Category Archives: 4 star reads

Rare Breed: Leopards Unleashed Series Book 1 – Dina Haynes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Steamy, suspenseful, action-packed, paranormal shifter romance

Blurb:

She was exiled at birth. He terrifies the other monsters. Can two outsider wereleopards overcome prejudice and find their own way to love?

Los Angeles. MacKenzie is a loner by necessity, not choice. Hiding from the intolerance of the shifter world by living among humans, she’s terrified when she accidentally kills her date and blows her cover. Not only does she have to elude the LAPD, she’s on the run from the most feared bounty hunter in the were community.

Ramone Hernandes sees his own struggles reflected in his prey’s captivating eyes. So after tracking her down, he abandons his snatch-and-grab mission and instead attempts to clear her name. And the more time he spends with the alluring outcast, the stronger his urge to claim her as his chosen mate.

Confused by her attraction to the beast sent to take her in, MacKenzie must weigh her precarious state as a fugitive against the calls of her heart. And although he’s willing to do anything to protect her, Ramone’s failure to do his job threatens both their lives.

With their enemies aligning against them, can they survive long enough to heal their wounded hearts?

Rare Breed, formerly published as Wereleper, is the first book in the spine-tingling Leopards Unleashed paranormal romance series. If you like tough heroines, steamy scenes, and unexpected twists, then you’ll adore Dina Haynes’s suspenseful saga.



This is a romance, but it takes a while to get there. This was good. I liked it a lot, but I don’t think I would want to re-read it, so 4 stars. I read it fairly quickly, but it did drag in some parts, possibly because I wanted to get to the romance already. The romance is more of an end game thing. It is more suspense and action than romance.

Dina Haynes has built a unique shifter world here and did very well with that world-building. I’ve read many shifter romances and always enjoy the tweaks authors make to the standard shifter lore out there. In this world:

  • Humans know about shifters and live in relative peace with them. There is prejudice and hate like racism in the real world.
  • Shifters live very long lives, seems like at least 150 years.
  • Shifters can fully shapeshift from human to their were-species. There are big cats (leopards, lions), wolves, and bears mentioned.
  • Shifters heal completely if they shift from one form to another.
  • Shifters can heal with their saliva. Mates “tend” to each other this way, creating a stronger bond.
  • I was confused about how two shifters become mates. Early on, it is said one male is always careful to pull out during sex because not doing so would tie the pair together for life. This is a common part of general shifter lore, usually accompanied by a bite, which is not part of the lore here. But later in this novel, someone does not pull out, and nothing happens immediately. Beyond that, we are also told that wereleopards don’t always mate for life. I never got a clear idea of the “rules” here.

This is the story of MacKenzie, Mac, a “mutant” born to two wereleopards. Mac can’t fully shift into a leopard, so she also can’t heal quickly by shifting forms. This also makes her very weak in comparison to other shifters. Most were parents would kill a “defective” child like this at birth. Mac’s mother wanted to kill Mac, but her father refused.

Mac’s unique condition means she has almost no shifter scent, making it easy to hide from other shifters among humans. Mac had been living among humans for a long time at the start of the story. She had gotten so “human”, that she has a dog! It is very odd for a cat shifter to have a dog, but I love Chunk, the French Bulldog. He adds a lot of humor to this story.

I liked the characters. They are far from perfect, but that makes them interesting. Mac is a strong, independent woman who consistently saves herself. Her struggle is allowing emotional connections with others and accepting help.

At the beginning, Mac has a casual sex relationship with “the male”. We later learn his name is Doug. I was amused that Mac keeps thinking of Doug as “the male” long after learning his name. It was obviously a ploy to distance herself from him emotionally. From the blurb, I expected the male romantic lead to be Ramone, so I was confused and put off by the sex and other intimacy with Doug. It’s not cheating, but I still only want intimacy with the main romantic partner. This is a strong preference of mine.

There are some trigger warnings. Mac was abused by her parents. She was sent to the were-jail when she was 16, and she was routinely beaten and raped there by the guards. There is also dubious consent in some of the sex scenes – Mac is physically restricted from moving, and her partner is not taking no for an answer, but intercourse does not happen until Mac is fully along for the ride.

