Book Minx

Sometimes the books I read/review are classics and sometimes they're so sweet they'll rot your teeth out. Basically, I read anything from critically acclaimed fiction to trashy romances. You've been warned.

Natural Evil

Natural Evil - Thea Harrison

While driving on a deserted highway in Nevada, Claudia Hunter spots a miserable heap of fur at the side of the road. Taking pity on the creature, she pulls over to investigate and finds a large dog that looks like it has been dragged behind a car for miles. Unwilling to put the dog down, Claudia ends up transporting it to the nearest vet, only to discover that what she thought was a dog is actually a Wyr and the crime is much more insidious then extreme animal abuse.

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this one as much as the previous novella in the series, True Colors. However, Natural Evil was a pretty good read.


Claudia is an emotionally distant ex-soldier and she kicks some pretty serious ass throughout this story. I loved having her paired with Luis, the hero, who is young, energetic, and rather optimistic. The ending, despite not being a traditional happily-ever-after, was really appropriate for the main characters but it left me hoping that these two will be revisited in a future book. My only real compliant is that Luis wasn't as fleshed out as Claudia, which might've been due to of how much page time he spends in his dog form.


All in all, this was a fun short story and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good short paranormal romance.

Fair Game

Fair Game  - Patricia Briggs

Charles is struggling with how brutal his role as Bram's axe-man is, now that people know werewolves exist. Anna, noticing disturbing changes in Charles' state of mind, brings her concern to Bram who harshly brushes her off. Unfortunately, everyone seems to think that Anna is bitching because she can't handle what Charles does anymore. After Bram finally recognizes that Charles is struggling, he decides to send Charles and Anna out to solve a spree of serial murders. Bram and Anna both hope that giving Charles this opportunity to help people rather than act as an executioner will help him overcome whatever he's struggling with.


Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this one as much as others in the series, but it was still a great addition. My main problem stemmed from the fact that too much time had passed in Anna and Charles' world. In second book, Hunting Ground, Anna was still struggling with her place in Charles' life and with her past. At the end of the second book, there were still a lot of emotional issues that Anna needed to overcome and I looked forward to watching her do that in future books. However, as Fair Game opens, it looks like Anna has solved all those issues. Suddenly she's confident enough to not only face-off with Bram (the alpha) but to argue with him while he's in a rage. I was thrown by this because it's a huge difference from Anna in the first two books. In Hunting Ground she couldn't even sit in a room with alpha wolves, but now she can stand her ground against one of the most powerful ones out there? This huge leap in Anna's progress really made it feel like I somehow missed a short story or novel before this book that would explain where this new confidence came from.

Aside from the sudden change in Anna's mental state, I really loved the storyline here. Seeing her and Charles' relationship flipped from what it was in previous books, with Anna acting as the rock and Charles the emotionally unstable one, was really great. I loved the feeling of equality and balance it added to their relationship. The side-characters were also intriguing here, especially in regards to the ending. Seriously, that ending was pretty bad-ass and I can't wait to see what Briggs does with the fall-out from it in future books.

Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors

Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors  - Molly Harper

Jane and Gabriel have just moved in with each other and are in the process of planning their wedding. Since it's Jane's upcoming wedding, you know things are going to go wrong before she can walk down the aisle. The trouble starts when Jane turns a teenager she used to babysit into a vampire to save his life. Suddenly, Jane finds herself saddled with a vampire childe she never wanted. Things only get worse when Jane's dead grandmother starts haunting her and someone starts trying to kill Gabriel.

I'll admit I went into Nice Girls Don't Bite Their Neighbors reluctantly since I thought Jane's story had been wrapped-up nicely at the end of the third book. My main concern was that Jane and Gabriel wouldn't be able to hold my attention without their usual relationship drama and, sadly, I was right. I spent the majority of the story bored and had a hard time finishing the book. The writing was still great and there were quite a few funny moments, but the story just didn't hold my attention.


