Lenni Reviews: “The Firebird and Other Stories” (Being(s) in Love #5) by R. Cooper

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

This book is a collection of short stories set in the same universe as the other Beings in Love books.

The first one is “The Firebird” set in France in 1934, where a firebird, Kazimir, becomes enamored with a writer named Jacob. Kazimir is used to being the center of attention and having admirers begging to be inspired by him. But Jacob sees Kazimir as more than just an object. It’s a sweet story about finding someone who really values you.

Next is “The Warrior’s Sacrifice” set in Mexico in 1947. Mateo is a “muxe” a person assigned one gender at birth but behaves associated with the opposite gender and he gets beat up for this and left as an offering to the jaguar who protects the town; named Carmelo. Carmelo is home from WWII and keeps Mateo safe, revealing he has been watching Mateo for some time. This is a really touching story with low angst.

Next is “Hyacinth on the Air” featuring a fairy named Hyacinth, who loves to push the boundaries of what he’s allowed to say on air. Seeing as this is set in 1961, there are some pretty strict standards so he causes no end of trouble for Walter, a human who’s in charge of cleaning up after the messes Hyacinth makes. Being a fairy, Hyacinth doesn’t understand why humans are so uptight and why Walter would resist their obvious attraction. This one’s cute but out of all of them this one I found the least impactful.

The next story is “A Giant Among Men.” Set in 1982, Vietnam veteran, former police officer, and troll, Tank, is determined to make sure his friend Simon, an elf, gets home safe after the bar where Simon works is vandalized by people who hate Beings. Simon resists the help because he doesn’t want to be seen as weak but comes to realize Tank sees him as much more than a pretty elf bartender. Pretty enjoyable for what it is.

Next up is “The Imp for Mr. Sunshine.” Set in 2005, Rennet – an imp – has a crush on John, the deputy mayor. Since things tend to go wrong when an imp is present, Rennet believes this bad reputation will keep him from this crush developing into anything more. Little does he know that John has been protecting him for more than just friendly reasons. The parts where Rennet is dealing with his nature and what that means to the people around him are the best in this story.

Next, we have “A Wolf in the Garden.” Miki is a human who loves to work with exotic pants so his job in a greenhouse that’s also in a magic shop is where he’s most comfortable. One day a werewolf named Diego comes into the shop and Miki is smitten, but he knows Diego had a mate, and she tragically died of cancer. Miki does see Diego wants him but believes a wolf only gets one mate in their lives and that a man like him who’s been abandoned by his family and has strange hobbies. These two make an adorable couple and I really enjoyed this story and it was cool to see previous characters like Kazimir reappear. It makes the world feel so much bigger.

Lastly, “The Dragon’s Egg” featuring Arthur and Bertie from “A Boy and his Dragon”. Here Bertie discovers an egg that is their child and Arthur goes into full nesting mode.

This is a pretty decent collection but I have to say “A Wolf in the Garden” and “The Warriors Sacrifice” are my favorite. The others just didn’t grab me as much and made the book feel SO much longer. To get the full experience, you really have to make sure you read the previous four books so don’t just hop into this one. 3 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Little Wolf” (Being(s) in Love #4) by R. Cooper

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

Tim Dirus is on the run from his werewolf family and has taken up what he thinks of as temporary residence in Wolf’s Paw sanctuary, where the town’s tourism centers around a festival where their hunk of a sheriff, Nathaniel Neri. Everybody wants Nathaniel but he has his sights on Tim, who is ready to bolt at any moment if anyone from the Dirus family shows up to lock him away again.

As this is part of the Beings in Love series, you see some of the characters from the previous books make an appearance; making the world-building feel more expansive and detailed. Watching Tim slowly work his way toward understanding what he is and how he fits in is VERY well done and grounded. You can tell his family did a number on him and he’s trying to heal. And don’t let the title fool you. I expected Tim to be some shy thing but Tim’s got some sass in him! He takes crap from no one and I like it.

So far, this is my favorite of the series because the stakes are higher. Tim has some dangerous people after him and this book doesn’t shy away from that. It made this the most thrilling book in the series to me. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Beginner’s Guide to Wooing Your Mate” (Being(s) in Love #3) by R. Cooper

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

When they were teenagers, Zeki had a crush on the most popular werewolf in high school, Theo Greenleaf but left town before anything could happen due to being bullied for being human in a werewolf school. Now returning to the werewolf sanctuary/tourist town of Wolf’s Paw as an adult, Zeki is an accomplished wizard looking to show his high school bullies how far he’s come but hears Theo is nearly broken from his mate rejecting him years ago. Now, Theo buries his emotions in baking and volunteering for the local fire department. Zeki unknowingly seeks to reconnect with Theo not knowing he was the mate who rejected him so long ago.

So far, this is the best of the series. I love how it goes into how weres don’t need words to make themselves understood and how frustrating it can be for a human to understand what any of them are feeling since we lack those senses. I think they took WAY too fucking long to finally let Zeki in on the idea; leaving him fumbling as to why everyone is mad at him. The chemistry between Zeki and Theo is fantastic and in place of the long back and forth of the previous book, there’s some real growth and understanding that needs to take place for our pair to finally come together. And in the end, I was happy with the ending. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Isle of Waves” by Sue Brown

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

In the third book of the Isle of series, (one and two here), a string of vandalism to their restaurant has Nibs thinking of closing up shop. But with a huge storm on the way and the death of a dear friend, the stress of being forced to close puts a strain on Nibs and Wig’s relationship.

