Book Review – The Governess and the Orc

I know I say this about each Orc Sworn book – I KNOW I do – but this one really is my new favorite.

I adored these characters. Geva really spoke to me, both in aspiration and desperation. It was the promise made to so many young women of my generation: work hard in school, get a good education, and you’ll be rewarded with a challenging, rewarding career. Only we weren’t. We hit the glass ceiling. We were resented by our peers. We got passed over for roles that absolutely should have been ours. I knew *exactly* what frustrations and fears drove Geva because I have absolutely been there. I though Gwen from Midwife and the Orc was my spirit animal but no, not after I met Geva.

Rath initially seems so, so wrong for our erstwhile governess. He’s a rogue. A thief! He destroys her career and puts her life in serious danger without so much as an apology. But as the story twists and turns (and there are LOT of twists and turns – I love all the Ash-Kai scheming!), it became clear that Rath was exactly what Geva needed. Good girls love a rogue, don’t they? And Rath’s roguishness had some surprisingly sympathetic roots. I complain sometimes in reviews about couples who don’t earn their HEAs. Rath and Geva *really* earned theirs.

I also loved seeing series characters again. The denizens of Orc Mountains feel like friends at this point and it’s always wonderful to visit with them. The story arc with Kesst is one of my favourites and it plays out beautifully here. Eft has a line that absolutely stopped me in my tracks – I won’t say what it was because of spoilers, but you’ll know when you get there – and you’ll know what it means if you’ve read Sins of the Orc. My heart melted. There is no better mate for our cynical, sharp-tongued Infirmarian. 

I can’t review an Orc Sworn book without talking about the amazing world building in this series. This author has developed a world that’s viscerally real – I can touch, taste, hear and smell it in every scene. I’ve always liked the contrasts between the “outside” world of men and the “inside” world of Orc Mountain. It works particularly well here as a metaphor for the mindsets and relationships between the characters. Rath’s “trove” is a particularly deft touch; when the author used the detail of where Geva’s book is to off-set what seemed like Orcish callousness and cruelty, it brought tears to my eyes.
As with the rest of this series, there’s plenty of steam in this book, but I absolutely adored the role reversal in this one. It was so satisfying.

This is a book I will read many, many times and highly recommend.

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Blood Yellow

He’s back …

Demons.
Can’t live without them.
Can’t unsummon them. 

I tried living without him. I lost my powers. I slogged through days of dust. I couldn’t do it.

I called him back and he rose through the Gate on wings of flame. Wings no fire demon has ever had before.

I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know who he is. But I know some very powerful entities do not want us to be together.

As above, so below. War is coming, to both our planes.

Read Blood Yellow now, free on Kindle Unlimited.

Tell Me Something Tuesday #TMST ~~ Sci-Fi Confessions

I’ve reblogged a wonderful post from Louise Hallett’s book blog, Life in the Book Lane.

Her focus on the transformative, eye-opening element of science fiction is exactly why I read (and write) sci-fi and fantasy – because thinking about alternate worlds, the “what if” of endless possibilities – expands and delights my mind.

I came into sci-fi with Frank Herbert and he remains one of my favorite authors, not just “Dune” but also the amazing (and shockingly steamy) Pandora Sequence. I hope the recent movie brings a new generation of readers to Herbert, because his books are masterpieces.

From Herbert and Asimov, I found the amazing women who were writing speculative romantic fiction in the 1980s and 90s: Jo Clayton, Tanith Lee, Mercedes Lackey, Octavia Butler, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Storm Constantine, Joan D. Vinge. I re-read these authors often. Their books can be hard to find now, but they’re worth seeking out, because they’re treasures.

A bunch of “new kids on the block” are currently blowing my mind as well. R. Lee Smith is firmly at the front of the pack with her epic “Last Hour of Gann.” I haven’t read world-building as meticulously detailed since Herbert and Clayton. Smith’s books are phenomenal. Amanda Milo is writing some truly challenging speculative fiction with her “Pet Project” books. They aren’t to be missed. And I want to give a huge nod to sometimes overlooked Omegaverse authors like L.V. Lane, Isoellen, V.T. Bonds, Merel Pierce, Alison Aimes, and Kathryn Moon. They’re on the bleeding (and knotting) edge of speculative fiction, a place that’s often uncomfortable for both reader and writer. They keep challenging our notions of self and other, of what makes someone monstrous, and what makes us human.

My hat is off to all of them.

Life in the Book Lane

Tell Me Something Tuesdayis a weekly discussion post hosted by Jen @That’s What I’m Talking About, where bloggers discuss a wide range of topics from books and blogging to life in general. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the questions from Jen’s blog and answer it on your own.


Sci-Fi Stories: do you read them?
Futuristic?
Machine?
Space Opera?
Sci-Fi Romances?

TL;DR – Why yes I do!

I always have, and always will, love both Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I love the “no-rules” aspect of them, the ability to take us to places unknown. One of my favourite childhood stories was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which with all it’s strange machines and inventions definitely gives off a Sci-Fi feel.

As a teenager I fell in love with both John Wyndam’s Day of…

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Daddy P.I. 0.5 Glow Up

I’m working with a new cover artist, the wonderful Haelah Rice, who is doing professional glow-ups of some of my covers. I’m absolutely in love with her aesthetic and can’t wait to show you what she’s done for Teddy’s Boys!

Here’s the first one, the new prequel cover. If you already have the Daddy P.I. series prequel, you can download the new cover from this post or from Bookfunnel here!

If you haven’t read the Daddy P.I. series prequel, what are you waiting for?! It’s free!

