Posted in Ghostwriting Advice, Home

Jumping on the #Cockygate scandal late, sorry.

So sorry that I’m just talking about this, but things have been crazy. I’ve had a lot of deadlines due lately, and just got done with my 29 week ultrasound yesterday (Everything is normal with baby boy, so I’m glad about that.)

For those joining the bandwagon late like me, I’ll give you a little bit of background info on what’s going on before I jump into the problems I have with Cockygate. Unsurprisingly, for those of you in the know, I am not on  Faleena Hopkins side in this issue. So let’s jump in.

So Faleena Hopkins is an indie romance writer (aren’t we all?) using Amazon’s platform to sell her series Cocker Brothers, The Cocky Series. The first of which came out in June of 2016. To date there are nineteen titles in Hopkins series, and that’s not a small feat. I’m a ghostwriter, and I end up writing about that in a year if I’m lucky. I can’t fault her for her work ethic. I also don’t think she’s a bad writer. Not the best I’ve read in the genre, but not the worst either.

What I can fault her on is a rotten attitude. For those of you that have read my ghostwriting/ writing advice on this blog, you know that I’ve seen firsthand the problems that can plague indie romance writing. First, that the market is absolutely flooded with competition. A lot of people use Amazon’s kindle unlimited program to try and make bank, and for most people, it just doesn’t work. You have to be in the upper percentile in order not to be buried under a deluge of similar titles. You have to know your audience and you have to know how to market your ass off in order to be noticed.

I have to assume that is part of the reason that Faleena trademarked her title. It would protect, at the very least, against copycat titles using a similar font or look in order to sell something to an unaware consumer. That part I can understand, though I don’t totally buy it as a reason for what she did afterwards. If she’d just copyrighted the font and the style of her covers (fun fact, she can’t actually trademark the font she used, because it was made by someone else who specifically prohibits its use in trademarks) then I could have gotten behind her. A wordmark trademark simply grants Hopkins the use of the title and font in the same way that Pepsi or Coca-Cola have trademarked their brands.

Unfortunately, Cockygate blew up because she put in a second trademark that specifically grants her sole use of the word “Cocky” in a title regardless of font. And Hopkins has been using this as an excuse to in her words “clear out copycats.”

The problem is, she’s gone after works that predate her own, not just things that have mimicked her title or plotlines. She claims to right to take down any book that has “Cocky” in the title. But in my opinion, if the book’s release predates her own, she should have no right to take it down. After all, the author finished the work before she did, titled it and had a romance cover made before Hopkins had put her book on the e-shelves. There is no reason why this author should have to re title and re release their book just to satisfy the whims of this woman.

In a Twitter exchange with Jamila Jasper, author of a title called “The Cocky Cowboy” Hopkins claims she is willing to take the author to court over the use of the word “Cocky” and keep the earnings of the woman who she felt wrongfully infringed on her trademark.

Cockygate 1

Here’s my problem with that. It’s a freaking romance novel, for one. Yes, I know it’s a source of revenue for a lot of people, and that’s not a small thing. But at the end of the day, because a title shares a similarity with yours, doesn’t mean you have the right to take it down. “The Cocky Cowboy” is a BWWM book and honestly sounds more compelling from the description. If you want to check it out Jasper has re titled her book “The Cockiest Cowboy Ever to Have Cocked.” It’s hard to tell what Hopkins’s books are supposed to be about at first glance, because the place usually designated for the book’s description is spammed with plugs for her other books.

Cockygate 3

Again, this could have been tolerable if she’d only listed one. I understand that indie authors do not have the backing of big corporations who will circulate their books. They have to plug their own stuff. But this just seems excessive, and it genuinely is hard to tell where the descriptions are for her books. It takes a few paragraphs to get to what the book is really about.

Here’s my problem. There’s nothing new under the sun. Titles that look similar to each other are bound to crop up here and there. Some titles are sure to be almost word forever. The only genre that’s more pun happy than the romance genre is probably the cozy mystery genre. I’m almost certain that some of the punny titles I’ve come up for the ghostwritten cozies I’ve done exist in some form. Does that mean I’m deliberately ripping off someone else’s work? No. Rarely, if ever, is the use of a title malicious. Plus, a lot of us are really terrible with coming up with titles. I know it takes me a day or two to figure out what I want to call a work when it’s done. Sometimes the simplest title is the easiest to slap onto a work.

It just seems to me, and others, that Hopkins is using her trademark to go after her competition. Amazon’s publishing branch is a huge, unwieldy thing that has little to no gate keeping. While that’s good for small authors, it can also be a nightmare when someone gets it in their head that they can come after you. Large companies like Amazon or YouTube are reactionary and will strike down a title or content simply because someone files a complaint without doing their due diligence. Just because a title shares one word does not mean it’s an infringement on someone’s work.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of shifter romance I’ve written that use animal puns. Do the authors go after any dragon shifter title with the word “fire” in it? No, because there is no point. The stories, most of the time, are not anything like each other. Targeting books that bear little to no resemblance to hers in content makes Hopkins look like a bully.

She claims that it’s not in this tweet.

Cockygate 2

But that doesn’t pass muster for me either. If I buy the wrong book, that’s my fault. I should have been paying attention. Besides, if you buy most of Hopkins books on a kindle, it only costs you three dollars, and there is a return policy. They can get their money back and buy the right book.

This reminds me somewhat of the lawsuit that Sherrilyn Kenyon filed against Cassandra Claire, claiming similarity. It’s a slippery slope to try to claim that you have sole rights to a trope. But at least Kenyon had more of a case. Cassandra Claire’s books did use “dark-hunters” as her main protagonists, the titular tile given to the heroes in Kenyon’s book. An agreement was reached to change it to “shadow-hunters” but the similarity was still there. In addition, the symbol used on Claire’s books looks remarkably like the mark Artemis places on the Dark-Hunters that is emblematic for Kenyon’s series.

It doesn’t appear that most of the titles that Hopkins has targeted bear as substantial a similarity. I’m glad this has garnered media attention and people are fighting back against it. It just seems like a rampant abuse of power to me.

Hopkins argues that the people she targets are not harmed if  they capitulate to her demands and change the title. But that’s wrong too. I don’t even need to read you a tweet on this one. If you know anything about the indie publishing industry, it isn’t cheap.

First of all, you have to write the damn thing. That costs time, if nothing else. I’m a fast writer, ghosting a couple of books a month on average, but damn, it can be hard. I know that for some authors it can take an average of months if not years to write their books. If all my hard work was dashed by someone trying to eliminate me for one word in the title, it would piss me off.

Secondly, unless you’re lucky and have some graphic design prowess and access to a really good stock photo site, you have to pay for your cover. Some (very uncomplicated) premade covers can cost less than a hundred dollars. But when you commission an artist to make one special, you have to pay them for their time as well. It can costs well over a hundred for a customized cover, and Hopkins should know this. If an author changes their book title from “Cocky Businessman” to “Arrogant Businessman” the cover has to be remade to reflect that. It costs money, damn it. It’s money out of that author’s pocket.

Thirdly, by doing so, it takes your title off the shelf for a period of time, which means that no one is buying and reading the product. That is a loss of revenue. That loss can be compounded by the fact that people who were looking for the original title can no longer find it. I know sometimes I know a title better than it’s author. And because it’s buried under a deluge of other titles, it may be impossible to find again.

Saying that she’s not hurting anyone is bullshit. These claims of trademark infringement are dealing a big monetary hit to the authors she targets.

Faleena Hopkins just comes off as an arrogant bully when I read her posts, watch her videos, and read her response to the backlash. She acts as if she’s the first one to come up with the concepts she’s writing about. Alpha males are a huge trope in romance, and not something that you can trademark. Her books do not have the most original take on the genre either. There are people who’ve done a lot more with the concept, and the fact that she’s parading it around like she’s come up with a revolutionary series bugs the hell out of me.

Sorry Ms. Hopkins, but Harlequin has been doing the same thing and better for a long time.

So yeah, I’ve laid out my beef with the Cockygate scandal. I don’t think I’m treading new ground with anything I’ve said, but I wanted to let out my frustration in a rant. I’m a consumer and (ghost)writer of indie romance, and this is a blatant abuse of power on the part of Miss Hopkins. If she really wanted to clear out copycats, she could read the titles she targets and make sure that they bear no resemblance to her books in look or story. Otherwise, leave people alone.

As always, if you have any suggestions about what I could post about next, please let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading my long-winded rant.

Posted in Home, Reviews

Fantasy Lover Review: Chapter Five

We start the chapter off with Grace being inattentive during work. For all the good she’s doing, she should have just taken the day off or called in sick the way Julian suggested. Of course, we’re supposed to still believe that Grace is the epitome of professionalism after all this.


Then we get a brief exchange that’s supposed to be humorous, but I just can’t find it that funny. I mean you might think that after all this I have no sense of humor, but I really do. I love watching and listening to comedy. I just find that these weak attempts at humor fall flat for me. Since humor is subjective, I’ll just say that I don’t find Kenyon very funny. Now and then she comes up with a line that gets a chuckle out of me, but in this book, not a lot of the jokes landed.

“… so then I said, Dave, look, if you want to borrow my clothes, fine. But leave off my expensive designer dresses ’cause when you look better in them than I do, then I just want to give them to the Salvation Army. So, was I right, Doc?”

Grace looked up from her pad where she was doodling pictures of stick men holding spears.

“What, Rachel?” she asked the patient who sat in the armchair across from her.

Rachel was an elegantly dressed photographer. “Was I right to tell Dave to leave off my clothes? I mean, damn, it’s pretty bad when your boyfriend looks better in your clothes than you do, right?”

Grace nodded. “Absolutely. They’re your clothes and you shouldn’t have to lock them up.”

“See, I knew it! That’s what I told him. But does he listen? No. He can call himself Davida all he wants to, and tell me he’s a woman in a man’s body, but when it comes down to it all, he still listens to me like my ex-husband did. I swear…”


I’m gonna give it three, because the attempts are clearly there, but they just feel really lame to me. And why is this woman coming to a sex therapist, not her husband? There’s nothing unnatural about wanting to dress in drag and it’s more common for totally straight men to do it than people might think. But this is supposed to be a funny, and give us an idea of what Grace’s day to day life is like. If this is what she does, it’s inane and boring.

