Book Review: Making Her His by Lucy Leroux

Parts of this review have been posted on GoodReads on Jan. 29. The rest is a retrospective review on the novel, since I have delved further into the romance genre.
Honestly, this was my first  romance only novel. I have always been a fan of romance in my  books, but aside from Fifty Shades of Grey (which I LOVED) I haven’t  really delved in to the world of romance novels.
I mean I guess I shouldn’t be surprised with a title like “Making Her His”. Until reading this book, I didn’t even know Alpha Male Romance was a thing.  I’ve got a soft spot for possessive, obsessive, controlling male love interests ( That’s why I love Stephenie Meyer’s books and the ever popular Fifty Shades of Grey) that goes back as far back as Labyrinth (come on, if you didn’t think Bowie’s Goblin King was sexy as hell  and obsessive about Sarah we clearly didn’t see the same movie) and my original controlling, obsessive and possessive masked man, The Phantom of the Opera.
It’s kind of hard to judge for me personally, since this really is my first forte into the romance genre as a whole, although at the time of writing this review for the blog- I have started actively reading more romance books.  What do I have against romance you ask?
Nothing really; I love romance because I am an incurable romantic- the only issue I have if you want to call it an issue to begin with is that I feel the genre is too broad, and sub-genres are not represented well.
Couple that with terrible titles and covers, and it’s easy to see why I was so hesitant to try a romance novel, despite my own romantic nature. I am not entirely new to the genre,  but the last “romance” books I read where Harlequin books back in middle school, and I thought they were awful then.
I’ve learned since reading this book, that some titles are classified as romance when they should be classified as erotica, new romance,  or dark romance., or other such as paranormal, fantasy, and so forth.  This is what makes it a little difficult for me to dive in.  When I read a book classified as romance, I have NO IDEA what I’m really going to be reading.  This was the case for Making Her His. I knew there was going to be sex, I was prepared for that- but looking back on it now after reading titles like The Bonding by Imogen Keeper, it feels kind of tame and even more contrived and stereotypical in context.
I don’t have a problem with sex in books, but for me at least I feel that the fact I read Fifty Shades of Grey FIRST kind of ruined me for reading this. I know Fifty Shades gets a lot of flack and hate, but at least it was somewhat believable in its storytelling. As in, maybe not the situation but more the dialogue and conversational exchange. Even the psychological context into WHY Christian was the way he was, and Ana’s own personal choice to be with Christian despite his baggage was something I could actually buy into.
I felt like this book was something of a watered down cross between Fifty Shades and Cruel Intentions. I like both of the aforementioned, but somehow I had trouble buying that Elynn ( who I didn’t know how to pronounce her name if it was Ellen or Eelynn) was totally into the idea of having sex with her step-brother, given her past issues with men. Elynn’s male baggage includes almost being raped because she innocently didn’t realize some douchebag’s intentions that he wanted to bang her, and thus she doesn’t really understand she gives off mixed signals and doesn’t really have any desire to date.  I did like Alex’s character, where he was actually really sensitive to her needs because he understood them (you know being her step-brother and all)  and he relented and worked with her.
Another main issue I had was the dialogue. It felt forced and at times really really cheesy. I’m no prude by any means, but the C grade porno dialogue just makes me cynical and I can’t take it seriously. There is even a scene in which Elynn sees Alex’s schlong and being the virginal 25 year old she is she widens her eyes and gasps “is it going to fit?”… I rolled my eyes and laughed out loud because as far as I know no one actually talks like this in reality. It’s stereotypical and dumb.  The scenes felt so rushed once we got to the plot of Elynn and Alex sleeping together, and although you can see the plot move as Alex changes his ways, there is an err of predictability to it all, which I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I like uncertainty, that’s what pulls me in to the story to find out what happens. If I know how it’s going to end, what’s the point in continuing to read?
I did NOT like the ending either, even though I knew where it was going.  They get married, and live happily ever after and Alex changes to a family man. Gag.  I hate traditional tropes like this.
I think in one of the sex scenes he gets turned on at the idea of impregnating her. I wanted to throw up after reading that, and the ending.  I get some women have that fantasy in real life- wanting to change a man into wanting domestic bliss and have a family- but I am not that woman.  I have my own issues with the concept of having kids, and I’m sure that influences my distaste for the generic happily ever after, but more so I  feel left out as an target audience. Don’t assume because one is a woman and reads romance, that every woman that reads romance wants to end up  married, in a relationship with kids.
I also assumed that since this was #1 in the series, that the rest of the books were about them (before I finished the book, that is). I was wrong.  The story wrapped up so quickly, that upon finishing the book, I realized this was the end of their story and I was kind of bummed.
I gave this book  2 stars on GoodReads, because it was ok. I read it in one day, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it, but I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoy eating vegetables instead of cake.  It’s not bad, but it doesn’t taste as good as the cake. Still I didn’t want this book to be the only representation I had for the romance genre, so while I didn’t like it as much, I did not let it deter me from trying more books in the genre.
I plan on doing a genre review not in the near future, but once I have read a good bit of romance books.  So far I have read about 5 books, from different authors, and I have downloaded about 7 or 8 books from bestselling  authors in the genre with classifications in the sub genres of dark romance, new adult romance, paranormal romance, and a few others.  I want to do this genre review because I feel personally that my preconceived notions about the genre in general make me a better fit than someone who is inherently interested in the genre. It’s harder to win over someone who doesn’t traditionally read a particular genre, and at the same time I can objectively look at the structure and progression of plots and character development and concepts because I’m not emotionally invested.
Thanks for reading this review, and as always keep checking back for more reviews!