Some graphic sex scenes. Scenes with the male romantic lead don’t occur until after 50%. They aren’t very explicit. Common language used in erotic novels is not used here.

Occasional foul language.

HEA.

1st person past tense, all from MacKenzie.

This is very well edited. I only found 11 errors.

323 pages. $2.99 on Amazon and part of Kindle Unlimited.

I downloaded this for free via BookSirens in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Quotes:

I pulled off the 10 freeway and rolled down the window so Chunk could suffocate himself in the wind. After a bout of snorting and hacking, he stepped back inside and looked at me as if to say, Did you see how I almost died there?

I glanced at him and said, “Glutton and punishment. Put them together in a sentence and that’s what you are, buddy.”

He stood back up and stuck his face out the window again.



The old me was thinking, Don’t trust that bitch. But the new, emotional me was like Sex is good, let’s keep him.



He caught my leg as I crawled away and pulled me to him. Chunk let go a whine. “Hey, mutt,” he said. “I’m about to do stuff to your mommy you won’t like.”

As if Chunk understood every word, he threw me a worried look, then jumped off the bed and left the room.



Her Reluctant Rancher (Return to Stone Creek Book 1) – Anne Marie Novark

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sweet western contemporary romance – Currently free on Amazon

Blurb:

Trevor Callahan’s grandfather is dead. As a kid, living with the stern old man had been a pure living hell. Trev returns to Stone Creek for one reason and one reason only: To sell the Rocking C Ranch. Maybe then he can put his past behind him and move on.

Beth Evans once confused lust for love and vows never to let it happen again. The bookmobile driver is trying to raise funds to build a new library. The late Hank Callahan bequeathed one million dollars for the project, but he attached one stipulation: Do not let his grandson sell the ranch.

HER RELUCTANT RANCHER

Contemporary Western Romance Novel

65,000 words/204 pp

Heat Index: Hot and Steamy

Listed on Amazon as 301 pages.

Currently free – May 2021


Beth is 24, so Trevor is 36.

Beth has a 5-year-old daughter.

Several detailed sex scenes, but they aren’t truly graphic. Sensual language is used (I wouldn’t call it flowery) instead of slang for body parts. The F word is never used.

It’s sweet, a good, fast-paced read. The characters are likeable. Both Trevor and Beth grow emotionally, which they have to do to really let someone in. HEA. SAFE. Very good grammar.

3rd person past tense from Trevor and Beth.

Head-hopping within the same chapter/section.

Errors: 9


Crew Series – Tijan

Rating: 4 out of 5.

High school to college romance with drama and violence

Crew – Book 1

Blurb:

To survive where I live, you have two options.

You can be a Normal—a cheerleader, jock, member of the debate team, or on the yearbook committee. You pretend everything is normal.

Or you can be crew.
You insult us? We hurt you.
You hurt us? We really hurt you.
And if you f*ck with us, we will end you.

My name is Bren.
I’m the only female in the Wolf Crew—the best, fiercest, and most dangerous crew there is—and we have a rule: There’s no falling in love.

Well… too late.


This series is loosely related to the Fallen Crest series and set after it. You should read the Fallen Crest series first if you don’t want to encounter spoilers here. Rousseau is a poorer, neighboring town to Fallen Crest. If you have read the Fallen Crest series, you will have heard the term “Crew” as it was mentioned there. Crews are a little like gangs but nowhere near as rough and criminal-leaning. They are more like tight friend groups with people who will always back each other up. Loyalty is number one. They aren’t cliques because their members do socialize with people outside their crew. People who don’t join crews are called Normals.

Bren is one of only two females in the crew system. She is in a four-member crew called the Wolf Crew. This novel is really about how Bren grows and evolves, becoming emotionally stronger, finally speaking about her past and accepting the love that has always been waiting for her.

