Dear Ms. Bast:
I’ve read most of your backlist at Ellora’s Cave and really, your books have been the impetus for trying more. You have almost always been able to capture and convey the emotional connection while still bringing the heat. I think you are one of the best of the epublished authors and was not at all surprised that New York snapped you up.
Your strengths have always been the emotional connection of your characters; your weakness, world building. Most of your prior work that I have found so appealing have been your novellas. You pack a great deal of emotion in a short amount of space. Unfortunately, in novel length form, you seem to have lost your way.
Mira Hoskins is an air witch who had no knowledge of her powers. She was an ordinary woman, living an ordinary life: divorced and trying to make ends meet by waiting tables. Jack McAllister is a firewitch whose father is one of the worst, most evil men on earth. Crane, Jack’s father, killed Mira’s parents in a demon summoning when Mira was a young child. Jack witnessed this and it drove him to seek out the Coven, the “good” witches.
Even though Mira isn’t aware of her power, others are. Crane learns about her and dispatches his minions to capture her. He needs an air witch to sacrifice in order to call another demon for Crane is dying of cancer and a demon healing is his only chance.
Jack is sent by Mira’s cousin to watch over her, and to train her powers. He is certainly not to seduce her, not to fall in love with her. Mira is off limits, not just because Mira’s cousin is head of the Coven, but because if Mira knew that Jack was the son of the man who killed her parents, how could she ever love him?
The real problem in this book isn’t necessarily Jack and Mira although Jack does come off as the creepy stalker- like guy for the first half of the book. There was an interesting conflict and the love scenes are plenty steamy.
The story, however, was rife with unnecessary exposition and details of elements that were not relevant to the overall story. I.e., Mira, upon meeting her cousin Thomas, ponders on her cousin’s hotness, his full lips, his great body, his aura of command. To what end? There was no point. It didn’t advance the conflict between Mira and Jack. It was nothing more than sequel bait (and we did get several bulletins about the hotness of other characters so that we were suitably engaged for the next books).
The world building was particularly weak. There was no discussion of the source of the magic (.e. when Mira brings it up, she is told to talk to the Council about it but never does). There is no penalty for use of the magic. It makes one wonder why humans are still around if the only vulnerability the witches have are to someone who has greater power. There were no boundaries to this alternative reality which failed to evoke any type of otherworldly feel. Mira has lived into her twenties without even one clue that she is a person of power and it turns out she is a person of great power. There is little action in this book and the first half crept by fairly closely with the story reliant on unresolved sexual tension.
Worse yet, Mira veers into TSTL territory near the end of the book when she insists on keeping information from Jack which would enable him, the very best Coven fighter, to assist her in a mission.
There was a compelling conflict between Jack and Mira and I didn’t think it needed to be artificially enhanced by additional subplots. There’s no doubt that your ability to write steamy scenes is excellent. I would have enjoyed the story much more if there was better worldbuilding and a stronger focus on the plot. C.