Review: Witches & Wolves, by Kelly D. Smith (Rating: 1.5/5)

smith-witches-and-wolvesWitches & Wolves, by Kelly D. Smith
Publisher: Less Than Three Press (September 23, 2015)
Word Count: approx. 10,700 words
Genre: Bisexual (F/F) Romance, Paranormal

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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Summary:

Life in the woods is usually fairly quiet, which suits Tory perfectly. She can focus on her witchcraft without the noise of the city or nosy neighbors, and the only visitor she gets is her ex-boyfriend—until late one night when she opens the door to find an unfamiliar wolf who promptly curls up in Tory’s bed and falls fast asleep.

Long used to wolves, Tory lets her be, and has no complaints at all when the morning reveals the wolf to be a beautiful woman. New to being a wolf, out in the woods to learn control and get more comfortable with her new life, Gee eagerly accepts when Tory offers to help her—and she doesn’t seem opposed to any other offers Tory might make.

But not everyone approves of werewolves, and Gee isn’t the only new visitor to the woods…


Review:

“Witches and Wolves” is a solid attempt at a short story with an urban fantasy element, but unfortunately falls short on several fronts. I really liked the concept, about a young woman living alone to practice her witchcraft, and her encounter with another young woman who is also a werewolf. However, I think the author was trying to squeeze too much into a very short piece, and I was ultimately unable to enjoy it.

The biggest issue that I had was with the pacing. Tory and Gee meet under strange circumstances, when Tory helps Gee out after a rough change from wolf to human. However, within only a day Tory is nursing a crush on the other girl… a girl who has spent most of the day asleep and recovering from the previous night. Add in the character of Jake, who kept jumping back and forth between jealous and seductive, and I couldn’t but into Tory and Gee’s relationship.

The scene with the hunters also seemed to come out of nowhere, and I was frustrated because it would have been a lot better with more foreshadowing. There was also no character development as a result of the encounter, which made it feel pointless.

Finally, the writing was very awkward. I felt like the author purposefully chose not to use contractions in order to expand her word count. Dialogue was difficult to read because real people simply don’t talk like that!

In the end, a great concept but poor execution. I hope that the author will continue to grow, because I think there’s a lot of potential, but this just wasn’t for me.

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Review: Buchanan House, by Charley Descoteaux (Rating: 1.5/5)

Descoteaux-BuchananHouseBuchanan House, by Charley Descoteaux
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (August 19, 2015)
Page Count: 136
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

* I received an advanced copy of this novel via Pride Promotions in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

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In case you couldn’t tell from the rating, I did not enjoy this novel. Honestly, I thought it was a complete mess from start to finish, and I genuinely struggled to finish it; in the end, this 130 page novel took me almost two days to get through because I kept having to put it aside. The characters were inconsistent, the romance unconvincing, and the writing grated like nails on a chalk-board. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but literally the only thing I liked about this novel was the summary. It’s a crying shame that the book didn’t live up to the description.

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Based on that description, I expected a novel that a) went into detail about Eric growing up with his grandmother; b) had Eric and Nathan talking about owning a B&B together; c) featured a slow-build relationship between Eric and Tate as they worked together on the house; and d) had several interactions with Eric and his family, culminating in a climatic scene of some kind.

What I got was e) none of the above. Instead, the narrative teemed with awkward character interactions and confusing, poorly-worded descriptions. The slow-build relationship that I was hoping for was anything but. And the writing itself was confusing and exhausting, with pacing that careened wildly out of control and with random lines and references that seemed to come out of left field.

One of my greatest pet peeves in romance writing is the “love at first sight” trope, and Descoteaux has Eric going from wondering if he’s asexual to groping Tim with literally zero warning (or consent from Tim) in 30 pages flat. The romance was implausible, and the characters seemed ill-matched, but everyone (including Eric and, eventually, Tim) were convinced without hesitation that the match was one made in heaven.

“I… I crossed the line. With Tim.”
“And it’s about time too.” Nathan held him tight and rubbed his back. “I don’t know who I’m more jealous of–”
“Stop it,” Eric more groaned than said.
“– you, or Tim Tate. He’ll get to bite into a sweet ginger cookie, but you get a superhero. You know, you might have to marry that one.” (PDF pg. 50)

In the end, I just really disliked the characters (especially Nathan, the best friend who honestly came off as a bully at times), found the romance to be incredibly unromantic, and struggled with the poorly-written narrative. I do think the basic plot concept is a good one, but I really wanted to read the novel hinted at by the summary, not the one I actually got.

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Review: Fair in Love, by Jerry Sacher (Rating: 1.5/5)

Fair in Love, by Jerry Sacher
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 18, 2015)
Page Count: 230

Cover Artist: AngstyG

Cover Artist: AngstyG

The saying goes that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it was the cover of Fair in Love that drew me in. I love that it resembles a magazine cover, which seemed perfect for a story about a celebrity. Unfortunately, the cover was about the only good thing about this book.

Fair in Love tells the story of Travis McAllen, a famous country singer, who meets Geoff Randsell, an openly gay West Hollywood bank manager in an unhappy relationship. The attraction is instant, but both men have issues to deal with before they can be together… namely, the fact that Travis is deep in the closet in the extremely homophobic country music industry.

It sounds like an intriguing plot. The set-ups are all there for the normal romance formula, and there’s a strong connection with real life current events (particularly Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman coming out this past November) that made me extremely interested in reading this novel.

But the novel did not live up to expectations. Continue reading