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REVIEW: Ascension by Caris Roane

Dear Ms. Roane:

I’m not sure why I picked this book to read.   It’s not like I am a big fan of angel stories.   The cover is okay but not great.   The blurb isn’t all that catching and frankly, when I started the story, it seemed like I had read it before, only with a different cover and different names on the front.

Ascension by Caris RoaneThe story is derivative and full of all the things I hate like the mate bond (make the Bahhhnd, Jake for those Avatar fans), sequel bait ALL OVER THE PLACE, a heroine with so many powers no one can even fathom her, Matrix like time bendings, mind bending, channeling (at one point, they have to teach the heroine to fight within 24 hours and so she mind melds with her mate and he downloads into her mind his fighting techniques). YET, I could not stop reading it. There is some strange alchemy here.

The set up is that there is different dimensions of Earth. The first dimension is Mortal Earth, the next level up is Second Earth, etc. The upper levels are closed off until you are called for ascension and then it appears that you can move freely between the levels. (Kind of like a video game, I guess? Except instead of defeating a boss to get to the next level you have to await to be called by a higher power. No wait, this is more like high school and cliques. The higher up you are on the social scale, the more mobile you are. Okay, this is probably not the equivalence you were aiming for).

This book is concentrated on Mortal Earth and Second Earth. Future books seem to focus on upper levels (or at least that is what is hinted).

Alison Wells is a therapist, six feet tall, who has sworn off dating because whenever she has sex with someone, they get injured. Her last bout ended with the guy in the emergency room. She’s giving up her counseling practice to return to school to get her Ph.D. But during her counseling career, she had been counseling a guy named Draven Graeves. It turns out that Graeves is the Commander, a leader of an army of death vampires and other bad guys who want to rule both Mortal Earth and Second Earth.

On the other side, you have Endelle, the most powerful ascendant in 9 centuries (I could be wrong about the number of centuries) and counterpart to Graeves. Endelle’s rule is bolstered by the Warriors of the Blood, a band of 7 Guardians of the Ascendants, all males, who protect Mortal Earth by killing death vamps. Death vamps are created by sucking humans to death. You know a death vamp by their coloring; they take on a blue tinge (better than smelling like baby powder). Endelle and the Warriors also have the help of the Militia Warriors, basically super humans but not as strong as Warriors. Grunts, essentially, or maybe Pawns on the chessboard.

When a being is called to ascend (move up the dimensional ladder), there is a battle between Endelle and Commander to gain that asset. Both want Alison because she is the most powerful mortal to be called to ascend since they can remember. She can do pockets of time reversal, dematerialize. She can speak telepathically and has empathy skills. Bla bla bla.   I’m sure in her spare time, she turns water into wine.

In order to prevent the Commander from capturing the asset by turning her into a death vamp or just getting killed, the Guardian Kerrik is sent to Alison.

The book is essentially about the breh heddren, a mythical mate bond that none of the Warriors of the Blood have ever experienced. UNTIL NOW. Cue music. Kerrick, who has lost two wives and three children to this ongoing battled between Endelle and Commander, has vowed never to take another mate. But the mate bond is SO STRONG that despite their mutual resistance, the two cannot keep their hands off each other.

The breh heddren is sealed by mind diving, sharing of blood and coitus – all at the same time. So Kerrick and Alison resist doing all three but dabble in the others.   They are everything but breh heddren virgins.    One recognizes the mate bond through scents. Kerrik gives off a cardamon smell and the Alison gives off a lavender smell. And these two smells drive each other mad for one another. (as an aside, how many guys are really turned on by lavender?) Will these two crazy agnst-ridden love birds make special transcendental music together? I guess readers will just have to learn that for themselves.

Oh and there is some committee that makes rules that govern the war between Endelle and Commander. I never really understood why these rules exist or why the two abide by them but these rules create the bounds of the plot and the world. Both sides have electronic grids or something and can detect the power signals of all the peeps with “Second” power on Mortal Earth.

I wrote to a friend of mine that the story is a bit whackadoo. There is head hopping, info dumps and an entire romance built around the mate bond. These two don’t fall in love. It’s destiny. Or something. It’s like paranormal soup but it is really readable paranormal soup. Sexy paranormal soup. Like there is a little of Ward. The Band of Brothers who have never experienced the mythical breh heddren will now, in the space of several books published one after the other, all of a sudden fall victim to it. While they don’t speak in slang, they ALL use the term EOS (end of story) to shut the door on certain topics. It was like a Guardian requirement: live without a mate, kill death vamps and use “EOS” at least once per day.

