Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tara Lain - The Pack or the Panther

Cole Harker, son of an alpha werewolf, is bigger and more powerful than most wolves, tongue-tied in groups, and gay. For twenty-four years, he’s lived to please his family and pack—even letting them promise him in marriage to female werewolf Analiese to secure a pack alliance and help save them from a powerful gangster who wants their land. Then Cole meets Analiese’s half-brother, panther shifter Paris Marketo, and for the first time, Cole wants something for himself.
When Analiese runs off to marry a human, Cole finally has a chance with Paris, but the solitary cat rejects him, the pack, and everything it represents. Then Cole discovers the gangster wants Paris too and won’t rest until he has him. What started as a land dispute turns into World War Wolf! But the bigger fight is the battle between cats and dogs.

Comment: I've had my eye on this story for some months but always postponed buying it, I don't know why. The blurb seemed intriguing and I just told myself, here goes nothing, so I got it and read it this month. Sadly, it was certainly not what I expected.

This is the story of Cole and Paris, they meet when Paris' sister comes to marry Cole because their packs are going to be allies and a marriage will set things even more. Analiese, however, is already in love and runs away before the wedding. Cole, who fell for Paris at first sight, wants a chance but Paris is very independent and isn't easy to convince. Will they find grounds to be together?

I think one of the biggest strengths of a shape shifter story is how well explained and structured the world is and how we can see some of the expected rules of such environments within the story and throughout the plot development. Also important is to see characters that show some sort of behavior according to the myths we've known about these kinds of stories, like the special mate, the scents, the hierarchy and structure... things that together help building up a world or a society where we see individual traits among the needed and expected common details. Usually, if an author uses tools from these aspects the best way, then the result is positive. I've read books where these things were successfully presented.

Unfortunately, all the above weren't in this story. I never felt there was something special about the world created, there wasn't anything well done enough to sustain the plot.
Although we see glimpses of the pack structure here and there, it's never really presented as vital for the group. The world building was very weakly done I think. The characters didn't seem to care about the world they were on, there wasn't any real interaction between who they were and what it meant. I felt the story crumble the more I read. There wasn't anything special that seduced me about this. I wanted a more thoughtful world, a more structured something! I understand the needs for speed when there's a page limit, but I don't think this was a successful project and it was very annoying to keep reading.

The characters might have rescued the book but it wasn't so. Cole was a wimp in my opinion and his best efforts never seemed good enough. I just think his characterization felt weak and not captivating enough to sustain the plot either. Paris was selfish and very independent and  never had the feeling he learned what he needed. The end was obviously a way to finish things happily but it didn't convince me. Besides the sex - that wasn't even well treated because it was sudden and without any special details we like to see in shape shifters relationships - there wasn't much linking them together and their interactions felt forced and faked.
I wasn't even mildly impressed with the story.

In the end, I felt bad because I've created some expectations about the type of story I might get but I think not only was it badly structured and written, it didn't have any good enough element to change my mind as long as I read. What a shame, but this didn't work for me, at all.
Grade: 3/10

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