Monthly Mini Review
One Fine Fae by Molly Harper, narrated by Amanda Ronconi & Jonathan Davis – B- I listened to the most recent full length book in this series recently, Shifters in the Night, and realised I’d missed this novella where Jillian and Bael’s baby is born. So I backtracked, naturally. Charlotte is a fae-human midwife who uses her magic to bless the babies she assists into the world. Leonard is the hapless assistant to Sonya and Jillian at the League, living under a longstanding family curse which makes him clumsy when stressed. The more stressed he is, the more clumsy. Charlotte is instantly drawn to the sweet-natured Leonard and discovers that she may be able to break the curse.
And, of course, Jillian’s baby arrives. Given she is carrying a “giant metal egg” inside her I was interested in how she was going to manage quite apart from just wanting to listen to how the happy event occurs for Jillian and Bael’s benefit.
One Fine Fae is novella-length and does not have a suspense plot like the other books. I kept waiting for it but it never arrived.
Monthly Mini Review
Always Be My Banshee by Molly Harper, narrated by Amanda Ronconi & Jonathan Davis – B+ The overarching plotline of the Mystic Bayou rift is finally resolved in this book – but never fear – there are potential new storylines opened up too so (hopefully) there will be more books to come. Because there is such a strong through-story though, even though each book has a new couple and a HEA, I’d still recommend starting at the beginning with How To Date Your Dragon to get the most out of this book. I’ve loved all of them so I see this is a feature not a bug. Plus, the books are available on Audible Escape, so subscribers don’t have to pay anything extra to listen.
Brendan O’Connor, a banshee from Ireland, has come to Mystic Bayou, along with Cordelia Canton, a “touch-know” psychic, on special assignment from the League to investigate the mysterious box revealed in the previous book. Technically, Brendan is dead (or something similar at least) so he is able to touch the box without any ill effect. Cordelia has been avoiding touch from people for her entire life – she’s overwhelmed by emotions and memories when she does touch someone or something unexpected and it is with delight that she finds she can touch Brendan and only receive “white noise”. That is not why they get together. I was very happy it was made quite clear in the book that while there were things that made it easier for them to be together, what actually drew them to one another was a more emotional connection.
Monthly Mini Review
Selkies Are a Girl’s Best Friend by Molly Harper. Narrated by Amanda Ronconi & Jonathan Davis – B Sonja Fong has moved to Mystic Bayou to help her best friend Jillian Ramsey with running the office for the League for Interspecies Cooperation. The daughter of a Chinese diplomat-type father and a Russian particle physicist mother (I’m not entirely convinced the model on the cover is an accurate representation of her ethnicity), Sonja is scarily competent, fearfully organised and super smart. She’s also gorgeous, kind and generous.
Will Carmody is a Mystic Bayou native and selkie shifter. He’s been away from the bayou for decades but has recently returned. He’s a doctor and the town desperately needs one. Jillian is delighted to offer him a job with the League as the town’s doctor and Sonja helps Will organise his new premises and get all set up. They don’t get off to the most auspicious start but this is quickly sorted out and they start working together and exploring their chemistry and growing attraction.
The main conflict between them is Will’s fear (born from witnessing the trainwreck that was his parent’s marriage) of being trapped by his selkie pelt.
In amongst that is the ongoing mystery of the ever-expanding Rift which is causing humans to spontaneously develop supernatural abilities and the League’s ongoing research into it and their attempts to stablise and minimise the Rift. Sonja finds herself at risk after she begins investigating some shifty financial dealings. While the mystery contained in this book wasn’t particularly hard to decipher, there were some interesting developments with the wider story arc and I’m curious as to how it’s all going to work out.
