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REVIEW: On the Prowl by Patrica Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen...

On the ProwlIn On the Prowl, four authors try to jump the bridge from fantasy to romance with varying degrees of success. This is an area which is not well populated so I like the concept and hope for better execution in the future. Great cover, though.

***

Dear Ms. Briggs: Your contribution, “Alpha and Omega”, was the best part of the anthology largely due to your strong voice, however good prose was not enough to cover the relationship flaws. Anna is a young werewolf whose existence as a shiftling has been full of abuse. She believes she is a submissive werewolf because of the way she was treated. Initially, she was passed around the pack until the alpha’s mate stepped in to put a stop to it. Anna is “afraid of her own shadow” and has been made into this mouse of a woman by the abuse inflicted by her pack.

She sees a young man turned, caged and then found dead. She’s sure that her alpha is responsible. Despite her beaten down state, decides to call the Marrok, who has ruled all NA werewolves, even knowing that her actions might cause her to employ the use of the one silver bullet she owns. Charles, the Marrok’s son and enforcer, is sent out to clean up the mess. Upon meeting Anna, he knows that she is not at all a dominant but something completely different.

The worldbuilding is well done here providing a glimpse of a heretofore unexplored aspect of werewolf lore. There is little tension here as the outcome seems predetermined from the minute that Charles steps foot in Chicago. The big problems, however, are the relationship aspects. Charles is an alpha wolf who is finds, in Anna, his mate. Anna, despite her emotional and physical trauma, is able to respond to Charles’ physical demands in a relatively short amount of time. I recognize that this is an anthology but perhaps the characterizations of such a damaged individual like Anna should be saved for a longer writing form. B-

Dear Ms. Wilks: Your Lily and Rule books have been a wonderful contribution to the romance genre. The world that you have been creating is interesting and complicated and I sometimes wonder if you lose track of all the paranormal and otherworldy aspects that are included in your world. While the romance is this book is better than the other three, the world building was suspect at times, particularly at the end.

Kai Tallman Michalski is a woman with a different kind of magic that she hides from most people. Her city is filled with magic haters and to be thought of as a witch is to be in danger. Worse, Kai is being framed for murder. Her friend and good neighbor, Nathan, works to help her evade incarceration. Nathan, like Kai, has a secret about who he.

It’s hard to talk about this book with anything but generalities because alot of the magic of the story is due to the slow unfolding of Kai’s gift and Nathan’s true nature. Nathan and Kai are friends before the story starts and hold an unacted upon attraction for each other. Their tentative movements toward a more romantic relationship was endearing.

The trouble is that much is made of Nathan’s separation from his kind and the ending appears to be so contradictory to what Nathan had been telling Kai (and thus the reader) that it seemed more like a deux ac machina than anything organic. B-.

Dear Ms. Chance: Buying Trouble was my first introduction to your writing. While you have great ideas, the story faltered in the execution mostly because there was too much going on in such a short space.

Claire works as part of the security detail for an auction house that sells magical items. She’s a projective null and therefore can suppress magic around her, preventing any of the customers from using magic to run off without paying. One night, she finds herself for sale and her evil cousin Sebastian is there to buy here. Her cousin isn’t her only problem. She spots a Fey in the midst and knows that if either her cousin or the Fey get their hands on her, she’s toast.

While attempting to escape her “fate worse than death”, Claire gets her hands on a rune and is transported to Faerie world with the Fey. It just so happens that the Fey is a Light Fey and he’s not out to kill Claire, nor use her as a weapon. He wants the rune. While in Faerie, Claire finds that she has another complete magical ability that is brought out through intimate contact.

While there are parts that are funny and smart and interesting, most of the story is disjointed given the wealth of new worlds, creatures and magical beings that the reader is supposed to assimilate in short time. Further, each time Claire is in jeopardy, something coincidental happens and those particular bad guys aren’t seen again, losing any tension that was initially created. The plot arc appears to be Claire’s discovery of her true self, but it seems contrived, particular toward the latter half. C

Dear Sunny:

This contribution, “Mona Lisa Betwining”, is a continuation of the previous Mona Lisa stories. Mona Lisa is the Queen of Louisiana and ruler of approximately 400 full blooded Monere. Through sex, Mona Lisa gains the powers of lovers which is really convenient. Need to be faster? Sleep with a guy who is really fast. Need to be stronger? Sleep with a guy who is stronger. Essentially, there is no limit to what Mona Lisa can become so long as she chooses the right partners.

Of course, Mona Lisa plays the part of a sexual ingenue. “Too many men had been willing to wait for me–"first Amber, then my Demon Prince–"and still I did not know why. ” (you and me both, Mona Lisa). In “Mona Lisa Betwining”, Dontaine approaches Mona Lisa with a sort of a plea to bed her despite having been rejected by her before. Mona Lisa eventually beds him.

