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Christina Dodd

Dear Author

REVIEW: Into the Shadow by Christina Dodd

Dear Ms. Dodd:

book review You are a very polished and talented writer and this entry into the Darkness Chosen series is as fast paced and readable as the others. Adrik Wilder left his family at age 17, became one of the most feared mercenaries in the world, leading a tribe of outlaws, all vying to be badder and meaner than the next. He’s settled in around the borders of Tibet and Nepal where he, as Warlord, pulls off daring raids that makes him and his dysfunctional band of bad men rich.

Karen Sonnet is the developer of adventure hotel chains. Think HGTV extreme homes only multi family dwellings. Homes in the most remote, hard to get to regions that cater to providing the thrill of a lifetime. Karen finds hers project, a new hotel on Mount Anaya set in the Himalayas, suffering the worst of luck. It’s almost like the mountain is cursed like the locals suggest. But Karen is determined to stay. She never fails. She can’t. She has to live up to the impossible expectations of her father, Jackson Sonnet, who has never given her one shred of approval. Every night, though, a secret lover comes to her and takes her body to heights unknown.

When Karen finds out her secret lover is some mercenary, she tries to flee him, but he captures her, subdues her, ties her to the bed for weeks and has his wicked way until a fight amongst mercenaries forces Adrik to let her flee. He promises to find her again.

As I said in the introduction, this is smoothly written, the pace is good, and the pages almost turn themselves, but I had some real issues with the parts of the story that were written and shown to the reader and the parts that were told to the reader.

It takes 13 chapters to set up the story. While it was 13 chapters of interesting backstory, it was backstory nonetheless. We get to see a lot of sex, blowing up, and fighting but the real emotional development, particularly for Adrik takes place completely off screen. The truth is that all the best parts, I felt, were summarized and spoon fed to me in a two paragraph flashback fashion. Adrik came to us readers as an animal and then came to us reformed. But we never got to see, bear witness to, the transformative process.

I thought that for all the build up of Karen being strong and capable, she was shown to be nothing against Adrik. He’s always, ALWAYS, in control. Yes, she can fight, build hotels, and be physically strong, but she wasn’t emotionally strong. Adrik easily manipulated her. His magical groin wand had the ultimate power over her so that even though she knew that he was a dangerous mercenary and potentially life threatening, the potency of his body was too much for her to turn away from.

I also found the dialogue of Adrik to tend toward floridity which wasn’t in keeping with his minute internal monologues. I actually never got a feel for Adrik at all. Was he the strong silent type or was he super emotional given to flowery speeches? I saw both and neither seemed very consistent. I think he was whatever the story needed him to be at the time to move the plot along or provide an emotional punch.

There was a plot point that I thought was kind of glossed over and that was Adrik’s post mercenary money making venture in which he develops an Alternate Reality computer game in one year. I doubt even a genius programmer could come up with this in a year. Ask anyone who waited years for the release of say, Riven or the next entry of Tomb Raider. (No mocking of my choice of video games).

There’s no question that you are a great storyteller. I just longed for more emotional depth. I saw it toward the end when Adrik was broken, when that part of the story was told, I was really moved and it actually worked to make me disappointed I hadn’t gotten more of that part of the story. C+

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

REVIEW: Thigh High by Christina Dodd

REVIEW: Thigh High by Christina Dodd

Dear Mrs. Dodd,

thigh-high.jpgDespite the promise of eccentric aunts and zany robberies, I decided to try this contemporary novel. The conflict between sensible Nessa Dahl and undercover bank investigator Jeremiah MacNaught sounded intriguing, especially with the implied show down once the truth was revealed. And at first, things worked great but then slowly the eccentricities took over and ended up dimming my view of the whole book.

Books which feature lead characters with whom everyone is seemingly in love usually irritate the crap out of me. It just seems so Mary Sue-ish. Nessa could have annoyed me if you hadn’t have immediately paired her with Mac who doesn’t fall for her as she’s used to. Or at least he doesn’t let her know what his feelings are for her. He added the necessary tonic to balance out the setup that everyone in NO loves the Dahl women. And then the bank vault scene…my, oh my. That was hawt. Amazing that they didn’t melt the steel door. One question though. Don’t most banks have cameras in their vaults? Even eccentric NO banks that are in old, converted homes?

I loved watching Mac fall hopelessly under Nessa’s spell. He’s so determined that she’s involved in the annual Mardi Gras robberies at various branches of the bank of which he’s the CEO and that he, unlike the other investigator he sent to NO, won’t fall for her no matter how much she turns him inside out. So of course he immediately has to start fighting the attraction he gets zinged with.

I also feel that you set up a realistic conflict between the man for whom truth and taking responsibility are everything and the woman who owes so much to others. I loved it when Nessa finally let loose on Mac for lying to her yet also adored his stilted proposal to the first woman he’s ever loved.

The aunts are charming during their famous Mardi Gras party and I fell into their spell as quickly as did Mac. The food, the fun, the dancing, the setting of their slightly frayed Historic Register House was delicious. I could smell the flowers and hear the music and laughter of the hundreds of guests. But then things tipped over and they became “characters.” The nationwide, heck even the citywide, aspect of the denoument was just too much.

And as for the identities of the bank robbers. Well, since I’m headed towards spoiler territory I’ll bring out the cloak of darkness. Robbing banks, no matter if you try and paint it with a Robin Hood wash, is wrong. I agree with Mac. It doesn’t matter about the amount of money taken, or how cute the costumes, or how noble the cause, or anything else come to think of it. Doing that is wrong. Doing that caused fear for the bank employees involved, caused untold extra work for the NOPD, didn’t have the effect on the bank employee the robbers wanted to punish and could have gotten people killed. And the robbers never once displayed remorse for any of this. Eventually their identities were going to come out and how on earth did they think that no one would believe that Nessa wasn’t involved or didn’t have some prior knowledge of their crimes? And what ever happened with the fact that Mac has the mortgage on the aunts’ house bought? It was never mentioned again.

My guess is that the eccentricities of the aunts and of their boarders were supposed to leaven the seriousness of Mac’s character and background and of Nessa’s repressed outer self. But somehow it didn’t work for Mac and only halfway for Nessa. Mac still seems to be a much more controlling man than he should though he is making strides at lessening his iron grip on life. While Nessa, oh Nessa, does loosen her girdle in regard to her relationship with Mac though she still can’t quite break loose of the inner banker.

I see this is part of an ongoing series and I liked enough of this book to want to see what’s in store for Gabriel. I hope the crowds are back for Mardi Gras in NO and that the city is on its way to recovering some of what it lost during Katrina. For those of us who’ve never been, “Thigh High” helps to show us what we’re missing. B-

~Jayne

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