Only Thea Harrison could make me excited about a Fae story. I mean, seriously, the woman is a wri...moreThis review was originally published on Ruby's Reads.
Only Thea Harrison could make me excited about a Fae story. I mean, seriously, the woman is a writing goddess. Her heroines kick butt and make me laugh and her heroes are alpha males capable of compassion and tenderness. So, when Ms. Harrison revealed the cover for Hunter’s Season, my feelings were mixed. Half of me was all, “Aw, man! What’s with the pointy ears!” And the other half sat back and pointed out that this was Thea Harrison. Fae or no, this was going to be a hero to swoon for.
I admit, though: initially, I was afraid that Thea Harrison had let me down. Hunter’s Seasonstarts off a little slowly. We’re treated to Xanthe’s return to the land of the Dark Fae in homey detail. It’s the kind of stuff that I’d love in a full-length novel. In a novella? Every word needs to count. I wanted to jump ahead to the action. The good thing about the slow beginning, though, was that we got to revisit Niniane and Tiago right away–which was fun and funny. Niniane’s proclivity for floofy lingerie makes an appearance and Tiago is as indulgent (and protective) of his “Faerie” as ever.
More so than the other novellas, Hunter’s Season is light on the action. There is a sort-of mystery, but it’s solved off-screen and not by the main characters. The resolution is neither forced, nor left unexplained. And yet…I was disappointed by it. The romance is sweet (okay, smokin’) and I wanted it for both Xanthe and Aubrey, but that’s all this story really was–a romance. I prefer the fullness of Dragon Bound and Oracle’s Moon. I don’t think I’d ever pass up an opportunity to read a Thea Harrison book, but for my money? The full-length novel is where it’s at.(less)
Ruby: I loved Seremela, and Duncan (especially his voice *swoon*), but I was never...moreThis joint review with Amanda was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Ruby: I loved Seremela, and Duncan (especially his voice *swoon*), but I was never really able to get over the snakes-as-hair thing. I realize that makes me shallow, but I couldn’t stop picturing the snakes emerging from her scalp. *Shudder* I tried really hard, because I liked the idea of Seremela’s snakes being an extension of her personality–specifically the way they expressed what she was suppressing. Also, they added plenty of humor. I loved the bits where they reached for Duncan or held on to him.
Amanda: I adored Seremela’s snakes! I thought of the snakes as dreadlocks, and I believe they were described that way as well. And, she’s a Medusa. I don’t think you can have a Medusa without snakes.
Ruby: I agree that you can’t have a Medusa without the snakes. All I’m saying is that the snakes for hair concept squicked me out. I guess I’m just thankful there isn’t a mythological character crawling with spiders. Thea Harrison is fawesome, but there are limits even to her powers. *shudders*
Amanda: *imagines what a black widow spider Wyr would be like*
Ruby: *GAGS* Thea Harrison never fails to make me fully believe in the attraction for her two leads, even in her novellas. She establishes attraction almost as thoroughly as emotional connections. But…Duncan and Seremela’s declarations of love was too fast for me. Bizarrely, I think the ending would have brought me greater satisfaction if they hadn’t said it.
Amanda: The beginning of the novella made it pretty clear that Seremela and Duncan had an established burgeoning friendship (and secret attraction), so I felt like we were jumping into their story after it had already begun. In that sense, they had already had time to build a foundation for a relationship. I wasn’t bothered by their declarations at all. I think it fit with the sweetness of their romance.
Ruby: I loved the way that Duncan and Seremela’s relationship had already begun prior to the novella. In fact, my heart gave a giddy little leap when Duncan showed up at Seremela’s door. I was as excited as she was, and I thought it was the perfect way circumvent the forced romance of some novellas. And I’m not saying that I didn’t buy the romance–I totally did–it was the declarations that came a little too soon for me.
Amanda: Is it too soon in our relationship for me to declare my love for you, Ruby?
Ruby: Ah, no. I’d say it’s overdue, actually!
Of the three Elder Races novellas, I think this was my least favorite. It’s still good, but it fell a bit short for me, in length, romance and plot.
Amanda: Natural Evil was my least favorite. I loved this one. Lurved, if we must get technical. Of course, I read this on a weekend when I had read two novellas before this one. I think when you read a lot of novellas, it’s easier to judge them on their merits rather than expecting them to be a full length book. There’s a lot to pack into a limited number of words. It requires reorienting your expectations, I think. Which is much much easier to do on a novella weekend.
Ruby: Hmm, that’s an interesting point. I don’t read a lot of novellas, really only the ones by authors I already love. I liked the story better in Natural Evil, but the romantic pairing in Devil’s Gate.
Amanda: I am fast discovering that novellas are a whole different ball game.
Ruby: Vetta’s retrieval made the whole thing seem more like a deleted scene from one of the full-length novels rather than its own story. Or a vehicle to introduce wazhisface (the djinn, Malphas). I actually blinked when it was resolved so quickly.
