The Wombat's Book Blog

I like reading. I like reading probably more than I like any other thing in the entire universe.

I am so fucking over BDSM

Seriously, guys. I don't know how it happened. Maybe it's like when I was twelve and I drank so much Lemon Twist that now I can't even smell it, but I'm completely over it.

And that's tragic, because Kristen Ashley has a BDSM-based series which I'd really like to read, but I just know it's going to piss me right the fuck off.

I think a large part of the problem I'm having is that many books featuring BDSM, or even just run of the mill bedroom dominance without the label, have serious consent issues. I'm thinking of a particular book (the name of which I can't recall) where the hero essentially told the heroine that he doesn't do safewords and limits, so he demanded a sort of blanket consent from her. Which is fair enough as far as that goes, and if that's your thing then more power to you (TPE is a thing, I know that) but it wasn't her thing. She didn't like it, and it made her uncomfortable, but she did it anyway, and that was kind of icky to me.

There's also the thing that in many books with a BDSM theme (I know KA isn't guilty of that) you have a hero who is dominant and often involved in the lifestyle, choosing to pursue a heroine who is not in the lifestyle, and then pressuring her through a variety of ways to join the lifestyle.

So you have a hero who likes doing things that the heroine doesn't understand, have much knowledge of, or in especially bad cases, enjoy, and he's insistent that she join him in his world.

Which is completely fucked up. I mean that sincerely. If you pressure someone into consenting to something, whether you're using emotional blackmail or force, that's not fucking cool, okay? 

Anyway so that's what I had on my mind this morning.




Kristen Ashley is fucking amazing

So I just checked, and I read my first Kristen Ashley on the 16th of April. That's ten days ago, guys.


I have since read 29 more of them.


Seriously, seriously good books, people. I'm not fucking around here. I DNF'd Wild Man because the hero pissed me off (because look, bro, if you're dating someone and an hour after you have sex for the first time, the DEA is banging down her door and dragging her off for an interrogation, and she finds out you have been lying to her for FOUR FUCKING MONTHS and she doesn't even know your real goddamn name then you, my brother, do not get to be pissy when she doesn't call you. Yeah? Yeah.) but on the whole, yeah they're great.


Her heroes straddle the thin line between Alpha and Asshole and, most of the time, they do it fairly well. Some of them have their moments where I, personally, would cut their nuts off and leave them in a pool of their own blood but, on the whole, once you understand where they're coming from, you tend to forgive them.


There isn't enough grovelling to entirely sate my appetite, especially considering the tendency of KA heroes to fuck up BIG, but on the other hand, these are proper hardasses, so I'm thinking that grovelling is not exactly in their natures.


Her heroines range between feisty and shy (poor Mara, I almost DNF'd Law Man because the crushing humiliation of being confronted with a hot guy and not having the first fucking clue what to say to him, boy do I ever know that, and it's not good feels) but they're all amazing in their own way.


So far I've enjoyed everything I've read other than the Rock Chick series. I don't know why, but I didn't particularly enjoy Rock Chick or Rock Chick Rescue. For example, I conceived an extreme dislike of Lee Nightingale (hero, Rock Chick) which I never really got over, so...


But yeah.


I'm going to try and write some individual reviews of KA novels to put my thoughts in order.


ALSO, these books are long as balls, people. Seriously, seriously long.

Review: Westfield Wolves Series by Lydia Dare

A Certain Wolfish Charm - Lydia Dare Tall, Dark and Wolfish - Lydia Dare The Wolf Next Door - Lydia Dare The Taming of the Wolf - Lydia Dare The Wolf Who Loved Me - Lydia Dare Wolfishly Yours by Dare, Lydia (2012) Mass Market Paperback - Lydia Dare
— feeling cat

Can I just say, I love the idea that I can associate an entire series with one post on Booklikes? Because that, my darlings, is fucking awesome.




Werewolves. The Regency period. Can we have a hell-yeah from the congregation?


The series is basically split up into two parts. The Westfield brothers (Simon, Ben, and Will) take up the first three books. I'm quite fond of the Westfield brothers.


Book One, A Certain Wolfish Charm, is all about Simon and Lily. Simon is a bit of an arse, but he gets over it. Eventually. There's some secret-keeping going on which...fair enough, if I was a werewolf and I was convinced I was going to hurt the ones I love, I probably wouldn't want to tell them either. It's well-written and has a touch of spice, and a heroine who takes no shit.


Book Two, Tall, Dark and Wolfish is Ben's story. I have no words for how much I love poor, puppyish Ben. Unlike bossy grumpy Simon, Ben just wants to do whatever it takes to keep Elspeth happy. Elspeth's coven sisters become important later on - Caitrin is the heroine of Taming the Wolf (Book 4) while Blair, Sorcha, and Rhiannon are the heroines of the three Gentlemen Vampyres novels. On which more later. Anyway, Elspeth and Ben are adorable, although Ben does display the first sign of Bumbling Idiot Syndrome, which killed the last two novels in the series for me.