And the word “cried” was used as a dialogue tag non stop even in, what I termed, inappropriate places. “I don’t want to guard her”, he cried. (this is a made up example but I’m just trying to convey a point here).

Weirdly I could not stop reading even though I was frowning at myself the entire time. I knew it was derivative. I knew it was info dumpy. I knew that there was no delicately layered love relationship because the bond was some mythical destiny but not only did I enjoy this book but I stayed up late reading it. AND I’m pretty stoked for the next one.   There were hints dropped here and there about some really interesting future characters and possibly some inter Guardian fighting over a woman.   No Kumbaya here. Some of the Guardians do not like each other, thank god. Truly, if I had to live with the same seven people for a 100 years or more in a high stress environment, I would want to kick the crap out of at least one of the seven.

John said the other day in the Smart Bitches chat that he would grade Scandal by Amanda Quick a B for the book but an A for personal enjoyment. I have to give this a C but a B for personal enjoyment.

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

25 Comments

  1. TKF
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 08:53:21

    Given how much I love Nalini Singh’s Archangel series (OMG can’t wait for the third book!!!) I should be all over this, but it sounds like it would make my head explode.

    ReplyReply

  2. Rachel
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 09:35:29

    Fated mates make me want to puke. It’s like slipping both characters roofies. Way to dodge the chore of writing a well-developed relationship.

    I said on Twitter sometime last week that I wish someone would write a book with the “together forever because destiny says so, whether we can tolerate each other or not” bit, but that relationship ISN’T the romance. The hero brings the woman he loves back to his lair for some hot-hot lovin’ and says, “Oh, before we hit the sheets, I should probably introduce you to Sheila, my destiny-mate. We’ll both die if we’re separated by more than 100 feet, so she’ll be staying with us forever. That won’t be a problem, will it?”

    ReplyReply

  3. Jessica
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 09:53:54

    I tried to read this, but I just could not bear it. Like if all the BDB went off to Phoenix and got wings and lost all the funny slang.

    ReplyReply

  4. Maura
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 10:32:29

    I acknowledge this is shallow, but I could not get past “Draven Graeves.” When did “Draven” become the default Goth/Dark male name? I’d blame the Crow but even there it was at least a surname.

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  5. Kati
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 10:51:08

    SIGH. Damn it, Jane! Now I’m going to have to read it, just for the derivative thing. I have to say, the cover is BAAAAAAAAD. Seriously cheesy.

    ReplyReply

  6. Eva / TXBookjunkie
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 11:19:19

    I bought it. I can’t help myself. I love PNR and angels.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jia
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 11:40:21

    Oh man, I see myself succumbing to this hot mess in the near future.

    ReplyReply

  8. TKF
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 11:47:42

    @Rachel:

    Fated mates make me want to puke . . . “together forever because destiny says so, whether we can tolerate each other or not” bit, but that relationship ISN'T the romance.

    This is EXACTLY how I feel about it and I've said the same on many occasions. Being forced to be together–or unable to stay apart–by an outside force (fate, instincts, destiny, what-have-you) is NOT romantic nor is it romance IMO.
    I think Elfquest might the only case of fated mates that's ever worked for me, and that's because of how complicated she made “recognition”. Some couples loved each other. Some loathed each other and came together only long enough to mate. It was tragic just as often as it was joyous, and she didn't shy away from showing all the various outcomes.

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  9. Ann T
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 13:35:15

    I agree with the others who say they dislike the ‘mated bond’ or as I like to call, the ‘destined-to-be.’ I just don’t buy the love if they have to be together ’cause it’s fate. I’d much rather read a romance and see the couple fall in love – doesn’t matter the genre. Why is paranormal so heavy on this ploy? To me, it’s lazy and in most cases, the sole reason people get together. I love paranormal but am so tired of the same ole tropes and really, really want something different.

    Now, as far as the cover, I liked it. What didn’t you all like about it? Was it the guy with wings (to me, love this!), the colors, what? I’m just curious.

    Jane, I find it intriguing that you enjoyed it despite all the issues (the same ones that would drive me nuts); however, unlike others, it doesn’t make me want to go out and buy it to read it. :-D

    Thanks for another awesome review that saved me from buying a book I wouldn’t have liked despite falling for the cover.

