Review of Immortal Becoming (The Enlightened Species, #1), by Wendy S. Hales

Immortal BecommingI grabbed Wendy S. HalesImmortal Becoming (The Enlightened Species, #1) from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
Shane Einar is a five hundred year old Volaticus Elven warrior, sworn to duty and honor. His species has inhabited the earth since the beginning of time. The sources of vampire, elf and fairy myths, Volaticus are in reality something altogether different. He never expected to meet Jess Reed. A female living amongst humanity completely unaware that she is Hulven, a human/Elven hybrid race of Volaticus, or that she is on the cusp of Becoming into her Elven traits.

Shane should turn Jess over to the Symbiosis of Species Council, SOSC. His attraction to her along with her ability to enrapture him with a smile bars him from it. He rightly suspects that this female is his bloodmate. 
Jess had always been psychic, a painful and confusing fact of her life. With Shane’s loving support she learns to control her abilities and discovers the psychically enlightened species that share this world. 

Together they sacrifice the power of their bloodmating in the battle to save females from breeding cages under the control of an Elven rogue.

Review:

**mild spoiler**
This book has a ton of great reviews and very few bad ones. I guess I’m in the minority, but I found myself constantly annoyed at with it. The writing was simplistic, but passable. So, that wasn’t the issue. It was the characters and some aspects of the plot that made me alternatively scoff, roll my eyes, groan, growl and cringe and almost never laugh, smile, or blush. I just didn’t particularly enjoy reading it.

Important things, like the kidnapping of a relatively major character and the fight around it were glossed over quickly while other, less important things (Jorie’s low iron level drama, for example) were described in excruciating and never-ending detail.

I’m also fairly sure it’s meant to be PNR, not erotica, which means that the focus shouldn’t be more heavily centred on the characters’ sexual relationship than the rest of the plot. But, as much as I love a steamy sex scene or two (dozen), here the amount of time dedicated to the Jess and Shane’s sexual attraction (not necessarily actual sex, but thoughts, actions, words, etc related to their attraction to one another) eclipsed the story.

Plus, it had one of the most ridiculous virginal sex scenes ever. Please! So unrealistic. I don’t demand realism in my fantasy, but I do expect not to spend the whole time so distracted by the lack of realistic emotions, actions, reactions, etc. that it ruins the experience. The sex didn’t really improve after that, either. As example, at one point Jess gets two swats on the butt and is then said to be ‘close to orgasm.’ Really two slaps on the bum (15 seconds worth) is all she needs? She then literally orgasmed on entry (another 15 seconds). Ugh.

I was further infuriated by Jess’ version of post-coital pillow talk. The cliché sexually molested foster child disclosure…seriously, can authors not think of any other history for female characters? I swear I’ve read this same scene, or some slight variation of it hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times. I’m so sick of it. Both because of the repetitive nature of encountering it so regularly and because it’s often irrelevant to the rest of the plot. I consider it a cheap attempt at character development by giving the girl a tragic past and generally think poorly of most authors who use it. Not always, sometimes it’s important. This wasn’t one of those times though. It contributed nothing of importance to the story, so why include it?

Plus, Jess chose to disclose this little gem of history right in the middle of an otherwise happy scene with a man she’d known for mere hours. As if this wouldn’t be a total downer, or she wouldn’t worry about it being too heavy for their infantile relationship, or she wouldn’t be embarrassed. As if this was a perfectly natural thing to bring up at that point in time, with that person. It was not! It was ridiculous. Predictable. Unnecessary. It didn’t even flow naturally. She wasn’t supposed to have been having a flashback or have been reminded of it by the sex. She just blurted it out of nowhere. Again, why?

Shane, predictably, wasn’t put off by any of this. He just went on thinking how amazing/strong/etc she was. This was a theme for him. Love will do that to a guy, I guess. But the thing is, for most of the book, I didn’t see Jess do anything noteworthy to earn this respect. She cried at the drop of a hat, was too stubborn, and had a tendency to just accept anything put in front of her with little to no critical thought.

As I mentioned, most of the writing is fine. There are some editing issues, but they aren’t too distracting. What was though were the thousand-year-old immortals who talked like teenagers. I don’t just mean using modern slang. That would be bad enough, but things like referring to another as Mom (even though the point was made elsewhere that due to their long lives they generally call their parents by name). Hearing a 3000+ year old man call, ‘The yard is clear, Mom.’ was just WRONG on so many fronts.

The book has an interesting idea. If the world-building had been a little more robust it could have been really good. Ms. Hales obviously has done a lot of thinking about the different species, the political system, the biology etc. The outline is there. But it’s fairly complex and since not enough time is dedicated to explaining it, the reading is left confused by it. But it would be unfair to not point out that there is a really interesting world being developed here.

I have the rest of the series and I imagine I’ll read them at some point, but not right not. According to the blurbs, the heroine in book 2 has been used for a blood/breeding slave for decades (repeatedly raped and impregnated), the heroine in book 2.5 is saved from a gang rape by the hero and in book three we’re back to the breeding slaves (rape, rape, rape, anyone else see a theme in here?) Since, as I’ve mentioned, rape as an easy plot device isn’t something I enjoy, I can only take so many books BASED on female victimhood in a row. I guess I’m just odd like that. So, I need a break from the series before I can finish it out. (Though I have to admit the temptation of Gil and Innanna…)

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