Science Fiction

Watched Westworld S4E1

Watched The Auguries from

Seven years after the demise of Rehoboam, events are set in motion that reunite allies and enemies.

So, I have very little idea what’s going on in this show, except that apparently life sucks for everyone. Are they all living in shitty video games? Unclear. It has been a loooong time since season 3 and I basically remember a handful of character deaths and no plot.

Caleb’s wife gets two thumbs down from me: neg him for having PTSD and worrying about the family’s safety, neg him for being a shitty dad when he’s teaching his daughter things that matter to him and some of his feelings rub off on his daughter, jokingly threaten divorce instead of saying please, fuck off lady. You would both be happier with a divorce.

Surprise reappearance of a character I was wondering if they’d ever follow up on.


Read A Lady for a Duke

Read A Lady for a Duke

When Viola Caroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.

Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become.

As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.

This story was long, which meant the author could include both the gothic oceanside home and a Season in London. I don’t feel the second half and first half tied together enough plotwise — the villain for the end of the piece was brought in quite late. Emotionally, I can see why a longer resolution was needed for reconciliation, but I think it could have been accomplished a little more directly. Both halves of the story could easily have been made into their own story, and perhaps picking one to focus on would have kept it tighter. And it maybe bothered me that the heroine is given another side role rather than being central to the story, when part of her story is that she gave up so much to be herself, including having her own independent life?

I thought the emotional conflict over the MC’s transition and “betrayal” was done well (though I’m not trans so defer to actual trans people on whether the rep was good). The hero adjusts to the transition fast, but I feel like as an author you need to do that or he’d look like a transphobic dick, which would kill the story. The sex scenes were written tastefully and thoughtfully.


Read Waiting for a Scot Like You

Read Waiting for a Scot Like You (Union of the Rakes, #3)

For a merry widow and a stoic major, it’s a bumpy road to love…

Adjusting to life in peacetime isn’t easy for Major Duncan McCameron. Escorting a lady on her journey north seems like the perfect chance to give him some much-needed purpose. That is, until he learns the woman in question is the beautiful, bold, reckless Lady Farris. She makes his head spin and being alone together will surely end in disaster.

Beatrice, the Dowager Countess of Farris, is finally free of a stifling marriage and she has no plans to shackle herself to any other man. Ready to live life to the fullest, she’s headed to a week-long bacchanal and the journey should be half the fun. Except she’s confined to a carriage with a young, rule-abiding, irritatingly handsome Scottish soldier who wouldn’t know a good time if it landed in his lap. But maybe a madcap escapade will loosen him up…

Between carriage crashes, secret barn dances, robbers, and an inn with only one bed, their initial tension dissolves into a passion that neither expected. But is there a future for an adventure-loving lady and a duty-bound soldier, or will their differences tear them apart?

Not what I expected but quite the romp. Feminist and non-traditional. Accidentally read this before the second book but it was fine. Straight couple with a very light m/m subplot.


Read The Larks Still Bravely Singing

Read The Larks Still Bravely Singing

A shattering breakup leaves Robert convinced that he is a destructive force in romantic relationships. When he finds himself falling in love with David, an old friend from boarding school, he’s sure that he shouldn’t confess his feelings. But as their meandering conversations drift from books and poetry to more intimate topics, Robert’s love deepens – and so do his fears of hurting David.

Since he was wounded, David has been batted from hospital to hospital like a shuttlecock, leaving him adrift and anxious. His renewed friendship with Robert gives him a much-needed sense of peace and stability. Slowly, David opens up to Robert about the nervous fears that plague him, and when Robert responds with sympathy and support, David finds himself feeling much more than friendship. But he’s afraid that he’s already a burden on Robert, and that asking for more will only strain their developing bond.

Can these two wounded soldiers heal each other?

This was just a bit longer than a novella, primarily told from Robert’s POV, with three brief epistolary sections with letters written by David. It’s overall melancholy, which makes sense for a WWI romance between two soldiers who’ve lost limbs and their youth to the war. They enlisted shortly after leaving boarding school, and though they read as older because of their experiences, they’re probably in their early 20s for the story. They’re both traumatized by their time in the trenches in different ways. David struggles with anxiety and depression, and is deeply unhappy.

