a full minute he sat with his tankard halfway to his mouth, and his gaze riveted upon the astonishing vision. 
Say. No. More.

Joe the groom about one of the bad guys:
"Lord! he looks like a strained hair in a can!"

The Foundling

The Foundling - Georgette Heyer

This is a romance only in the sense that the hero is happily settled with his lady at the end of the book; really it is an adventure and, I suppose, a journey of self-discovery, although I'm sure Georgette Heyer would never use (or approve of) such a navel-gazing term. 

In his travels, Gilly encounters Tom, a magnet for mischief of all kinds, Belinda, a beautiful, empty-headed girl whose virtue is teetering on a knife-edge, a brace of villains, and a host of citizens of all stripes that, as a Duke, he had never had to deal with before.

I love sweet-tempered Gilly, another of Heyer's non-standard heroes, his friendship with his cousin Gideon, and his irascible Uncle Lionel. And, as usual with Heyer, the language is delightful. 

The first course:
Lord Lionel being an advocate of what he considered a neat, plain dinner, only two courses were served at Sale Park when the family dined alone. The first of these consisted of a tureen of turtle, removed with fish, which was in its turn removed with a haunch of venison. Several side-dishes, such as pork cutlets with Rober sauce, larded fillets of beef, tenderones of veal and truffles, and a braised ham, graced the board...

The Duke to his retinue:
"I daresay I could have been tolerably comfortable without a Chief Confectioner."
Everyone realized that the Duke had uttered a witticism, so those whose social status permitted them to laugh, did so, in a discreet way; and Mr. Scriven said that he hoped his Grace would not find his house to be quite so ill-prepared as that.
 

Gilly's valet and Gideon's manservant:
"You looby, if you don't stand out of my way you'll get one in the bread basket as'll send you to grass!" said Nettlebed fiercely.
"Ho!" retorted Wragby, "Ho, I will, will I?" If it's a bit of home-brewed you're wanting, you herring-gutted, blubber-headed chinch, put up your mawleys!"


Sir Timothy:
"I do feel that a little openess in dear Gideon--a little less reserve--would be wise at this delicate moment! He has not been--how shall I put it?--precisely conciliating, one feels."

The Boy Who Came in from the Cold

The Boy Who Came In From the Cold - B.G. Thomas

A lot of familiar M/M tropes show up in this book, but they are shown through the somewhat unfamiliar lens of an actual gay male author.

Good: The pay-it-forward theme; the fairy-tale sweetness; the sweaty, smelly, crotchy physicalness of sex.

Bad: Overly sentimental storytelling and clumsy writing. 

Overall: Picture A Little Princess as a modern-day gay romance--if that sounds appealing, this is your book.

One Night Ever After - Elle Brownlee, Elizah J. Davis, Tere Michaels

Just a Drive, Tere Michaels. 3.5 stars. I love superficial Wyatt the man-whore, and Benji is almost too perfect. Some good snark.

Just a Stranger, Elle Brownlee. 2 stars. Pretty bland, Andrew is more like an uptight spinster from a fifties movie than a gay man, Michael and his gigantic family are better.

Just a Weekend, Elizah J. Davis. 4 stars. Adorbz. Even the kids didn't ruin it.

Throne of Oak (Maggie's Grove 2)

Throne of Oak - Dana Marie Bell

Disappointing. I absolutely loved Blood of the Maple, so I was greatly looking forward to Throne of Oak, but it has none of the same sparkle. 

The plot is disjointed and a lot of potentially interesting stuff either happens off page or isn't addressed at all, while the frankly boring attacks on Mina happen far too often. Ms Bell can bring the snarky humour, but a little of that goes a long way, and the humour here edged more into shrill hysteria. 

The book suffers from being neither a light-hearted, adventurous romp, nor gritty, paranormal suspense. It also felt half-baked and in need of a lot more attention from both writer and editor.

Under Her Skin (Anthology)

Under Her Skin - Ilona Andrews, Jeaniene Frost,  Meljean Brook

Jeaniene Frost, Pack, 2 stars

Meljean Brook, In Sheep's Clothing, 4 stars 

Ilona Andrews, Grace of Small Magics, 4 stars

 

What Calisto said. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

A master class in subtlety. Superb.

