Historical Romance Thursday #3

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The Duke and I

The Bridgertons # 1

Julia Quinn

3stars (I’m feeling generous)


Can there be any greater challenge to London’s Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?

—Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1813

By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend’s sister, the lovely—and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it’s all an elaborate plan to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it’s hard to remember that their courtship is a complete sham. Maybe it’s his devilish smile, certainly it’s the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her… but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke… for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love.

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There will probably be spoilers.

 

The Duke and I started off great. I loved Daphne and Simon and I immediately fell in love with the Bridgerton family. Anthony, Benedict and Colin are exactly the type of older brothers I always wanted but never had (thanks for nothing, parents). Loving, overprotective and sometimes very much needing to be put in their place. And for the most part Daphne is able to handle herself among them. I loved her mother (Violet? I forget already), and I loved what we saw of the younger children.  I also really enjoyed the inclusion of the society papers and I’m very interested in finding out who Lady Whistledown is.

So I was all set for novel filled with wonderful characters and a trope that I enjoy. Fake relationships are always an excellent means for falling in love so I was very interested in watching them go about their plan and slowly fall in love. Wouldn’t that have been an amazing book?

But somewhere along in the book (possibly the 50% mark, I don’t quite remember) they are caught in a compromising situation by her brother Anthony and he demands they get married. Simon refuses, there is a scheduled duel, and Daphne steps in at the last minute and Simon gives in.

And then they are married and (I think) they profess their love for one another and that was simply not how I wanted the book to go. It might be strange, but I don’t actually care what happens to the couple after they wind up happily ever after. I like the journey, but once they say I do, I’m done. I don’t want to read about their married (or dating) life. So for a large portion of this book to take place AFTER they are married was annoying enough, but then the drama wasn’t over yet. And that should have been good, but it was domestic drama and I’m not here for that.

(It doesn’t help that Daphne, who the entire first half of the novel claimed to know all sorts of things thanks to having three older brothers turns out to be incredibly naive when it comes to “the marital act”.  I like my HR heroines to be historically inaccurate when it comes to their knowledge of sex, thank you.)

Daphne wants a baby, and while Simon told her he couldn’t have kids, she soon realizes that he just doesn’t want them. But, she is determined to have one anyway. I’m not going to comment on what happens, but I just wish that this book had gone the way I expected it to. Ending with a nice marriage and Simon deciding to have children without Daphne forcing the decision on him.

I will say that even though I don’t like reading about married life, I did actually enjoy the 2nd epilogue that was included in my kindle version and showed their lives 20 or so years in the future. A little glimpse isn’t bad; I just don’t want it to take place within the actual confines of the novel.

 

Although this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I will eventually continue with the series. I am trying to read a variety of historical romance authors first to get a feel of the type of story and writing I enjoy.

Review: Say Yes to the Marquess

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Say Yes to the Marquess

Castles Ever After #2

Tessa Dare

4.5stars


Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and . . . and . . . ?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn’t kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

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I have now read 5 historical romance novels. I have been trying to test different authors to see who I like, who I don’t and to get a general feel of the genre. So far I have read Sarah MacLean (The Rouge Not Taken), Lisa Kleypas (Mine Till Midnight), Julia Quinn (The Duke and I) and Tessa Dare (Romancing the Duke & Say Yes to the Marquess).

For the most part I’ve enjoyed all of them. I had some issues with The Duke and I, (I have a review scheduled for my Historical Thursday #3 in May which will explain those issues) but I am still looking forward to reading more of Quinn’s work. But for now, it’s safe to say that Tessa Dare is my favorite of the four authors. I’ve read 2 of her books! And I’ve loved them both to pieces. I can’t even decide which one I liked more.

I loved Clio and that she was so adamant about ending her engagement and starting her own business at the castle she had inherited. And I loved Rafe and all the effort he put in to convincing her to marry his brother. And I loved them together. (Can you tell I loved the book?) Their relationship was adorable and I thought they complimented each other perfectly. The banter, as always, was hilarious, built upon years of being acquainted with one another. And can we talk about that cake fight scene? That’s the rom-com gold and I couldn’t keep a smile off my face the entire time.