Amanda: It does get resolved pretty quickly, but it only made me pause because there was still a bit of the novella to go (and we hadn’t gotten to the sexin’ part, either, and the sexin’ part is important). It seemed like going to get Vetta was more of a way to throw Seremela and Duncan together for an extended period of time, which it does. Oh, and to reintroduce the tarot cards, which first made their appearance in Natural Evil.
Ruby: I loved that the tarot cards showed up! I think it would be awesome if they were the connecting factor in the novellas. It adds an episodic element that ties everything together. They made me get ridiculously excited to see where they pop up next (aka, in the next novella?).
Another shoe does drop, but it’s not much of one. Another thing that irritated me was the way that Seremela’s relationship with her sister (and Vetta’s recklessness and lack of appreciation for what was done for her) was never properly resolved. Why did she spend so much time setting the relationships up that way if she wasn’t going to follow through on them? Are they going to appear in another story?
Amanda: At that point in time in the story, I was ready for some sexin’. I didn’t really care what happened with Vetta or Seremela’s sister. That kind of experience would be enough to set Vetta straight, I suppose. Like I said, I wasn’t really paying attention to any of that, because I was focused on Seremela and Duncan gettin’ it on.
Ruby: Clearly there is something wrong with me, then.
Amanda: Less thinking, more sexin’. That’s my advice.
Ruby: I enjoyed the details about Rune and Carling. I love it when authors keep in touch with characters that have already gotten their HEA. And I eventually remembered that I’d seen the characters before, but it took a bit to refresh my memory. Was it that way for you?
Amanda: *shrugs* I just rolled with it. I knew that Seremela had made an appearance before (though I didn’t remember much of her) and while I didn’t remember Duncan, I figured we had been introduced to him at one point in time, so I didn’t bother trying to pull any of those facts out. I just read. For the sexin’. And… other stuff. *attempts to look innocent*
Ruby: Gah! I didn’t roll with things at all. I picked everything apart, which is what happens to me when I review an author I admire as much as I do Thea Harrison. Next time, I’m going to sit back and read for the sexin’, too.
Amanda: I finished it! Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Me: It was woefully short! It was kind of like Thea Harrison on speed. Amanda: It was. I wanted more of it. Me: Is that our joint review? Amanda: A short review for a short book? Ha.
Amanda: Since this was a novella, I went into True Colors knowing that it was probably going to be too short for me. I mean, is it ever really possible to get enough Thea Harrison? Me: No. Amanda: So, yes. It was short, and the romance aspect definitely plowed over the mystery in this novella. Me: Actually, I thought the buildup of the mystery was pretty detailed for a short. It was the resolution that was too slap-bang-what-just-happened? Amanda: This is true. I've always been a big mystery reader, though, so while there was some detail, there wasn't much involved in the actual solving of the mystery. Me: I was really into the history of the rainbow chameleon, and Alice's part in figuring out the significance of the villain's arrangement of, er, things. Then they had flirted and had sex for several pages and the mystery was forgotten until the bad guy showed up. Then the mystery was ovah. It was blink-and-you'll-miss-it. #NakedWerewolves. Amanda: I'm okay with that. Me: Mm, yes and no. The end of the mystery was too fast. #NakedWerewolves. Amanda: The mystery portion gave Alice and Riehl a reason to find each other and the instant-mate recognition with the Wyr worked very well for such a short novel. It's not really insta-love, but more of an acknowledgement that the two characters are meant to be mates, which is a little more believable. Me: Right? I think short stories in series with the "mate" concept are the only ones that work for me. #NakedWerewolves Amanda: It was a fun romp in the Elder Races world while we wait for the fourth book. Me: It whet my appetite for later books in the series. Like, I don't know, say...Bayne's? #NakedWerewolves--or, rather, #NakedGriffins? Amanda: Though True Colors is technically listed as book 3.5 in the series, it can be read as a stand alone, as it features "normal" Wyr characters that have never made an appearance in the previous three books. Me: Bayne, at least, has been mentioned, and I'm pretty sure he's had at least a cameo appearance. But, on the whole, I agree that this can be read as a stand-alone. It doesn't spoil the other books, but my guess would be that you wouldn't appreciate it unless you'd at least read DB. #NakedWerewolves. Amanda: However, I would guess that having read the previous books will give the reader an added understanding of the world that True Colors is set in. This novella also gives fans of the Elder Races series a brief glimpse into every day life in the Wyr demesne, one that I would definitely like to see again. Me: I love the word "demesne" and would like to see you use it in a sentence in your everyday life. #NakedWerewolves. Amanda: Okay. I will start a #NakedWerewolf demesne. I'll update you on how awesome it is to live around #NakedWerewolves. Your daily #NakedWerewolves demesne update.
