LiP Romancelandia

Eva Müller

Eva Müller
Eva frequently has either a book or some knitting-needles in her hand. She loves historical romance, especially with queer protagonists (or at least without lords and earls) and has a weakness for friends-to-lovers and second-chance romances. Apart from that she also reads a lot of crime/suspense and fantasy - with and without romance. On Twitter she shows off pictures of her knitting-WIPs, shouts about the books she is reading and live-tweets TV-shows (mostly in German).

Recent Posts

Review: The Lady in the Coppergate Tower, by Nancy Campbell Allen

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 24, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Hazel’s been dreaming about a girl who - except for hair and eye colour - looks exactly like her for as long as she can remember. But the dream girl never says or does anything extraordinary, so Hazel has accepted it as a slightly odd thing and otherwise leads a normal life. She has some healing abilities and uses them in her work for surgeon Sam McInnes. He’s rich, charming, good-looking and way out of her league. But then her dreams are beginning to worry her. The girl in it is showing signs of fear and madness. Hazel’s life gets turned further upside down when the mysterious Count Petrescu appears. He tells her that he’s from Romania and that she has a twin-sister there…one who looks exactly like Hazel, except for hair and eye-colour and who is slowly going mad. The Count is convinced that Hazel is her only hope. He asks her to accompany him to Romania and she agrees - and so does Sam who does not trust the Count and fears he might not have the best interest of Sam and her twin at heart.

The trouble with this book is that both the romance and the fantasy seem quite half-hearted. Hazel already feels more than friendship for Sam at the beginning of the book, but she’s also convinced that the difference in status means that there is no chance of a romantic relationship between them. And she’s not terribly bothered by that…or bothered at all. Now I am very much here for characters who won’t let themselves be defined by being unhappily in love but Hazel’s feelings for Sam seem more like a celebrity crush - something she is fully aware is impossible but nice to daydream about occasionally.

Sam, meanwhile, sees her first as a very competent co-worker and then as more but doesn’t think she feels the same way, so he shrugs and moves on. So, it’s quite fitting that when they find out that their feelings are in fact reciprocated, they essentially go well, that’s great, kiss and then go back to business as usual. Even in a book that is more fantasy than romance I would have expected emotions to play a bigger role.

I admit, if the fantasy part had been good, I’d still have enjoyed this book and even recommended it with the caveat that it’s not much of a romance but that at least Sam and Hazel are likeable characters. But sadly, the fantasy plot was also lacking… mostly lacking tension.

Hazel and Sam quickly agree that the count has some sinister motives but Hazel still wants to accompany him to help her sister. And so, they travel together…and at no point is there any doubt about the count’s sinisterness. So as the reader, I also wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat, wondering if he’s one of the good guys or not. There was, of course, the question of what his plan was but most of the time it wasn’t treated as a particularly pressing question. They occasionally bring it up, acknowledge that they have no idea and then…shrug and move on. This seems to be a theme. (Granted, they do make attempts to find out more but when those are fairly unsuccessful they…you guessed it).

All that leaves us with a book about two people who…just get through the plot but - with some exception - have few strong emotions about the things happening around them. And that results in me also not feeling much about it.

Content Warnings: murder, mention of attempted sexual assault

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, by Kellie Doherty

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 24, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

I need to open with something that influenced my opinion on this book quite considerably: I’m really bad with names. I have read books, absolutely loved them and then had to look up the names of the main characters a day later. Sometimes I read something, take a break, come back and go “Wait? Who’s that guy?” - especially when the book has a lot of characters and/or they have names that are very foreign to me. And Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties has a lot of fantasy names.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: The Matrimonial Advertisement, by Mimi Mathews

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 21, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Justin did not expect any answers to the advert he - or rather one of his friends - put out to find a wife. He has enough money to live comfortably but he isn’t really rich, his home - Greyfriar’s Abbey - is far away from any big cities where anybody might find entertainment and he has no title to make up for these failings. When someone does reply he expects an elderly spinster who bolts when she sees his face that has been scarred in the war. But when he meets Helena Reynolds in person she’s young, beautiful…and tells him she can’t get married quickly enough.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Without Pretense, by TJ Thomas

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 16, 2019 12:09:00 PM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

When taking a break from her practise, violinist Ava Wellington runs into a very attractive woman. The two form an instant connection and the woman – Bianca – talks about her wife who died in a plane crash. Ava then has to continue her concert tour and never hears from Bianca again, but she can never forget that meeting. Two years later her manager ambushes her with the announcement that he has hired someone to write Ava’s biography, even though she has repeatedly stated that she doesn’t want that to happen. When the writer turns out to be Bianca, Ava is torn between happiness about seeing her again and fear that she will uncover the secret that’s the reason Ava doesn’t want anybody to know.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Half-Life, by Gregory L. Norris

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 6, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Whitney Abbott travels to the seaside Maine town of Window to begin a new life in his uncle’s home. Robert Abbott is well-to-do and owns several high-end restaurants. Whitney will start at the bottom and work his way up at the flagship. But from the moment Whitney exits his car in the drive of the big, brooding house, he senses the sinister atmosphere surrounding his relations.

His cousin November, princess of the estate, feigns joy at having Whitney in town. And November’s handsome athlete boyfriend, Griffin, is an enigma. Soon after his arrival, Griffin warns Whitney to leave. With nowhere to go—and certain that his attraction to Griffin goes both ways—Whitney is drawn into November’s malevolent plans. Plans that will pit Whitney against dark supernatural forces in order to save both his and Griffin’s lives.

