Friday, July 4, 2014

Seduced By Innocence - Karpov Kinrade

All my life I've been told that I will kill my first love. That the dark power I harbor within myself will destroy him.  Just like it's destroyed others.  Witches take an oath to do no harm, but I broke that oath even as a child, and so I hide within the invisible walls of my strange coven, keeping everyone at a distance.  Until I meet Derek.
Rose is a dangerous girl: she has the power to destroy someone's mind, leaving them an empty shell of what they once were. She's been told all her life by her mother and other members of her witch community that her powers are uncontrollable and that she is doomed to a life of celibacy lest she kills her lover. However, she meets Derek, a man she is inexplicably drawn to, right as her coven prepares to launch an attack on the Druids, their enemy.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Surprisingly good. Considering this is the first book I've read since Blur, it's not that big of a compliment, but I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would with a title like "Seduced by Innocence".

The world building is a bit disappointing. While we did hear about the spells and magicks the witches cast as well as the potion-making and shapeshifting of the Druids, I didn't feel like the story properly set up the worlds and sometimes it felt like the author was either making it up as they went along or expected the reader to already know about the community of either group.  Compared to Botanicaust, which had beautifully vivid world building and strong explanations for the occurrences in the book, I was probably spoiled with it and expected a bit too much.

The characters are pretty likeable and while they aren't fully developed, you can definitely get a feel for them. Most of the time I didn't look to see whose POV it was (as it switches back and forth between Derek and Rose, with a few chapters in which Blake narrates), but I always knew who was talking because they all have a different style, a different kind of internal monologue, which was pretty cool. 

In particular, I really enjoyed seeing Blake's internal monologue because it differed so drastically from Derek's and really emphasized what a creep he is. He has this Nice Guy™ sort of feel to him and at first I thought, 'well, maybe Rose is being a little harsh,' but as the book progressed you could see exactly why he made Rose's skin crawl, and while I know the book wasn't written before this, Blake's narration reads eerily similar to the Santa Barbara shooter's manifesto sometimes (especially in a part where he claimed to "deserve" Rose's affections). It was good to finally see a creepy, only nice to get the girl, kind of guy as the bad guy while being juxtaposed to a guy who actually respected Rose.

The theme was actually pretty cool.  In each chapter, there is a quote from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and it was interesting to see how the author wove their story to parallel and even challenge that play.  Unlike our R&J, who are infatuated to the point that they marry in three days and are the cause of six deaths, this book challenges the families and claims that it isn't necessarily that the two main characters are too immature, but that the family cannot let go of past grievances.

(The following part is about the erotica in the book and I should probably disclose that I am asexual so my opinion may vary from an allosexual's.)

The sex was well written. I've read my fair share of porn and there's nothing worse than an author being noticeably embarrassed at what they're writing. This author, however, lays it all down, isn't squicked at describing vaginal anatomy and pleasure, and makes each scene (there's only a few, don't worry) enjoyable to read. I really do have to say well done because I'm tired of reading 'his manhood' and 'down there', and, other than a questionable "rose-colored nipples" (are there roses the color of the areola?), this author did it.

It's pretty feminist friendly. When Rose sets boundaries, they are always bent by her and not by Derek trying to coerce her. Everything is about consent. While I was pretty worried about that (the book is called Seduced by Innocence and there are several lines in which Derek is aroused by her 'innocence'), it all turned out to be okay.  The Bechdel Test is passed.  There are also a few queer characters and I'm really happy about that, even though only two of them get any sort of recognition.  The lack of people of color is sad, (and the one POC in the novel was stereotypical and kind of racist with the Magic Asian who speaks broken English and runs a martial arts center or whatever) and I'd really rather read a book with a couple nonwhite people, but other than that I was mildly impressed.

Of course, the real downer is the ending.  Here's the thing; I like reading fully developed stories.  They must have some sort of resolution; this had none.  I understand it's a first installment, but you can't deliver an unfinished manuscript and call it a first installment.  That's not how it works, and I was disappointed that this author chose that route.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.  It wasn't written quite well enough to warrant a 4, but it was very enjoyable and actually kind of refreshing.  It's a definite recommendation in my book.

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