Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Heart of the Bear by Cindy Spencer Pape

TITLE: Heart of the Bear
AUTHOR: Cindy Spencer Pape
PUBLISHER: Total-e-bound
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 18k)
GENRE: Shapeshifter erotic romance
COST: ₤2.49

Psychic Hannah Lightfoot only has a couple days left to decide whether or not she wants to return to her job with the San Diego Police Department. A traumatic event three months earlier has had her questioning her purpose, but when she still can’t reach a decision at home, she retreats to her grandfather’s cabin in hopes a different setting will make the choice clear. Everything conspires against her as her car goes off the road, a storm drenches her, and then a strange naked man surprises her at the cabin. But that’s just the start of what turns out to be the weekend that will change her entire life…

Novellas that try to set up paranormal series have a lot of work to do. The more complicated the world, the harder the job. The gorgeous cover on this particular story drew me in – April Martinez should be proud of another beautiful one – but ultimately, it failed to engage me into trying any more of this new series.

The world the author is setting up is a complex one. Hannah’s brother Will is part of a 5-man organization called Guardian; the hero in this story, Evan, is a member of it. It’s clear this is going to be at least a 5-book series, one for each of the men in the unit. Evan’s family are all shifters, and Will is a precog. There are hints throughout the book that the paranormal world is quite extensive, that Hannah's psychic ability isn't really that unusual, but very little of the world-building happens organically. Evan spends a lot of the time explaining things to Hannah, or we learn of it in exposition after the fact. We get most of Hannah’s backstory as statement after the fact, too, but it’s all indicative of a tell not show style that prevails throughout the story. This style of storytelling very rarely works for me. It drags down any chance this novella has to engage me.

Any other chance is taken away by both the hero and heroine’s swift “romance,” and Evan’s unrealistic dialogue. Evan and Hannah have sex almost immediately after he saves her from a bear attack in the woods – within minutes of seeing other for the first time. She barely knows his name and they’re doing it on the floor. And then in the shower. Within 12 hours, she’s melting just from the look in his eye, and all I can think, “Oh, brother.” By Evan's own admission, it's a mate recognition thing - Another thing you need to know about my family—we mate for life. When one of us finds the other half of our soul, it isn’t a long, drawn-out process. It’s almost always a case of love at first sight. - and I can't help but see that as shorthand for let's get to the sex and not worry about real relationship development. Toss in the fact that Evan says things like, Your hair is incredible and your eyes are like green velvet. You have the most luscious ass I’ve ever seen, and these incredibly feminine hips make me crazy, and You fit me like a glove, and I’m out of it. People don’t talk like that. Incredibly feminine hips? What exactly is that even supposed to mean?

The story does better when it slips into an unexpected kidnapping case for the couple, but while I don’t have to put up with unbelievable dialogue there, I do get subjected to more of the telling not showing. In the end, it’s just not going to work for me. I have another of this author’s stories in my TBR pile, and I’ve seriously wondered if I should bother reading it. I decided I still will. It’s novel-length, so hopefully it won’t fall into the same pitfalls as this novella, and it’s also not a paranormal. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


6/10 – Minor editing issues, unrealistic dialogue, and telling not showing hinder what could be pretty smooth prose.


4/10 – Flat and not very interesting, especially with his unrealistic declarations


5/10 – Only milder better than the hero, but at least she’s smart in a fight

Entertainment value

3/10 – Between information dumps to set up the series and a rush on the relationship, I’m almost surprised I finished it.

World building

5/10 – There is far too much telling in order to set up the series, and it makes for very boring reading.



1 comment:

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to review my book. Such efforts are always appreciated.