Oh, Rune! How do I love thee? Enough to overlook your appalling dress sense, certainly. Ahem. Sorry, this is meant to be a book review, not a hero review. Although... No, never mind. I admit that, when I heard who Rune's heroine was going to be, I was a trifle disappointed. I can't explain why exactly, but it's probably due to the fact that I tend to dislike world-weary been-there-done-that heroines. I should have known better. I should have expected more from the very awesome Thea Harrison. Because not only did she make me like Carling, she made me really like her--and root for her and Rune. I loved this book, but I have a confession to make. I'm still a little bit confused about the plot. It involves time travel, which is basically a big flashing red light that there's going to be something in it to confuse me. Time travel plots always make me go, "Wait...What...?" and "But, didn't...?" I think my brain shuts down in self-defense. I leave the physics to my brother and his Ph.D, and focus on the parts that interest me more. I.e., the hot heroes, the romance and the world-building. It's well-known (I hope) by this point that I'm a huge alpha hero fan. Also well-known? Thea Harrison absolutely knows how to create them. Rune is an alpha hero who Does It Right. He perfectly personifies that sexy-scary hero Thea Harrison describe in her Book Boyfriend post this week. He pushes Carling when he knows she needs it, and need it she does. It's a sort of role reversal. In Serpent's Kiss, Carling is the cold, closed-off half of the couple and Rune is the one that encourages her to feel by not kowtowing to her immense power. He's also the one that encourages her to relax and have fun--he plays the role usually reserved for the quirky, off-beat heroine. Harrison also continues with her fantastic world-building. I'm not going to touch on the time-travel plot (for the reasons mentioned above), but I will say that the trips back in time really worked for me in terms of expanding Rune and Carling's relationship. It happens at lightning speed, which is kind of the formula for Harrison's books. It really needs the extra connecting that happens during the time jumps. I also really dug the vampire lore, and how the concept of the serpent's kiss played into the world's concept of vampirism. The more I learn about Harrison's world, the more eager I am to visit the other demesnes. The last thing I want to touch on is Thea Harrison's talent for introducing new characters. We met Duncan and Khalil in Storm's Heart, but we get to know them better in Serpent's Kiss. I absolutely adore it when authors build up anticipation for characters stories. It's one of the things I love best about Nalini Singh, and I'm giddy with excitement to find an author who can do it with as much success. There's an excerpt for Oracle's Moon at the end of Serpent's Kiss, and it did miraculous things to whet my appetite. Thea Harrison can't write fast enough for me. 5 Points: I would move in with this book. (less)
The first Elder Races book, Dragon Bound, completely and utterly captivated me. And, as much as I have enjoyed each successive installment in this series, neither Storm's Heart nor Serpent's Kiss appealed to me the way that Dragos and Pia's story did. Oracle's Moon, I'm happy to say, ranks almost as high as Dragon Bound in my estimation. I could never say that Thea Harrison was back--because that would imply that her talent went elsewhere--and it has never done so. But, Oracle's Moon definitely has that extra something special that made me go absolutely mad for her writing in the first place. My love for Dragos knows no bounds, but Khalil is pretty awesome, too. He's arrogant, sexy, powerful and totally alpha. Just the way I like my paranormal heroes. And also like heroes of this type, he has some humbling to do. Because in his heroine, he's met his match. Grace-Oracle, grieving sister, mother-replacement, struggling single parent and recovering accident victim--is plenty ready to take this djinn down a notch or two. Whatever Khalil thinks of Grace in the beginning (and it's not in the least complimentary), she doesn't dawdle in setting him straight. Another brilliant aspect of the Elder Races books is that each successive volume does more than introduce a new cast of characters and a new romantic pairing. It also unveils a new layer of the Elder Races world. I learn some new trick, rule or aspect each time, often about a new demesne. How Thea Harrison manages to keep all of these details in her head at one time, I'll never know. It's awe-inspiring, and she deserves props for that alone. While world-building is certainly one of Thea Harrison's strengths, I think I love her characters most of all. Grace is fantastic. She's down-on-her-luck, but still kicking. True, a part of this is due to the fact that she has two small children to look after. She doesn't have the luxury of giving up, no matter how hopeless things get. But she's a take-charge kind of woman, anyway, and she's clear about her boundaries. With Khalil, and with others. You gotta admire that. Khalil, too, is a fascinating, irritating character. He may have great supernatural powers, but he's not omniscient, and to watch such a powerful being make mistakes? One can't help but be amused. He's also the only person (or being) that I buy being able to stand up to Dragos and get away with it. But best of all? The kids. I loved them. I adored little Max and spirited Chloe. I could picture them perfectly in my mind, down to the way Grace felt when she held them in her arms. Kids are awesome, and frustrating and wonderful. Harrison captured that beautifully. Oracle's Moon has been out for a while now, so I surely hope you've already purchased your copy. If you haven't, I tell you, you're seriously missing out. It's a fantastic addition to the series. But don't take my word for it. This is one you have to experience for yourself. 5 1/2 Points: I would have this book's babies.(less)