okay, so the weirdest thing just happened. i read a book about a bisexual british were-bear with a vampire roommate and a crush on a werewolf whose love life becomes complicated by the arrival of a fae prince and some lingering feelings for one of her female co-workers at vogue.
and i loved it.
like, howling at the moon loved it. (okay, full truth—i loved 97% of it—the ending kind of blows up into a crazy mess, and i wish this went on for another couple hundred pages, but whatever). TL recommended this one to me, and i read it after i fell hard for the author’s free tor short: These Deathless Bones: A Tor.com Original, which was a viciously dark sorta-fairytale that delighted me, so i figured i’d give this a shot, even though it is as tonally different as two works could possibly be.
i’m typically allergic to romance in books, and i’ve tried to, but never gotten into urban fantasy, so i figured paranormal romance and me would never get along, since it’s just urban fantasy with more kissing. but this one is absolutely paranormal romance, and it is funny, funny, FUNNY! it’s also only 100 pages or so, so it doesn’t have much in the way of actual on-page hookups, but there are definitely romantic themes, and they didn’t make me roll my eyes even once!
part of it is the humor—much humor at the expense of conventional vampire/werewolf tropes, and the particulars of awkward british mannerisms, but it’s also filled with genuinely charming characters. the banter between zelda and zora is simply adorable; the love-teasing appellation of “paddington,” the loyalty that results in mouthpunching a rude, speciesist dude—it’s a lovely bond they share.
it’s also a celebration of the plus-size woman; a kodiak were-bear-sized woman—329 pounds with h-cup bazongas, which makes my back hurt just thinking about it, but i appreciate the curve-love, although one of the characters appreciates it in a much more colorful way:
”Sex is about contact, after all. Grabbing. Clenching. Kissing. Biting. Where’s the pleasure in gnawing on bones?”
there’s plenty of gentle pokes at the expense of those love/hate genre-superstars twilight and fifty shades—her werewolf paramour is named jake, and she invokes her inner goddess and turns into a total babbling dummy bear whenever she’s in a room with that washboard-ab-having puppy, although it must be noted that he doesn’t bring any collars or leashes on their date.
even though it’s so short, it manages to take a stab at worldbuilding, explaining the deeply-ingrained animosity between vampires and fae, some dustings of info about the nature of/legislature around/courtship rituals between shapeshifters in her particular conception, and i like the obstacles zelda faces (grooming, adjusting her spatial perception, wardrobe malfunctions, getting booped on the nose, and—most humiliatingly—territory-marking) during her “time of the month.”
basically, i want more.
sooooooo, please write more!
if she can take paranormal romance—a genre that is not my cuppa—and make it as genuinely funny and charming as this AND also triumph when it comes to the dark and creepy, like her free tor short These Deathless Bones: A Tor.com Original, then i am VERY interested to read her take on lovecraft, who makes my brain barf, just to see if she can go 3/3.
review to come.