I know the plot synopsis says it focusses on the stress of possibly having to move under homophobic pressure putting them out of business, but it doesn’t feel like it. This meanders through a bunch of slice-of-life scenes without going anywhere. Wig and Nibs should be the main focus but they are frequently put to the side, making me wonder when it was gonna get to the point already. And some plot points are left dangling so it was all unsatisfying. If you don’t read the previous two books, you’re gonna end up lost because those previous characters have prominent places in this book. 2.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Isle of Wishes” by Sue Brown

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

In the second book in the Isle of series (first one here), Liam goes missing so Paul Owens, Sam’s brother, heads to the US to find him. When a hit and run puts a John Doe in the hospital that could be Liam, Paul meets Olaf Skandik in his search, and the pair hit it off but can the flightly Paul convince the closeted Olaf to take a chance on love; even if it is long distance?

I thought the hit and run and a later shooting would lead up to something but it just got glossed over. I wasn’t expecting a romantic thriller but to have all that wrapped up in some throwaway sentences was severely disappointing. Even Olaf being closeted wasn’t that big a deal. It made me wonder why they were plot points at all. Unfortunately, all that disappointment did impact my enjoyment of the book. I felt a bit cheated. 2.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Isle of… Where?” by Sue Brown

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

As this is a bundle, I decided to review the books in separate blog posts so I don’t end up not posting for a while then dropping this block of text that I bet nobody will read. So, here we go with book one in the series.

Liam Marshall arrives on the Isle of Wight because as per his best friend’s last wish, he will scatter the ashes of his friend into the water. While fumbling with the box, Sam Owens approaches him to keep him from flinging the ashes in his face and the two become fast friends. And even faster, they become more. But Liam hasn’t been in a relationship since his friend was diagnosed with cancer and he became a caregiver; not to mention he lives in America and Sam lives in the UK. Even if Liam believed in love at first sight, could he take a chance on such a long-distance relationship when he is already so emotionally vulnerable?

This book is a bit rushed but ok. I think it was a good call to skip some of the sex scenes as they would have gotten boring and repetitive. The chemistry between our main leads is alright… But it’s all fluff. I didn’t feel too deeply connected to anything. It would have been nice to dig deeper into the caregiver aspect with Liam and how lost one can feel after being in that role for so long. But, I do enjoy a bit of fluff, though so I can forgive that omission. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up” by Naoko Kodama

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Morimoto Machi is not interested in marriage. All she wants is to succeed in her career and live on her own. But as the pressure from her parents to find a husband mounts, Morimoto’s friend, Agaya Hanna, offers to marry Morimoto to keep her parents from complaining. It also helps Agaya since she’s in the market for a new apartment. While the arrangement is inconvenient for Morimoto at first, she soon finds having Agaya around may not be so bad after all.

This is so cute! I love how Agaya stands up for herself against Morimoto’s parents and refuses to be labeled a freak. The pair make an adorable couple. I wouldn’t have minded if this was a little longer and went into some more detail in dealing with Morimoto’s parents. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Treason of Truths” by Ada Harper

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Empress Sabine is invited on a diplomatic mission with some other leaders to a place called The Vault; a technological marvel self sustained by nanotechnology and an archive of an unfathomable amount of human knowledge. But what seems to be an olive branch quickly becomes a deathtrap and Sabine’s former bodyguard, Lyre, must face the secrets she’s been keeping not only from her queen but the woman she loves.

Although I didn’t read the first book, A Conspiracy of Whispers, this story stands well on it’s own. The world building gives the story weight and doesn’t get bogged down in the previous book’s events while still making them understood in relevance to what happens in this book. The action is well paced and tense, making this a fun page turner.

This also doesn’t disappoint in the romance department. Even without too many explicit love scenes, Sabine and Lyre’s relationship is touching and sweet and it’s great to see a lesbian relationship with women of color. As a romance and a science fiction novel, it succeeds on nearly every level except for a lack of development with the main villain and the societal mess behind his motivations, which I won’t spoil. I felt he needed more time to get to know all the details. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Matters of the Heart” by Alli Reshi

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers.

Dimitri is an alien working as an investigator for crimes regarding other extraterrestrial beings. When a case comes across his desk about corpses being found with burn marks over their hearts, he must put aside his feelings for his newly reconnected friend Devin; who is in the hospital after being shot trying to assassinate the president.

I enjoyed this but this is another mystery with romance that left me wanting to know more about the mystery because it was wrapped up too fast and with too much simplicity. They don’t so much work out and chase down the serial killer as the killer (er… spoilers, I guess?) just shows up ready to be captured. It ruins any tension on the mystery side of a romance/mystery. The character of Devin is compelling enough on his own where he may have made a better antihero or redeemed villain. Feels like a missed opportunity. I’d give it a 3… Maybe closer to a 4 but not quite.

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Lenni Reviews: “Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir” by Maggie Thrash

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In this memoir, fifteen year old Maggie recounts a summer at Camp Bellflower for Girls where she develops feelings for Erin; who is not only older than her, but a counselor.

While touching, this book really shines because it has so many more likable characters than what I normally see in a graphic memoir. Maggie has decent friends despite being in a pretty religious camp. Sure, there is still some homophobia but on the whole, she manages to have a good summer without getting picked on for being a lesbian.

If you can tell from the cover, the art is VERY simple. Everything is soft and simple to contrast the pretty complicated feelings going on. If I had a complaint, it would be it seems almost TOO soft. The book flutters by without much lasting impact.

Or maybe I’m just reading too many of these things, I dunno. 3.7 out of 5.

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