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Nocturne Bites

REVIEW: Wolf Bait by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

REVIEW: Wolf Bait by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Dear Ms. Thomas-Sundstrom,

400000000000000111590_s4I read your offering for last month’s offering of Nocturne Bites.   Although I was disappointed by what I felt was an unresolved plot thread, I later discovered that it had been intended to be the first of a series, in which the various installments were connected by the mystery of an unidentified werewolf attacking and subsequently infecting innocent humans with his bite.   While this doesn’t give you a pass when it comes the abrupt ending of the plotline in question, it did clarify some things for me.   I’m not going to debate the pros and cons of writing a paranormal continuity that switches back and forth from novellas to novels (although I hear there are plans for novels in the future, this installment is once again a novella), I did want to mention this fact for other readers who might be interested in your stories since I know there are some who dislike this particular trend.

Jenna James is a psychiatrist with a problem.   Her latest female patient is exhibiting strange behavior and symptoms, and she has no explanation for it.   So she calls Detective Matt Wilson to come have a look and give her some insight.   The complication?   She and Matt are lovers — or were until he abruptly cut off all contact with her three months ago.

Matt knows exactly what’s wrong with the patient.   She’s a werewolf going through her first transformation.   He knows the signs.   After all, he’s a werewolf himself and has been for the past three months.   Now his problem is to find a way to help the patient while dealing with Jenna, who wants to know why he left her without a word.

While the first novella in this series had some flaws, I thought it showed promise so I approached this installment with the expectation that we’d see more advancement in the plotline regarding the mystery werewolf who’s taken it upon himself to randomly infect humans.   I was sorely disappointed.   There was nothing of the sort here.   I wasn’t expecting major revelations or anything, but a hint or two would have been nice.

More importantly, however, I thought the main plot was contrived.   If I had been reading this in print form and not on my Sony Reader, I absolutely would have thrown this against the wall the minute I read the ending.   It’s difficult to talk about without spoiling every detail, but I thought what Jenna did was absolutely cruel and inhumane towards the patient.   Her desire to see Matt again did not outweigh the unnecessary pain and anguish she inflicted upon that poor woman just to sort out her relationship troubles.

Secondly, Jenna’s big reveal made me feel cheated because it was inconsistent with what information we’d been given throughout the story previously.   If what we learned in the final pages had been true all along, why in the world was there that scene where she googled the classic symptoms of a werewolf?   Never mind the fact that I have a very hard time believing anyone wouldn’t associate transformations, hair growth, howling, and full moons with werewolf lore.   It’s like that one episode of Supernatural where the Winchester brothers pondered why people in horror movies never know basic supernatural lore. Answer: Because they’re in a horror movie and if they already did know, there’d be no suspense or plot.   So in that sense alone, the scene failed for me.   But in combination with the ending, my reaction can only be summed up with WTF just happened here?

Now don’t get me wrong.   Misdirection can be a powerful narrative technique.   For example, this can be done extremely well in first person point-of-view, in which you can have an unreliable narrator.   Dracula, after all, is a classic example of unreliable narrators left and right.   But this story was written in third person of view, and we do see from Jenna’s perspective and get insight into her thoughts.   There was absolutely no reason for things like the aforementioned computer search scene and some of her reactions if the ending’s big reveal was true from the very beginning.

I was actually going to give this novella a D but explaining how the ending made every single thing that happened before it a lie, as well as made the heroine completely unlikeable in my eyes, ticked me off all over again, so I’m afraid it’s an F.   And to think all I wanted was just a little more advancement in the mystery werewolf plotline.

My regards,
Jia

This book can be purchased in ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers. (digital format only)

REVIEW: Silhouette Nocturne Bite Quickies

REVIEW: Silhouette Nocturne Bite Quickies

For readers not familiar with Harlequin/Silhouette’s various imprints (completely understandable because I confuse them myself), the Nocturne Bites are the paranormal novella line.   Often times, they’re related to full-length Nocturne novels released around the same time.   That’s not always the case, but it’s something to keep in mind if you peruse what’s on sale.

Blackout by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

afd8996b-fa1d-44ee-86b5-e73d35d2b029img100Despite some weak worldbuilding and questionable set-up, I found myself liking this.   I think it’s because of the relationship dynamics between the couple.   Dylan Landau is a Deputy D.A.   who comes from a family of werewolves.   Don’t you hate it when that happens?   Anyway, I’m not quite sure how the werewolf thing works in this world because there are hereditary ones like Dylan, but there are also made ones too.

Dylan had hoped he’d escape the family curse but he discovered six months ago that wouldn’t be the case.   Ever since he’s wandered the streets, trying to hide the fact that he’s become a werewolf.   I’m still not sure how walking Miami’s busy streets at night equals hiding but I guess if he didn’t, he would never have met the heroine, Dana Delmonico.   Dana is a police officer and she’s out on her nightly patrol when she’s overcome by the Blackout, a werewolf’s first transformation.   They meet when she basically staggers out of her police car and strips in front of him in a daze.

Like I said, the set-up is a little questionable.   The rest of the story is devoted to Dylan trying to help her through her first transformation while trying to hide his identity which is well known to law enforcement given the fact that he’s a Deputy D.A.   Of course, his good intentions are tossed aside when his beast is attracted to hers.   Anyone who’s read a shapeshifter romance can probably guess what happens from there.

While I did like the way the overwhelming attraction was presented, I was distracted by the unclear worldbuilding.   In addition to my confusion about the difference between hereditary and made shapeshifters, I wondered about their hidden community.   There’s point in the narrative where it’s implied that while their existence is officially a secret, some people know.   Are all those people shapeshifters?   Or are others in on it too?   And the plot thread involving who made Dana into a werewolf and why was also left unresolved.   I have no problems with open endings but it seemed like the story ran out of space so that plotline just stopped.   That’s entirely possible since this is a novella but it weakened what otherwise started out as an entertaining read.   C+

This book can be purchased in ebook format only.

Claws of the Lynx by Linda O. Johnston

afd8996b-fa1d-44ee-86b5-e73d35d2b029img100Another shapeshifter romance but one that didn’t work for me quite as well.   The heroine, Nella Reyes, and hero, Alec Landerson, were once in a serious relationship during college.   Unfortunately, when Nella revealed to him that she can transform into a lynx, he freaks out and pretends the hallucinated the whole thing so she dumped him after that.   Nella is now a member of Alpha Force, a military organization made up of shapeshifters, and Alec is a congressional aide.

The two are reunited when Nella is sent to retrieve a stolen jump drive containing classified information about Alpha Force from a tabloid reporter with Alec as backup.   The story then proceeds as expected with no surprises — the two immediately fall into bed and then head off to get the back the jump drive.   I didn’t find there to be much chemistry between the hero and heroine, and it annoyed me that the main reason for their breakup was a misunderstanding that could have been resolved if they’d actually talked to each other.

I also thought that Nella’s choice involving a certain potion in the middle of the mission came out of left field.   I get that there need to be complications during a mission because that’s what makes it exciting to read about, but I think a couple hints would have helped alleviate the sense this was pulled out of thin air.   Of course, this story is an example of a Nocturne Bite that’s related to a full-length novel and having not read the book(s?), something might have just gone straight over my head.   D

~Jia

This book can be purchased in ebook format only.