So this time around for the Gateway Experiment I had asked for suggestions for Romance books that cross genre boundaries. You guys did not disappoint. I seriously think the H&H community members should be THE go-to place for anyone looking for a good book. You guys are awesome—better than Goodreads at finding good books that stretch a guy just far enough out of the comfort zone to discover some great books that would have been otherwise overlooked. Okay, I think I may be done gushing over y’all for now. Maybe? Yeah, I’m done.
For this installment of the Gateway Experiment I read Ilona Andrews’s Bayou Moon. What initially caught my attention with this one was the mention of a Fantasy-like Cold War; well that, and I wanted to find out just what an “action-figure army” was. I wound up staying for the great world building and incredibly fun characters. Seriously guys, if you want to introduce someone to romance, and break them in easy, I think this is right up there with Mr. Impossible, just appeals to different tastes. Where Mr. Impossible is that classic, old-Hollywood movie type feel, Bayou Moon is certainly the more action-movie. Seriously I could go on for a while here.
First off, I love the action-figure army. Now going in, I had thought this meant that the hero was going to be leading a team of G.I. Joe-like commandos. There may have been a ninja named Snake-Eyes, he might have been a Duke-like character, you get the big, loud, heavy-weapons like guy a la Roadblock, but no. It wasn’t that. It wasn’t that at all. William’s “action-figure army” was just that. My man had a King Greyskull. I haven’t seen one of those since I still had my own King Greyskull. It really did a heart good.
Talking about William. He’s a great guy. He’s a shifter, and I’ve encountered my share of those since starting down this winding road, but he’s not alpha-y. He doesn’t sound like Wrath when he talks about people. He sounds like some of the Good-Ol-Boys that I grew up around and went to school with. He’s a guy who has understandable issues about his past, someone who doesn’t whine about it all the damn time and lets it stay in the past. And he takes that logic and applies it to everyone around him. It’s wonderful. Not only that, but I really can empathize with his habit of saying what he is thinking and that not always coming off as intended when talking to others. I feel ya Bill, I do.
Then there is Cerise Mar. Now Cerise didn’t win my heart quite as much as Savi or Daphne did. But she is SOOOOOO much better than Beth. She fights her own battles. She doesn’t fall for William until AFTER he proves what kind of man he is. Yeah, the two flirt, but it’s never the hard to believe instant attraction that you see in other Romances. In fact, when the two first meet each other, Cerise is dressed like a hobo and smells like sour spaghetti.
Which reminds me. Now I’m not too in the know when it comes to tropes in the genre. But I have noticed a couple of recurring images and devices while here at Heroes and Heartbreakers. If it’s a Paranormal, odds are that either the Hero or Heroine are going to be wearing leather pants at some point. When it happens in this story, William, playing the part of what I imagine is the paranormal equivalent of a yuppie, gets made fun of for wearing leather in a swamp. I love it. It’s one of the reasons that I enjoyed this one as much as I did: The story never played into any of my pre-concieved notions of what a paranormal romance is. Or urban fantasy, for that matter.
Speaking of which. I loved that this was a rural fantasy. Is that a thing? It is now, it’s official. I never really grew up around the city. Sure, I live in The City now, but when reading things like Dresden and such, its simply a world I have mostly been unfamiliar with. But, you mention the deep woods of the south or swampy marshes and I’m instantly there. Even the whole of the Mar family and how clannish they are reminds me of my own extended family in Mississippi. The whole set-up is great and makes me wish that more writers would go for the more rural settings when dealing with fantasy. Not everything has to be set in a city to be dark and alien. Those of us that have lived in the country know that things get just as weird.
All in all this was a really fun read. It was exactly what I was wanting in terms of something that blurs the line a bit between genres. It was a ton of fun and I will definitely be picking up another of Ilona Andrews’s books in the near future.
So, where do I go from here? I’m kind of in the mood for cowboys. Anyone got any suggestions for either a contemporary or historical set in the west?