Monday, April 21, 2008

Paranormal Romances--Market Deluge of Forgettable Tales

I just finished working on Kiss of Fury, the second book in the Dragonfire series by Deborah Cooke; and while I try not to slam books here—this isn’t what I would call a reviewer’s site, though I certainly am not shy with my opinions—I have to admit that I didn’t care for it. Deborah Cooke is a pseudonym, and frankly I can understand why the author uses one. Though imaginative, this book wouldn’t make the cut for my precious reading time. Signet Eclipse has committed to at least a trilogy.

Because I’m a fan of nonfiction and generally read for pleasure mainly books that are going to educate me rather than encourage escapism, I tend to be more difficult to please when it comes to paranormal literature. This book is about human men turning into brightly hued dragons, called Pyr, who are fighting powerful bad dragons called Slayers. Right there I was rolling my eyes with the “pure” fighting the “killers.” The storyline is at once too fantastical and trite, with jewel-toned reptiles (the hero of the story—buff Donovan Shea—turns into a lapis lazuli–colored dragon with golden accents and a pearl stuck in one of his scales) and dialogue like “Nothing worth doing is ever easy.”

Furthermore, the timing is a bit off for me. In the story, the fully human heroine—Alex Madison—is a scientist who is making a “Green Machine,” or a green car that uses saltwater as its fuel. The Slayers are out to stop her and have killed her partner. But Donovan and his Pyr cronies are out to defend her, partly because they just want to save the planet, and partly because Alex is destined to be Donovan’s “mate.” The Pyr don’t have sufficient motivation to be defending Alex to the death, and the author’s bandwagon jump is a bit irksome in a dragon tale. I’m a fan of the green movement, but suddenly everything is coming up green, which is a bit like the paranormal romance market. It’s a trend, and even good trends like environmentalism can have their down side.

Not everything is disappointing. The author does a fine job of linking the hero and heroine. As with some vampire romances, the magic couple is inextricably linked and feverishly attracted—it’s a pheromone thing that neither can resist for long. The author is quite good at building sexual tension and building likeable characters. But all things considered, there are better ways to spend $6.99 and a weekend.

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