Book Review – The Midwife and the Orc

ommend this book highly enough. It’s absolutely going on my favorites shelf to be re-read and savored when life gets a little too heavy.

Have you discovered Finley Fenn’s Orc Sworn series? If not, it’s time you did.

The Midwife and the Orc is the fifth book in the Orc Sworn series. Each book in the series has featured a different human female/Orc couple and a different clan. This is Joarr and Clan Bautul’s story, and it is FABULOUS.

If you’re already a reader of this series, throw out everything you thought you knew from the previous books. I thought I knew Joarr – I didn’t. I thought I knew how the war between the men and Orcs would go – I didn’t. I thought I understood how Joarr and Gwyn got together – I didn’t. There are wonderful, unexpected twists and turns in this book, and they’re all perfectly plotted. It never felt rushed. The pace never flagged. Perfect execution.

There’s a sense of lightness and fun in this book that hasn’t been prominent in previous books. It fits perfectly with Joarr’s character – the flip side to his spy sneakiness is his sense of fun. The clan twist is absolutely brilliant and well done for somehow making me care about the Bautul clan when I never have before.

Huge kudos to the author for making the heroine a composed, competent character. There were never TSTL moments with Gwyn. She makes hard choices; she takes risks, but she always knows what she’s getting herself into and she’s never self-pitying. She’s also a woman who has been profoundly disempowered by her father and her fiancée, and all that rage and despair has turned inward, as it does. Her self-harming is understandable and delicately handled. The bonding moments in which Joarr teaches her to redirect her rage and despair wrung tears out of me.

My favorite characters from the series make appearances, and I particularly loved seeing a different side to Silfast and Stella’s relationship. I’ll admit I flinch every time Jule shows up now because she can play the heavy, but her role here isn’t too heavy and it was nice to see her being maternal.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s absolutely going on my favorites shelf to be re-read and savored when life gets a little too heavy.

The Midwife and the Orc is here and free to read in KU.

Teddy’s Boys – A Glossary

Some of the character in this series speak a northern English dialect (Manc) that may not be familiar to readers from other countries (or even other parts of the UK), so I thought I’d provide a glossary. General British words and phrases are indicated as “British” while words and phrases that are distinctive to Manchester are indicated as “Manc.” 

People from Manchester (Mancunians or Mancs) also use rhyming slang, a dialect that replaces words and phrases with others the original word rhymes with. For example, “stairs” are “apples and pears” in Cockney rhyming slang, so one might say, “I fell down the apples and pears.” I’ve indicated rhyming slang as “RS.” Rhyming slang can be impenetrable to outsiders (it’s meant to be, since it was developed to evade detection by the authorities), it’s highly regional (rhyming slang spoken by a Manc may make no sense to someone from London or Birmingham), and I’ve included it sparingly to give the reader a flavor because it can be so difficult to understand, even in context.

Mancs often shorten Christian names with “az” or “ez” to indicate intimacy and affection. Gary becomes “Gaz,” Charles becomes “Chaz,” etc. It’s more common with men than women, although Teddy’s crew call her “Tedz” and “Tez.”

I’ve also included some places in and around Manchester that have a connotative meaning to Mancunians which would not otherwise be clear to outsiders.

Download the Glossary as a PDF:

Review – Savage Prince

Ultimately, this is a book that will uplift you, even if it wrecks you a little on the way. 

This series just gets better and better.

I loved-loved-loved Nikolai and Dahlia’s story (Ruthless King), but I think I like Maxheim and Tess’s story even better. Maybe it’s the second dip into the complex world this author is building that made it feel more complete, more fully-fleshed? Maybe it’s that I’m more invested in this family and their struggles? I’m not exactly sure what made this book stronger in my mind, but it is.

This is not light, fluffy omegaverse, so sensitive readers should take care. As with all omegaverse, there are power imbalances and Maxheim, underneath his surface frost, is caring, but 100% alpha. There’s human trafficking, which I find slightly triggering, but it’s done sensitively. As with Nikolai and Dahlia’s story there’s a great deal of angst and some big hurdles for the characters to overcome. But the darker themes are balanced against humor, warmth, triumph of the human (sort of!) spirit, and the building of the Skolov extended family. Ultimately, this is a book that will uplift you, even if it wrecks you a little on the way. 

I’m looking forward to Alexi’s story!

Highly recommended and available here!

Review – The Bully

This book could be read as a stand-alone, but you’ll get more out of it if you read the first two books in the series and they’re wonderful, so why wouldn’t you?

This is the third book in Sophie Lark’s new Kingmakers series, which is dark, college-age, mafia romance. Her premise – that mafia families from all over the world send their kids to an isolated school where they become the next generation of mafia leaders – is refreshingly different, lovingly thought out and realized (I loved little touches like the classes they take in Torture Technique, Money Laundering, and Espionage), and as always with Sophie’s books, beautifully written.

The “hero” in this book, Dean, was introduced in the first book of this series as part of a love triangle, and my heart broke for him then. He’s even more tragic in this book, desperate for love and yet going about it ALL wrong. The heroine, Cat, is introduced in the second book in the series, and she’s all kinds of wonderful – clever, devious, but heartbreakingly unsure of herself. This book could be read as a stand-alone, but you’ll get more out of it if you read the first two books in the series and they’re wonderful, so why wouldn’t you?

Most of Sophie’s couples bring out the best in each other, and that’s never more true than with Dean and Cat. It’s wonderful to watch them mature into the best versions of themselves in this book. The love story is real and raw and with the constant tug of war between Dean and Cat, super-steamy.

Highly recommended and free to read in KU here.

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