Daily Archives: February 13, 2015

Macarons at Midnight by MJ O’Shea and Anna Martin

Dreamspinner presents http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5537

macaronsBlurb

Tristan Green left his small English town for Manhattan and a job at a high profile ad agency, but can’t seem to find his bearings. He spends a lot of time working late at night, eating and sleeping alone, and even more time meandering around his neighborhood staring into the darkened windows of shops. One night when he’s feeling really low, he wanders by a beautiful little bakery with the lights still on. The baker invites him in, and some time during that night Tristan realizes it’s the first time he’s really smiled in months.

Henry Livingston has always been the odd duck, the black sheep, the baker in an old money family where pedigree is everything and quirky personalities are hidden behind dry martinis and thick upper east side townhouse facades. Henry is drawn to Tristan’s easy country charm, dry English wit, and everything that is so different from Henry’s world.

Their new romance is all buttercream frosting and sugared violets until Tristan’s need to fit in at work makes him do something he desperately wishes he could undo. Tristan has to prove to Henry that he can be trusted again before they can indulge in the sweet stuff they’re both craving.

Review
(Spoilers at the end)

Tristan and Henry meet over sweets and start a very slow-burning, very sweet and tender love affair. They are gentle with one another, sincere, and then a little hot and sexy for each other, too. Neither wants to presume anything and they are very cautious and tentative as their relationship evolves, even though no real hurdle seems to stand in their way.

Tristan knows it’s getting serious when Henry takes him home to meet his very rich family. Though Tristan knows the family will never “approve” of him (unless he makes them richer, there’s nothing to approve of) he’s still falling in love with Henry and willing to let that go. In fact, he’s making plans to bring Henry home to meet his family.

Suddenly (and I do mean quite suddenly) something happens at Tristan’s work which forces him to use their relationship to gain an advantage at work and Henry finds out.

What, if anything, can be done to make Henry understand it was all a mistake?

**

I was very disappointed when I started seeing mediocre reviews for this book. I really like the authors (both separately and together) and had been looking forward to this book. But… I knew I needed to judge for myself, so I dug in.

Like many things, there are parts that I really loved and parts that just plain pissed me off.

I loved the set-up: The two quiet/nerdy guys. The American meets English. I loved the recipes in each chapter. I loved the two MCs. They were soft, sweet, tentative, compassionate… so caring of one another. In a way, the quiet way their love blossomed was part of the reason the abrupt clash felt so out of line. It took a full 33% of the book for them to kiss and like 75% for them to have sex. It was a very slow-building romance full of kisses, cuddles, and sweet talk. At about 80% everything was feeling very warm and fuzzy and just getting to that point where you know it’s all going to be wonderful and cozy and happy and WHAM! Suddenly, literally out of nowhere, a sudden change in the plot throws our lovers into a tailspin and they barely – I mean barely – recover by the time the story is over.

It felt like being mugged!

It was like walking around in a sugar-coated-love-haze and then having someone slap you and say “Wake up!”

I’m not sure why the story had to end like that. Perhaps the authors felt it was little too “easy” without some major crisis at the end, but it felt so dissonant. The abrupt change from cloud nine to a (kind of ridiculous) misunderstanding of epic proportions just felt off.

And the ending was so unsatisfying. It was a complete 180 degree turn around from the previous 180 degree turn around and it left me feeling a bit dizzy and disoriented.

(Spoiler part here)

 
I think that the party itself (where Tristan arranges people from his work to meet Henry’s family) could have provided enough friction between the two lovers without having to rely on the misunderstanding to create tension in the story.

Also I think that once Henry forgave Tristan we really deserved to see them together and re-connected again to cement their relationship. As it was left, it still felt iffy to me and I didn’t feel as comfortable calling this a Happily Ever After.

 

 

 

Writing/Editing 5

Romance 3

Sex/Heat 3

Storyline 2

World Building/Characterizations 5

Overall 3.5 of 5 hearts

3.5

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Black Dog Blues (Kai Gracen #1) by Rhys Ford

 

BlackDogBluesFrom Dreamspinner:

Ever since he’d been part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figured he’d used up any good karma he had when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races were left with a messy, monster-ridden world and Stalkers were often the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy and dark moved into the neighbourhood.

There certainly were no shortage of monsters or people stupidly willing to become lunch for one.

It was a hard life but one Kai liked. And he was good at it. Killing monsters was easy. Especially since he was one himself.

After an accident retired Dempsey out, Kai set up permanent shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot. It was a decent life, filled with bounty, a few friends and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him he wasn’t really human.

That was until a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego and Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It was supposed to a simple run; head up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary with the new Court then back to San Diego. Easy, quick and best of all, profitable. But Ryder’s “simple” run leads to massive trouble and Kai ends up being caught in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich by being a Stalker. But then hardly any of them got old either. The way things were looking, it didn’t look like Kai was going to be the exception.

kimisig

Kimi’s thoughts:

This is a reissue of a book previously self published by the author, and it comes with a shiny new cover which is very, very nice!

It’s setting is rather dystopian so if you don’t like that sort of thing, feel free to move on, but I’ve gotta tell you, you’d be missing out. Kai’s had it rough. The guy who won him in a poker game seemed like the biggest asshole ever. leastways he did until I ran across his biological father and brother int he latter half of the book. They made what come before look practically leave It to Beaver by comparison. Definitely a case of a mysterious past that you wish hadn’t come back to haunt anyone. Of course, if it hadn’t, we’d not have had such a cracking yarn, even with the weird changes to the landscape from our reality being invaded by Underhill, the dragons out looking for a snack during mating season, and a luscious Sidhe lord named Ryder who seems to rather have a thing for Kai.

It’s a full on urban fantasy tale filled with danger and intrigue galore, plenty of action (there’s even a high speed car chase of a sort), more than enough danger, and just enough romance to keep it palatable. The world building is rich and its population diverse and as incredible as they are amazingly believable. Th story drew me in so deep that it was over far too quickly despite being a very respectable 246 pages long. I’m very much looking forward to the next instalment.

Rating: 4.5

Lastly Kimi wants to bring to your attention that the 15th of feb, 2015 is the last day you can participate in Rhys Ford’s Black Dog Blues contest. More info on that here.