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Sarah-McCarty

REVIEW: Caleb by Sarah McCarty

REVIEW: Caleb by Sarah McCarty

Dear Ms. McCarty:

0425230570.01.LZZZZZZZYour books have a beautiful look to them. They look and feel lush, heavy, as if the reader should curl up in front the fireplace with a hot toddy, a blanket and commence reading. Unfortunately for me, if I had done that, I would have been cooked to a crisp because this book too me a month to finish. It’s a lengthy tome, nearly 400 pages, and at the end, I couldn’t really understand why it was so everloving long.

Caleb is the beginning of a paranormal series that is populated with, at least, vampires and werewolves. The first story features Caleb, a shapeshifting vampire, who is the eldest of a group of vampire brothers. (They are a group of rogues, says the blurb. By rogues, I assume that means renegade or someone who rejects the an established group, rather than say a dishonest, knavish fellow.)

The story begins quite well. Allie, the town baker, is in lust with one of her regular customers, Caleb Johnson. She tries to flirt with him, but he seems resistant. She buys a push up bra and provides him (or hopes she provides him) with a tantalizing glance but he seems unmoved. She’s at the end her rope because he does come in every morning and her instincts tell her that something is there between them only he won’t act on that chemistry.

The reason he won’t act on the chemistry is because Caleb is a vampire but when Allie is attacked outside her bakery by a true werewolf, Caleb comes to her aid. He is badly wounded and Allie, urged by a voice in her head, gets the wounded wolf in her vehicle and drives to Circle J, the ranch of the Johnsons. Once there, she’s incarcerated by Caleb’s brothers and then, when he needs blood to live, is taken to Caleb to feed. Caleb feeds upon Allie until she is near death from blood loss. To save her “life”, Caleb has to turn her, which is easily done by having her food from him and slipping into her mind to make the blood taste like champagne.

Does Allie have problems with the fact that she was killed, taken from her family, her entire life changed without request because she tried to save Caleb’s life? A few but none that stop her from boning Caleb until he’s crosseyed. Allie’s loss of her family, contact with her brothers, is nothing more than a blip on her radar. She argues about it once and then it kind of fades away. The supposed fued between the Johnsons and the D’Nallys which brought Allie to death and then into vampirism also fades away. Caleb refers to Allie as his wife and she accepts his claim as wife. Then doesn’t. Then does. Then doesn’t. The plot threads dangle like jellyfish tentacles in the ocean; seeming dozens of them held up by nothing more substantial than gelatinous masses.

The worldbuilding was convenient, at best. When there needed to be some magical, paranormal capability, there was. When it would interfere with the story, then the worldbuilding point was forgotten. For example, why does Allie JUST NOW start hearing voices in her head? Why is she the only one to be fertile when vampires can’t get pregnant? Why is she only able to feed from Caleb?

Allie is one of the most foolish heroines to come along in a long time. She leads Caleb into a nest of bad people hoping that they’ll be interested in just talking to her. Of course, they aren’t. She’s a valuable female, after all. All breeding females in paranormals are valuable so everyone wants her and everyone wants to go to war for her. Merely by making Allie phenomenally sexually attractive to every paranormal male around her does not render her likeable, particularly when she plays the stupid role for most of the book.

To say this book is slow moving would be an understatement. Snails being chased by ground beetles move faster than this book. These characters do nothing but talk. There was a 10 page discussion Caleb, Allie and Caleb’s brothers, and their BFF werewolf neighbor have in the kitchen about whether Allie is pregnant and whether she has a special power. (They don’t know because they’ve cut themselves off from the greater vampire world so they are just guessing which is supposed to be super attractive instead of merely ignorant).

This was 400 pages of talking, talking, and more talking and it wasn’t even fun and interesting talking. It was mundane, ordinary conversations that are barely worthwhile listening to live let alone reading in print.

Toward the end, the villian makes his appearance and is clearly more powerful than either Allie or Caleb or both combined, but the villain places himself in a precarious state because of Allie’s powerful attraction: “You know, I really shouldn’t humor you, but I find that we’re so much alike, it’s difficult not to indulge your moods.”

And, the concept of the baby that the group spends so much time contemplating? Doesn’t even enter her mind when Allie is taken hostage. She is ready to die rather than help the villain. No thought to her supposed pregnancy until toward the end of her captivity (which is pages and pages and pages long but in reality is no more than an afternoon). Conveniently, a new deadly weapon that is deadly to weres and vamps is not deadly to Caleb. Why? Not sure. I think Allie makes him invincible but maybe it’s because, well, I don’t even want to guess.

I guess the saddest thing of all is that this book isn’t even that sexy. McCarty is a well known name within erotic romance circles and this book has, I think, four love scenes that were as dull as the dinnertime conversation. D

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Dear Author

REVIEW: Running Wild by Sarah McCarty

Dear Ms. McCarty:

book review You’ve been a long time member of the romance blogosphere and I’ve wanted to read one of your books for quite some time. Your fan base is deep and devoted and you clearly write work that resonates strongly with them. Unfortunately, I never really connected with the stories in this collection until the end.