Monthly Mini Review
Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues by Molly Harper, narrated by Amanda Ronconi & Jonathan Davis – B This is a novella-length audiobook which was free to Audible members and is set in the world of Mystic Bayou – a follow on from How to Date Your Dragon and Love and Other Wild Things, both of which I enjoyed very much. Rob Aspern is a human mathematician/data scientist with the League for Interspecies Cooperation. He was something of an antagonist (albeit a benign one) in Zed and Dani’s book – Zed and Bael still call him “Dr. Kendoll Assface” or “Dr. Assburn” – but now he gets his own HFN. Ingrid Asher is the tree nymph of the title. She moves to Mystic Bayou from New York, to open an Ice Creamery. She has been deeply hurt by a man in her past and Rob has a lot of work to do to get through Ingrid’s barriers.
Unsurprisingly, Ingrid is taken under the wing of Jillian, Dani and Sonia. Ingrid has little experience with Girls’ Night Out or friendships in general, having kept to herself for much of the last 70 years (she’s about 500 and is amortal) and the scene where she discusses dating with the girls is very funny. Penis size is mentioned. Also hilarious is the section where Zed and Bael are giving Rob dating advice. Bael shit-talks Zed constantly and it’s so funny. I bet Ms. Harper was cracking herself up writing them.
Why I read it: I’m a fan of this author/narrator combination and I enjoyed How To Date Your Dragon recently.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Welcome to Mystic Bayou, a tiny town hidden in the swamp where shape-shifters, vampires, witches, and dragons live alongside humans. The town formed around the mysterious energy rift in the bayou, which helps keep the town’s magic in balance. But lately the rift has been widening and destabilizing – threatening to send the town’s magical population into chaos.
Energy witch Danica Teel has been sent by the League to figure out what’s going on, with the help of bear-shifter Mayor Zed. While working on the case, Zed falls head over paws for Dani, but she’s reluctant to engage in anything beyond a roll in his cave. Dani’s family is counting on her to get the job done, and she has no time for distractions. But when an ominous presence begins stalking Dani through the bayou, they’ll need to band together to make it out alive.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I feel like all I really need to tell listeners is that instead of a rubber ducky for his bath, bear-shifter Zed has rubber fish. I mean, really, why would one not want to listen to a hero who has a bath with rubber fish toys for non-sexual fun?
But I suppose I should give more reasons for my opinion so…
Why I read it: This is one from my own TBL.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Anthropologist Jillian Ramsay’s career has taken a turn south.
Concerned that technology is about to chase mythological creatures out into the open (how long can Sasquatch stay hidden from Google maps?), the League for Interspecies Cooperation is sending Jillian to Louisiana on a fact-finding mission. While the League hopes to hold on to secrecy for a little bit longer, they’re preparing for the worst in terms of human reactions. They need a plan, so they look to Mystic Bayou, a tiny town hidden in the swamp where humans and supernatural residents have been living in harmony for generations. Mermaids and gator shifters swim in the bayou. Spirit bottles light the front porches after twilight. Dragons light the fires under crayfish pots.
Jillian’s first assignment for the League could be her last. Mystic Bayou is wary of outsiders, and she has difficulty getting locals to talk to her. And she can’t get the gruff town sheriff, Bael Boone, off of her back or out of her mind. Bael is the finest male specimen she’s seen in a long time, even though he might not be human. Soon their flirtation is hotter than a dragon’s breath, which Bael just might turn out to be….
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I always enjoy Molly Harper on audio when Amanda Ronconi narrates. I’ve long thought they were an example of a perfect author/narrator pairing. This book changes things up a little because instead of only being in the heroine’s POV, this time we also get the hero’s. Jonathan Davis narrates Bael’s sections. I was impressed with most of Mr. Davis’s narration – the humour, the characterisations and the accents/voices used for the various characters – but he wasn’t super-great with his female character voices. It wasn’t bad but, from time to time, I did have trouble distinguishing Jillian from Bael by audio alone and I had to rely on dialogue tags and context. Other than that, the listening experience was great. Amanda Ronconi always nails Molly Harper’s humour and I enjoy her voice in my ears.