Review: Duchess by Chance by Wendy Vella

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Forced To Wed

The new Duke of Stratton is shocked to learn he has a fiancée he’s never met – the unlikely Miss Eva Winchcomb.

After his late father gambled his fortune away, all he had left to sell was his son. So to save his family’s honor Daniel agrees to the marriage.

But society’s favorite bachelor is no longer a charming easygoing man. His father’s betrayal has left him angry and with a thirst for revenge and the last thing he needs are his growing feelings for his shy new wife.

Eva learns she is to wed the Duke of Stratton on way to the church. Despite the shock, this is an unexpected opportunity to escape her horrid family – one she grasps at with both hands. However, her courage falters when she faces the devilishly handsome but unyielding Duke who is now her husband.

Can they make their marriage real despite coming from two completely different worlds?

 

Vella does her again. Initially, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this novel. Historically, I have enjoyed everything I have read from Vella but the start of this novel felt stereotypical and cliche. It was a plot written hundreds of times before. Not to mention the leads felt shallow. The hero was anger personified and the heroine felt like a caricature of the timid female.

That changed. The leads quickly showed they were far more dynamic than simple caricatures of their initial emotions and their evolution as people and a couple was a delight to read. Supported by an equally diverse cast, Vella clearly knows how to write realistic and entertaining characters. Her dialogue is equally fantastic. The conversations flow as easily as her narrative even when the situations are less than comfortable.

Filled with enough action and drama to keep the story entertaining beyond the romance, Duchess by Chance is a novel about a couple forced together by their interfering fathers. Despite this, they find their own way in life and learn to love each other. Their chemistry bed reflects both their selflessness and love as they grow. While the reader can understand the heroine’s fears due to her history, her hesitations in trusting her husband can be both frustrating and tiring. Typically, historically romance writers included some drama to spice up the story but make the mistake of making unbelievably extreme. Vella knows when too much is too much.

The bottom line is that Duchess by Chance is a lovely debut to a historical romance series. Filled with action and romance, it’s story is driven by engaging characters with the HEA you crave.

❧ Arec

Cloud 9: Dos & Don’ts of Congoing

Anime STL is this weekend and, for the first time since high school, I have off work without asking for it. I try to go every year, but sometimes, I am just not able to. That being said, as one of the largest anime conventions in the Midwest, ASTL is one of the few events I look forward to every spring.

In honor of ASTL starting tomorrow, I have created a Cloud 9 post of basic Dos and Don’ts for con going!


Do – Pre-register

If you know you are 100% without a doubt attending, definitely pre-register. Most cons have discounts if you pre-register early enough which can save precious dollars. Most cons also allow for those who pre-reg to pick up their badges early, maybe by a whole day. This can save precious time. Nobody wants to be stuck in line forever simply waiting to pay or get their badge opening day! Even from the start, there are awesome events to go do and see and you don’t want to miss them!

 

photo-1515734392280-e60c25eb9f01Don’t – Be afraid to dress up!

Seriously don’t. Even if it’s not handmade or homemade, don’t be afraid to wear a costume or something you normally wouldn’t outside of a con. Like every fandom, some people can be d***s, but the majority of con goers are pretty laid back and happy to be there among like-minded people. Worst case scenario would be some jerks making fun of your outfit but more likely a couple people may recognize what it stems from and making a positive comment about it.

 

Do – Vendors!

This is a category all its own. I filtered through a couple options like “treat yourself to a gift” and “be sure to buy some tasty treats .” Eventually, I just settled on Vendors because you can’t just focus on one aspect. Be sure to splurge on at least one item for yourself. Whether it be a plushie, action figure, an item of clothing, or what have you, don’t be afraid to spoil yourself with at least one large ticket item.

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Also, don’t forget to partake of their tasty treats. Cons typically have at least a few vendors selling foreign noms for the testing, many of which are absolutely phenomenal. I have found some of my favorite snacks just from picking up random packets that looked good. Even if you can’t read the labels, the images on the packaging are pretty transparent and you can get an idea of what may be inside. 

