Game of Love

This is post number 19.

Cover:

game_of_love_cover

This is part of series of romance novels by Melissa Foster.

Plot:Dex Remington reunites with his long time friend and first love Ellie Parker. With the stress of his new game launch and her escape to his city, can the couple leave the past behind and stay together?

Passage:

“He saw it in her eyes. She was sliding back into that silent place. Goddamn it. “Ellie.” He reached for her. She took a step backward. “Ellie, I’m sorry. Don’t go reticent on me, please. This is so hard. I’m trying. I’m really trying to stay with you, to stay with us, but I don’t know what you expect of me. I hurt, Ellie. Every fucking time that you clamp down on your feelings. Every time you shut me out, it’s like a gunshot to my heart. A man can love a woman for only so long without it being reciprocated. On some level you must know that.” Just as I know it’s a fucking lie. I’ll always love you. She nodded.”

Spoilers/Opinion: So first things first, Dex is supposed to be hot even though he is a computer programmer, and I have a hard time buying that. In STEM when it comes to finding a man, the odds are good but the goods are odd. Especially in computer science/engineering. I will give the author a pass because she mentions the stereotype, so she is self-aware. Dex often broods over the fact that he makes video games for a living, which annoys me. If he really hated the fact that kids enjoy video games more than their education, he could easily get into teaching or programming software to help kids with homework. Ellie is the first person to bring the idea of creating an educational game, and he acts like he never thought of such a thing before, which also annoys me. He’s supposed to be the CEO of one of the most successful video game companies in the nation, yet Dex lacks the foresight to see the market for educational programming. I don’t buy it.

Ellie is more believable as a teacher wanting to work for low income and at risk youth. The only part of her job that was strange was her interview with Maple Academy. She brought up the fact that she left her previous job because she found out that she was dating a married man, yet the principal welcomed her with open arms. Interviewers don’t ask about age let alone want to know about the candidate’s sex life, so I had a hard time believing the principal would still be on board. Speaking of Ellie’s ex, he only makes an appearance twice in the story, one of which was nothing more than him passing by. He was not necessary, and I think the story would have been more streamlined without him.

The romance itself is just okay. Ellie has commitment issues that stem from being in the foster system and sexual abuse at the hand of her foster father. Dex has trust issues from Ellie leaving him when they were in high school (not her fault) and during college (actually her fault). At first, I understood where Dex was coming from because she did leave him high and dry without so much as a toodle-lo. After several chapters of him not trusting Ellie when she made the effort to stay, he should have gotten over it. They show affection with more than just sex, which is nice.

Ratings: This is a romance novel, so the rating will be as follows:

Relationship drama: 2/10
Romantic Development: 5/10
Hot love interest: 2/10 or 7/10*
Creativity: 4/10
Plot: 5/10

Overall I give Game of Love a 5/10. Not a bad book, but a few unrealistic situations where realism would have made for a better story.

*Depends on whether or not you believe hot programmers exist

 

 

 

The Dark Huntsman

This is post number 18.

Cover:

darkhuntsman_cover

This is the first novel of a  fantasy-romance series by Jessica Aspen

Plot: Logan the huntsman is on a quest by the dark queen to kill the last of the MacElvy witches. The only thing in his way is Trina MacElvy, a powerful witch. Together they have to figure out why the queen wants the MacElvys dead.

Passage:

“Glimmers of power limned her naked body and the silver blade of the athame that gleamed between her breasts. Her legs were spread slightly apart, tensed for battle. Long black hair crackled and lifted with static. Her expressive face was poised on the edge of dilemma, her body caught between the need to hold the spell and the need for action. He paused to let the feel of power and woman roll through him”

Spoilers/Opinion: I’ll admit that one of my favorite guilty pleasure genres is the “dark fairy tale”, especially those that revolve more on the world of fairies rather than Grimm tales. Right off the bat I had some hope that the lore would have some depth, and that I would get to see some cool powers. Unfortunately, I did not see either.

The male protagonist is huntsman, which mean his tracking abilities, strength, and speed are heightened. These abilities are used sparingly, and with little impact. Trina is not much better; she used her plant magic once in the beginning against a successfully and a couple times unsuccessfully. Most of the magic comes from the objects they use, and I feel like that is a waste of potential.

