Category Archives: Romance

Book Review: She Wolf by Sheri Lewis Wohl

So there’s lesbians, werewolves and uhauling. All win.

This book is delightful, beautifully written fluff and I loved every minute of it. After plowing through a few non-fictions (I haven’t finished any, but I’ll get there), and the rich heaviness that was an Exaltation of Larks (stunning – hopefully I’ll remember to review it at some point) and Idaho, I felt the need for some fluff. I didn’t expect it to be so engaging (read over one night) and so well-written.

Lily is a werewolf, something she manages well (with medication) and uses in her job (hunting down supernatural creatures who don’t follow the rules). Ava is a witch, the other guy* is a necromancer with ADHD and together they are going to bring down the rogue werewolf who is macerating people in Eastern Washington. There’s two problems – this werewolf seems to be everywhere at once, and Jayne Quarle, the town’s sheriff doesn’t believe in anything supernatural, let alone werewolves.

The narrative is well done, with some nice twists and a sweet sex scene which is both believable and leaves enough to the imagination (I really don’t like reading sex when it’s written blow by blow – pun intended), and I didn’t guess the killer until the end. It was like 2am and I’d had a bit of wine though, so it may be obvious to everyone else. I like how Wohl circled round to Lily’s making (that bit at least was obvious) and I felt the love stories running through were honest.

It’s strange to read a paranormal, LGBTI romance novel and WANT everything to be believable, but I really do require that. It’s what pissed me off so much about that Marigny St book – no one would believe that romance. And before someone jumps on here and says “they moved in together after a week, that’s not believable” it totally is – look up uhauling on urban dictionary, happens more often that you’d think and I’m definitely guilty of it myself.

The story leaves plenty of room for a sequel (is Jayne slightly magic?) or a side novel (Ava and Kyle are adorable), the dialogue is well executed, the suspense is not heavy-handed, and as much as I like to say I never read Urban Fantasy if they were all written this well I’d probably read a lot more.


*Kyle. I looked it up.


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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Romance

A rant about Twilight (the movies)

This will be long and I’m a little drunk.

I’m actually horrified that Stephanie Meyer believed she was writing a book about Bella. About Bella being a strong woman who wanted what she wanted, fought for it and won. About Bella knowing who her family was, knowing what was best for her, and doing whatever she could to make her dreams come true.
I totally get that Meyer thought that’s what she was writing.

Instead, we have this character who is dictated by men.
First off, Bella leaves her ‘flaky’ mother to live with her apparently more stable Dad while mum travels with her new husband. Bella chooses the move, but it leaves the audience feeling as if Belle is someone who needs a strong, stable male in order to be happy, rather than a rootless mother.

So she heads off to Forks, gets instantly adopted by a group of friends (coz THAT happens IRL), and despite being a self-described good girl, falls for the mysterious, bad boy of the school. Who is also adored by her two girlfriends. Because bad boys are loved by high school girls everywhere.

So Bella finds out Edward is a vampire and confronts him, and he just kinda says Yeah, sure, watch me sparkle, I’m a monster. Next thing you know, he’s trying to get her to stay away from him, but really Eddie, you couldn’t just say “Hey, not a vampire, you’re crazy,” and then leave town? Like I know she smells good, but if you can leave after you’ve kissed her twice you could probably have gone straight away. Not much good for a story then.

Next Bella in brought into the family, headed by Carlisle, and everyone is happy because now all the Cullens are happily paired up. You know, because there’s no way you could actually face eternity as a single vampy.

Blah blah, Edward is sad because he thinks Bella is dead, so Meyer has her running across the globe to save him. Nice gesture right? Strong girl, risking all to save her man. And she does. But seriously, this probably would have been totally unnecessary if Ed had bothered to you know, call and check his facts. Or, not leave in the first place?

