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kinda/sorta a Review of Bound By Blood, by Tara Manderino

Bound By BloodI downloaded a copy of Tara Manderino‘s Bound By Blood from the Amazon free list. I read it as the final book in my Bound By Blood reading challenge, in which I set out to read 5 books titled Bound By Blood.

Description from Goodreads:
In his two-hundred and fifty years as a vampire, Alex only observed, never intervened with any of his progeny, yet what else can he do when a little girl of his lineage is kidnapped? When he meets Lisa, the child’s nanny, his protective instincts kick into gear, yet he finds he must expose her to ever increasing danger as they search for the missing child. To protect Lisa from perils she is unaware of, he harbors her in his own home.

With Lisa’s help, Alex is able to determine who has the child. Learning why she was abducted rocks him on his heels and sets off a transcontinental search that leads to ancient myths of the Cardinal’s Ruby; the stone in Alex’s ring.

Alex and Lisa have one shot to save the child, but will they be able to stop the impending destruction raining down?

Review:
I’m afraid I gave up on this at 40%. I just wasn’t going to be able to make it any farther. (And I hate not finishing a book.) It’s like Manderino went out and read the 50 most popular PNR novel and then took the 50 most common scenes and crammed them into a novel. As a literary experiment, it might have been interesting, but as an attempt at a readable novel it failed.

For example, how many PNR books have you read in which a man can’t get a woman to be quiet so he kisses her? Yep, that’s in here, except it makes even less sense than normal (and lets be honest, it almost never makes sense anyway). Here they’re running down a sidewalk, in a hurry, both mad and he actually even has a free hand he could cover her mouth with if just stressing the importance of quiet didn’t work for him. Plus, it REALLY came out of nowhere.

Or how about the ‘the only way I can keep you safe is if you come to my house’ trope? Yep, that’s here too. But it shows up after the characters have known eachother for less than 24 hours, only in professional capacity and there has been no credible build-up of…well, of anything (friendship, lust, love, trust, anything). The two had hardly even spoken. The reason these scenes are familiar is that they pop up a lot, but to see one book with so many of them (even at only 40% through) makes the whole thing feel horribly unimaginative.

Everything is flat. There is no emotional resonance in anything. Alex tells Lisa he’s a vampire…no reaction. He flies with her across the room…”nice trick,” she says. But even worse than that, is the whole attempt at a romance. The book pulls all the expected shticks. He can’t stop thinking of her. He’s enamoured, but doesn’t know why. Bla Bla Bla. But the thing is that their meeting is dull. There is no build-up in their attraction, but neither is there any dun dun dunn big deal meeting. So, Alex’s attraction to her (or love or lust or whatever, it’s not even clear because it’s so poorly executed) feels completely out of left field, unsupported and hollow…FLAT, like everything else in the first 40% of the novel.

Alex is supposed to care so much that his great-great…granddaughter has been kidnapped, but he doesn’t seem to actually be all that concerned. She’s referred to as ‘the child’ throughout the book, he walks away even after discovering where she is, he never asks what she’s like, etc. Again, it’s just FLAT.

The heroine is Too Stupid To Live and does all the expected stupid things that heroines do in such books. She runs off on her own after being told how dangerous it is because she didn’t get her way. She disbelieves everything she’s told loooong after her disbelief is no longer believable (come on, the man picked her up and levitated across the room and she didn’t bat an eyelash and still didn’t believe he was a vampire when he told her). She makes rescue attempts on her own instead of calling anyone for help, etc. Honestly, it’s the TSTL aspect of the book that finally made me give up. When she ignored all reasonable warnings about the danger and AGAIN ran out on her own to try and rescue Sandy I gave up.

But nothing was helped by the fact that there are no transitions between events, no character development, no world-building, and names are used too often in dialogue. The book needs a copy edit and I just can’t take anymore.

I normally wouldn’t review the book since I didn’t finish it. But since it was the fifth book in my Bound By Blood challenge, not reviewing it would leave my challenge incomplete and that would have haunted me.

Review of Bound By Blood (The Garner Witch #1), by P.A. Lupton

Bound By BloodBook four of my own little personal Bound By Blood book challenge, where I set out to read all five books on my shelves called, you guessed it, Bound By Blood, is by P. A. Lupton. I grabbed it some times ago as a freebie on Amazon.

