Serena’s Review: “Sin & Chocolate”

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Book: “Sin & Chocolate” by K.F. Breene

Publishing Info: Hazy Dawn Press, Inc, October 2018

Where Did I Get this Book: from the library!

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: Some people are ordained for greatness…

Those people usually have a lot of drama in their life. Drama I happily do without. I live in a forgotten corner of nowhere for a reason: there is safety in anonymity. I have enough problems just trying to get by.

But when Kieran, a sinfully sexy demigod at the pinnacle of power, crashes into my life, suddenly my whole world is turned upside down.

He’s harboring a deadly secret, one that could destroy all he holds dear. He thinks I’m the key to his salvation, and he wants me to help him claim vengeance.

He also wants me with a passion that burns my body from the inside out.

To ignore him is impossible, but to give in to my desires, even for a night, would thrust me into danger I might not survive.

Can I resist the temptation?

Review: So, I started reading this book under a bit of a false pretense. Mostly, that I thought it fell fairly purely under the subgenre “urban fantasy.” I typically only have a few urban fantasy series that I follow, and now that a few of them have ended and few other have become disappointments, I was hankering for a new series. And this title appeared on a few lists, so I thought, let’s give it a shot! And it’s not bad, by any means. But I’d definitely have went in with different expectations if I had seen this cover when I picked it up (or, frankly, read the description above):

Yeaaaah, definitely looks more like a romance novel cover than an urban fantasy cover!

Existing between worlds, that is between the magical and the “normal” world, is both the most dangerous place to be but also one of the few places where one can fully disappear. This is where Lexie exists, trying to keep her head down and provide for her two wards, each with their own unique needs. But her quiet existence is rudely interrupted by Kieran, a powerful magical being who very much does not exist in the shadows. And in Lexie he sees someone much more powerful than she claims or suspects.

I think my confusion about this book is also kind of fair. A lot of romance “series” are books linked by a shared world/group of people but focus on different main characters and couples in each. Urban fantasy, on the other hand, usually follows one or two main characters over the course of a series, similar to other fantasy genres. So, while this one does have the romance novel cover and a lot of the romance novel plot/language, it also fits into the urban fantasy genre.

For one thing, this book is clearly the first book in a series and as such spends much of its time developing the world in which Lexie and Kieran exist. There were a lot of interesting elements involved in this world where magic and magical beings have been living out in the open for quite a while. We see the political nature of it, with various groups coming down as either supportive or discriminatory towards magical beings. There’s also the pull and push of the power players on both sides of the magical and nonmagical line. And with this struggle comes the cracks that the vulnerable fall into. Through Lexie’s eyes, we see how both the magical and nonmagical communities have let down those who they don’t see as important. It’s a narrative that is very easy to take out of the fantasy genre and apply to the world around us.

That said, this focus on world-building, while interesting enough on its own, also very much slows down the pace of the story. That was probably my biggest problem with the book: the pace. I struggled to maintain interest, even within a book that was introducing what should be exciting new fantasy elements every which way. But for some reason, the plot itself felt plodding. There were witty conversations, but much of it felt like it wasn’t really leading to anything or illuminating anything new about the characters themselves.

I felt like I knew who these characters were the moment I met them, and that was also a bit disappointing. Lexie was ok, but I also feel like I’ve read variations of her a million times before and I, personally, can’t relate to some of her fixations with shopping and other things. Not that those are not worthy hobbies or interests, they’re just not really my thing so I couldn’t really invest in some of her fixations there. And Kieran was your typical arrogant, powerful hero who also has a heart of gold towards the woman he briefly meets and immediately becomes intrigued with.

In the end, this was just ok. It didn’t blow me away, but it was also solid enough for what it was trying to do. I do think that if I had had it in mind as more heavily focused on the romance side of things before I started I would have at least been in the right mindset. However, I’m still left looking for another urban fantasy series to get started on!

Rating 7: This book walks a strange line between romance novel and urban fantasy but doesn’t quite fit in either category.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Sin & Chocolate” is on these Goodreads lists: Under the Radar Page-Turners and NEW ADULT fantasy & paranormal romance.

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