Let’s skip movie two because it makes me too mad. I won’t even start on the fact that all the ‘dangerous’ things that Bella does to make Edward appear (because he really just can’t leave her alone) are to do with men. We get it Meyer, men (other than the sparkly vampire who is only barely holding himself back from PENETRATING her with his lack-of-fangs (yeah – check the bite marks. Not protruding canines. No protruding lateral incisors. That’s a ill-equipped sucker right there)) are baaaaaad. Women are good, unless they are damaged good like Leah. Yeah, she got spurned for Em and now she’s bitter and probably barren and it’s probably because she has the wolf gene and men (even dangerous ones) don’t like to be out-masculinated. Technical term. So yes, women good. Men with self-control-that-belongs-in-the1860s also good. Other men, bad.

Sorry, I did say I’d skip movie two.

Anyway, what even happened in movie three? By that time it was 2.30 in the morning and I think I swore a lot at the screen and also paused to actually work. Yes Meyer, I work! shock horror!
Oh yeah, that’s when Victoria makes a posse. Because even worse than spurned women are widows. Irina. Victoria. They would rather die than live on without their menfolk. Does Meyer see this as strength too? Some sacrifice that needs to be made, because women couldn’t possibly just move on from a relationship (especially one with men who are not altogether good). Nope, widows need revenge.

And somewhere in there, Bella is asking Edward to fuck/suck her. In whichever order he chooses. And he says no, because he is a GENTLEMAN. This blatant disregard for women’s sexual urges goes on even after she gives into some archaic tradition and marries him – despite her being quite into the rough sex (because, you know, men have uncontrollable urges), he refuses to repeat their wedding night in case he hurts her (coz women MUST be protected from rough sex, they really don’t know what they want, and asking for/liking rough sex is just NOT OK) and he must protect her. Even from herself. Even though he married her. Just give the girl the D, Eddie. She knows what she’s in for, I promise.

At this point, we are about a third into movie 4.1. And Meyer, trying to teach girls that they really have to keep it in their pants, knocks Bella up. Yes, womenfolk everywhere, just once is enough.
This is totally true (and for those playing at home, Avalon was conceived the first time, pill and all, so y’all know the rules about contraception), and if Meyers audience was purely pre/early-teen girls who needed a reminder of no-glove no-love (OR, no marriage no love), then this would be fine. But let’s not kid ourselves about the FLOCKS of middle aged women who joined Team Eddie. And then, team Christian. (I myself am firmly on Team Lafayette). Bella WANTED sex, she finally got Edward to give in to her urges, she immediately gets knocked up and it nearly kills her. Lesson learned.

Let’s skip past the scene where Edward hears the baby’s thoughts, coz I totally teared up. I have baby-daddy issues, ok, you shoudl have seen me when Brennan told Booth she was preggo the first time – bawled like a pregnant woman denied icecream and pickles.

I’d like to take a break here and address some inconsistencies. Apologies if you’ve been keeping track on the livestreaming, most of these are repeats COZ I STILL HAVE NO ANSWERS
Why do they only shatter on death from movie 3 onwards?
If a werewolf does domestic violence is it still domestic violence?
Why do the type of wildflowers change (and multiply) every time they go up there?
If she hates cold and wet why is she lying on grass in a cloudbank?
Why do the sparkles make tinkly noises only sometimes?
Why does Bella (for the first two films) get hurt more often than she gets kissed?
Why is that song still stuck in my head?
Why don’t I have eyelash extensions?
Why doesn’t she just like ride the werewolf, rather than making him carry her in his arms? Is this a last ditch effort to show Jacob’s muscle off?
Wait, when he flips and turns into a wolf, where do his shorts go?
And is that why they never show them turning back into peoples?
When she uses him as a pillow is it like sleeping on an ice cube?
Was edward waiting for Bella when he was 9?
Isn’t that Bella’s motorbike?
Why do the special effects get worse with each movie, when the budget got bigger?
Why doesn’t she just give in and love Jacob, because even though she’s said no repeatedly, he keeps pressing and everyone knows that no woman can resist muscles that just keep asking and asking and…. oh wait, she kissed him. Problem solved.
Why do they change her into an above-knee blue dress when she’s turned into a vampire, when for every other scene (including her wedding) she has arms and decolletage covered? Is that a mormon thing? Is this whole thing a mormon thing?
Why are the Brazilian vampys tan?
Wait, did he BITE the baby out?

