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Caris Roane

REVIEW:  Gates of Rapture by Caris Roane

REVIEW: Gates of Rapture by Caris Roane

Dear Caris Roane:

This is the last of the series of books published by St. Martin’s Press in the Guardians of Ascension series. This was a crazy, cracktastic, derivative series and I must have been the only one who enjoyed them.  The series is about the fight over Second Earth.  Commander Greaves is a creature who has been creating an army of death vampires to over take the good vampires, humans, and angel like creatures.  The “good” side is defended by Endelle and her Warriors of the Blood.

Gates of Rapture Caris RoaneThat this is the last book was mildly disappointing because I felt that there were stories left untold specifically the story if the female leader whose role in the books was slowly eroded by the male warriors.  In each successive book, she gave up more and more power to those make warriors until she was almost a figurehead despite her prodigious talents. I had hoped that a book would be devoted to her in which she would fully realize her power and those that served her would honor her.  Alas, no.

In the book prior to Gates of Rapture, the implication was that Grace had two mates, two lovers. One evil and one good. This romantic conflict is presented as resolved by both parties agreeing to an amicable separation. The resolution of some of the most difficult emotional conflicts happens between books.  The love triangle that could have presented an intense emotional drama is over at the start of the book.  Casimir, the so called evil mate, is undergoing a painful purification in another realm.  While he wants Grace to stay with him, he lets her go with no animosity on page 25 and says to her “I want you to know that you taught me about love. You loved me when you had no reason to. I will never forget that.”

Almost as quickly, therefore, as the affair had begun, it had ended, and all Casimir’s energy had turned to the pro-cess of redeeming his life. Yet even though her desire for him had ended, still she loved him. She understood his worth and hoped that in time, he would at last be the man he was meant to be.

The path is cleared, then for Grace and Leto, the spy.  Leto was addicted to dying blood, having been in the service of the megalomaniac Commander Graves who is trying to take over control of Second Earth.  Leto’s recovery is presented as a fait accompli.  He is given someone’s blood that mimics dying blood and his recovery from his deathly addiction is over. “Though the process remained a complete mystery, Havily’s blood had cured his addiction to dying blood.”  Suspense of any kind is killed right there.  No peril will ever cause unease if a mysterious process can cure everything.  Someone else achieves new abilities at just the right moment with the injection of a poison that has almost no adverse side effects other than providing greater power.

Grace also begins the book changed.  She was originally a pacifist, sweet and gentle but now she is a great avenger. It’s not that I don’t believe that observing slaughter and destruction for a hundred of years wouldn’t effectuate change, but let’s see it.  Grace’s return and her evil lover’s redemption, told to us in about three pages in the first chapter was anticlimactic and set the stage for the least interesting book in the series.

Worse was the attempt to redeem everyone including Commander Greaves who spent six books engaging in horrific acts.  I found myself impatient and frustrated throughout the story.  These are not books which can be taken seriously and the sobersides tone heightens the flaws in the worldbuilding and storytelling.  For those who are keeping track, Leto smells like Christmas herbs and fir resin and Grace smells like a meadow. This series is best when it plays up the absurd and there was little of that in this series ending book.   D

Best regards,

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REVIEW:  Embrace the Dark by Caris Roane

REVIEW: Embrace the Dark by Caris Roane

Dear Ms. Roane:

I am a big fan of the Guardians of Ascension series and I was excited to see another volume from you despite it being in a different world. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing in this self published novella (or published with the help of an agency) is just not as strong as it is in the traditionally published series. There is a combination of poor copyediting along with poor content editing which made for a confusing and stuttering read.  While not a part of the Ascension world, this story borrows heavily from elements contained in the Ascension world (as if it is almost Ascension fan fiction)

embrace the dark caris roaneThere are two parallel realms as in the Ascension series. The second realm is the paranormal one with wraith pairs that wreak havoc on the Nine Realms of North America.  The wraith pairs are the evil that the faeries, vampires, trolls and other paranormal creatures fight.  Mastyr Vampire Gerrod is the ruler of Merhaine, one of the Nine Realms and he has an attraction for Abigail Kirkland, a human baker.  I think this is billed as an erotic romance but it wasn’t any spicier or more explicit that the traditionally published works (or kinkier because what could be kinkier than a vampire who tongues the flesh of tangerines pretending it is his mate’s sex, see for exampleWings of Fire)  At one point, Gerrod mentions that Abigail tastes like rosemary (the characters all have smells in the Ascension series which practically translates into “by their smell you shall know them”).

Vampires aren’t supposed to mate with humans.  It is akin to taking forest gremlins to bed, but Abigail is able to speak telepathically to Gerrod; she can tune into his frequency and stir his mating frenzy.  Gerrod does not want to respond to her for she is too weak to survive in his realm and his people would not accept him taking her as a mate.   Abigail has always thought Gerrod has disliked her and she has tried to stay away from him.  Seeing him fight the wraiths stirs something in her.

The major story arc concerns Gerrod’s softening not just toward Abigail but toward life in general.   The romance is very familiar and jumps from hate to lust to love quickly even for this lengthy novella.  But the weak story is combined weak, unpolished writing.  There are several awkward sentences. “Of course” and many other bridges are inconsistently punctuated, sometimes with commas sometimes without. Northern Realm was sometimes capitalized and sometimes not.

The story had blatant inconsistencies, often within the same scene. After a wedding that Abigail has provided food for a troll comes up to her.  Abigail knows that trolls can’t keep a secret.

In fact, the saying among realm was that if you kept a secret like a troll, it meant you never kept a secret, that you couldn’t keep a secret if your life depended on it.

The troll tells her that the hero loves her even if the hero treats her poorly.  She immediately starts confiding in him, this total stranger whom she knows has no compunction about gossiping far and wide:

He met his gaze once more. Because she wanted to understand the position of the castle staff, and especially Gus’s take on the subject, she said, “Gerrod kissed me this evening.”

Gus’s eyes went wide. She couldn’t help but laugh. She knew his gossipy kind well, but she also knew something else. He was a wise troll and she trusted him, so she added, “I kissed him back.”

Even the voice, the crazy and confident nature of the writing of the Ascension series, was missing here.  I’ll definitely be picking up the next Ascension book but this self published effort was definitely a step down in quality.  D

Best regards,