Episode 5 Living The Dream: Dragon Con

 

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When we decided to go to Dragon Con, it was kind of surprising and spontaneous. Nicki brought up the idea, to which we said sounded cool, and then when tickets went on sale after last year’s con, we had a short window to purchase the tickets for the lower price and we said “let’s do this.” That was it, Nicki bought the tickets and then it hit us that we were going to Dragon Con, one of the biggest cons on the circuit, and we would be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia to do so.  This would be the biggest con ever for us. We knew it was going to be amazing, and huge- but nothing could have prepared us for the sheer force of this mega con.

Attending a massive convention like Dragon Con takes some planning.  Flights, hotel accommodations, transportation, and the planning of costumes.  My Ariel Kiss The Girl Dress cost me a whopping $265 alone. I was fortunate that I didn’t have to pay that upfront, instead the designer let me make payments on the costume over the course of several months, until it was paid off and delivered in July. The costume was customized to my measurements, and while there were some issues with it, it was definitely worth the price, considering it was the CHEAPEST costume on Etsy. I considered several designers on Etsy, and most of the costumes ranged over the $270 mark.  Wigs are also pricey when it comes to cosplay, and most styled character wigs on Etsy start at around $100 or more. I was extremely lucky to find my wig, styled for $40. I even got character shoes off Amazon for $25, so that the costume would be authentic.  Add Supernatural, and TrotCon to the mix- 2 more costumes I hadn’t planned on funding, and I was seriously glad most of our money was spent in advance. Upon our arrival to the con, nothing could have prepared us.  Brony Con’s 4,000-10,000 people was nothing compared to the 80,000 people attending Dragon Con. I have never seen so many people crammed in one place. The first day didn’t seem like much on Thursday, as we attempted to get the lay of the land. A super friendly and helpful employee at one of the hotels helped show us around a bit, and told us that the next day we would not be able to see the floor. She was right.

