Victoria Schwab is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers — and I’m having a lot of fun exploring her catalog.
One aspect that makes Shwab’s output so appealing is her world-building. And that strength is fully on display with This Savage Song. In an urban fantasy world, a monster wants to be a human, and a human resisting the urge to become a monster. August and Kate come from the ruling families on opposite sides of a brewing conflict who are sent to the same school. Kate has been trying to get back home with her father since her mother died and August is sent undercover to keep an eye on her.
Schwab resists the urge to make August and Kate into a Romeo-and-Juliet-like couple, instead opting to make them become friends and reluctant allies in an attempt to keep a seemingly unstoppable impending war from happening. Each has his or her own secrets (August’s is particularly intriguing) and could be a useful pawn in the other side’s attempts to sway the balance of power.
Schwab’s world is full of strong characters, careful world-building, and earned dramatic escalations. The novel builds up the tension and does end on a cliffhanger that left me curious to pick up the next installment in the series and continue to explore this world and the lives of August and Kate.
After supporting and putting her college boyfriend through law school, Emily is unceremoniously dumped by the cad and left to begin picking up the pieces of her life. Emily decides to start over in Willow Creek, helping her sister who was recently in a car wreck get to appointments and taking care of her teenage niece, Catelin.
Catelin’s interest in the local high-school fund-raising Renaissance Festival brings Emily into the Ren Faire world (seems that kids under 16 need an adult to volunteer in order to participate). At first, Emily thinks she might spend the summer getting to know Mitch, the football/baseball coach who looks great in a kilt. She certainly doesn’t think she’ll spend much time with Simon, the English teacher in charge of the Faire, who seems to have it in for Emily.
But could it be their bickering masks something more?
Jen DeLuca’s Well Met is a sweet slice of romantic comedy in which two seemingly opposite people slowly realize their attraction to each other. Both Emily and Simon have their own reservations, hang-ups, and issues when it comes to their budding romance — each of which is earned by DeLuca’s strong character building. Seeing that both sides have to give a bit in order for the romance to work is nicely done and it helps make the reader cheer for these two sides to get together and get to their happily ever after.
The Ren Faire world setting makes this a unique, fun romantic comedy and it’s populated with some fun, diverse characters that could easily take center stage in their own books if and when DeLuca decides to visit them again.
Star of a hit legal drama, actress Quinn Kincaid is ready to come out — but only if she can control the media’s narrative.
To that end, Quinn hires former soap star Lacey Matthews to spend a year posing as her first girlfriend in a carefully orchestrated media campaign. But when Quinn breaks her leg cycling, Lacey steps up to care for Quinn and may win more than just a recurring role on the hit legal drama.
Casting Lacey is a fairly formulaic romance story of two people posing as lovers who find that fiction is becoming fact. The attraction between the two is immediate and simmers a long time before coming to a full boil. Along the way, there are the usual pitfalls and misunderstandings that happen in just about every romantic comedy.
And therein lies the biggest criticism of Lacey — it just seems to tread water a bit in the middle section as both Quinn and Lacey have to deny their growing attraction for each other and the story serves us obstacles to keep them apart.