Book Review: Rising Inferno

review-cover-rising infernoTitle: Rising Inferno [Dark Alpha Dragon Series 1]

Author: Lucile Wild

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Novella

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Skye Louise left her safe but predictable home in Texas, her overbearing parents, and moved to Manhattan to study at the Art Institute. Even though she doesn’t quite fit in with her hip, sophisticated New York classmates, she is determined to learn everything she can and turn her passion into a real career.

On her first night in the city, she is horrified to see a mugging outside of her window. A masked vigilante rescues the would-be victim and then burns the mugger’s face with his bare hands.

Later, she discovers that the masked vigilante is the grandson of a kind restaurant owner in her neighbourhood, and the last of a long line of dragon shapeshifters. Now, Skye must prove that she can be trusted with his family’s secrets. She must also find a way to fight her growing attraction to him.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I picked this novella up. I was asked to give it a review, and I thought “why not, I’ve never read a dragon romance before!” What ensued, was a very strange 15-30 minutes where my face was continually stuck in “WTF” mode. Even now, I’m still kind of laughing at the absurdity.

Here’s the thing… the description, the tags on GoodReads, and the very title on both GoodReads and amazon (BBW Ménage) are a lie. This is not a ménage. There is no evidence of anything BBW. The cover shows a disproportionate Asian guy with feathery wings—but let’s be clear, the man in the novella actually has bat wings—and in no way does the main character, Skye, ever try to fight her growing attraction for Raiku.

What this book is, is a very short 33 page encounter between a naïve country bumpkin from Texas (who couldn’t be more stereotypical. I live in Texas, and no one talks like her or dresses like her here.) and  a very quiet and somewhat shy ‘shifter’ whose only claim to being remotely dragon-like is his ability to produce fire with his hands and a set of bat wings. He does not actually turn into a dragon. The novella is incredibly short and very sweet, but to be honest, it has its problems.

There were a few typos—too many for something this short, and a lot of stereotypes were used. The characters were pretty one dimensional and sweet as cotton candy in a dumb-blonde sort of way. The “romance” between the two main characters was kind of endearing… but wasn’t very substantial.  The events in the novella span about three days, so the characters barely know each other, and while drawn to one another, I don’t know if I’d call it a true “romance”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really an “erotica” either. The story ends in the shortest dry-hump “sex” scene I’ve ever read. I don’t even really consider what the characters did sex. They were like two virgin teens playing at sex and failing miserably.

That isn’t to say the story was all bad, though. Despite its many flaws, I actually kind of liked it. Though the characters had all the depth of a puddle, they were adorable together in a shy “let’s hold hands and smile” sort of way. I liked them. Also, despite the time jumps and location switches (as has to happen in all shorter fiction) I didn’t feel like the story was rushed. It felt like a complete encounter from beginning to end. The writing wasn’t bad… it just wasn’t great.

Overall, I liked the story, but at the same time, it had a lot of flaws. More importantly, it is not what it is advertised to be. I give this one three stars. It was okay. It made 15-20 minutes of my life more interesting, and I’m glad to have gotten a taste of the author’s writing style. Were this a longer, more fleshed out book, I think I probably would have liked it a lot more… there’s just only so much you can do in 33 pages. If you’re looking for a kind of a fun read to pick up while you’re waiting in a doctor’s office somewhere, and you aren’t particularly looking for something steamy, give this a try. If you’re looking for a steamy erotica or in-depth romance, you may want to keep looking.

Book Review: In Heat

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Title: In Heat

Author: Felicity Heaton

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

A heat wave isn’t the only thing making London too hot for lawyer Kim. She’s been spending each night with a man who sets her body and heart on fire. The problem? He’s a man that always sprouts black fur and purrs, and he’s only a dream. Walking into work on the hottest day of the year, the last thing she expects is to meet Erik, a man who sends her temperature soaring and who resembles her dream guy exactly.

A black panther shape-shifter, Erik Blackwell has been searching for his mate for twenty-seven years. The visions they share each night are getting hotter but finding her is proving impossible as he’s never seen her face. That is, until it turns out she’s working as his lawyer on his contract negotiations with his brother, Alistair.

Kim can’t deny her attraction to Erik. The heat she feels with him is intense and it’s only a matter of time before they surrender to their carnal desires.

When Kim discovers Erik’s secret, will she turn her back on him, or will she complete the mating and become like him so they can be together forever?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I really liked this book. I wasn’t expecting to. You have to understand that shape-shifter romances tend to tread a very thin line. There’s always the chance that the author will push it a little too far and stray into bestiality, or towards violence. Both are a rather icky subject area for me (don’t even get me started on characters that have animal faces… yuck.) So going into a book like In Heat, I’m always a little hesitant, and maybe even somewhat afraid that things may go horribly wrong at any point in time.

I’m happy to report, that despite my initial misgivings about what this story might entail, I actually found it to be a very decent read. The narrative was jam-packed with steamy sex scenes, tentative encounters, and moments where we whirled around the character’s brains, trying to get glimpses at the driving force behind their actions. The characters were likeable, and the narrative was clean and easy to follow.

There are only two—okay, maybe three—gripes I had about the entire story. A) Skillful was misspelt at least once. Author: You forgot an L. B) The author had a tendency to repeat certain words a terrifying amount. Ghosting was one of those words, the other was an alternate name for a woman’s vagina. I wasn’t a huge fan of having the word shoved in my face six times on one page. Buy a thesaurus please. C) I was so sad about the ending.  It wasn’t a sad ending per se, or even a bad one, but I wanted it to end another way. Maybe that’s not so much of a complaint as a fan girl pleading for fan service—but it dropped the star rating nevertheless.

Other than that? I loved the story. It was a quick read, easy to follow, and in the end I was glad I’d read it. I’d happily recommend it to anyone who wants a more steamy shape-shifter romance. The sex scenes are plentiful (if a bit… bluntly worded at times) but they’re well written, just like the rest of the story. It may not have been horribly genre-breaking or an original in plot, but that certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I’ll definitely be looking to pick up the second book in the series soon.