Friday, March 19, 2010

Crux by Moira Rogers

AUTHOR: Moira Rogers
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 84k)
GENRE: Contemporary paranormal erotic romance
COST: $5.50

Mackenzie Brooks is on the run, but no matter where she goes, the man claiming to be her destined mate always manages to find her. Her new boss in New Orleans thinks there’s more to her than meets the eye, but when she sets her PI friend, Jackson Holt, on the case, the last thing either one of them expect is to stumble on a decades-old plan that turns Mackenzie into the savior of her race…

Shapeshifters are not my first choice when it comes to paranormal creatures. I often find the reliance on mate tropes lazy and uninspiring. This book has sat on my TBR pile for a long time for that very reason. I bought it because of the well-paced excerpt, but every time it came to pick something new, I passed on by. What a nice surprise, then, to find the mate trope that drives me so insane turned on its ear.

Mackenzie is working at a bar in New Orleans, ready to run at the slightest hint of danger. Marcus, the man after her, always seems to find her no matter where she is. Her skittish behavior doesn’t go unnoticed by her well-meaning boss, who enlists the aid of Jackson, a PI with magical skills, to get the scoop on her. Mackenzie sets off all Jackson’s alerts, and soon, they’ve figured out she’s a cougar shapeshifter, a heritage she’s completely ignorant of. It’s not so foreign to Jackson. His partner Alec is a wolf shapeshifter, as is Nick, the bar owner. When Marcus’ men show up in New Orleans, Jackson takes her to the most powerful spellcaster he knows in search of answers. That starts their long, action-filled journey throughout the story.

The action pivots on one simple fact. Mackenzie is destined to bear a cougar child that is capable of turning humans, thus saving the cougar species. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s the magical vagina story, the “we must have sex to save the world/planet/species” trope. It’s overused and annoying. But the authors have turned this on its ear. Mackenzie doesn’t embrace her destiny. In fact, she wants nothing to do with it, and fights it every step of the way. It gives her an added strength that sets her above standard shapeshifter heroine fare, and makes it easier for me to invest in the overall outcome of the story.

While Jackson is charming and appropriately determined to help Mackenzie, his characterization isn’t as solid as hers. There is more than one allusion to Jackson’s darker side, but this is never explored, and leaves the reader not only with multiple questions but also fears that the HEA just might not take. If he was any less likeable, this might have proven detrimental to the story, but as it stands, is a minor quibble in the grand scope of things. Because the action in this is unrelenting, the pace steady and swift. The constant forward momentum refuses to let the reader go. Only the predictability of its ending holds it back.

While I might not have invested in the romance as heavily as the plot, I’m curious enough to try the second book in the series. The host of secondary characters in this provides fodder for many stories to come, though the ones I think might prove most interesting (Marcus, in particular) are probably not the ones I’m likely to get.


8/10 – Swiftly paced and clean if not entirely inspiring


7/10 – Charming and likeable, but there always felt like there was more to him than what got shown or explained


8/10 – Strong and resourceful

Entertainment value

8/10 – Nothing original about the conflict, and the romance felt rushed, but the action and pacing more than made up for it

World building

8/10 – Rich and well realized, if not that original



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