Tag Archives: paranormal romance

Whyborne and Griffin: Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

This review required a little research from me on the genre distinction between paranormal and fantasy, so I could resolve that Widdershins is the former. The first in a series, which takes its name from the main characters, this paranormal romance features a couple interacting with occult forces and things that go bump in the night. I would recommend Widdershins, even though it was not my cup of tea. It was fun, but I like significantly less violence and prefer a dearth of imaginary creatures in my kissing books as a rule.

Set in the late 19th century, a linguist working away happily in the bowels of a museum, Percival Whyborne is approached by private investigator, Griffin Flaherty, to decode/translate an encrypted text left behind by a murder victim. As they work together freaky events happen around them and in turn reveal a cult trying to end the world. Racing against time, Percival and Griffin have a grand, but occasionally creepy, adventure and fall madly in love. I was very much in favour of that last part.

Given that I prefer my romances without the paranormal elements, I’m not sure how to judge the ones here. They were fine and well portrayed, I guess; however, Widdershins was suggested first and foremost as a fun M/M romance and it did deliver. Whyborne is closeted even beyond the requirements of the time, owing to a very bad experience, but he steps out enough to let Griffin into his life and his heart. That portion of the story did not disappoint and I appreciated the historical detail, not just of the complication of being gay in a world which tells you it’s wrong or a sin, but also of the time period itself. I won’t be continuing with the series, but I can see how it would be a delightful romp for people who are interested in nightmare creatures skulking around the workaday world.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list. I have a list of LGBTQ romances, too.

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Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

HISTORICAL Romance

  1. Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess  – enjoyable
  2. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright  – fantastic
  3. Dare, Tessa Beauty and the Blacksmith – fun, bring your willing suspension of disbelief
  4. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart  – such fun
  5. Grant, Cecilia A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong – very good
  6. Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess – nice version of a common trope
  7. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter CLASSIC as a novella and of the genre

CONTEMPORARY Romance

  1. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date CLASSIC new adult, a perfect novella
  2. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary, wounded soldier coming home

PARANORMAL Romance  – Not my cup of tea, but it could help you determine if it is yours.

  1. Cole, Kresley The Warlord Wants Foreverplenty of THUNDER SEX™!

I also have a ruthlessly streamlined recommendations list: So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance.

Links to my reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Dark Lover by JR Ward

JR Ward, you made me miss Kresley Cole. Go stand in the corner and THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DID!

Paranormal romance is the portion of the genre with the most primal stories. There are strong tribal elements and the tropes tend towards traditional roles. Men are warriors, god-like iron-thewed lords capable of both shocking violence and macho tenderness. The women are fertility goddesses, sensual and beautiful, but with a core of steel. The mythological elements dovetail perfectly with common  wish-fulfillment fantasies. These stories are generally not my cup of tea, although I admit that the genre’s writer I am most familiar with, Kresley Cole, is capable of sexy escapism when she isn’t regurgitating misogynistic folderol. Paranormal romances can be campy fun when securely centered in their own world and everyone’s tongue is placed firmly in their cheek, but that doesn’t mean you get to be a lousy writer, or maybe it does because JR Ward’s Dark Lover is very badly written and, this is the cardinal sin, not particularly sexy, yet her Black Dagger Brotherhood books are incredibly popular and successful.

Wrath, erstwhile vampyr king, and his Black Dagger Brotherhood, including Rhage, Vishous, Phury, Tohrment, and Zsadist are in a battle to the undeath with the Lessers, meaning humans converted to vampyrs, as opposed to pure-blooded or mixed race vampyrs. (Note my jejeune “vampire” spelling homage to Ward’s maverick orthography.) Human Beth is about to make the transition to vampyr and needs assistance lest the transformation kill her. Owing a debt to her deceased vampyr father, Wrath takes on the task of assisting her through the process and out of her underpants. The factions fight, future heroes and heroines are introduced, and Ward lays the groundwork for the rest of the series.

