I'm always kind of leery of romance novels, but I really enjoyed Grimspace by Ann Aguirre, especially the romance, so I thought that this new series mI'm always kind of leery of romance novels, but I really enjoyed Grimspace by Ann Aguirre, especially the romance, so I thought that this new series might be a good one for me. Shifters are also my favorite in paranormal fantasy, so there's that. I was a bit nervous when I read some of the reviews, but this ended up working really well for me.
The first thing that drew me into this novel was Pru, the main female character. Her determination mixed with her feelings of inferiority made me feel a lot of empathy for her. That attachment was enough to draw me past my doubts about the set-up, which is not something that I thought I would have gone for. Although the challenge that brings Dom and Pru together is one that's fun in theory, I was a bit worried about the execution of it. I don't want to give much away, so I'm going to be deliberately vague, but I felt like a lot of Dom's actions and reactions in the beginning of the book were pretty terrible, and I wasn't sure that the romance was actually going to work for me. In retrospect, I understand all the reasons behind them, and I mostly did at the time as well, but I was definitely worried that he would end up being an unlikable love interest. He didn't, at least for me, but it was a legitimate worry at first.
I will say that the first 40% or so was a bit slow. There was a lot of time spent establishing the characters and their emotional state. There is some action, but it's fairly scattered. It does end up being really important though, which was a welcome surprise. And then we get into the meat of the book, and things picked up significantly for me. In other words, here comes the politics and action.
Now, don't get me wrong. The romance is still a very strong component. Ann Aguirre neglects neither the physical nor the emotional connection, but she also immerses the reader in the politics of the situation, which are incredibly important, both to this book, and to the set-up of the series as a whole. And let's be honest. I really love shifter politics. So, this is my bread and butter. There's something about the barely veiled violence and tension that really draws me in. As in, I sat down this afternoon and inhaled the second half of the book. Things moved at a fast clip, and although I wouldn't say things are terribly complicated, I appreciated the twists that show up. The action scenes are also quite good, which is another strength I remember from Grimspace.
Most importantly, though, the romance really did work for me. I won't say that Pru and Dom were my favorite couple ever, but they didn't really fall into any of the traps that I truly hate in romance. They have their misunderstandings and moments where they could communicate better, but they resolve those moments. They are honest with each other. They acknowledge each other's strengths and weaknesses. And they work through their issues. Basically, I thought they did pretty great. I also thought that the sex was very well-done. It's frequent, but it's less formulaic than a lot of the sex that I've read in other romances, and it stems from moments of emotional connection, which is what I prefer.
I also liked the fact that this is not going to be a series of self-contained books. Although each book will focus on a different couple, it seems like there will be a continuing plot underlying the romances, which is an idea that makes me really happy. As an epic fantasy fan, I really love having a huge conflict to draw a series together, and this seems like it will fulfill that need in me. Also, this first book introduces pretty much all of the characters that will be main characters in the later books, and I am incredibly excited for the second book now! I think this is my new favorite paranormal romance series! ...more
I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I did the first book, even though I'm giving them the same rating. They're both quite dark books, but I feltI enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I did the first book, even though I'm giving them the same rating. They're both quite dark books, but I felt like the first book was more a bit of light entertainment, while I was much more invested in events in this book. A lot more of the story is told from the perspective of characters other than Kylar in this book, and I really enjoyed that. Also, when the action started to ramp up, it started a seamless flow of events that carried me through to the end of the book at a breakneck pace.
I will say, I disagree with a lot of the other reviewers regarding this book. A lot of people have criticized the so-called virgin/whore dichotomy, but I actually completely disagree. The basis of that dichotomy would be founded on criticism of the whores and idolization of virgins, but I would argue that whores are actually some of the best and most honored characters in the book. They have a significant positive impact on events in the book, and they were some of my favorite characters. Without them, this book would be much darker and less hopeful. Certainly, there is a huge emphasis on sex, but the same was true of the first book, and I felt like this book had many more positive moments in regards to sex than the first book did.
Likewise, Vi is a great character, and I don't feel like she's criticized in the text at all for her use of sex as a weapon, or for her willingness to have sex in general. In fact, I felt like Vi was given more care and thought as a character than pretty much anyone else in the book. After barely more than a few appearances in the first book, Vi really came into her own as a main character in this book, and I loved reading about her! She's certainly complex and often she's left with no good choice, but I loved her cleverness and determination.
And although Elene is a virgin, I don't think that is presented as either a good or bad thing. Sure, Kylar idolizes her. He's in love with her, and when a scene is from his perspective, that certainly shows. But other characters have plenty of criticisms of her, and Elene herself is very aware of her own faults. She had a relatively minor part in this book, but even during that limited time, I felt like she showed a lot of emotional growth. I think that she, more than most, is truly trying to be a good person, and although she may not have all the answers, I like that she's open to new thoughts and ideas. I really hope that she gets more action next book because I think she has great potential as a character.
