Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dead and Loving It and Three Little Secrets

Happy Mother's Day to everybody out there, be they grandmothers, mothers, aunts or if you just have a child in your life who you love!

I finally finished Dead and Loving It by MaryJanice Davidson. Not awful, but...meh. In a word, light.

Light in tone, light on plot, light on characterization, light in any kind of substance. I get the feeling that MJD is a one-trick pony and its getting old fast. For example, her heroines were all pretty much the same, barring physical description--loud-(and foul-) mouthed, sarcastic and prickly, in order to hide inner pain, insecurity and low self-esteem. It was kind of grating after awhile. Nitpick: I'm not a fan of the phonetic spelling of dialogue, most often used with the poor Scotsman (i.e., "I dinna wan' tae gi'w'ye", or something). Likewise the "day-um"s, "bay-be"s and "Gawd"s bug. I don't care if it's more expressive. That's just me though. I was also left rather unmoved by the sex scenes, which surprised me, as three of these stories had previously been published by Ellora's Cave. Everything just seemed so rushed and, well, light.

The book kicked off with Santa Claws, which was essentially PWP (porn without plot). Meh. Monster Love was slightly more substantive and interesting, featuring lonely vampire Richard and angry werewolf, Janet. I was unthrilled that their first sexual encounter had a forced feel to it, but I liked that MJD made the point that vampires and werewolves are different than humans, perhaps monstrous, but remaing true to their natures as she presents them. There's No Such Thing As a Werewolf was my personal favorite, featuring a blind werewolf and (I'll leave it a spoiler). I was looking forward to A Fiend in Need a lot. This is the story of George the fiend (that is, a feral vampire) from the "Undead and..." books and Antonia, the psychic werewolf from Derik's Bane. I went straight to it, and read it again, just to make sure. Disappointing. Too much Betsy, Sinclair and the rest of supporting cast. Even with their love scene, I felt like I had missed something, like some relationship development happened, that I missed in favor of Betsy bridesmaid dress buying banter. It was too quick, too light. But I did like that George wasn't turned miraculously normal by love, but remained weird and monosyllabic. I'll look forward to seeing them in Undead and Unpopular (which I'll check out of the library), but again, meh. In short, if you like MJD, check it out of the library, and take the suggestions made on Amazon and read it slowly, so as not to get annoyed by the sameness.

Quickie review of Three Little Secrets by Liz Carlyle: another solid read. Though not my favorite of hers, I still polished it off in a night. It hinged on the good old Big Misunderstanding, which was annoying at first, true. But it made sense in light of her characterization of the hero and heroine, and was also less annoying because they both pretty aware that they may have acted, and be continuing to act, stupid. I really like Liz Carlyle, see my Two Little Lies review. My favorite so far is The Devil You Know. She has a great ability to make romance cliches (Big Misunderstanding, Secret Babies, Forced Marriages) interesting, understandable and a good story.