REVIEW: Windburn by Juliette Cross
Dear Ms. Cross:
I’ll be honest, I did little to no research about this book. The cover grabbed my attention, and I love a good dragon story, so I requested it from NetGalley. What I found was a book that assumed I was fully familiar with the world, little to no character description and a story that employed emotional shorthand.
Sorcha Linden is a hoyden. She’s the sole human being employed by the Morgons, a dragon race in Gladium Province to open a new bar that will be both human and dragon friendly. We know Sorcha is a hoyden because she leaps out of bed with a man she’s had a one night stand and waltzes into a meeting late smelling of sex (which is apparent to all of the Morgons, who have excellent smell). And she has an “F-you” attitude towards Lorian Nightwing, who is overseeing the project for the company. Of course, she and Lorian have incendiary chemistry, but Sorcha is definitely resistant to Lorian’s uber-alpha attitude, thus there is a lot of tension between them. Lorian is insulting, Sorcha is bratty and leaves (flounces, really) off to get back at him.
The next morning, she receives a bottle of her favorite liquor which happens to be very, very expensive with a note on it. She is incensed that Lorian would presume to try to get into her good graces by bribing her with gifts, and races to his office to give him what-for. But when Lorian denies all knowledge of the bottle, Sorcha assumes it’s her one night stand, who isn’t taking no for an answer well. She’s wrong. She’s picked up a stalker who will stop at nothing to possess her and make her his. Fortunately, Lorian is enthralled by Sorcha and has decided that she’s his mate and will stop at nothing to protect her.
Where to start with this book? Let’s start with character description. Here is the first time the reader meets Lorian, our hero:
From my first glance of Lorain Nightwind, I had recognized the best in him. His older borther, Lucius, now mated to my best friend, Jessen, reminded me of a lion. A languorous predator who waited for the prey to come closer. Not Lorian. His beast was a tiger – prowling, stalking, pacing. Watching from afar, then moving in for the kill before you even saw him., And his eyes– one hazel-gold, the other brilliant blue. The average person might piss his pants from their sheer intensity.
There is little to no further physical description of him. But then, we get this about another Morgon in the room:
Willow, the meek interior designer on my right, gasped, her silver wings fluttering in a nervous gesture.
Me: What? They have wings? In human form? What do Lorian’s wings look like? Heck, what does the rest of Lorian look like?
There is, as far as I could tell, never a detailed description of a Morgon given until we’re well into the book, so the first two-thirds of it, I was completely distracted trying to figure out what the heck they looked like.
Sorcha and Lorian have a number of antagonistic interactions, her acting the brat, him acting the overbearing jerk, the intent of which, I gather is to increase the sexual tension between them. Their squabbles are fast and snotty. But on the third, they have a more sexual interaction, which leads to this:
[Sorcha] “You know nothing of my heart.”
“I know you keep it well-guarded, fortified, and defended with your scathing remarks, sardonic wit, and firm belief that sex is only a means to a pleasurable end.”
“Isn’t it?” I squirmed beneath him knowing the friction aroused him as much as it did me, though I pretended I was wholly unaffected, deepening my scowl.
“You know what else I see?”
“I don’t give a shit.”
“A scared little girl, too afraid to handle a real man.”
Me: *SIGH* Of course he had to go there. I’m assuming Lorian is the “real man” who can teach her to handle a “REAL” man. And of course, in the next breath he accuses her of having Daddy issues.
I feel like a sort of emotional and descriptive short hand was employed over and over in this manner. It really detracted from my enjoyment of the book, because I didn’t read the first book. I had no knowledge of the world nor the mythology of the series. And the fact that you waited so long into the story to rollout some mythos resulted in my being confused and very, very aware that I’d missed a load of details. So much so that I actually went back and re-read the first three chapters of the book thinking I’d skimmed something inadvertently.
Also, no groundwork was laid for the bad guy in this book, so when it came about, it was out of left field. Plus, he was EEEEEEVIL. Straight out of central casting. Since you hadn’t really raised the stakes in the stalked aspect of the story, I wasn’t invested, and the climax of the book seemed perfunctory to me.
All of this, combined with the fact that I felt that both Sorcha and Lorian were underdeveloped as characters lead me to giving this book a C- grade. I thought the world had the potential to be interesting, but I wish that you’d spent more time catching me up as a reader and a lot more time on the character interaction and development. In the end, there were too many things about this book that distracted me. Windburn gets a C- from me.