Description from Goodreads:
FBI agent and psychic, Brianna Reece, descends from an ancient and powerful bloodline of witches, only she doesn’t know it. But now that legacy has come back to bite her—literally.

In the shadows of night in Denver Colorado, a serial killer is hunting women, and FBI agent Brianna Reece is hunting the killer. Unlike any case she’s worked before, Brianna can’t ignore the prickling at the back of her neck when she glimpses the resemblance she shares with the victims. The investigation begins to touch even closer to home when it is revealed that all of the victims were also psychic.

Complicating matters further, Brianna is captivated by the FBI’s prime suspect Nathan Donovan. Though she senses he is hiding something from her, the attraction she feels for him is compelling, and unlike anything she’s ever experienced. Through a chance twist of fate, Nathan learns of Brianna’s ancestry and is forced to divulge secrets to Brianna that will change her life forever.

When she learns that the killer is an evil vampire, and he’s now set his sights on her, Nathan alone holds the key to awakening her dormant powers. Now he must race to teach her how to control her emergent gifts before she becomes the next victim.

Somewhat spoilerish ranty review
This is one of those books that when someone asks you how it was you stop, think really hard and can still only come up with “meh, it was OK.” And it is. It’s OK. It’s not good by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t quite call it bad either. And I can’t come up with any one big issue I have with it, just a myriad of small annoyances that eventually put me off as a reader.

Things like the fact that the heroine, a psychic FBI agent, follows no procedural protocol at all and never suffers any consequences. In fact, her boss doesn’t even seem to exist. She starts investigating the case before she’s officially assigned to it, or even started her job for that matter. Then she’s immediately on the ball and working cases as if she’s worked there for years, even though it’s supposedly her first day. No need to meet the co-workers, get assigned a desk, learn the ropes, etc for Reece apparently.

But even more than that, she is assigned her first case as a member of the Denver FBI office and then it miraculously ends up all being about her. It’s not even like the killer comes after her. It really feels like she’s been randomly assigned a case, all ‘Yo, Reece, you’re up in rotation. Next case is yours,’ like and then suddenly it’s a personal vendetta against her and her family. Um, until a week earlier, she didn’t even live in the state and the murders had been going on for months (years, but no one knows that yet), so how realistic is that little twist? I think the author swapped plots about halfway through the book.

Plus, I never understood some of the basic groundwork of the plot. For example, if your whole family was being hunted down would your first thought be to scatter (disperse your power base) and bind the powers of your children, while not tell them about the dangers. Yep, that’s logic–if we pretend the danger doesn’t exist and make sure you can’t defend yourself if by chance it does, we’ll all be safe in the end. How does that even make sense in the first place?

Then there is the incredibly schmaltzy love. A lot of the book is dedicated to Reece and Donovan fawning over eachother. It’s an insta-love and it’s all so saccharine sweet. They go from I’m intensely attracted to you but you’re a suspect in my case, to I’ll love you forever, move in with me, in no time at all. Too fast, to forced, too much of the same. I got sick of all the kissing and fade to black sex.

Then there is the history of sexual assault that seemed to contribute nothing to the plot. This is a person button for me. A history of rape (or attempted rape in this case) can be important to a plot. I’m not arguing it can’t, but when it’s not an integral part of the plotting why include it? It neither elicits sympathy from the reader nor proves the woman’s resilience or strength. It was essentially pointless as far as I can see.

Then there were the multiple deus ex machina events. Every time Reece found herself in danger (including her attempted rape) she got out of it by developing some new, never suspected or attempted power that she miraculously wields to the detriment of her attacker.

Well, isn’t that convenient. Almost as convenient as the fact that she’s able to keep conscious and taunting her nemesis after he’s drugged her, stabbed her repeatedly (almost gutting her at one point) and beaten her about the face. It is, however, admittedly less convenient than the fact that her attempted sexual assaulter was still able to chase her through the woods and catch her after she kicked his knee to the side and broke the bones. I’m fairly sure that even with the adrenaline and endorphins of shock, someone with a broken leg wouldn’t be chasing her down and still trying to rape her.

