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.


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.

Continue reading “Monster Mash Smashdown: Tentacles Week”
Listicle, Monster Mash Smashdown

Saturday Smutty Six: More Monster Smut I Read This Month

I guess reading eight monster books was not enough for me, because I went ALL IN on the Monster Smut this month. Erin and Ingrid were a little worried about me, TBH. I maybe went overboard, because now I both never want to read about another monster schlong and also find regular romance novels too sedate. 

Here are six more that I read, with mini-reviews! (Loosely in order of most likely to least likely to recommend.) 

Ensnared by Tiffany Roberts (2021)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a relationship with a giant, sentient spider? Wonder no more! 

This premise is absolutely not for everyone, but this book really delivers in a couple of ways. First, The worldbuilding is excellent. Spider society is rendered in a lot of detail—a large portion of the book is spent on internal spider politics, which set up some interesting conflicts for the hero to navigate. Second, the romance is actually very…sweet. It’s a slow burn antagonists-to-friends-to-lovers, so there’s a lot of Ivy and Ketahn learning to communicate and gently teasing each other. Third, I thought the “monster” aspect of this story was really well-done. Ketahn is outwardly terrifying—but it absolutely makes sense that he’d treat Ivy gently, given the context of the story. And a good portion of Ivy’s internal conflict is her telling herself how *wrong* it is that she is developing an attraction to Ketahn. It’s good stuff, trust me. 

Note: Ensnared ends on a cliffhanger, so I immediately read the sequel, which I liked slightly less (more sex, less build-up = less sexy, plus the plot dragged a bit). Unfortunately, Enthralled ALSO ends on a cliffhanger, and Book 3 doesn’t come out until next year. AGH!

Yuri and the Yeti by Daphne Green (2021)

Have you ever wondered what Yeti cum tastes like? Wonder no more!

This gentle M/M romance between a backpacker who makes some questionable decisions while hiking the Himalayas and the yeti who rescues him is just really cute. 

Full disclosure: Erin wrote this one, but this is my list and I’m living my truth. 

No Getting Ogre You by M.L. Eliza (2021)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to bone Shrek? Wonder no more!

This short novella features instant attraction between Jaquelyn and the ogre who finds her when she accidentally falls into his cave-lair while hiking the AT. I guess making poor decisions while hiking and ignoring safety protocols is a good way to meet monsters. This one has high sex content for the page count—the lust is pretty insta, but I guess I can buy it given the premise that Jaquelyn is pretty sure she’s gonna die in the cave, so why the heck not? There’s a nice balance here between Crug being gentle and monstrous; the scene where he brings Jaquelyn his choicest bones to eat and then is hurt when she only wants the meat pieces was stellar. I did think that the shift from “this will never work” to HEA was a bit abrupt, so I didn’t get that extra serotonin boost at the end, but overall, this was a fun read.

Feed by Aveda Vice (2021)

Have you wondered what it would be like to watch fairy porn? Wonder no more!

Aveda Vice is often tossed around as one of the go-to names in the nascent monster-smut craze, so I figured I’d try one of her books, and Feed seems to be her most popular. This is an erotic short story about a tightly-laced succubus who accidentally hires her co-worker (a death’s-head hawkmoth fairy) on a sex-work app. It was imaginative and fun—I especially liked the details of how succubus feeding worked—but the emotional depth didn’t really hit for me. 

King Cobra by Naomi Lucas (2021)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a giant, sentient king cobra decide that you were his queen? Wonder no more!

I frankly found every aspect of this book disturbing. The ominous dread that permeates all discussions of both human and naga society were unsettling. Zaku’s pride in his ability to kill anyone he wants was uncomfortable. But the bit that really brought it over the top for me was the scene where Daisy is crawling around licking up and rolling in Zaku’s semen (which is in puddles all over the floor). Yikes. The breeding imperative is strong in this one. Combine that with uneven characterizations, especially of Daisy, and incessant dangling modifiers, and…double yikes. On the other hand, Zaku was pretty monstrous (his tail completely fills rooms, so when I say giant snake, I mean GIANT SNAKE), and Lucas really leaned in to her premise. Even though I was disturbed, I was also enthralled. 

Flesh and Stone by Emily Hemenway (2021)

Have you ever wondered what would happen if one of those gargoyles on your friendly neighborhood gothic cathedral came to life…and really, really liked you? Wonder no more!

Maybe I should have taken a break from monster books, because Flesh and Stone was the last monster book I read and I was kind of…bored? The premise is cool: Thomas is a 19th-century witch hunter who gets in way over his head and is turned into a gargoyle, only to be awoken by Hannah in the 21st century. But once they met, I wasn’t sure what the conflict was, and it wasn’t quite sexy enough to just be a sexy monster rumpus. It was just too polite for me. 

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


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

Continue reading “Monster Mash Smashdown: Beauty and the Beast (emphasis on Beast) week”
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*.


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”
Dueling Review, Monster Mash Smashdown, Rant

Monster Mash Smashdown: Non-Humanoid Alien Week

I Married a Lizardman by Regine Abel (2021)

Heat Factor: Y’all remember when Khal Drogo needed to be taught how to do it face to face by Khaleesi and then their marriage did a 180?

Character Chemistry: “You may look weird, but I find you oddly attractive.”

Plot: Benevolent colonialism + how to start seeds + sexytimes

Overall: We have some THOUGHTS about the politics of this book.


A Winged Embrace by S.J. Sanders (2021)

Heat Factor: “Let’s start this whole marriage thing slow.” *sees giant alien penis with alien penis accoutrements* “Just kidding, let’s bone against the wall.”

Character Chemistry: Fully 30% of the book is him embracing her with his wings.

Plot: Jewel thief agrees to be a mail order bride to get out of jail and ends up married to a gargoyle-alien cop. Freak outs and boning ensue. 

Overall: Fresh and fun, but you’ll never look at spaghetti the same way again.

Both of these books feature the same basic premise: a human woman agrees to be a mail-order bride to an alien, sight unseen. She is not entirely honest with her spouse about her background and/or motivations. Her apex predator partner is a giant cinnamon roll who wants nothing more than to please his new bride. And while both books end with love and alien babies, there are some glaring differences between how these books present the alien Other. Let’s dive in!

Continue reading “Monster Mash Smashdown: Non-Humanoid Alien Week”