Archive for the ‘Frank’ Category

Fact Overload

December 30, 2008
As I have previously posted, I loved Jacquelyn Frank’s Jacob. However, when I delved into Gideon, I found like it was just a retelling of all the facts we discovered in Jacob with a little dose of romance between Gideon and Legna. Though I enjoyed the many appearances of Jacob and Bella as secondary characters, Gideon’s story wasn’t independent enough for me to think of it as a good read. 
Disappointed, I put down the series. But I must note that I do own the rest of the Nightwalkers. I have Elijah, Damien, and Noah sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. When I found out that Frank was coming out with a new loosely connected series, The Shadowdwellers, I was looking forward to a fresh start and hoping to relive the excitement that I felt when I first picked up Jacob.
Boy was I disappointed. There are a few reasons for my dislike of this new novel, Ecstasy. They’re listed in the following…
First, the readers are inundated with facts straight off the bat. Initially, when I started the first few chapters, I thought it was an interesting concept. The heroine, Ashla, is involved in a car accident and when she wakes, finds that she is the only occupant of New York. Everything works around her and food is replenished from what seems to be out of thin air, but she is utterly alone, save for occupying herself by shopping to her heart’s content without the need for green or plastic. She has a startling encounter with two men who fight to the death and while she heals the victor, Trace, she runs away when he is shocked that not only can she heal his wounds, but she can see him. 
But after I read their encounter, I found myself being loaded with paragraphs upon paragraphs of facts of the Shadowdweller world. The narrative went on for pages with no point other than the author needing to convey these facts to the readers. I found myself glazing over the facts and being bored with the lack of conversation and this method of delivery. As a reader, I want to find out about facts through character interaction or through the plot. What I don’t want is being told what I need to know all at one time. I want to peel the layers of the plot and this strange new world a few facts at a time, not have it shoved at me.
Second, and this is a biggie: the character connection. To make a successful romance work, the connection of the hero and heroine needs to be established strongly otherwise readers won’t buy them as they progress into their romance. I had high hopes for Trace because he possessed a lot of the same traits that Jacob did. Trace is an advisor to his people, much like how Jacob is the Enforcer for the Demons, acting like the second in command to Noah. Trace is basically like that. But Trace’s connection to Ashla isn’t set up as strongly as Jacob was to Bella. 
Trace and Ashla’s first sexual interlude was too…crude, for a lack of a better word. It was supposed to be that way because of Trace succumbing to euphoria in the Shadowscape. But, as a reader, I didn’t like seeing this first connection written like this. It wasn’t done well, in my opinion. First sexual encounters set up a tone and baseline for what the reader expects. Sometimes it’s fast and hard because the characters can’t get to each other fast enough. Sometimes it’s infinitely tender to savor the moment. 
But I found Trace and Ashla’s encounter to be sorely lacking. It wasn’t animistic like Lora Leigh’s Breeds. Leigh’s “cruder” sex scenes are sometimes hard, yes, (like in the first half of Tanner’s Scheme) but there is some cushion provided for the reader. (As in the alpha male’s need to sate his mate and to take care of her even if his mind doesn’t jive with what his heart is telling him) However, I found that Trace’s rough sex scenes and his concern for only his enjoyment because of euphoria was too tough to swallow. There was little concern for Ashla and though she didn’t feel slighted, I as the reader, didn’t appreciate it. I was hoping that the connection of the characters would be rectified, but it wasn’t.
Third, I felt like the characters were too undeveloped. Ashla carries wounds from her mother telling her that she’s the spawn of the devil. Yes, that’s a bit lame but I’ll overlook it. Ashla isn’t a very strong character. She doesn’t have much of a backbone and Trace calls her a “submissive.” I, personally, do like a heroine that isn’t a ball buster but my lack of feeling toward Ashla wasn’t because she was submissive, but because she was too flat. Her personality was written well for a secondary character, not for the main heroine. All in all, I cared very little and connected even less about the heroine, which doesn’t bode well for a romance book. 
Additionally, I think there were elements of Trace that were hinted at but sadly undeveloped as well. We find out that he was prisoner of war and tortured but that wasn’t discussed much (if at all), and while we’re told that Ashla helps mend those wounds in Trace, the reader doesn’t feel that at all. Basically, it came down to the fact that I cared very little about the couple and thought that their connection was nil.
Fourth, there was too much going on trying to keep the plot afloat. Trace’s life is on the line because there are traitors among their higher ranking counsel members and someone is trying to undermine the authority of the government. There were more than just the point of views from Trace and Ashla. There were at least four other characters having their own bits and pieces told from their POVs. A reason that I felt so under connected with the main couple is because of all that superfluous noise (POVs) from characters that shouldn’t have taken precedence in a book that should be all about Trace and Ashla.
Fifth was the sexual element. As an obvious attempt to ramp up the sexuality in this new series, we’re told through Trace that the Shadowdwellers really value sex ed. Now, this isn’t the run of the mill “insert tab B into slot A” kind of education. Shadowdwellers are given all kinds of sexual education from different forms of foreplay to classes given to youngsters in which they observe a couple engaging in sexual play. 
Now, if this were a book under an erotica label, I’d understand this. But the reader is given no signs of this kind of turn in the plot. It kind of comes out of left field and I don’t think it was handled all that well. Given the (somewhat) disastrous first sexual encounter of Trace and Ashla where it was devoid of the necessary emotional connection, it felt like Frank brought up this whole “sex ed” factor to give a little umph to the book. I did not like it. It wasn’t all that hot and it just didn’t work for me. Where it was intended to be sexy, came off as forced and a thinly veiled contrivance to try to sex up the book. Sex in romance books, even in erotica, should serve a purpose and I felt that in this scenario, it didn’t.
In many instances, I felt like Ecstasy was a reworking of Jacob but with a different coat of paint. There were many similarities and felt like I was being cheated out of what should be an original series. Bella and Ashla share similar characteristics as to why humans would fit into this world of Others. But with Ashla, the answer comes as no surprise to the reader. Once you figure out a few hints, the “surprise” is no surprise at all. Trace is like Jacob, defending his people but caught up in this distracting web with the heroine. But Trace wasn’t written as well as Jacob; his character not as fleshed out as he should have been. Both hero and heroine were too flat, too one dimensional, for the reader to truly care for their outcome. The plot as a whole was too factual and didn’t flow as well as I would have hoped. Events seemed to occur and characters drifted in and out with no real direction other than to reach the end. I finished the book because it was there, not because I couldn’t put it down.
1.5 out of 5: For reasons mentioned in the review, I didn’t enjoy the book though I had high hopes for it to succeed. I have enjoyed Frank’s books before but was disappointed by this new venture. I felt that it had some points for originality with how humans fit into the Shadow world, but the execution of the book was what made it fail in my eyes. 