Also, just a nitpick but why not use Davina instead of Davida? It’s a much more common feminization of the given name David.

“You know, Rachel,” she said, cutting her patient off before Rachel could begin her routine spiel about men and their annoying habits. “Perhaps we should hold on to this until our Monday session with Dave?”

Rachel nodded. “Will do. But remind me on Monday that I need to talk to you about Chico.”


“The Chihuahua that lives next door. I swear that dog is giving me the eye.”

Grace frowned. Surely Rachel wasn’t implying what she thought she was. “The eye?”

“You know. The eye. He may look like a pooch, but that dog has sex on his mind. Every time I walk by, he looks up my skirt. And you don’t want to know what he did to my running shoes. The dog is a pervert.”

“Okay,” Grace said, cutting her off again. She was beginning to suspect there was nothing she could do for Rachel and her obsession that all males in the world were dying to possess her. “We will definitely cover the Chihuahua’s infatuation with you.”


Guh. So now I think this person should be seeing a regular therapist for narcissism, not a sex therapist. Sex therapy commonly deals with ways to improve intimacy between couples, deal with past sexual trauma, help resettle attitudes about sex, or to help the man or woman learn to enjoy sex. What category does this session fall under? Does the lady have past sexual trauma dealing with dogs? It just reads to me like Kenyon hasn’t looked into the profession. This throw-away scene is one of the last times we hear about her job. And this is only chapter five. I know this is a romance and most everything takes a backseat to the relationship of the main leads, but come on.


A handful of paragraphs is spent on this pointless interaction before we’re pulled back into what passes for the plot. Grace’s assistant informs her that Selena has called approximately twelve times.

“Oh, thank God.” Selena spoke before Grace could say a word. “You have got to get your butt down here and take your boyfriend home. Now!”

“He’s not my boyfriend, he’s your-“

“Oh, you want to know what he is?” Selena asked with a note of hysteria in her voice. “He’s a friggin’ estrogen magnet, that’s what he is. I have women mobbing my stand even as we speak. Sunshine loves it, she’s sold more pottery this morning than she ever has before. I tried to get him home earlier, but I can’t even make a dent in this crowd. I swear, you’d think we had a celebrity out here. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Now get your butt down here and help me!”



For having him draw a huge crowd by his very presence, and for comparing him to a celebrity. The “Ill Logic” points comes from Selena’s absurd decision to try to get the main source of business away. If she’s making extra cash doing this, then why not let him keep attracting customers? We’re never told that it’s blocking traffic, that police are involved, or that people are fighting over Julian. So what’s the issue? In my mind it’s like those people who volunteer to wear bikinis to advertise a car wash. If it doesn’t make Julian uncomfortable, what’s the problem?

So by the time Grace gets there, a gaggle of women are tripping over themselves to get a glimpse of Julian. Apparently they’ve been told he’s a romance cover model, and they’re all somehow super-excited about this. What, have they not been staring at enough hunky men on their bookshelves? Do they not have TVs? Because yeah, this happens;

But the most unbelievable of all were the three women who had their arms draped over him while another one took a picture.

“Oh, thank you,” a woman in her mid-thirties purred to Julian as she snatched the camera out of the hands of the woman who had taken their picture.

She cradled the camera to her breast in a way meant to draw Julian’s attention there, but he didn’t seem the least bit interested.

“This is just so wonderful,” she continued to gush. “I can’t wait to get home and show this to my critique group. They’ll never believe I found a real-life romance-novel cover model in the French Quarter.”

Something about the rigid way he stood made Grace suspect that Julian didn’t care for the attention. But to his credit, he wasn’t openly rude.

Still, his smile didn’t reach his eyes and it was nothing like the one he’d given her last night.

“My pleasure,” he said to the women.

The giggles that erupted were deafening. Grace shook her head in disbelief. Women, get some dignity!

Yes. Some dignity would be nice. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be seeing a lot of that around here. Because you know what this is?


One for each of the women draped over him like he’s a buff mannequin. And we’re not done either. Because you know what else it is?


Not overtly sueish to the untrained eye. Unfortunately, my eyes have seen more of this genre than I ever anticipated. This is a case of “the protagonist is so different from other women.” I’ll give you a short list of examples that spring to mind.

Image result for bella swan

Bella Swan

Meyer’s book is rife with this, but to be fair, it’s following a long tradition of telling rather than showing that your character is great. Bella Swan was intended to be a genuinely clever, funny, self-deprecating, unselfish, and genuinely interesting person. She isn’t. In Twilight, our indicator that Bella is supposed to be clever is that she took an AP biology class and therefore already knew the answers to the lab. She’s also supposed to be clever because she’s well-read. But the author transposes a lot of messages onto these books that aren’t there, and so does the character. Bella ends up seeming incredibly dull, catty, and is only saved from looking like a total moron 24/7 by the fact that everyone else in the story is worse. 

Image result for anita blake

Anita Blake

Again, I’m gonna keep harping on Blake as an example of what not to do, because I’m furious that these things get through publishers with minimal editing. No one ever pauses to say “hey, when did the protagonist turn into the villain?”

Because that’s what happens. Somewhere around the middle of the series Anita jumps the shark and becomes everything she claims to hate. And it’s presented as a good thing by the author. Anita was self-sufficient at one point and thought sex was special and should be shared with only people she loved. By the most recent book, that list is stretched so long it beggars belief, just because the author wants her character to have a sexy romp without any of the consequences of you know, writing good character evolution.

Back to the point though. This character is supposed to be a tough-as-nails feminist woman who makes her way in love and life despite the things that hold her back. Instead she’s a mouthy little pissant who doesn’t respect any authority, no matter how justified, gets away with literal murder, is a bald-faced liar and hypocrite, and falls apart if she isn’t shooting or screwing anybody.

I could dump a lot more here (a lot of YA paranormal fiction, mostly. Damn those Twilight knock-offs) but I think everyone gets my point. It’s a suey trait to have your protagonist be the only one with an informed attribute that moves the plot along. As I’ve said before, I sincerely doubt that no one has ever wanted to free Julian. I just can’t believe that in over two millennia the only person he’s encountered with human decency is Grace.

Then again, no one seems to ask the obvious questions. Because I’m about to give Selena another point.


Because Selena claims to care about Julian and Grace both and hands him off to her to be used anyway. Dick move.

Also, I’m feeling like giving it another sue point. Because that up there? That was totally a sue line. Gosh you hoebags, stop ogling this hot piece of man flesh. That’s my personal privilege!


Then again, given Julian’s face, body, and smile, she felt a little giddy every time he looked at her, too.

So who could really blame them for acting like pre-pubescent girls at a shopping-mall rock concert?

All of a sudden Julian looked past his sea of raging hormonal admirers to meet her gaze. Grace arched an amused brow at him.

Instantly, his smile vanished. His eyes focused on her like a hungry predator that had just found its next meal. “If you’ll excuse me,” he said, then waded through the women and headed directly toward her.

Grace gulped, noting the instant hostility of the women who frowned en masse in her direction.

But worse was the sudden, raw surge of desire that tore through her, making her heart pound out of control. And with every step he took, it increased tenfold.

“Greetings, agapeemenee,” Julian said, lifting her hand up to place a kiss on the backs of her knuckles.

A heated wave of electricity danced up her spine. And before she could move, he pulled her into his arms and gave her a hot, soul-wrenching kiss.

Instinctively, she closed her eyes and savored the warmth of his mouth, his breath. The feel of his arms holding her close to a rock-hard chest. Her head reeled from it.

Oh, but the man knew how to give a kiss! Julian had a way with his lips that defied explanation.

And his body… Never had she felt anything like those lean, hard muscles flexing around her.

It was only the barely audible “hussy” one of the women sneered that broke the spell.

“Julian, please,” she whispered. “There are people watching us.”

“Do you think I care?”

“I do!”

Alright counts.


Shopping-mall rock concert? That’s a fairly dated reference. The only people playing at my local shopping mall are unknown names who had to pay out the nose to get even that small bit of attention. More often than not when events happen at the mall they’re holiday related, like pictures with Santa or the creepy-ass Easter bunny.


Because everyone is instantly jealous that this man, whom they don’t know and have only exchanged a few words with, is with the heroine. I gave it two for the “hussy” comment. Because that’s really fanficy for an unnamed character to make unfounded accusations about another woman’s sex life.

And let us not forget these.


Because the author has to lovingly detail the hero’s abs while they kiss.



I’m giving it a double count because this makes no sense at all. What did these women think was going to happen if he was single? That every single one of them were going to get a chance to ride that disco stick? He was going to choose someone.

Whew, that had everything didn’t it?

So the crowd disperses, grumbling unhappily. Selena seems oddly okay with this, despite the fact it’s the most business her stall has had in a long time. Selena says that if she’d known that was all it took she’d have kissed him.


Why does everyone in this book feel entitled to everyone else’s body? I don’t care if it’s supposed to be a joke. It doesn’t read like one and it isn’t funny regardless. She knows Julian’s history, the attention makes him feel uncomfortable, and he’s only supposed to be attracted to Grace right now, supposedly.

Grace gripes that it’s Selena’s fault that he was attracting so much attention. His clothes are too small and showing too much. Yeah, clearly he’s totally asking to be groped. *Rolls eyes.*

Selena defends herself by saying that she didn’t want him to get heat stroke. Julian gets in-between them and condescends that “don’t worry about something as trivial as my clothing.” He rakes a glance over Grace and she’s suddenly in heat.

She looked at Selena and caught the way Selena stared hungrily at Julian’s bare legs and rump.

“You feel it, too, don’t you?” Grace asked.

Blinking, Selena looked up. “Feel what?”

“Him. It’s like he’s the Pied Piper and we’re all mice enchanted by his music.” Grace turned about and noted the way women stared at him, some even craning their necks to get a better view of Julian.

“What is it about him that just pulls us against our wills?” Grace asked.

Julian arched one arrogant brow at her. “Against your will?”

“Well, honestly, yes. I don’t like feeling like this.”

“And how do you feel?” he asked.

“Sexual,” Grace said before she could stop herself.

“Like a goddess?” he asked, his voice dropping an octave.

