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REVIEW: Raintree: Inferno by Linda Howard

Dear Ms. Howard:

When it was announced that you would be contributing to the new Silhouette Nocturne line, I could not wait for this book. Some of my favorite Howard romances were categories from MacKenzie’s Mountain to A Game of Chance and the great Kell Sabin series. Sadly, this book was a shadow of a Linda Howard novel. It had all the signature Howard elements: the alpha male, the smart mouthed heroine, and a dash of action; but none of the signature Howard heart.

Dante Raintree is the head of the Raintree clan. He is the leader by virtue of his power. All is well in Raintree world until Dante encounters Lorna Clay. Lorna is consistently winning 5,000 a week in Dante’s casino but no one can figure out how she is doing it. Dante confronts Lorna and immediately guesses that she has some kind of power that is unharnessed. This provides a good reason for Dante to treat Lorna like dirt and abuse her. Their meeting coincides with the Raintree’s bitter rivals, Ansara, launching the first of their ineffectual attempts to kill Dante.

The Raintrees and the Ansaras are the only families with power. The only thing that divides the Raintrees and the Ansaras is that the Raintrees are apparently all good and the Ansaras are all bad. So the really good guys, the Raintrees, drive all of the Ansaras to near extinction about 200 years ago. It was clear to me why the Ansaras lost that particular power struggle way back then because in the book the Ansara clan look like bumbling fools. Of course, if the Raintrees paid any attention at all, they would see that by leaving even a few Ansaras alive means that they will procreate and rise again. I guess both the Raintrees and the Ansaras are bumbling fools.

Once meeting Dante, Lorna begins to exhibit powers she never had. This makes perfect sense! Not. It marks the beginning of many a magical appearance for which there is no rhyme or reason. The specially appearing magic acts are explained by Dante himself when he says “Magic doesn’t need to be logical.” Magic was inserted here and there whenever it was convenient to artificially rachet up the tension or to enable your characters to act in a sort of way. Want Lorna to be able to cheat without getting caught – it’s magical. Want Lorna and Dante to be protected in case of fire – it’s magical. Want to communicate telephathically even though you never could before – it’s magical. Want more Raintrees, their gene is always dominant – it’s magical. Want Lorna to love Dante who clearly is a prick – it’s magical.

The magical romance takes place over two days. The first day, Dante “brain rapes” the heroine by stealing her magic and leaves her so physically debilitated that she cannot remember anything except her own name. He proceeds to magically compel her to stay with him or stay in his house like an unruly animal. He throws her down on the floor, rips off her clothes and leaves her sobbing and feeling dirty. The next day, however, all is forgiven and Lorna hops in the sack after Dante tells her that they have some connection.

I had a hard time actually finishing the book because not only was Dante a jackass, but I found the story dull. The reason I was bored, despite the action scenes, was because anytime the couple was in trouble some type of magic! would conveniently occur to protect them.

These characters were never alive; they simply moved when you told them to move; had magic when it was convenient; fell in love when you required it. The movement of the story was completely obvious as was the manipulative efforts of the author. The ending is a cliffhanger designed to get the reader to be anxious for book 2 written by Linda Winstead Jones.

I wish there was some magic that could have turned back time to before I read this book. I wish I had read one of the old, classic Howard categories instead. D.

Best regard

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

24 Comments

  1. Aoife
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 04:38:00

    Oh, yeah. Your grade for this is exactly the same as mine, and for the same reasons. To say I was disappointed is to put it mildly. I was more enraged by the “mind-rape” in this book than I have been by the controversial scenes in Claiming the Courtesan, which I am halfway through. I don’t love everything that Linda Howard writes, but this is a case of shoddy workmanship, unlikeable characters, and gaps in logic that look like the Grand Canyon.

  2. Sarah McCarty
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 06:19:46

    Oh, bummer. I had this on my TBB list. * heavy sigh*

  3. Anji
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 06:46:27

    Linda Howard’s Mackenzie books are on my keeper shelf, and I’ve enjoyed most of her other books, so I was really looking forward to this one. I really wanted to love it.

    But oh, how I was disappointed. I had the same problems as Jane and Aoife.

    Spoilers with specific complaints.

    Where should I begin? It’s not just the brain-rape, a term the heroine herself uses. But no, there is more: manipulation, kidnapping, imprisonment and at one point Dante basically gags her by mind control. Plus the forced stripping. And he doesn’t sincerely regret his actions, in fact he’s very reluctant to give up his control over her when Lorna says no sex unless he stops his mind control. Great. That’s gonna make me love a hero. Oh, and he doesn’t have to verbalize his compulsions, so she doesn’t even know what his commands are. He such a Neanderthal, it’s a wonder he can speak instead of only grunting. Grrrrr.

