Saturday, November 19, 2016

DB Reynolds - Damian

Damian Stephanos honed his skills in battles fought with magic as much as swords. Caught by a deadly spell that left him trapped for centuries in darkness and obscurity, he is finally freed, only to discover that his enemy still lives. Determined to find him—and to free his brothers in arms—he first must fulfill his blood debt to the woman who released him from his torment. Unfortunately, being so close to this enticing female is another type of torment altogether . . .
Cassandra “Casey” Lewis is a hunter. Possessing the rare ability to sense magic, she spends most of her time shadowing arcane collectors, and more often than not, stealing the dangerous artifacts she pursues. Her job is risky, especially when she’s stealing from one of the most powerful sorcerers alive. But having a gorgeous warrior by her side is a definite bonus. He’s great in a fight . . . and in other places, too.
Following a trail of dead bodies, the two of them must join forces to track down the sorcerer who cursed Damian, and who now plans to turn an ordinary magical device into a deadly weapon. Risking everything, including their hearts, they’re about to discover that trusting each other might be the hardest thing of all.

Comment: This is the story chosen for my book club this month. It's the first of a new series by author DB Reynolds and it is a spin off the successful series Vampires in America so many fans enjoy.
I've read one book in that series so I'm not familiar with the moment when this series might have started but this works very well as a standalone and no references are made to the point where you would need to have read the other series to start this one.

This new series focuses, apparently, on a group of warriors led by Nicodemos, known as Nick now. In ancient times, an enemy has done a spell and turned four warriors into stone with the bonus that only a special combination of factors could "unlock" the curse/spell. Somehow, when this story begins, the heroine Casey brings Damian back to life and he is bound to help her defeat her enemies. Therefore, they join forces and try to recover a talisman she was in run to protect but lost. While going away to complete their mission, they must work together and be a team. But can their team last or will things between them change when all is over?

This is my second story by this author. Many fans say amazing things about her most successful series called Vampires in America but sincerely, after having read the first book in that series I have to say I don't share the same enthusiasm. Therefore, I was pretty reluctant to try this one and I imagined it would be more of the same. Sadly, to me, it more or less was. I do think this is a better story but several items made me think it wasn't very good.

I'll simply enumerate the reasons why this didn't exactly worked for me...
1) The concept was interesting but the plot wasn't. I had the feeling nothing really happened in terms of plot development and I can't understand if it was because there wasn't much to go on or if the focus simply wasn't on it, if there wasn't much balance to sustain the chase after the talisman while Casey and Damian dealt with personal issues.

2) The individual characterization of both protagonists left a lot to be desired. Damian doesn't have much to support him for more than one reason, but especially because he has been dormant for millennia. He is a good guy, he has been a great warrior and friend but I didn't get to know anything about him special enough to make it a need. I was fine knowing or not knowing but then his character didn't seem very well built.
Casey was more intriguing, the focus was clearly on her and she is more intriguing but her attitude is so.... I understand she is a tough girl, used to be independent and to be confidant in who she is, in her abilities, but some of her attitude towards life is too harsh and I didn't think I'd like to meet her in real life if she existed. She's not a bad person but some of her choices annoyed me.

3) The main couple's relationship isn't one. That cannot be a relationship, they just met, they didn't, they shouldn't have gone into sex right away no matter what! Why are books nowadays all about insta-sex, even tough or self confidant people must have some doubt before embarking on personal relationships and being sexually vulnerable with someone else. Come on... well, it's the way it is, I didn't find it funny or amazing and that made the whole story look even weirder because why bother being the professional you claim you are if you're too busy thinking the guy is good in bed...

4) Details. So many little things that should have been used to enhance the story and not make it weak. Nico and Damian haven't seen each other for ages, Nico feels guilty since ever and as soon as he hears Damian is alive does he let go of everything to meet him? No.
Casey is a professional and when she knows a clue was given to Damian and not her, does she stop to think strategically? No, she goes and acts stupidly alone.
We spent time listening about how this was, how that was in the past for Damian and Nico but does that help the characters grow? No, it was just noise.
I could go on to even smaller things but I'd repeat myself.

I think this story has good elements that written about well, could have been a good story but maybe it's just me, I don't think the author has the best style for my taste. Se sure works out well for many, though. I'm still thinking about a third try, about a different series again...if that one doesn't work when I finally get to it then...stop. There are way to many books in my pile to be read.
Grade: 5/10

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