Size Doesn’t Matter (138): The Valiant; Heroine Complex

Size Doesn’t Matter (138): The Valiant; Heroine ComplexThe Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
Length: 10 hrs, 21 mins
Series: The Valiant #1
Published by Listening Library on February 14, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Princess. Captive. Gladiator. Always a Warrior.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary fighter Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed by the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her place in her father's war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators--owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon's family might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

A richly imagined fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima, The Valiant recounts Fallon's gripping journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary gladiator and darling of the Roman empire.

The Valiant marks my second attempt at reading Livingston, and I’m calling it: her books are not for me. The Valiant has a really great concept, but the execution left a lot to be desired.

In theory, I’m so totally here for this book. I mean, hello there are a whole bunch of murder queens kicking ass and taking names in a patriarchal society. HELL TO THE YES. Unfortunately, I never bonded with any of the characters and the romances had me rolling my eyes super hard.

Fallon grew up princess of a Celtic king, part of a culture that believes women can be warriors too. She was heavily trained in combat and she’s highly skilled. Somehow, though, she still comes off feeling like a speshul snowflake. Everyone wants this girl desperately, and she manages to get special treatment throughout, getting away with shit she shouldn’t. Fallon really just didn’t interest me too much as a character, even though she’s a literal murder princess. It’s a damn shame.

Livingston tries really hard to set up a hate to love bantermance, but it really doesn’t work. Fallon’s drawn to Caius and the mush creeps in consistently. In general, The Valiant glosses over a lot of the harsh realities of her station and the shit that Caius would have been expected to do. Even worse is the “love” between View Spoiler » and slave trader with a heart of gold Charon (sp? bear with me, audiobooks make names a nightmare). Seriously, that’s a thing that happens.

Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) thought it might be better in print, and she had a ton of fun with it for the action scenes. The plot’s definitely easy to predict (the spoiler above is eye-rollingly obvious), but, if you’re here for gladiator fighting, you might have fun with this one. I just didn’t care about any of them, so I didn’t really give a shit about the fighting.

Livingston writes fun, crack novels, which unfortunately do not work for me. I think this will be my last Livingston.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (138): The Valiant; Heroine ComplexHeroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Series: Heroine Complex #1
Published by DAW on July 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Humor
Pages: 378
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

Before I talk about the book itself, I want to say how much I adore this cover. I liked it from the start, but I’m even more of a fan now that I know it’s actually almost exactly the first scene of the book, with the exception of it spoiling Evie’s fire power. Heroine Complex is funny, silly, diverse, and has an excellent ship, so, yeah, I’m a fan.

Evie Tanaka works for her best friend, San Francisco superheroine Aveda Jupiter (originally Annie Chang). They’ve been friends since Annie saved a young Evelyn from elementary school bullies. Their relationship has turned a bit toxic, as Aveda’s focus becomes her image and she becomes used to seeing Evie as her assistant. There’s excellent female friendship in this book, as Evie comes into her own and she and Evie work things out. They’ve got a mutual jealousy thing going, but they do both care. There’s also bodyguard Lucy, who’s a lesbian determined to get herself and Evie laid (not together). Lucy’s so much fun. Also, look at all these badass ladies being badass! And I do think it’s cool that Aveda’s a hero because she trained so hard, her power being almost useless.

Evie’s got a pretty classic character arc, going from mild-mannered with her feelings completely shut off to a vibrant heroine of her own life after being put into catalyzing circumstances. In pretending to be Aveda, she discovers her own strengths and becomes more comfortable with who she is. She also falls in love with the grumpy hot scientist in Aveda’s team, Nate, and it’s so fucking bantery and cute. I ship ittttttt.

Plot-wise, Heroine Complex was admittedly a bit ridiculous, partly intentionally and partly not, I think. The whole thing is a send up of superhero stories, while also being one and needing to stand on its own. The villain is actually defeated by keeping her monologuing too long; while that is satirical, it doesn’t make the plot any more effective than when it’s done non-ironically. Plus, most of the battles finish way too easily. The world building is a wee bit clunky too, but I’m willing to roll with it because I love the concept.

Heroine Complex is more likely to be a hit with readers who are here for laughs and romance than readers coming for an awesome superhero story. I’m looking forward to the second book, which features ship #2, which I totally called at Scott’s first appearance FYI.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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2 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (138): The Valiant; Heroine Complex”

  1. I’ve heard similar things about The Valiant but I still can’t resist that premise! I hope I enjoy it more, I do love gladiator fights. But eye-rolling romances, yeesh… Heroine Complex sounds fun! And I love when book covers are from a scene in the book.
    Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Fandoms I’m InMy Profile

  2. hahahaha While reading your review of Valiant I actually predicted you would use that gif. I was super looking forward to this one, especially the audio because I quite like Fiona Hardingham but yeah.. think I’ll be skipping over it.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Most UniqueMy Profile

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