Masquerade: Oddly Suited
#IWSG Anthology 2019
by L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, Deborah Solice, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Chelsea Marie Ballard, Anstice Brown
#WeNeedDiverseBooks #SpecFic #DebutAuthor (there are two first-time authors), Author I Haven’t Previously Read
I enjoyed reading the ARC copy of Masquerade: Oddly Suited I was given in exchange for my honest review. It’s a clean-read, not much beyond a kiss. I’d recommend it to fans of YA romance who like a variety of subgenres. I look forward to reading more from several of these authors.
Oddly Suited by L.G. Keltner
A funny and heartwarming story. Excellent use of showing emotions. There’s a nervous young crush that slow burns to the happy ending.
The characters Bleeg Blorgington and Felicity Hart are the “cover models” for this book. This story is also the one for which the book is titled.
Keltner has been one of my favorite authors for a few years.
Behind the Catcher’s Mask by Jennifer Lane
This writer really knows softball. A good story for sports fans.
“He’s my catcher, and I like what I see behind his mask.” There’s a play-on-words for mask and masquerade. Also, rather than going to a ball, they’re playing ball and discovering the truth about each other.
Fearless Heart by Deborah Solice
This reminded me of an episode of the tv show Supernatural. It’s a different sort of romance. More so, there’s a lot of pain for the main character, with whom it is easy to empathize. I like that it’s set in Gettysburg, PA.
The Dark Charade by C.D. Gallant-King
This was the first time I encountered the term “lit crush” (which can be a crush on a literary character, a writer, or a book — I looked it up), and I love the usage. In fact, this story frequently dropped names of my fandoms.
I’m not used to seeing graveyard and cemetery used interchangeably. Where I’m from, a graveyard is on church ground and tends to be smaller, whereas a cemetery is burial ground for all people regardless of faith. So I wasn’t sure what was going on there, setting wise, though it was described more like a graveyard because it was separated by faith. My other issue was that “and taken the pearl necklace off” should be took instead of taken.
But the twist ending, wow! Not only did I not see it coming, I love the idea. I love the sudden diversity that was snuck in there. The story is a romance the way Stephen King’s Misery was a romance. It’s great and I would happily read more stories like this one. (My TBR list just grew.) This was my favorite story in the book.
The Cog Prince by Elizabeth Mueller
This story lost me a few times. It was presented differently from my usual reading tastes.
I realize the main character is exactly the sort of person to make this mistake, but Big Ben is the nickname of a bell, not the name of Elizabeth Tower.
“Chills clawed up my back and the feeling of being watched escalated to a dark foreboding.” That’s a good line from the story. I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to kiss anything with “teeth spines of oozing venom,” but it works out in this story.
Remedy by Chelsea Marie Ballard
The vivid imagery in this story is amazing, especially given that it’s a short story.
I wonder about Rudy, given the list of rhetorical questions, which means they were asked to make a point. Given those questions, if they’re rhetorical, does that suggest abuse and ignoring consent? Because that doesn’t fit with his character at all. Or were they rhetorical because her answer is a blanket yes?
“Whatever titles we gave ourselves to make us feel like we had the right to own other human beings.” That is such a profound line. It hits hard and cements the dystopia painted in this futuristic YA story. I thought the ending was hopeful.
Charleston Masquerade by Carrie-Anne Brownian
Mrs. Upshur is one of those fantastic antagonists that I hate, and I mean that as a compliment to Brownian.
“Decent people always blend in. Negative things happen when one stands out from the crowd.” That’s a powerful line of a coward who isn’t aware of their own cowardice. History books, after all, are filled with those who stood out. So I love that the antagonist said this, trying to keep the main character down. But then I got to hate the villain more when she said, “Perhaps some of them might welcome the challenge of breaking your rebellious spirit and teaching you which sex God intended to be dominant and why.” A reminder that, like in many historical romances, equality is and was an impossible concept for certain people to grasp for an excruciatingly long time. (The setting is in 1767.)
The Hinduism reference was very moving for me.
I really liked Jinx, until she became passionate about becoming a possession. She knows it’s the opposite of her ideas, but lets it happen. She’s a completely different person because of that moment, a level of change rarely executed in a short story. And the love interest responds with a possessive line, so it’s a happily ever after if you call trading humanity to become a possession happy (which was the antagonist’s goal for the protagonist).
Flower of Ronda by Myles Christensen
Set in southern Spain during a war between Christians and the Moors (Islam), which gives it diversity in that the characters are from two different backgrounds. They spend a chunk of the story pretending to ignore that fact, and then it comes up, but then it’s shoved aside for the happy ending. Don Juan Antonio Martín de la Vega is a perfect gentleman in the story, an excellent example of how to write a chivalrous character. A good slow-burn historical romance.
Sea of Sorrows by Anstice Brown
I felt bad for the Jamie/Jaimie character. (It was spelled both ways in the ARC.) The book has creatures called sorrows, which don’t call themselves finfolk, and haven’t heard the term mermaid before. Which is interesting because it brings in that aspect of lores coming together.
As soon as the character Erik showed up, I realized this story is probably a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but with some fantastic twists that make a lot of sense and add intrigue. Very good.
A Diver’s Ball by Angela Brown
Set in 2046, mostly in the virtual world of Cumulus, this story has physical diversity that brings out all the feels. There’s a simulated assistant, Baxter, who is a black cat, and I love him. And just when I thought the story couldn’t get any cooler, Falkor from the Neverending Story shows up. I fully geeked out. An amazing happily-ever-after.