    The whole Ansara-Raintree relationship was iffy for me. Dante at some point even says that some Ansara may not be bad, that there’s a whole spectrum of human nature. But hey, if Lorna had been an Ansara, he would have killed her.

    The whole magic thing is problematic too. Dante suddenly gets mind-control powers when he needs them. No explanation. And no explanation is made about stray magic users. Lorna just happens to have as much power as the royal family (who are the royal family because they’re the most powerful).

    This really wasn’t a believable romance for me. Lorna is so afraid of being a victim, and is treated terribly by Dante, but hey, she still falls in love with him. And Dante, well, we see his attraction to her, but the falling in love, nope, not believable either.

    The book ends extremely abruptly, leading into the final Raintree-Ansara showdown in book three, I believe. I guess the intention is to escalate the tension, and to get directly to that finale, but well, you have to like the characters enough to care about what happens to them ultimately.

    I can’t believe that they spent five years working out notes, backgrounds etc. The premise sounded so interesting, and there was such potential. But this feels like a last-minute attempt to ride the paranormal bandwagon gone horribly wrong. Bad plotting, an awful hero, love ‘magically’ developing, shoddy world building, inadequate explanations of the paranormal/magical elements and just bad execution overall. What an incredible disappointment, and if it had been written by another author, I would not have finished the book.

  4. Keishon
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 08:02:17

    I’ll be reading this one today. Can’t wait to see how bad it is.

  5. Robin
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 09:06:53

    Midnight Rainbow + Diamond Bay = I Heart Kell Sabin.

    Sabin would be very disappointed.

    And that strip search scene in the bathroom? Seriously ugly.

    I loved how in the couple of days before the nookie, Dante gave Lorna the “choice” whether to stay home or come with him to work. Whooppeee — what a life!

    What do you bet he’s locked her to the house again at the end?

  6. Jane
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 09:51:07

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER.

    To say I was disappointed is to put it mildly. I was more enraged by the “mind-rape" in this book than I have been by the controversial scenes in Claiming the Courtesan, which I am halfway through.

    The mind rape thing was so blithely dismissed. Howard has Dante saying that he doesn’t really like the term “rape” but never denies that was what it was and shows absolutely no remorse. Obviously he would do it again if he felt it was necessary.

    gaps in logic that look like the Grand Canyon.

    Like why not bomb the Raintree Sanctuary when they are all together instead of picking them off one by one?

    The whole Ansara-Raintree relationship was iffy for me. Dante at some point even says that some Ansara may not be bad, that there’s a whole spectrum of human nature. But hey, if Lorna had been an Ansara, he would have killed her.

    Yeah but that doesn’t coincide with the justification that they had to destroy all of the Ansara. It was clear to me that statement set up some romance between the Raintree and Ansaras in a future book. Not too obvious or heavy handed.

    The whole magic thing is problematic too. Dante suddenly gets mind-control powers when he needs them. No explanation. And no explanation is made about stray magic users.

    It’s because magic is not logical. How can you not buy into that explanation. Doesn’t it make perfect sense? No need for boundaries, rules, repurcussions.

    if it had been written by another author, I would not have finished the book.

    Yep, I kept hoping it was going to get better. Which it did not. I was actually giving myself pep talks in the middle of the book. Come on, Jane. You can finish it. You can, you can, you can.

    And that strip search scene in the bathroom? Seriously ugly.

    Yep, I felt sick reading it. I think Lorna was his dog rather than his partner because that is how he treated her.

  7. Zeek
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 10:19:24

    Awww man, I do not want to hear this.

    But it doesn’t surprise me.

    Like Robin said:

    I Heart Kell Sabin

    I miss LH heroes like him and the Mackenzie men!

    With everything after Mr. Perfect, I’ve been continually disappointed by what she’s putting out. I swear it’s not even her writing anymore- just a bunch of monkies typing away in some back room somewhere.

    sigh.

  8. Rosie
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 10:40:33

    I’ll be reading this one today. Can’t wait to see how bad it is.

    Will I be influenced by this review when I read this book? Probably. But I had to laugh when I saw Keishon’s comment, because I’ll have to read it to see the train wreck for myself.

