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Paranormal

REVIEW:  Love Worth Biting For by Roxy Mews

REVIEW: Love Worth Biting For by Roxy Mews

love worth biting for

Dear Ms. Mews,

 

Firstly, thank you for sharing your vision with readers.  You bring a very unique, if somewhat unbalanced take on paranormal romance to the table with the origin story of the Hart Clan.  Amber Paulson is a made werewolf used to living and loving on her own terms.  As the daughter of the Pack Alpha, she’s expected to toe the line and follow tradition.  Fate has other ideas in the form of one Jake Myers and his family of vampires.  Rather predictably, this Romeo and Juliet fall in love, becoming mates – and then must face the consequences of their union.

 

Unfortunately, the attempt at selling me on just about any part of the story failed miserably.  If you were trying to do a fanfic parody mashup of the Twilight and the 50 Shades of Grey franchises, this might have worked.  Maybe.  The plot is, perhaps, the strongest and most interesting part of the novella – and even that is very weak.  It’s a standard, boilerplate boy-meets-girl, they screw, trouble ensues storyline that occasionally requires belief to be suspended like a piñata and beaten to death with a baseball bat.  There’s a bit of a “coming of age” story for Amber – even though both she and Jake are older and passing as college students.  It’s interesting to watch how she changes through the story from a seemingly young woman with no responsibilities to someone a bit more mature – if you don’t stop to consider things too hard.  Overall, the plotline reminded me a little of something soft-core found on very late night cable.

 

Amber is over fifty years old and acts like she’s no more than a very young twenty.  In fact, I’m convinced Amber needed to be kept away from freezers and ice, lest she become a true frosted flake.  She’s presented, repeatedly, as a strong, confident woman who’s certain of herself, self-assured.  Until she meets Jake.  When she meets him, every bit of self-assurance and intelligence leaks right out of her nether regions in a flood of must-be-dominated female sexuality.  She goes from confident to greeting the world with her legs hooked behind her ears in the span of just a few pages.  While I understand this is erotica and the sexy bits need to be there, I feel like Amber’s “self” was sacrificed on the altar of sexual caricature.  What had the potential to be steamy erotic passages came off as lukewarm, at best – laughable at worst.  Phrases were used that jerked me right out of the story, trying to figure out if what was written was really what was meant.  I’m sorry, but the mental image of Amber’s clitoris standing up and singing at Jake’s attention does little to evoke sexy mental images.  All I could think of was the national anthem blaring from between her legs.

 

Let’s not mention the inescapable magical mystery mating pheromones that forced our protagonists together.

 

Jake is another problem with the story.  With most of the focus on Amber, since the story is told in her voice, Jake comes across as a very one-dimensional silicone prop.  He has all of the characterization of a “real doll” sex toy.  He exists solely to dominate her – in and out of bed.  His affect is completely flat.  Admittedly, given that he’s an old vampire, that may have been the intent, I’m not certain.  More attention to detail and characterization was given to Mary, Amber’s best friend.  Her personality, and her dialog with Amber, was much more believable than anything that passed between Amber and Jake.  He’s not even a foil for her personality.  He’s simply a means to a somewhat predictable and poorly executed end.

 

On the whole, the story lacked cohesiveness, credibility and subtlety.  There was absolutely no finesse to the plot or the characterization.  It put me in mind of a literary paint-by-numbers kit.  While the premise of the story held potential, it’s been done in the past by enough authors that anything new to the field is going to have to be something special or have a new twist in order to make an impact.  F

 

Mary Kate

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REVIEW:  Corroded by Karina Cooper

REVIEW: Corroded by Karina Cooper

In an effort to provide more coverage of paranormal romance and
historical romance, I’ve been searching for additional reviewers.
Mary Kate is one of a couple we are going to try out here at Dear
Author. From Mary Kate:

As a reader who’s old enough to know better and young enough to not
care, I’ve breezed through the gamut of everything books have to
offer. As a child, I used to spend summer days happily ensconced in
one of the Philadelphia public libraries, reading everything and
anything I could get my hands on, thanks to the love and support of my
parents and aunts – teachers, mothers and/or librarians all. One aunt
started me with Nancy Drew books (whose pages are worn from hundreds
of re-reads) while another thought I needed introduced to C.S. Lewis’s
land of Narnia. By the time I was 8, I’d read everything the library’s
children’s section had to offer and had “graduated” to the adult room
downstairs. Fortunately for my very supportive parents’ sanity, I
didn’t discover romances until college. My days are currently spent
working in law enforcement (dispatchers unite!), working with first
responders, and trying to dig my writer/editor/reviewer husband out
from his latest pile of books. I’m a devoted fan of all manner of
romance (though I prefer my romance to have a hint of laughter and
self-awareness), mysteries, and urban fantasy.