Jane and Gabriel's interactions fell really flat, which was due to Gabriel never having been really fleshed out in the other novels. So having so much of him in the story caused it to drag because he was very one dimensional. In contrast to just how much Gabriel we get, we get very little Dick and Andrea. I have to say that I really missed their presence since they were always great in the other books.


Despite my issues with this addition to the series, I'll still continue to read the spin off books starring other characters. However, I won't be reading any other Jane books if they come out. I think her story is done.

Oracle's Moon

Oracle's Moon - Thea Harrison

When her sister died, Grace inherited the family's Oracle powers along with her sister's two young children. Grace can barely afford to keep the children fed and hates having powers that she never asked for as it constantly brings people to her door asking to speak to the Oracle. On top of this, she has to deal with a stubborn Djinn materializing in and out of her house telling her she should recognize what a gift his presence is.

After being disappointed with the previous two novels in the Elder Races series, I was thrilled with how much I loved this one. Grace was definitely the highlight of this story. She was strong, independent, and not bitter about the new direction her life has taken. Most of all, I loved that Grace never let the djinn (Kahlil) run roughshod over her. She had enough sense to recognize that his help could be beneficial, but didn't blindly follow his wishes.


For his part, Kahlil was an interesting character. It's not very often that you see a djinn in a romance novel, so Kahlil as a hero was a refreshing change. In addition, Harrison takes djinn mythology in a direction I wasn't expecting but really enjoyed. While wishes are a main feature of what a djinn does, the whole elimination of free will and having the djinn tied to an inanimate object was, thankfully, not present.

My only problem was that I didn't quite understand why Kahlil and Grace were attracted to each other. This was mainly because the romance evolved really quick in the last half of the novel. The first half of the story had a slow burning attraction going on between Grace and Kahlil, which I adored and could've seen eventually turning into love but things went from that to "I love you" way too fast. I would've been happy if Harrison had left their relationship at the attraction stage with the potential for something more and just planned to explore Grace and Kahlil as a couple in a future book. This also would've had the bonus of letting Kahlil's character mature and evolve a bit more.

All in all, I really enjoyed this addition to the Elder Races series and recommend it to the people who may have given up on the series after the last book.

Bear Meets Girl

Bear Meets Girl - Shelly Laurenston

Crush is an ex-cop who, after a party, wakes up naked with Marcella Malone. Crush wants nothing more than to just forget the whole incident and return to his stable life. Unfortunately, he can't shake Marcella off, as no matter where he goes she seems to pop-up. Much to Crush's frustration she also seems to get her jollies by embarrassing him.

I was really looking forward to Bear Meets Girl, but it didn't live up to expectations. In fact, I think this was probably my least favorite Laurenston book yet. Crush bored me, which was sad since I typically really enjoy Laurenston's bear-shifters. It felt like Laurenston went a little too far aiming for an up-tight hero and just gave us a bland one. I enjoyed Marcella's character a lot more. She goes out of her way to torment Crush every chance she gets, which made for some pretty funny moments. However, the attraction between her and Crush was non-existent until near the very end and even then it felt kind of...tacked on. The way Laurenston ended the book didn't help with that feeling either. The story ends abruptly and left me wondering if my e-book somehow didn't download all of the book.


All in all, I wouldn't recommend this one unless you're a die-hard fan of the series.


The Governess Affair

The Governess Affair - Courtney Milan

Serena was fired from her job as a governess after a duke rapes her. Now she is determined to passive aggressively blackmail him into providing some support for the child that resulted. The hero, Hugo, is in charge of ensuring that the duke keeps his head above water financially, so when Serena appears and threatens to rock the boat, it's his job to dissuade her.


I hated the premise of this story. Why? Because I hate when rape is used purely as a literary device to strengthen a heroine and that's what its used as here. Serena shows little to no emotional reactions to having been raped unless it a) helps progress the relationship between her and Hugo or b) is used to display Serena's unselfishness through the unswerving commitment and love she has for her unborn child that resulted from the rape.

