Dueling Review

Dueling Review: Then, Now, Always by Mona Shroff

To kick off Secret Baby Week, Holly and Ingrid buddy-read Then, Now, Always by Mona Shroff. And you know what that means: time for a duel! (Moderated by Erin) 

Holly’s Take:

Heat Factor: The door is firmly closed.

Character Chemistry: Um. It’s complicated. But also love at first sight.

Plot: Maya and Sam were in love. But they broke up. Now it’s 16 years later and Maya finally tells Sam that he has a daughter.

Overall: This was kind of a weird book and I’m still processing how I feel about it.

Ingrid’s Take:

Heat Factor: This is not a book with a temperature.

Character Chemistry: It’s both “at first sight” and also a slow, complicated development at the same time.

Plot: Maya and Sam had a good thing going until everything blew up and incredibly bad choices were made. Then, 16 years later, Maya fesses up that she’s kept their child secret from Sam and he’s an emotional wreck, understandably.

Overall: I maintain that this trope is a massive romantic buzzkill and this book is like a case study in why that is.

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Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling (?) Review: Headless by Aveda Vice (2021)

For our final monster smut of October, we’re talking about Headless. This is not so much a duel as a short discussion because (spoiler alert) we all liked it. Definitely recommended if you’re in the mood for some Halloween reading.

Heat Factor: It’s very much about how their sexual relationship keeps them connected, but it’s more evocative than squelching body parts.

Character Chemistry: Big sad feels that they only have their throuple together one night per year!

Plot: After Brom disappears one Halloween, Abe and Katrin spend the rest of their Halloweens awaiting his ghostly return

Overall: I was expecting Headless Horseman throuple sexytimes and this is that but…it’s completely different than I expected

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Dueling Review, Monster Mash Smashdown

Monster Mash Smashdown: Tentacles Week

Mandy and the Tentacle Monster by Bebe Harper (2021)

Heat Factor: Sort of perfunctory

Character Chemistry: They are brought together by a series of epic misunderstandings. 

Plot: Mandy is abducted by nefarious aliens who sold her to himbos with tentacles who don’t realize that humans are sentient. Mandy feels like a pomeranian until the translation implant is installed.

Overall: The plot is not really well-developed, and we had some feelings about the breeder kink, but the writing is so fun that we kind of didn’t care.


versus


Stalked by the Kraken by Lillian Lark (2021)

Heat Factor: I can totally envision an octopus twirling its tentacle to make it fit in a, ah, space, and why is that so hot?

Character Chemistry: Him: “I want to woo her, let’s have convenience sex.” Her: “I am having an existential meltdown.”

Plot: She’s having business troubles. He’s on a treasure hunt. They’re having a lot of sex. 

Overall: Fun and (depending on how much you like tentacles) sexy, but nothing particularly unexpected or surprising.

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Dueling Review, Monster Mash Smashdown, Rant

Monster Mash Smashdown: Beauty and the Beast (emphasis on Beast) week

Bitterburn by Ann Aguirre (2020)

Heat Factor: It’s cold in the castle but they make their own fires

Character Chemistry: Gothic with a side of romance

Plot: Beauty and the Beast, but in an ice castle, and the evil witch is still there

Overall: Slow pace, rich writing, creepy atmosphere, unique retelling


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His Beauty by Jack Harbon (2020)

Heat Factor: Horny AF

Character Chemistry: Beasts of a feather boink together

Plot: Beauty and the Beast, Disney .0, but with extra graphic violence

Overall: The TSR team is divided on this one

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Dueling Review, Monster Mash Smashdown, Recommended Read

Monster Mash Smashdown: Books by C.M. Nascosta

Morning Glory Milking Farm

Heat Factor: Violet really wants that big bull dick (and meaty balls).

Character Chemistry: We’ve got some bossy daddy energy going on here.

Plot: Broke millennial takes pharmaceutical job “milking” (*wink*) minotaur bulls for the benefits and living wage then falls for a client.

Overall: Don’t be scared by the title or the premise. This book is *delightful*.


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Girls Weekend

Heat Factor: There’s a lot of sex (even kinky sex), but we wouldn’t call this book high heat because the plot banks the flames. 

Character Chemistry: There are a lot of moving parts here (pun intended) so it’s hard to generalize.

Plot: Three friends go to an orc nudist colony for some casual hookups, two find guys and catch feelings.

Overall: Even though it’s literally a girls weekend at an orgy town, this book is so much more than “SPRING BREAK! TAKE OFF YOUR TOP!!” It’s weird. In a good way. And it might not be a genre romance?

Continue reading “Monster Mash Smashdown: Books by C.M. Nascosta”