So the last movie, they wanted all the women who have recently hooked up because you know, women HAVE TO BE IN RELATIONSHIPS TO BE SANE/PROTECTED/SEXUALLY ACTIVE/ALIVE, to bring their new (and possibly two years younger, coz look, Meyer is breaking all kinds of taboo (see, the two years is to get you used to the idea of the 17 year age gap that appears later on… with an infant.)) squeeze to the movies, so they threw in some action. But it’s ok, coz the action doesn’t actually happen. SPOILERS: It’s a vision. But it makes your heart race and you see the sacrifice. Vampys and Wolvies (wolfies?) working together! Love conquers (mostly) all. Save the baby Jacob!
But it’s ok people! Only Irina dies (because she’s widowed (kinda) and she didn’t really want to live any more anyway). And nearly everyone else is happily coupled now, (even the fucking baby) because vampires around the world came together. How sweet.
And now Bella and Edward can just fuck whenever they want, because for the next year she’s stronger than him and can hold him down.

And here’s the kicker – Meyer (and her squillions of adoring fans) think that Bella being strong is the point. And I’m all for strong women. I am one. I’m raising one. I was raised by one. I’ve been in love with more than a few. Strong women – totally NOT my complaint. But a strong character who is good and just and courageous and still COMPLETELY DOMINATED BY AND RELIANT ON every other male character (even the fucking baby wolf is necessarily to protect her at one point) is ridiculous. Her daughter is so vulnerable that she needs to be claimed AT BIRTH in a all-encompassing relationship by a man 17 (maybe 18 at that point, I wasn’t keeping track) years older than her, who stakes his ‘most sacred law’ abiding claim on her THE MINUTE HE SEES HER. Bella can’t have sex unless Ed says yes. Can’t have the type of sex she wants, because she’s too fucking fragile. Can’t have the baby she obviously adores because three men want to fight over what happens with her body. Can’t leave home even after she’s 18 without being grounded. Can’t sleep without being watched. Can’t ride a motorbike without either falling off, or it being some travesty. Can’t kiss anyone else. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t.

I’m so fucking sick of female characters being celebrated for being strong, yet still being held down by all this shit. I get that this is meant to be a love story. I get that there are scenes that are romantic (the first proposal is shit. even the ‘real’ one is pretty shit. And I’m an expert in shitty proposals at this point), scenes that are sexy, scenes that tug at the heartstrings because they make you think about family, or love, or friendship, or honour, or whatever the fuck makes you sleep well at night knowing you have it. But please, strong women of the world (and more-so, women who don’t think they are strong), this is not love. Patriarchy, control, slut shaming, ownership, male tradition, dominance, violence, sacrifice, blind adoration – these things are not signs of love.

I could finish this by saying Strongbow Classic Apple is love. Or the love a single girl has for her three cats is love (these things are totes true). I could also finish by saying I have no fucking idea what love is (also true) I only know what it’s not.

But I totally believe that if you want love, if you want to be strong, and secure, and vulnerable, and open, and whole, then love….Love is something you need to have for yourself.

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Book Review: Marigny Street by Annie Rose Welch

Note: I got this book as an advance reading copy from Netgalley.

I kinda of read this by mistake. It was advertised as a fantasy book, which is a legitimate genre given it features an angel, but it’s so much more a romance than anything else. And I don’t do well with romance – they make me uncomfortable. Anything more romantic or sexy than J D Robb’s In Death books and I’m cringing in my seat with a bad taste in my mouth.

I have issues, I know, and not just because I LOOOOOOVE the In Death series. Roll on September!

Anyway, this is the story of a character so forgettable that almost immediately I forgot her name and I had to look it up. It’s Evangeline. And that name is pretty unique, so it demonstrates further how forgettable her story is if I blocked that out. Evangeline’s life is a bit of a mess since she lost her son – her marriage is pretty much over, her boss doesn’t really want her there, her family are worried about her absentmindedness and she just wants to sleep. But then she runs into a famous movie star, who saves her from dodgy blood sugar, and they then embark on a carefree, romantic weekend in New Orleans.

