The topic of this month is Paranormal or Romantic Suspense
Genre: Paranormal / Urban fantasy / Epic fantasy
My Rating: 1-4-2-4 stars
In October we have to choose either a paranormal novel or a romantic suspense. I usually prefer suspense, as paranormal is not my cup of thing. But this year I tried something paranormal.
It was in my TBR pile because I wanted to read the Milla Vane's (Meljean Brook) story, but I have also read very good reviews of the whole anthology so I said let’s give a try to new authors.
It is announced as:
Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance plunge readers into the dangerous, captivating world unearthed beyond the dark...
It starts with Nalini Singh’s Secrets at Midnight (1 star). I have read the first one of the Psy-Changeling series, and I liked the romantic part, not the paranormal, which sounded a little sexist for my tastes. That’s why I have tried (and enjoyed) her contemporary stories but never gave her paranormals another try. In this short story there’s a shapeshifter called Bastien Smith who finds the scent of his mate and then discovers her. She is Kirby, apparently a human, but she is also a shapeshifter that doesn’t know her true nature, or her real past, who her parents were.
When I imagined this man walking the streets and sniffing around the corners to find her mate, I just found it silly. The characters sounded very juvenile to my tastes, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief. This whole thing about humans turning into animals that purr it’s utterly ridiculous, I told myself–
Why are you reading something so obviously not fit for you, something you don’t either enjoy or understand?
This could be the best paranormal ever, you are just blind to its charms.
You. Don’t. Like. Paranormals.
That’s me, talking to myself. I found the characters were like teenagers, the plot was paper-thin, the romantic part not very hot or believable because, where’s fun part if you have ‘a mate’ chosen for you by –I don’t know– destiny? Apart from that, it has the same problems that I found in Slave to Sensation. Silly things about animal spirit, men marking their mates, everybody touching everybody else (how uncomfortable! Not to talk about consent before touching, no, if you don’t like it say no and I will stop. Does nobody understand that, in certain uncomfortable situations, is quite difficult to say no?) And the sexism, of course, men behave one way, women in a different way… But at least I gave 4 stars to Slave… Maybe it was because the Psy part sounded more science-fiction than paranormal.
It’s not a bad story, if you like that kind of tropes. But that’s not my case so I ended up skimming through the pages, reading only the dialogues, rolling y eyes and ending it as soon as possible.
Then we have the story written by the wife-husband team Ilona Andrews, Magic Steals (4 stars). I started reading it and found out… No, no, please, shapeshifters, were-something again? No, please. But then they did start talking (as responsible adults! Level-headed adults!! Conscious-culture adults!!!), things happened, and I was glued to the page anxious to see what else was going to happen next.
This is the story of Jim, a jaguar shifter, that has been dating Dali Harimau, a shapeshifting tigress of Indonesian ascent and that can make magic. She has to find out a lady that has been missing and Jim helps her in her investigation.
I loved both characters, the plot was so interesting, as there was a mystery, something to find out, a whodunit and the reason why. And the romantic part works greatly, and rather believable. Both characters have been dating for a while, so it is logical that they are ready for the next step in their relationship.
I just loved the humour, as some moments were very funny. Deliciously funny. And the suspense, of course, it was quite tricky and well solved.
So I surprised myself thinking that maybe I was wrong. Maybe it is not shapeshifting in itself what I find silly. If it is well written and entertaining, I don’t give a damn about the paranormal part. It keeps on being something I dislike, and that’s why this is not a perfect 5-star story for me. Paranormal is not something that I enjoy but I can ignore it, tolerate it, as far as the rest works well and in this case, well, I just couldn’t stop reading. I cannot wait. I’m going to read something else written by Ilona Andrews soon. I still haven’t read any book with that name on the front page.
The third one is Lucky Charms, by Lisa Shearin (2 stars). It’s about Makenna Frazier, a seer that has started to work at Supernatural Protection and Investigations. It’s told in a first person narrative. And the voice of this person is quite funny. I liked her. And the boy sounded like someone interesting, but in the end the plot was very boring. They are supposed to look for several leprechauns that want to have fun. I didn’t see any romantic part in this story. It wasn’t really a novella. It was like reading the first chapters of a book. And that’s just what this is, an introduction to the SPI Files series.
And last but not least, Milla Vane and The Beast of Blackmoor (4 stars). This is an epic fantasy about a barbarian princess, called Mala who has been sent by her goddess in a quest to tame the Beast of Blackmoor. She doesn’t know that Kavik is a warrior that protects people who want to leave Blackmoor. Both of them detest the ruler of Blackmoor, but they seems unable to defeat him. This bad person wants Mala to give Kavik tamed to him, with collar and leashed, but Mala does not accept that that is what her goddess wants from her.
There’s a lot of fighting, beasts, demons, and quite a little bit of sex between these two. It looks like they cannot have intercourse until full moon, but it doesn’t matter because you can use your mouth and your fingers until that magical moment arrives.
I really enjoyed this story and made me want to read more stories like this one. But it looks like Meljean Brook didn’t explore this ‘Milla Vane’ world in new novels. And she hasn’t ended the Iron Seas series yet. So –I will keep on waiting.
But I could be wrong, so if there's anything new by Brooks/Vane, please, tell me.
So, I don’t like paranormals, it’s not something I enjoy. But reading this book I have found out that if the story is attractive, and the author knows how to create an interesting plot, with engaging characters, and a lot of style, then I can enjoy it, and I don’t care about the magical things that appear. I was glad to discover that Ilona Andrews is as good as everybody says, because I want to read some of their books, at least those that are included in AAR Top 100 in 2018.