Lenni Reviews: "Bones and Bourbon" by Dorian Graves

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Retz is tasked with bringing some escaped exhibits for Lady Delight, a lamia who runs a menagerie of captured supernatural creatures. Lady Delight is a former acquaintance of Nalem, an entity who shares Retz's body and mind so he agrees to the mission not knowing his Retz's brother, Jarrod, has been hired by the escaped funaribi to protect them from Lady Delight. Retz and Jarrod have been estranged for 10 years and their reunion occurs under the pall of their conflicting missions as well as a horde of homicidal unicorns.

With all the stuff going on, this book is difficult to pin down. I get some Supernatural vibes (I haven't watched more than a couple episodes of that but even I could see the similarities) but it is a superficial connection that didn't take away from the story as a whole.

The characters are lively, well written, and have some great chemistry; particularly Retz and Nalem. The dynamics of having to share a body with some ageless entity of dubious morals is conveyed very well. Jarrod and his boyfriend Ferris have a great relationship and Jarrod is a great character who happens to be transgender instead of being transgender being the entire focus of this existence; as it should be. And with a relentless army of killer unicorns in the mix, this is a cool dark urban fantasy. I really enjoyed it. 3.9 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Blood Borne" by Archer Kay Leah

*This review was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Ress is cornered between two opposing factions while all he wants is a quiet life with his family. Arden is trapped by duty to the Shar-denn and the orders to hunt down Ress for betraying them yet Arden finds the growing feelings for Ress may outweigh the task.

Setting aside how fucking confusing the pronouns for a nonbinary/gender queer character (Arden) are without knowing them before you start this book and think they are typos, it is the characters that make this book. The writing makes them come alive but the rest? I sadly found it tiresome. Boring isn't quite the word because I made it through the book without my mind fogging and my eyes glazing over but if what made the impact is the new pronouns making me feel like an out of touch old geezer, then something is missing. Not bad, took a chance with a character like Arden which needs to happen more, but ultimately a 3.5.

Lenni Reviews: "Contemporary Draconic Hoarding Practices" by Dae Richards

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

While Clayton splits his time between his graduate thesis and being a teaching assistant, he meets dragon and magical teacher Syralis; who is in possession of manuscripts crucial to Clayton's work. Syralis is intrigued by the magic surrounding Clayton and agrees to teach him how to control his abilities. But there is an obvious attraction between Syralis and Clayton and when a dragon wants you, they want to keep you like any other pretty bauble they possess and Clayton doesn't want to be a prisoner for the rest of his life.

This story does have a good plot and introduced the reader to an interesting world of magic and magical creatures but the length doesn't allow the reader to enjoy much of it. This is another short story where I feel the world and characters could use a longer narrative. This is a fun little romp though and is good for readers who may want the titillation of lust but no actual boning. 3.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Sovereign" by April Daniels

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

In this sequel to Dreadnought, Danielle is working hard as the new hero in town but between kicking butt and maintaining her reputation with the press; and without even being fully licensed due to her age, she is feeling the strain. But Dreadnought is needed now more than ever as a worldwide threat lingers on the horizon.

I can't quite put my foot on what it is but this is not as enjoyable as the first book. Don't get me wrong, this is still a well-written superhero story with high stakes and plenty of thrilling action; by no means a bad book. A teenager dealing with the harsh realities of being a superhero AND transgender AND some topical threats to humanity deserves this darker tone. But in comparison to the first, the darkness is unpleasant instead of intriguing or compelling. I want to like this more than I do. If you ware interested in following Dreadnought's next steps as she develops as a hero, this entry is just ok. 3.5 out of 5.

 

Lenni Reviews: "Dreadnought" (Nemesis - Book One) by April Daniels

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Danny is out secretly buying nail polish and ends up thrust in to the middle of a superhero battle. Defeated, Dreadnought transfers his powers to Danny, giving him super human abilities but the female body this transgender teen has always wanted. But not only does Danny have to deal with coming out as the new Dreadnought, she also must come out to her strict parents, the Legion of other heroes, and content with Utopia, the cyborg villain who killed Danny's predecessor. 

After reading "Black Angel" I was a little nervous about another LGBTQ YA novel. However, this book is much like "Rebel Genius" in that I was hooked and entertained for most of this despite being outside the target demographic.

This novel touches on the good and bad about being a trans teen with the added flight of fancy that if anyone bullies you for being trans, you can pummel them into the ground. Danny is such a great kid, you can't help but root for her and just outright DESPISE what she's put through. And, as a comic book geek, this also makes for an awesome superhero story. There is genuine peril Danny has to deal with as a budding super-heroine and despite the world ending consequences; the story doesn't feel like it gets bogged down when dealing with the issues surrounding a transgendered individual. Some reactions are almost TOO evil but I think that's just the part of me that is desperately holding on to a shred of hope in humanity. It doesn't pander, it doesn't preach; "Dreadnought" is a well-written, wild ride, and if it's the start to a series; I look forward to more. 4.7 out of 5.

 

 

Lenni Reviews: "Spell Cat" by Tara Lain

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+

Professor Killian Barth teaches the history of witchcraft and has a unique perspective on the matter considering he is indeed a witch. He is the most powerful male witch to come along in generations.  Keeping his identity a secret from regular humans, he catches the eye of the quantum physics professor; Blane Genneau. Their attraction is instant but Killian is being forced to marry another witch, Lavender, in order to save the witch race by pumping out magical children. But not only is Killian gay, Lavender is in love with someone else, and Killian finds the magnetism between him and Blane is too strong to resist. There's also the added rub that if a witch sleeps with a human, it will drain the witch's power away. Can Killian find a way to not only be with the one he loves but overcome prejudice against humans, find a way to save his race, and convince a man of science to believe magic is real?

First off, I have to point out that Lain made Lavender a likable character. It's so easy to fall into that trope of one of the people in the forced marriage being a complete horror to make the main character look even more put upon. But Lavender is a kind, sweet person and even tries to help Killian whenever she can. That was very refreshing.

While this book was decently written and cute, sometimes it felt a little contrived. It has this fanfiction like quality to it where everyone is too perfect, too pretty, and sex literally tears the skies apart it's so good. I mean, geez, nobody even had an interesting mole or tattoo... I also would have liked to see the fantasy elements explored more. I know that they're technically supposed to take a back seat to the romance but there are some interesting concepts here that I felt were glossed over to get the couple where they needed to be. But I do give this book credit for turning a couple tropes on their heads, having some fun characters and steamy romance scenes. 3 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: Clashing Tempest by Brandon Witt

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This book by Brandon Witt may be superficially marketed as 'gay fiction,' it is more like a sprawling fantasy where some of the characters just happen to be gay. This is also the third in a series called Men of Myth.

If you are coming to this book looking for some man-love fluff piece, you will be disappointed. Prepare to get invested in the fantasy of this world. There are merpeople, werewolves, vampires, and witches; which all have a unique take on the mythos of each species. Since I haven't read the first two, I cannot tell you how the story arcs connect from them but I can tell you that the arcs built up in this book are lovingly and fantastically done and carried to the end with enjoyable creativity. Witt's writing will immerse you in this world to the point where you will feel damp swimming with mers or in deep trouble with the vampires. 

The characters can get a tad whiny sometimes and on a personal note I found myself skipping the smutty scenes to get back to the main conflict of the story (yes, be aware there's hot stuff in this book). But that's just me. I found the fantasy riveting enough. However, if you do want an interesting LGBT fantasy that doesn't drive the plot with smut, Witt does a great job. Totally worth 450 pages.

 

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