Midsummer’s Bottom

Midsummer’s Bottom by Darren Dash  description:

The Midsummer Players stage an outdoor version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream every year on Midsummer’s Eve, in a glade in a forest. The actors have a wonderful time, even though they’re dreadful. Audience members appreciate the effort they put in and applaud politely, but almost never attend more than once. Except for…

…the fey folk!

All of the fairies named in the play are obliged to attend every performance, due to a deal that they struck back in the day with a mischievous Master Shakespeare. In an attempt to disband the irksome Midsummer Players on the eve of their twentieth anniversary, Oberon and Puck hire a human agent of chaos to infiltrate the actors’ ranks and set them against one another by focusing on secret attractions and grudges that have been lying dormant up to now. Sparks will fly, and everyone will come to blows, but it’s all executed with a wink and a grin, and there will be more smiles than tears by the end. At least, that’s the plan…

Inspired by the Bard’s immortal play (which it also weaves into its plot), this light-hearted Comedy is a novel in the spirit of the movies Smiles Of A Summer Night and A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, and the musical A Little Night Music. For lovers of Shakespeare, chaos and fairies everywhere.

Midsummer’s Bottom  4 STARS

I don’t even know how to begin to review this. It was not at all the book I was expecting it to be, though I mean that in a good way. Every moment was a surprise where anything was possible and the ending was anybody’s guess. It turned out a lot more erotic that I would’ve guessed, though the final line of the book description should’ve given that away, but not too absurd when you consider the plot involves real life fairy dust and a man that considers himself an agent of chaos. But within all the absurdity, and the fact that real fairies appear from the Feyland, and Puck is indeed out making mischief, the characters were a varied and interesting bunch that brought real issues to the story. People in marriages where the spark has long since died, those unhappy with their lot in life, and more that are just trying to figure out their place in this world. All of which is sucked into a horrible rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is being challenged by the very fairies that inspired it. While I wouldn’t consider it a retelling per se, it definitely holds to the magical idea of the original play, more so by how lyrical Dash’s writing is. Not just counting the scenes in Feyland which are wonderfully written in the form of Shakespeare’s plays, but even just the main parts of the story between the events of the people were very well put together. It made for a story that I couldn’t stop reading for having to know how it would all come to an end.

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The King’s Spinster Bride

The King’s Spinster Bride  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

Sixteen years ago, Princess Halla of Yshrem saved the life of an eight-year-old barbarian boy and watched her kingdom fall to ruin, all on the same day. Now, she is a forgotten spinster in a quiet temple, living her days out in solitude. The last of her line, she exists in the hope that she has been forgotten, for to be remembered by the enemy is to be certain death.

One person has not forgotten her. Mathior, now twenty-four, is the fierce warrior king of the Cyclopae. Yshrem is in turmoil and his advisors have a suggestion – kill the last remaining member of the royal line, and there will be no rivals for the throne.

Mathior has a different idea. He’s loved Halla for sixteen long years, and it’s time he claimed her as his wife. But a barbarian’s wedding customs are unlike any other…

The King’s Spinster Bride  5 STARS

While I know this book was written in conjunction with other authors writing in the same “series” of sorts, I really hope Dixon chooses to write more in this world. As usual she creates such a detailed and interesting place that I want to be able to return again and again. It’s a fairly short story, but there’s a lot within and moves along at a good pace. Halla is a very regal woman, and definitely not some weeping wailing princess that needs some prince to save her. While she isn’t a warrior, she’s very dignified and meets life head on and whatever it has to throw at her. But as Halla is exactly from the sort of kingdom you’d imagine with castles and crowns, Mathior is from a barbaric tribe with customs they unwaveringly hold to and ultimately ends up bringing the two together. It was definitely an interesting wedding that had me blushing the whole time, and I’m not sure if she did write more how much it could vary due to their customs, but I’d love to see what Dixon could come up with.

Maternal Instinct… or lack thereof

The other day I was walking through the neighborhood with my sister when we heard a child crying in one of the houses. I could tell my sister was distressed over the wails we were hearing, and she admitted that when she hears a child crying all she wants to do is go and comfort them. She appeared to have to physically tear herself away from that house to keep moving on by. Honestly, it’s not surprising considering she’s spent her whole life taking care of children. She babysat, worked in daycares, got her degree in Early Childhood Education and went on to be an amazing teacher, and is now an even more incredible mom. She loves kids, she wants to take care of them all, and that sort of maternal instinct has always been in her long before she was a mother.

