Friday, November 18, 2011

Shapes in the Blood by Kim Knox

TITLE: Shapes in the Blood
AUTHOR: Kim Knox
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 27k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
COST: $4.99

Aila can’t believe how her luck has changed. The hottest guy at her new job has asked her out, and it looks like she’s actually going to get what she wants for a change. But when he shows up late, then drags her to a war memorial and starts talking about needing her, alarm bells begin to peal louder than her hormones. She tries to leave, but he won’t let her go easily. She has no choice but to accept the help of the strange man who suddenly shows up, telling her she’s just this demon’s latest intended victim…

I’d hoped choosing an author I’d enjoyed before would make this a good reading week for me, but unfortunately, this is probably the weakest story I’ve read by her yet.

It starts in a rush. Aila has been working for six weeks at her new job, and just that morning, garnered the attention of a gorgeous co-worker. He asked her out for that night, then ended up showing four hours late for their date. The lust she has for the man overrides her better sense, and she agrees to go out at that late hour, but when he directs her to a war memorial for some annual ritual he does, then proceeds to tell her he needs her help in doing what he’s come to do, she finally comes to her senses. She tries to leave, but he doesn’t want her to go, changing right before her eyes into something not quite human. A stranger then appears out of nowhere offering to help, and on instinct, she tosses him her car keys and lets him drive her away.

It only gets confusing from that point on. I could try explaining it all, but honestly, it took me so long to figure it out for myself—and even then, it took the bulk of the information that doesn’t get revealed until the very end—that it would be pointless for me to try. Because that’s this story’s greatest weakness. The ideas behind the world-building are ripe with potential, incredibly intriguing and different from the norm, but the way they’re conveyed is next to impossible to keep straight. Details get twisted around by dreams that might not actually be dreams, while facts about who Aila is and what the demons wants with her are vague and unnecessarily circuitous. The novella is only 27k, but it reads much longer, mostly because of the lack of clarity given to the world-building and what exactly is going on with everything.

Part of that likely stems from the thick tension that permeates the story from page one. The author excels at UST and making things steamy, but in this case, it ends up obscuring the actual story that’s being told. Too much focus is placed upon Aila’s raging hormones, all the way down to awkward dreams that play out her hidden thoughts about Matt, the stranger who helped her escape. It’s too hard to tell where manipulations end and genuine reactions begin, and while some of that is intentional, there’s just too much. It gets in the way of understanding who Matt and Aila really are, and if there is any kind of real future there outside of the too-convenient one we’re told they’ll have.

As much as I’ve enjoyed this author in the past, I can’t recommend this story at all except to romance readers who are mostly interested in hot tension rather than clear storytelling.


6/10 – Clarity gets sacrificed for oblique prose


4/10 – Hints that I should find him attractive, but the story is too muddled to give me any kind of idea of what he’s truly like


4/10 – Um, ditto

Entertainment value

3/10 – Though the sexual tension runs rampant, it’s not nearly enough to counter the muddy storytelling

World building

5/10 – Great ideas, poor execution



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