Year End Mini Reviews

Year End Mini ReviewsCottonwood by R. Lee Smith
Published: 28 February, 2013 by Onyx, Tor Books, Tor Fantasy
Genres: Erotica, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

Cottonwood by R. Lee Smith is another slow burn monster/human romance. Aliens came to earth and were quickly separated from humans. The protagonist, Sarah Fowler, has just accepted a new job as a social worker with the organization in charge of resettling and integrating the bug-like aliens. But “resettling” and “integrating” are loaded terms, and Sarah quickly realizes that she is essentially working at a privately owned concentration camp for aliens that has no intentions other than maximizing their own profits. One of the first aliens that she meets is a man named Sanford and his son T’aki, and as Sarah gets to know Sanford, she develops feelings for him.

Cottonwood was a fascinating read at this particular historical moment. The protagonist is a woman with good intentions who is caught up in a horrific system and struggles with her place in it. She sees the aliens as people, but is forced to be a part of a system that oppresses them. It’s really messed up, and not the kind of backdrop that you’d ever imagine for a love story. But that’s where R. Lee Smith excels–her romance novels are deeply philosophical and wrestle with questions of humanity and morality.

Since this is a mini-review, I won’t go into too much more depth, but I will say that Cottonwood contained one of the most realistic depictions of sex that I’ve ever read, with the characters needing to frequently readjust and be like “hey let’s move over a bit, you’re sorta stabbing me” and just addressing the logistical complications of alien/human relations. I liked that the author didn’t try to gloss over the unsexy details, but rather made them part of the unique relationship that her characters have.

Year End Mini ReviewsLover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #4) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #4
Published: 6 March, 2007 by Onyx
Genres: Romance, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

I spent the summer binging vampire romance novels. Lover Revealed, the fourth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood features Butch, a human cop, and Marissa, a vampire noble. Butch was my least favorite male lead, mostly because I didn’t think he was particularly interesting. But Marissa was a fascinating character, because she’s been severely limited in her life choices because of her position within the aristocracy. She was originally partnered with Wrath, but he never liked her sexually, and their relationship was based purely on the physical need for each other’s blood. So there are some major self esteem issues that come from her time in a sexless marriage that she stayed in out of duty. Marissa’s relationship with Butch is the first moment when she was able to break out of what she “should” do and really start to take ownership of her life and her desires rather than being a political pawn, and I enjoyed seeing that transition.

Year End Mini ReviewsThe Veil of Gold by Kim Wilkins
Published: 27 April, 2010 by Tor Fantasy
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 512
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

The Veil of Gold is an adult fairy tale heavily influenced by Russian history and folklore. The story revolves around a cursed/blessed gold sculpture of a bear. Rosa finds the bear, and asks her former lover Daniel to look at it, as he’s a historian. Daniel is travelling with his emotionally distant colleague Em. The bear has the ability to open the veil between worlds, and so Daniel and Em are thrust into a world of Slavic mythology, and Rosa embarks on a magical journey to try to rescue them. I adore books that incorporate Russian mythology, and this one was no exception. But the book also had a bit of a slow start, so I picked it up and put it down several times over the course of a year before finally finishing it.

Year End Mini ReviewsLast Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer
Published: 8 November, 2016 by Tor Books
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

Epic fantasy revolving around bards/poets. Last Song Before Night follows multiple point-of-view characters as they begin to realize that a plague caused by dark magic is about to reemerge, and they try to learn more about the history of bardic power to try to do something about it. I didn’t find the main characters to be particularly interesting, but I was fascinated by the minor characters such as Marilla and Rayen. I enjoyed Last Song Before Night, but I finished it several months ago and it isn’t the kind of book that stuck with me in a major way.

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.