Running Wild is a collection of stories featuring three male werewolves and their mates who are conveniently all sisters gathered in the small Montana town of Haven. The first one features Donovan, a Protector (with a capital P) and middle sister, Lisa. The second features the youngest sister, Robin, and Donovan’s twin, Kelon (also a capital P Protector) and the last is Wyatt’s and the eldest sister, Heather.

The first novella, Donovan, plot is more about convincing Lisa that there are werewolves than anything else. Robin and Kelon’s story has a small suspense plot with a villain who could make a great serial killer for a full length book. Wyatt and Heather’s story is about the changes Wyatt wants to bring to the Pack as the new alpha, including doing away with the law that Pack members cannot mate with humans.

The novella starts out awesome. Lisa storms into a bar where Donovan and the local Sheriff are enjoying a drink. She goes up to some guy and just starts whaling on him. Wyatt, the Sheriff, attempts to step in when Lisa’s beating comes close to causing her a problem. Donovan pushes Wyatt aside so that Lisa can finish it on her terms. There is this scene were Lisa is holding the pool cue against the bad guy’s adam’s apple and Donovan steps behind her and adds his weight to the cue. Together, they could have pushed the cue right through the guy’s neck.

So the picture that I have in my mind is this very strong woman who will do anything to protect her family, particularly her baby sister. The story quickly devolves in the traditional romance tropes with the faux feisty heroine and the overbearing protective male telling her what to do.

The complaints I have about the first two novellas are the same. The romance dynamic between all three couples are virtually identical. Sexually inexperienced or innocent heroine is taken by the dominant werewolf hero. I am not totally against this dynamic, after all, I read Harlequin Presents. But, the heroes in these stories are too dominant and are provided absolutely no balance despite the fact that they profess to be independent. It was like reading the Caveman Diaries. The first two stories featured all too similar heroes. I think you could have taken Donovan and Kelon and put them in each other’s stories and there be no noticeable difference. Their personalities and actions toward Lisa and Robin were very similar.

From Donovan:

“For your heart, but here in bed, you need to submit.

From Kelon:

She obliged the silent order, biting him again, harder, and damn if she didn’t laugh when he bucked. This time his growl was serious. Females did not challenge males. Especially in bed.

The Donovan and Kelon stories feed the fantasy of a man doing everything short of breathing for the woman. Lisa and Robin are trying to act tough and be independent, but they concede quite quickly to the demands and dictates of the men. The men are macho to the point of being overbearing. “Wolf women obey their men.”

The storyline was quite old fashioned with the werewolves using the word MINE like the seagulls in the Nemo movie. Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. and on for 29 times. Speaking of repetition, the collection also featured over 60 usages of the word “gasp”.

  • the whispered gasp of his name.
  • relishing the tiny unveiling betrayed by her gasp,
  • The younger woman gasped
  • Her head snapped around, lips parted in a startled gasp.
  • gasping as it fed the
  • sealing her gasp between them
  • “Oh God,” she gasped

I think the novella could have been titled “Breathless.”

The world building is also very slim in the first two stories. There is an oft repeated rule that humans and Protectors can’t mate but there is no explanation for it. Plus, it is a rule that both Donovan and Kelon ignore without a second thought because Lisa and Robin are their “mates.” I thought this was particularly frustrating since Kelon says that he follows wolf law to the letter all of the time. Clearly this wasn’t true but there wasn’t any exploration or even struggle with the concept that both of them were violating a certain Pack precept.

This “mate” concept is relied upon very heavily in that Donovan and Kelon are in love with the women because they immediately sense the “mate” within. There’s no reciprocal magical instinct in the women yet they too fall “in love” in a matter of days with their mates, particularly after being screwed within an inch of their lives and told to be quiet and stay home. One of them waxes rhapsodic that the heroine was

"Woman of hearth and home."

"A woman to come home to."

Lisa’s story rated a C for me and Robin’s a D. One of the biggest problems I had with Robin’s story is that she suffered some longterm kidney disease that led to her having two kidney transplants. The second kidney is failing yet Robin has enough energy to be beaten by some guy, recover within a day or so, head out into the winter, sleep in a cave, be dragged around the wild, return to her home, have vigorous and multiple acts of sex? It was such a big suspension of disbelief for me that I was constantly asking whether she would physically be able to do any of her activities.

The final story features Heather and Wyatt. I did find this story to be different. Wyatt was different. He actually reminded me of a Linda Howard hero in some ways. He had the spine of steel but he wasn’t so heavy handed about his “mine, mine, mine” even though he was the alpha (and he did use the phrase a few times). But he seemed a bit more laid back. The Pack dynamics were more fleshed out. There was an actual plot in that Wyatt was struggling on bringing new leadership to the Pack who were rooted in the old ways which he believed would ultimately lead to their demise. The resolution to this struggle was heartwarming and completely unexpected. B

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells. No ebook format.