Review of Eden’s Charms, by Jaclyn Tracey

Eden's CharmsI picked up a copy of Jaclyn Tracey’s Eden’s Charms from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
Part-time archeologist and full-time enchantress, Savanah St. James unearthed the world’s most sought after antiquity, Draq’s lair. About to open an exhibit in one of the most famous museums in London, Savanah thought she’d finally found her pot of gold until one man crashed into her–literally. And there in lay her problem. Savanah had an audacious knack for finding love in all the wrong places. 

Living the dream, Ethan Kitt had it all–money in his pocket, his own plane, freedom to travel the world, and a boss whose only request was blood once a week. Waiting in line at customs, Ethan’s dream of a woman in every port sank when he laid his eyes on the one woman who would whip his furry hide into submission. 

In the midst of being hunted by the most notorious vamp alive, Ethan and Savanah scour the Eastern coastline from New York to Louisiana trying to find a way to trust their instincts and each other in order to survive.

Review:

I’ll give this a 2.5 out of 5 stars. Based on my own enjoyment, I would probably rate it lower, but objectively it probably isn’t worth less. The problem(s) I had with it largely resulted from repeat confusion. Most notably, there are far, far, far, FAR, FAAARRR far, far too many characters.

Seriously, who are these people? There were about a billion characters in this novel. Then to muddle things further we had all the twins/relations with similar names..Jovan, Jonah, Julian. Olivia, Oliver. Savannah, Serina. Donovan, Duncan, Dylan, Devon. Xier, Xanter, Xavier. Then throw in a few nicknames for these people–Serri, Ands, Jules or Savvy, Doc, Jeanie, Vanah and Savage (the last of which I think are all the same person, BTW. If you weren’t confused enough by the glut of characters and their names Savannah has 4 or 5 nicknames (Doc might have meant Serina, since about 60% through it was casually mentioned that she had a doctorate) that are used interchangeably.) I was so lost on who was who.

What’s more, characters just KEPT showing up, some with almost no introduction. (All the way until 80+%, new characters were popping up and even after that we had all the new babies to contend with. I shouldn’t be meeting characters in the last 20% of a book. I just shouldn’t.) Many of these characters played very little role in the book, so why include them? They just clutter everything up.

Off the top of my head, without referencing the book (so excuse the spellings): Radcliff, Edan, Dylan, Devon, James, Father B., Kyle, Sydney, William, Molly and Duncan (and an endless supply of named background minions) could all be dropped from the plot completely, without effecting it at all. They contributed nothing. A number of others could be dropped or combined with very little change in the overarching plotline. The 12 (17 by the end I think) person family, all living in one home, could easily…should easily be thinned out. It’s too much to keep track of in one book. Raven’s husbands, for example, didn’t seem to do anything but follow Lucian and Andre about, so why not just send Andre and Lucian. Payton and Jonah seemed surplus to requirements.

In this little rant on characters, I have mentioned almost twenty names, twenty-five if you count nicknames. And that’s not all of them. I mean, the hero isn’t even on that list. So, have you been able to keep track? I wasn’t.

I was also confused about people’s species. At first, my very real bewilderment was based on mixing two or more characters up because their names were so similar. Honestly, I had Julian and Jonah mixed up for at least 30% of the book. So, when things like, ‘so and so doesn’t have werewolf strength like his brother,’ was said, I was thinking, ‘but I thought so and so was a werewolf. He’s not? Is he a vampire then? Why has he lived 100+ years?’

Similarly, one primary character was turned into a vampire at about the same time and I had thought him a vampire from the beginning. Apparently, there are vampires, werewolves, witches and (blood) donators and they can all give you virtual immortality (I think). But I never got a handle on who was what. I never even got a good understanding of the rules…or the world for that matter.

I also thought that there were a lot of inconsistencies. Ethan is unflappable and mouthy as hell, even when being held hostage, for example. But not five pages earlier he was so frightened of the same people that he pissed himself. That’s right, I just said the hero peed on himself in fear. How not sexy is that? I’ll give it props for probably being more realistic than most PNR books, but it’s fantasy. I don’t want my hero peeing down his own leg.

Additionally, the man is a straight up idiot. But then all of a sudden the reader is supposed to believe he has a Ph.D in Anthropology and Archaeology. There is no way that man has a Ph.D. in anything but skirt chasing and happy hours. Little facts like this were dropped regularly with no substantiation. He’s also apparently claustrophobic. This too was just causally slipped into narration with nothing to support or explain it.

Another inconsistency also happens to be one of my least favourite sex related tropes. The 114 year old woman who’s supposed to be sexually active but never had an orgasim and apparently doesn’t know to expect one. I HATE this trope. Anytime I hear a female character going on about ‘Something’s happening to my body. I’m shaking from the inside out.’ I want to throw my kindle at the wall. Plus, she might as well have been a virgin for as protective of her as her father is. It didn’t fit the otherwise open and adult relationship she had with her family.

There is very little actual sex in the book, but about 85% of the book is CHEESY sexual innuendo, or sexual teasing, fantasies or challenges/promises. ‘Don’t worry Savage, I’m gonna bla bla bla as soon as we get home.’ The innuendo got old fast…like before the very, very long one on page one (and the subsequent pages) ended. I was grinding my teeth by the end.

How can anything happen if 85% of the book is dedicated to IQ melting euphemisms (seriously, his penis is referred to as a microphone at one point), you might ask. Well, easily it would seem. You see, all action is skipped over. Repeatedly, characters got drunk, drugged or passed out (Savannah has some neurological disorder that makes her faint at the drop of a hat) and then action from that missed time was related when they woke up. I don’t want to be told, ‘Daddy, Dracula attacked and took Ethan’, I want to see Dracula attack and Ethan BE taken. The end result was that the reader is given very little direct action. The ONLY things we get real time are Savanah and Ethan’s cringe-worthy flirting and family time. NO ACTION.

There were also a lot of little personal irritants, like “shook her head, yes” and “nodded his head, no.” That just drove me crazy. Her clitoras was referred to as her mons. They’re just not the same thing, sorry. I thought I might scream if I had to read ‘private lips’ one more time. Savanah was said to be in estrus, but wasn’t meant to be fertile.  Then there was the absolutely predictable ending with the super-sappy conclusion, in which everyone is unrealistically forgiven and accepted. Gag. These things might not bother others, but I got very close to reaching the limits of my patients.

I did like Ethan’s tendency to be completely anal about his cars. At first, I just thought it made him seem like more of a douche, but after a while I came to see it as one of the few true character developments in the book. So, there, I did like something.

The writing was basically fine. Names were used too often to feel natural. However, with so many characters the names are often necessary to know who’s talking to whom. However, I see this as a symptom of too many characters instead of an excuse for too frequent name usage. Other than that, it was mechanically passable and not horribly edited.

Another reviewer noted that this is the third book in a series. I discovered that after finishing the book, when I was checking to see if my impression matched that of other readers. (It doesn’t.) But I couldn’t find anything anywhere to say for sure that this is the case. (It’s not on the cover, in the description or in the title/subtitle, so no way to verify) I don’t know how normal readers are supposed to know then, seems kinda important.

Being third in a series MIGHT explain some of my confusion in reading this book, but I’m fairly sure it couldn’t clear it all up. It made me wonder if this wasn’t where the problem with the glut of characters came from though. Did the author feel the need to include every character from the previous books? It’s not necessary, really.

Anyhow, I’m glad to be done with it. I know others will enjoy it but I’ll not be seeking out the rest of the series.

Sorry, I know that’s long (almost 1400 words), but brevity was never my strong point.

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