In contrast, I had the hardest time with Kylar in this book. I was particularly frustrated with him at the beginning of the book, although probably not for the same reason as other readers. I'll admit that it was hard to read about his attempt to settle down with Elene, but not because I thought he shouldn't be trying at all. In fact, I thought he should have tried harder. He spent so much of the first book hating himself for being a wetboy, and yet, when he was given an opportunity for a new life here, he wasted a lot of it being a brat. His sullenness was completely unbecoming, and he created most of his problems with Elene by his own passive-aggressive attitude. Actually, I thought that Kylar's emotional reactions throughout this book were a little too much. He was a much more calm and reasoned character in the first book, but in this one, I felt like he spent way too much time making assumptions, talking when he should be listening, and flying off the handle. Don't get me wrong, I still like him, but he got on my nerves just a bit.
Over all, I was really pleased with the improvement in this book. I gave the first book 4 stars, but it was a lackluster four, and my review reflected that. I just didn't have a lot to say about it. I liked it well enough, but I wasn't terribly invested. This second book leaves me far more invested in the story and characters. I'm really interested to see where the next book will take me, and I have my fingers crossed that all of the characters I've grown to love will make it out alive! ...more
I read this book with mixed feelings. What the allegations of abuse and pedophilia, I can't say that Marion Zimmer Bradley is high on my list of authoI read this book with mixed feelings. What the allegations of abuse and pedophilia, I can't say that Marion Zimmer Bradley is high on my list of authors to read, but I have a couple of her books floating around. Like this one, which was a lawn sale buy, I believe. Anyway, I was looking for something short to read during my lunches at work, so I grabbed this one off the shelf.
The stories themselves are fine. The ones written by Marion Zimmer Bradley are well-crafted, with strong plots and a decent emotional thread. I can't remember the name and I don't have the book with me, but my favorite was a story in which Lythande accidentally acquires a magical sword that compels her to return it, and is forced to face her life choices. I thought that it had a good balance of plot and emotional development, and was certainly the story that got deepest into the character.
Unfortunately, to add to my initial hesitance, there is also an introduction to each story, written by Zimmer Bradley herself. Most of these are OK, but in one of them she talks about the criticism that she's received for her writing not being feminist enough. Which basically amounts to her whining, and then sticking out her tongue and saying, "I'm gonna write what I want." Which is fine, but just the tone toward her critics really put me off, and like the abuse allegations that I mentioned above, I had a hard time separating out my reaction to the author from my reaction to the stories.
The highlight of the book was definitely the last story, which was written by Vonda McIntyre. On a basic level, I liked her writing more than Zimmer Bradley's. It had a better flow and was less workman-like. And on an overarching level, I enjoyed the group of characters that she centered the story on, both because of their differences socially, and because of how likable I found them. I found that I also liked Lythande better from an outside perspective, and I was glad to have this story give her this 'ending' (though Zimmer Bradley is quick to point out that it's no such thing). If you read nothing else of Lythande, I'd recommend this last story. ...more
This was a read recommended by my husband. He's been really into the idea of us reading books closer together, and this is what he wanted me to read.This was a read recommended by my husband. He's been really into the idea of us reading books closer together, and this is what he wanted me to read. I was pleasantly surprised, I must admit. I quite enjoyed this. I've had some heavier reads lately, and I was a little hesitant about this one because of the page count, but it went by really quickly and enjoyably. It is very readable, and even though there are dark events, it's not generally a heavy book, which I appreciated.
Beyond the easy readability of this, I thought that the characters were pretty great. The main character is shown over the course of around 10 years, and I really enjoyed watching him grow and learn. This can be a touchy thing for me, as I'm experiencing with another current read. Sometimes, I feel like telling a story over a long span of time like this result in a complete disconnect from the characters and plot, but that wasn't an issue at all. Weeks does a really good job of keeping everything connecting and giving the reader all the details needed to prevent confusion. Beyond the main character, there's a host of other interesting and unique characters. Even though quite a few people get mentioned throughout the book, I was easily able to keep everyone straight.
In terms of plot, the first half of the book spans quite a stretch of time, so the plot doesn't flow as smoothly as the second half. Still, I thought that Weeks did a good job of introducing people and situations without making things boring. And that second half, when events start to pick up! Things got really exciting! The book definitely picked up some of that 'can't put it down' quality, and there were some twists that I didn't see coming at all.
On the other hand, this is a debut work, and it sometimes shows. As others have mentioned, there are some moments of excessive scene-setting and architectural detail. There was also a bit of an emotional disconnect from the characters. I generally liked a lot of the characters, but I didn't find myself terribly attached to most of them, which is one of my key ingredients of a 5-star read. Still, this was a quick and enjoyable read, and I'm excited to move on to the next book in the series. (The hubby just finished it yesterday, so it'll probably be my next read.) ...more