Dragon Con is held not in a convention center, or a hotel, but in multiple hotels AND a convention center. 5 Hotels are host to panels, photos, parties and more; and the convention center is 3 levels of vendors. We lined up for our first panel, at 10 am. The panel didn’t start until 11:30, but we thought we’d line up since we thought it might be a popular panel and the line might be long. That was an understatement. The line for the Firefly panel with Alan Tudyk and Adam Baldwin wrapped through the hotel, out the door, around the building and around the block. When a staff member came out and stood a few feet from us, he bellowed “The ballroom only holds 2,000 people. This is usually the cut off, and anyone after this point may or may not get in.” We had been in line for a while, and decided we wanted to take the chance; which paid off in our favor as we were able to get in to the panel.  It was however a bit of a shock, and also kind of a wake up.  We were going to have to be in line at least 1-2 hours ahead of time if we wanted to get into a panel we really wanted to see.  Below is a photo of the long line that seemingly goes on forever.

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While panels were a lengthy waiting time, we managed to do a few.  The highlight of the trip for me was the cosplay, the food and experiencing the massive and overwhelming environment of the con itself.  We attended the Dragon Con Night at the Georgia Aquarium on Saturday, which was the day we cosplayed as princesses. I cosplayed as my idol Ariel, Dani cosplayed as Aurora, and Nicki cosplayed as Yvaine from Stardust.

 

The night at the Aquarium was definitely worth leaving the con, and I had a blast indeed but we ended up leaving early because I was pretty exhausted. We all were. The first couple of days at the con we were utterly beat. Cons are not for the faint of heart- I know some people who think it’s nonstop geeky fun; which it is, but it is also really tiring when you consider all that it entails. Waking up very early to get ready and in full cosplay, so you can be out the door to arrive early at your first panel to ensure you get a spot in, rushing from place to place to try to hit everything you want to do (especially in a big city with a big con like Dragon Con), you don’t always have time to eat (best to pack snacks and bottled water) sometimes unless you’re sitting in a panel, which you might have to leave early to make your photo, autograph or next panel, stopping constantly to be photographed, and literally trying to do everything.  Dragon Con has programming that runs 24 hours, including big parties, and by mid-day you seriously feel in need of caffeine. By 9 you might feel ready to enter a comatose slumber.

Saturday was Princess Cosplays, and of course those were some of the more intricate, tricky, lengthy costumes. Dani had some major wardrobe malfunctions. I was the only one who got to do a trial run of my princess costume BEFORE Dragon Con, and Dani had her dress altered before Dragon Con, at the tailor who altered my skirt. She was in a hurry, picked up her dress (without trying it on at the shop) and the tailor had taken it in too much, so she took it back to be fixed. We had some issues with her zipper which totally broke, and we ended up trapping her in with safety pins and Velcro, and bustled part of her dress to cover up the malfunction. For fixing it on the fly, it was amazing that it stayed together ALL DAY.  My wardrobe issues were definitely less devastating, but I had them nonetheless. For one, my wig cap and wig kept riding back (it was bought on Etsy and not Arda) and I was constantly adjusting it. I also happened to get an aptly timed visit from Aunt Flo, so naturally I was anxious that I would stain my expensive costume, and thankfully I didn’t.  Nicki didn’t have any issues with her costume that I remember, but needless to say it was a long morning of fixing wardrobe malfunctions, make up, tightening corsets, and getting everything together. We got lots of pictures with other Princess cosplayers, and I loved being able to walk around freely in the skirt as opposed to shuffling around in my mermaid tail skirt. I went hardcore though and wore HEELS. I wanted my costume to be accurate, so I got character dance shoes that looked almost exact to Ariel’s black heels from her date with Eric. I had inserts, so that helped.

One of the biggest issues was the shuttle that ran from hotel to hotel. There were shuttle stations set up, and different lines (distinguished by color). They were supposed to run every 30 minutes, but sometimes it seemed as if you’d be waiting forever until a shuttle decided to stop.

 

Here’s some awesome pictures of the awesome Disney Princess cosplayers we got to see!

Also, we got our photo with DareDevil himself, Charlie Cox!