Dear Ms. Cooper,

 

First of all, thank you for penning what is, clearly, a different take on society, morals and life during the Victorian age of England.  The views expressed are unique and ones I don’t know that I’ve encountered anywhere in mainstream writing before.  Countess Cherry St. Croix, or Lady Black as she now prefers to be called, is many things – she’s a bounty hunter – also known as a collector – a friend, an addict, a lost soul, a widow, and a woman who is driven by demons both chemically induced and real.  After the untimely death of her husband at the hands of her unseen, unknown nemesis, Cherry retreats from her life among London’s elite to inhabit the darker, seedier side of the city.  While searching for herself amidst the terrors of the Midnight Menagerie, a pleasure palace for the wealthy, and the dark, filthy streets, she also hunts for the man who is torturing her.  The one constant seems to be the Menagerie’s ringmaster, Hawke – a man Cherry isn’t quite sure she cares or.

corroded karina cooperIn a word, I both loved the book and hated it.  On the one hand, the world is beautifully detailed, and while this book is clearly part of a series, the parts that went before are thoroughly described.  While it’s not easy to just “drop in” to the story, enough is explained that immersion in the world is relatively quick and painless.  On the other hand, I felt, at several points, like I was the one in the opium induced haze trying to figure out what the letters on the page were supposed to mean.  Life in Cherry’s world is quite difficult, that much is made readily apparent.  However, the line between describing what was going on in her mind and living in her mind was crossed more times than not.  It was distracting, to say the least, and a little bit uncomfortable.  I’m all for stories that invite the reader to think and expand their horizons, but this bordered on the painfully raw and manipulative.

 

Then there’s Cherry.  I wanted to like Cherry – I really did.  Here is a woman who has lived on the fringes of society her whole life, forced to become a member of Society, then just as quickly forced to become something much less than that.  She’s dealt with horrors that no person should ever have to endure.  And yet she whines.  Dear merciful heavens that girl whines.  I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a character bemoan her fate so much and so hard outside of a Shakespearean tragedy.  Cherry doesn’t just wallow in her guilt and failure – she revels in it.  She wears it like a badge of honor.  Yet the feelings don’t debilitate her like one would expect – no, she manages to flip through the air and execute amazing feats of strength and heroism, while at the same time loudly, eloquently, wailing her fate as if she didn’t make any choices to lead her to that point.  I realize that many of her circumstances were thrust upon her, dire as they were.  While she handled some of them with a modicum of grace, she was always one opium bite away from cracking – always – and being inside of her mind was like being inside a fever dream that had no ending.  Her relationship with Hawke really had no romance to it at all.  Certainly there’s some emotion there – you outright stated that Hawke had been punished for his defense of Cherry – but there seemed to be no real connection other than the carnal.

 

One of the things I really liked about the book was the use of secondary characters.  While they weren’t more than sketches, they seemed vibrantly alive – particularly the prostitutes, or sweets, in the Menagerie.  Each one was a jewel set against darkness – there were few of them, but each stood out as a character I’d love to know more about.

On the whole, the book wasn’t so much a romance as it was historical steampunk horror.  There was very little romance, though the erotica content was there.  The sensuality and sexuality seemed more brutal than alluring, with one act falling neatly within the realm of domination and submission while the other was straight up assault that could, for some, be more than a little disturbing.  It felt like you were dancing on that fine line between acceptable and not – though you came down, barely, on acceptable, there are those who will definitely say that you crossed a line.

The steampunk aspect of the book intrigued me, though it was merely touched upon lightly, almost glazed over in favor of Cherry’s addiction and fate.  I wanted a bit less atmospheric narrative and a bit more detail, something just a bit MORE to draw me in.  While overall beautifully written with this book’s story neatly wrapped and tied with a bow, there was a cliffhanger ending that left too many questions for comfort unanswered.  D+

 

Mary Kate

 

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