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REVIEW: Feral by Nathalie Gray

Dear Ms. Gray:

I can’t recall why I wanted to read a book of yours. Was it a comment you made? Somewhere? It’s hard to say. I mentioned one night on Twitter that I was going to buy one of your books (Damnation) but my friend, Nicole of BlogHappy, twittered back that I should try Feral. So I bought both books and here are my somewhat incoherent thoughts. I have to admit up front that I don’t know how much sense my review will make because I was hardly able to articulate why I didn’t love this book.

First, this book is a space opera in the vein of a Linnea Sinclair or perhaps, Ann Aguirre. Spy and assassin, Eva Grigorevna Serova, is sent on a mission to retrieve a digital transmission. She doesn’t know what is on the transmission, only that she should find it and bring it to Prime Minister Vonatos of the Global Alliance of Nations. Oh, and she should eliminate the entire team that she is working with once the digital transmission is recovered.

The team is comprised of a number of lycanthropes. Lycanthropes are deemed to be viscious, sub-human types.

Poor buggers. And all because of some long-dead mad scientists’ dream of creating tougher humans for the harsh environments outside Earth. She wondered if they’d lived to see their "creation" become a hush-hush weapon, a state shame. And now a menace.

Despite Eva believing that these lycanthropes were a mad scientist creation that she deems to be “poor buggers” she has no problem recognizing that the lead of the team, Dex Solomon, stirs her libido. This seemed a bit off to me. If Eva believed, had a bias against lycanthropes, as equal members of society, would she really be so willing to shed her clothing and engage in the beast with two humps with the science created animal? I know I am supposed to believe that Eva is without conscience, but wouldn’t she have some hesitation to being physically attracted to a lycanthrope?

In any event, Eva finds the time to bed Solomon, find the chip, and then face the dilemma of executing her orders. In the same space of time, Solomon discovers there is a traitor in their midst and while he is off humping Eva, the mission is going to hell in a handbasket.

Eva, ironically, is more feral than Solomon. Initially she’s willing to do anything for survival but she is in no way heroic from the start. After all, she is willing to accept any assignment regardless of how morally bankrupt it is and not for any reason such as patriotism or revenge, but just because. It’s not that I found Eva to be dislikeable, but that her amoralness is so suddenly transformed. And her amoralness never really fit with being part of a structured governmental outfit. Did she have any belief or direction? Was she merely an automaton? a weapon of female destruction? I couldn’t get a fix on her other than she liked her sex to hurt.

As for Solomon, he was standard hero issue. A big bad alpha who didn’t like to hurt women. Seriously, his entire character arc was devoted to his fear of hurting Eva, particularly when they were sexxing it up when he was shifted, even though there was plenty of evidence that Eva liked it when he went shifted. Eva, with her moral ambiguity, was far more interesting than Solomon, a hero who has starred in an overwhelming number of romances before.

Another thing that I found curious was that there were quite a few action scenes in this book but I found myself bored. I struggled to explain this to even myself so I don’t know how much success I’ll have here. I felt disconnected to the fight scenes and many times, I wasn’t even sure what had taken place, only that after the smoke cleared Eva and Solomon would run off to burn up their adrenaline.

Nicole really enjoyed this book and it seemed to have all the elements of a story that I would like too. I’m still reading Damnation since I already bought it and everything. C

Best regards

Jane

This ebook can only be purchased at Ellora’s Cave.

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

8 Comments

  1. Jayne
    Oct 13, 2008 @ 20:12:35

    I think that’s a cool cover. For all the flack that epubs take for some of the ghastly covers out there, this one is very nice.

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  2. Heather
    Oct 13, 2008 @ 20:13:57

    The premise does sound intriguing. But “mad scientist” is very 1950′s. To be honest, a phrase like that today would take me out of a story, unless the tone was intentionally comedic throughout. With authors like Sinclair and Aguirre, I’ve come to expect more nuance from authors writing SFR/futuristic romances.

    At any rate, thanks for the review!

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  3. Jane
    Oct 13, 2008 @ 20:17:02

    @Jayne – the cover is decent. I like the cover art at Grey’s website. I am hopeful about Damnation.

    @Heather – the tone is not intentionally comedic but I didn’t find it a heavy read either. There isn’t alot of mentions of the “mad scientist.” I would worry, though, that there aren’t enough futuristic / space elements to satisfy someone like you who has a strong SFF background. Still, I think given that there is a dearth of SFR writers, she is someone you might want to check out.

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  4. Nathalie
    Oct 13, 2008 @ 23:35:57

    Wow! Thank you for reading Feral and taking time away to share your opinion on it. Your review made my inner Chihuahua chase her tail with savage glee.

    p.s. and yes, the cover does rock!

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  5. Heather
    Oct 14, 2008 @ 21:25:36

    Jane, I agree about checking it out since I’m still thinking about the premise! I have a huge ability to suspend disbelief, though, so I can still enjoy stories with less of a focus on the SF elements. If I were that particular, I’d miss out on some good stories.

    Speaking of, I’m reading an old school SF with romantic elements right now wherein the hero is getting psychoanalyzed, and when the psychiatrist deems the hero “cured” the two go out for drinks to celebrate. Not lemonade, either. These days that kind of antic could result in a doctor getting fined or his/her license being revoked if discovered. Still, I had to laugh and just go with the flow.

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  6. Susan/DC
    Oct 15, 2008 @ 12:40:51

    Despite Eva believing that these lycanthropes were a mad scientist creation that she deems to be “poor buggers” she has no problem recognizing that the lead of the team, Dex Solomon, stirs her libido. This seemed a bit off to me. If Eva believed, had a bias against lycanthropes, as equal members of society, would she really be so willing to shed her clothing and engage in the beast with two humps with the science created animal? I know I am supposed to believe that Eva is without conscience, but wouldn't she have some hesitation to being physically attracted to a lycanthrope?

    I don’t have any problem with this on its face. Think of all the real times and places where the masters slept with the slaves, including the antebellum American South. The ruling class might have viewed the subclass as subhuman, certainly not worthy of freedom or the vote, but that did not prevent a great deal of cross-class and cross-race sexual interactions. I imagine that often those relationships were a means of enforcing power rather than romance (“you see, you don’t even control your own body”), but I’m also sure that many involved sexual attraction even if not Love as we’d define it.

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  7. Nicole
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 19:29:48

    Ooph, I somehow just got around to seeing this. But I did like this one and the sequel. And I do read a lot of varied SF. Hope you like Damnation better.

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  8. Storm Reyes
    Jul 01, 2009 @ 15:35:59

    I suppose that indeed ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. I was absolutely enthralled by Animal and fascinated by the world the author had created. As a long-time sci-fi reader, the premise seemed very much the ‘norm’ for that genre, only much much better done than usual. I ended up buying the first 3 books in the series and found each unique and absolutely satisfying. I didn’t find any of the characters or scenes stereotypical. I should mention that I am not normally an erotic romance reader, so I did tend to skim over those scenes. I should also mention that I reviewed the book for a paranormal site and give it the highest rating. I suppose for me that the draw was the hard sci-fi edge to a paranormal romance. I wouldn’t have expected that to be a comfortable match, but it worked for this series. Just my 2cents worth of opinion.

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