My problem with this is that the overall tone of the story is not equipped to properly deal with the seriousness of rape. So, when reading this story, rape comes across as either inconsequential or a circumstance that offers new-found strength to women. This ignores most of the emotional impact rape has on a survivor and, by ignoring it, works to trivialize the experience. However, I would like to state that I'm not accusing Milan of condoning or intentionally trivializing sexual violence in any sense. What I am trying to get across is that creating a light-hearted story where rape is the main component of the plot does not work. I feel that there are other reasons that Serena could've lost her job and then set out to blackmail the duke that would've worked much better.

Pack Challenge

Pack Challenge - Shelly Laurenston

Pack Challenge opens with Sara getting drunk off her ass in celebration of her grandmother's death. The fact that the abusive woman died months ago and the whole town is still ecstatic, shows just how evil the old bat was. During Sara's revelry, she ends up sticking her tongue down a biker's throat, but before things go much further Sara is pried off the guy by her two best friends. Sara isn't really someone who gropes random men without the motivation of tequila, so when the biker shows up at her work the next day she's a bit embarrassed.


Sara was an interesting character. Her leg is screwed up from when she was mauled by a mountain lion, so she spends 90 percent of the book limping around town. Turns out that the lion was actually a shifter seeking revenge against Sara's family and, with the death of her grandmother, the lion is back to trying to kill her. Bad thing is that Sara doesn't know that monsters are real and she especially doesn't know that she's a wolf shifter.


I really don't care for storylines centered on the main character discovering that vampires, werewolves, etc. are real. The whole chain of denial, proving, and slowly coming to terms gets a little boring. That was my main problem with this book. I got bored with Sara slowly discovering the paranormal aspects of her world, especially since it eclipsed the whole lions are trying to kill her plot.

The romance between Sara and the hero (Zach) was also dull. I liked Zach, but he wasn't the most interesting Laurenston hero I've read. Zach has a game plan and that doesn't include a meaningful relationship. His current goal is to become pack leader and sleep with a crap ton of women. So when he meets Sara he's immediately intrigued and scared shit-less by the intense attraction he has to her. He's determined to just tell her she's a wolf shifter and high-tail it out of town. But, of course, things don't go according to his plan.


All in all, I'd recommend this book for fans of Shelly Laurenston, but if you're looking to get into this author I would suggest starting with Beast Behaving Badly.

The Moor

The Moor (Mary Russell, #4) - Laurie R. King

Mary Russell is reluctantly dragged away from her studies after receiving a telegram from Holmes requesting her presence in Dartmoor. Holmes had been in Dartmoor visiting an old friend, but got drawn into an investigation after a local is killed. The case in question involves a ghostly carriage made of bones and a spectral hound haunting the Moor. Rather begrudgingly, Mary helps to scout for clues in the foggy, cold, and damp Moor. What both her and Holmes find are a handful of supernatural sightings that draw suspicious parallels between this case and one of Holmes' most famous investigations, The Hound of the Baskervilles.


Like a lot of Sherlock Holmes fans, The Hound of the Baskervilles holds a special place in my heart. So revisiting the setting of that mystery with Mary and Holmes had my geeky heart all a titter.

The pacing here was a lot faster than in some of the other Mary Russell books, which was a relief after slogging through the slow moving A Letter of Mary. My only complaint is pretty mild, Mary was going through a bit of a mid-life crisis that involved a hesitance to fully join Holmes in the case until near the end. So she sort of emotionally checked out during the first half of the investigation. While she was still physically involved, there was a lot of background noise involving her reluctance to be there at all. King did a good job of attributing this to a psychological backlash due to the events of the previous three books but, with such an awesome mystery going on, I got frustrated that Mary wasn't getting into it. However, Holmes more than made up for Mary's standoffish attitude. He was, luckily, more present here than he had been in the previous books and seemed really in his element. It was great seeing Holmes get to dash about and really get into the mystery, which is something we hadn't fully gotten to see in the first three novels.


Most of the action takes place in a huge echoing mansion and the chilly moor, which seems so far removed from the London/Sussex settings of the previous novels that it was a refreshing change. I also really adored the moor atmosphere because I'm a huge fan of Gothic mysteries. The moor offered a great eerie and isolated feeling typically found in that genre and it really upped the suspense.