“Yes,” she said as he took a single step toward her.

He didn’t touch her, but then he didn’t have to. His very presence overwhelmed her. Intoxicated her as he dipped that magnetic gaze to her lips, then to her neck. She swore she could already feel the sensation of his lips buried in the hollow of her throat.

And the man hadn’t even moved.

“I can tell you what it is,” he all but purred.

“It’s the spell, isn’t it?”

He shook his head as he reached one hand out to gently drag his forefinger down her cheek. Grace shuttered her eyes as a wave of fierce desire scorched her. It was all she could do not to turn her head and capture that finger between her teeth.

Julian leaned closer and nuzzled her cheek with his. “It’s the fact that I can appreciate you on a level the men of your age cannot.”

Alright, so counts.


Because up to this point Grace has acted asexual or demisexual, and doesn’t like feeling the wanton sexual desire the curse evokes. At least, that’s what we’re supposed to think. I know why it’s really like this. She’s found her twu luv and now is seized by the desire to ravish him. Because heaven forbid you have sex with someone who isn’t your true love. And you better regret it if you do, lady! No sex is good sex unless it’s with your forever man or woman.


I’m bumping it by a lot because that one annoys me so damn much. Sex is sex. It should feel good with the person you’re with, no matter the level of commitment. Granted, it won’t always, because long-term partners tend to know what the other likes because of familiarity and practice. But no, we’re supposed to believe that because he’s a demi-god he’s automatically sooo much better than a mortal man.

I don’t like that there’s so much normal man bashing in these books. There is nothing wrong with a man with a stable job. There is nothing wrong with a man who prefers to stay in and watch movies. There is nothing wrong with a man who is a little bit safe. I understand the “bad boy” genre is a thing for some women, but I hate it. Sex is not something you throw at deep personal issues and expect them to get better. But that’s what happens in most of these books. The heroine heals the hero with her magical therapy vagina.

“It’s the fact he has the tightest gluteus rumpus I’ve ever seen,” Sunshine said, interrupting them. “Not to mention a voice and accent to die for. I really wish someone would tell me where I could get one of those.”


Ha ha. It’s supposed to be funny. Because in just a few books Sunshine will find her one twu luv as well.

Julian leaned down at her, his blue eyes searing her with their heat. “Come home with me, Grace,” he whispered in her ear. “Now. Let me take you into my arms, strip your clothes from your body, and show you how the gods meant for a woman to know a man. I swear to you, you’ll remember it for the rest of eternity.”

She closed her eyes as the scent of sandalwood filled her head. His breath tickled her neck while his cheek was so close to hers, she swore she could feel his whiskers touching her.

Every part of her wanted to surrender to him. Yes, please, yes.

Her gaze dropped down to his shoulder. To the hard sculpting of his muscles. To the hollow of his throat. Oh, how she longed to run her tongue over the golden bounty of his skin. To see if the rest of his body tasted as good as his mouth.

He would be splendid in bed. There was no doubt.

But she meant nothing to him. Nothing.

“I can’t,” she breathed, taking a step back.

Disappointment filled his eyes. Then, his look turned hard, determined. “You will,” he assured her.

Sorry I keep using large swaths of the texts but I really think context matters, so you don’t think I’m being hyperbolic.


That point is for the return of her “deep pain.” Yes, it sucks that one douchebag used her for his own gratification. But that doesn’t mean all men will. I think that a sex therapist should know this better than anyone.


For that last line there. I know what the author is trying to get at. She’s trying to say that no one is strong enough to resist the curse. But it came across like “I’m gonna rape you.” Because Julian is absolutely confident he’s going to tap that ass before the book is over. And he doesn’t seem to care that she’s made uncomfortable or scared by the prospect.

Grace takes him shopping to get him clothing that fits. He continues to say in unsubtle terms that he wants to pork her. She tries to ignore it and then is shocked by the revelation that no one has ever dressed him when he was summoned in the past. I’ve gone over why this doesn’t make much sense, so I won’t linger on this overlong. I’m just gonna point this out.

“They summoned you, yet none of them ever conversed with you or clothed you?”

“Every man’s fantasy, is it not? To have a million women throwing themselves at him, wanting no commitments, no promises. Wanting nothing from him, other than his body, and the few weeks of pleasure he can give them?” His flippant words didn’t quite mask the acid undertone.


Because he’s not like other men either. Pfft.

Why do so many romance novels paint men as ravening sex beasts? I’m sorry, most aren’t. We as a species have a better life balance than that. There are plenty of men who don’t like casual sex, and believe in waiting for someone special. This isn’t unique to Julian or any of the other ken-doll protagonists that get trotted out in these books. Lots and lots of men want love with their sex.

Grace gives Julian some clothes to try on and shoves him in a dressing room. He freaks out because he hasn’t seen his reflection in a long time. Which makes me wonder how he would have seen it in the first place. Mirrors were being used in ancient times, but they were usually polished metal, not glass. Glass was not refined and was a luxury at this point. The modern mirror didn’t really become widespread until the 16th century, during which he was presumably porking somebody. So it’s not impossible that he could have seen it in water but he wasn’t seeing it this clearly.  He shouldn’t have an exact idea of what he looks like.


But even worse than his claustrophobia was the face in the mirror. He hadn’t seen his own reflection in centuries. And the face staring back at him looked so much like his father that he wanted to splinter it. He saw the same smoothly sculpted planes, the same contemptuous eyes.

The only thing missing was the deep, jagged scar that had run down his father’s left cheek.

And for the first time in countless centuries, Julian saw the jarring sight of the three thin commander’s braids that hung to his shoulder.

His hand shaking, he reached up and touched them as he did something he hadn’t done in an exceptionally long time; he remembered the day he had earned them.

It had been after the battle at Thebes when his commander had fallen and the Macedonian troops had started to panic and retreat. He had grabbed the commander’s sword, regrouped them, and led them to victory against the Romans.

The day after the battle, the Macedonian queen herself had braided his hair, and placed her own personal beads on the ends.

Are we talking his father, the Spartan? Julian’s history is so muddled in this book. Why would he fight for Macedon if he were raised in Sparta? And it’s highly unlikely that the queen herself would do that. I’m sorry, just no. Braided hair was a very common style in Greece. Men and women have been shown in artwork as having plaits in their hair. Acting like it’s something unique to Julian or that a lot of other Greeks didn’t do it is just not true.


So Julian has a wangst fest about how he isn’t that man anymore, and that being cursed to be a sex slave means he isn’t worthy to wear the braids anymore. There’s a big long passage where Grace lovingly details how well his jeans fit, and I’ll spare you it.


So Julian once again tries to get Grace to sleep with him, she says no, he mutters in Greek, and Selena chides him for it. She says that Grace slept through the entire semester. I know that some colleges make you take language as a general education requirement. But why would Grace take Ancient Greek, no matter how much Selena pestered her? It actually makes sense for Selena to take it, because it had to do with her major. Wouldn’t Latin be more useful to Grace, if she wanted to study a dead language? Or how about  a language people still speak? How about Spanish or French, since they’re the most common languages in New Orleans besides English?


So Selena tries to stick her foot in her mouth by calling Julian a love-slave to his face. Then this happens.

“I know what I am. You can’t offend me with the truth of it. I’m actually more offended by the word Greek than I am love-slave. I was trained in Sparta, and fought for the Macedonians. I made it my habit to avoid Greece as much as possible before I was cursed.”

Gaaaaaaah. No! I’ve said this before, but this makes no damn sense. Why would he go fight for Macedonia if he was trained in Sparta? Now at this point Sparta isn’t in it’s hayday anymore, but there was still a lot of pride in being a Spartan warrior. He wouldn’t have just gone off to fight for the Macedonians. He might have fought with them, as a commander of the Spartan army, but not as a Macedonian.

And I’ve gone over this before, but it bears repeating. The Macedonians would have considered themselves Greek. There was a time that Macedon was considered the boonies in Greek society. But that all changed when Philip the Second, and Alexander the Great came out of Macedon and whooped major ass. They became a respected power in their own right and would not have been looked down upon by anyone except maybe the Athenians, but they were snobs anyway.

Julian should consider himself Greek, no matter which country he likes to claim as his homeland. The Spartans were very Greek, and by this time, Macedon was too. And he’s the son of a Greek Goddess so hell yes, he’s Greek.


Giving it five because that one was so bad.

“Where were you born?” she asked.

A tic started in his jaw and his eyes darkened ominously. Wherever his birthplace had been, he didn’t care for it. “Very well, I’m half Greek, but I don’t claim that half of my heritage.”

Okay, big nerve there. From now on, she would drop Greek from her vocabulary.

He should not be throwing a shit fit over this. At all.

So Selena changes the subject and insists on buying Grace a sheer red nightie, because no one cares what Grace thinks about this situation.


So Grace tries to find out if there’s a way to get him out of the book. He says there isn’t. Selena asked which god favored him and might let him out of the book. He says he was close to Eros. Selena suggests that he call him. He finally relents, calling him Cupid, which is the Roman form of the name. Which will be touched on later, so it doesn’t get a point.

Then we have a complete non-sequitur as they leave the shop.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a blue blur headed for the street. It took her a full second to realize it was Julian running across the lot. She frowned at his actions, until she saw the small boy who was stepping off the curb into traffic.

“Oh, my God,” Grace gasped as she heard car brakes squealing.

“Steven!” a woman shouted.

With a move straight out of Hollywood, Julian jumped over the low parking lot wall, plucked the child up from the road, and, holding the boy against his chest, he ran up onto the fender of the braking car, then turned a side flip, up, over, and away from the car.

They landed safely in the other lane a spilt second before a second car jerked around the first and plowed straight into them.

Horrified, Grace watched as Julian slammed into the hood of an old Chevy. He slid up it, into the windshield, and was then flung forward onto the street where he rolled for several yards before finally coming to a stop.

He lay on his side, unmoving.

*heavy sarcasm* Yes. I’m on the edge of my seat. Oh no. Will he be okay?

Of course he will be. You know what this is?


I bumped it up by three because that was ridiculous. At least in future books it makes sense for there to be chase scenes and action-hero stunts. This one doesn’t. This is just the author showing off that there’s something tender inside Julian still because he likes kids. And to show off how badass he is that he survived impact with a speeding car. And he walks this accident off like it’s nothing, so there’s really no consequence or sacrifice to the act at all.