I have absolutely no problem with the fact that they were falling in love while she was still engaged to his brother. If this had been a contemporary romance or if Clio and Piers had been a love match to start with, I would have taken issue, but no fucks were given here.

I hate to say that I found fault with one minor plot point, but it was towards the end. It had to do with how they finally handled the ever absent third point of the triangle (for lack of a better word), Clio’s fiancé and Rafe’s brother Piers. I would have preferred it to have gone down slightly differently, but you can’t always get what you want and it didn’t ruin the ending for me.

I will definitely be reading When a Scot Ties a Knot and everything else Tessa Dare has ever written, but I am going to try and spread it out so I don’t go through the backlist too quickly!

Historical Romance Thursday #2

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Romancing the Duke

Castles Ever After #1

Tessa Dare

4.5stars


 

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

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I really need to start rating based on genre because within the HR genre (yeah I’ve only read like 3, but still) this definitely should have 5 stars.  Maybe I’ll figure out  away to do that someday.

But I loved this book.  While I really enjoyed both Izzy and Ransom as individuals, it was their relationship which made this book.  The banter was awesome and I love a good “hate to love” trope.  While I’m usually not a fan of the tortured hero, Ransom was just the right amount of cocky to make up for it.  Plus he did tend to veer away from self pity for the most part.

The Goodnight Tales (was that what they were called? Curse my memory) and the whole Moranglian subplot was one I actually enjoyed as well.  I didn’t think I would but I really, really did.  It was a bit over the top but whatever.  It definitely added to the charm of this novel

I’d heard that Tessa Dare wrote funny books, and I was really happy that I agree! I actually laughed quite a few times.  Real laughs too, not just a little chuckle which is what usually happens.

This is a really shitty review and I feel like I nothing I say can even show how much I loved this book.  If you haven’t read it and you are into historical romances definitely pick it up.  It is so much fun. I definitely plan to continue this series and I’m really looking forward to reading more of Tessa Dare’s novels.

A Modern Day Sherlock Holmes Fail

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Lock and Mori

Lock and Mori #1

Heather W. Petty

2stars


 

In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students—one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James “Mori” Moriarty—meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.

Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more…


FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.


FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.

FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.

FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.

OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

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I’d first like to say that this book was 245 pages and it took me 3 days to read it.  I should have been able to finish it within a single afternoon, so that’s saying something.

I’m not a super huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I’ve only ever read The Hound of the Baskervilles, but I do watch BBC Sherlock and the American Elementary. And I really like retellings, both fairytales and classics. So I thought I would really enjoy Lock and Mori, a modern day retelling focusing on Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty, who happens to be female in this version.

But almost right away I felt like something was off. Again, I don’t know that much about the characters beyond what I’ve seen portrayed in shows, but neither one felt true to what I’m guessing the original would be.

Obviously authors have the right to change things, but I was just not a fan. Not only were they almost nothing like the originals, but they were so bland. There was nothing exciting about them. Plus, John Watson has 2 lines and I’m sorry, but there is no Sherlock without Watson.

And the instalove! Now I’m almost positive that Sherlock and Moriarty are nemeses of sorts, so to have them fall in love could be controversial to begin with, but this was just a bit ridiculous.  They’ve known each other like 3 weeks and Mori claims that she will always love him. Give me a break.

And the actual plot? Lame. You find out almost right away who the killer is and then it’s just Mori hiding facts from Sherlock. Also, she is a fucking idiot for how she handled things. I kind of understand why she thought she should do things that way, but no. She was so stupid.

This was a fail and I will not be continuing with the series.