Content warnings: homophobia, Griffin is mind-controlled into having a relationship with November which obviously has implications but they are never gone into*
Tropes: forbidden love
Heat: R
Genre: paranormal, romance
Tags: novella, zombies, witches, gay

* I'm not sure if that would be a spoiler. While reading I guessed that very quickly and I assume most people will

 

Review:

Whitney’s parents lost all their money when their business failed. Now his uncle offers him the opportunity to live with him (rent-free) and work in one of his restaurants. Whitney’s not overjoyed at the prospect but things change when he meets Griffin. He’s hot, acts strangely and keeps alluding to mysterious happenings. And he is the boyfriend of Whitney’s cousin November. She and Whitney never got on and now November seems to be hiding something.

The story starts in the middle of the climax: Whitney, the narrator, finds Griffin seemingly zombified. Then we jump back and get a “How we got here”. In that introductory scene, when Whitney sees zombie!Griffin whose skin is grey and cold, we are informed that despite all this his feet still look very sexy. At this point, I already suspected that the book wouldn’t be for me and the rest of it didn’t prove me wrong.

Half-Life is a rather short novella (about 14k words) and with a main plot about having to defeat an evil witch it doesn’t leave too much space for other things. But if something is advertised as romance I want romance.But I only got two people who were instantly attracted to each other and instead of describing any actual developing feelings beyond that, they just decide they're soulmates and meant to be together.

And then there’s the misogyny. November is the only female character that appears in this book. She’s described as typical feminine in her looks and pursuit but Whitney quickly brands her as fake (“The longer she held onto me, forcing me to inhale her floral scent, the more I sensed she was like the flowers in the urn on the big dining room table - pretty and happy at first but the impression was quick to wear off, a disguise”) and informs us that her singing and dancing is horrible. (Meanwhile Griffin’s “clean male sweat” smells of manly things like “summer rain and pine” and not of girly fake flowers. Yes those are actual quotes). And of course, November is the villain of the story who is behind everything - including things that seemed to be the fault of male characters at first.  Her motivation seems to be that she enjoys being evil.

And of course, she’s homophobic and comments at every possible opportunity how disgusting she finds Whitney. Just to make sure that we really don’t like her. You know, in case “evil witch who wants to turn people into zombies” wasn’t enough of a turn-off. I think you should be very careful with including characters that make comments like this fiction. Especially in romance, which is for many a form of escapism where they don’t need to read the same things, enough people in real life still say regularly.

I’m not saying that homophobia should never come up in lgbt-romance. There are books where it does come up and I found it handled well. Because they handled it at all. Characters reacted to comments aimed at them or their friends. Sometimes a character’s prejudice influenced the plot. None of this is the case in Half-Life. November just hurls those slurs around but nobody reacts to them (and as I mentioned, she is evil enough without it). There is absolutely no need for this kind of "homophobia as short-cut to make the character really evil".

 

 

If you want to buy the book, it's here.
Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Any Old Diamonds, by KJ Charles

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 17, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

The Duke of Ivar cared little about his children’s feelings when he married his mistress shortly after his wife’s death. And in this case, time did nothing to improve their relationship – rather the opposite. The duke’s children now have even more reasons to hate their father. And one of them thinks that the duke should pay for what he’s done. And Alex is sure that the only way to get back at the Duke and the new Duchess is to take what they really care about – their jewels. Which is why he hires jewel thief Jerry Crozier. But to get the jewels, they have to get in his father’s castle. That means Alex has to get back in the good graces of his father which is not easy. It also means Alex and Jerry have to get to know each other so that they can pretend to be friends and give Alex a reason to invite Jerry along. Soon Alexander isn’t so sure if he’s just pretending… but there’s also the issue that not everybody was completely honest and there’s far more at stake than expected.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: In the Vanishers' Palace, by Aliette de Bodard

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 6, 2018 9:30:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Yên is not important in her village. Her mother is a healer who knows magic but Yên has no powers herself; all she does is teach the village children but knowing about long-dead scholars isn’t considered important in a devasted world where everyday survival is hard enough.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Teacher's Pet, Vol. 2

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 23, 2018 9:30:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

Teacher’s Pet, Vol. 2 is the second anthology from Ninestar Press that features stories about student/teacher relationships. However, in most of the cases the teachers are private tutors, yoga or gym teachers or similar. In the stories that are set at a university, the couples agree to wait till the semester is over before they get serious, so they can avoid issues with power-imbalance. The one exception to that is the one story in the anthology that is erotica rather than romance (Press “Copy” to Begin) and in my experience erotica tends to be less concerned with reality anyway.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Salt Magic, Skin Magic, by Lee Welch

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 6, 2018 10:10:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

John Blake, a wizard, is asked by a colleague to help his cousin Lady Dalton. Strange things are happening in her home: items turn up she has never seen, and animals act strangely. Nobody has hurt her, but she worries that things will get worse. And she suspects Thornby, her stepson.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

Review: Alchemy, by Marie S. Crosswell

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 31, 2018 10:00:00 AM / by Eva Müller posted in review

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments

A serial killer is on the loose and the messages he leaves with the bodies suggest that he’s trying to settle a score with Holmes. Now she has to find the person behind this but also deal with something entirely unexpected: the developing romantic feelings she has for her friend.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]