Selena decides the best thing they can do to celebrate the rescue is to get him a cookie. Okay. Fine, whatever. It’s mostly an excuse so Julian can do “romantic” stuff like eat out of Grace’s hand and kiss sugar off her lips. He asks why she’s afraid of him and she denies it. And then we get this.

“You’re cringing,” he said pointedly as they got back on the escalator.

Even though she was on the step below, he braced his arms on each side of her, then leaned his head close to her own. His presence surrounded her, enveloped her, and made her strangely giddy and warm.

She stared at the strength of his tense, tanned hands on the belt behind hers. The way the veins stood out to emphasize the power and beauty of them. Like the rest of him, his hands and arms were gorgeous.

“You’ve never had an orgasm, have you?” he whispered in her ear.

Grace choked on her praline. “This is not the place to talk about it.”

“That’s it, isn’t it?” he asked. “That’s why-“

“That’s not it,” she interrupted him. “As a matter of fact, I have.”

Okay, it was a lie, but he didn’t have to know that.

Ugh. Again, why must they discuss this in public? And what business is it of his? She’s made it clear she doesn’t want you, buddy. Orgasms are not going to fix the issue. He seems shocked when she says no, she doesn’t want to. He just can’t believe that someone doesn’t want him.



Because I know he’s going to continue to push her boundaries, despite the fact she’s been very clear.

“Then why can’t you just enjoy your time here with me without any…”-she lowered her voice-“sex?”

His eyes flared. “Enjoy what? Enjoy getting to know people whose faces will haunt me for eternity? Do you think I enjoy looking around here knowing that in a few days I’ll be pulled back into a blank, empty hole where I can hear, but I can’t see, can’t taste, feel, or smell, where my stomach churns constantly from hunger and my throat burns with an unquenchable thirst? You are the only thing I’m permitted to enjoy. And you would deny me that.”

Grr. You are not entitled to her body you dick!


We get a flashback to Grace’s trauma. Paul was a jerk, stuck it in without concern for her, said to stop crying, didn’t try to make it pleasant, and then openly bragged about the conquest to his friends. Grace hides in humiliation and cries for days.

If she were really as spunky as she’s supposed to be, she ought to have told his friends that he was a one-pump chump and hung like a mosquito. There are plenty of ways of getting vengeance on an ex. I’m not saying that revenge is the best way, but it would certainly have helped Grace to get her own back and save another girl from the same sort of manipulation. Don’t cry in the corner, tell people what he did. Contrary to popular opinion, no one likes an asshole. Girls would steer clear of him if they found out he was a callous jerk who was terrible in bed.


I gave it two. One for Paul, who tried to have sex with a virgin without any prep and continuing when she was clearly uncomfortable. One for Grace for letting him get away with it.

So we end the chapter with a bunch of bikers sidling up to where they’re at. Julian takes one look at the lead biker and goes over and slugs him. It’s supposed to be a shocking display, but I had pretty much guessed who it is by the time the chapter ends. You get a cookie if you can too.

Join me next time to learn about Julian’s past. Its more tragic than Grace’s and yet we’re still going to try to claim she has the bigger hangups. Sigh.

Posted in Home, Reviews

Fiction Faux Pas Hit List: Planned Reviews

I should preface this by saying that I’m picking some seriously low-hanging fruit here, and I know it. Some series like Kenyon’s Dark Hunters and Hamilton’s Anita Blake will be getting their own full-length sporks, because I don’t think that they deserve to get away unscathed simply because they are romance. And I’ll always have more vitriol for series that went through a traditional publisher and received widespread release (Fifty Shades my God why?!)

A lot of these books will also be self-published. Now I’m not saying that self-publishing is a bad thing. There are some good indie authors out there who are never going to get a fair shake with a traditional publisher, and I’m all for them being able to get their work out there. But because there is no gate-keeping (and no gate-keeping is not always a bad thing!) there is an unfair assumption that because Sturgeon’s Law applies here, everything that is self-published has to be crap. It’s not. There’s just a higher proportion of crap in self-publishing.

The books I’m listing here are going to be regular reviews, just for the lols. I have a morbid curiosity about terrible literature. Just when I think I’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel, I find another layer of muck. It never ceases to amaze me how bad writing can get. Most of these are cringe-inducing and widely recognized to be bad. But because I apparently like to watch flaming train wrecks, I’m going to investigate them myself.

So without further ado, here’s a list of the books I’m currently curious about. In no particular order:

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The Meredith Gentry Series

Yeah, I knew I was going to tackle this one sooner or later. This is another series by Laurell K. Hamilton. I know that I’ve got A Stroke of Midnight on my Blogger’s Guilty Pleasure review section. It’s mostly because that ASoM was my first brush with erotica, and it was pretty tame. I also have a funny story about how I accidentally brought an audio book I didn’t know was essentially porn to my grandma’s house one Christmas. Yeesh. This one is less of a blatant self-insert as the Anita Blake series, but it is still rife with Hamilton-isms. It will one day see its day in the flames. I’m going to do a chapter-by-chapter sporking of this one.


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Handbook for Mortals

This book, by Lani Sarem, caused a minor scandal when it was discovered it hadn’t really earned its spot on the New York Best-Seller’s list. Strategic bulk purchases had bumped the numbers and put this book on the list. The author still insists that it was pushed from its place unrightfully. The 1.8 Goodreads score begs to differ. Now I know from my experiences as a ghostwriter that some (often self-published) books that are genuinely good don’t have good scores. Because a lot of self-published books only sell a few copies, it only takes a couple of assholes to tank the score.

This was earned. The Handbook for Mortals is full of stiff, two-dimensional characters, and as much mary-sue wangsting as you can stand. This will probably only be a review, but who knows? If I hate it enough it may end up as a spork.

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Oh God, Troll. I didn’t believe this one when I first heard of it. I encountered this one day, while bored and scrolling through Youtube. In a hilarious review of the book by Jenny Nicholson which you can find here, she dissects this self-published abomination. But honestly, can’t you just look at the tagline on this book and tell what you’re in for? Good Lord!

I’m probably going to approach this book with mixed curiosity and revulsion. This book has a surprisingly middling score on Goodreads and Amazon, which baffles me. The series uses a bullshit marketing tactic, splitting the series into three unnecessarily to squeeze pennies out of the unfortunate reader. Anyone thinking of self-publishing their books, trust me when I say this isn’t a good strategy. Let your work speak for itself and just publish a series that is worth considering. It can be done. Consider Ruby Dixon and her Dragonblood series as an example of a self-published series I actually secretly like.

This book is full of rapey do-not-want, and a protagonist who is dumb as rocks. Probably only a review. I’m not sure I could stand going chapter to chapter with this one.

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The Maradonia Saga

Why is it that a lot of bad fiction happens to be firmly set in high fantasy settings? I understand idolizing Tolkien and aspiring to write something as good, but yeesh. So many people completely miss the point, or are so narcissistic as to think they have actually beat out Tolkien in terms of literary quality. Thankfully Amazon and Goodreads agree with the general assessment that this series is crap. Add to that that you have to pay fifteen bucks for this thing, and there’s no ebook version of it? Yeah, not one I’m looking forward to.

Gloria Tesch also has a gigantic ego to contend with. She claims to be the world’s youngest novelist, claims to have sold out a lot of her books at well-attended signings, and that there will eventually be a theme park and movie based after her books! Gah!


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The Eye Of Argon

This one is a little older and has been thoroughly mocked, but since I have not read it yet, I will be subjecting myself to the torture and reporting back to you. If I survive, that is. I’ll also probably do this one in conjunction with the Maradonia Saga, because some people claim that Gloria Tesch’s messterpiece deposes Argon as the pinnacle of enjoyably bad literature. I’ll try to publish a compare and contrast piece when I’m through.

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Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls

This is the first in a series of incredibly race-baitey books by Victoria Foyt. It is one of two, and I’ll determine after reading this one if I even want to touch the sequel. This one is the only one on the list that makes me frankly nervous. When discussing anything related to race, you have  to be sensitive. This one says “screw that!” and throws logic right out the window.

I may return to Victoria Foyt in future because almost all of her books have incredibly low scores and some of the others might be entertaining instead of uncomfortable. But I felt like I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this one on the list.

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Diary of a Vampeen: Vamp Chronicles Book 1

Bhahahahahaha! I’m sorry I’ve got the maturity of a twelve-year-old! But this title has me in stitches. Christin Lovell clearly liked Twilight and it shows. Much like Meyer, she clearly doesn’t know there was already a term for a half-vampire child. It’s called a dhampir! And no, I don’t think she was going for “vampire peen” the way the title suggests, even though that would be hilarious.

The main character goes through a sueish transformation from a chubby, acne-ridden teen into a vampeen, and instead of it being embraced as a message of “there are all kinds of beauty” and struggling with the change and the suddenness of new attention, and how they contribute to her bad body image, she takes it in stride. If this were the only problem, I wouldn’t have put it on the list. But there are more. A lot more.

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The Legend of Rah and the Muggles

This is another old one. It caught my attention because the author insists to this day that J.K. Rowling ripped off her work, using flimsy justifications as to why Rowling’s work is infringement. I’ll probably do an in-depth review of this because I love Harry Potter as much as the next person, and inspiration (if it even was inspired by this forgotten book) is not the same as infringement.

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The Baldur’s Gate Novelizations

I actually won’t be tackling this one myself. My husband is personally offended by these novelizations because it takes what is a good game and turns the protagonist into a raging misogynist, it’s full of gorn, and ignores series continuity when convenient. I don’t have a lot to say about it, except it will be entertaining to see someone else foaming at the mouth about bad books for a change.

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Dinosaur Erotica

Again–bhahahahaha! I knew going in these were going to be bad, and I’ve actually really enjoyed it when Emma Blackery does dramatic readings of these.  I’m only reading these out of sheer morbid curiosity, not with any expectation of quality. There are a lot of these, actually. I’m not sure whether to read and review them separately, or to review the existing ones in a long review. Thoughts?

