Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer

Title:A Blood Seduction
Author:Pamela Palmer
Publication Date:May 29, 2012
Publisher's DescriptionVampires live only for lust and pleasure in the eternal twilight of Vamp City. But the city’s magic is dying. The only person who can restore it? A beautiful woman from the mortal who knows nothing of the power she wields.

Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see—and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her.

What Arturo can’t do is forget about her—any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission—his to save his people, hers to save herself.

But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red. Welcome to Vamp City...
My rating:**

I chose to review this book because it seemed like something that I would really like. A lot of the action takes place in a world parallel to our own, and I’m always interested to see how authors handle a world that is at once familiar and new. In Ms. Palmer’s case, I would say, not well. I was horrified by so much that happened in this book. Vampires as a story element are certainly au courant, but the gender and power dynamics of this novel could easily have come from any less progressive bodice ripper of the 70s or 80s. “What the…” was a common refrain as I read this.

First of all, Quinn was ENSLAVED and end up feeling all gooey and warm toward her captor. Almost immediately! The phenomenon of Stockholm Syndrome was named after a course of events that unfolded over six days. Quinn was already making an ass of herself over Arturo on day one. Second, and maybe I’m just sensitive about this, I really hate how acts of mental and even physical cruelty toward women in this book are seen as negligible, because at least they’re not sexual violence (although there was plenty of that to go around, as well). Really???

I understand what an anti-hero is, but I think that Arturo’s really just a jerk. The source of his conflict was inane, and Kassius served as an embodiment of why Arturo’s supposed unshakeable loyalty was even dumber than it initially appeared to be. Then again, maybe Arturo is perfect for Quinn, because she’s an idiot. She’s supposed to be intelligent enough to be a scientist, but seems pretty slow on the uptake. She gives her trust too easily, to a person she should not, who (rather sportingly) warns her against doing so, then betrays her; to get an idea of the rest of the book, lather, rinse, and repeat. Even after he proves himself untrustworthy and admits to lying when it is expedient to do so, she still continues to take Arturo at his word! What does it take to get her to wake up and realize that the only person she can depend on is herself (answer: I don’t know, she does’t reach this conclusion by the somewhat hilarious end of this book). Furthermore, Quinn observes the speed and strength of vampires relative to that of humans, and still manages to completely underestimate them. What does it take to get through to this woman?

I didn’t feel at all invested in Quinn’s emotional connection to Arturo, which I was really glad for as I reached the end of this book. Maybe I’m just not in the target demographic for this book, because I didn’t get or enjoy it at all.

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Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Author:Andrea Cremer
Publication Date:June 2011
Publisher's DescriptionCalla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything - including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
My rating:****

Warning, this review is mildly spoileriffic.

This book was certainly an interesting take on werewolves and witches. I wasn’t too sure about this world when I first started reading, but it quickly grew on me. My hesitation was due to the fact that I may have werewolf fatigue (I just finished a review copy of Raven Calls, that review will come out closer to the book’s publication date), and also because the publisher’s description sounds far more insipid than I found this book to be.

There were things about this book that didn’t thrill me. I thought that the Keepers’ rules regarding the purity of female alphas was just to the left of the Taliban’s, and this more than anything helped me get on Team Anybody Else. I’m already against any culture that slut-shames a girl for a kiss but feels that it’s perfectly okay for a boy to sleep his way around the high school. Hey, Keepers, the 50s called, and they want their gender roles back. I also didn’t get why the kids at the school were so afraid of the Guardians. I believe that the explanation provided about how this world works is that the humans did not know what was different about the Guardian kids. Why, then, were they afraid of them? Why were the teachers? What did everybody else think it was that set these people apart? I may reread the early pages of this book and see if I overlooked something.

On a more positive note, I felt that some of the choices the characters in this book made washed away some of the Twilight sludge that has stubbornly stuck to my brain jelly for the last several years. Things that in that series would have necessitated 1) an interspecies altercation or 2) a marriage licence happened here in a nicely understated way. I appreciated how Ms. Cremer gave her characters layers, and even the personalities of the less prominent pack members shone through. My only regret is that my public library’s ebook site is down right now, because I really need to check out the second book in this series!

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