Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hunter's Prey by Moira Rogers

AUTHOR: Moira Rogers
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 45k)
GENRE: Steampunk paranormal erotic romance
COST: $4.50

Two people attempting to change their lives. Ophelia, an ex-prostitute, has taken over the job of housekeeper for the bloodhounds in Iron Creek, while Hunter, a bloodhound, is trying to learn how to exist outside a cage. Neither wants to admit their attraction to the other. But when desire and emotions take charge, neither one really has a choice…

The world-building in the first book of this series intrigued me enough to invest in getting the second. However, I’m not completely sure it’s enough to keep me going after this one.

In this installment, our romance occurs between Ophelia, an ex-prostitute who has been given the job as housekeeper at the manor where the bloodhounds of Iron Creek live, and Hunter, a recently rescued new bloodhound who is still learning what it means to be one. Ophelia is done with being a pawn for men, as well as only being valued for her sex appeal, but being a housekeeper isn’t exactly what she wants either. She’s too independent and intelligent for such menial work, and decides she’s going to quit once the new moon is past. The one thing that gives her pause is the latest bloodhound at the manor. Hunter had been caged by vampires ever since being created, used as a feeding source for Nate (who has become a sort of vampire/bloodhound hybrid), and is just starting to learn what it means to be what he is. He’s afraid of what he can do, of how out of control he gets, and he’s especially afraid he’ll hurt Ophelia, since she seems to be the one woman who can really get to him. He turns down her offer to help him through the new moon (a period during which they need to feed off their partner’s lusts and desires, which is basically an excuse for lots and lots of sex over a three day period), but when she makes the arrangements for him to be seen by someone else, he refuses, demanding only her.

The story goes on from there, though honestly, there’s not much that isn’t horribly predictable. The bulk of it is spent on Hunter’s internal angst about who he really is and Ophelia’s flip-flopping back and forth on her feelings for Hunter, with a subplot about a threat running through Iron Creek supposedly bringing things together. While the world is just as fascinating as it was the first time, it’s less developed, relying too heavily on previous knowledge to work well as a standalone. I hadn’t read the previous book again before tackling this one, and found gaps in my knowledge that this one failed to fill in. For a new reader to the series, I don’t think it serves it well at all.

It’s not helped by the fact that the characterizations for both leads aren’t strong. Hunter’s primary conflict is his internal battle trying to figure out who he really is – the man he was before he became a bloodhound or the monster he is now. But because Hunter doesn’t know, we as readers don’t ever really get to find out either. It leaves him as a shell for me to project upon, an archetype to imagine going through the motions of what are meant to steamy love scenes. It’s boring, frankly. Ophelia fares slightly better, as she has a stronger sense of who she is, but just because she’s strong-willed and independent, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s interesting. She’s not. And the sex isn’t written well enough to make up for the deficiency in either of the characters.

The broader cast of characters is interesting, with both new and old faces, but the story is too short to give any of them a decent treatment. There’s barely enough time to get the main conflict resolved, let alone touch on the multitude of subplots that get thrown into the mix (most likely fodder for future stories). I would have much preferred getting some meaty time with just one or two, rather than the plethora that took over the pages.

Will I read the third book when it comes out? I honestly don’t know. This one had such potential, with a hero type that usually falls right in the middle of a bulletproof kink (the broken alpha struggling for identity), and yet, didn’t follow through on its promise. I guess it’ll be a matter of evaluating it on its own merit rather than as an autobuy as part of a series.

8/10 – Clean and does the job
5/10 – The problem is, since he doesn’t know who he is, the reader doesn’t either
6/10 – Being strong-willed and independent doesn’t necessarily make her well-rounded
Entertainment value
5/10 – As much as I love the potential in this, I never believed the romance enough to invest in it
World building
8/10 – As fascinating as this world is, it doesn’t work as a standalone as well as it should

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bust #5

While I was away, I didn't have much opportunity to read. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case when trouble in real life rears its head. What I did read...most of it was pretty bad. I was looking for shorter works, things I thought I could read quickly and escape with, but very, very few were actually finishable.

Two that especially disappointed were His Darling by Ashley Elizabeth Ludwig, and Demon's Fall by Karalynn Lee. The first was a contemporary romance from Wild Rose Press about a filmmaker and a musician, and hinted that it would bring in some classic Hollywood elements with her grandmother, but it was a chore from the onset. The hero was kind of a mama's boy, and the dialogue and situations just sincerely unfunny when they were meant to be charmingly awkward. The second was written by an author I've read before, one whose voice really got to me. I had high hopes for this novella from Carina, but honestly, it was a letdown in every way. Characterizations were shallow, there was zero build-up of tension (the hero went from wanting her soul--just because--to wanting her love--again just because), and the gorgeous prose I fell in love with in the first story I ready by this author was nowhere to be found. So a bust from me tonight.