The writing is awkward at times. At one point you use the phrase “Crammingly so.” I didn’t even know “crammingly” was a word and I am not sure if it is, it was appropriately used. There is supposedly a plot of sorts in which Mona Lisa is confronted by Lucinda Darkly who is getting her own series but its a bizarre interlude that offers nothing to the tale. In all, this plotless, awkwardly written anthology is really nothing more than window dressing for one woman to have sex with many men, albeit reluctantly and sometimes drunk on the moon. It’s just not my cup of tea. D.

Best regards,

Jane

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

13 Comments

  1. Janice
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 09:22:46

    I just read this book last night. I liked the first 3 stories.

    I actually liked Chance’s short story better than her novels because it felt like there was a little less rushing around than in those books – more pausing time.

    Briggs’ contribution was more romance heavy than I expected (with the mate thing happening) – in the Mercy books the romance is much less of a focus.

    I was impressed by Wilks. I’d never read anything by her before and if it’s part of a series, I could not tell, unlike the rest of the stories in this anthology.

    Sunny’s Mona Lisa Betwining – I did not like it. I skimmed, and actually stopped short at the “Crammingly so” line and spent a few moments wondering about what the author was thinking writing that. This felt the most like just a continuation of a series and had spoilers for book 2, and I thought that any time that Mona Lisa has a problem (mental, physical, whatever), the solution always seems to be – have sex. And I agree – the introduction to Lucinda felt forced and oddly out of context.

  2. Heather
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 09:42:21

    I’ve only recently discovered this blog, but I wanted to say I love the “dear author” format. It really makes your reviews stand out from others.

  3. Barbara B.
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 09:45:01

    Nice review. Thanks, Jane. Three or four story anthologies drive me crazy. I never feel that I’m getting my money’s worth because inevitably one or two of the stories are crap. I very much want to read the Briggs story and would probably read everything but the story by Sunny. I just can’t believe there’s anything a person named Sunny could write that I’d want to read.

  4. Jane
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 09:48:53

    Heather – Thanks. It was more accidental than anything. The domain name was one that was available for purchase and others weren’t. ;)

    Barbara – If you’ve read LKH (particularly the Merry Gentry series) you’ve read Sunny.

    Janice – I’ve never read Chance before. I wonder if my response would be higher if I was more comfortable with her world. I did find her surprisingly funny. I loved the first book by Wilks, Tempting Danger. Her second and third ones in the series I’ve liked less but others have really enjoyed them so YMMV.

    As for Sunny . . . I just don’t get it.

  5. Mrs Giggles
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 10:32:58

    I haven’t read anything by Sunny and don’t plan to, but I hear plenty of damning criticisms about her writing. She’s been accused of blatantly lifting elements from stories by Laurell K Hamilton, Anne McCaffrey, and even Sailormoon cartoons (hey, I’m just the messenger here), heh. Your description of her Mona Lisa story doesn’t make me feel eager to start.

  6. Ann Bruce
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 11:09:07

    I never feel that I'm getting my money's worth because inevitably one or two of the stories are crap.

    I just wish publishers would release the individual stories in e-book format…but that would defeat their marketing strategy.

    She's been accused of blatantly lifting elements from stories by Laurell K Hamilton, Anne McCaffrey, and even Sailormoon cartoons

    You can add Anne Bishop’s Black Jewel series to the list, too.

  7. Charlene Teglia
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 11:15:21

    I’m likely to pick this one up just because it has stories by two authors on my list to try out (Eileen Wilks, Patricia Briggs). How convenient that theyr’e in an anthology together!

  8. LesleyW
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 15:03:55

    I’ve just read the Patricia Brigg’s story, which if I’m honest is the main reason I bought the anthology. :) I was reading it thinking just over 70 pages is not enough to tie all this together. I would have liked the story to be much longer.

    August 2008 is too far away for the first novel about Charles and Anna. Humph!

    But I think it served well as an introduction and I think the novel will flesh out their relationship much more. It looks like the series (or at least the first book) may take place in Montana, which is good ’cause it means we might find out more about Bran.

  9. Jane
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 15:05:43

    For some reason, I thought the November contribution would be in another anthology. I don’t know why.

  10. Jorrie Spencer
    Aug 15, 2007 @ 17:58:48

    I wonder if the first novel with be a fleshed out verion of Charles and Anna’s story (a la Eileen Wilks’ Tempting Danger with Lily and Rule) or it will carry on.

    Not that I’ve read this yet. But I had to order it. I heart Briggs.

  11. brwngem
    Aug 17, 2007 @ 18:11:19

    I have this on my tbr, but mostly for the patricia briggs story. I’m completely hooked on her. I know that I probably won’t read the Sunny story. I read the second in her Mona Lisa series, and I found it terrible! It just seemed like more badly written LK Hamilton, and trust me one writer doing sex as magic badly is enough!

  12. On the Prowl « Jorrie Spencer
    Sep 22, 2007 @ 22:05:52

    [...] Dear Author gave the anthology a B-. [...]

  13. Alpha and Omega and Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 04:00:29

    [...] Jane’s review of On the Prowl (where reviews of the other three novellas in this anthology can be found) she said “Anna, [...]

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