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REVIEW: Born of Ashes by Caris Roane

Dear Ms. Roane:

I have been a fan of your books since the first in the series. Yes, I do kind of make fun of the books but I’m really making fun of myself for being in thrall to the world that you are building and the idea of these world weary warriors that go out every night and battle demons and long for their breh hidden, their mate. Unfortunately, the world building based on a mate bond has its limitations and repetition is one of them. Born of Ashes is book four in the series and I wished for a greater advancement in the plot line, more focus on fleshing out the world, and perhaps just a little less on the maaate boohhhhnd (or the breh hedden as it is known in the Ascension series)

Caris Roane Born of AshesFiona was a human slave who was used as a blood donor for death vampires. She would be brought to the point of death repeatedly in order to capture her blood at the most potent and then revived. In the last book Fiona was freed. In this book, she’s intent on seeking vengeance. I was incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get to experience Fiona’s healing from being a blood slave to a free woman. Instead, we are presented with a fully healed, both physically and mentally from her decades of torture and she is intent on wreaking vengeance on her oppressors. Fiona’s vengeance, however, is primarily conducted in some kind of command center.    The hero is Jean Pierre, a French guy who wears bows in his hair.  I could not tell you one specific, memorable trait of Jean Pierre’s other than he wears bows.

Whether it was obvious in other books in the series and I missed it, the portrayal of women and men was marked. This is a paranormal world and the idea is that the bond between two angels makes them stronger. Yet, there is not one female that battles the demons with the swords. The most that they do is logistical work from a control room. Sometimes they do clean up work. From the control room. There were only two angels that actually leave the compound. One was Parisia whose role is to fly over regions with her mate and spread peace. The other was the former commander, a female, and her job was given over to Marcus, in book two. Let me repeat. The only female in charge had her position taken away and given to a man because he was better at it.

So the female angels work as the support staff and in Born of Ashes plan a special public celebration. Basically its a group think tank of wedding planners.  And all the men are uncomfortable and worried about their ladies being outside and subject to danger. I don’t know, how about training them to handle a sword so they can kick ass and still be able to walk outside?

What made me so uncomfortable is that I think I was supposed to read this series as some great elevation of the feminine; how integral they are to the future victory of the “good” side. Instead, it highlighted this idea that men are only capable warriors and that the women’s power comes through emotional strength only. But in a paranormal, why? When you can create any kind of world and you want to create one with equality in the sexes, why make the men so much more physically capable than women?  Why make them better managers?  Why make them better able to handle their emotions?  Why show the one female leader as an unstable bitch who can’t handle her job?

The romantic conflict seemed about how well the warrior angels could protect their women (not terribly well as it turns out) which was really a retread of the conflict in the previous books to some extent. The most compelling part of the story was between Thorne, the leader of the warriors of the blood, and the heroine of the next book. Her family put Marguerite in a convent against her will because she was the lover of many men. She’s been in the convent for the last 100 years and is rooming with Thorne’s sister. He can trace into the convent, but because of an ankle bracelet she wears, he can’t get her out not to mention if he tried to, it would cause a great scandal and place their war in jeopardy.  She’s been getting schtupped by Thorne regularly for the last 100 years and he loves her. She enjoys having sex with him and she cares for him, but she wants to be free, more than anything, to live and to have as many men as she wants.

Also, there are huge worldbuilding holes like the bad guy is able to stop time (stasis) and then steal one of the warriors of the blood and try to kill him. The bad guy is not allowed to kill anyone directly but apparently can put bonds on the WOB so that with every breath, the bonds get tighter, until he has suffocated himself. Why hasn’t the bad guy done this before? Like he can put a stadium of 20,000 people in stasis. So why wouldn’t he, during a front lines battle, put everyone in stasis and then wrap the WOBs in these special ties and kill them all?

The Thorne scenes were very poignant. He totally loves her. He’s been fighting for 2000 years and being able to go to her has kept him sane these last 100 years. He knows that when she is free, she will run away from him. He knows she doesn’t love him like he loves her so while he is helping set her free and he is begging her to stay and she is promising she will stay they both know she is lying.  While I didn’t like this book, I’m reading Thorne’s book which is out this spring.  I might be able to cut the cord then.  (I hope)

For those keeping track, the smells of Fiona and Jean-Pierre of these two is coffee and donuts. D

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

12 Comments

  1. DM
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 15:05:28

    “But in a paranormal, why? When you can create any kind of world and you want to create one with equality in the sexes, why make the men so much more physically capable than women? Why make them better managers? Why make them better able to handle their emotions? Why show the one female leader as an unstable bitch who can’t handle her job?”