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The Aquarium itself was beautiful, and we paid for the VIP treatment which meant we got to go in the VIP line and enter the event first, and we had open bar and appetizers, and we got a nifty pin.  Of course, I wanted to cosplay as Ariel at the aquarium, when was I going to get the chance to cosplay as The Little Mermaid at an actual aquarium again? I almost packed my mermaid tail costume, but I’m glad I didn’t because finding time to change cosplays and be at the aquarium would have been more than difficult. As to be expected, cosplayers kept with the oceanic theme and there were tons of Little Mermaid cosplayers, as well as Milo from Atlantis, quite a few Captain Jack Sparrow’s, and we even saw an older group cosplay as Gilligan’s Island characters.  I’m a natural fan of fish, and marine animals; especially dolphins and whales. While I favor Killer Whales, Belugas are definitely my runner up. I was geeking out kind of fierce, excited to have my picture taken with fishy friends in my costume. I enjoyed all the exhibits, and one that sticks out is the otters. Otters are adorable, and funny, and   very interesting social creatures, and their exhibit was very busy as they were pretty active. I also really enjoyed the jellyfish.

Here’s some awesome shots from the aquarium.

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Sunday, we were tried and true- rocking our My Little Pony cosplays. It’s probably our most popular cosplay, every time we have worn it we get stopped constantly for pictures, and get a lot of attention.  This was truly my last run with my very loved, beat up pink tutu. I retired my Pinkie Pie cosplay after this convention, and will be upgrading to a different Pinkie Pie costume in the future. It was my very first cosplay, and lasted me 2 years of cosplaying multiple cons.  This costume has always been a comfortable one- a tank top, a fluffy skirt over top of a regular tiered skirt, and tennis shoes. The wig is by Epic Cosplay, who are up there with Arda to me. I have worn the wig for 2 years and never had any issues like I did with my Ariel wig.  Surprisingly Dragon Con didn’t give us the reception we anticipated with our most popular cosplays. In contrast, our pony cosplays were the LEAST recognized. We did get a lot of attention for our princesses though.  Oddly enough, con goers mistook us as cats, or “nekos”.  We got our photo with the awesome (and surprisingly hilarious) Brett Dalton, and sat in a few panels, as Sunday was the winding down period since most people left that day. This meant we could actually walk without taking small steps, lines were shorter some places, etc.

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Monday was our last day at the con, and the last day of the con period.  We were finally able to get into the Vendor Halls in the convention center, but surprisingly it was still pretty packed. I almost got taken out by a woman with a small child in a stroller. She was legit gunning for me. We were already packed in the aisles like sardines, there was nowhere for me to go, but that didn’t stop her.  Note to self: any time I want to force my way somewhere, I should have a child in a stroller. Maybe get one of those super realistic baby dolls. Think that would work? Anyway…. I wore my debut Poison Ivy costume Monday, and again I committed hardcore with heels.  Poison Ivy was done on a budget, and was the first costume I had an actual hand in crafting. While I paid a whopping $42 with shipping for the custom-made body suit, and $40 for the wig from Arda Wigs, the shoes were also character shoes, the same brand and model as my shoes for my Ariel cosplay, only instead of black they were nude color- which I spray painted to match my suit using floral spray paint. $25 for the shoes, and $17 for the spray paint. If I had nude shoes in my closet I didn’t wear I could have saved $25, but I couldn’t find anything plain and simple or as comfortable as the theatrical character shoes.  I went to the craft store and bought 2 flexible leather bracelets for $1 each, some floral craft ivy and floral tape. $140. Yeah, that’s budget. My very first cosplay, Pinkie Pie- cost me $150. To date, my most expensive cosplay is my Ariel Kiss The Girl costume, which came in at a whopping $265. It was my first fully commissioned costume. The only thing I had to really add was the wig and shoes, Lindsay Jane Design custom made my whole costume from the hair bow to the corset to the undershirt and skirt