This is, by far, my favorite out of the series so far. I highly recommend it.

What a Dragon Should Know

What a Dragon Should Know - G.A. Aiken

Dagmar Reinholdt lives in the tundra-like northern hemisphere and has acquired the nickname Beast due to her ruthlessness...or at least that's what people from other hemispheres think. In actuality, it was a tongue-in-cheek nickname given to Dagmar by her family that just happened to stick. So, when Gwenvael, a dragon shifter from the southern hemisphere, arrives on the Reinholdt doorstep to meet the Beast for negotiations he immediately falls into hysterical laughter at being confronted with a thin bespectacled woman in plain clothing. A reaction that Dagmar immediately sets out to make him regret.

I really enjoyed the storyline in this one. Dagmar was a fun and serious heroine who I loved watching get the upper-hand due to people underestimating her. Gwenvael also grew on me quick, I vaguely remembered his character from Dragon Actually and the whole playboy persona didn't interest me much. However, his sense of humor and the growing affection he had for Dagmar won me over fast.


My only problem with the novel came from a location switch. Halfway through the book, Dagmar and Gwenvael leave the Reinholdt household and return to Gwenvael's home, which did not work for me. With the change in location, all the main characters from the other books were suddenly inserted into the plot and it began to feel too fan-service/teaser for future novels.


All in all, this was a cute read, I would recommend it to fans of dragon-shifter novels.


Obsidian - Laurann Dohner

Dr. Allison Baker has a creepy fixation on one of her coma patients and is disturbed when it's decided that the patient should be taken off life support. Acting like the rational and professional doctor she is, Allison decides to kidnap her coma patient and hide out with him at a cabin in the woods. Luckily for her, Allison's crack-pot idea of how to wake her patient works and he develops a fixation on her.


I clearly have a problem. Every time I pick-up one of these New Species books I know that the main characters and inevitable kidnapping/rape attempt of the heroine is going to annoy the crap out of me... and yet I can't seem to stop reading this series. The writing can get repetitive and Dohner is bad about only telling and not showing, but I can't stop reading these books. This series clearly has some kind of mystical power over me because despite my multiple hang-ups with this installment I'm still looking forward to reading the next one.

Happily Never After

Happily Never After (Night Huntress #2.5) - Jeaniene Frost

Isabella has been blackmailed into marrying a mob boss after her little brother goes missing. Her grandmother just happens to have some connections and calls in a favor to help get her granddaughter out of trouble. Chase, a vampire, is the cavalry sent to stop the wedding and find Isabella's brother. Upon meeting Isabella, Chase immediately decides to prolong the job in order to get closer to her.

Happily Never After was pretty boring. This was primarily due to Chase and the vast difference between him and the humans he's pitted against. Chase is the only vampire in the story and no one knows they even exist (except for the grandmother), which led to Chase having the upper-hand in every confrontation. So, the bad guys were never made out to be any real danger. This made the action scenes extremely boring because Chase would just waltzed in and out of them whenever he felt like it. In fact, Chase came off as a bit of a jerk. He lets Isabella worry about the mobsters for quite a while just because he couldn't come up with another excuse to hang around her. This is one story I would recommend only to die-hard fans of Frost's.


Why must there be an unncessary H in his name?

Lover Eternal  - J.R. Ward

After killing a deity's bird, Rhage was cursed to share his body with a dragon. Keeping the dragon under control is something Rhage has to deal with on a daily basis and it often consists of having to do things he'd otherwise never do. When Rhage meets Mary, he is instantly attracted to her but the curse puts a huge obstacle in their courtship.

