Truth be told, I thought perhaps there was something wrong with author Caroline Fréchette. They kept enthusiastically going on and on and on about some book called Tremontaine, insisting that we all read it.
Finally, not wanted to incur Caro’s eyebrows of wrath, I bought the eBook version.
And now, after reading it, I can say with all sincerity, HOLY CRAP, THIS BOOK IS FREAKING AMAZING! In fact, it’s not really a book but a written series with each chapter as an episode. I began reading Season One, which consisted of thirteen episodes, and totally binged. There are several authors in this series, too, but magically, all the episodes read as if they were done by one person.
The story follows the machinations of Diane, Duchess of Tremontaine, a beautiful, sly creature who is the current mastermind behind her husband’s fortunes. At least, she wants to be. But a secret deal gone awry—and a sunken ship carrying chocolate—might bankrupt the Tremontaine estate and lead them to social ruin. Oh yeah, and the duke has no knowledge of this. Diane must try to escape this potential disaster on her own.
Then we have the exotic soldier-warrior Ixkaab, or Kaab, exiled from her own country and a “princess” of the first family of chocolate traders. She’s come to redeem herself in this new strange land where people have skin the colour of ant eggs. Kaab is fearlessly skilled as a fighter with a dagger, yet, a ginger woman from the wrong side of the city is her greatest weakness. When a murder occurs in Riverside, and the victim is the protector of this ginger vision, Kaab goes on a quest to find the killer.
But we mustn’t forget little Micah, who is a girl dressed as a boy—which only tends to fool men and not women. Micah is a mathematical and physics wizard who finds herself living among the male scholars of the University, including Rafe, a reluctant son of a merchant, who sees “him” as the ticket to forging a new scientific truth and creating a new way to improve the chocolate trade.
It took me a while to get used to the place names and become accustom to the world that seemed so much like our own during the 17th century. However, I stuck with the story and it turned out to be so delicious, I drank it down it like spicy hot chocolate. (Funny how I always like romantic adventure stories that run along a plumb line of food. Huh.)
I loved the way Micah was represented. She reminded me of someone on the autism spectrum, and I felt her character was written so well. Micah can get overstimulated by her hypersensitivity to stimuli and she can be hyperfocused on a task, but the people around her don’t judge her. She has her coping techniques and when her friends see her in distress, they help her, using her preferred methods to calm down. The writers also made her charming, compassionate, and intelligent. I personally loved how literally she took things. It was endearing. I also was happy that nobody treated her with disdain, like she was odd. Frankly, she was no “odder” than the other characters, who all had their quirks.
I must also say that I really liked how the sex scenes were crafted in Tremontaine. They were sensual and moreso by what they hinted at, instead of graphically spelled out. This just happens to be my favourite style of the sexah in novels. Sexual orientation went beyond the cisgender-heteronormative, too, and it was great to see classic romantic themes through queer characters. I WANT TO SAY MORE BUT SPOILERS. OH, MY FREAKING WORD, PEOPLE!
So, I gave this series a 5-star rating. When something makes me want to scream, “YOU GOTTA, I MEAN, SO GOTTA READ THIS!” then it’s top marks from this Irish-Canadian princess.
I cannot wait to read Season 2. I am totally addicted.
If you’ve read it and loved Tremontaine, let me know, so we can squee together!
Cait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog that solely features writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness.
The following is Canadian author Jamieson Wolf’s review of Life in the ’Cosm from his post, Best Books of 2016. Thanks, Jamieson! We can’t wait for your upcoming Lust and Lemonade this spring!
Life in the ’Cosm by Cait Gordon
This isn’t your typical boy meets girl story.
Virj Ofreesin is writing a fantasy novel. In it, the girl he loves is in love with him* but can’t have him. In reality, she is actually part of the Dwa species, two sharing one body, able to spend eternity with their soul mate.
Though everyone from his gay dads to his sentient daisy Sonny and his Ovum, Splot, tells him that it will never happen, Virj isn’t one to give up on his hearts desire. He had loved Frayda for three years. He won’t stop loving her just because everyone else is telling him that it can’t happen. The heart knows no limitations.
Then he meets Noola. She’s annoying, constantly chipper, a total klutz and dresses in eye watering sparkly clothing. She is also living in the same complex as [Virj] and happens to be the new editor at his office. Virj wonders how his life could get any worse.
When he learns that the Dwa Frayda and Jobie are ill, he agrees to fly to a planet in the middle of a war zone to retrieve a mystical plant that only grows upon its soil. He is congratulating himself on his bravery…until Noola says that she is going with him.
Armed with his tablet and his thirst for sweets, Virj is a man on a mission.
Life in the ‘Cosm is an intergalactic joyride of epic proportions. Laugh out loud hilarious, touching, endearing and wonderful don’t do it enough justice. The book was a joy to read from start to finish. The characters were awesome and had so much depth to them. Yes, this is a sci-fi novel but one with heart, verve and warmth. I loved this book so very much and can’t wait for Virj and Noola’s next adventure!
- Ah, but is Frayda in love with Virj? Read for yourself, peeps! ~Cait G
He’s short, pudgy, and has a snout like a green megaphone, or so his cousin Trance says. Virj Ofreesin (yes, it is pronounced like verge of reason) is the protagonist of my first book of the Life in the ‘Cosm series.
Virj and I have known each other since he started out as a doodle for me in the 90s. For some reason, he rarely smiled in my cartoons, and often found himself in awkward situations. I offset his broodiness with an über-cheerful houseplant named Sonny, and decided Virj should have a laid-back and maybe apathetic pet named Splot. (I thought of the cliche of My dog, Spot, and that’s how Splot got his name).
I admit, I was a bit cheeky while writing ‘Cosm. The story is set in another galaxy, but instead of my lead character standing as the dashing and tall genius who’s masterful at warring, technology, or science, we have Virj. Why? Frankly, my belief is that if life exists on other planets, there’s got to be some person who perhaps isn’t so attractive, is terrible at romance, hates their job, and self-medicates with cupcakes. Why should space fantasy be so beyond our reach? Maybe other galaxies are full of poor slobs like us.
Virj stayed where he was, with his face pressed against the glass, whimpering softly. The sweet treats continued to sail past, taunting him with their nearness, yet remaining so far out of reach. Pathetic, isn’t it? Yeah, there’s nothing worse than being cake-blocked.
~ Life in the ‘Cosm, Chapter 11
However, just because Virj isn’t an Adonis, it doesn’t mean he cannot have his own adventures. Even an everyman can be transformed by taking a risk and exiting his comfort zone. Virj’s imperfect self needs to learn a mountain (or a cliff) of life lessons in ‘Cosm—and he does.
“Don’t say another word! I’m fed up of being treated like a lovesick adolescent. I’m a man, I’m in love, I’m going to Zodra and no one will talk me out of it! You hear me? No one!”
A laser blast narrowly missed his head.
~ Life in the ‘Cosm, chapter 20
He’s not suave. He can’t fly a ship. Heck, he’s not even a really good dancer. And he can’t tell the different between drinks served in mason jars and a bottle of furniture polish. But I like Virj. He’s real. Especially the dessert-belly part. I’m with you there, bro!
Interested in discovering more about Virj’s microcosm? Life in the ‘Cosm is available in paperback and e-book (shameless plug). I’m told people can really relate to the characters and apparently it’s funny, too. One reader said she might have damaged some internal organs laughing. Maybe check with your doctor before reading this book. 😉