Robert is a difficult character to like, consumed by guilt that he cheated (a lot) on his last partner while deployed in the trenches. He’s terrified of hurting David just as badly — and of being hurt as badly as he was by his partner who told him he’d “rather have died at the Somme” than learn of Robert’s infidelity. His need for physicality is explained but it’s still…tricky for a romance novel protagonist.

Robert also comes across patronizing to the slightly younger David, calling him “sweet boy,” “darling boy,” and so on, and the way he treats David is uncomfortably perched on the line between giving a friend the helpful nudges they need to take care of themselves and making decisions for him (crossing that line sometimes). He seems easily irritated, although he is quick to apologize when he acts like a dick and takes it out on David. It’s unclear whether this is a character trait or related to his trauma. I think hearing more from David’s perspective would have balanced this and made it seem healthier.

The ending didn’t land for me — there was a big time jump that felt abrupt, and then I think I was supposed to read something into the story at the end but my brain is anti-literary so I need cryptic metaphors to be nearly explicit 😉

Romance Science Fiction

Read Beyond the Next Star

Read Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond #1)

An intolerable order. A desperate charade. A deadly secret.

Before Commander Torek Renaar can return to active duty, he’s ordered to purchase an animal companion to help relieve his PTSD symptoms. But having been a caretaker for and lost a loved one, keeping even one little human alive is a challenge he feels doomed to fail. It doesn’t help that his animal companion is the newest, most exotic breed on the market, demanding constant attention, daily grooming, and delicate handling. If she doesn’t die first in his incompetent care, she’ll be the death of him.

After witnessing the murder of her domestication specialist, Delaney McCormick allows her new owner to treat her like the pet he believes her to be. If anyone suspects she’s more intelligent than a golden retriever, her murder would be next. She endures the humiliation of being washed, the tediousness of being trained to “sit” and “come,” and the intrigue of hearing private conversations. But in Torek’s care, she finds something unexpected on this antarctic planet, something she never had in all her years on Earth while house-hopping between foster families: a home.

As companionship grows to love, must Delaney continue the charade, acting like an animal and hiding from the murderer waiting on her misstep? Or can she trust Torek with her secrets, even if the truth threatens everything he holds dear—and both their lives?

For a book with a humorous premise, this was pretty dark. The hero had PTSD and was a widower, the heroine had a horrible history of abuse. She’s threatened into silence and pretends to be a pet after witnessing a murder by someone powerful. She endures humiliation being treated like an animal. She suffers multiple attacks on her life and grave injuries.

The connection between them builds slowly through mutual respect and admiration, though they hook up relatively quickly after he learns she’s a person. The first half of the novel is relatively slow compared to the fast paced action of the ending.

I’m not quite sure whether the humor tempered the darkness, or was a tonal mismatch. I think it’s just on the line of working. He’s described as a sasquatch / Chewbacca with horns (though spoilers, he sheds and turns into a hot dude in summer). His dick is tucked into a little pocket when he’s not turned on 😂 And, making zero biological sense, his cum is actually a neutralizer to his semen??? 🤔 No wonder this race of aliens has so few kids.

The economics behind this civilization are a bit handwavy for being a driving motivator of the villain. It would have been nice to understand a little bit more about how this society worked, or get a sense that it’s financially stretched thin (when in fact the implication is the opposite). They are obsessed with collecting exotic pets from other planets and apparently have been for generations – which as noted is a very expensive interest. They must also trade things or collect resources?

I would have also liked some more exploration of their society, which is an odd blend of semi-feudal lordships and modern technology, such that this important commander is left to die of fever untreated because in his delirium he gives orders to leave him alone. I can see a civilization like that existing but maybe not this one – it feels inconsistent with the other worldbuilding that these are a people who visit their doctors weekly and have miraculous healing technology that fixes broken bones and missing eyes.

The monster problem also seems like people with this level of tech should be able to develop a higher tech solution than flying a helicopter down its throat and shooting it 🤔

I’ll probably check out the next book in the series when it comes out.


Re-read A Lady by Midnight

Read A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3) by Tessa Dare

After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove—but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she’d look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiancé. He claims to have only Kate’s safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate’s happiness. He wants what’s best for her, and he knows it’s not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It’s the toughest battle of this hardened warrior’s life . . . and the first he seems destined to lose.

Reading a Tessa Dare book always makes me want to read another one 😂

This has some over the top scenes (especially the climax) that are funny if not totally in keeping with how the hero should be feeling at the end. His capitulation at the end isn’t fully earned.