April 11th, 2010

_Black Magic Sanction_, Kim Harrison

On the kindle.

This latest entry in The Hollows Starring Rachel Morgan was amazingly fun. I don't think it would make a lot of sense if you were not participating in the series, however.

In this outing, Rachel Morgan continues to Use Her Brain and Plan Ahead. For instance, when the leprechaun offers her a Wish, she turns it down. When Bad Things Happen, she repeatedly sifts the available evidence as it changes. Rather than jump to a conclusion about who screwed her over and persisting in holding to it even as the evidence mounts against that conclusion, she maintains a list of possibilities and tries to adapt her plans to account for as many of them as she can. It Is Awesome.

The structure of the novel is also interesting, in that the battle in the garden/graveyard between the fairies and everyone else occurs smack in the middle of the book, immediately after the end of the encounter with Lee. So, immediately after Rachel reconciles with someone who has been a long-term enemy and problem for her, the church is attacked and her pixy partner and his family nearly wiped out entirely. She agrees to cast black magic with Pierce and Ceri (both ambiguous figures from earlier books) and then changes her mind, leaving their attackers damaged (and quite pissed about not having a more definitive ending to the battle) but defeated without being destroyed.

The incident is of a type with the rest of the book and, in some ways, the rest of the series: Ms. Morgan is attempting to balance on a knife's edge between multiple identities and the values associated with each of them, in the process creating a self which is not one or the other. The trick, of course, lies in staying alive through the whole thing and, as usual, she finds ways to threaten everyone enough to make them back off.

She even gets the shunning (at least temporarily) removed.

Is it all a bit messianic? Oh, hell yeah. And yet so much fun I can barely stand the idea of waiting for the next entry in the series. Specifically, I would _luuuuurrrrrvvvveee_ to see Nick finally get his. And I'm starting to feel optimistic that that might _really_ finally happen. Harrison is _such_ a tease, however, so probably not.

_Come Monday_, Mari Carr

A while back, I bought several books that were only published electronically, in an effort to find out whether the kind of fiction that I like was really available in e-only books, a subset of the larger question about how much of a lock on the market do the Big 6/print publishers in general really have. This was one of them. I don't think it was an award winner, altho IIRC, the sequel to it may have been (the third book in the series was recently released).

The publisher is Ellora's Cave. (Clue #1 that if you are squeamish about The Sex you should stop reading now.) This particular entry has a D/S (Clue #2 that if you are squeamish about The Kink you should stop reading now.) theme with a lifestyle component, but neither the sexual acts, the language between the two participants, nor the equipment used would be considered even remotely edgy. Nothing about this struck me as being aimed at anyone active in a community; this felt like it was aimed at a pretty vanilla audience looking for some juicy fantasy. That said, it was _way_ more realistic than the D/S themes that makes it into Lori Foster and similar authors in the print world. There's still too much of the oh, really, someone that inexperienced is doing what? But I felt happy that issues of contraception, lubrication, knees hurting, loss of circulation, afterplay, etc. were handled believably. There's no pain play to speak of (no way can you convince me that the spankings described are painful. No. Way.). Everything is scrupulously consensual.

The shtick is a big family owns/works in a bar/restaurant. Lots of siblings and one remaining parent. Since the offspring are all growed up but none of them married, it is plausible to conclude that each book in the series will have a sibling hooking up. In this case, the eldest, Keira, at age 27 has been taking college classes after mothering her siblings for years after their mother died. She has a huge crush on her English teacher and after the class is over for the summer and he's on sabbatical to write a textbook, he comes by the restaurant to let her know he's interested. And here is the McGuffin of the story: she's _not_ kinky in her own sexual history, but she reads his mind that that's what he's into, so the relationship takes off quite rapidly. There's lots of thinking about why that's not a great idea, so the author recognizes the problem which is nice. There's some discussion about why Keira is subby, and that's sort of a plus, as well. There's even a little backstory to give some flavor for why William is dommy. I could be all, bleah, because the world so does not need another hot, white subby chick and her ripped alpha male with the language skills. In fact, I am sort of tempted to be all bleah over that. That's about the worst I can say about this book. It's well done.

Once William and Keira start dating, the story is entirely about the developing sexual and emotional bond between the two. The four days he's out of town are skipped over in a sentence or two. The climactic separation when Keira relapses out of her newly rediscovered self to the I Am Replacement Mother of the last several years is handled very quickly as well. There's a dinner out to meet friends in the community -- there's action in the booth. There's a shopping trip to replenish her boring wardrobe -- there's action in the fitting room. He meets her at the pub when it's crazy busy -- there is toy deployment in the supply closet followed by him eying her trying to do her job with that level of distraction -- followed by action in the empty bar. There's even some action in a bed.

The second book in the series is waiting for me to turn the wireless back on on my kindle.

doleful commentary on my reading habits

I can really tell when I've gotten stopped cold by several non-fiction books in a row: I go looking for whatever I've got in the trashy fiction stash. I know if I burn through a few of those, I'll have the energy to try to tackle the non-fiction again. Even if it's just to rip into some poor unsuspecting author(s) who devoted (a) year(s) of their li(f)(v)e(S) to a topic.