Medium, Sweet, Extra Shot of Geek - R. Cooper

This wee novella is so achingly understated, it’s like the essence of a story, just add water. And when you add water, you get this crowded, romantic novel about the undeclared but understood love between a brash, geeky blowhard and an all-but-mute coffee artist. 

The story, 40 pages on my e-reader, gives us Tommy and Tavio mutually pining, while Tavio conducts entire conversations spoken in coffee; wordless acknowledgment from Tavio’s mother about his coming out; a host of geekery from the Stars (both Wars and Trek), including the parallels between Tavio and Spock; DADT and PTSD; families, baseball, kissing and sex. 

Clear Water

Clear Water - Amy Lane

God. Just so sweet and nice and smart and sweet some more.

Dragons!

Dracones - S.L. Armstrong, Avery Vanderlyle, D.K. Jernigan, E.R. Karr, E.E. Ottoman, Lor Rose, Megan Derr, Tam Ames

Dracones (Anthology)

After reading some reviews, I was expecting worse, but it was, like a lot of anthologies, a mix of good and bad--nothing excellent, however.

 

Fugue in Gold and Fire by Avery Vanderlyle -- A world where for the first time in a thousand years, people are facing being changed into their animal forms. Good story. 3.5 stars

 

Teller of Tales by D.K. Jernigan. The dragon (first person POV) is submitting a book to the young editor's (third person POV) publishing house. 2 stars

  

Weird Magics by E.E. Ottoman. Melodramatic steampunk like this:

"You are late." Daire bared his teeth from the cot, each word coloured by a strange hissing lilt.

How do you colour with sound? And, how do you hiss words with no Ss in them? 2 stars

 

Chanson Commencate de Guerre by Lor Rose. What we have in this story are Dom/sub dragons named, get this, Rayvak and Stormy. 2 stars

 

Two in the Bush by E.R. Karr. Kind of strange, but interesting, with giant owls! 3 stars

 

Finding the Rain by Tam Ames. A poor farmer and the son of a powerful dragon lord in fictional China. Good. 3.5 stars

 

Lukos Heat by Megan Derr. The most animalistic of the dragons, a fighter and killer, allies with a pack of werewolves (naturally). 3.5 stars.

 

 

 

 

Wild Magic

Wild Magic - Poppy Dennison

Meh. Amber Kell writes these same books, with more extravagant cray-cray.

Right Hand Red - Danni Keane 4+ stars, rounded up because of Bob the snail.

The Lodestar of Ys

The Lodestar of Ys - Amy Rae Durreson Sometimes I give a meh book three stars because, hey, there's nothing really wrong with it; and other times, I give a great book four stars because it was REALLY GOOD but it could have been amazing. Arbitrary, I know, unfair too, but there we are.The Lodestar of Ys is excellent. It has meaty worldbuilding, a marriage of convenience straight from a classic romance novel, and enemies-to-lovers with lots of snark--it's fabulous. And because it is so good, I was vexed by the things that kept it from being superb, most of which boil down to "not enough action". We hear about the battles, the looming menace of the empire, the mages and mist hounds and magic, but we don't see enough of it. The prolonged tour of the islands of Ys is lovely, but I think it takes up too much of this novella, considering everything else that is going on. There is enough story here for a full-length novel, or a series even, and I hope the author continues with this world.Highly recommended.

Winter Wolf

Winter Wolf : A Werewolf Romance On Snow - S.P. Wayne

Delightful. A bit rough in a few places, but really, really good.

 

Axton is emo without being annoying and Leander is kind of a dick, but he makes it work.

 

I especially loved the seasonal rhythms, the warm lassitude of summer, the crisp coolness of autumn, and the sleepy winter burrowing. The banter was great, Axton's devotion was squee-inducing, and the whole thing was just lovely.

Broken Bridges - Cheyenne Meadows

Interesting premise spoiled by really poor writing and a cartoonishly eeeevil villain.

 

The sex scenes did provide some entertainment though: 

Dax's slick fingers moved in and out of the other man's ass like warmed butter on hot bread while his other hand held his testicles captive, stretching them with care.

 

I mean what the eff?