I liked it a lot. It was fast paced, interesting, and enjoyable. There wasn’t too much violence for my tastes. I liked being in Bren’s head and how things were slowly revealed. Bren is a strong character but not maxed out unrealistically. She had learned to stuff things down to survive, but she wasn’t happy. Her growth was in starting to unpack and deal with things. I also liked the secondary characters and felt I got to know them even though we get everything from Bren’s point of view. All the characters are complex with both good and evil inside them.

There are some sex scenes, but they aren’t long or very graphic.

Lots of good humor, which I loved. Zellman cracked me up.

No cheating or Other People drama.

There are a bunch of catty Normal girls. I liked how Bren dealt with them.

Lots of foul language.


1st person past tense, all from Bren.

This is well edited. I found only 10 errors.

372 pages. $2.99 on Amazon.


Favorite Quotes:

Zellman: Good head is like an animal on the endangered list.

Cross chuckled. “My point still stands. Zellman has no taste in women. He’d bang a door if it had a hole his prick wouldn’t get a sliver from.

Bren: “…There should be a rule where teachers and staff can’t leave the school. When you enter, you deal with them there and only there. It’s too much, thinking of all of them having their own lives.”

Cross: Walking backward, he winked as his back hit the screen door. “And just so we’re clear, I’m intending to grab your tits someday. I’ve been intending for a long time.”

Zellman: “You’re like my sister now. Crew family. But no lie, I’m hoping to see your tits someday. And it’s probably going to happen, since we all scrap.”


Crew Princess – Book 2

Blurb:

Being crew is walking between two worlds.
One world is normal: Prom. Parties. College.
Those are the concerns they worry about.

In our world, we deal with other situations.
Cops. Drugs. Brawling.
That’s a typical day for us.

But what if it wasn’t?

What if there came a day when you stopped?
When you considered letting your enemies win?
When you didn’t fight back?
When you chose a different path?

First I lost my family. Then I got the Wolf Crew.
I couldn’t lose them too.

But what happens when Cross, Zellman, and Jordan keep going…
…and I don’t?


In Crew Princess, the adults are after the Crew system again, and Bren grows up emotionally, getting ready to face her future. There is more drama, parents divorcing, surprise family members, and a conspiracy to be solved. Bren and Cross are going strong, and Jordan has a girlfriend. Zellman is still funny, but we don’t get as much of him in this one.

1st person past tense, all from Bren.

This is well edited. I found only 5 errors.

304 pages. $3.99 on Amazon.


Always Crew – Book 3

Blurb:

For the longest time, I was Bren Monroe.
I lived in Roussou, California.
I had no parents, no brother, but I had a crew.

Then things started to change.
I never planned for any of it.
I didn’t think I’d fall in love.
I didn’t think I’d have a relationship with my brother again.
I didn’t think that he’d come back.

Now I’m in Cain.
My crew is in college.
They’re growing, going through their own things.
And here I am, figuring out my life.

There’s always hurdles and obstacles to overcome.
That was never my hardship.
That was my regular.
But living? Being content? Being happy?
Those were my challenges now.

Everything was going well…
Until it wasn’t. Again.


This one is about Bren finding her career path, drama between Cross and his surprise family member, and romantic relationship drama for Jordan and Kellman.

In this, Blaise and Aspen are together. They have their own book. So I think that one should be read before the Crew series. Maybe? I haven’t read it yet to know. But we always assume there is going to be a HEA, so it’s not that much of a spoiler.

We get several chapters and sections from Cross and a chapter each from Zellman and Jordan.

This one had a bad problem with two different speakers in the same paragraph. The paragraph break was just weirdly missing 12 times! I only found 2 other errors.

364 pages. $4.99 on Amazon.


Favorite Quote:

Zellman: Each person should get their rocks off as many times as they could. I felt it was a worthy mission for the world’s population.


Fallen Crest Series – Tijan

A high school to college soap opera romance series

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fallen Crest High – Book 1

This is a guilty pleasure read. It’s a soap opera, a group of characters that Jerry Springer would jump at. The parents in this are terrible! They go from outright abusive to just not there. The teenagers are always having raging parties, setting things on fire, and fighting. Someone is always out to get them. These novels are mostly about catty, backstabbing, jealous people trying to hurt the three main characters – Sam, Mason, and Logan. Tons of teen angst. It’s so much drama that I have to forcibly suspend my disbelief and just let the telenovela happen. Embrace the crazy, and it is very amusing. There is a lot of humor in this, most of it coming from Logan.