As Comfortable as a Well-Worn T-Shirt

February 20, 2008
If you like your heroes that are traditionally tall, dark, and handsome with a protective streak that runs wider than a five-lane freeway, Jacqueline Frank’s debut novel Jacob is the book for you. If your ideal hero possesses a strong moral compass, don’t miss out on this book. If you need a break from reading plot heavy romances where the life or death situation continually hangs over the reader’s head all the way up until the very end then Jacob is a must read.

In my opinion, Jacob could easily be either a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ kind of book. The first in Frank’s Nightwalker series, it introduces the race of characters. Though strictly in the paranormal sub-genre, I must admit that Frank has not carved a very deep niche in distinguishing herself from others. In Jacob we’re introduced to the demons which are our main race of Nightwalkers. They are basically those who are in tune with Mother Nature in a way that everyone is representative of an element. Jacob, is an Earth demon and is strongly connected to the Earth as a whole. Frank makes her distinction of the sexes by making demons of the same element possessing different attributes according to male or female. For example, a female demon of the mind is not telepathic, but more empathetic.

Why is Jacob a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’? Frank safely opens the series with heavy heavy emphasis on her two lead characters and lots of emotions run amuck. The plot is thin at best and entire story centers around Jacob and the other demons looking for a reason as to why Isabella, a human, temps Jacob so. Again, plot is meager at best.

Jacob, the Enforcer, is ingrained with the important duty of keeping his race in line whenever the full moon comes out. The reason being that in times of the full moon, demons sometimes falter and seek out humans. A rule of the demons is that they must live in harmony, though separately, from humans and it falls to Jacob’s shoulders that no harm comes to any human. On one night, during the time of the moon, Jacob is out hunting a possessed demon and comes across Isabella. In a twist of events, Jacob saves Isabella, who in turn, saves him back. To figure out how she could possibly do what she did, Jacob whisks her away to his home to solve the puzzle. The problem? Jacob, the one who is said to be beyond temptation, is drawn to Isabella. Oh, did I mention that it’s a big no-no for demon/human sex?

So far, I’ve made it seem that this is a ‘not worthy of a read’ sort of book. No. It’s actually one of my favorites. Why? It’s the best to fall back on when you just want to read some good ol’ interaction between the hero/heroine that just makes you want to sink into a puddle of good feelings. The constant emotions and the battle of them makes it a delightful read. Definitely not one to read for plot, it is however, a book to read if you like a hero who’ll go to any lengths to protect the woman he loves. Wonderfully protective, slightly possessive, Jacob is a typical yummy hero that comes to mind when thinking of the genre of romance.

For all my love of the books with a good mystery, a bad guy out for blood, and a hero totting a gun, Jacob is one of my eternal fall-back books when I’m not in the mood to think about the story too much. When all I want is some emotion and palpable love between the characters, Jacob is the perfect remedy.

4.5 out of 5: Purely because of the emotions. This book has appealed to my personal tastes and that is the reasoning for the higher rating. The plot is not intricate but the delicious connection between Jacob and Bella are enough to make me want to pick this book up from time to time just for the hell of it. A definite re-read. And yes, my copy is indeed dog-eared.