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REVIEW: Obsidian Flame by Caris Roane

Dear Ms. Roane:

I tell everyone I know about your books. I even shared the story of Parisia and Micah’s with some random taxi cab driver in Chicage because the tangerine craziness is something that I can’t keep to myself (although in searching the DA archives it appears that I have not reviewed this masterpiece. Trust me, I will rectify that nonsense forthwith).

Obsidian Flame by Caris RoaneIn the last book I felt a bit morose at how the females were portrayed. I noticed how each one of the women in power, particularly the crazy head woman in charge, was replaced by a man. This book was much more empowering for the women. Oh, Marcus is still in charge and Thorne, the hero, is taking a new position of leadership but I did feel that there was a lot of appreciation poured out for the women, particularly for Endelle.

The main love story is quite provocative and I wonder how readers will respond. The foreseeing heroine, Marguerite,was kept prisoner for more than a century in a religious institution where other seers were housed. At some point, Marguerite began to room with Grace and when Grace’s brother, Thorne visited, Marguerite brazenly came on to Thorne. Thorne responded and for a century, the two engaged in a secret physical affair. This relationship kept both of them sane during Marguerite’s imprisonment and Thorne’s endless fight on Second Earth against the death vampires.

When Marguerite is released, however, she leaves Thorne and runs away to earth. Marguerite wants to live and for Marguerite that means she wants to drink heavily and chase men. Thorne loves Marguerite, though, and abandons his position as the head of the Warrior Brothers, to follow her.

Marguerite feels a fondness for Thorne but she doesn’t think she loves him or at least doesn’t love him enough to want to abandon her plans to sleep her way around Earth. She begins by picking up a hot guy in a bar, Jose. Thorne watches her. Marguerite proceeds to have sex (good sex) with Jose but what she doesn’t realize is that Thorne has taken over Jose’s mind. (This happens in the first chapter and thus I don’t think it is much of a spoiler).

You crazy mofo. You went there. BRAVO. Seriously, bravo. Because having the heroine a) sleep with someone other than the hero and b) enjoy it is genre breaking. Plus, Maguerite’s sexual experience with Jose isn’t gratuitous. Maguerite is some nympho in name only. The barriers between her and Thorne’s expected HEA aren’t just for show.

I dn’t know if I’ve ever read a story like this before and it worked for me. Maguerite was desparate to have experiences. She loved men. In fact, it was her love of men that got her imprisoned in the convent in the first place. Her family was embarrassed and ashamed of her behavior. They beat her and then stashed her in a convent where she was beaten more. Her survival was based on her time with Thorne and her dreams of escape.

Thorne’s response to Maguerite is one of frustration and resigned acceptance. He loves Maguerite and part of what makes her amazing to him is her brazenness and lustiness. Thorne has to balance his love and lust for Maguerite with his possessiveness. Thorne is also increasingly disenchanted with the war. He’s done nothing but fight but his side hasn’t gained any ground. If anything, they were perilously close to losing the war. He isn’t sure what he is fighting for. But Thorne’s gift is to train and lead men and even though he’s battle weary, he can’t shut away those instincts.

In some ways, I found this to be a marriage in trouble story. The two had been together for a long time and while Maguerite had not gotten bored with Thorne, she was definitely curious about men other than Thorne. It takes her much of the book to come to appreciate Thorne’s worthiness as a mate for her; that mating with Thorne won’t tie her down; that whatever adventures she wants to explore, Thorne will be there to make sure they are enjoyed to the fullest.

Thorne’s response to Maguerite was always “yes, I want to do that too”. It wasn’t a resigned response nor did I feel Thorne was put upon (after all he was a grown man, several centuries old, and a leader of a powerful band of warriors. He could walk away if he wanted to) Nor did I feel like Thorne was settling for half a measure of Maguerite’s affections. Instead, I felt like Thorne was excited by Maguerite’s adventurism. His willing response was full throated.

Let’s be clear, though, this book is full of the crazy. There are weird foreseer dreams and a host of conveniences like stumbling upon a secret commune filled with warriors in training and other secret seers. There is the insane attention paid to the weeping wing locks which have to be as gross as it sounds.

He put his hand on her shoulder and folded off her robe. Her back was a mess. Her wing-locks were swollen and weep- ing. She wasn’t far away from a mount herself, but he knew of one sure way to keep the wings from releasing.He leaned over and began to suck. He started at the upper left wing-lock and gorged on the moisture that wept from the aperture.