Book Three, The Wolf Next Door, was a decent read. Nothing particularly special, and I personally disliked both the hero and the heroine. PLUS, and this is my major problem, we're never actually fucking told what went wrong with their elopement. It's sort of implied that she changed her mind, but I was hoping for a flashback confrontation at the very least. Still, the book is worth it for the introduction of Dashiel 'Dash' Thorpe, Earl of Brimsworth. Poor bastard, he got a really shit deal. I mean, okay, he was also a bit of an arse, but you can't have everything.


Book Four, The Taming of the Wolf, is the story of Dash and Caitrin. Dash was a contender for Prisca's hand in Book Three, although I never did understand what he saw in her. Now he's gone and bitten Cait and bound himself to her for life as her mate. Cait is naturally not pleased. The pair of them bicker adorably, and there's an accidental poisoning, a long run, and eventually, lurve. I think this one is my favourite, because Dash is frankly adorable.


I'm not going to write individual paragraphs for Books Five and Six (The Wolf Who Loved Me and Wolfishly Yours) . The books are about two of Dash's half-brothers, Wes (Book 5) and Gray (Book 6) and their love interests. I had hopes for Book 5, which started out decently, but was ruined by the whiniest, most annoying, most utterly useless heroine I have ever read in my entire goddamn life. If I were in Wes' shoes, I'd have dumped Maddie in a ditch halfway to Gretna and thanked the gods for a lucky escape. Wes is not exactly a bright spark either, but at least he doesn't while all the bloody time. Book Six had a decent heroine, but was ruined by the most idiotic, drunken, obnoxious loud of a hero I have ever read. Seriously. Gray is a total idiot. 


I guess the stupidity in Books Five and Six is supposed to be a continuation of the humour of the first four books but for me, it just falls completely flat. There's nothing humorous about a girl who's lost her fortune and is now receiving offers to become a mistress from men who'd asked her to marry them before.


And shall we talk about Viscount Radbourne (Dash's other half brother)? In the Gentleman Vampyres trilogy, he's portrayed as something of a lovable rogue. You know the sort - he's a rake and a rogue, but a girl can count on him when she's in need. An incorrigible flirt, but kind of sweet underneath it all, and basically a good sort. In these two books, he's portrayed as practically a villain. He's rude, he's obnoxious, he leers at every single female character, and he's just...gah. Revolting is probably a good word? On the one hand, I guess it's good marketing because I want to read his book to have him redeemed, but on the other I kind of never want to see this author's name on my Kindle again.


So here's my verdict: Four stars for the first four books, and if I were you I'd stop after book 4 because nothing worth knowing happens in the other two.

Were She Belongs

Were She Belongs - Dixie Lynn Dwyer I found this book incredibly annoying. The heroine starts out strong but lets herself be consumed by the three 'heroes'.

The heroes are overbearing douchecanoes who hand out spankings for keeping secrets about things that frankly weren't any of their business (or, you know, things she didn't actually fucking know) , while keeping it secret that the 'hickeys' they laid on her were actually mating bites. She never actually confronts them about it. They also expect her to be completely servile and submissive which, fine, whatever floats your boat, but if you want someone like that why not go look for someone like that? Instead of breaking a perfectly satisfactory strong beautiful woman?

Also the writing was kind of bland, and not good enough to make up for the terrible terrible characters.

(also I may have lost something here but at one point the heroine's cast just vanishes)

Keeping Her

Keeping Her - Kelly Lucille I seriously cannot believe that I am giving a four-star review to an author who apparently suffers from a complete inability to use apostrophes correctly (you're/your errors make my brain sad) but here I fucking am.

On the one hand, I feel like I shouldn't be rewarding this kind of behaviour on the basis that it'll just make this author (and other authors) think that spelling and grammar are optional in works you expect people to pay actual honest-to-god money for. On the other hand, the fact that I not only finished the book, but actually enjoyed it means that, language issues aside, Kelly Lucille is a fucking genius.

I was literally one more error away from DNF-ing this thing on page one when there was a line that was so fucking laugh-out-loud funny that I just couldn't not finish it.

Having now read all of this author's Keeping Her books, I can tell you the following:

* Yes, it does get better. Books 2 and on have far fewer grammar mistakes, but still a few.

* Yes, it's probably worth wrestling with to finish, because the stories are sweet, sexy, and emotionally affecting.

* As far as I can tell, Lucille still does not have an editor, beta reader, or friend-with-a-pen reading through her work to check for grammar, word substitutions, or homonyms.