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The Adventures of the Teen Archaeologists

I’m sure I’m going to have a lot of fun ripping this one apart with the help of my husband (a history major, who enjoys ancient history specifically.) This book has one star on Amazon, and looks like it’s going to be full of history fail and a lack of common sense. There are a lot of spelling and punctuation errors in this book, and the author apparently doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “sarcastically.”

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Lucinda Darkly

By an author who only calls herself Sunny. Apparently the author likes Hamilton, because it is Anita Blake-ish, with the main character being an impossibly powerful character who does improbably little in the way of actual plot. It has a middling review, but I’ve been told it’s a sporking gold mine. I might do a chapter-by-chapter review for this one.

I’ll probably continue this list another time, cause I am busy today, but I think there’s quite enough to contend with in this one alone, don’t you? If you have any suggestions for horrible books to add to Hit List Part Two, please let me know in the comments below. And as always, thanks for reading.


Posted in Home, Recommended Titles

Recommended Titles: Thunderhead

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I’m back with another Recommended Titles. I don’t get to do that much recreational reading anymore, around a job, family, and whatnot. But I’ve made an exception for a few series, carving out time to read or listen to them when I can. Thunderhead is one such title I’ve done this for.

Much like the first book in this series, Thunderhead engaged me from page one. It kept the momentum going from the first book and upped the stakes to boot. I absolutely adore the world that Neal Shusterman has created in this series, and I’m sure I’ll be able to put the third book in this series on the list of recommended titles as well.

This book continues the tale of our two protagonists, who have two vastly different approaches to fixing the corrupt system of the scythedom. As the titular character, the benevolent AI the Thunderhead plays a much bigger role in this book. The Thunderhead, much like our main characters, is also trying to sort out the growing problem of the scythedom, without breaking its own rules not to interfere with the job of scythes.

Like the last book, the chapters are broken up with asides from different characters. This can still throw people off, because they are generally reflections on the world that exists within the story, or musings on the age of mortality (the past that we exist in now). They can come across as arrogant or the author speaking down to the reader. There is a lot of emphasis on religion which can be grating. However, this book mostly centers on the Thunderhead’s insights into humanity, which I found more tolerable.

Because this book is a continuation it is going to be hard to read as a stand-alone. There are things you absolutely must know about this world established in the first book to understand the narrative. This is not bad in and of itself, but can deter some people. It also ends on a cliffhanger, which annoys the crap out of me because I’m probably going to have to wait another year before the third in the series is out. Grr.

That is both a compliment and a downside. If you don’t like cliffhangers, this one will make you mad. We end right in the middle of a big plot point, and will have to wait to see how it is resolved.

That said, I love this book and I would recommend it and the first book Scythe to any lover of YA fiction. I’m actually looking into reading Shusterman’s other series to see if there are any similarities. If there are, I’m sure I’ll love it.

Sorry this is a short one, but I can’t get into much more without going into massive spoiler territory. I’ll end by saying this was a thoroughly engaging read, which I finished in two days. Mr. Shusterman deserves high praise. And a boot in the behind for that cliffhanger. Damn it.

As always if you have any suggestions, feel free to express them in the comments below. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again with another review soon.

Posted in Home, Recommended Titles

Recommended Titles: The Dresden Files

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Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I cannot emphasize enough how much I love the Dresden Files. My love for this series has spurred me to construct cosplay for it, and write fanfic (something I don’t do for any old series. Anymore.) I daydream about this series and I cannot wait until the newest short story anthology Brief Cases will be out this summer.

For those who don’t know, the series revolves around the titular character Harry Dresden, a wizard and PI working in Chicago. In the course of his cases he faces of against demons, ghosts, vampires and more. Sound like your regular supernatural fare? Well think again.

Butcher is skilled at creating complex, three-dimensional characters out of even the worst monsters. I think it’s the mark of a very good writer that you can both sympathize with the character’s pain, and be repulsed by their monstrous nature. Our main lead Harry is a flawed individual and has gradual power-ups over the course of the series rather than Godmoding it all the way, as I’ve seen other series do *cough, cough Anita Blake cough*. 

The world building is excellent, introducing us to monsters, magical governmental systems, supernatural power struggles and so much more. The magic system is easy to understand and has a lot of possibilities. Aside from a few minor continuity errors in the timeline (one character’s age is off in a book, but the rest of the series follows with the new age, and Harry’s birthdate is a little hard to pin down) the timeline is pretty solid, and Butcher doesn’t do a lot of retconing or retelling of history as I’ve seen a number of other urban fantasy writers do. Any errors I’ve spotted are pretty inconsequential and don’t affect my enjoyment of the series.

The humor is great, the characters are authentic, and people act in ways that flow logically from their characterization. That said, I’ll get into some of the things readers might take issue with.

It takes about three books for the series to find its footing. Storm Front and Fool Moon read more like stand alone novels than a continuation of the same series. In Grave Peril we kick off the overarching plot and the overall quality of the series gets better. You can’t completely skip the first two without missing some essential information. They are still enjoyable, but I’d say less engaging than the others in the series. This could be a product of it being the first series he’s published. According to my husband who as read Butcher’s other series The Codex Alera and The Cinder Spires, these don’t suffer the same false start that The Dresden Files did. That said, I don’t find it a struggle to get through the first two.

Another thing that might deter readers is that Butcher has a habit of absolutely packing his books with plot lines. It can take awhile for the books to get to the main plot, often obfuscating it in red herrings. This isn’t a bad approach necessarily, but I find that my favorites in the series (Blood Rites, Turncoat, Changes, and Skin Game) have one main plot point and less diversionary stories packed in there. This may be just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt.

Harry’s characterization might offend some, because of the character flaws that Butcher has deliberately instilled in him. The Dresden Files finds its roots in Noir, so like many Noir detectives Harry is a sucker for a pretty face, doesn’t see certain things coming when the crime is perpetrated by a woman, and has a bit of a white knight complex. This is acknowledged as a flaw, and Harry works to overcome it over the course of the series.

I take umbrage with reviews that declare that Jim Butcher must be a raging sexist for this to be such a strong element of Harry’s personality. I just don’t see it that way. Harry is old-school, sure, but Jim doesn’t let his ladies be any less badass than his protagonist. Often women are actually saving Harry’s ass, and there is nary a swooning damsel in sight. Women aren’t treated like a reward in this series, and Harry rarely gets laid. Again, this element is missing in his other series, and I think it’s only present in this one because this one draws from an older genre in which it was a staple.

Anyways, that’s about all I can say without major spoilers for the series. I could give endless examples of why I think this series is fantastic, but I’d have to delve into canon, and I really would like for you all to read it for yourselves.

Thanks for reading, and as always if you have anything you’d like to request or comment on, you can do so below and I’ll get back to you.

Posted in Reviews

Fantasy Lover Review: Chapter Four

Warning: One image in this review is NSFW.

So we left off last chapter with Grace basically telling us the premise of the whole book. One man did her wrong, so all guys suck.

But even more surprising than her words was the amount of bitterness he heard in Grace’s voice. She must have been badly used in the past. No wonder she was skittish of him.

Badly used? She lost her virginity to a douche. And she’s been so gun-shy about it ever since that she’s never given a man a fair chance. Spoiler alert, we learn in an upcoming chapter that Paul preyed upon Grace’s grief shortly after her parents death in order to get into her pants. It’s a scuzzy, low-down, rotten thing to do, and I’m not excusing it in the least. Paul can rot in hell for it. But here’s the thing. This happened in Grace’s college years, she was twenty-four when she lost her virginity to Paul and discovered his subsequent betrayal.  So she’s had five years to process this. And she’s still so hung up on it that she refuses to date or even get turned on?

Maybe it’s my naivete showing, but I think that five years is enough to put some distance between herself and a trauma. I’ve never had something truly horrible happen to me, like assault or domestic violence. I know those things are traumatic. I know that some scars go so deep they don’t ever completely go away. But Grace wasn’t raped. She was taken advantage of, certainly, but not coerced or taken against her will. Not the way that Julian has been for the last two millennium. She had one bad experience, and now refuses all men on the basis that one man did her wrong.

You know it reminds me of two different things, ironically both vampire series. One good and one bad. Let’s start with the good first.

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That douche up there? That’s Parker Abrams from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He caught Buffy on the rebound and pretended to be sweet, kind, and sensitive, just to get into Buffy’s pants. When he did, he left. He moved on to new girls, and this betrayal does affect Buffy. But it doesn’t destroy her. It is the starting point for new characterization. Buffy learns and grows from the experience. In the same season, she falls for the good, albeit bland, soldier-boy Riley Finn.

Buffy doesn’t stay there. You could argue that after having to send her first boyfriend to hell, it wasn’t as big a deal to Buffy, but we see otherwise in the show. It is heartbreaking to watch Buffy struggle through her feelings for Parker and what little they had. And it is satisfying to watch him get punched in the face when the time comes. But Buffy doesn’t even wait a year before moving on to something bigger and better. In my opinion, Grace should have been able to do the same.

Alright, on to the bad example.

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Anita Blake from her eponymous series. In this example here? Anita is the douche I’m talking about. Anita acts as the emotional support system for the majority of the characters in the books she’s apart of. Why, I have no idea, because she has the emotional maturity of a teaspoon. But even if I assume she’s the wise-beyond-her-years, hardened cop that she’s supposed to be (instead of the raging megalomaniac and psychotic bitch that she is) she is completely and utterly selfish when it comes to her love life. She uses people at every turn, insisting on monogamy for the majority of the books while keeping her harem abstinent unless they are sleeping with her.

But the kicker? The thing I think that applies here? Every single one of the men/women in her life has a worse backstory than she does. Every. Damn. One. And yet? Anita plays it off like the worst thing she’s ever gone through–the death of her mother when she was eight–is the be-all-end-all of tragedy. Which I would get if her mother had been killed right in front of her, a la Supernatural, or raped and murdered right in front of her a la Hellsing. But no! Her mother had an accidental death, by car crash. And yet Anita insists that her pain is worse than ANYBODY else’s! A death is horrible, yes, but Anita has had fucking years to get over it and make peace with the fact her father remarried. But she never, ever does it!

