In yesterday's cartons were: Beth Kery's Sweet Restraint and Wicked Burn (two very hot contemporaries that caught my eye during my Birthday Bash), Victoria Dahl's Start Me Up (another contemporary. I've already read, and thoroughly enjoyed the first in the series Talk Me Down), Alex Beecroft's False Colors (an historical m/m romance which has received tremendous reviews) and The Smart Bitches/Trashy Books' Beyond Heaving Bosoms. (Which I plan to quote from if I'm ever invited to speak to my local literary group - you know, the one that told me that romances are written by and for people with an eighth grade education.)
Yeah, I'm all over the place in genres aren't I? I mustn't forget to add to the mix ...
I also received Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs (before it's official release date - woohoo!) which I'd pre-ordered from Chapters months ago. It's the latest in her Alpha and Omega series. This is another book that I sat down and devoured in one sitting. It's not a romance per se. (It's listed as being the second in the series, but the third book or second and a half, since the characters and their relationship were originally introduced in an anthology called On the Prowl that you really should read in order to understand Anna and Charles' relationship. If you have a Sony Reader, they carry Patricia's story Alpha & Omega as a stand-alone purchase. Heather Long has done a really good summation of the first two stories here.)
I went over to Patricia's website to get a blurb, but she doesn't have one. So I turned to the Chapters/Indigo site - this is what they had:
Mated to werewolf Charles Cornick, the son and enforcer of the leader of the North American werewolves, Anna Latham now knows how dangerous being a werewolf is, especially when a werewolf opposes Charles and his father is struck down. Charles' reputation makes him the prime suspect, and the penalty for the crime is execution. Now Anna and Charles must combine their talents to hunt down the real killer or Charles will take the fall.That has got to be the worst summation of the book. That is a very small part of the entire story. I think it covers maybe 1/10th of the storyline. When I first read it, it also made me think that Charles' father (Bran) was struck down, not the werewolf opposing Charles. Sheesh!
So what is the storyline? (Warning, I suck at blurbs, that's why I have someone else write them at Samhain.) Charles' father Bran has decided it is time for the werewolves to join the fae and come out in the open, so he's called the werewolves of Europe to meet with his representative Charles to give them fair warning. While some participants agree, others do not, especially one blood-thirsty French werewolf. While they're discussing the matter, there is a band of vampires attacking Omegas. Charles is finding it difficult to keep his mind on negotiations while trying to protect his mate, Anna from successive attacks.
First off, like writing blurbs, my ability to write reviews sucks. I can't define exactly what it is that I like about a book that I like, although I usually can tell you why I didn't like a book strangely enough. So what follows is not a review but more of my ramblings of what I liked and what it's solidifed in my thinking about writing.
I read a comment on another blog that the reviewer didn't like relationships that were already established. I don't mind that type of story. I'm not locked into the "first they meet, then they fall in love, then they marry and that's the end of that" type of story. I like watching Charles and Anna find their footing in their rather unusual relationship - their wolf halfs decided they were a match when their human halfs barely knew each other.
In Hunting Ground, they've now been together for a month or so, and they're on a bit firmer ground, though Anna's still shaky when it comes to matters in the bedroom thanks to some extremely abusive behavior from the pack's alpha and the others of her old pack. I liked watching how Charles fought to keep her safe, even when it meant cutting her out of his thoughts, which made Anna feel even more vulnerable. Where on occasion in the first books, Anna's cringing bugged me (this is TOTALLY on me -- I cannot imagine anyone having gone through what Anna went through without reacting the way she did. My reaction in no way reflects on Ms. Brigg's writing), in Hunting Ground Anna's making strides to push past her fear, to accept her wolf half and is exploring what it means to be an Omega wolf (which means she's got the alpha side but without the need to fight to assert her dominance. An omega exists outside the pack ranks and by their very nature brings a peacefulness to the others in the pack so Omegas are to be treasured.)
I have to admit, the one character I adore in this series is Charles. He is one HOT werewolf -- he's half Native America and half Welsh. His father is the head alpha - the Marrok - of all North American werewolves. Though he's extremely dominant/alpha himself, but not dominant over his father, his dad uses him as his henchman - his enforcer - which goes against Charles' natural nature.
It was one of those books I didn't want to end, I wanted to see the next one and find out more about how Charles and Anna's relationship developed. Okay, so I just wanted to read more about Charles. ;)
When I first decided I wanted to get serious about my writing, this is the type of story I wanted to write. I even have an old fantasy storyline that follows one couple through three books. But I wasn't sure if it would sell. I think after reading Ann Aguirre's Blue Diablo - that follows Corinne Solomon who is reuniting with her ex-husband (not romantically --yet--but in order to save his mother's life), Patricia's Hunting Ground has confirmed for me that it can be done. I'm going to give it a shot with an urban fantasy plot I've been fiddling with for a while now.
So if you like urban fantasy with romantic elements, as opposed to having that "meet/fall in love/marry HEA" at the end, where the relationship progresses over a series of books, you should enjoy Hunting Ground.