 

I shuddered as I read about her non stop weeping wing locks and it wasn’t with desire. Certain writing tics have calmed down. The tendency of characters to use the dialogue tag “cry” is greatly reduced and by greatly reduced, my search function says 31 times. (This is a reduction, I swear). There is some anatomically impossible dual wing lock sucking along with some bizarre deep mind diving (done at the same time, like simultaneous orgasms).

 

The story has less battles but still enough scenes of the evil doers. All of them, however, are kind of surrounded by a rosy haze as if to say these creators of Death Vampires who are trying to destroy the other side aren’t so bad. That was a little too much for me to swallow at times. The backstories of Maguerite and Thorne are told in some terrible As You Know Bob fashion and there is definitely infodumping. Yet.

Yet, on many levels, this was my favorite Roane book. It took chances, particularly with the depiction of Maguerite. I felt that the mate bond was fully explored between the two. They both hated it and then came to appreciate it. Their love for each other was borne out of true emotion (okay, and lots of physical attraction) but their love was more than an instantaneous fated event. But the vaguely paternalistic tone wasn’t completely defeated. The women are primarily hearth and home folks while the men go out and fight the battles. Endelle, the most powerful woman, is subjected to some kind of horrible incidence from a man who professes to love her. Commander Greaves, the evildoer, is evil because of some poor relationship with his mother. While I acknowledge the problems, I can still appreciate that this book was different and fresh in terms of the relationship aspect. Maguerite is a fun heroine and Thorne, “I’m up for anything you desire” was sexy as all get out. B-

Best regards,

Jane

P.S. for those keeping track she smells like roses and he smells like cherry tobacco.

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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

23 Comments

  1. Barbara
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 05:43:41

    You have to have a touch of the crazy to read these, you know. *shudder* But you forgot the all-important, what do they smell like?

    Ritz and spray cheese? Milk and Cocoa Puffs? Baked beans and hot dogs? Green eggs and ham?

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  2. Praxidike
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 06:09:41

    The winglocks quote above turned my stomach a little, and I generally have a pretty sturdy constitution. So, for those of us unfamiliar with this series – what are winglocks and why do they weep and, perhaps more importantly, why would one need to gorge one’s self on the … weeping liquid?

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  3. Mireya
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 07:11:39

    You know, I am so glad I stopped to read this review. I have been organizing and digging out ebooks from my external hard drive and I found books 1 and 2 of the series there. I was actually intending to start reading this series. Now, I am not so sure. I will not go into details but there are certain things that I don’t care to read about in romance, as I use it to escape reality, and some of the things you mentioned definitely are in that category. I’ll read books 1 and 2, 3 will be skipped.

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  4. Angela
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 07:22:00

    He put his hand on her shoulder and folded off her robe. Her back was a mess. Her wing-locks were swollen and weep- ing. She wasn’t far away from a mount herself, but he knew of one sure way to keep the wings from releasing.He leaned over and began to suck. He started at the upper left wing-lock and gorged on the moisture that wept from the aperture.

    I’m glad I haven’t eaten yet. And I don’t think I will for a while. That makes my stomach turn, but I don’t have a clue about these winglocks or why they’re weeping.

    I thought the first book was okay, but all the problems and issues that you freely acknowledge were too much for me to enjoy it. Every once in a while I consider picking up the second one (which I own already), but then I see something else in my TBR that I want to read.

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  5. Jane
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 07:37:32

    @Barbara – you are right, it is roses and cherry tobacco.

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  6. Denise
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 07:40:12

    The world building sounds interesting, but I’m afraid I’ll have to give this a pass. I’m okay with some points of genre breaking. The one you pointed out is a “no” for me when it comes to my romance reading. And I’ll have to agree with the above commenters. I haven’t a clue what a wing-lock is, but that description made me queasy.

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  7. Jane
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 07:50:12

    @Denise I completely understand and I wanted to be clear in the review what this book was about because I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to buy the book based on this review without knowing that issue. I know it is a deal breaker for many people.

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  8. Jane
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 07:51:17

    @Angela – yes, the writing is problematic at times. For some reason this series works for me. I think it is because it is so crazy and over the top. I like my paranormals like that

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  9. JoanneL
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 07:57:00

    I’m all for heroines that pursue their own life style without forfeiting their dreams to a man – but I don’t care to see them become female models of bad male behavior.

