This was an uneven anthology of novellas, which is a pity, because one of them was very, very good.
Three of my favourite authors were included, so I needed to get my hands on this asap.
Though I love Nalini Singh, her Psy-Changeling series is very hit-or-miss for me. I can love a book with all my heart and then hate the next with just as much passion.
This usually depends on the agency a woman is given in the novel.
Sure, when I was a 15 years old, alpha males were dreamy, now I honestly don't mind them as long as the leading lady is an equal in the relationship. This is just the evolution of my tastes, it doesn't signify, in Nalini Singh's case, a deterioration of the writing quality of her books.
I've always liked - and couldn't wait to read about! - Mercy's brothers!
So reading about Bastien finding ~true love~ had me super excited for this novella.
I don't want to give anything away, but Bastien went too alpha. Kirby, his future mate, made weak attempts at being independent, which I applaud, but there was a pervasive theme of Bastien ignoring her ~for her own good~ and then being proven right.
Personally, I find this lack of body autonomy frightening and emotionally unhealthy. Kirby would tell him she did not wish for medical attention and Bastien would just ignore her and carry her to the nearest medical post.
It could be argued that she may have actually needed a Dr. but that's ignoring the ethical implications of the matter. Imagine a stranger came out of nowhere, started sleeping in your house and took away your medical autonomy from you. Your choices no longer matter regarding medical treatment, it's what this stranger wants.
Of course this stranger is her ~mate~ so obviously she is silly to be upset over this and in fact she's wrong because he knows better and blah blah blah.
Listen, this is not a badly written novella, and I'm 100% sure that fans of the series will like it. I'm just saying this type of thing isn't my cup of tea, so...
Ilona Andrews' Magic Steals
I have to be honest here and admit I kind of gave up on the Kate Daniels series. Kate and Curran's relationship is devolving from an adult, sensible and mature relationship to YA drama with a sprinkling of New Adult angst on top.
I still leaf through them so I can keep up with what's happening with the secondary characters. Whatever their faults the Andrews team know how to write AMAZING secondary characters, I basically love all of them, so whenever a novella about them comes out I know I'll get the old urban fantasy non paranormal romance Kate Daniels ~feel~.
I adore Dali! So this second novella we get about her relationship with Jim, and her family's relationship with both of them was a heaven send.
Dali is adorable as ever, Jim is honestly an amazing love interest - see? this is how you write alpha males! - who has a very, very healthy dose of respect for Dali's abilities and decisions, standing by her side, supporting her, and considering her his equal.
Why can't all relationships be like this???
The plot was super mysterious and amazing, add to that all the well researched cultural background (there was real work put into this novella!), the family dynamics, the issues involved in a developing relationship... It was great!!!
This was a mess.
I don't mean to discourage others from reading since I didn't find anything incredibly objectionable about it, so read on and make up your own mind.
I found the writing to be subpar, the characters undeveloped - there was simultaneously too much info dump and very little usable information - the main character is insipid, tstl, and is used to bring the element of humour into the story. Too bad she isn't funny in any kind of way.
The plot is just an unending cascade of clichés, the heroine just stumbles upon the answers instead of working effectively or, God forbid, using her brain, and did I mention that she is tstl? I did, didn't I. It bears repeating, though...
Milla Vane's The Beast of Blackmoor
Milla Vane is, of course, the lovely and talented Meljean Brook. I'd be lying if I said that Meljean wasn't the reason I picked up this anthology; she honestly cannot write a bad book.
That being said, this is probably the lowest rating I've ever given a book of hers.
Though, at 3,5 stars is still high ;)
The thing is, I loved the plot, I loved the characters, I loved their relationship and UST (the lady knows how to write stuff to bring on a blush!) and I loved their quest and their rectitude facing the world and rules they were bound to follow.
It's just... This novella should come with a trigger warning. There was soooo much rape and sexual slavery!
I know, I know, it's a barbarian world and it stays true to the epic fantasies where the evil warlord/sorcerer creates a realm of pure evil who Conan our heroes will eventually defeat and restore whatever passed for peace in those times.
And honestly, the story is so good that I still think about it. I couldn't stop reading it - Brook's stories are always like that.
...But I couldn't fully immerse myself in the story because of the issues above.
Which is what I felt, as an individual reader! And shouldn't stop anyone from reading this novella because Meljean Brook deserves to be read :)
Buy Night Shift
@ The Book Depository (with free worldwide delivery!)
Nalini Singh's official site
Ilona Andrew's official site
Lisa Shearin's official site