InCryptid, Book 1
Heat Factor: Spicy
Character Chemistry: Good fighting, weak conversation
Plot Development: Moves along at a good clip
Overall: A fun, fluffy read
Discount Armageddon is technically not smut (it’s published by DAW as urban fantasy). However, I decided that reviewing it here was appropriate because a large component of the plot is the protagonist’s relationship with her nemesis slash love interest. It’s a classic hate turns to love arc!
Here’s the basic plot: Verity Price comes from a long line of monster hunters (who also study monsters to help keep the ecosystem balanced), but really she wants to be a ballroom dancer. She’s spending a year in NYC working on her dance career and studying the local population of cryptids. This includes working as a cocktail waitress at a strip club owned by a bogeyman, where she hangs out with such fellow waitresses as Carol the Gorgon and Candy the Dragon Princess.
(What exactly, is a Dragon Princess? Good question. Dragon Princesses are mysterious women who basically look human except they are fire proof and are excellent at acquiring gold. Co-evolved with dragons. More info here.)
However, trouble comes to town in the form of Dominic DeLuca. DeLuca is a representative of the Covenant of St. George, monster hunters extraordinaire, who believe that all monsters should be wiped out for being unnatural. The Covenant also hunts the Price family, who were former members but are now counted as traitors to the cause. Good set up in terms of enemies becoming lovers, but their path from enmity to desire is the least developed component of the book. (Unfortunately, for those of you reading for the romance.)
Here is a breakdown of their relationship:
- They meet when Dominic catches Verity in a snare. (Literally.) After he douses her with holy water and she convinces him she’s human, he releases her. Then they argue, and she reveals her identity to him – remember, he’s an enemy agent from an organization that has been literally hunting her family – and threatens his life.
- At their second meeting, they both accuse the other of disappearing a large number of cryptids, and realize that there’s something else afoot here.
- He sabotages her audition for a Tango competition (by shoving her partner, a Chupacabra, natch, into a closet). They decide to work together to follow up on rumors of a dragon under NYC instead of calling in their respective reserves.
- She introduces him to a bunch of cryptids and makes him promise not to hurt them and thereby begins to change his mind about his methods / ideology. His change of heart here happens pretty abruptly, but may be related to the lusting. Also, Verity kisses him in order to distract him during one of their arguments.
- They explore sewers and fight lizard men.
- They bone.
- Ultimate fight scene against the lizard men and the lizard men masters.
As you can see, there’s not a lot of character development for Dominic here in between the adventuring and the fighting bad guys. To be fair, this is not meant to be the main focus of the story – it’s more about the adventure of hanging out with a bunch of different mythical beasts, so there’s less space to develop the burgeoning bond / respect / attraction between Verity and Dominic. (Hence, smut adjacent.) On the other hand, their relationship is pretty central to the plot – solidly half of the tension comes from the potential threat that Dominic poses to Verity, her family, and her non-human friends.
However, even of the romance portion of the book is weak sauce, this is still a fun read. The world building is excellent. The various monsters that Verity encounters and befriends are fun and well developed. Some are familiar – she sublets from a Sasquatch. And some are original; the Aeslin mice, a colony of hyper-religious talking mice who live in her apartment, are especially ridiculous. Verity’s narrative voice adds to the depth of the world. She is snarky and ridiculous, but gives the reader a good view into New York’s monster subculture.
TL;DR: Read if you’re interested in a fun fantasy with some romantic elements.
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