Grace is supposed to remind me of Buffy. I think that all the heroines in the Dark Hunters series are supposed to be tough, smart girls who get the job done and save the man with the magical therapy vagina. But they’re not. A lot of them turn out like Anita. Their petty problems end up being the focus of the novel, and the man has to overcome them despite having massively worse emotional baggage himself. The only book I’ve read by Kenyon so far where this does not apply is, ironically Styxx. The love interest in that book is whole and is able to support him through the horrible shit he’s gone through. As she should.

Sorry to go off on a tangent at the very beginning of the chapter but good lord, I’m tired of the woman having to work through a relatively minor problem and that’s the focus of the book. Instead of the massive emotional hangups that the man has, that need serious therapy.


Closing his eyes, he forced those thoughts away. That was literally ancient history and this was the present. Grace was the present.

And he was here for her.

Now, he understood what Selena had meant when she’d spoken to him about Grace. That was why he was here. He was to show Grace that sex was enjoyable.

Never before had he encountered anything like this.

As he looked at Grace, a slow smile curved his lips. This would be the first time in his life he’d ever had to pursue a woman for his lover. No woman had ever turned his body down.

What with her wit and stubbornness he knew getting Grace into bed would prove to be every bit as challenging as outwitting the Roman army.



The consent thing should be pretty obvious. Grace has said no, but he’s going to pursue anyway. Even though it is the case of the lady protesting too much, which also makes me distinctly uncomfortable as a trope, going off of what she’s said, she’s turned him down. End of story. Period. Take no for an answer asshole.

The did not do the research point has to do with what I’ve said in previous posts. Rome pretty much crushed Greece in the Punic Wars. Greece was not a united front, and routinely the city-states would stab each other in the back and fight with the enemies of one city-state to destroy another. It’s painted in this book that the loss of Julian and Kyrian of Thrace is the only reason that Greece lost the war. Not, you know, the fact that Rome was a united front and Greece was not, among other reasons. The only reason that we have so much of an idea about Ancient Greece is that Rome pretty much subsumed their beliefs and a lot of their culture. Romans were huge grecophiles.

But I know what it really is. The hyperbole is supposed to allude to how headstrong Grace is. But she really isn’t. She’s not resisting so strongly because she’s concerned about the moral quandary this situation presents. She doesn’t resist because of the issue of consent, or to keep him from suffering more trauma. Her reasons for abstaining are about seventy percent selfish. So it gets one of these.


So after she’s fed him, she intends to go to bed. He tells her that he doesn’t want to go to sleep. He doesn’t want to be still and in darkness again. Understandable, I suppose. But he also doesn’t want to be alone, and it’s a contrived excuse to get them together in one bed. So she takes him upstairs and tells him he can watch the TV in her room.

While she goes to get him clothing, he muses about how much the world has changed since he was last summoned. Here’s another thing I don’t get. I understand that he’s learned English through listening to people outside the book, but how the hell does he know what certain things are? I know context clues can help somewhat, but without visual aids or any concept of what a new technology is, it would be impossible for him to know them off the bat.


His next concern is fairly reasonable. The shop keeper who kept his book comments that one day e-books will probably overtake regular books. And in a sense, it’s correct. Amazon and other companies offer e-books at reduced prices, making them cheaper to purchase than regular print books. Print books are harder to make, and take time. That’s why the indie book market is booming right now. It’s easier to consume and to produce. But I don’t share the view that print books will ever completely go away.

You have purists, like my husband and my mother who will always prefer to have a print copy in their hands when they can. And for some, it’s just easier. Devices wear out, break, or get expensive to replace, so having a print copy you can get from a library or at a book store might be preferable.

Julian is afraid he’ll never be summoned again, and will therefore never escape his prison. So, I’ll admit that’s reasonable.

He finds Grace in the other room crying over a pair of her father’s pajama pants. Yes. Yes it is awful she lost her parents. She deserves a cry. But it’s Julian’s reaction that annoys me.

Before he could reconsider his actions, he stepped into the room and drew her into a hug. Her arms encircled his waist and she held on to him like a lifeline as she buried her face into his bare chest and wept. Her entire body shook against his.

Something strange inside him unfurled. A deep longing for something he couldn’t name.

Never in his life had he comforted a weeping woman. He’d had sex more times than he could count, but never once had he just held a woman like this. Not even after sex. Once he wore out his partner, he would get up and clean himself off, then go find something to occupy himself with until he was called again.

Even before the curse, he’d never shown anyone tenderness. Not even his wife.


Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit! I refuse to believe this is the first time that Julian has displayed any platonic affection toward any woman. He had a wife. He had children. What? Did he tell her to lay back and think of Thebes while they consummated their marriage? Clearly there was love (at least on his side of things, because as we later learn, it’s more complicated than this.) I don’t know if this is also supposed to be going along with the “Spartan warrior thing” that Kenyon was trying to set up. But guess what? That doesn’t work either!

See this? See where Macedonia is? Way up top. Whereas Sparta…

Image result for ancient greek map


Julian of Macedon the “spartan” warrior is just ludicrous. What the hell? Did he get sent on an exchange program or something? The only way to make this distinctly plausible is if you say he was cast down from Olympus after his birth to Aphrodite and landed in Sparta and was raised there, but later rejoined his countrymen. But if you have to stretch that far, it’s not a good explanation. Also, if I may just nitpick, his name also doesn’t fit.

Julian, from the Roman name Iulianus, which was derived from Julius. So if we’re to follow what Kenyon’s laying down, Julian is a Spartan warrior from Macedonia, who has a Roman name. Gah.


Four points. One for the complete misunderstanding of Greek attitudes towards sex and affection. Three more for the incongruity of his backstory.

As a soldier, he’d been trained from his first memory to be fierce, cold. Harsh.

“Return with your shield, or upon it.” That was what his stepmother had told him as she grabbed him by his hair and slung him out of her home to begin training for war at the tender age of seven.

His father had been even worse. A legendary Spartan commander, his father had tolerated no weakness. No emotion. The man had doled out Julian’s childhood at the end of a braided leather whip, teaching him to hide his pain. To let no one see him suffer.

To this day Julian could feel the bite of the whip against his bare back, hear the sound it made as it cut through the air toward his skin. See the mocking sneer of contempt on his father’s face. 

So his father isn’t even Macedonian. It makes even less sense. Also, what the hell is it with people mistreating demi-gods in this series? You don’t want their mommy or daddy to smite you, so you should probably be nice to them! In the myths where they’re put out or treated badly by mortals it never ends well.


One for the mistreatment of Julian at the hands of his step-parents, and two for making his parents Spartan in the first place. I think it was chosen because it was one of the more iconic Greek cultures besides Athens. But really, it would have made more sense for him to have remained Macedonian. This was after Alexander the Great, so Macedon wouldn’t have been considered the boonies anymore.


So nothing more of note happens in that section except that Julian puts the moves on Grace, and she turns him down. She falls asleep and Julian just stares at her face. He was creeping on ladies before Edward Cullen made it cool.

He could tell when she finally fell asleep by the evenness of her breathing. It was only then that he finally dared to touch her. Dared to trace the gentle outline of her soft cheek with the pad of his forefinger.

His body reacted with such violence that he bit his lip to keep from cursing. Fire streamed through his blood.

He’d known stabbing desires all his life-first a hunger in his belly for food, then a burning thirst for love and respect, and finally the demanding one in his loins for the wet sleekness of a woman’s body. But never, never, had he experienced anything like this.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If something is burning, go get that checked out Julian.

And all he could think of was spreading her creamy, silken thighs and planting himself deep inside her. Of sliding in and out of her body over and over until they both screamed out their release in unison.

Only that would never happen.

Julian moved farther away from her. To a safe distance in the bed where he could no longer smell her sweet feminine scent, feel the heat of her body beneath the covers.

He could give her pleasure for days on end without stopping, but for him there would never be peace.

Days? Oh no, honey. There’s such a thing as sleep deprivation, refractory period, chafing, and other fun sexual woes. The record for longest sexual intercourse is currently 15 hours and change. That’s not a day. I would think that anything over an hour would chafe. Owwww.


And is it just me, or is that sentiment just a little rapey considering he’s staring at her unconscious form and hasn’t backed off?


“Damn you, Priapus,” he snarled, speaking the name of the god who had cursed him to this fate. “I hope Hades is giving you your full due.”

Ah, so we finally get to Priapus! Fun, fun. At first I thought he was a made up god, the same way that the Atlantean Pantheon are in later books. But no, Priapus is an actual Greek deity. But that seems to be where the research ends.

Image result for priapus

As you can see from the picture, he was well known for his enormous schlong. He was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens, and male genitalia. The condition priapism, where the penis remains erect without stimulation or long after intercourse is over, is named after him. Priapus had a permanently erect penis, except when it actually came time to perform.  He was cursed with ugliness and thrown from Olympus by the other gods.

He was also very rapey. He tried to rape the goddess Hestia while she slept, and was only stopped from doing so because of the braying of a donkey. Myths vary on who is parents are, but a popular idea is that he is the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite. So this book gets that right at least.

What it doesn’t get right is the fact that he was a minor, minor deity that would certainly not have had a major shrine in a big city, and probably would have been worshiped by farmers in rural areas, not priestesses. And certainly not virgin priestesses. A god whose main defining attribute is commonly described as “column”, “twelve-inch pole”, “cypress”, “spear” and “pyramid”, is not going to be demanding chastity. In later years, his worship was little more than pornography! After failing to rape a nymph (or Hestia depending on the myth) he beats the donkey to death with his giant penis! No joke!

His cult would probably have consisted of sexual acts as worship, not abstinence. And since the Greeks were fairly comfortable with sex, it isn’t as big a deal as it would be in modern society.

So I don’t think that Priapus should have had the power, sophistication, or means by which to curse Julian. So, counts.


So when Grace wakes up, Julian is already getting handsy.


So they make out for awhile and Grace is just passively wishing for something to interrupt him, so she doesn’t have to push him away. What about saying no and meaning it?


He encircled the tender, throbbing flesh with one finger, making her burn from the inside out before he finally plunged two fingers deep inside her.

What is it with burning in this series? If it’s burning down there, it’s not good! I’m gonna kick off another of my counts because I’m getting the feeling this is a stock phrase.


For this time and the other times I’ve mentioned it in chapter reviews.