I really adored Rhage. However, the reason why this is getting a mid-level rating is that I can't reconcile Rhage's choice to go out and sleep with a shit ton of women while he had Mary waiting for him at home. This stemmed from Rhage needing to regain control of the dragon, so it was painted in a way that he had to go screw other women. While I will give Ward kudos for not taking an easy route, it still put a really sour taste in my mouth. I can't stand cheating heroes and I wasn't convinced that Rhage had exhausted all other possibilities, which really pissed me off. I also felt that Mary got over it way to quick. I mean he comes home from having sex with who knows how many women and she almost immediately gets over it upon seeing his sad face....really? I think she should've been a little more conflicted about that whole situation. Other than that, I generally enjoyed Lover Eternal. My only other wish is that Mary had been given more personality since she came off as a very flat character, but I'm beginning to think that's typical of Ward's heroines.

An Unexpected Gentleman

An Unexpected Gentleman - Alissa Johnson

Connor Brice, is hellbent on revenge against his half brother, Sir Robert. The first step in his revenge? Steal Sir Robert's fiancee, Adelaide Ward. The fact that Miss Ward is the same woman Connor had been fascinated with, while sitting in prison, is just a bonus. For her part, Adelaide is trapped. She doesn't want to marry the condescending Sir Robert, but her brother's gambling habit has left her with little choice. Its either marry him for his 5,000 pounds a year or go to the poor house. Things begin to spin out of control though when Connor interferes with her plans and Adelaide gets sucked even further into the brothers' revenge schemes.

Johnson has an interesting revenge plot going on here. Connor's drive and focus on gaining vengeance is believable and I agreed that Sir Robert needed to be taken down a peg or two. The guy was horrible. Poor Adelaide just has the misfortune of getting swept up in the tide of their animosity. So then, what was my problem with the story? The elimination of Adelaide's choices and power. Was she given the choice between Sir Robert and Connor? Yes. Is this more than what the typical historical romances with compromised heroines get? Yes. But honestly, she still didn't get to decide. Sir Robert was painted so horribly that Adelaide would've been committing suicide if she chose him.

Adelaide herself was a pretty good HR heroine. She was practical, smart, and didn't take much crap from Connor. Yet she fell into the innocent "I know nothing what-so-ever about sex" trope that I so loathe. Yes, it's so integrated into the genre that it's practically a requirement, but her extreme naivete about sex still annoyed me. I actually ended up skipping the sex scene between Connor and her, because I just wasn't interested in reading another HR deflowering scene where the more experienced hero shows the heroine the ropes.

But I'll admit that most of the issues I had with this book was a "It's me, not you" situation. An Unexpected Gentleman has a wonderful hero and heroine, a fairly original plot, and some great supporting characters. Most of my problems stemmed from the tropes in the genre.


I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys Elizabeth Hoyt and Lisa Kleypas. Johnson has a writing style that fans of those two authors will enjoy immensely.

"The Rich Buisnessman's Reluctant Bride" or "Forced to Marry for Revenge!"

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Chiwa Takanashi agrees to an arranged marriage with Hokuto Mamiya, a wealthy company president, in order to pay off her father's debts. Hokuto agrees to the arranged marriage because he sees Chiwa as another step towards exacting revenge on his family for their role in the death of his mother.


I was annoyed with so many aspects of the Happy Marriage?! series but I just could not look away. It's highly over dramatized with so many misunderstandings. All of which, could've easily been worked out if Chiwa and Hokuto had just talked a little to each other. Their refusal to communicate was so severe that they often used Hokuto's secretary to relay information or get information about each other. However, despite my annoyance with some of the elements involved in this series, I still enjoyed reading it. The over-arching revenge storyline was engaging, but it tended to take a backseat. Most of the time, when it was brought up (with the exception of at the very end) it was only as a tool to fuel Chiwa's insecurity about her relationship with Hokuto or as an excuse to get Hokuto to be a dick.


But hands down, Chiwa was the most annoying thing in Happy Marriage?!. She was an extreme mary sue and such a martyr. Every decision that she makes in the series is motivated by some other character's problems or what she thinks will make someone else happy. She only has one moment at the very beginning where she tries to take some initiative for herself and it gets smacked down pretty quick. I probably could've tolerated this a little better if she wasn't crying every other page. Chiwa cried so much in this series that it inspired me to create another shelf just for her called "Why you cryin?!" I was actually rooting for Hokuto's ex-lover at one point because she not only had personality but wasn't shown bawling over every little thing that goes wrong in her world.


