Review – Betting the Bad Boy by Sugar Jamison (@sugarjamison)

Betting the Bad Boy (Destiny, #2)Betting the Bad Boy by Sugar Jamison
My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

Despite the fact that it’s not marked on Goodreads, I do distinctly remember reading the first book in this series, The Bad Boy CEO. I enjoyed the premise, a trio of brothers dragged to their home town which shunned them in their teen years when the closest thing to a parent they have falls ill in the hospital. Even with that book, it was clear three stories were taking place at one time. Bad Boy CEO covered one brother and was good. This one was great and focuses on the oldest brother, Duke.

Duke King is a former jailbird. He was sent there because everyone assumed the worst about him and he’d nearly pounded a fellow teen into the dirt. Said teen was well connected and was also assaulting Duke’s just-recently-broken-up-with girlfriend, Grace (daughter of the local judge). Since getting out of jail, he’s fixed his life up and become the genius artist behind the car design (erm…detailing? not sure of the word here) business.

Grace was devastated ten years ago when Duke dumped her – not understanding it was because he felt it was for her own good (he thought she’d throw her life away for him). What neither knew at that point was that she was pregnant. And now Duke’s come back into her life and has a son he’s never met.

Grace to her credit HAD tried to let Duke know about his son but of course her rotten father (who again was not shown as a very nice guy – see the first book for more issues with this man) had made sure said notices never made it to Duke. But rather than letting her father continue to control her (she didn’t know he’d intercepted the messages), she forged her own life, giving up a lot of material comfort so that she could raise her boy.

I found Duke to be an enjoyable lead – he’s understandably upset to find out he’s got a son he’s never known about. The one aspect to Duke I didn’t enjoy was that it took so very long for him to understand that Grace did not want to just walk away from everything she worked her butt off to accomplish. Yes, he could make it easier on her, and yes he had an obligation to do so. However, it just dragged on for too long (for me) until he figured out why she was fighting him on accepting things from him.

Grace – stubborn but an incredibly strong woman to walk away from an easy life (her father would have paid for college, etc. if she’d just given up the baby). Instead, she’s worked to put herself through nursing school instead of going to be a doctor. She’s raised a (mostly) good son who turns out to be a genius (inherited from Daddy Duke) even though she’d thought he was slow – turns out he was bored in school.

These two souls really needed each other and it takes them a while to figure out how much they really need (and love) the other. I enjoyed seeing Grace’s father get stood up to, and how Duke helped his son develop into a less moody/rebellious young man-in-training.

The other brothers are present, along with alternate points of view on a few scenes that came through in an earlier book, along with hints of what the third brother’s story will be like. I’m looking forward to that in the months to come.

So – yes, this is a bit muddy, but I did really like the book and won’t hesitate to pick up the next.

4 of 5 gargoyles!

Review – Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey (@mstessabailey, @entangledpub)

Boiling Point (Crossing the Line, #3)Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 gargoyles

This was a great book, probably my favorite in the Crossing the Line series from Ms. Bailey.

Austin – wow, he’s a gorgeous man who definitely throws himself into his work. I loved the whole “he was a con man redeeming himself” (basically) idea. He’s using his talents for disguises and doing good with it now.

Polly – sweet, driven girl who’s definitely broken some rules, but I get why she became the way she is, and I loved that she’s a female hacker. I mean, c’mon. Ultimate geek (for me), if you put aside the whole “breaking the law” thing.

The growing romance between the two of them went at a very nice pace. I liked how Polly was so drawn to Austin, even when she didn’t recognize him through his disguises…and then once she knew he was likely to be following her in disguise, the ease of picking up on his current outfit was great.

Favorite scene definitely came toward the end of the book when Polly goes home to visit one of her dads and Austin’s dressed as a priest. The imagery of the women flocking around him was great, even though he was dressed as a man of the cloth.

So – all in all, I liked the book and found it refreshing. It didn’t drag and the bad guy got what he deserved (of course). So…check it out! Worth your time, definitely.

Annnnd I Live!

Hey there, all!

Yeah, given I posted a couple of reviews in the past month, you probably figured that out. I’ve been sulking for several months and having massive writing issues. BUT! Last week I finally hit on the cause and abruptly I started writing again. Thank the good lord above for small mercies. It’s like being able to … erm…sorry for the imagery, but able to purge some of the frustration that’s been building up in me.

So, that said, I’d like to introduce you to three of the characters that I hope will keep me occupied for the months (years maybe, if my stories hold out) to come.

Meet Ch’Gral – the Demon of the Sky, the oldest known dragon in the E’Shar’N Empire:

Demon of the Sky

Demon of the Sky

I’ve had this picture of Ch’Gral in my head for longer than I’ve known my husband. That’s how old the stories are that are flitting in my head. I wrote a lot of them out, or at least imagined them (I was using the characters for a story-based online RPG group…and it just helped me to write back then).

Next, meet Lissia:

Lissia

Almost as old and familiar to me as Ch’Gral, she also plays an important role to the stories.

Finally (for this post anyway), meet Kiya:

Kiya

Kiya is the dragon bonded to Lord Vayrun, the High Priest of Deyou, the Dragon God, and leader of the Alastrian people.

Now, if all this is confusing you because, I know, dragons aren’t in the real world (or even my alternate Earth worlds with gargoyles and/or vampires)…you’re right. I’ve FINALLY given up the ghost and gone back to writing fantasy. And OMG, it. Feels. GOOOOOOOOD!

I finally, thanks to the help of my husband, my wonderful and ever-patient CP AS, and Mav, a reviewer I love to talk to, I realized Monday what drove a lot of my depression and inability to write was a twofold problem:

  • I’d gotten so wrapped up in what “the authorities” said about needing to plot, the three-act story, and having internal + external motivations (which, let me be honest, I still don’t get the difference between…I’m not that smart), that I couldn’t focus on what I’ve always been good at – just letting the words flow out. I was trapped in “OMG, I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing”, rather than just accepting (okay, re-accepting) that I am a pantser, I learn the characters’ motivations as I write my first draft, and just let it go:

Elsa Transform

  • And second, I was a square peg trying to force myself through a round hole and it wasn’t working for me. At all. And by square peg I mean as a “romance” author. There’s nothing wrong with romance writers, and I enjoy having a romance in my stories. But to me, the ultimately enjoyable part of my books are the stories, the world-building, and all of that. Not the romance. The one thing that was almost never knocked in my books was the world-building – lord knows the romance got bad reviews. And as a romance author, that’s what I was having to do. That’s what I did to Locked in Stone and not only did it bomb commercially, but I didn’t find myself in love with the final version that got published. Sad, but true.

So, I’m going back to fantasy, which is what I loved to write back in the day. Oh, I’ve got ideas for non-fantasy books, maybe redoing my Dream-Walker War series, removing the heavy focus on romance, and a futuristic series I’ve had in mind for some time.

I’m about 11.5k into my book, which doesn’t have a working title, other than “Demon Witch” which really isn’t appropriate considering the main character, from whom the name comes, hasn’t even received the name yet. Still, it’s given me something to work on and I’m grateful for that, even if my husband thinks I need to have an uber-villain for a fantasy novel to work. And he may be right, but right now I’m just following the story that’s in my head and that’s what has worked for me in the past. Just get the first draft out and see where things shake out (and beat the crap out of my inner editor who keeps telling me to go back and fix this or that).

So – share what’s been going on with you! I’d love to hera from you.