Speaking of  waste of potential, we catch glimpses of the dark queen and her court, but everyone there seems to either be scared, evil, or both. The lands that Logan hails from only has two uncles and some forests. That’s it. Honestly, the most developed world is when Logan and Trina cross back into the human realm, but that is almost cheating. The creatures lack variety with only elves/fairies, pucas, and trolls mentioned.

In terms of romance, the main characters sleep together early and often with a few too many sex scenes. I’m no prude, but when there are more than three sexual encounters in a novel between the same characters it gets tedious. The most affection that we see between the two usually revolves around Trina being in danger, and Logan coming to save the day. Now damsel in distress is fine, but in this novel the exact same situation of Trina being magically forced to wear/consume an evil object and being put under a spell happens twice. With less than a quarter of the book between the two incidents. That’s just stupid.

As a fantasy romance, I give The Dark Huntsman the following scores:

Powers: 2/10

Explanation of Powers: 2/10

Romantic Development: 4/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 4/10

Overall, I give this novel a 3.5/10. There is nothing special about this novel when the potential for world building, powers, and plot was ruined by a romance without affection.

Citation:

Aspen, Jessica. The Dark Huntsman. Published 2013. Accessed 01/31/2017. Abracadabra Publishing. Kindle Edition

 

 

 

Forsaken Petal: Nothing’s coming up roses here

This is post number 12, part two. Please read part one, otherwise this review doesn’t make much sense.

Opinion: I’m going to start with the positives because I’m feeling generous. There is a ton of action going on, as you probably noticed by my plot summary. None of the characters are unlikeable. The author has potential to make an interesting sequel,and with that I’m done with the pros.

None of the characters are unlikeable because they don’t really have any strong personality traits. Even the main character, Tom, has no real identifying features other than his magic. If there was a bit more character development, I would feel a great deal more invested in the characters and their feelings, instead of being confused or just straight up meh about what happens to them. The vast number of characters only served to muddle the plot; I swear that each chapter introduced two new people who never got the chance to display any personality.

The sheer amount of plot within this book should have divided into at least two different novels if not more. Personally, if the author had divided the book into three books where book one ended at the attack on the school, book two ended at the attack on Karman’s house, and book three went until the end, I would have enjoyed the books more because then the author could have used the extra space to provide more character development. It also would have helped with the pacing; for instance, Tom is supposed to age from 5 to 16, but since the three years at Karman’s house are not discussed at all, I kept thinking he was 13, which made the awkward make out scenes with Aithnea even worse.

I have to say, though, that the absolute worst part about this book was the writing. The author uses a third person limited perspective, but ruins the flow by having Tom’s first person thoughts interrupting a couple times per chapter. Another reason why I thought he was a prepubescent boy for almost the entire novel was because his thoughts were comically simple and had little pertinence to the action that was going on. I actually chose the passage in part one of this review because Tom’s monologue was so choppy that I actually laughed while reading it. There are also numerous grammar mistakes like a lack of clarifying commas and using the wrong form of ‘to’.

Some of the small things that bothered me included the name choices. In the beginning all of the names were traditional western names like Tom and John, but in the middle random names like Karman and freakin’ Aithnea were thrown in, which was really off putting. I actually included the coverart in this review because I think it is unbelievably awful. Everything is a shade of brown including the main character’s blonde hair and blue eyes, and their faces look just straight up odd. I know that I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in this case the front is the same level of bad as the contents.

Honestly, I do still think the author can salvage the series with a sequel that takes its time and uses third person limited correctly. The characters are set up with interesting abilities, the setting has potential, and the overall plot can be expanded to make a fun experience.

Ratings: This is a fantasy/sci-fi novel so the ratings are:

Powers: 5/10

Explanation of Powers: 6/10

Characters: 2/10

Creativity: 5/10

Plot: 2/10

Overall I give Forsaken Petal a 2/10. The plot has too much going on in terms of action and characters, and the poor choice of using Tom’s internal monologue ruin the potential for a decent story.