Review: Rock Chick Rescue

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Rock Chick Rescue

Rock Chick #2

Kristen Ashley

3stars


Jet McAlister has a secret. Eddie Chavez has the hots for Jet (not to mention Eddie’s just plain hot). Jet has too many problems to realize that Eddie’s interested. Eddie loses patience when Jet ends her waitressing shift at a strip club with a knife at her throat. Since Eddie’s a cop, he figures he can help. Since Jet’s used to solving everyone’s problems she doesn’t want Eddie’s help.

Throw in a Dolly Parton look-alike, a gruff but lovable strip club owner, Jet’s ne’er do well father, his ne’er do well friend, Bear, Bear’s long-suffering, chain-smoking wife Lavonne and the crew from Rock Chick and you’ve got Rock Chick Rescue.

Rock Chick Rescue takes you on a wild ride with Jet, Eddie and the gang as they wrestle bad guys in a bagel shop, hit Denver’s backstreet poker tables (with big hair), and help the strippers at Smithie’s take down a would-be murderer.

Through this, Jet’s got to learn that even when life made you give up your dreams, you can still end up with the (hot) guy. Eddie’s got to rescue Jet from a bad man (so he can do better things with her) and teach her that some dreams can come true.

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I admitted in my review of Rock Chick that alpha males aren’t my favorite type of hero. I get that some people really love them, but I am just not one of them. With that said, I did actually really enjoy Rock Chick and Lee wasn’t the worst hero I’ve come across. Maybe it was because it was the older brother/sister’s best friend trope (which I LOVE) or because Lee and Indy had grown up together, but his possessiveness didn’t really bother me that much.

But with Rock Chick Rescue, I wasn’t able to look past it as much. A lot of Eddie physically handling Jet, telling her that no matter what she did she was his now and sometimes it was just a little too much. For the most part I did like Eddie, but he also gave off a kind of creepy vibe.

I think another reason I was able to look past it in RC was because Indy was pretty awesome. She called Lee out on his bullshit. Yeah she gave in and slept with him (but it is Romance), but she continued to make it clear that he couldn’t control her.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Jet. First because she didn’t call Eddie out on his shit nearly as much as he needed to be and second, I’m just not a fan of the martyr character. Maybe it makes me feel like an asshole because I would definitely accept any and all help being offered if I had been held at knife point/shot at/and threatened with rape. There is nothing wrong with accepting help, especially in a situation like this. And ENOUGH with the “I’m boring” and “I’m not pretty” shit. Enough.

I definitely enjoyed the entire cast of characters being back (with some new additions) but I just didn’t think the plot was as much fun as Rock Chick.

Possibly the Only 5 Star Book I Will Ever Review

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Three Times Lucky

Tupelo Landing (Mo and Dale Mystery) #1

Sheila Turnage

5stars


 

Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone’s business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she’s been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her “upstream mother,” she’s found a home with the Colonel–a café owner with a forgotten past of his own–and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

Full of wisdom, humor, and grit, this timeless yarn will melt the heart of even the sternest Yankee.

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I fall asleep to audiobooks every night. And while I listen to a variety of audiobooks there are only two series that I fall asleep to. Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Mo and Dale Mysteries (Tupelo Landing). At this point I’ve probably listened to each series about 10 times. I don’t update that I’ve read them that many times (because I’m usually sleeping) but still.

I first read this book in 2014 but only recently wrote an actual review of it.  And since it’s Thursday, I figured a nice Throwback Thursday was in order.

Mo is absolutely my favorite heroine of all time. Yeah she can be a bit trying but she is always so lovable that it is easy to look past her faults. She is so sassy and I just love her so much. I want any future daughters I may have to be just like her.

Of course this book is nothing without the other characters both main and secondary. Dale is probably the best friend you could have. A lot of his character development happens in the second and third books of this series, but this is a great introduction.   The Colonel and Miss Lana are an amazing family of choice.

I especially enjoy the Colonel and Mo’s relationship and how they use military jargon to communicate. And the rest of the town is just so wonderful! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lavender, Dale’s older brother, a mechanic and race car driver. He is definitely Book Boyfriend material (and it’s not weird because he is over the age of 18). Mo might have to fight me for him (in just 7 years).