I do like that Mason is a good guy to Sam. He is a complex character, good to her but can be manipulative and a jerk. But at least he is honest about it.

Sam’s character starts off numb. Sam doesn’t care about anything. She seems to take everything in stride, being bored by all the teenage angst and drama around her. She is angry with her parents about their split and says so to both of them, but she doesn’t lash out. She just goes running to escape. I didn’t like that Sam’s character changed in the second book. She got weak for a while.

Logan is a slut, but he is also honest about that and so funny that I can’t hate him for it.

This series is complete now and ends in a HEA.

This contains sex scenes, but they aren’t graphic. We know what happened, but it’s not as detailed as I usually see. The C and P words are not used. Instead, it is something like, “He was in me.” The scenes get a bit more descriptive in the latter books when the characters are in college.

The entire series is in 1st person past tense. The first two books are all from Sam. In the rest of the series, we get some chapters from Mason too. We get a chapter from Logan in Book 5 (University). Logan Kade has chapters from both Logan and Taylor.

There are a ton of errors in the first book including wrong words and missing words. It’s not often enough to give me headaches but stretching it. The grammar gets better as the series goes on. I also felt that the plots got better as Tijan matured as an author over the series.



Fallen Crest Family – Book 2

Another soap opera. I didn’t think this was as good as the first. The abuse stuff was brought up out of nowhere, and I didn’t like how Sam’s character got weak.

In the second book, Sam is suddenly suffering PTSD from something her mom did when Sam was eleven. It never came up in the first book. It seems like Sam’s character was changed to conform to the desired plot. Because she stood up to her mother in the first book. Sam told her mother that their relationship was over, done, that she wished she hadn’t been born to her mother. She also said she would move out as soon as she turned 18. And Sam does have the option of going to live with David, who fought for shared custody. It also seems very strange that Becky and Lydia would have suddenly abandoned Sam in the intervening time period when they had sworn loyalty to her at the end of the last book. I’m not buying it. Then the stuff about Sam being arrested as a runaway weeks before her 18th birthday and Mason possibly being charged with statutory rape was far from the legal facts. The changes are too stark, and I felt they were done to facilitate the desired plot here.


Fallen Crest Public – Book 3

The soap opera continues… This story is all about the mean girls and the queen bee going down, just like getting hit by a bus. But again, it’s a guilty pleasure. Very cliche story line about a spurned girl who launches attacks on Sam because she wants Mason.


Favorite Quote:

…Malinda. She always had a quick retort for Logan, and when there was a lull in conversation, she’d grill Mark on his love life. He was mortified when she suggested getting a vibrator for his girl. “Mom!” he cried out. She shrugged. “You’re not a virgin, and I’m promoting her pleasure as well. The girl will enjoy it a lot more. They don’t always, you know.” She scanned the rest of the table. “I’m sure you two bucks think you’re the stud for all those does,” she remembered me and amended, “well maybe just you and Logan, but I’m telling you. Girls fake it eighty percent of the time.”

That opened a whole new channel of adoration from Logan. He wanted to know it all.

The rest of the conversation was a question and answer forum from Logan while Mark looked ready to throw up. I even caught Mason listening intently to her. He told me later that he’d be stupid to pass up information like that.


Fallen Fourth Down – Book 4

There would be so much less drama if they communicated with each other. Can’t have that!

I like the screenshot of the texts.

I’m glad Sam has grown more of a backbone. In Fallen Crest Family, she got too weak for me.

Wow. I know this is a soap opera, but I keep getting shocked when it goes to that level. Hahaha There was a huge error in that near the start, Sam thought, “Maybe it was time I tried drinking. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it.” But she had been drunk so many times in the first three books! This was ridiculous. Alcohol was not new to her!


