My Forbidden Desire
Everyone knows there are only so many plotlines in the world. When they are additionally circumscribed by vampires and demons and werewolves and your garden-variety homo sapiens, it takes really special characters – not plots, not settings, and not six-volume background material, mind you – characters to bring the series above par. Author A’s vampires can slurp with their right fangs and regurgitate with their left, which is totally different from Author B’s furry demons who are only fertile when they turn purple during orgasm. But in the end I’ll be remembering the characters thank you very much, not the latest paranormal gimmick.
Take My Forbidden Desire, for example. We have mages and fiends and witches (oh my!) allied or rivalled in various permutations and combinations, and there’s something about magic being transferred around different people a couple gazillion times and a magic talisman that traps souls as well as the heroine’s evil father who is trying to re-enslave the hero – but do I care? Hell no. Does it matter? Nein, mein Herr. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, except that when the plot, setting, and info dumps combined rival Novocaine, it is necessary – no, imperative – no, essential to the reader’s sanity that the characters justify the book’s existence. That not being the case, this book is on its way to the morgue, and this reader barely regains her sanity.
See, Alexandrine Marit, witch, is being bodyguarded by Xia No Last Name, fiend, who Hates witches and their kind. But in between all the bodyguarding is the magic talisman and the magic bouncing back and forth, and the evil father blah blah blah, as well as some panting and sweating and BAM! a love story. Uh-huh. Preposterous plot aside, Alexandrine and Xia spend the first two days swearing and lusting at each other, and the last two days magicking and lusting at each other. In between there’s some grocery shopping and joyriding and lots of fighting, and it’s an altogether frightfully tedious experience.
It needn’t have been, though. Alexandrine has a missing brother who turns up after an absence of ten years – but does Ms. Jewel take the opportunity for some quality character development? Of course not. Can the author convince me that Xia is more than a curly-haired thug with a foul mouth and a hang-up against witches? Nyet. And mightn’t Ms. Jewel at least palliate this bitter brew with her honeyed prose? In my dreams.
If there are any publishing editors of paranormal romance reading this, hear my cry, O Earthly Redeemers: Ye who have the power to regulate the flux of literary supernaturalism, ebb rather than flow, I beg of you. Because at this juncture, I no longer give a rip.