    This really struck me. When you’re creating a mythology out of scratch, what does it say when you make these kinds of choices? Are these story-driven choices that make the conflict deeper, the characters more dimensional, the themes more resonant? And if not, why make them?

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  2. Jan
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 15:39:25

    I haven’t read anything in this series – angels and their derivatives don’t interest me much – but that Thorne storyline seems very, very intriguing, and something that might make me try it after all. There’s something about unrequited love that is so very appealing, and it’s definitely something where the whole immortality adds to the poignancy instead of… not.

    I was also struck by the same thing as DM. The biggest reason why I like paranormal romance is because often the gender roles are either more equal or different, and that is very appealing to me. I love me some fierce bitches, and when a paranormal romance series fails to deliver on that front, it always feels like a very big missed opportunity.

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  3. ReadingPenguin
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 15:41:24

    Yeah, THIS is why I read so much more Urban Fantasy and so much less Paranormal Romance than I used to. I like my female characters to be able to hold their own, whether they do so by brain, muscle, or magic. I like to see them as equal partners to the men, and not damsels in distress who need to be protected. Maybe she starts out weak and grows a backbone. Maybe the guy initially assumes she’s helpless, until she proves otherwise. Or maybe they just get together and kick a ton of bad guy ass and everyone goes home happy. Point is, you can have strong female characters and still have an interesting/romantic story.

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  4. Melissa
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 15:53:07

    I haven’t read anything in this series either, but the description of the roles of males and females in the society is giving me flashbacks to my days of reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Don’t want to get involved with that again!

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  5. Kati
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 17:02:04

    I don’t know if I should blame you or thank you for introducing me to this series, Jane. I find them very readable, and very derivative. I gobble them up like candy, and roll my eyes regularly about them. I also had issues with this book, I thought that Fiona’s issues were drawn out too long and it felt very scattered with lots of scene changes and a ridiculous plethora of characters who I had trouble keeping track of. I agree with both your grade, and the fact that I’ll be buying and reading Thorne’s book. Damn it.

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  6. cbackson
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 19:52:40

    I can’t really deal with fated-mate stories anymore. It just seems to lower the stakes so dramatically: no doubts over whether you’re right for each other, no fears that your spouse will fall out of love with you, no choice to take a chance on love despite these risks. To me, that’s the essence of why romance is worth reading. Love is *dangerous*. If you choose to commit for a lifetime, you take a leap without a safety net. Sure, in these fated-mate stories, there’s always the risk of untimely death at the hands of bad guys. But the real risk, the one that makes love terrifying and exhilarating, is the risk that your lover won’t return your love, or won’t return it forever.

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  7. SHZ
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 22:10:05

    I don’t enjoy reading about heroines who are tough bitches (they frighten me in real life, so have no desire to read about them in fiction!) – the reason I’m a VERY picky urban fantasy reader. HOWEVER I do like strong heroines, and if you’re going to give your women supernatural powers, then they’re going to have to be strong, are they not?

    Hell, even Marissa in the BDB was stronger than her mate in the beginning!

    Cat from Jeaniene Frost’s series managed to be both strong and feminine, but it’s not something most authors manage to do.

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  8. Charlotte Stein
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 22:42:07

    Great point about paranormal equality. I always think the same thing when watching or reading stuff with superheroes in it – it makes no sense that female superheroes would be lesser in some way. I doubt radioactive spiders and vats of industrial waste and magical lanterns discriminate.

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  9. Barbara
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:07:18

    After reading the first one, I thought it cried out to be made into a movie so MST3K could be resurrected to have a go at it. Please, please, let the next couple smell like cheese and crackers.

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  10. Jane Lovering
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 06:50:21

    Count me as another one against ‘Fated Mate’ stories. I like my couples to have some free will, that way there’s a whole ‘will they/won’t they’? going on as added conflict – rather than a ‘oh, they have to. Because they’re fated’. Would love to see a fated mate refusal story…

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  11. Maili
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 08:50:22

    @cbackson and @Jane Lovering: Word. I rarely read anything involving fated mates since the 1990s. Each time I decided to give it a chance since then, it still bored me rigid. Even those where both sides “fight” against fate. So boring. It’s a romance, so of course, they will end up together. Why drive it home with the fated-mate trope? Talking about an overkill. :D

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  12. Shauni
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 20:42:01

    Now this was my favorite book in this series.. I see your point but there is just so very much more to this book and the series..

    We are featuring Caris and her Guardians of Ascension at http://bodicerippers-shauni.blogspot.com/ feel free to pop on over and add your thoughts! We have a fantastic interview with her as well as great give aways!

    ReplyReply

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