Posts Tagged ‘shifter’

Book Review: Set Adrift by D.S. Kenn (Series, #1)

April 4, 2015 5 comments

Book Review: Set Adrift by D.S. Kenn (Series, #1)Summary:
Terric, nickname T, a half shifter half demon, and his girlfriend Jordyn, full vampire, have decided to move from New York City to Provincetown, Massachusetts.  T has an opportunity to work as head of security at a nightclub and bar that caters to the supernatural, and he thinks the move will be good for he and Jordyn.  Jordyn had a nightmarishly abusive past, and T has been helping her heal through a safe, consenting BDSM relationship.  But his love for Jordyn is not one of a mate; it is one of a friend.  He intuitively knows that his mate will be a man but he struggles to accept this, due to suffering he has endured in the demon realm.  When Jordyn decides it is time for her to stand on her own two feet and move out, she also encourages T to confront himself and grow as well.  But all T feels is set adrift.

Every November/December I open up to submissions for books to review in the upcoming year on my blog.  When I saw this one in the submissions, I was excited.  Not very much paranormal romance is submitted to me, and paranormal romance with a bisexual main character is nigh on impossible to find.  Plus, I love Provincetown.  This paranormal romance features a unique set of characters and a wide variety of sex scenes but its world building struggles some.

The strongest aspect of the book is that its main character Terric is so unique in paranormal romance.  Terric actually describes himself perfectly:

I’m an anomaly. A fucking bisexual demon shifter. Not really all of any one thing…. I don’t really fit in most categories, you know. (page 33)

First, I love love love the fact that the hero of the book isn’t just bisexual, but he actually uses the term to describe himself as such.  This may not seem like a big deal, but it is quite rare to have a character self-identify as bisexual and simultaneously have that character be one of the good guy leads.  I really applaud the author for going there.  Terric struggles with his sexuality but not for the reasons the reader might expect.  Provincetown, for those who don’t know, is known for being a small town with a large accepting queer community.  T’s community would accept him for who he is, but he struggles with accepting and loving himself.  The reason given for this is that when he is summoned to the demon realm (as a half demon, he is subject to hell’s dominion), he is sometimes subject to punishment that consists of rape by other male demons (or half demons).  The reason he has trouble imagining being mated with a man is due to this trauma.  Bisexual men experience a higher rate of rape than straight or gay men (source), and I think it’s a good thing that the author works this into T’s past within the context of his supernatural world.  The rape is not misrepresented as causing his bisexuality but rather as a trauma he must get over to fully embrace his sexuality for what it is.  It’s not a storyline seen very often, and it’s handled well.

Similarly, the BDSM subplot in the first half of the book is also handled well.  The BDSM is completely presented as something both partners have consented to with pre-agreed upon boundaries that are respected.  It is also shown as something that is therapeutically used to help Jordyn overcome her past trauma.  This is a use for BDSM that some readers may not know but it is clearly well-understood by the author and well presented in the book.  Plus, the BDSM scenes are well-written and just the right level of steamy.

Unfortunately, the world that T and Jordyn live in is not as well fleshed-out as they are.  In particular, the workings of the supernatural world are never fully explained and can be a bit confusing.  For instance, vampires can apparently have children (as in, conceive and give birth to them, not as in turning humans into vampires), but it is never explained how.  Also the logistics of mixing different supernatural races are unclear.  For instance, there is one character who is 100% shifter, but his parents are both half vampire and half shifter.  Even the character himself doesn’t know how that worked out to him being pure shifter.  Some readers probably wouldn’t be bothered by the lack of details and world building regarding the supernatural and just how it works in this world, but others will be.

There are a few minor editing mistakes, the most startling of which is that the book on page 142 suddenly changes from indenting new paragraphs to having a line space between them (like how paragraphs appear on this blog).  I have no preference for one over the other, but consistency throughout the book is preferred.  There is also one plot point that bothered me.  At one point a character is established as being tipsy.  He then kisses someone and, freaked out about it, decides to leave and states that he can because he is “sober as a judge,” and the other character agrees he is fit to drive (page 152).  Unless that kiss lasted an hour or two, there’s no way he went from tipsy to sober as a judge in the span of one kiss (unless something supernatural was going on that was not explained).  Similarly, sometimes the book veers too far into telling rather than showing, particularly in the scenes that are not sex scenes.  For instance, in one scene, this occurs:

He told Kevin a little bit about his own upbringing, just the basics. (page 144)

At this point, the reader does not know much about this character’s upbringing.  Why not write out the dialogue in which the character tells Kevin about it, rather than telling the reader that the character tells Kevin?  The sex scenes never veer into this telling rather than showing zone, and it would be nice if the plot points didn’t either.

