I’m never quite sure how to review books by people I know; whether I know them in real life or I know them only as another voice in the seething internet maelstrom where I spend a lot of my time.
So this isn’t a review.
Instead I am straight up shilling Matt Wallace’s book Lustlocked and in fact the entire Sin Du Jour series. I’ve been a fan of Matt’s (read: pestering him on the internet) for a few years now, and I especially loved the first book in the Sin Du Jour series called Envy of Angels. The novellas from Tor are set in the sweaty, sweary world of professional catering company Sin Du Jour who handle…specialty meals for specialty clients.
The Sin Du Jour ingredient acquisition team is a paramilitary unit with its own magus.
Envy of Angels dealt with the problems inherent to not serving lightly battered angel flesh to a party of warring demon clans and Lustlocked is partly about a super sexy goblin royalty wedding and also partly about sex crazed giant lizards.
Such problems are business as usual for Head chef Bronko Luck and his team at Sin Du Jour, but they do sometimes need new staff, and so when cooks Lena and Darren impress him with their performance under stress, they get offered a job working with the rest of the Sin Du Jour team.
Matt writes all of his characters as real people, despite the fantastic setting, and it’s very easy to imagine everyone he depicts on the Sin Du Jour team living their lives even when they’re not on the page (although living is a stretch for at least a few of them). Lena and Darren are the audience surrogates, and despite their mad food skills (and in Lena’s case, military skills), they work well as a way to see into a truly madcap universe.
Despite the truly dire situations presented, the story hinges on Matt’s sense of humor and he pulls it off incredibly well. At least in part this is because he’s struck the right story balance between playing things for laughs and letting the characters react properly to the danger they’re in. That makes the stakes seem far more real, makes it easier to invest in the story and the characters and because of this, makes it all the funnier when things go completely, utterly off the rails.
I recommend reading them in that order, and I should say that Small Wars comes bundled with Lustlocked.
Sin Du Jour is a smart, weird, fun, funny and maybe used in Matt’s eventual insanity defense. I can’t recommend it enough. In fact the only real downside of the whole series is that reading Sin Du Jour makes me hungry. Bring on the next one.