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Poison Ivy is by far the most comfortable costume I’ve been in. It wasn’t tight, it wasn’t uncomfortable, the tights and shoes didn’t bother me, and the wig STAYED.  I was slightly apprehensive about doing this costume, because to be honest it is by far the most revealing costume I’ve done. I like to think I’m confident about my body, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worry about wardrobe malfunctions or other issues. In my mermaid costume, I bought a flesh panel (a Spanx undergarment) to cover me from the chest down, since I was going to be wearing a bikini top.  I was exposed, but if my top came off I had a panel covering me.  With Poison Ivy, I had the body suit made to extend over my butt, so it was cut like a full coverage bathing suit, and came down longer in the front to avoid any issues. Still though, I was essentially walking around the convention in just a leotard and tights. While my get up is probably tamer than others, it still takes some confidence to strut around in a leotard at a convention of 80,000 people.  If I can’t do it at 31, and be comfortable in my own skin, when can I? At the risk of sounding conceited, I feel like I looked great. It might not be as detailed or done up as other Ivy cosplays I saw, but sometimes a simple approach is best.

Monday night was an easy-going night, of dinner, packing and lounging in hotel beds watching Star Trek.  The whirlwind of Dragon Con was over, and no one wanted to go back to reality.  We have discussed definitely doing Dragon Con again in 2018, and this time we will have a better knowledge of what is in store and how to plan for things.

 

I knew going from small local conventions to the megalith convention was going to be somewhat of a culture shock, but I don’t think we were truly prepared for the magnitude of what Dragon Con was. It was overwhelming. Fun, exhausting, emotional, and overwhelming.

 

I can’t say enough about the people, and the food. Even our hotel staff was enthusiastic about seeing our costumes, and our Lyft drivers were some of the nicest people we’d encountered on the trip.  The food itself was great, but I honestly expected there to be more BBQ restaurants and fare in a city like Atlanta- while the city considers itself a culinary melting pot with lots of cutting edge cuisine, I did expect to see some BBQ ribs with homemade sauces, or pork belly sandwiches. I did have BBQ one night, at Max Lager’s Wood Fired Grille though. I had a bbq pulled pork sandwich with pork belly incorporated in.  It was pretty tasty.  I also tried a bite of Dani’s Bison Burger at Ted’s Montana Grille, a bite of Nicki’s Fried Green Tomatoes at Fandangles, as well as Deep Fried Sushi at Thrive. I also had a nibble of Dani’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Mac and Cheese and Potatoes and Gravy… Food wasn’t always on our radar, so when it was time to eat; finding a place amidst the massive throngs of people was tricky and time consuming. Almost EVERYWHERE there was a wait nonstop, so for the most part finding a place to dine wasn’t just about choosing a place; but also, just finding somewhere where there was a minimal wait time.

 

I should also mention that Dragon Con was Labor Day Weekend, and in the south. In a place that was normally hot, we traveled to Atlanta when there was a nearby hurricane. The heat was 90 degrees and stickier than a Cinnabun.  Our first flight from Pittsburgh was barely a half hour and smooth, but our connecting flight to Atlanta was turbulent af. I very rarely get sick on planes, but I repeatedly grabbed Nicki’s arm to steady my mobile stomach. Our eyes would meet with that shared knowledge that this was one of the roughest flights we’d been on in recent years. Still we landed ok, and our flights back were smooth. I did go to work that evening as well, so as not to use any more days than I needed for my trip. Our last con of the year, Wizard World was just a month away.

 

I’m sorry this review took so long, but I’ve been MIA due to a lot of happenings at home. It’s been seriously one thing after the next, and I just haven’t been in the right headspace to write a fun review. Hopefully I will finish all my reviews and articles I’ve been wanting to do before the new year.  Until next time ya’ll!

Episode 4 Living The Dream: Replay FX, Pittsburgh

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I have always been a “gamer” as long as I can remember.  My mom was a gamer, and definitely played our Nintendo, and  was most commonly found either tinkering with our computers or strategizing Myst or Tomb Raider or Doom on the computer.