Enough ranting about that (not really, I have MUCH TO SAY on the subject of people who sell shoddy work for actual fucking money, but I'll save that bile for a book I haven't found myself forced to like despite issues that would normally make me bleed from the eyes).

On to the plot.

It's a pretty cute story. Demon and Clytie meet while she's waiting for her blind date to show up. The chemistry is off the charts. Demon is rude, because he's not good with pretty girls who don't find him terrifying, and Clytie is sassy. Her date is an ass, and Demon utters the immortal words "I like you. Let's go fuck.". Oh yes, he's a smooth one...

Anyway, for some reason she doesn't kick his balls up between his ears and things proceed from there.

There's a bit of drama with Demon hiding his shifter nature from Clytie, some drama from his former pack, and almost a murder, but a very sweet HEA so never fear.


Seriously. You don't need anyone to tell you how to plot, or how to construct a scene, or any of that. You literally just need someone to fix your bloody language. Hell, I'd do it for free if you want, as long as someone fucking does it because grammar errors on a work like this is like spraypaint on the fucking Sistine Chapel.

Kiss of Snow

Kiss of Snow - Nalini Singh I'll write reviews for the others in the series at a later point but I just finished this one so...

I loved it. I really really loved it. I mean, Hawke's dog-in-the-manger attitude toward Sienna in the first part of the book pissed me right the fuck off, and his attempts to maintain emotional distance from her while demanding everything she has were asshole moves (but hey, at least he admits that he's being an ass, so it could be worse).

Actually, much as I love him (and I do love him) I spent an awful lot of this book wishing I could take a cricket bat to Hawke's fat head. Seriously. At one point he basically publicly claims Sienna, ensuring that she will never ever be able to find a date for as long as she lives, while planning to work of his Sienna-related sexual tension with someone else. I'm frankly surprised Sienna didn't set him on fire with the sheer awesome power of her rage.

Still, when he goes all-in, he goes seriously all-in, and completely breaks my heart.

As for Sienna... I wish I could say she should have a bit of dignity but you know what? She's pretty sure she's going to die soon, and the only thing she wants (other than, you know, to not die) is Hawke. So I guess I can understand why she's willing to take him on on his terms, even though he's hurt her again and again. I guess the thought of dying really does focus the mind.


Legacy - Stephanie Fournet So this book broke my heart. I spent most of the first half in tears.

But it's so fucking beautiful. It's a romance that's not just about romance. It's not even about sex. It's about caring, and grief, and healing, and love, and it's... It's a fucking work of art. And I loved it.

Forever with You

Forever with You - Laurelin Paige I read the entire trilogy, plus Hudson, in one day. My eyes are so, so tired.

But listen, I think the best thing about this series (and I have the impression that this is a feature of Paige's writing in general) is that this author is not afraid to grab the Big Dramatic Moment and punch you in the face with it.

And that's great!

I mean, it may be because I read an awful lot of fanfic, and fic authors in general seem to have more balls in terms of deploying the Big Feels, but since I've started reading original work again, I've really felt the lack. Not just in terms of big dramatic moments, but in terms of emotional honesty. Because this series is, whatever else it is, emotionally honest. There's no Tragic Misunderstanding to enhance the drama, no characters acting out of character for kicks. There was never a moment where I thought that an action wasn't in character - they were always true to themselves and the situation, and the Big Feels came about because of their individual flaws, which created the situation and just...gah. I don't really know how to explain it.

Since we're here, let's talk about the characters. I adore them both. I think I might like Alayna the most because she's quite possibly the bravest romance novel heroine I've ever read. And Hudson is just so...I don't even know how to talk about him. Because people say he's alpha, and people say he's an asshole and I'm like...he's a fucking puppy dog. He's MUSH. Mush, I tell you! And it's brilliant, because he is an asshole, and he's pretty magnificently alpha, but he's still a freaking puppy who can't bear to disappoint his sister. And I love that their crazy matches up, and that they're both trying so hard to be better for each other and it's just fantastic.

The other thing is that this series broke my poker face. I have a magnificent poker face. I can read practically anything in practically any company. With this series? I was muttering at my Kindle. I actually had to go for a brief walk at one point because I was so consumed with rage.

Lie Down In Roses

Lie Down In Roses - Shannon Drake There's a fine line between alpha and asshole, and this hero crossed it.

I mean yes, fine, he's traumatized and feels betrayed and blah blah blah but sweet Jesus, man, what the actual hell?

I literally lost count of how many people slapped the heroine. How many times the 'hero' slapped her, ffs. Or dragged her by the hair. Or raped her. Because if she's kicking and screaming and telling you no, then it's rape even if she ends up having an orgasm. Sorry, bro, those are the rules. I don't understand how she ended up falling in love with someone who treated her so horribly.

