I won an Audible copy of Carmen Fox‘s Bound. I read and reviewed book one of The Silverton Chronicles, Guarded earlier in the month.
Description from Goodreads:
Florian has it all: excellent fashion sense, a kickass job with his best friend, and a hard-won place among Silverton’s werewolves. When a pack of females pads into their territory, Flo’s alpha dispatches him to handle a merger. Total cakewalk. Except Keely, their alpha, has no intention of submitting her wolves to Flo’s larger pack. Worse, a single glance from her baby blues sends his eloquence on vacation and his heartbeat into overdrive. His flirtations seem welcome too, but there’s a snag. She doesn’t know he’s a vampire.
While Flo struggles with his conflicts—obey his alpha or win over Keely—his estranged sire blasts into town with a catalog of radical ideas. And hanging out with unsophisticated werewolves didn’t make the list.
With violence in the air and all sides testing his loyalties, Florian must bite back, even if showing his fangs costs him the girl.
Look, I realize that not every book is going to be a feminist masterpiece. But there are times when a reader who is even remotely aware of stereotypical representations of women in fiction reads a book and can’t help but notice when a woman is pigeonholed in a patriarchal way. And there are times when this is done so drastically or repeatedly that it becomes an all-encompassing distraction for said reader. That is the case with me and this book. I was so often side-eyeing it with a ‘why does that female character act that particular way’ or ‘why is that women treated this way’ that it blotted out most of the rest of the story.
This book was infuriating. As far as I was concerned it’s basically a litany of ways to subtly to say ‘subservient to a man is a woman’s true place.’ Everything from the older female vampire who couldn’t stand up to her maker, while the younger brother was a “full grown male” so he could, to the ultra powerful Guardian who could only do her duty because her husband allowed her to, to the female alpha who didn’t really want to be an alpha, but “just a girl” (not woman mind you, but girl) who gives responsibility to someone else (a man). And of course she also happened to like to be tied up and spanked, another way to give away her power. And of course she was treated as unreasonable because she didn’t want to submit. And of course the solution the book comes to in the end was actually subservience to a male dressed up as something else.
But there’s more. There’s the vampire sister who really liked to clean up after her brothers and iron the clothes and domestically slave away for them, instead of pursuing her own career. And a whole boatload of victimized women who are treated as a commodity. But mostly, it’s just a ton of subtle little snipes that put men above women. And that’s without my getting into how dehumanizing I thought their constantly being referred to a ‘the females’ was. None of whom had names or personalities. They might as well have been ‘the vases’ or the ‘vehicles’ or ‘the incubators.’ It drove me crazy.
But stories that paint women as secretly wanting to place themselves in the hands of a man, instead of being responcible for themselves isn’t uncommon. The thing in this book that irritated me, but isn’t so common was the treatment of Ollie (maybe Ali, can’t tell with an audio version). Unless he gets an M/M book next in the series, I’m going to have to call that whole thing nothing more than queer bating. There is just no reason for Florian and Ivy to be bound to ‘mates’ in the same ceremony and one lead to a romance without readers expecting the same from the other. And there isn’t any reason to set this up with a man except queer bating. You might say it was so that Florian could get out of it to meet his mate here, but it simply wasn’t necessary in the first book, so it’s not necessary here. Queer. Bating.
Lastly, the whole thing was very predictable. I found it annoying that no one was supposed to see the obvious machinations. And I found the little bit of bondage and spanking irrelevant. It wasn’t well incorporated and felt unnatural in the sex scenes.
The thing is, this is a second book in a series and I had a lot of the same sort of problems with book one. So, I can’t say I’m surprised. But I really wanted to have this read and off my TBR. The mechanical writing seems fine, but the authors version of what should make women happy makes me gnash my teeth. The narrator, Brian Callanan did a fine job with it though.