Then there was her ridiculous bravado in the face of otherwise certain defeat. This is another personal annoyance for me. Why do some characters get to mouth off to authority figures who would squash anyone else for being so impertinent and get away with it? Granted, the bad guy isn’t an authority figure, but she never shut up with her snarky comments, even when he tortured her and still he never killed her. Then she meets the all powerful council who literally could squash her like a bug and, knowing nothing of the rules or etiquette, mouths off and challenges them, again with no consequences. Suicide by mouth, I call it, but always, somehow, with a stay of execution. I don’t get it or like it.

Then there is the classic, “Hi, I’m the villain you’ve been chasing. Let me monologue my ill-intent for a while.” And that same villain was fairly predictable in the end. No big surprises there. The villains’ need to go on and on about themselves is almost as bad as the endless and obvious info-drops throughout the book.

I will say that, with the exception of a too frequent use of names in dialogues and a few too many adjective and adverbs in the speech tags (this rarely works well for a first person narrative) the writing was pretty good. I have the re-edited version and though I noticed a few missing words and spaces, it wasn’t as badly edited as some of the early reviews say. I probably wouldn’t even bother mention it if it hadn’t been an obvious issue in the earlier edition.

So, for the right reader, one who doesn’t mind a lot of affectionate down time with the characters, for example, this will probably be a real winner. For me, it wasn’t.

Review of Bound By Blood (Soul Mates #1), by Jourdan Lane

Bound By BloodIt’s day three of my personal Bound By Blood challenge, where I set out to read five books titled Bound By Blood. Today’s fare was Jourdan Lane‘s Bound By Blood.

Description from Goodreads:
Houston nightclub Rave is famous for nearly-naked male dancers and beautiful bartenders. Like Peter, a young man with a strict rule about one-night stands with locals. He breaks that rule for Lucien, the owner of The Den, a rival nightclub where there are no boundaries, no taboos. Only he doesn’t realize just who Lucien is when he does. When Peter finds out that the man he wants to get to know even more is a vampire, he figures he should have stuck to that rule. He’s not fan of vampires or most other creatures of the night, but Lucien is relentless in his seduction. Peter resists Lucien as long as he can, but when he gives in, he does it in a big way, falling headfirst in to the dark, violent world of vampires, werewolves, and other creatures he’s only read about. 

Peter and Lucien begin a very dangerous dance of sensual heat and deep emotion, one that causes them nothing but trouble. No one approves of the human and vampire match, including those in Lucien’s Coven, old enemies, and even older friends. Peter and Lucien have to struggle to stay together and protect those they love. Can they beat the forces that will try to tear them apart forever? And can they face what will become of Peter if they stay together?

Review:
The first thing anyone needs to know about this book is that it’s porn with plot. It’s a weak plot to be fair, but there is a little plotting. There is also lots and lots and lots and lots of sex. There is so much sex that about half way through this book, even suspending as much disbelief as one has to to read vampire/werewolf themed erotica, I started to cringe on behalf of the characters. Seriously, there couldn’t have had any skin left between them. I had sympathy friction burns and could only see them as rubbed absolutely raw. Raw, I tell you!

It’s fun sex though. It’s all consensual. It’s all of the ‘let me show you how much I love you’ sort, even when it’s not monogamous. And it’s not. The end of this book is essentially a series of orgies, with no indication that these men mean this situation to change. But it is sweet in its own way.

I did find the first third or so of the book clunky. Characters had complete 180° attitude shifts with no indication of an impetus of change. At one point, a man went from terrified of all things vampire to unafraid and half in love/lust with one in the course of a paragraph and I still have no idea why (other than he had to for the plot to progress). Meanwhile, his best friend went from encouraging him to get over his vampire-phobia to adamantly insisting he have nothing to do with the vampire, with no apparent reason to change his mind

The events of the story also moved from one to another, covering months at a time and glossing over the actual falling in love aspect of the romance with no transitions. It was jarring and I started to fear the book was heading toward a DNF. But once the characters accepted each-other things smoothed out. However, as they accepted each-other and Peter moved farther and farther into Lucien’s world their personalities changed drastically. They felt inconsistent.

Despite all that, the writing is really good and if you’re looking for some basic fap matter (or whatever the female equivalent is, schlick I think) this will do the trick.