When Love Awaits

When Love Awaits - Johanna Lindsey If you're looking for a Medieval romance with a hero who is pretty much a puppy (in the best of ways!) then this is probably what you're looking for.

I read this book the first time when I was in primary school, and lost my copy when I lent it to the pastor's daughter (lending bodice rippers to pastors' daughters is a good way to lose your books) so my memory of it was incredibly vague, to the point where when I started I didn't think I'd read it at all, although the name did sound familiar.

Anyway. I love the characters in this book. Leonie is great, although her pride does get in the way of their relationship - she refuses to allow herself to be seen as a jealous wife, so she makes like she doesn't care that Rolfe's mistress is still living in the castle. Which is pretty understandable, imo - what woman would want to expose herself by admitting that she feels threatened by the competition?

Rolfe on the other hand, is an absolute sweetheart, especially for this genre. He makes one fairly big booboo right at the beginning which definitely makes Leonie think the worst of him, and primes her to believe his bitchy former mistress' lies. His main problem, though, is that he's a bit naive about women and tends to believe what Amelia tells him without much question - for example, when his castle suddenly gets cleaned up after Leonie's arrival, he doesn't even question it when Amelia tells him that it was all her own work.

The thing is that you can see why they believe what they believe - Rolfe's big booboo trying to seduce Leonie while not knowing who she is doesn't exactly scream 'faithful husband', and Leonie's cold attitude doesn't exactly say 'loving wife' either.

This is not a Big Drama sort of book. It's a small story about two people learning to trust and believe in each other, and I really enjoyed it quite a lot.

A Dark Champion

A Dark Champion - Kinley MacGregor For some reason I'm deeply disappointed in this story. I don't like the mystery, I don't like the main characters, and I've found actual honest-to-god typos in my copy.

Did MacGregor's editor go on holiday when this one passed through, because it's really not up to her usual standard :(

The Rogue Not Taken

The Rogue Not Taken - Sarah MacLean I absolutely adored this one. Might read it again once it's had time to percolate a bit, just to see if it's as good as I remember.

Fair warning, the asshole she tips into the pond is a hero in a later story. No, I didn't believe it either.
I thought the hero in this one was a spoilt little shit who verged on stalkerish. The heroine (whose name I can't remember) told him point-blank that she didn't want to be his mistress, and he kept on at her, even dragging her to London and making her work for his mother.

It's all a little icky to me - I mean, at no point that I can recall does it cross his mind that she has a perfect right to say no, and that the honorable thing to do would be to make her his wife. No, he keeps on trying to seduce her and it's just...

This is my least favourite Bridgerton novel.

The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religions of the Great Goddess

The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religions of the Great Goddess - Starhawk Usually when I read the Kindle edition of a book, I'm pretty much sorted. I've read the thing, I'm good to go. Not this time. Starhawk made me want to reread, refer to the backmatter, and even make notes - none of which are as convenient on Kindle.

Long story short, I bought this book twice...

Into the Forest

Into the Forest - Jean Hegland I think probably my favourite part of this book is its atmosphere. For me, some books have a sort of mental smell, which I associate with the book in my mind. Heinlein's books often smell like my father's garage, all metal and grease. The atmosphere in Into the Forest is so alive it's breathtaking. You can smell the forest in the pages, the rich loam, the living smells of life and decay. It's sharply real, while still maintaining a sort of dreamy quality.

I liked Nell as a character. She's young and kind of silly, but she gets her shit together fairly quickly, which is nice. Her sister is a bit of a tit, though.

All in all a magnificent read, and has only two flaws: it's too short, and it doesn't have a sequel.

Tell the Wind and Fire

Tell the Wind and Fire - Sarah Rees Brennan Well, I knew coming in that SRB was going to break my heart, and she didn't disappoint.

I really enjoyed this book though. I was a little worried about the lack of sass in this story, but felt better as soon as Carwyn arrived. Carwyn is 99% sass, and I felt as though I liked Lucie more when she was with him.

Never really got a feel for Lucie, which disappointed me. She's a nice enough character and everything, but she didn't really grab my heartstrings the way Mae or Sin in TDL did, for which I can't blame her. She's a much more complicated character than either of them, and while she didn't immediately appeal, I think with a couple of months to grow on me and another reread or two, I could really come to love her.

I feel as though the book could have been longer, or maybe I'm just reading too fast again, because the story felt complete to me, and I can't imagine where else it could have ended. Or, for that matter, another way it could have ended (although I hate the ending with the fiery passion of a thousand suns and will never forgive Sarah for breaking my heart like this.)

Bring tissues.