Sep 29 2008
Dear Ms. Anna,
While I’ve heard of you before, this is the first story of yours I’ve read. I know some of my fellow Dear Author reviewers don’t care for shorter fiction. The compressed length doesn’t allow for as much development as you’d find in a full-length novel and as a result, something (plot, characterization, worldbuilding) has to give. But I find that I like short stories because they give me a sample of an untried author’s work and help me decide if I want to look up more of their work. In this way, I really enjoy the Silhouette Nocturne Bites program.
Werewolf Mahina Garner is also the tough captain of the Necropolis Police Department. Fiercely independent and self-reliant, at 37, she has yet to take a mate, something that irks her pack alpha and her father. During a drug bust, Mahina is nearly killed by a gunshot. The only reason why she didn’t die was because she was saved by Ren Calder, a police detective she’s worked with in the past, who pushed her out of the way and was scratched by the bullet himself.
A werewolf like Mahina, Ren has been attracted to her for a very long time. They once shared a passionate kiss but Mahina chalked it up to Ren being drunk and assumes he doesn’t remember that night. Mahina couldn’t be more wrong. Scared that he almost lost Mahina, Ren decides to act on his desires and shaken by the fact that she almost died, Mahina is receptive to his advances for the first time.
As I said before, you can’t expect the development you’d find in a novel in a short story. While I found the characterization and motivations of Mahina and Ren to be well-done, I thought the plot was merely serviceable (its sole purpose was to push Mahina and Ren together) and the worldbuilding very basic. I did like the set-up for the bust and the explanation behind the vampire date rape drug. I thought that was something I’ve not often encountered before. I think that might be why I found the plot only serviceable because this was such a dangerous drug with some shady characters involved in its distribution but once Mahina was nearly killed, that whole plot thread was dropped. I realize you can’t expect an intricate plotline but I would have liked to see a little more continuity than that. But other than that, the worldbuilding was very basic. The werewolves in this world are nearly interchangeable with other werewolves from any number of urban fantasy series. Some people like that since it’s familiar, but I think the similarities make it that much more difficult to stand out.
I didn’t completely buy the HEA. At best I felt it was a HFN, simply because I wasn’t convinced Mahina and Ren’s relationship wasn’t founded on lust, not love. But since they’re werewolves, maybe we were supposed to attribute their HEA to werewolf mating? Since I have a difficult time believing that convention in the first place, that might be why it didn’t work as well for me as I’d hoped.
I have a feeling that like many Nocturne Bites, this story is an introduction to an established, or soon-to-be-established, series for the Nocturne line. If that’s the case, this is one of the better eBites I’ve read because it doesn’t assume I know anything about the world and it doesn’t rely on anything that has occurred before in previous books. At the same time, I think it might have squandered an opportunity to show new readers how new and exciting the world’s setting might be. I think that’s what short stories like these are really for. Many authors use them to satisfy current readers in between books but I think they provide a great opportunity to snag new readers and that’s why I wish more authors would take advantage of that. Overall, a C+ for me.
This is ebook only content and available at eHarlequin until October 1, 2008, when it should be available wherever you can buy Harlequin ebooks.