Fallen Crest University – Book 5

Mason is keeping secrets from Sam. Sam is keeping secrets from Mason. They are both trying to protect each other. If there aren’t any secrets, there can’t be any drama! 😂


Fallen Crest Christmas

This is a Fallen Crest extra set right after University and before Logan Kade.

It is in 3rd person past tense.


Logan Kade – Book 5.5

We all know Logan is a slut and sometimes a man-whore, but I read this because of how funny he is! Oh yeah, do you know the difference? Sluts are just promiscuous, lacking respect for their own bodies. Man-whores make the women pay in some way, hurting them. I don’t slut-shame. I’m not a fan of it, but whatever floats your boat. I just don’t like reading about characters who are so casual about sex because it’s a turn off for me. I really hate man-whores. They are bad people.

This was good, more fun, less of a soap opera. I really liked it until what happened near the end. Then I was disgusted! I have to knock at least a star off for Logan being far too much of a slut / manwhore.

Favorite Quote: “I’m Logan Motherfucking Kade. I’d switch classes, too. I mean, shit. If I were a chick? I’d be all over me. I couldn’t keep myself away from me.” He let out a whistle. “Bring out the handcuffs and bullwhips. We’re going the BDSM route.”


Fallen Crest Home – Book 6

Near the beginning, everyone is worried about Sam and Mason being at a Roussou event, and they are always surrounded by people acting as bodyguards. Then the group lets Mason and Sam walk off alone to leave. It makes no sense that everyone would be worried at the beginning of the night and then let them leave alone. Stupid characters! 🙁

Home ends on a cliffhanger that is so soap opera.

Favorite Quotes:

“Good thing I’m Logan Kade. I mean, come on. If I wasn’t the #sexmachine, I might’ve felt a little self-conscious.” His eyes grew thoughtful. “I’d never noticed how ripped he is. I think he needs to cut back on some of his training. He’s lean cuisine now. Does it hurt? When you’re bumping and grinding against him? Do all those hard muscles give you road rash or something?”

He smirked. “You’re calling me the dumbass when you’re the one who needs to be reminded how to eat. Put it in and chew—unless it’s Mason’s dick. Don’t chew then. Please, don’t chew. I don’t want to take my brother to the emergency room for that.”


Fallen Crest Forever – Book 7

The conclusion of the series with a HEA.


Triple Play: A Sports Reverse Harem Romance – Cassie Cole

Baseball reverse harem romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Natalie is hired on as the assistant pitching coach for a major league baseball team. Raphael and Joel are pitchers. Darryl plays first base and is a star hitter.

I actually like baseball, so this was much more my speed. The many baseball details and the suspense in the game descriptions were terrific. It was a great story about baseball as well as a romance. The sex scenes were hot, and there was a good amount of humor in this.

The only thing I didn’t like was how quickly Natalie fell into bed with Raphael. This happens early on, so it’s not a spoiler. It felt like a cheesy porno set up like the hot guy delivering a pizza and suddenly they are having sex. I wasn’t a fan. I definitely wanted more chemistry in their interactions and getting to know one another before they had sex. But the novel got much better from there!

There is a cute little bonus epilogue chapter online set 15 years later.

SAFE – no cheating, Other People drama, love triangles, or non or dubious consent.

Graphic sex scenes both one-on-one and group. No touching between the men.

Occasional foul language.

1st person past tense from Natalie and all three guys.

There are some unnecessary dialogue tags, but not so many as to detract from the pacing.

Alright is not a word, it’s all right. Mom/Dad should be capitalized like a proper name. Aside from that, I only found 8 errors, so this is very well edited.

Fostering Hope (Silver Lining Book 1) – Amanda Perry

New adult clean reverse harem

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After shuffling from one bad foster home to another, Parker is finally taken in by a good family. They have seven sons. Five of them are older than Parker.

This was a clean reverse harem romance, which I’ve never run into before. There is kissing but just that, no more. I really liked it. It was sweet and a fast read. There was no insta-love. Feelings built slowly. It had some good humor in it, especially with the character of Austyn.

1st person present tense from Parker and the guys.