I know, right?  Maybe fantasy IS the correct genre.

So Evangeline realises that this man is the love of her life, the one she has been dreaming of since she was a wee girl living with her grandparents in the same house she now lives in alone. So there’s lots of sex, lots of heartfelt conversations and many, many declarations of love (she’s conveniently forgotten she’s married at this point, must be the humidity). Then, Gabriel has to leave and Evangeline has to make the choice to stay, or to go.

From there it gets a little hazy for me to be honest, I was just trying to finish it as fast as I could. Spoilers: Gabriel is actually an angel, sent from the future to make Evangeline realise she CAN actually be happy, despite her crappy life. All she needs is a hot man to give her a good rogering, with the potentially more rogerings in the future. OK, so it didn’t say that, but it may as well have.

Read if you love supernatural romance that’s heavy on the romance, heavy on the man-saves-girl themes, heavy on the ‘i can’t live another breath without you, the scent of your sweat on my skin completes me’ shite that makes me die a little in side. I know I sound jaded and I probably am, there’s tonnes of people who will eat this book up. I’m just very definitely not one of them. Oh and the writing is pretty stock standard and I was rooting for the girl to die of whatever fever she had, because she’s just so damn helpless.




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Review: The Nature Of Jade

This is one of those books that I read in an afternoon. I sat on the couch while Avalon watched Dora and read. I stirring boiling pots and set the table with one hand while I read. I tucked Kaidin into bed absently while my eyes didn’t leave the page*. And then I poured myself a glass of wine and drank that one handed while waiting for Richard to arrive. I could not put the book down. And when I finally finished it, I felt a little undone** and a little raw and I emailed the author to thank her for writing the book, which I almost never do. It was a one line note about how it left me feeling wonder-filled and more than a little voyeuristic. And the very next day I got:

Hi Shannon –

What a sweet note! Thank you so much for writing, and for reading JADE. I’m happy you liked it. Wonder-filled… Lovely. 🙂


Deb Caletti

Don’t you love it when authors actually take the time to write back? So sweet.

Anyway, the Nature of Jade is about a 17 year old girl with acute anxiety disorder (one of the ones that I have) who signs up as a zoo volunteer to help care for the elephants. Through the elephants, she meets a young man with a toddler and is fascinated by him. Arranging an ‘accidental’ meeting turns into a date and then dinner and then more. Jade finds herself rapidly falling in love with Sebastian and Bo and even with Sebastian’s acerbic grandmother. But of course, what’s a relationship without it’s skeleton in the closet? Where is Bo’s mum? Why doesn’t Sebastian want to talk about it? And when it comes down to it, will Jade do the right thing and risk losing her love forever?

If Deb Caletti doesn’t suffer from anxiety then I applaud the research she has done. Yes the book does go into detail about anxiety, it’s causes and physical symptoms and why it can be so debilitating for a teenager and this detail may upset or put off some readers. But it’s so real. And I have to applaud Jade (and Caletti) for delving into an illness that is so often stigmatised and shelved into the dark recesses of society. It’s so common, at least where I live, and yet no one talks about it, especially in fiction. Especially not with such an accurate portrayal of a young girl suffering from anxiety while trying to deal with other things – end of high school, first love, parental problems. i felt quite voyeuristic while reading this book, as if I was actually peeking through a literary window into the life of a real girl.

This book is easy to get stuck in. It may be a bit of a hard read for some people who see themselves mirrored in the main characters and I’d suggest to any anxiety sufferers to make sure you are in a safe place before you dive in as some scenes may trigger an attack. But it’s worth reading – humorous, sad, real, accurate and all poured together with gorgeous writing and a character who is genuinely likable, despite her (or perhaps because of) her quirks. Track down a copy today and when you finish, move onto to Caletti’s other novels, which are all gorgeous and engaging. xx

*I know, mother of the year right? He totally understands 🙂
**Although, that could have been partially because one glass of wine turned into 3…

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Filed under Adolescent, Author Love, Fiction, Romance