Keep in mind that a lot of vendors are actually local. Cons are a great way for them to get publicity as well as earn some extra money. So when you purchase from these vendors, you are not only supporting the con, but your community as well.

 

Don’t – Forget your manners

This was another topic that was more specific, mainly “don’t touch anyone without their permission,” but I broadened it after a bit of consideration. While “Cosplay is not consent” is still a major glaring problem, so is a slew of other behaviors that include tearing up the venue, disturbing other patrons of the surrounding area, and just generally being disrespectful to property and people. I am not sure where all this stems from, but it needs to stop. Cons have a much different atmosphere than just hanging out with friends, but that doesn’t negate the general rules of society, mainly have some manners. The reason I am so adamant about this is not only because of the stigma that gets tagged on to con goers but shutting down cons as well. If con goers are going to tear up the venue and harass patrons of the surrounding area, venues can and will refuse to host them and even close them down. You want nice things? Then be respectful.

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Do – Visit Artist’s Alley

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One of my favorite parts of cons is Artist’s Alley. Like the vendors, the Alley houses local artists selling their wares, whether it be artwork, crafts, or handmade products of some kind. It also is a great publicity opportunity for them and helps them earn money. Unfortunately, it also costs them a good amount of money just to have a table. Even if you can’t afford anything, please check them out! They typically have business cards so you can follow them on social medias or visit their online shops. Cons are a great way to get exposure and it means a lot to these artists for you to even just stop by, look at their products, and say hi.

That being said, you can find some amazing artists that are definitely worth checking out.

 

photo-1463194537334-3940784aa69aDon’t – Limit yourself/do something you don’t want to do

This can be a wide-ranging topic. If you want to go to the serious dark side of it, don’t do anything you feel uncomfortable doing whether it’s something as serious as going to someone’s hotel room to something as simple as taking a picture with someone. If you don’t want to do it, DON’T.

The lighter side of this is something as basic as sitting through a panel you aren’t enjoying. Cons are usually stuffed to the last second with fun and interesting events, panels, etc. so if you find that the panel you really wanted to go to isn’t as fun as you thought it would be, move on, find something else. With events constantly happening, there should never be a dull or wasted moment.

 

 

Do – Take a lot of pictures!

5b9e8deaee7ebe4b382b55d8f13f79bdCons can be one the most enjoyable things you partake in all year. With the rise of cell phones and social media, it is much easier in our day and age to commemorate the funs times with photos. And if you ask any con goer, pictures are among the best souvenirs you can bring home from a con. There are even groups and events/meet ups dedicated to it. Not to mention there are always amazing cosplays to witness. Cosplayers work hard on their outfits and one of the best compliments you can give them is asking for their picture. And don’t be afraid to ask for one with them!

 

Don’t – Curb your enthusiasm

You have been waiting for this con for forever! It is clearly something you’re passionate about otherwise you wouldn’t be going. That being said, don’t curb your enthusiasm. You are surrounded by like minded people who are just as excited about it as you are! Open up, be free to fangirl/boy all you want over something you enjoy. Rather than make fun of you, you’ll probably find someone who is just as passionate. Cons can be some of the most liberating events and you may find some new friends in the process.

 

Do – Explore & relax

This is another topic that is a bit vague and broad-ranging, but there is no better way to word it. There is a lot to do at cons. From the shops to the panels and shows to the meetups, there are always funs things going on. You may miss them, though, if you are hiding out in a corner. Explore = experience! And don’t be afraid to do something you typically wouldn’t do. The truth is there is someone there just as scared or shy as you are. Cons are a great opportunity to explore things you normally wouldn’t on a regular basis.

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That being said, also try to relax. Don’t have a heart attack if you are a couple minutes late to a panel you wanted to see or didn’t get to buy that pocky you wanted. Having a game plan is a good idea but don’t be so inflexible that if you veer from the game plan, it causes you undue stress. Cons are meant to be enjoyed so don’t turn it into a chore/work. 