I found 24 errors. A lot of them were weird like the first letter at the start of a sentence not being capitalized. Word should fix that on its own.

There is some foul language in this.

Trick Me Twice: An Enemies to Lovers High School Bully Romance – Becca Steele

Hot British high school bully romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Carter is a king of the school. Raine is keeping herself hidden away. She seemed weak at first, but she slowly comes out of her shell and becomes strong. I was happy with her by the end. Carter had to mature and get stronger as well. I liked both of these characters because they had flaws and grew as the story progressed. I also liked many of the secondary characters.

The writing was choppy and uncomfortable at first but quickly got better for me. It was a quick read. I wasn’t bored anywhere. I liked it a lot but didn’t love it, so four stars.

This contains three graphic sex scenes, so there is much more story than sex. There is quite a bit of foul language.

1st person past tense from Carter and Raine.

This book is well edited. It is written in British English. Only 8 errors interrupted me.

Kings of Linwood Academy – The Complete Box Set: A Dark High School Romance Series – Callie Rose

Hot reverse harem high school murder mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Harlow and her mom move from Arizona to a wealthy east coast town. Her mom is hired to be the live-in Executive Housekeeper for the Black family. Their teenage son Lincoln and his best friends, River, Dax, and Chase hate Harlow immediately. They rule the school and lead her torture there. Then the five of them witness a murder by a man in a mask.

I liked this a lot, but I wouldn’t want to read it again. Murder mysteries have much lower re-readability for me, since I’m not going to forget who done it. I’m not a big fan of mystery novels in general, so it’s harder to make me love them. And this is very long. I can see why it was broken into three books, but it felt overly long. The pacing was good for most of this, but I got bored for a while in the third book.

This is definitely teen erotica. If you’re against that, walk away now. Personally, I’m a fan. I don’t want to do things with teenagers in real life, but I like to imagine myself back as a teenager. And reading about teens having sex doesn’t bother me. When I was 16, everyone I knew was having sex. I haven’t forgotten that just because I’m older now. It’s actually quite realistic in that regard. There are many sex scenes in this, some with just one guy and others with two or all of them, but there is a lot more story than sex here. Recreational marijuana use appears a few times here, which also matches my teenage experience.

I liked all the characters. Harlow isn’t timid. She’s got a mouth on her and takes the initial abuse well, doesn’t cry and moan about how unfair it all is. She just says how these rich fucks must be bored. I liked that Harlow had a very realistic reaction to seeing someone die. She goes into shock for a bit and then can’t sleep or eat for days. Too many times I see characters handling things like this like it was no big deal, the story on to something else. I’m glad to see a realistic reaction for once.

I loved that all four of the guys had distinct personalities and weren’t just clones of each other, even the twins. Chase and Dax are almost identical twins but have enough physical differences to be told apart. Their personalities are widely different. All four guys are somewhat possessive and protective, but they don’t smother Harlow. I also loved Harlow’s mom and that someone in this novel has a good parent.

1st person present tense, all from Harlow’s perspective.

This novel is well edited until the end of the third book. I found 3 errors between the first two books. I found 11 errors in the third book alone, mostly subject-verb agreements.


Favorite Quotes:

“Don’t fall in love with any rich boys. They’re trouble.”

When Harlow’s mom is going on a date: I make her promise to be home by midnight and use protection, because I’ve gotta give her a little shit while I’m at it, right?

Having four boyfriends, as amazing as it is, isn’t great for staying clean.

I grit my teeth. “Because I’m collecting boyfriends, and I want to raise the average age of my harem.”



Misconduct – Penelope Douglas

Teacher and millionaire with teenage son in New Orleans – contemporary romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I live in New Orleans, so it was fun to read a contemporary romance set here. The details of the setting were wonderfully accurate. I’m just left with one burning question: Do people elsewhere seriously not drink at funerals? Now, I don’t mean during the service. I’m talking about at the gathering afterwards. A character says New Orleanians drink at all events, even funerals. And I went, “What do you mean, even?”

