I had an ear infection in December, which made it so that all I wanted to do was lie in bed and stare at the ceiling and ponder how terrible my life is. Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake has been keeping me company during this terrible time. My ear is on the mend, finally, and I’m getting a chance to listen to book 6 of this series.
The Carpathians are an immortal race that live off blood, like vampires. Except, they’re not the undead. They have souls. The males lose all emotion and the ability to see color until they find their life mates who restore these to them. They’re bonded forever.
I should have stopped reading this book at the prologue and when I heard this explanation and thought, “NOPE!”
I get that I might not be the audience for mainstream romance. And, I get that media lets us explore situations and relationships that my interest us, intrigue us, turn us on, or whatever but that we don’t and shouldn’t do in real life. I get that novels, not just romance novels, are an escape. I get all of that.
But, I can’t even think of an appropriate list of swear words to describe how terrible this novel was. Seriously. It was so bad that I can’t even swear at it.
But, I can tell you what I didn’t like about it and why.
Massive Spoilers Ahead!
First, of course, was this idea that men (well, Carpathian men) are emotionless monsters that women have to save. Nope. Feelings are a human thing. We all have amygdalas and emotional centers in our brains and anything that continues to perpetuate the stereotype that women are the ones that feel and men aren’t harms women, harms men, harms us all. Second, after introducing our immortal badass vampire hunting Carpathian dudebro we’re introduced to Jaxon the heroine by looking into her life at ages 5, 10, 15, adulthood. Jax was raised on a military base by her Mother (who wasn’t super maternal) and her father, a Navy Seal, and his Seal buddies were very involved in her life. Until her Dad died and her Mom married his Seal buddy who then turned into an abusive pyscho and the descriptions were awful. Psycho Step Dad then stalks our fair Jax and torments her by hurting people she loves. Oh, but before we get there we are treated to these flashbacks where young Jax tells adults that her Step Dad is abusive and no one believes her. I thought there was mandatory reporting of these sorts of things? Like, if a kid tells her teacher that her Dad hits her Mom that the teacher had to tell the school and get Child Welfare involved? Anyway, Jax grows up into an emotionally stunted police officer who has to keep everyone at arms length because Psycho Step Dad might be watching. (At least that was a fun twist: for once the psycho step parent wasn’t the mother.) Then, her Carpathian dudebro inserts himself into her life, removes her from her friends and chosen family, disregards her concerns, commands her to stay in the house in the name of her safety (and gets violently upset when she disregards his commands and asserts her own autonomy), and initiates the life mate binding process without her consent and then completes it without ever explaining anything to her. Being stalked by a Navy Seal is terrible. Being swept up by an immortal who needs you to maintain his emotional life for him is also terrible.
And, folks, I didn’t even get to the end. I got the completion of the binding ritual and she started freaking out and Carpathian dudebro started mansplaining how they were meant for each other and she just needs to roll with the (irreversible) changes and I was like:
So, the only good choice with this book is to just not pick it up. 0/10. Do not recommend.
I checked this book out from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries.
Mo is a Southern woman born to hippie parents and raised in Mississippi. She’s always lived close to home and her parents have always been a huge (and kind of overbearing) part of her life. Following on the heels of a breakup she decides to back up her life and move across the country to Grundy, Alaska. There’s a romantic element to that: striking out on one’s own, becoming self-reliant, living in the wilderness. Who hasn’t considered packing themselves up and going on an adventure? Mo rents a cabin in the woods and gets herself squared away. She finds a job cooking at the local tavern after the cook and co-owner injures himself. She makes friends with the co-owners wife. And, she runs afoul of the wife’s cousin Cooper Graham who hates outsiders. He’s sure that once the first snow sets in that she’ll pack up her stuff and move back to the lower 48.
While she’s settling into becoming a townie, she has some run-ins with the local wildlife. One night she awakens to a huge wolf with piercing eyes taking down an elk. She sees the wolf again within the town limits. And, there are a few hikers who go missing after what appears to be a wolf attack. Then one night she’s confronted with an unusual sight: Cooper Graham, naked, on her porch, caught in a bear a trap. I’d say spoilers, but if you saw the cover of the book and if you’ve ever read a romance novel you know who/what Cooper Graham is. He’s the werewolf love interest. He has to come clean about who and what he is while he’s healing from the bear trap on Moe’s rug. But, now there’s this mystery: Is he responsible for the missing hikers? Could he be a killer in wolf form? Also, will he ever stop being surly so that they can get this romance off the ground?
This was book was fun and it was also very funny. I immediately liked Mo and the other townies. I also liked surly and standoffish Cooper. The mystery unraveled a little slowly but it was a satisfying ending. This is the first book of a series set in Grundy, Alaska and I’m thinking about picking up the next one.