 

That is my Cloud 9 posts of nine things you should and shouldn’t do at cons. To me, they are fairly simple things that (save for #3)  don’t cost any more than effort.

Do you agree with my list? What are some things that you feel con goers simply must do or avoid?

 

❧ Arec

Game Review: Monster Super League

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# Adventure with the Astromons!
Collect over 550 types of Astromon in Monster Super League!
Catch wild Astromons out there in the field, or summon them by hatching the mysterious eggs!
Collect & evolve your favorite Astromons!

# Immersive Content!
Dive deep into the story of Astromons through 8 different regions!
Challenge yourself in daily Dungeons for better rewards!
Battle against other players in the Astromon League!

NOTE: This game is available on iOS and Andriod but I only have the Android version. This review reflects my experience with the Android app only. 


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Besides Final Fantasy: Record Keeper and Fantasy War Tactics (review pending), Monster Super League (or MSL) is among my longest played mobile games to date. I actually believe I was searching Pokemon or Pokemon-esque games and this one popped up. I was so obsessed with the artwork that I immediately downloaded it. I am not going to pretend I am not an art snob when it comes to games…

This game has great graphics and runs smoothly. There are multiple areas to play besides the main campaign without being overwhelming. The RNG can be as frustrating as it is rewarding but the grind doesn’t feel like a chore.

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The Wiki is a major help! Definitely check it out.

Pros:

  • Free to play, which is always a plus. Of course, you can pay to play but, if you don’t care about PVP, it is not necessary to enjoy the game.
  • Being able to use friends can help immensely if you are in a tight spot.
  • The player can auto-battle most of the areas 20x in a row. This can make for easier grinding if your monsters are up to the task.
  • The list of monsters to catch is large and evergrowing. There are special events and special monsters and the player can almost every monster in each element (fire, water, wood, light, dark)

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    Dossier of Monsters
  • The devs are fairly consistent but listen to their player base. They also are always adding new and different events that keep the game interesting and fresh.
  • The player is constantly obtaining resources just for playing the game.
  • The player can use gem sets to buff monsters. The gems are easy to obtain and the system is relatively simple especially compared to other games.
  • Each monster has 3 evolutions, each with separate appearance, and can be ascended to 6 stars regardless of what star they start at. These processes are also pretty simple and straightforward though they require a bit of grinding.
  • Daily tasks are easy to complete and rewarding.
  • Battles are turn-based, giving the player a chance to plan their attack.
  • As I stated above, the artwork is beautiful, the graphics are great, and the game runs smoothly.

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    Grinding out levels
  • I have personally never run into any bugs and those that do exists are fixed quickly.
  • The player is able to link their account to save their data. This has saved me personally multiple times.

 

Cons:

  • Everying, literally EVERYTHING, requires gold which is the game’s basic currency. More often than not, it will be the lack of gold that stops the player from progressing in some way.
  • If it is not the gold, it is the lack of stamina. Stamina grows with each level, but, in a game like this, there can never be enough stamina. There is always a dungeon/level/what have you that needs to be ground out.
  • The player starts out with very low space for monsters which can be frustrating if you are in it for collecting monsters or trying to evolve monsters. The player can expand it. For gold.
  • The player needs to grind for everything from leveling to resources. While the grind can feel rather rewarding, it can also be frustrating particularly if it’s stopping the player from completing a specific goal.
  • Event monsters can be hard to obtain especially for those who aren’t able to spend time and real-time money.
  • PVP can be a nightmare, mainly for those who don’t usually PVP.
  • The AI for the player’s auto battling can be dumb and, honestly, the reason the player loses at times.

 

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Been stuck on this beast for weeks…

 

I can understand that the con list may make the reader question my rating, but I stand beside it. Despite the list, the cons do not outweigh the pros and have not detracted from my enjoyment of the game. The only thing that honestly burns me up the neverending need for gold and the AI’s period bouts of stupidity that ruin runs for me.

❧ Arec

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Disclaimer: As always, my reviews are purely my opinion and are not influenced by any outside factors. I am not paid/bribed/etc. to write them. I just enjoy writing reviews.

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