Is this book realistic? Hardly. Every time I listen I think of a new problem that I then easily ignore because it’s just such a fun book. At the same time, however, there are darker themes throughout the book. Addiction, abuse and (possible) abandonment, while not at the forefront, are integral elements of this story.

 

And I love it so damn much I’m upping my rating to 5 stars.

Review: Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley

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Rock Chick

Rock Chick #1

Kristen Ashley

4stars


 

Indy Savage, cop’s daughter, rock chick and used bookstore owner, has been in love with Lee Nightingale, once bad boy, now the man behind Nightingale Investigations, since she was five years old. No matter what ingenious schemes Indy used to capture his attention, Lee never showed an interest and Indy finally gave up.

Now Indy’s employee, Rosie, has lost a bag of diamonds and bad guys are shooting at him. When Indy gets involved, Lee is forced to help. Complicating matters, Lee has decided he’s interested, Indy’s decided she’s not. But she can’t seem to keep Lee out of her life when she’s repeatedly stun gunned, kidnapped and there are car bombs exploding (not to mention she’s finding dead bodies).

Indy’s best bet is to solve the mystery of the diamonds before Lee. Lee’s challenge is to keep Indy alive and, at the same time, win back her heart.

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For the most part I am not a fan of alpha male characters. They just aren’t my favorite type of hero.  Give me a sarcastic asshole (especially one who uses his humor the cover up his traumatic childhood) any day of the week .  I don’t like guys who use the ruse of “protection” when they really just want to control the female.  I don’t like when they are constantly telling women what to do, what to wear and who they can and cannot interact with just because they love them so much.
But for some reason I was able to look past a lot of that in this book.  Maybe because the general plot was just so ridiculous and fun but I was willing to let Lee slide on his jealous possessive bullshit.  Is he my favorite male lead?  No but I definitely didn’t hate him.  I’m willing to let it slide with Joe Morelli in the Stephanie Plum books as well.  I think it just takes a ridiculous plot and a crazy fun female lead to help get the douche male off the hook.  It probably doesn’t hurt that older brother/sister’s best friend is one of my all time favorite tropes.
And I really liked Indy.  Yeah she made a lot of stupid decisions and was constantly putting herself in danger but  whatever.  Who wants to read about a heroine who actually waits in the car while the men get to go around and do all the fun stuff?  And for the most part she called Lee out on his controlling bullshit and I totally respected her for that.
The secondary characters were great as well and I think Tex may be one of my favorite of all time. I really hope he is in future books.
All in all this was just a really fun book. Totally out there and completely over the top but sometimes that’s just what you need.  I kind of wish the rest of the series followed Indy and Lee but I’m looking forward to meeting some new characters!  I’d say that my first Kristen Ashley book was a great success.

A Sequel that is Better than the First: Through the Ever Night

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Through The Ever Night
Under the Never Sky #2
Veronica Rossi

4stars


 It’s been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don’t take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe’s precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, can their love survive through the ever night?

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It’s not often that the second book is better than the first, but I’m glad to say that this is one of those times.

I enjoyed Under the Never Sky.  After initially being annoyed by Aria, I really liked the characters and the romance. I don’t think I mentioned it in my review, but I really enjoyed that the romance never overwhelmed the actual plot of the book and what these two characters had set out to do.

And Through the Ever Night continues this.  While there was a bit more focus on romance, both Perry and Aria continue to do what needs to be done even if it means they have to be away from each other.

And I LOVED Aria in this book.  Gone is the naive dweller who didn’t understand that sometimes you need to kill the people who are trying to eat you.  She is totally kickass in the sequel. She recognizes the hardships of living outside of a protected pod and she does what she needs to do to survive.

And while Perry did get a teensy bit whiny for a few chapters, I really stood behind him and what he was trying to do for his tribe.  It annoyed me a bit that his people couldn’t recognize what he was doing for them, but eventually they understood.  I think it was actually a pretty good depiction of a young man thrust into power.
And I really, really fell in love with Roar this book.  Such a great secondary character and I’m glad we got to see a lot more of him.