  9. Sarah
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 10:56:21

    I bought this in ebook format like the first day eharlequin released it and wow, major disappointment to say the least. I couldn’t agree more with this review and it just really saddens me because, like you, LH’s categories are some of my favorites to this day! I can reread them and enjoy them over and over again, but this book… well, I won’t be buying the print version to add to my collection that’s for sure.

    I’m not sure if I even want to continue reading the Raintree series either. This opener was a dud.

  10. Kerry Allen
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 11:10:15

    [quote comment="26516"]I’m not sure if I even want to continue reading the Raintree series either. This opener was a dud.[/quote]

    Ah, the dangers of collaboration. I feel bad for the other authors involved. I’d go nuclear if I wrote a kick-ass contribution but nobody read it because a prior installment killed all interest.

  11. Jane
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 11:27:22

    Yeah, but the magic is so poorly set up in the book – who would want to read another set in this world?

  12. Keishon
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 11:30:48

    I started it and…let’s just say it’s not good.

    My complaint with Howard started when she went hardcover. I can’t say that any of them I’ve enjoyed enough to reread compared to her original paperback novels like Son of the Morning, Kill and Tell, McKenzie’s Mountain, Diamond Bay, Midnight Rainbow, After the Night. All were solid r/s novels. I enjoyed Open Season, Cry No More, All the Queen’s Men but they were all one time reads, really. She has a new hardcover coming out and I used to kick myself for automatically purchasing them after several disappointing, lackluster reads but I am more than willing to wait or never read them. That “urge” to buy her stuff has long been snuffed out. I admire her for doing different stuff, pushing the envelope.

    Anyway, it’s tempting to ditch this book and start my plate clean with another romance novel that Nath said she loved, Virgin River by Carr. I think Linda Howard’s muse has either been on strike or has left.

  13. Anji
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 12:13:22

    [quote comment="26507"]

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER.

    Yeah but that doesn’t coincide with the justification that they had to destroy all of the Ansara. It was clear to me that statement set up some romance between the Raintree and Ansaras in a future book. Not too obvious or heavy handed.

    [/quote]

    SPOILERS

    Oh, I agree. Wonder if either the brother or the sister will fall in love with an Ansara? Bet it’s the sister, cause if she were to fall in love with a normal person (i.e. non-Raintree/Ansara), then that person won’t be able to become a ‘super human’ (like the Raintrees) via pregnancy.

  14. Jane
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 12:17:18

    I’m thinking sister too for the same reason.

  15. Roslyn
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 13:36:16

    Keishon, I stopped buying her when she went hardcover as well. I got burned a couple of times, and let it go. I picked up one of hers at the UBS last year, and it was so godawful I really couldn’t get past the first few chapters. Hated the heroine so passionately I truly wanted to kill her. For me, she’s become like Jude Deveraux, cherish the backlist, the new stuff is a definite bleh.

  16. Holly
    Apr 11, 2007 @ 16:24:14

    I’ve been seriously disappointed in her since..hmm, Kiss Me While I Sleep, I think it was. Before that she was good, but she hasn’t been awesome since Mr. Perfect (and I know a lot of people disagree with me there, too).

    I’m sorry to hear she isn’t back with this one. I thought maybe moving back to category would save her. She’s definitely off my auto-buy list.

  17. Shawnee
    May 01, 2007 @ 19:21:05

    I had every book that Linda Howard has ever written. Even Snow Bird which is very hard to find. She is my favorite author of all time even though I prefer her older books. I was very disappointed in this book and I could not even finish it. But I have hope for the future, we will see better from Linda Howard in the future:)!!!

