Series: The Venom Trilogy #2
Published by Amazon Publishing on January 10th 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Romantic, Urban Fantasy
Sexual Content: Kissing, nearly-naked snuggles, non-consensual physical contact
Reviewed by: Rebecca
The delicious sequel to Venom and Vanilla, from USA Today bestselling author Shannon Mayer. Alena Budrene is not just a gifted Seattle baker-she's also a supernatural. Having survived the virus that made her transformation necessary and outwitted an attack by a Greek hero, she's ready to settle down and deal with the challenges of living as a "Super Duper." But nothing is easy for a woman who can turn into a giant snake. Threatened by her unprecedented strength, Alena's enemies team up against her. What's next on the menu? The duplicitous demigod Theseus-backed by a ruthless vampire gang and the power-hungry goddess Hera-is determined to lure her into a glorious, and rather public, battle to the death. Now humans, even the ones Alena risks her life to protect, are afraid to acknowledge her existence. And when the friends who once rallied around her begin to fall prey to Theseus's manipulative schemes, Alena realizes she must act before she loses everything. But will the price of success be too high to pay?
It doesn’t take long for FANGS & FENNEL to pick up steam. The fast-pacing of the novel promises a fight or a flee in every chapter. While it seems that everyone in FANGS & FENNEL either wants to kill or kiss her, Alena Budrene just wants to divorce her husband, keep her bakery, and be taken seriously by her friends and family. Most of the novel follows the course of one very eventful day as Alena attempts to win her court case and fend off Theseus, the newest Greek hero who wants to slay Alena’s drakina form.
Unfortunately, the world-building and dialogue issues from the first novel carry over. Alena may also be a siren, but it’s hard to believe that almost all the males of the novel fall in love/lust with her. She still doesn’t swear, but continues to shout ‘dingle nuts’ or ‘cat puke on a cookie sheet’ at people. Supernaturals are still called ‘Super Dupers’. And yes, she still says ‘fricky deaky’. While I do have a special place in my heart for a heroine that stabs vampires with wooden spoons, it’s hard to argue against her friends and family belief that Alena can’t fight for herself when she immediately falls to pieces after every attack.
As with the first book, the wall that separates the humans from supernatural is about as imposing as an ant hill. Characters travel between the restricted sections without issue. Nothing stops supernaturals from vaulting over or just driving through the gate. The watchdog police group from the first novel are no longer a concern, especially since two of the three main members are now crushing on Alena. While there are some humans that want the wall demolished, Alena never makes up her mind about whether supernaturals should be re-introduced into human society, even as she’s petitioning the court to be considered a legal person.
Most of the novel’s problems come from the mishmash of supernatural groups. It’s less a melting pot and more a jello salad with marshmallow and fruit – sometimes it works, but a lot of the time it doesn’t. There are gods, mythological characters, Greek monsters, Greek heroes, Arthurian characters, werewolves, vampires, and Vikings. These are very different groups with rich established mythologies. Once a character interacts with yet another group, that character’s purpose and personal narrative becomes overly complex. For example, Merlin: the shifty warlock from the first novel, who purposefully transforms naïve women into monsters for heroes to easily kill, is now also a divorce lawyer. This means he’s works within the human world and, potentially, the vampire gangs. Maybe Merlin working with vampires or drakinas could work, but in this novel it doesn’t.
When you let go of the structural problems and the childish aversion to swearing, FANGS & FENNEL can be a fun read. The plot zigs when you expect it to zag. Though the plot choices may not be the best, they keep you on your toes. The promised hot romance between Alena and Remo remains lukewarm but still sweet and believable. If you enjoyed VENOM & VANILLA, then you know what to expect and you won’t be disappointed. Just like all good sequels FANGS & FENNEL packs more action, characters, and, finally, more baking.Series Titles:
- Venom and Vanilla - 3/5
- Fangs and Fennel
- Hisses and Honey