A minor issue I had with the first book is that the pacing was pretty slow.  Yeah it was a survival story with some adventure and romance, but it was pretty slow going until the last 100 pages.  Not so with this book.  I thought the pacing was right on point and I sped through with my reading because I had to find out how it ended.

We also learn a bit more about the catastrophic events that led to the Unity and how certain people came to live in pods while others remained outside.  It’s not particularly groundbreaking or in depth, but it did help satisfy my curiosity about the backstory of this world.

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven Cycle # 3

Maggie Stiefvater

4.5stars


 

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

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Before I get into the review, I just need to say that there is no way I can accept that that is Blue on the cover.  That is Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands and no one can tell me otherwise.

Again, another fabulous addition to this wonderful series.

As soon as I finished The Dream Thieves I jumped right into Blue Lily, Lily Blue and I finished the next day. I went so long without being able to read a single book and now I’ve read 3 in 3 days.

This one was a bit different than the other two. The pacing wasn’t as quick and there wasn’t as much action, but I loved it all the same. That is, for sure, a sign of a very talented author. Also, I am super confused about 75% of the events that occurred and the plot arc in general, but I think that’s intentional. I don’t think it’s a sign of weak writing or my inability to comprehend. I think we are purposefully being left in the dark in certain situations, and while usually I hate that, I am totally fine with it in regards to this series.

Now I just have to wait a month for the final book to come out. Is it too soon to reread? I just don’t know what else I could possibly read that would even come close to the magic I felt while reading the first 3 books. I’ve been considering giving her Wolves of Mercy Falls series another try to bide the time. I got pretty far into Shiver and was a bit bored so I put it down for a bit, and now 3 years later I still haven’t finished.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky #1

Veronica Rossi

3.5stars


 

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland–known as The Death Shop–are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild–a savage–and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile–everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

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This was another reread for me, but it was one of the series I set out to finish in 2016. I remember really liking this book the first time, and while my opinion didn’t really change, there were a few things that made me lower the rating from a 4 to a 3.5

Pacing is pretty slow. It didn’t ruin the story, but not much really happens. Within the last 100 pages the story really picks up, which I guess is pretty normal. There isn’t a whole lot of backstory but in this case I don’t think it really ruins the book. Sometime around 300 years ago the “Unity” occurred, which I think involved some sort of catastrophic weather shift that forced people into domes. And after living outside for 300 years, the outsiders also developed genetic mutations, which allow some people’s senses to be extra strong. Although I personally would have enjoyed way more backstory, I think this was pretty sufficient. I do still hope we will learn more in the next two books.

I liked Perry a lot, but Aria annoyed me for 50% of the book. She was just so…I don’t really know. Not immature. Maybe naïve. She is really rude to Perry and continuously calls him a monster and savage even though he keeps saving her life. She is so upset that he killed three men who were going to EAT HER. Come on. Sometimes murder (especially in a wild land where there are no rules and people are going to EAT YOU) is totally and completely justified. I won’t go so far as to say that everything with happens with the Croven’s is totally her fault, but if she had just listened to Perry it probably would have turned out differently.

She gets better about halfway through the book though and by the end I actually really like her so yay for character development.

And I really enjoyed the romance. Once Aria stopped being an asshole I can see why Perry falls for her. Sure it’s bordering on instalove (it’s been less than 2 weeks) I am always a bit quicker to forgive the trope when the couple is involved in a fight for survival. Like, when it’s just the two of you working together, it makes some sense that you would seek comfort with the other one.

Other pluses include an actual mention of Aria’s period (and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call it barbaric, I totally agree that it is bullshit that it has to happen every month) and sex in YA! Yeah it happens off page but they very clearly have sex.  I’m totally for incorporating more sex into YA lit.  I don’t even care if it happens off page.  I just want more sex, especially when the characters do not hold their virginity up on a pedestal as the be all and end all of their worth as women.

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