  18. PatW
    May 05, 2007 @ 23:32:32

    Well Ladies, so it’s not just me. I have cherished Most of LH’s books. I’m not going to sit and pick out the ones I didn’t care for as much as others but let’s say for the most part, I have loved her books. Her EARLY books. But after buying a couple books after Mr. Perfect was released, I made some resolutions. I don’t buy her books new anymore, and I do not have to finish reading a book I don’t care for. And I am so glad I looked at your reviews on her new Nocturne because I just spent my book club’s money and bought 10 copies of that ‘sucker’, one for each of our group. Well who is the ‘sucker’? Not me! They ALL go back tomorrow. THANK YOU for the straight forward review. I find that most of the reviews on a favorite writer or popular writer always say ‘the book is great/wonderful blah blah blah’. Even when it stinks! So many of our beloved favorites have fallen from our ‘must buy’ lists. They have given in to the pressure to write chic-lit topics, a different style of writing and the ‘hot’ genre. They have given in to their editors when the editors have wanted a romantic suspense, a paranormal or a different book. Oh yes the authors have the right to try something different, a different genre. But what the editors, and the authors, have forgotten are the fans that Put the authors on the Top Writers lists. As one of the reviewers so beautifully put it, they took the ‘heart’ out of the characters and the stories. You don’t Care about the hero or heroine or other characters. There is plenty of death, gore, evil, profanity and filth of all kinds for Shock Value. But the hero and heroine are so bland and one dimensional, you just want to turn the page and to keep hoping it gets better. And when they finally do make love, it’s so brief and inadequate, it could have been edited out. It’s called a Romantic suspense. Shouldn’t there actually be Romance in the book? Aren’t they called Romance writers? If I want death and destruction, all I have to do is watch the news or read the paper. Yes, death and destruction can be powerful incentives that drive the story but it is still called romantic suspense, so please Add some romance. I don’t mean they have to date and fru-fru stuff, I mean add tension, passion, desire… some feeling! And the list of the romance authors that have forgotten their roots, their fans and their unique quality that made their books so special, is getting Longer everyday. Sometimes I wonder if MISTER (fill in the blank with the author’s last name) wrote the book, it is so different from her other books? Then there are the authors that have a ‘formula’, just change a few names and places. It’s like reading the same book over again. And how many times now do you read a book and there are terrible mistakes in them: she went out of the house in pants and she pushed down her skirt when the wind blew? she mounted her black stallion and she dismounted from her white mare? in 1812 she was 6 and 10 yrs later she was 18? she looked out the rain spattered window and on the next page she was squinting into the sun? that’s extortion or let’s get going (in the same medieval) ?, he left with the Sioux he returned with the Shawnee (I guess that’s okay, they both start with s)?, he turned to check his bearings, and with the sun on his back, he was going north (not in my country)? he fell asleep at 10:15 and when he awoke an hour later it was after midnight? Does no one edit any more?? (these were all taken from actual books and I could continue with more examples.) My book friends laugh at all the errors I have found. So I will dismount from my soapbox, and again say a heartfelt thank you to all of you and your truthful reviews!

  19. JAMIE
    May 13, 2007 @ 11:30:41

    So i love LH books, and i picked this up with out even reading the back. I LOVED this book and I can not wait for the next in the series by Linda Winstead Jones. It may be just because I enjoy these type books (Kay Hooper like). Everything from the “Mind-Rape” to bomb the homeplace has reason and im sure they will come in the end. I hate people that judge readers when you know nothing you could ever write would be anywhere near something LH wrote on a bad day, so if you dont like the book take it to a trade in used books store and just get over it. I doubt LH or any other author cares about your opinion of it. I still found the book to be facinating. I think it is worth the $5.00!

  20. Michele
    May 23, 2007 @ 13:49:02

    I allows buy LH books. – Love her. I will admit some of the recent books have been so / so – but hey everyone goes through a dry patch. As for this book – LOVED IT – for what it is. A quick bite into a series – have any of you every tried writing the first book of a series that will be finished by other authors, knowing your job is to introduce everything and tell the first story in what a few hundred pages? This is a GREAT fun book – read it on a Sunday when you just want something easy.

  21. sheri
    Jul 27, 2007 @ 13:28:14

    Totally loved the book, can’t wait to read the next series. Finished it in a day! Agree w/ Michele…”a quick bit into a series”. Very enjoyable read. Read it for what it is…leave the dissection out of it.

  22. Letha Manous
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 16:52:26

    I agree with the readers who instruct others to “enjoy and suspend disbelief”–after all, don’t we do that with all fictional books? I absolutely think that Linda Howington is the best of the best–I even prefer her over Gabaldon, who is extremely great.
    I believe too many readers simply interject themselves into a story–looking for bits of themselves and not understanding that the story is meant to entertain; may have nothing of the author’s actual experiences or even closely held values in it; and should be approached as such.
    Too much introspection has been known to ruin the best of books–I too prefer her old stuff; but all her books are well worth reading. The only one I haven’t read x2-12 is “Cry no More”–too sad for me.

  23. Norma Taylor
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 16:17:33

    I have read the series and enjoyed them all. I would nlike to know more about the then survivers of the last war and the children of the main characters. I guess it is like everything else, all in the eye of the beholder. You can get something out of every book you read no matter what.

  24. Michelle
    Jan 25, 2010 @ 08:33:13

    I too liked this book and I am looking for # 2 . My library only had #1&3. I will submit a request for them to purchase # 2

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