Another Anthology, Paranormal Romance

So I guess I was feeling a bit soppy the last week or so because I decided to buy the Paranormal Romance (1&2 omnibus) anthology. There were too many stories to really get any descriptions going so I’ll just give an overview of the book as a whole.

Paranormal Romance 2A fair amount of the stories seemed to equate romance with sex. Again, I have nothing against sex in books. A little bit every now and then in a book can break up the action quite nicely. But when you have a short story and its entirely about sex, its a little overwhelming and you kinda just want to get to the next story where maybe there will be some plot. Besides which, you can have romance without sex.

Some of the stories were so compelling that I wished they were full length books, even series. Take Gail Carriger’s short in this book. Her story was about a closeted gay alpha werewolf who just wants to keep his head down. He doesn’t want to fight with the other members of his pack because he knows he’ll beat them. And he doesn’t want to break up the family. Enter a gay merman he went to high school with who needs his help with a fishy (but not fish) problem. Shenanigans ensue and Carriger is great at shenanigans. I wish she’d turn that story into a series because it has great potential. I love her steampunk stuff to death but its nice to see that she can turn out urban fantasy as well.

At least one of these stories was all action, action, action and oh yeah, you needed some romance didn’t you? It was an afterthought, which I felt didn’t quite fit into the theme of the anthology. So all in all, there are some gems to be found but its a good thing that this massive omnibus anthology was only about 5 bucks on Kindle. Rating: C.

Question for Readers

So I’m in the middle of an anthology that I picked up because I thought it would last me a bit longer than a novel. I’m in the middle of it, which means this isn’t a review, but it’s called the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (yeah, I can be a sucker for this genre too). At any rate, it just struck me for some reason that the there were two basic flavors of paranormal romance.

One: Girl supernatural (born or made) is lamenting the fact that she hasn’t found ‘the one’. It can be the central plot point or sort of an overarching theme of the story or book. Often times she’ll believe (or actually be) terrible at picking out good guys from bad-for-you guys (I’m sure we all have this sort of friend, male or female). My problem with this is that the woman seems to feel that she is incomplete or failed as a woman in some way for not having a man in her life. All of her friends are trying to set her up with the handful (or less) of single guys they know.

So first question is: Are there any books with female leads who are single who don’t think that they have to have a man to be legitimized in some way? Suggestions welcome!

Flavor two: Male lead is thinking that he’s lonely or he’ll never find his mate. He randomly finds a mysterious woman on the streets (serendipity/kismet abounds!) who is in some sort of danger (anything from tripped into a busy street and can’t get up to being specifically targeted by the man’s enemies). Man saves woman who usually starts off being really mad at the man (I can save myself/Let me go etc). Through their trials, Stockholm Syndrome or mating bonds makes woman fall for man and they end up together. This one bugs me a little more because the woman is often the “poor me/save me/Lois Lane” type character who relies entirely on the man. I’m married and I can tell ya, I wouldn’t be fond of such an imbalance in either direction. It wears down on you emotionally, regardless of how much you love the person.

So, question two: Is there one of these mating bond type stories out there where the woman (in particular but I will accept if it is the man) basically says “fuck you, you kidnapped me” and shoves the guy away? I know that wouldn’t really be paranormal romance but I’d like to see where these Speed type situations actually fall apart. And that’s not to say that, if its a series, that they can’t grow together later on but it bugs the crap out of me that its usually a matter of days and both parties are like “I must have you forever!”.

I’d like to put forth the Dresden files as a suggestion. Here’s poor Harry Dresden, orphan, who would like a family except he knows that its a bad idea with him because, well, everything really. Character Karrin Murphy has at least one ex-husband and while she isn’t quite happy that little sister is marrying him (WTF, Butcher?), she at least isn’t “poor me, why don’t I have a husband”? She’s more like “Shut up Harry” and “man I need to get laid” (enter Kincaid-and that rhymed).

I just read a short story in this book where a regular old human woman got bitten by a werewolf (an asshole one who did it deliberately). The pack kidnapped her and while they did treat her as a guest and treated her wounds, she was still a prisoner. The whole time she was going I want to go home/let me go/I’m your prisoner so I don’t like you with the guy who rescued her. He claimed that she was his mate and she told him that she didn’t want any part of that. In fact, she actually escaped and he let her go…and she turned right around and was all “take me to bed big boy”. I was at lunch so I couldn’t scream at my Kindle “WHAT THE UTTER FUCK” but I was utterly flabbergasted by her complete 180 in the span of about two hours while she was escaping.

I’m hoping there is something out there where female leads aren’t feeling like lesser beings because there’s no man in their lives. I’d love if their friends weren’t all “you need a man in your life” but I realize that would probably be impossible to come by. And I’d adore, adore, adore any story where there is some sort of mating or soul bond where the people involved fight it. Suggestions please!

Curtsies & Conspiracies

Curtsies and Conspiracies*SPOILERS* As you may have gathered from some previous posts, I do like me some steampunk. In particular, I love Gail Carriger. And her latest release in the finishing school series, Curtsies & Conspiracies, is another home run. This series focuses on the young girls of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Girls of Quality and protaganist Sophronia Temmennick.

Sophronia has now been at the school for about six months. Its at this time that all new comers such as herself get tested on what they’ve learned. In pairs, her fellows are taken off and come back looking pale. Sophronia and best friend Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott go last and Sophronia, naturally, passes with flying colors. When the scores are announced, Professor LeFoux (Genvieve’s aunt) makes a point of letting them all know that Sophronia got the highest scores ever. This causes friction and ostracization between her and the rest of the girls in her class. At least for a while.

As much as it pains Sophronia that her friends (and even enemies Monique and Preshea) are ignoring her, there are things afoot at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s. Dimity nearly gets herself kidnapped, graduates that are active intelligencers are boarding in the middle of the night and a bunch of boys from Bunson’s (the men’s evil genius academy) are aboard. Why? Because they’re all going to London to see the arrival of a brand new dirigible that can cross the English Channel in less than an hour using aetheric currents high up in the atmosphere.

Of course, lessons are still occurring while all this is going on and Sophronia eventually gets her friends back talking with her. She also makes a deal with young Genvieve. Help get Genvieve into Bunson’s and get rid of Bunson’s Professor Shrimpdittle and Genvieve will leave Sophronia all of her tech gadgets, including the one that freezes all the mechanicals for short periods. You see, Shrimpdittle is an old friend of Professor LeFoux and knows that Genvieve (or Vieve as she’s commonly known) is a girl.

Sophronia’s attempts at character assassination are successful. Too successful. There are unintended consequences to a member of the school’s staff, Professor Braithwope, who is a vampire. And in the midst of all of this, Dimity and brother Pillover (aboard from Bunson’s) are still under threat. From whom? Read to find out! 🙂

The Finishing School books fall in the same universe as Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate (aka-Alexia Tarabotti) books, just 25 years earlier. You’ll recognize a few familiar characters in this and learn a bit of their back story. You don’t have to read any of the other books really, but I highly recommend you do. They’re entertaining as hell! Rating: A+.