In this world, men can only feed off women and female vampyrs offer the best nutrition, so they are often kept away from the outside world. This gives me pause because, one, what happens if a vampire is gay, and two, I don’t know about you, but I am leery of any culture in which women must be sequestered for their own “protection” and whose primary function appears to be to servicing the men’s needs. Vampyr Marissa has been meeting Wrath’s blood requirements for decades and knows when she finishes doing so she will be AND I QUOTE “considered used goods”. There’s more on this front: “He’s marked you…I can smell it…the warning’s all over you…That scent on your skin sends a powerful message to other males.” I was at a party with a man I was seeing who was acting so territorial that I finally asked him, “Wouldn’t it be easier just to pee in a circle around me?” This is that, that is what this is. The male vampyrs mark their territory/women with scent, like a dog or an ocelot, or whatever male animal that pees on things and seems the most manly.

Speaking of territoriality:

Zsadist: Not willing to share the female?
Wrath: You only like it if you pay for it.
Zsadist: So I’ll flip her a twenty. Assuming she lives through the sex.

Wrath clarifies Beth’s role and his relationship with her father, “and then (Zsadist) made a point to tuck in his shirt while looking her in the eye. As if he were apologizing.”… for planning to rape her so violently she died. [waiting for the full body shudders to pass]  Zsadist has his own book and that is going to have to [still shuddering] be one hell of a redemptive female.

Ward’s vampyrs have powers, as is the paranormal way of things, and they include the ability to materialize and dematerialize, super strength, and heightened senses, in particular strong scent associations.  The women are stunningly beautiful, and the men are huge, muscular, heavily tattooed and/or scarred, and wear a lot of leather. In other words, every bad boy fantasy rolled into one. At first, I took that to mean this:

ymca

or perhaps this,

term

but then my brain got smart and I went with this: momoa

Good job, my brain!

Note: In addition to all the leather, Wrath is nearly blind and sports wraparound sunglasses almost constantly, such as after a shower when he holds a meeting while wearing only a towel around his waist.

As is true of all romance or any other genre writing based on such a consistent and repeatable pattern, Dark Lover’s quality comes down to the writing and, truly, JR Ward has a gift, nay, a curse for metaphor:

“Jose loosened his hold, and Butch went down like a piano.”  Pianos stand quietly where you put them.

“Panic ran like gasoline through her veins.”  That must be a really small nozzle.

“The smell of her sex on him was like a whip against his self control.”  Wouldn’t that have an encouraging effect, i.e. “Daily weigh-ins are like a whip against my self control around chocolate.”

“She arched again, feeling like a dam had broken between her legs.”  [insert beaver joke here]

It’s not just the metaphorical language that sets the writing and story apart. I also learned that discovering your absent father has had you secretly followed and photographed your entire life is sweet and not completely freaky, and that police brutality is totally cool as long as the victim deserves it.

Then there was this,

“There was an IV pumping fluids and painkillers into his arm and a catheter bag…”  I was grateful that Ward clarified as I was too distracted by my concerns about Wrath’s vampyr urine management, to concentrate on the story.

and this,

“He let out a bellow of ecstasy.” I tend to bray in ecstasy myself, or give a ladylike yawp.

and, lastly, this:

“Oatmeal raisin,” he said, taking three. “My favourite.”

It was then I understood the unholy nature of these creatures and the true malevolence of Dark Lover and JR Ward’s vampyr world. No good can come of a book series in which oatmeal raisin cookies are anyone’s preference.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Author Commentary & Tallies Shameful

Shortcuts:    

I have more lists over there on the right—>

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on double-secret probation right now, so not an autobuy, but still an autoread)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long – historicals
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

2019 READING LISTS:

Recommended books are in bold.

The (Shamefree) Tally 2019

The (Shameful) Tally 2019

  1. Bowen, Sarina Brooklynaire (Nate/Rebecca) DNF
  2. Bowen, Sarina novella Studly Period (Pepe/Josephine)
  3. Bowen, Sarina novella Yesterday (Graham/Rikker)
  4. Kelly, Carla The Unlikely Master Genius (Able/Meridee)
  5. Kennedy, Elle The Risk (Jake/Brenna)
  6. Kleypas, Lisa Devil’s Daughter (West/Phoebe)
  7. Lang Ruby Acute Reactions (Ian/Petra)
  8. Lang, Ruby Hard Knocks (Adam/Helen)
  9. Long, Julie Anne Lady Derring Takes a Lover (Tristan/Delilah)
  10. Milan, Courtney Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure (Violetta/Bertrice)
  11. Morton, Lily Rule Breaker (Dylan/Gabe)
  12. Parker, Lucy The Austen Playbook (Griff/Freddy)
  13. Thorne, Sally 99 Percent Mine (Tom/Darcy)

2018 READING LISTS:

Recommended books are in bold.

