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mate bond

REVIEW: Broods of Fenrir by Coral Moore

REVIEW: Broods of Fenrir by Coral Moore

Dear Ms. Moore

Thank you for sending me your book for review. I was sold when you told me that this werewolf story was based on the Norse mythology and involved a lot of discussion of pack dynamics.  While I appreciated the fresh take on the werewolf myth and the focus on the pack, I was disappointed at what parts of the story you choose to tell. In fact, I felt most of the book was prologue.

Broods of FenrirBrand Geirson’s father is the brutal ruler of the Broods of Fenrir.  Brand did not want to follow in his footsteps and thus he ran from the Broods pack. You find out later (or you can read the blurb) that Brand actually killed his father before he ran. This scene and the power struggle is only alluded to and not part of the scenes you choose to share with us. Therein lies the biggest problem that I had with the story. The part of the story that we were shown versus the parts of the story that were alluded to or summarized were discordant. The concept of the story had a lot of power and promise but the execution resulted in boring scenes.

The story opens with Brand leaving the pack after watching one of the females being tortured by his father. Fast forward and Brand is working as a security consultant and watching over his best friend, a female wolf he rescued nearly a century ago. Brand is dragged back into Brood politics when a series of killings point to an unrestrained Brood member. Brand is faced with a dilemma. Either he takes control of the Broods and steps into the position held by his father or he allows the Broods to run unfettered in his territory.

Initially I felt like the romance was going to unspool slowly but about 30% into it, the slow heated attraction was superseded by the “mate bond” and Brand went from wanting to be alone to not being able to be two inches from a new wolf, Dagny. Because the evolution of the romance seemed to signal a much more sedate pace, I was jolted uncomfortably by the insta lust and the mate bond feelings that both Brand and Dagny exhibited. This hamfisted romance trope was repeated with Alice and her mate. Alice was an intriguing creature. She was rescued by Brand but because of her past, was terrified of men. She would not even be able to eat in front of Brand, so scared she was of close male presence. Yet upon meeting her “mate”, Alice’s fears all fall away and she is kissing some unknown wolf she hadn’t ever met before. None of this made sense. None of it evolved naturally but was flung out there based on some fated mate pairing philosophy.

There were so many great ideas. The concept of Brand and Alice being best friends, but not lovers. The slow build up of a romance between Brand and Dagny. Alice overcoming her past traumas. Brand realizing that the Broods were better off with him as a leader than without. Brand overcoming his negative legacy. Unfortunately, the great ideas weren’t equalled by the execution. Much of the world building was incomplete. Brand was blessed with the ability to sever links with the pack, to recreate them. But this significant skill wasn’t accompanied with explanation of what a wolf did who didn’t have a pack bond or when Brand would make a bond, sever a link, then create a new bond, then sever that bond, what happens next? (Yes, there was a lot of bonding, severing, bonding again) Or why all these Norse Broods were in Denver, Colorado.

The overly dramatic feelings expressed in the book also didn’t fit with the narrative. At one point Dagny moans to herself that if she revealed her true story to Brand and he rejected her, she’d be crushed. Yet Dagny spent years being tortured and mistreated and she’s going to be emotionally wrecked because one wolf she barely knows might reject her?

What really struck me, though, wasn’t the inconsistency in characterization or the weak execution of the romance story lines. Instead, it circles back to my initial complaint. The scenes you choose to share with the reader were rather boring and I struggled to make it through the book. I wanted to see the scenes of the power struggle. I wanted to see more of the emotional dilemma Brand was suffering. I wanted to see the fleshing out of the great ideas but it just wasn’t there for me. C-

One final note. This is a self published book and I thought it had some of the nicest production values. Each chapter had a graphic of a wolf howling. There appeared to be no real grammatical errors. It had a table of contents and at the end, it gave links to connecting with the author on her website or on Twitter. I was impressed.

Best regards,

Jane

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Is Courtship Passe in Romance?

Is Courtship Passe in Romance?

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Courtship is traditionally defined as the period of dating before marriage.

One of the things I love about romance books is the courtship. The meet cute (or just the meet), the stirrings of new feelings, and prolonged tension between a couple as their desire for each other mounts are all elements that I love to experience in a romance story. One aspect of chick lit books that spoke to me was the articulation of the courtship: the dating rituals, the awkwardness and uncertainty, the fresh new feel of it.

Jill Monroe’s November Blaze, SEALed and Delivered, featured a sweet romance in which the couple went out on a number of dates to get to know each other, to confirm their feelings for each other. The seeming lack of need for the couple to be sleeping with each other every spare moment helped me buy into the HEA which would require fidelity over long periods of separation given that the hero was a SEAL.

I don’t want to say that sex is not part of courtship. It is and can be a very important role, but sometimes I feel that the need to bring heat to a relationship early in the story can overshadow the actual falling in love aspect.  The word “love” is bandied about too easily and the state of permanency is entered into without much thought.  When love and permanency are easy to come by, those concepts are diminished in power.

So many of the paranormals today feature a soul mate trope. The question that I have is whether the concept of courtship can exist in a soul mate trope. If a couple is destined to be with each other what need is there for courtship? In soul mate tropes, either through magical means or biological imperative, the mates belong together. In some stories, the soul mates recognize and bond instantly.  The soul mate almost always requires external conflict to drive the plot because if the main protagonists are together and cannot be parted and emotionally accept this, what could be left to discuss?

I’m not adverse to the soul mate concept. I love the CL Wilson series which relies heavily on the mate concept, but she really shows you the dark side of the mate bond. I think the mate bond is something that can provide some very poignant romances, but in others, it can create an emotionally insubstantial story and in a romance, more than any genre, an emotionally insubstantial story is a tragedy.

Part of making me believe in the HEA is showing me (versus telling me) why the two characters belong together instead of with someone else.  On the whole, I think romantic suspense is one of the harder areas to pull this off.  So much of the book takes place over a truncated period of time that you get the sense the characters are more in love with surviving than with each other.  (Let it be known that I am a big fan of the romantic suspense sub genre).  Conversely, I think marriages of convenience are well suited to showing why the characters fall in love.  They are forced together, but what keeps them together?

My favorite stories are when I’m shown how the characters’ strengths and weaknesses overlap, where they gain mutual respect and admiration for each other, where their feelings are based on something other than a physical high.  In fact, it is from the deep well of emotion that I presume their physical highs arise. (Or at least that is how I want to see it).  I have told others that the one reason I think BDSM is so popular for erotic romance readers has less to do with erotic romance readers’ fantasies about being tied up and whipped and everything to do with how the BDSM authors tap into the headspace of the characters.  In successful BDSM books, there is a level of trust and understanding that has to be reached before true physical release can be achieved.  The characters tear down barriers to get to that point.  In a way, those negotiations between partners about sexual fantasies are courtships in and of themselves.

I guess I want to be romanced in a book and I’m seeing less of it than I would like.  What do you readers think? Is courtship passe? Are you being emotionally satisfied?  What books do you feel have the best or worst falling in love storylines?