Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Golden Eyes by Maya Banks

TITLE: Golden Eyes
AUTHOR: Maya Banks
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 38k)
GENRE: Shapeshifter erotic romance
COST: $5.99

Sheriff Duncan Kennedy is investigating claims of a lion in his Colorado mountains, when he encounters poachers tracking an injured cheetah. When she gives every sign that she’s not going to hurt him, he decides to take her back to town to keep her safe. Without someplace to keep her, he locks her in the mudroom of his house, only to come back later to discover an injured naked woman in the cheetah’s place. Aliyah Carver is a shapeshifter who was captured on a run in Africa, then transported to the US. Her captors bring the wild to hunters willing to pay the price, but they’re still alive, and probably looking for her, when she accepts Duncan’s hospitality. The two connect as she heals up, but Duncan is determined to catch the poachers in his mountains. Before they find Aliyah and finish the job…

Maya Banks is one of those authors I keep thinking I want to love, but I have yet to find a story that engages me with the passion other readers seem to have for her work. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s because my expectations are too high. Kind of like when people go on and on about a movie they absolutely love, and you walk in, watch it, then walk back out thinking, “Eh, I suppose it was all right.” I don’t know. But for whatever reason, I’m still waiting for this author to click for me.

There was a definite moment when I thought this might be that story. The opening is tight, visual, and emotionally appealing, as Aliyah flees the poachers, gets hurt, and then gets discovered by Duncan. By the end of the second chapter, I was racing along, eager to devour the rest of the book. Chapter Three was more of the same, because now there was Duncan’s discovery. He was such a sympathetic, engaging character from the start that I completely believed his shock and awe. Where the story started falling apart for me was at the end of chapter four. From there on, everything I’d loved about the beginning dissolved away.

In spite of accelerated healing, Aliyah is seriously hurt. She took an arrow – a nasty one – deep into her thigh. Duncan has to rip it out of her body. It does just as much damage coming out as it did going in. Yet, chapter five has the sex starting, the very same night he brings her home. Oh, sure, Duncan’s careful about her injury. He has her get on his hands and knees so that she doesn’t have to spread her legs too wide and potentially aggravate her injury. I might not have minded so much that this just seemed hugely illogical to happen so early if it didn’t get followed by more of the same. A lot more of the same. There’s brief scenes where Duncan goes off in search of the poachers and Aliyah thinks about home, but those mostly just pass the time until they can get together and have sex again. It got old very, very fast.

It might have been more tolerable if Aliyah actually had some sort of personality in this. Duncan is the one who gets all the characterization, though that gets stunted once the two start having sex. Aliyah is boring to the nth degree, an object of his fascination more than anything else. Perhaps because she’s likes sex, likes adventure, that’s supposed to make her edgy and raw. Except when she’s not having sex, she’s all weepy about missing her family, the poaching, etc. There’s little to balance between the two. Because of my inability to connect with her, I disengaged from most of the sex after the first scene. Since that comprised most of the actual story, I didn’t have much to hold me in then.

The beginning proves to me I could really like this author. Now, if I could just find the story that carried that tight, evocative writing all the way through, I’d be a very happy reader.


8/10 – Smooth prose can’t save repetitive scenes


7/10 – There are the starts of a real humdinger of a sympathetic alpha hero, but then he gets lost in all the sex.


4/10 – If there was a personality there, I never found it.

Entertainment value

5/10 – A truly fantastic beginning degenerates into a string of sex scenes that do nothing to engage me with the characters.

World building

7/10 – The world of Colorado was built much more gracefully than the shifter lore, which came out in inelegant information dumps that disrupted the flow of the story.




jessewave said...

I agree mostly with what you said about the heroine in this book; she's a bit clueless but I liked the hero.

If you haven't read Colters' Woman, which is probably about 1 year to 18 months old, you might want to do so when/if you have the time. Who knows, you may feel differently about Maya Banks. I do like her writing.

Book Utopia Mom said...

I'm still keeping an eye out on her, but I passed on CW when it came out. Erotic romances that feature brothers within the romance part of it - whether there's contact between them or not - crosses a line for me. I can accept brothers sharing a woman for a sexual encounter, because I know guys do that, but more than that is just walking too close to the border for me.