The (Shamefree) Tally 2018

  1. I managed ONE book in this category in 2017.

The (Shameful) Tally 2018 

Continue reading

Less Than Stellar Efforts

These books are bad and mostly not in a good way.

Note: I love/hate Jennifer Ashley and I read all of her historical romances.

  1. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie – Jennifer Ashley
  2. Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage – Jennifer Ashley
  3. Many Sins of Lord Cameron – Jennifer Ashley
  4. The Duke’s Perfect Wife – Jennifer Ashley
  5. The Seduction of Elliott McBride – Jennifer Ashley
  6. The Untamed Mackenzie – Jennifer Ashley novella
  7. The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie – Jennifer Ashley
  8. Once a Duchess – Elizabeth Boyce
  9. When She Said I Do – Celeste Bradley
  10. Not My Wolf – Eden Cole novella
  11. The Warlord Wants Forever – Kresley ColeTHUNDER SEX™!
  12. A Hunger Like No Other – Kresley Cole VILE
  13. No Rest for the Wicked – Kresley Cole THUNDER SEX™!
  14. Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night – Kresley Cole THUNDER SEX™!
  15. Dark Deed’s at Night’s Edge – Kresley Cole THUNDER SEX™!
  16. Dark Desires After Dusk – Kresley Cole THUNDER SEX™!
  17. Kiss of a Demon King – Kresley Cole  THUNDER SEX™!
  18. Deep Kiss of Winter – Kresley Cole THUNDER SEX™!
  19. Macrieve – Kresley Cole (Uilliam/Chloe)  VILER
  20. Shadow’s Claim – Kresley Cole
  21. Undone – Lila DiPasqua *Worst of the Year 2013*
  22. Attracting Anthony – Amber Kell
  23. Wedded in Scandal – Jade Lee
  24. The Revenge of Lord Eberlin – Julia London
  25. An Introduction to Pleasure: Mistress Matchmaker – Jess Michaels
  26. The Lady’s Tutor – Robin Schone
  27. Penelope – Anya Wylde (Charles/Penelope) *Most Inept of the Year 2013*

“He’s going to cut firewood? Aren’t they above the treeline?”

“He’s going to cut firewood? Aren’t they above the treeline?”

My thoughts when the RAGE DEMON went out to cut wood for the cabin he was sharing with a VALKYRIE because apparently the geographical inaccuracies regarding the flora in the Yukon are more important than the mythical fauna in a paranormal romance.

Not My Wolf by Eden Cole

Not My Wolf was a fantastically silly free novella, a smoking hot fantastically silly free novella.

blancheThe skim coat of plot for this paranormal romance involves, let me see if I get this right, a group of wolf shape-shifters living in remote area of Colorado who have a territorial bone to pick with the other local group of wolf shape-shifters. It’s all very log cabin meets paranormal. Corey is the leader of the pack, the Alpha, and he has been dreaming of claiming his mate. (There’s a lot of mate claiming in fantastically silly free shape-shifter novellas.) When he meets Devin and gets the mate vibe from him, Corey is totally freaked out that his mate is a man. Devin is fine with it. Corey is fine with it soon enough, as well.

Devin and his sister are between packs as he is a such a huge hunk of man-wolf that their former Alpha considers him a threat. No longer welcome, they have come to Colorado to find a home. Corey is quite the monolith himself and not intimidated by Devin. This allows for a certain amount of manly wrasslin’ and vulpine posturing to go along with the love scenes.

Not My Wolf  is the first in a series of several “Wolf Pack” novellas by Eden Cole. A rivalry between local shape-shifter groups provides the veneer of justification for continuing the story, but it’s all just an excuse for the love scenes and the shape-shifting.

Did I mention that they glow electric blue in their wolf form? They glow electric blue in their wolf form. It would have been remiss of me not to mention it.

The (Shameful) Tally 2013