There is also a chapter that is called the “epilogue,” which kind of bothered me since it is a direct continuance of the plot in the previous chapters.  No significant time is skipped, nothing in the future is explained.  It is basically the last chapter in the book.  I am uncertain as to why it is thus called an epilogue.  I was expecting it to update me on the future of these characters, not simply continue the story in a direct linear fashion from the last chapter.

Sex acts in the book include: anal sex (male on female), BDSM (male dom, female sub), and M/M kissing/touching.  Rape is mentioned as an occurrence in the past but is not depicted.  Those readers looking for more in-depth M/M scenes should keep their eye out for the next book in the series, as it appears that a M/M relationship will be building to greater intimacy in the next book.

Overall, this is a welcome addition to the paranormal romance genre, featuring a unique cast of characters, including a bisexual half-demon, half-shifter male hero.  The book contains a wide variety of sex scenes, including M/F BDSM and M/M kissing/touching.  Readers interested in in-depth world building may be disappointed by the lack of explanation of the supernatural world these characters inhabit.  Those looking for a quick, steamy read will enjoy these characters and the development of them that goes on in-between their well-written sex scenes.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review

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Book Review: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (Series, #3)

November 20, 2009 13 comments

Bill has been acting oddly distant with Sookie lately, so she isn’t exactly pleased when he announces he’s going to Seattle on a mission for the vampire queen of Louisiana.  She soon finds out from Pam and Eric, though, that Bill lied to her.  He’s actually been in Jackson, Mississippi with his one-time vampire lover, Lorena.  He’s also been kidnapped.  Something he’s been secretly up to has put them all in danger, so Sookie must put aside her anger for now and try to help the vampires free Bill and prevent a vampire war between the kingdoms of Mississippi and Louisiana.  Along the way, Sookie gets to know a whole lot more about the werewolves–not to mention about Eric.

I have to hand it to Harris, I expected there to be trouble in paradise for Bill and Sookie, but I didn’t expect it this soon or this serious.  Reading Club Dead made me realize this series isn’t about Sookie’s relationship with Bill, but about Sookie’s gradual entry into the supernatural world.  Bill just kind of served as a door.  I tend to be a bit of a romantic, but I’ve never really liked Bill nearly as much as the other supernatural guys, so let me just say–woohoo!

The plot is complex.  There are multiple mysteries for Sookie to figure out on top of dealing with her emotions about Bill’s betrayal and her odd popularity among the supernatural guys.  I enjoy the fact that she was never desired by human guys, but is among the the supernaturals.  It’s akin to the awkward growing up girl finding her niche in her 20s.  At first Sookie thought it was just Bill who has the major hots for her, but it turns out she’s a hot commodity with lots of the supernatural guys, but it isn’t just about her looks.  They like Sookie for her personality.  Something it seemed to me Bill never seemed to appreciate much.

Harris does a good job writing a unique werewolf world.  Whereas the vampires are notoriously cold emotionally, the werewolves are hot-blooded.  They’re passionate, strong, and animalistic.  Harris has them mostly working blue collar jobs, but excelling at it.  Sookie’s escort, Alcide, runs a highly profitable family general contracting business.

My only complaint is that Harris doesn’t seem to trust her readers to remember the rules of the world she’s created.  We get told yet again that silver chains can hold a vampire down, shifters aren’t out yet, Sookie had a hard time in school, the Japanese created synthetic blood, etc…  It’s annoying, and it makes it feel like Harris thinks she needs to dumb down the story for her readers.  I understand a quick rehash at the beginning of the book to remind us where we left off, but as for everything else, I think the reader can be trusted to remember that silver chain nets are dangerous to vampires.  Those parts are easily skimmed over though, and the res of the book makes up for it.

I originally was uncertain that Harris could keep Sookie Stackhouse’s world interesting for seven books.  I envisioned repeated “Bill and Sookie solve yet another mystery” outings, but I am glad to say I was mistaken.  As the books continue, more of the world is revealed, and Sookie’s life becomes more complicated.  I’m looking forward to what she’s going to reveal next.

If you enjoy the gradual building of a world around a strong female character, you will enjoy the direction this series is headed.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Bought on Amazon

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Previous Books in Series:
Dead Until Dark, review
Living Dead in Dallas, review