    ReplyReply

  10. Ann T
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 13:36:48

    Oh, forgot – I’d have hesitated over the first word in the book tag ‘vampire.’ Sigh. Really, aren’t these done yet? :-D

    ReplyReply

  11. DS
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 14:54:35

    @Ann T: Just when I think I will never pick up another book with a vampire in it, someone does something different and I end up sucked in again. This year it was Christopher Moore’s Bite Me and Cherie Priest’s Bloodshot– though technically Bloodshot doesn’t come out until the end of January 2011.

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  12. FD
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 15:28:03

    If you want a fated mates with angels story that is actually well written, characterisation, world-building and all, it’s worth checking out Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series. While the set up is on the surface fated mates, turns out that it’s actually merely genetically compatible, and decided externally and reinforced by social conventions. No instant lust and burnification in the pants – more an implant that feels like a hot coal in their arm and deep dismay at their live being taken over. As such, the ‘fated mates’ have a highly variable degree of compatibility. Very entertaining with an interesting overarching series plot. Oh, and it’s not woo-woo based – it’s all (kinda) science.

    ReplyReply

  13. Hannah
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 17:26:26

    @TKF: What is this Elfquest you speak of??

    ReplyReply

  14. Suze
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 18:13:48

    Like if all the BDB went off to Phoenix and got wings and lost all the funny slang.

    BWAhahaha! That would almost be worth ready. But not quite.

    I like the fated mate trope, but I do admit that, as I read more and more m/m shifter romances, it’s showing up a LOT.

    ReplyReply

  15. Tweets that mention NewPost: REVIEW: Ascension by Caris Roane -- Topsy.com
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 20:10:27

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adriana Kraft. Adriana Kraft said: RT @dearauthor: NewPost: REVIEW: Ascension by Caris Roane http://bit.ly/eXJPeZ [...]

  16. Silvia
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 20:58:25

    As another TKF said, this post just made me want the next book for Singh's Archangel.

    I have to give this a C but a B for personal enjoyment.
    LOL, I know exactly what kind of book experience you mean. Some things just hit all your “id” buttons even though you know the story construction is subpar.

    I generally haaaate “bonded mate” storylines, but I can see how this one could be a lot of fun for people if you turn your brain off. *g*

    ReplyReply

  17. Suze
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 21:06:53

    Um. Worth readING.

    ReplyReply

  18. Pai
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 22:10:29

    ElfQuest: http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics3.html

    You can read every issue online for free. Some story arcs are better than other (imo). Overall a pretty decent comic.

    ReplyReply

  19. TKF
    Dec 31, 2010 @ 09:45:40

    @Hannah: I see Pai beat me to it. I had no idea it was online! Thanks!!! I quiet reading after the first series, because Wendy quit drawing them and I didn’t care for the new artist. But that first series is a major touch stone of my youth (that and the Darkover novels).

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  20. Jennifer
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 00:35:21

    Rachel, Lisanne Norman wrote some books like that. It was this strange series where humans and a catlike alien species were forced to bond and could only be separated for about three days, every fourth day they had to spend boinking like bunnies. This got even creepier beyond the first book, when a human bigot guy got paired with a nice catgirl who had a nice catboyfriend already. Oh yeah, and once you bonded, you could only have kids with the designated mate. I quit reading that series because it was so creepy.

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  21. Jane
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 09:14:13

    @Jennifer: Egads. That sounds horrible.

    ReplyReply

  22. reese
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 09:31:40

    I walked passed this on 3 separate occasions, bought it the 3rd time around and was compelled to finish. I’m even excited about the next, even though a lot of the elements you mentioned were distractors.LOL. I really did enjoy it.

    ReplyReply

  23. REVIEW: Raziel by Kristina Douglas | Dear Author
    Feb 04, 2011 @ 14:01:04

    [...] Vampire angels must be a trend now in paranormal romance. Who knew? Much like Jane with that selection, I’m not sure why I picked up this book and read it. Angels don’t do it for me. And yet, I managed to finish it despite my ambivalence. Maybe I have a previously unknown-to-me fondness for vampire angels! [...]

  24. LG
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 11:22:06

    @Pai: I had no idea you could read it online! Granted, I’ve read the entire series, some parts of it multiple times, but this is good to know. ElfQuest was what really got me into reading comics, because it showed me that comics could be about more than just superheroes.

    ReplyReply

  25. LG
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 11:26:20

    @Jennifer: You forgot to mention the love triangle in which one member (part of the bonded couple) agreed to be drugged so that the other two could have sex without him having to be aware of all of it. I loved Norman’s series at first, but it went places where I just wasn’t willing to follow.

    ReplyReply

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