    Whether their love story would work for me would depend a great deal on how honest Marguerite was with Thorne during the 100 years that the two engaged in a physical affair.

    Did she tell him her desire to screw herself around the planet after her release from confinement? If she was honest and he knew theirs was just a temporary arrangement then I could probably get on board with following her story. If she was using him until she could do better then she becomes a female version of the fictional heroes that I dislike so much.

    Entering some other persons mind while they have sex with someone else? Ew.

    The role-reversal might be enough for some readers but I’m fairly sure it’s not for me. I may try a sample though – I do love me some wings.

    Interesting review, thank you.

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  10. Jane
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 08:00:16

    @JoanneL – yes, I do feel like Marguerite was very clear about her desires for freedom and exploration. Thorne always knew what Marguerite was going to do if she was free from the convent.

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  11. Angela
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 08:02:28

    @Jane: I can definitely understand the being pulled in. I’ve had series of crazy/over-the-top do that to me too. And, I’ll be honest, I’m kind of jealous that I can’t get there with this one. I always look forward to your reviews because they let me experience the stuff I want to without having to read it and get embroiled in the things that I have problems with.

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  12. Angela
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 08:05:43

    @JoanneL:

    Entering some other persons mind while they have sex with someone else? Ew.

    I actually really like the idea of the genre busting happening in this book. But this kinda hit my shock button too. I really hope it’s addressed at some point in the book between Thorne and Marguerite? I’m really concerned for the person (being?) who’s mind Thorne took over…

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  13. DS
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 08:58:28

    The search for experience doesn’t turn me off but somehow the weeping winglocks sucking grossed me out. I have a strong stomach for gross things so that is saying a lot.

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  14. Isobel Carr
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 09:31:30

    The winglock thing makes me sick to my stomach. And it seems to me that the “heroine sleeps with someone else” rule busting is totally undermined by the hero mentally taking over the mind of her lover. She’s not “really” sleeping with someone else (or at least the hero and reader know she isn’t).

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  15. Jane
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 09:33:46

    @Isobel Carr Completely disagree. SHE, the heroine, believes she has slept with someone else. Definitely genre breaking. You have other examples where this trope is written about in a romance novel? Maguerite went on, picked up a guy, and went home with him. She thinks, the entire time and for a long time afterward, she had sex with someone other than Thorne.

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  16. Mireya
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:25:57

    I am reading the comments on the “winglock” thing and, you know, it does not disturb me in the least for whatever the reason.

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  17. Ren
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 11:10:25

    Thorne has taken over Jose’s mind

    If Jose was a woman, the word “rape” would have been used by now.

    I’m less bothered by the heroine’s out-of-relationship sexual exploits than by the hero’s nonconsensual sexual invasion and related deceit (She thinks, the entire time and for a long time afterward, she had sex with someone other than Thorne). What a guy.

    Think I’ll avoid this one like poison ivy.

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  18. DS
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 11:58:25

    @Mireya: Honestly, I don’t understand my own reaction to it. It hits some squick factor for me though.

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  19. Jane
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 12:08:48

    @mireya for me it is the use of weeping from an opening. That just does not sound sexy. rather like she has a medical problem that needs some ointment applied.

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  20. Nikki
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 16:42:42

    I think on the basis of the weeping wing-lock I will be saying no. The rest actually sounds interesting because a heroine who has sex and isn’t getting the shame and blame game from the hero is great. I also am tired of investing in stories where women are not in positive or nuanced roles. I dropped JR Ward for that and some others are currently on the chopping block. I don’t want the women do everything right, but I also don’t want them to make their choices. For example, if she is a seer and has those skills, it is completely understandable that she isn’t fighting, that is not her strength, but it doesn’t mean she is not contributing to the effort.

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  21. Kaetrin
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 03:18:07

    I too, would like to understand what a “weeping wing lock” is!

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  22. Jane
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 07:17:59

    So a wing lock is the area on the back through which an angel’s wings come out. My understanding is that the women, in particular, mount their wings for the first time during these books and I’ve always kind of viewed it as the wings bursting from beneath the skin. After the wings have “mounted”, I believe that they are like a bird’s and can be folded against the body.

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  23. Diane
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 19:20:13

    I tried to get through the first book and just couldn’t finish it. So I won’t be getting to this book at all.

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