Dim Sum Asylum - Rhys Ford (no rating)
Um...WTF was this? I might have gotten more out of this one if I'd read Ford's Sinner's Gin series, but the premise for it didn't interest me. After reading this, I'm glad I stayed away. There was a lot of info dumping as everything is described to fill non-readers in on this world, and it eats up a lot of page time. The chase through the city for the sexed up monkey statue was kind of interesting but again was bogged down with too many descriptions and background about everything when you just want to be chasing the statue. Then there's the ridiculous instalove/sex with Roku and his brand new partner on the force who has kind of been stalking Roku and finangled his way into a partnership with Roku in a really creepy way that's only marginally addressed before the hormones get in the way. I'll be honest, it was clear the entire last chapter was just going to be them boinking and making goo-goo eyes at each other, so I skipped it.
Swift and the Black Dog - Ginn Hale (4 stars)
Now this is more like it. This was well-written, with a damaged former "hero" of a revolution who hasn't dealt with the aftermath all too well. I was confused a lot of the time, but Hale gives just enough info to slowly fill in what this world is like and what it used to be like, and why Swift and his band of magician friends really went to war against the Tyrant. Making a better world wasn't exactly on their to-do list, let's just leave it at that. This didn't have a romance, per se, but a beginning of one and it was sweetly done.
A Queer Trade - KJ Charles (4 stars)
Finally! A KJ Charles story that doesn't make me want to rip off the MC's nads. I hate alphaholes in romances with a passion, yet she always seems to include one, so even though I like her writing well enough, I've learned to avoid her stories. Thankfully, that was not the case here. Ned and Crispin are both adorable. Ned is self-assured and aware, and Crispin is awkward and well-meaning. When Crispin's mentor dies unexpectedly and his magical papers sold to a waste-man by his unsuspecting relatives, Crispin and Ned are thrown together trying to fix the blunder. And what a blunder it is! It's also rare to read an historical that includes a POC as an MC, and have it be well-done. There is attention paid to the racial differences and experiences without making the story entirely about it. Instead, we get two men who are lonely and misunderstood for their own reasons finding acceptance in each other.
Magically Delicious - Nicole Kimberling (3 stars)
Fairies again. Or, goblins in this case. With really terrible table manners. The mystery was on the obvious side and the solution left plotholes. Still, it was imaginative and the characters were interesting.
Everyone's Afraid of Clowns - Jordan Castillo-Price (5 stars)
Read as part of Psycop Briefs: Volume 1
Vic is remembering his first time sensing a ghostly spirit in his teens and Jacob decides they should go check out the place. I don't know what's scarier, the clown or the misogynists. No, ok, I lied. The misogynists are scarier.
The Thirteenth Hex - Jordan L Hawk (3 stars)
Review here: http://linda78.booklikes.com/post/1384099/the-13th-hex
The Soldati Prince - Charlie Cochet (no rating)
If you like shifters, predestined mates, and possible Stockholm Syndrome resulting in tru wuv, this is the story for you. It's not my cuppa though. I again skimmed over most of the last this-is-the-boinking chapter.
One Hex Too Many - Lou Harper (3.5 stars)
This was again about two brand new partners on the police force. There was some awkward worldbuilding here and there but nothing too distracting from the story - though I still don't get what is so "extramundane" about a paranormal police squad. I liked both MCs and getting to see them work together, and the mystery was interesting. Then Harper throws the MCs together at literally the last minute and, honestly, I would've preferred this just be about two guys becoming friends. This isn't even romance. It's just last-minute sex that came out of nowhere. At least she doesn't linger over it and drag it out, but that's the only good thing I can say about it.
Josh of the Damned vs The Bathroom of Doom - Andrea Speed (not rated)
This is another one where I might have gotten more out of it if I'd read the stories it was based around. But the sexy, sensitive vampire boyfriend trend spawned by Twilight (Edward was a douche!) is just so over. I hate this trend and avoid these stories with a passion. And you seriously expect me to believe the creatures of the night cross over a magical portal every night to eat terrible convenience store food? I guess parts of it were funny if you like that brand of whacky comedy. Also, how is Carey more lame as a vampire name than Collin? I did finish this one, since it was thankfully very short, but since this is just not my genre, I decided not to rate it.
The Trouble with Hexes - Astrid Amara (5 stars)
This is a reunited/second chances story and the best of the bunch after JCP's. It's not too complicated for a short story, so there wasn't a lot of info-dumping that needed to be done, but it was still an intricate enough plot to keep the story moving forward. The whodunit was on the obvious side, but the main focus here was Vincent and Tim's relationship and how they mend those broken bridges between them.