I grew up with my mom playing video games, so naturally I played myself.  I spent many hours glued to the Magnavox wood finished tv staring at the screen watching Bub and Bob collect items in Bubble Bobble, or watching Kirby eat his enemies and take on their abilities. I played  Punch Out,  Mario,  Tiny Toons, Ninja Turtles, The Little Mermaid  on Nintendo, and adapted with all the new consoles from Gameboy Colors to Sega to PlayStation.  My favorite game series has to be Final Fantasy, primarily FF7 and FF10. I also enjoyed titles like Tomb Raider, Legend of Legaia,  Legend of Dragoon, and Kingdom Hearts. Growing up I didn’t know many other girls who played video games, and my friend count was already pretty limited, so I would come home from school and play by myself from the time I got home until dinner.  When I started talking to boys, I always wanted to talk about video games, and when dating; my crushes HAD to appreciate the finer points of pixelated worlds.  I could deal if they didn’t like anime, but they HAD to like gaming. All my boyfriends with the exception of 1, were gamers and geeks like me. My husband stated my love of video games was one of the things he found intriguing about me.  He definitely has me beat though, he’s more into video games than me, but his interests are less PS4 and more classic NES.

Last year when Replay FX came to Pittsburgh, we weren’t able to make it, so when they announced they were coming this year, I knew we HAD to go.  I heard it was a gaming festival with tons of games and consoles and entertainment.  Jeff and I decided we would go.

Much like Ralphie states about the leg lamp in A Christmas Story,  the soft glow of electric sex awaited us as we walked through the same doors I had been in just weeks earlier for Supernatural Convention.  The buzzing sound of pinball machines and coin-op machines, and rows and rows and rows of old tvs hooked up to classic NES’s, Playstations, Segas, Super Nintendo’s…. it was heaven. I got to play coin ops like Pac Man and Pac Woman, and Galaga, and chilled for a good while playing Crash Bandicoot for PlayStation. I watched Jeff play the arcade version of Ninja Turtles as well as The Simpsons.  All you can play, all day for $30. There was so much to play it was overwhelming.

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Outside the arcade room, there were tables set up and many shelves of board games that were also free to play.  They even had a 80’s living room set up, fully equipped with the 80’s couch, tv and even complete with tv guides from the era.

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The vendor hall of this convention was pretty diverse, and I happened to run into the most shocking part of the convention – Philo Barnhart.  Philo Barnhart is an animator, and worked for Don Bluth on a project in 1983. That project was Dragon’s Lair, an arcade game that still by today’s standards has a small cult following.  He also worked as an animator for Disney from 1983-1991 on some of the most iconic Disney films. He was a character designer and key animator for Ariel, on the Little Mermaid; my favorite movie of ALL TIME. Meeting the character designer of my favorite animated  character of all time at a video game convention was definitely a surprise, but really exciting. I bought 3 prints off of him, as he still draws the characters he’s known for. He also worked on Touchstone’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, another of my all time favorites. I purchased a print of Jessica and Roger Rabbit, and 2 Ariel  prints and had him sign them. I’m still hunting frames for them, but they are now some of my most prized possessions.

That night they had some concerts, one in particular which Jeff was pretty stoked about. We caught the middle of TriForce Quartet, a  4 string quartet that played video game scores. You never truly appreciate the scores from theses games unless you can hear it live.  Hearing the Mario medley live on violin and cello was amazing, but that wasn’t what Jeff was so excited about.  The headliner for us was at 9:00, and was a band called Bit Brigade, who tours and plays conventions.  Their 9:00 show was performing the score from MegaMan 2; Jeff’s all time favorite game. He is a HUGE fan of the MegaMan series, about as big a fan as I am of the Little Mermaid.  Bit Brigade’s performance was something out of perfect nerdom: While they played guitar, bass, drums- one man played the classic Nintendo game on classic NES, and as he played, the music was played LIVE. The Nintendo player played the game all the way through, no errors, and the music was perfect.  Jeff LOVED IT.rfx09rfx08rfx07rfx06

This was probably one of the coolest conventions I’ve been to, because it’s my kind of convention. I enjoy  MLP, and general Comic Con’s, but I am truly a gamer at heart, and to just  play games all day long with my game loving husband was a perfect day to me.