As for Hokuto, he was a fairly standard romance hero that you can find in numerous Otome games (the distant "only your love can warm his cold heart" type). I did end up liking him a lot towards the end. Even though he managed to really piss me off, because for no real reason he back hands the heroine at least twice. These scenes were like watching an old black and white movie where the hero suddenly hauls off and smacks the leading lady and no one mentions or says anything about it. Way too over the top and I HATE when authors insert this into books.


All in all, this was an ok read. I would recommend it if you're in the mood for something along the lines of a harlequin romance with lots of melodrama.

Meh addition to a wonderful series

A Letter of Mary - Laurie R. King

A Letter of Mary opens with Holmes and Mary enjoying a quiet day at home when archeologist Dorothy Ruskin, an old friend, suddenly appears at their door. In England for a short time on business, Dorothy has stopped by primarily to give Mary an ancient manuscript that, if proven real, would cause a serious biblical ruckus. A few days later, Mary and Holmes receive word that Dorothy has died in a hit and run accident. Suspicious of the circumstances surrounding her death, Mary and Holmes set out on an investigation that leads them to believe Dorothy's death was per-meditated murder. Soon the investigation leads to them going separate ways while they work undercover inspecting their two main suspects.


This installment was good, but definitely my least favorite out of the Mary Russell series so far. I find the stories that focus primarily on religion bore me. Since a major portion of this one's plot revolved around an item with possible biblical roots, I ended up extremely bored at times. It also doesn't help that Mary tends to nerd-out on religious theory.

Also, I wasn't into the undercover bit of this plot. Mary's work while incognito just seemed really... useless. I didn't understand her fear of becoming too much like the person she was pretending to be. Mostly because the woman Mary was impersonating was so opposite to who she actually is, that I didn't believe she would have a real fear of keeping herself separate. In addition, I couldn't comprehend her attraction to the man she was investigating. It's made clear that the person she was pretending to be would be attracted to him, but seriously? The guy was a misogynist douche and Mary noted being put-off by a lot of what he said and did, so I just didn't get her turmoil. However, the resolution of Mary coming to terms with what she felt while undercover was nicely done.

The other issue I had with this book came from feeling a little cheated at how much of the main mystery happened off page. I understand what King was trying to do by having it play out this way, but I didn't derive the same thrill from the "who did it" revelation at the end.


From this review, it sounds like I didn't like A Letter of Mary at all, but I did enjoy it. There's something comforting about King's writing and her characters are always entertaining. I just didn't click very well with the main plot of this book. All in all, it was a good addition to the series, but not one that I'll be revisiting anytime soon.

Grim-Reaper with a Twist

First Grave On The Right - Darynda Jones

Charlie Davidson is the grim-reaper, but not the stereotypical black cloak and scythe wielding reaper. Charlie looks like an average woman... unless you're dead. Then she's the bright shining light at the end of the tunnel. Dead people are naturally drawn to walk into her. However, some of them are a little resistant about going into the light. These ghosts have unfinished business to take care of and typically they want Charlie's help finishing it. So, when the ghosts of three lawyers show up wanting help, Charlie takes the case.


Charlie was a pretty amusing heroine who manages to not come off as dumb. She does, however, have a knack for stepping into bad situations. I lost count of how many times Charlie gets her ass handed to her, which really started to annoy me towards the end. It happens so many times that you stop feeling worried for her and kind of just roll your eyes, like "Here we go again." This ruined the suspense of the climatic scene where Charlie is in danger, as my reaction was pretty much "meh, she'll bounce back."


In a lot of areas, First Grave on the Right reminded me of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich but with a paranormal twist. The similarities between the two stories especially came through in the side characters and their relationships with Charlie. If you're a fan of Evanovich, I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy in these books. But, even though I enjoyed this installment, I don't think I'll be continuing with the series.

Currently reading

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Susan Cain
Karen Russell
Progress: 22/397 pages