Dear Ms. Bury
In paranormals, I feel like it is go big or go home and thus the book’s success relies, in part, on the reader’s willingness to buy into the setup and hang her disbelief on the hook of the front page. The Darkest Day felt like a romp to me. A crazy, sometimes funny, sometimes hot, campy and irreverent take on paranormal romance. Let’s review some basic facts. The book has . . .
- Magical warriors whose badge is essentially matching barbell tongue piercings.Magical warriors whose faces are so beautiful they are know as the “Beauty Brawlers”.
- Shapeshifting pigs as heroes.* Okay, wild boars, but still essentially the same ungulate family which, by the way, I’m not sure if permission from Tessa Dare was procured to write this story as ungulate shape shifters has been trademarked by her.**
- A heroine who is a poet and she don’t know it.
It is a book, I believe, that invites the reader to partake of a fun ride through an amusement park filled with shapeshifting
pigs boars, bears, and wolverines and mystics, poets, and warriors along with witches, warlocks and assorted other magical creatures. The clans are bound by ancient feuds and tormented by past injustices and deep losses. They seek to right old wrongs and find their soul mates. This is a PNR, right, we have to have soul mates.
Fortunately, the mate bond in this book is a source of conflict and unresolved sexual tension. Izel Campbell is the last of the storied Euan Campbell line and a Fionn (which is some kind of magical being divided into Warrior, Poet, and Mystic). She is in Scotland searching for her grandfather, Euan, who is known to his enemies as The Mystic, a being made of magic. She’s on a quest to find answers as to why she is the only female in a lineage that had heretofore only produced males. She seeks answers as to why she is totally and completely incapable of feeling magic. Answers to why she is so weak in a clan filled with such power and gifts. She has only a weak power of persuasion; an anemic Poet.
In Scotland, Izel is discovered and captured by Kelvin Kerr, a Pookah. Over a thousand years ago, Kelvin swore an oath over his dying father’s body to avenge the deaths of the Kerr clan members brought about by the swords of the Campbells. Kelvin is shocked to discover the McCall, as the progeny of the Battle Chief of Clan Campbell is known. He is dismayed to discover she may be his mate.
The Pookah’s are gifted with a soul mate, but they must find that person first. The Pookah doesn’t actually know for sure if the person is his mate until the point of consummation. And if they consummate before the Solstice then the mate is lost from them forever. Fate sure is a fucker, no?
Worse of all? Izel may be the very last mortal on Earth and even though she is a hated Campbell, Kelvin refuses to be the one who kills the last mortal.
There are numerous flaws in the story not the least of which is the inconsistent use of brogue throughout. Jayne, me blogging partner hates the faux brogue and I suspect the first chapter might drive the wee lassie nuts. I didn’t understand why Izel was so ignorant of all the different magical beings in the realm. In the beginning of the book she acknowledges that her world was simple. Fionns good, vampires bad. Humans extinct. She didn’t know much of anything about her own lineage despite growing up with Fionns. The initial setup of Izel being emotionalless was weak and Kelvin’s portrayal as the Campbell hating Kerr was straight out of romance character store, Scots in aisle 10.
As the book moves out of its initial setup and into the road romance portion, the romp, the sexiness, and the humor take over. At one point, Izel mocks the Kelvin, the Pookah:
Izel threw her hands up. “Look, Man-Bear-Pig! You aren’t my father or my keeper. You have no claim to me—”
“It’s Man-Pig-Pookah,” he cut in. “Man-Bear-Pookah is my cousin.” Was he serious? “And you are the most fickle woman I’ve ever encountered. Not a moment ago you were set to leave with me.”
Later, in a moment of passion, the Razorback Pookah Kelvin thinks “He threw himself off her. Jesus Christ! He was about to yank off his pants and plunge into her like a wild, rutting boar!” I mean, that line is deliciously ironic, no?
For all its one liners, though, the book strikes a good balance between mysterious destiny and impossible conflicts. The characters are allowed to wallow only enough to generate some pathos before resolving to pursue their own happiness. While Kelvin is supposed to hate the Campbells, he never takes it out on Izel, treating her with care and tenderness and passion. Izel finds in Kelvin a strong protector who challenges her to stand up for herself. And there is a nice twist at the end wherein all parties learn the heavy price of vengeance. Oh, and it’s sexy. Did I mention that before? I love the build up of sexual tension, the yearning, the wanting which is particularly well done here.
Let’s face it. I have to give a book a B where the hero is a shapeshifting pig and I didn’t find myself gagging even once. *I suppose I should there were several references to the fact that the Pookahs do not shift into a pig/boar but are infused with the spirit of the wild boar. I did wish occasionally for some smart aleck comment about loving the smell of bacon in the morning. Alas, no bacon reference even once. Maybe I should take away a half a point for that? This was a fun debut. Don’t take it seriously and I think many readers will enjoy it.
** I asked Ms. Milan to clarify the extent of the trademark. Ms. Milan replied that only cud chewing ungulates fall within the mark and therefore Bury did not violate Tessa Dare’s were ruminant mark with her were boar.
@dearauthor Oh, boars are no problem. She can have her wereboar. 7/3/12 7:33 PM