Now, when I heard that child crying I found myself actually walking faster. All I wanted to do was get as far away as possible. Even a happy child isn’t exactly pleasant for me to be around. My nephew is the sweetest most loving little boy in the world, and my patience wears thin after about an hour. I can’t help but recall the number of times people kept insisting that one day I’ll want kids of my own, that when I have a child it’ll be different, that somehow I should magically be able to care for a baby at that point. Basically, I’m a woman and I should want kids and that there should be some innate maternal instinct in me. But I don’t think that’s the case at all.

I’m currently going through a divorce, and oddly enough one of the ways people have sought to comfort me is to point out that I still have several good child bearing years ahead of me. Yet, the one thing I have actually been relieved about in having this divorce is that I no longer have to have a baby. We had been trying because he really wanted kids. I went into the marriage knowing that, and had believed that what everyone said was true, that eventually I’d want babies of my own. The years went by and it never became an urge for me. We only started trying because my doctor screwed up and didn’t put in a prescription for birth control. We figured that perhaps now was the time to try then, and he seemed quite excited over the idea. At times it kind of felt like I did, but truthfully I just wanted to make him happy. Every month I didn’t get pregnant was a relief for me.

I’ve been around babies. I don’t want to hold them, I definitely don’t want to change a diaper, and I don’t want to be the one person they have to rely on most in the world. Because being a mother is an extremely important job, and no one should become one just because that’s what they’re expected to do. I’m glad that I realized this before I actually did have a child. If I do get married again I’m going to make sure him and I are on the same page; that neither of us want children. Because if you do want kids, then you shouldn’t be denied that joy anymore than someone should have the burden of feeling obligated to have them either.

A woman not wanting to have a baby should be something that is more widely accepted. Whenever I’ve told people I don’t want kids many act like I’m just being ridiculous, and that I’ll regret not having a child. However, my sister upon hearing such actually laughed and told me how happy she was that I’d finally decided to forgo babies. She knows me, and, as she pointed out, as much as I love her son I’m not one to want to spend a lot of time with him. I’m not even willing to babysit unless it’s just her making a quick run to the store. It’s those that don’t know me, those that think women are just meant to have kids, those are the ones that are so concern over my own personal choice. If you want children then have them, but those that don’t should be allowed to enjoy their life the way they choose.

Having a child should never be an obligation. It shouldn’t be something you do just because you’re a woman, and women have babies. Have a child because you want to take care of them and love them and because they matter to you. I can see how happy my sister is with her son, and how she’s happy to adjust her life to take care of him any way she can. It brings her joy. For me, though, it would’ve ultimately made me unhappy, and I don’t believe I could be a good mother in that case. Knowing such, it would be insanity for me to choose to have a child just because someone thinks there’s some hidden maternal instinct in me. There isn’t. And that’s okay, because there doesn’t need to be for me to have a full and happy life.

The Alien’s Mail-Order Bride

The Alien’s Mail-Order Bride  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

Though still carrying the scars of his past as an intergalactic soldier, Emvor doesn’t mind the quiet of his chosen life as a farmer. He doesn’t even mind that most nights are lonely on remote Cassa, but he does need help around his farm. A mail-order bride from his homeworld seems like the perfect solution. She’ll be a tall, sturdy female to help with the chores and bear his children.

Unfortunately, the person that arrives is Nicola. She’s small, delicate…and human. She also knows nothing about farming, and she’s lied and deceived her way across the galaxy to get to Cassa so she can hide from those that would capture her. She’s a problem, and also the most enticing thing he’s ever seen.

Now Emvor has to decide…can he keep the woman who’s nothing like what he asked for but is everything he needs?

The Alien’s Mail-Order Bride    4 STARS

This was a fun little novella, and if you’ve read Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarians series then it’s in the same universe, though you don’t have to in order to enjoy this story. Having read her other books, it was interesting to see what happens to humans out there. It’s illegal to trade in them, even though people frequently do, but even when they’re “saved” by the authorities their fate is no better. It’s one of the things that makes you immediately sympathetic to Nicola’s plight, and something that Emvor feels as well. Dixon did a great job of developing these characters quickly, and really making the relationship that grows between them realistic and rather sweet. That’s really what this story is all about, even as it’s out in space and about a human on the run, it’s rather low-key and focuses on what Emvor and Nicola are feeling, what they want out of life, and what ultimately ends up making them the perfect couple. Altogether, quite enjoyable.

Tempt Me at Twilight

BOOK 1: Mine Till Midnight  by  Lisa Kleypas

BOOK 2: Seduce Me at Sunrise

Tempt Me at Twilight  description:

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal—only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.

Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy—except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm’s length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all…

BOOK 3: Tempt Me at Twilight   4 STARS

Harry, as he himself puts it, is the villain of the story. Honestly, if the point of view was different you might have been rooting for Michael, the good viscount that Poppy is in love with, who’s being kept from his love by his father and his relationship is destroyed by Harry. However, while Harry is definitely no knight in shining armor, and his view of the world is definitely not a forgiving one, there’s something to be said for a man who doesn’t let anything get in his way, especially when going after the woman he desires. And it’s a fine line between villainous and love struck, and Kleypas does a great job of walking it with this character. Of course, by now we have a good basis of the amusing antics of the Hathaway family. Poppy is someone who knows her family will back her no matter what, although they’re all against her marrying Harry out of obligation, and so it sets an interesting tone for this relationship from the get go. Honestly, my favorite person is Beatrix, with her innocent but wise observations of people, and understanding why 2 people might work out perfectly well even when nobody else can understand it. And this book really makes me want a happy ending for Leo, because as much as he still tries to come off as uncaring and tends to do as he pleases, he does everything he can for his sisters, and his view of the world is just too amusing. Really it’s something I like about series like these, where you’re dealing with mostly the same group of folks, and so one book bleeds into the next, and it really helps to create a well rounded cast of characters of both those that we’ve already met as well as new ones that get introduced within this world, and it’s why I can’t help but speed right through to the end to know how it all ends for each of them.

Seduce Me at Sunrise

BOOK 1: Mine Till Midnight  by  Lisa Kleypas

Seduce Me at Sunrise   description:

Kev Merripen has longed for the beautiful, well-bred Winnifred Hathaway ever since her family rescued him from the brink of death when he was just a boy. But this handsome Gypsy is a man of mysterious origins—and he fears that the darkness of his past could crush delicate, luminous Win. So Kev refuses to submit to temptation… and before long Win is torn from him by a devastating twist of fate.

Then, Win returns to England… only to find that Kev has hardened into a man who will deny love at all costs. Meantime, an attractive, seductive suitor has set his sights on Win. It’s now or never for Kev to make his move. But first, he must confront a dangerous secret about his destiny—or risk losing the only woman he has lived for…

BOOK 2: Seduce Me at Sunrise   4 STARS

This was such a heartbreaking story. We learn about Merripen’s past, what led him to the Hathaways and what brought him to stay with them, which unsurprisingly was Win. Although I have to say I hate the guy that pushes a girl away but then keeps everyone else away from her as well. Merripen was a sympathetic character, as the reader knowing what all he was going through, but I really hated what all he was putting everyone else through. Now Win was a lot of fun in this book. It was great seeing how surprised her family was by how much she had changed now that she wasn’t an invalid. She comes back with the ability to live her life and she doesn’t plan on going about it shyly which was a real change from her character in the last book, but she was still the loving Win that we’ve come to care about. And talking of changes, Leo has grown a lot, and his little quips in there now bring a lot of good humor rather than frustration. A lot of new characters were brought in as well which really continues to grow this world, and set this series up for later books, which I like when you can tell an author is forward thinking with such. As well as the added plot of Harrow, a potential suitor, and trying to figure out if he’s a bad guy or just a cold guy, gave this story a nice edge to it. It was wonderful to read again and will probably reread many more times.

Mine Till Midnight

Mine Till Midnight  by  Lisa Kleypas  description:

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter…

BOOK 1: Mine Till Midnight   4 STARS

The first time I read this book it was actually one of the last book in the series that I read, and it didn’t really seem to matter since each book is about a different couple, but I apparently enjoyed it more this time that I’m reading the series in the right order. I have the same complaint both times, and that’s Leo. Knowing how he does later on, it still doesn’t help you care for him any more in this book, and honestly it bothers me how the rest of the family just tiptoes around him at times, or just covers for him. Of course in that time, and the fact they all rely on him for the title he inherited it’s understandable, but every time he shows up it’s extremely off putting. However, I love the rest of the people. Amelia is trying to keep her family together when it seems like they have nothing but bad luck that keeps getting them further and further in trouble. She’s a loving sister, and is trying to figure out how to fit into a world that none of them ever though they’d be a part of. While Rohan is a fun character to read about, he’s rich and he hates it. As a Roma the idea of being wealthy and gentrified as he’s become is distasteful and yet no matter what he does it seems to come back even better for him, and it makes for some humorous discussions in trying to understand the culture of the Gypsies, and why he doesn’t fit in there or with the gadjo (non-romany) making him a rather different sort of hero for a book like this. But it’s really the little sisters, and the other Lord’s and Ladies that make a wonderful group of people that you just want to get to know better. I really can’t wait to read through this whole series again.

Bride of the Dragons

Bride of the Dragons  by  Selina Coffey  description:

Elokon and Siron have yet to find a mate.
Elokon became the alpha of his tribe three months ago, and since then, the human towns nearby have sent a dozen women in tribute, and even the women of nearby dragon tribes have sought them out. Elokon’s tribe is powerful and any dragon would be pleased to bear a child of his bloodline.