Thankfully, Selena calls just in time and Grace squirms out from beneath Julian. She tells Selena to come over and help her out. Then she gives herself a literal cold shower while she waits and talks to herself.

“Remember what happened after Paul? Remember what it felt like to wander around the dorm, sick to your stomach because you let someone use you? Remember how humiliating it was?”

Worse, she could still hear Paul’s mocking laughter as he bragged to his friends and collected his bet. How she wished she’d been a man long enough to kick open the door to his apartment, and beat him to smithereens.

No, she wouldn’t let herself be used.

It had taken her years to get over Paul and his cruelty, and she wasn’t about to undo all that on a whim. Not even a gorgeous whim!

Nope, nope, nope. The next time she gave herself to a man it would be to someone who was committed to her. Someone who cared for her.

Someone who wouldn’t disregard her pain and continue to use her body for his pleasure as if she didn’t matter, she thought, her repressed memories resurfacing with a vengeance. Paul had acted as if she weren’t even there. As if she were nothing more than an emotionless doll designed only to serve his pleasure.

I’m sorry, I’m still finding this hard to believe. I know we’re supposed to take this all at face value, but what sort of guy just shoves it in, deflowers her, doesn’t try to get her involved, and then leaves? I mean sex is better when both parties participate, and in all honesty, it can be hard to do the first time. If he didn’t spend any time on foreplay or whatnot, she’s going to be dry as the Sahara down there which is comfortable for no one. Also, as a virgin she’s going to be pretty tight down there, so there’s the question if he can even get in without serious effort on his and her part with no prep, no lube, no nothing.


Julian goes downstairs, drinks from the tap, and eats half of a melon before reflecting on his past, in which he was used at best, or raped at worst. And we’re supposed to think that Grace’s situation is worse. So Selena shows up with clothing and just stares at Julian for a bit, unable to be articulate.

“Holy green guacamole!” Selena gasped.

Grace folded her arms over her chest, her eyes twinkling in a cross between anger and amusement. “Julian, meet Selena.”

“Holy green guacamole!” her friend repeated.

“Selena?” Grace waved her hand in front of Selena’s face. Still Selena didn’t blink.

“Holy gre-“

“Would you stop?” Grace chided.


Because this is clearly supposed to be humorous. Only, it’s not.

So she asks Selena to babysit him while she’s at work and we end the chapter on this particularly rapey note.

Well, sooner or later she’d be back.

Then she would be his.

And once she surrendered to him, he was going to show her just what kind of stamina and passion a Spartan-trained Macedonian soldier was capable of.

Image result for horrified



Ugh that last line makes me shudder. I think he’s supposed to be written as an aggressive alpha male type that’s common in romance. He’s supposed to be appealing because he’s dominant in the bedroom and he knows how to make a woman feel good. Only he doesn’t seem to care about what Grace says about it, so it’s just rapey, in my book.

Alright, we’ll be back next chapter with more of this, and we get to learn more about their backstories. Fun.



Posted in Reviews

Fantasy Lover Review: Chapter 3

Warning: Some allusions to rape/dub-con in this chapter as well as some crude language and discussions of sex.

So Grace reacts reasonably to the appearance of a naked man in her living room and screams. She tries to run away and trips over the couch cushions she’d placed on the ground while she and Selena ate. She reaches for the wine bottle to defend herself and he immobilizes her. Now at this point she should be terrified, no matter how attractive he is. But instead we get a long detailed description about the man who has invaded her space and scared the daylights out of her.

Her senses dulled, Grace looked up and…


Quite honestly, there was only one thing she saw, and it made her face hotter than Cajun gumbo. After all, how could she miss it since it was just an arm’s reach away. And it was such a large it, too.

Yes, because a seasoned professional, sexually active twenty-nine year old, and therapist wouldn’t be comfortable using the word penis. I understand that sometimes authors are a bit squeamish when they have to write sex scenes. I know that I have a little bit of a problem writing about female genitalia when I am commissioned to write romance or erotica. Despite the fact that I am a sexually active female, I find it easier to write about male genitalia. Weird. However, I do have to take into account that the background and experiences that I’ve set up for a character and judge what language they would be comfortable using. For example, a character that is inexperienced or virginal might speak more euphemistically, whereas a seasoned woman would be comfortable using the clinical or slang terms for genitalia.

I know this is fairly early in Kenyon’s writing career, but she’s set Grace up as a sex therapist. It’s weird enough that she should have this many hangups about sex despite helping others with their sex lives. What happened to her sucked, sure, but you know–physician heal thyself. You’d think she’d have a hard time counseling anyone on their sexual woes when she hasn’t gotten over what has happened in her past. At the very least, she should be able to use the word “penis” or some other euphemism for the male genitalia.

According to, a person wishing to obtain a degree in sex therapy has to put in quite a bit of work in their field before they are even certified.

He or she must study the history of sexology, medical problems that affect sexuality, consultation techniques, interpersonal relationship elements, how to conduct sexual research, and more. These courses will supply the individual with the information needed to assess, counsel, treat and advise a person who comes to him or her with a sexual problem.

This was an easy tidbit to find. I know this was early in the 2000s and computers were still expensive and search engines weren’t as good, but this should have been easy to discover. Grace should not have any problem saying the word “penis.”


Anyways, Grace pauses her entirely rational terror to give us this long laundry list of Julian’s “yummy” attributes.

He had the sleek, powerful build of a finely toned gymnast. His muscles were hard, lean, and gorgeous, and well defined in places she didn’t even know a man could get muscles. On top of his shoulders, his biceps and forearms. His chest and back. His neck to his legs.

You name it, it bulged with raw, masculine strength.

Even it had started to bulge.

His golden hair fell in haphazard waves around a clean shaven face that looked as if it really had been carved from stone. Unbelievably handsome and captivating, his face was neither pretty nor feminine. But it was definitely breathtaking.

Full, sensuous lips curved into a halfhearted smile, displaying a set of dimples that cut deep moons into his tanned cheeks.

And those eyes.


They were the clear celestial blue of a perfect cloudless sky with a tiny band of dark blue highlighting the outer edges of his irises. His eyes were searing in their intensity and shining with intellect. She had a feeling his looks, really could kill.

Or at the very least, devastate.

And she was certainly devastated at the moment. Captivated by a man too perfect to be real.

Sorry for the long quote, but I thought that had to be seen in its entirety. That’s got it all, doesn’t it? The impressive physique painted for us in loving detail. The pouty lips, the “celestial blue eyes”, and hollow cheeks. At least that’s what I think she’s trying to get at. “Dimples that cut deep moons into his tanned cheeks,” just makes me think that he’s got deep scars on his face.


I added six for every single one of the things that stuck out to me. Number one, the bulging muscles, two the huge dick, three his chiseled good looks (described as stony in the text. Ugh. After Meyer I’m so done with anything being compared to stone. Can we stay away from masonry descriptors for awhile? Hard as a rock I can handle, but that is it!) Four, for the pouty lips and dimples, five for the “celestial” descriptor on the eyes. That one might have gotten a pass from me if she’d just said light, dark, or even piercing. And number six is the biggest one. The “he’s too perfect to be real” cliche.

So Grace stays on the ground staring at him and drooling.

Julian arched a puzzled brow. Never before had a woman run away from him. Nor discarded him after she’d spoken the summons’s chant.

All the others had waited in expectation for his incarnation, then fallen instantly into his arms, demanding he pleasure them.

But not this one…

She was different.

GAH. She’s different! Because of course she is! She’s our dark-haired and quirky protagonist! Julian describes her hair as “sable” in regards to its color. I honestly didn’t know this descriptor, and I’ve been writing for awhile. When I looked it up, it seems to flip-flop between black and dark brown. Any way you slice it, she’s a dark-haired woman who gets a thousand hipster points for being a dark-haired tragic female protagonist before it was cool.

His lips itched to smile as he swept his gaze over her. Her thick, sable hair fell to the middle of her back, and her light gray eyes looked like the sea just before a storm. Gray eyes flecked with tiny bits of silver and green that shone with intelligence and warmth.


Seven total. The “she’s different” comment gets five points because of how hard it makes me cringe. The other two are for the loving description of her hair and eyes as unique and special.

You know, I generally find that less is more? This is something that I like about Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I actually had the pleasure to hear him speak at a con and he talks about how readers don’t actually need you to spoon feed as much detail to them as you’d think. Give them a general idea of what your protagonist looks like without going overboard and you’ll train your reader to associate certain traits with a certain character.

In my own writing I generally go by the rule of thumb that you need general age, physique, and hair color. It is awkward to try to get eyes in the first paragraph about a person, and it can wait until later. If I tell you that a character is “a middle-aged man, slightly paunchy, with hair that was more salt than pepper” you have an idea of what he looks like don’t you?

Anyways, moving on. Grace babbles incoherently for awhile and we get this exchange.

“You are naked!”

“We’ve established that.”

“You’re happy and naked.”

Confused, Julian frowned. “What?”

She looked down at his arousal. “You are happy,” she said with a pointed glance. “And you’re naked.”

So, that was what they were calling it in this century. He would have to remember that.

“And this makes you uncomfortable?” he asked, amazed by the fact that a woman would mind his nudity when no one ever had before.


“Well, I know a cure,” Julian said, his voice dropping an octave as he stared at her shirt, and the hardened nipples that jutted out from the thin white material. Nipples he couldn’t wait to see.

To taste.

He moved to touch her.

There’s a lot to unpack. Okay, so first, why the hell can’t Grace use the word penis or erection?

Secondly, I’m sorry I’m having trouble suspending my disbelief. Maybe I’m being naive, but I don’t generally think there are enough people in the world that are scuzzy enough to do this. I mean I know that values dissonance would make certain things more acceptable at some periods of time than others. But rape has never been a celebrated thing. It’s just really sad that most people don’t seem to take male rape as seriously as they should. There will be a point later in this chapter or the next where Julian says that he deserves what he’s getting because he did a lot of bad things as human man.

No one and I mean no one deserves to be violated. Julian has sex with the women who summon him whether he is attracted to them or not, because that’s what the spell compels him to do. One could even say its a form of coercion because he’s experienced complete sensory deprivation while he’s inside the book and just being out of that torture is good enough for him. One doesn’t have to reach too far to get to the idea that Julian might believe he owes these people sex. He doesn’t. He stopped fighting the spell a long time ago because he lost hope, not because its any less degrading.


