Cherise wanted a quiet, normal life...something she had never had. After a traumatic loss, she decided she needed serenity, so she moved halfway across the world to the American states, to a beautiful, quaint village in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. And there, with fresh air, tall trees, and lovely neighbors, she opened a little patisserie, and settled into a wonderful, normal life. Her family had already told her she couldn't run from her destiny. Turns out, they were right. The last thing she ever wanted was to see a vampire again. But suddenly, a very damaged one shows up, stripped of his memory, unable to keep human blood down, and in need of help that only someone with her skills could provide. Damn't! She should have known that something would ruin her perfect quiet life of solitude, gardening, and baking her incredible French pastries. No matter how desperately she wanted to send him away, he needed her. The family legacy couldn't be denied... she was born to use her empathic skills to help supernaturals bridge the two worlds. Okay, she would help him and send him on his way quickly so that she could get back to her gentle life. Of course, it figured that this vampire was more than an average vampire...he was one of the first bloods, ancient vampires...powerful, rare, arrogant. Cherise had never been attracted to the large, oversexed vampires. So why did her heart race and breath quicken when he came to her for help? Stick with the plan, she told herself, get him well and out of the village. Only it wasn't going to be that simple when she discovers he's been the target of horrible torture and abuse. It will take all of her skills to help this man become whole and well again. And maybe more of her than she's ever had to give before. Maybe she would discover that even an empath doesn't know what's in her own heart.
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First of all, I have to say that I am impressed with C. L. Quinn's imagination. She's developed a great plot for a vampire series -- so great in fact, that it seriously deserves a better writer. The first few chapters were awesome, so awesome that they hooked me, and kept me listening, even while the rest of the book devolved into a fluffy cloud of idiosyncratic word usage, repetition, and silly dialogue. So what the hell happened?
In Quinn's own bio blurb on Amazon, she writes: I'm Charlie Quinn. I live in the Colorado Rockies, and my life took a crazy turn one early spring night when I saw fireballs rain down over Denver. I'd been living my perfect life in my cabin with a wraparound porch, writing highly successful vampire romances for a living. I was finally, finally at home.
Did you notice the sentence: I’d been living my perfect life in my cabin with a wraparound porch, writing highly successful vampire romances for a living. Where's the second half of that sentence?
I'd been living my perfect life in my cabin with a wraparound porch, writing highly successful vampire romances for a living — WHEN I WAS ABDUCTED BY ALIENS! -- Or -- I'd been living my perfect life in my cabin . . . yada yada . . . — WHEN A FIREBALL CAUGHT MY HOUSE ON FIRE! Why even mention the fireballs, and then switch topics without explanation?
This one little incomplete sentence is indicative of Quinn's writing. She writes something intriguing, then leaves you hanging in the wind wondering what the hell she's talking about. It’s odd, vague, interesting, and disturbing, all at once. Like a conversation with someone in a dream. Her book is a crazy quilt of pop up non sequiturs.
This is stream of consciousness stuff people, so put you logical mind in your sock drawer. It will only give you a headache!
Quinn's skill as a writer is weirdly unconventional. At times I wondered if she was ESL (English as a second language), because of the way her sentence structure leaves out words that should be there. The whole effect is ethereal somehow, and while I can imagine her becoming great at this kind of poetic license, in truth, it feels somewhat illiterate, and very, very exhausting to read.
And yet, I'll admit that her plot and world building is so freaking good that I kept on reading in spite of it.
As for her sex scenes, there is a lot of flipping around of bodies, and the word Entering is used a lot. The scenes are uncluttered by descriptions, adjectives, or verbs -- and there is zero hotness between the characters past the first few chapters, (which read as if they'd been written by somebody else). At one point at the end of this book, her sexy male vampire says to his lady love, (after a big meal, no less): "Now, race you to the bed!”
That line, and many like it, had me unintentionally laughing out loud (which just isn’t cool if you don’t sleep alone).
As for the narration, Pyper Down was so over the top cheesy, and monotone, it made me think of bad soap operas. I don’t know what she thought she was reading, but the salacious tone she used did NOT make the book sound sexy, at all. It just sounded goofy.
Down used a thick French accent for one main character (Cherise), and at one point, the character was talking to another character who noted that her accent was almost gone. Cherise responded that she was suppressing her French accent to fit in [in America]. (I imagined Down's eyes growing large and round as she realized the corner she had been busy painting herself into.) Somehow, her performance was a perfect fit for a book that was busy going off the rails. The flat, oddly formal quality of the dialogue felt natural in the hands of a flat and incongruously unsexy narration.
On the positive side, and despite some pretty bad handicaps, Quinn has something unique. I just can't figure out what it is. She can’t write a properly structured sentence, has a limited list of adjectives, is repetitious in her word choices, creates great characters -- only to hamstring them with silly dialogue -- and her sex scenes are flat, wooden, and lack sensuality.
AND YET, I STILL FINISHED THE BOOK -- AND -- CARED ABOUT THE CHARACTERS!
That’s why I’m sitting alone in the dark writing this review. I needed to process what just happened to me. (I also had to get up and get a Tylenol.) I’m beginning to wonder if her non sequiturs have acted like a kind of trance inducer that kept me listening so late. A trance that kept me listening despite the screaming coming from my logical mind.
It's fitting that in a weird, meandering epilogue at the end of the book, someone named T. C. Butts is mentioned. He/she says: Charlie Quinn, the author of this book, inhabits her own story in the novel by T. C. Butts, Last Best Hope, where she lives an ordinary life that becomes extraordinary.
What does that even mean? Is it a biography? If so how can it be a novel? If it's meant as an advertisement for another book, it failed to make it's point. How does a real person live in a novel? If she's lived an ordinary life that became extraordinary, shouldn't she include that somewhere in her bio? If only so that when we read about it in the epilogue, it makes some freaking sense?
Now it's 4:26. I'm going to bed. You figure it out.
Another exciting instalment to this great new Vampire series that has pretty much everything a PNR fan wants... a damaged, tortured and oh so sexy Hero, a likeable Heroine, action, twists, surprises, suspense, bitter enemies and a nutty new one, humor, a Goblin, passion, sex and a lovely romance. And you also get to hear multiple points of view from all the many characters involved which brings depth to both the plot and the characters.
There's also great world-building which successfully draws you into each scene and that, together with all the descriptions and good narration, makes this a very captivating listen. The sex scenes are nice and don't have very graphic references.
Worth a credit? Oh YEAH and, IMHO, this is a series that hopefully will grow and grow.... and me, well I'm happily off to listen to book 3.