There isn’t a funeral in this. It’s not a tearjerker. It has its drama, but it left me feeling good, optimistic. The characters are complex and believable. There were things I liked about them and things I didn’t, which makes them feel real. Would I want to date Tyler? No, but I wouldn’t be or date Easton either. Neither of them do relationships anyway. They treat sex much too casually for my taste. But many people do, so if that doesn’t turn you off right from the start, then I recommend this. It is a fast, enjoyable read with lots of humor that I have come to expect from Penelope Douglas.

The sex scenes were hot and well written. Tyler could be a little dominant, but Easton could dish it right back, playing with him in an amusing way. There is a possible trigger – she says no when she acts yes. He doesn’t stop, and she doesn’t want him to. This bothers me a little as It is so dangerous. Later he argues that she can’t say no to him, and I went, “But, actually, she did!” I got past this easily, but I like dark romance. Since this isn’t dark, maybe it bothered me more, because no should mean no, you know?

I liked and enjoyed this but didn’t love it so much that I would read it again, so 4 stars.


1st person past tense with chapters from both Easton and Tyler.

This is very well written and edited. I only caught 6 errors, and that’s amazing.


Favorite Quotes:

Easton: People didn’t trust signatures so much as they trusted your ability to bullshit while you were drunk.

Easton: Probably midthirties, judging by the faint lines around his eyes. And although that wasn’t old, it was almost outside of my generation at twenty-three. I liked that, too. If his hands were sure, maybe his tongue would be, too. Conversation-wise, I meant.

Easton: It didn’t matter if you were fourteen or twenty-three, a student, a teacher, or a parent—you still got nauseous when the principal called you down.

Tyler: She wouldn’t be easy. In fact, I had a strange feeling it would be like high school, and I’d feel like I’d scored if I just got my hand up her shirt.

The Pet Project – Amanda Milo

Oddball equals interesting, pure SciFi, not romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This novella is a riff on the thought, “What if aliens didn’t recognize humans as sentient and kept them as pets?”  

It must be taken at face value. It is not an allegory. I sensed no intention to comment on the history, tragedies, and foibles of humanity. If you can’t put these things aside, you will probably be offended or even disgusted.

I personally found this very easy to imagine as I *know* that my cats are sentient. They control me. I am their slave. You don’t see them going out to work or the grocery store or cleaning my toilet! They understand English but would never stoop to speaking it as they have a much more elegant language comprised of subtle nuances on the basic sound “me-ow”. Besides, they get their point across to me just fine, know it, and point this out with just a look at me from time to time. I accuse them of “being all cute again” and they say, “It’s the treats I train you with. You know you love it.” I do.

The entire novella is 1st person present tense from the alien who is conducting the breeding project. We don’t get the alien’s name until the very end, in an epilogue that is an interview with our scientist. Very little is revealed about the alien species. No gender is given. We don’t even know if these aliens have genders.

There is some forced mating between the experiment’s subjects, but it is clinical rather than violent. These are the scientific notes of the doctor, so that tone removes most of the emotion and trauma we might otherwise feel when reading about these. There is nothing sexual between the aliens and the pets. I viewed it like putting cats or dogs together for mating as that is how the doctor views it. It is clear that the doctor can’t remain an impartial observer and truly cares about the pets, so mistakes made during experimentation are corrected.

Amanda said this wasn’t funny, but I found some very amusing nuggets. Overall, I found it interesting, amusing, and a fast-paced read. I think other animal lovers or anyone who doesn’t view humans as vastly different from other animals will have an easier time accepting the spirit in which this was written and appreciating the cuteness.

There you go Amanda, being all cute again!

Favorite Quotes:

Because of the male inclination towards bellicosity, most males are not fit for household pets.

Distractedly, I’m aware of how welcome even her intrusions are to me. Her staring is so loud that I often pause whatever I’m working on to pay her some small attention. If I were wise, I would put a stop to her disruption; it is somewhat rude behavior.

(My cats!)

“No. You don’t mark the indoor plant. Only outdoor plants.” Then Dr. Xan’-Tay `్ turns to me and sighs. “You see environment enrichment? Male tenders see targets.”