But that doesn’t excuse the way that he assumes he can have sex with Grace. I know that Julian is supposed to be from a different time, but why couldn’t he have also picked up sexual mores from inside the book? He learns what a light bulb, television, and car are from conversations outside the book. Grace has pretty much made it clear that she doesn’t want him that way, thus far. She screamed, she ran from him, and she has not given any sign that she wants it. And I’m not going to point to the hard nipples as an indicator for arousal. That’s almost certainly what the author meant, but there are several reasons why the nipples can harden other than arousal. It can even happen when you’re scared. It’s a reaction of your sympathetic nervous system to fear or excitement.



Also, maybe it’s nitpicky of me, but I’m going to count Grace’s slang as well. She uses the word a lot.


So Julian kisses her and it’s supposed to be a swoon-worthy experience. Grace is completely swept away by his smexyness. I haven’t commented on it up to this point, but I’ll do it here. Kenyon has switched randomly between POV characters up to this point. There’s no page breaks, no indicator as to when it’s going to happen, and it can be a little jarring. It doesn’t bother me as much as it does my husband, because I drag him into reading these books with me, and he says it feels like whiplash every time it happens. It doesn’t even happen at logical points in the story, like when one character falls asleep, or someone is in a different spot than the other. In this scene we go from Grace’s POV to Julian’s POV without warning. Now I will say that from what I can tell, Kenyon got better about this in later books, but it is distracting.

His body was white-hot with desire, and if this were anything but their first time, he’d devour her like a morsel of sweet chocolate. Lay her down and ravish her like a starving man at a banquet.

But that would have to wait until she was used to him.

He’d learned centuries ago that women always swooned from their first union. And he definitely didn’t want this one to faint.

Part of me wanted to gripe about the chocolate metaphor because it is both cliche and had the possibility to be historically inaccurate. Generally up to the 19th century chocolate candies were usually chocolate-covered nuts, creams, or caramels, and remained so into modern incarnations. The first solid candy bar as we know it came out in 1847, so it is possible that Julian has tasted chocolate. His last incarnation was in 1895, so his last mistress could have fed him chocolate. But considering the fact that all these people were supposedly so horrible that they didn’t let him eat all that often between sexing, I find it hard to believe.

Moving on to the more important part of that excerpt. No thought for Grace’s feelings on the matter whatsoever. Also, that word up there? Ravish? I know it’s common in romance, especially older romance like the stuff from the eighties which had a lot of rapey men and swooning damsels. But I don’t like it.


In the context of this scenario, I assume it’s definition number one. To be seized, snatched, abducted, or carried away. This scenario might have been number two, you know, she’d had any idea what she was doing or consented to any of this!


And oh yes every single woman swooned when he takes them for the first time. I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean, but none of the options I come up with are good. 1) The sex is so good that they literally pass out from the strength of their orgasm, in which case I think they should get their heart checked out cause that’s not normal. I’ve had sex so good my legs wouldn’t respond immediately, but I’ve never passed out. 2) He keeps them up so long that they pass out from sheer exhaustion. In that case ouch! Who wants that kind of chaffing? Or 3) This is parroting the Victorian notion that women were so hysterical and overcome by emotion that they will faint if something out of the ordinary happens.


For the notion that he’s such a stud muffin he’ll make a woman faint with his dick alone. Only if you bludgeon her over the head with it mister.

So he takes her up the stairs to have his way with her and she rightfully tells him to cut it out. At first he doesn’t seem like he’ll respond, but thankfully he puts her down when she asks him to. So Grace goes upstairs to get him a towel so he’s not totally naked.

He watched her hips sway with her steps, his body instantly growing hot and hard. Clenching his teeth in an effort to ignore the burning in his loins, he forced himself to look around. Distraction was definitely the key-at least until she gave in to him.

Which wouldn’t be long. No woman could ever withhold herself from him for any length of time.

If it’s burning down there Julian, maybe you should get that checked out. Also?


For the “I am irresistible to all women” comment. Plenty of women exist that wouldn’t want Julian. Lesbian women. Asexual women. Reasonable women.

Moving to the opposite end of the couch, Grace eyed him warily. “So, how long are you here for?”

Oh, great question, Grace. Why not ask him for the weather or his sign while you’re at it? Jeez!


For the “what’s your sign?” comment. I cringe when I hear that phrase. It was old and hackneyed when I was growing up.

He tells her he’ll be around for the next month, and she freaks out because she can’t understand what she’s going to do with him for that long. I don’t know? Let him watch your TV? Explore the outside world? Read your books? Get him a puppy to play with or a babysitter to watch him? There’s a lot you can do. It’s not like you have to chain him to your bed.

“Look,” she said. “Believe it or not, I have a life. One that doesn’t include you in it.”

She could tell by his face that he didn’t care for her words. Not at all. “If you think I’m thrilled by being here with you, you’re sadly mistaken. I assure you I’m not here by choice.”

His words stung her.

“Well, not all of you feels that way.” She gave a pointed glare to the part of him that was still ramrod-stiff.

Looking down at his lap and the lump bulging under the towel, he sighed. “Unfortunately, I don’t have any more control over that than I do being here.”

And here we have the canonical proof that his is dub-con at best, rape at worst. The curse placed on Julian means that he’s a slave to the desires of the summoner, and it makes both parties want to screw like bunny rabbits. It’s a supernatural roofie that makes him hard, whether he likes it or not. Whether she likes it or not.


He asks if she’ll feed him, if they won’t be having sex right away. Grace gets in a snit when he says that chicken and pasta and a glass of wine is acceptable. She tells him she’s not a housewife, and I’m unsure of why he doesn’t get more bewildered at this point. When he was alive, and presumably since the last time he was summoned, women had fewer rights then men, and had rigid gender rolls. This could have been a segue into a discussion about something interesting like changing social mores, or whatnot, but she doesn’t explain herself. So far as he knows at this point, she just blew her top at him for no good reason.


It doesn’t quite fit under the category but its something I needed to count. This is a prime example of how we judge the past by our own modern standards of morality. In Julian’s day, his wife would have had his children, cared for his house, and not owned property. He’s been trapped in a book for millennium, it’s the next best thing to being under a rock. It’s uncalled for, one because its a small thing to get mad over, and two because he has no idea why it provoked that anger.

“What year was it when you first got trapped?”

Rage flashed across his face with such high intensity that it startled her. “One forty-nine B.C. by your calendar.”

Her eyes widened. “One forty-nine B.C., as in one hundred forty-nine years before Christ? Holy guac. When I called Julian of Macedon, you really are of Macedon. Of the Macedon.”

So Julian was trapped in the book in 149 B.C. during the third Punic War, where Rome pretty much obliterated Carthage. According to my husband, it’s a little early for that, as there weren’t any major conflicts between Greece and Rome until after that date, so either Kenyon is getting her facts wrong, or implying that they lost so badly because they didn’t have Julian.

Because Greece pretty much got their asses handed to them by the Romans. In this book we learn that Julian and the man he trained, Kyrian of Thrace, were supposed to have cut swaths through the Roman lines. No, no. Greece was already way past its prime by this point, and they’d always been a disconnected collection of city states at the best of times, united only by a common language, religion, and geography.


One for each of the points above.

So we learn that Julian was cursed into the book for deflowering a priestess in the temple of the god she worshiped. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure there was no such thing in Greece. This is supposed to ape the Vestal Virgins which were a Roman thing, not a Greek one.


Also, why is Grace feeding him a heavy meal like pasta after centuries of starvation? He’s going to puke. I can accept the curse won’t let him die, but it clearly lets his stomach shrink if he’s reacting so badly to food. She should have basic medial knowledge and know not to feed him anything but bland, light fare. While recovering from my eating disorder, I had to be careful how much and what I ate because my stomach wasn’t used to some things anymore. And that was through self-imposed (though mentally ill) starvation.

Grace leaned against the counter as she watched him eat, slowly, almost mechanically. She couldn’t tell if he liked the food, but he kept eating it.

Yet what amazed her were the perfect European table manners he had. She’d never been able to successfully eat that way, and she wondered when he’d learned to use his knife to balance the pasta on the back of his fork and eat it.

“Did they have forks in ancient Macedonia?” she asked.

He paused. “Excuse me?”

“I was just wondering when the fork was invented. Did they have them in…”

You’re rambling! her mind shouted at her.

Well, who wouldn’t? Just look at the guy. How many times do you think someone has acted like an idiot and had a Greek statue come to life? Especially one who looks like that!

Not often.

“The fork was invented sometime in the fifteenth century, I believe.”

Wrong. Dead wrong. Big cooking forks could be found way back in Ancient Egypt, and the oldest known cases of personal forks were found in Roman societies as early as the 4th century B.C. There’s enough evidence to speculate that the Greeks could have had them even before then. It is entirely possible that Julian could have eaten with a fork during his lifetime.


So Grace finds out that while in the book, Julian is essentially blind, sensory deprived, but for his hearing, and experiences eternal hunger and thirst which he can only slake in the real world. I’m cynical but not cynical enough to believe that no one in the history of time has had the gumption to free Julian from that prison. I refuse to believe that Grace is the only one who has ever considered it.

So she tells him that while he’s here she’ll show him anything he wants to see and do what he wants to do. He immediately turns in into innuendo and asks her to take off her shirt. I mean I expected it to take that turn, since the author is trying to do the will-they-won’t-they throughout the book.

“Whoa, big fellow, simmer down,” Grace said, her cheeks scalding, her body white-hot. “I think there should be a few ground rules while you’re here. Number one, there won’t be any of that.”

“And why not?”

Yeah, her body demanded in a half begging, half angry inner voice. Why not?

“Because I’m not some alley cat with her tail up in the air waiting for the nearest Tom to come over, stick it in, and leave.”

And that’s where the chapter ends. It’s a weird note to end on, if you ask me, and a good chunk of what happens in the next chapter could have been mushed into this one to make the ending more logical. But it’s over, so hooray. I’ll see you all next time in chapter four. As always, let me know what you think in the comments below.