But neither he nor Siron has seen a single woman that awakens the mating instinct. At long last, the High Dragon has passed down an edict: find a mate, or Elokon will be stripped of his power and banished. There is no place in the Dragonlands for an alpha who will not carry on the old bloodlines.

As the third daughter of an impoverished Earl, Adelina has no dowry and no prospects.
Desperate not to become a priestess, she makes a plan: when the High Dragon’s court comes for their historic meeting with the human king, she will be so alluring that she can steal the heart of one of the richest noblemen at court. She has worked late into the night, sewing herself a dress that will catch anyone’s eye.

During the festivities, she knows she can tempt someone into an indiscretion…
But much to her shock, that someone isn’t human. Furthermore, it’s not one someone, but two. And now that they’ve found their mate, Elokon and Siron aren’t planning to let her go.

Bride of the Dragons   3 STARS

It was like Coffey wasn’t sure if she was writing a novel or a short story. This is more than just a fluff story about Elokon, Siron, and Adelina, but even with a whole world of dragons, Naga, and a war brewing between the 2, this story was very underdeveloped. Everything was rushed and just happened in the style that short stories like these do, but for how much you invest into the story and all that’s going on it just ends up leaving you wanting more, and not in a good way. With the 3 you get them meeting, marrying, and Adelina having a baby before you’re more than a few chapters in. While I get the rush of the marriage due to Adelina’s situation and the dragons traditions, but afterwards it would’ve been nice to see how they got to actually know each other, and Adelina learning how to fit in with the dragons once she’s in their kingdom. Even the war was rushed, regardless of what a formidable foe the Naga were built up as. She had this whole world that we’re introduced too, but we never really see the full breadth of it. Honestly this is the sort of story that could go on into a series, which would be helpful to then see where this all leads too, not just with these characters, but other dragons and dragonflights. If so I’d definitely be willing to check it out.

Also I hate it when the covers don’t even try to represent the characters. Not that that affected this review, it’s just a side note.

His Princess

His Princess  by  Alexa Riley  description:

Alena is a princess, and with that comes responsibility. Like marrying the giant caveman King Roman, who looks more like a warrior than a ruler. Everything about him is intense. Especially the way he looks at her. But she’s been promised to him, and there’s no way out.

Roman took one look and made up his mind. Princess Alena will be his and no one will stop him from taking her. Everything about her belongs to him now, and waiting one week for a wedding isn’t going to happen.

This beast of a man might just claim his princess before she has a chance to say “I do.”

his-princessBOOK 1: His Princess  3 STARS

If you want a quick read that’s a fun piece of naughty moments, then this is worth checking out. Tabby and Alena had me cracking up from the beginning, and I would’ve loved a whole story of just the sisters getting into mischief, because they were really the best part, and the most developed. However, once you get into the parts with Roman, it began to feel a bit off. Honestly, it may sound wrong, but if this had actually been set in more medieval times when arranged marriages and such were the norm this story might’ve made a bit more sense. In today’s world, Roman just felt a bit stalkerish, not overly creepy, but still not that romantic. And his use of the term “breeding”, as in wanting to get her pregnant, was definitely not romantic. It took anything that was supposed to sound sentimental and really made it more like him just wanting to spread his seed. I suppose I will stick with more plot oriented and complex characters, and leave the fluff for others to enjoy.

Barbarian’s Hope

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon.

Barbarian’s Hope  description:

Seasons ago, I resonated to the quietest of tribesmates, a male content to love me from afar while I was the center of attention. We could have been happy. Despite our differences, I loved him and he loved me.

But then a terrible thing happened…and my world was never the same again.

Now resonance is giving us a second chance, but…I’m afraid. What if what I have with my mate is too broken to be fixed? What if there’s no hope left for us at all?

barbarains-hopeBOOK 10: Barbarian’s Hope   5 STARS

I love how Dixon continues to include threads from other stories to make these books so well developed. We’re getting another holiday, and in that we see how the events in Ice Planet Holiday continue to affect certain members of the tribe. As well as the return of the one eyed Metlak, and further proof that they are an evolving species far more than the Sa-Khui ever gave them credit for. But of course this is all about the broken relationship between Hemalo and Asha. For a character you start out basically hating, Asha has become someone I’ve really been hoping gets a happy ending, and here we finally get to see the struggles she’s going through, and the problems that tore her and Hemalo apart. The tragedy of losing a child is a serious topic, and Dixon deals with that perfectly. Yes this is just as naughty as the previous books, but it doesn’t cheapen Asha’s or Hemalo’s feelings and working through their grief, and it’s really things like this that has made this series so wonderful to read, and a step above so many other writers attempting to put out the same and failing horribly at it. I loved this story for so many reasons, and it’s why I can’t stop reading this series.