Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sharon Ashwood - Ravenous

Vampires, Werewolves, and other creatures have emerged from the shadows. And some of them have sinister THINGS on their minds...
One kiss is all it takes to lose your soul…
Holly Carver is a small-time witch who busts ghosts for tuition money, but ends up wrangling a demon when a haunted house job goes bad.
Her Undead business associate, Alessandro Caravelli, suspects the demon is somebody's not-so-secret weapon. The supernatural community is at war, and Holly's unpredictable magic holds the key to hell's doorway. Soon Holly is on everyone's "must have" list, and not in a good way.
Alessandro wants her for more than magic. A lover with six centuries of experience, the vampire is walking seduction, but he's also a predator. Every moment he spends guarding Holly, every second he spends falling under her witch's spell, he becomes more and more of a threat himself. As Holly's sharp-tongued grandma warns her: vampires are like a box of rich chocolate—they seem so tempting, but over-indulgence is a killer…

Comment: I had this book to read for ten years, more or less. Another one of the first books in a series I got, in hopes I'd be so captivated that I would have many series to devour but, in a more cautions reason, not such a commitment if I were to not enjoy the book.
This story isn't too bad and I believe, had I read it then, I would have liked it more. It was nice to read but it didn't fully convince me to keep going.

In this book we meet witch Holly Carver and vampire Alessandro, who are the main characters of a story whose plot exploits a little bit what it means to live in a reality where paranormal beings decided to present themselves to humans, so their numbers wouldn't completely hunt down and, for the most part, they adhere to the laws and rules and even have unions and lawyers, etc.
Of course there are still problems in every day life and Holly, besides wanting to keep studying, also works as a sort of problem solver and that includes to "clean" up houses from its paranormal issues, like ghosts.
Alessandro is her partner, for the most complicated situations and their friendship isn't deep but allows them to trust one another. However, when Holly's boyfriend is caught at a house that doesn't seem to let go of its victims, Holly and Alessandro go to the rescue, not knowing the amount of problems that one apparent simple mission might cause...

Thinking of this book in general terms, I can say it wasn't a bad book, nor a bad story. I think there are several elements that make it work as a whole, but I can't ignore a few details which, to my personal taste, bring the story a little down.
I suppose part of it was the time in which the book was written, 2009, where a certain expectations and trend was on going. It's true each author has his/her own style and all that but I don't think it's too out there to say most PNRs written between 2005 and 2010 have a certain flavor... (at least the ones I've read, with some exceptions of course!)
Mainly, the very broad idea of good guys vs bad guys in the midst of an on going battle of some kind and the characters need to overcome obstacles while falling in lust and claiming their everlasting love at the end.

Like I said, nothing wrong with this, it works for a reason and that is why the formula keeps being used. Nowadays though, I feel many authors have evolved in their stories and often there are special elements or twists to the whole world that can make reading quite an adventure.
In regards to this book, although one can identify several usual elements, the fact is that, for me, apart from the necessary plot twists, there was nothing special about the characters nor the reality they are part of.

Holly is a young woman, she is a witch and she uses her skills to make some money so she can go back to studying. I liked her, I liked her quiet personality and I felt sorry for her when her boyfriend - who she saves - tells her he can't deal with her powers now he actually saw what she can do. 
I think this was a very obvious tactic to allow her to be available for a relationship with Alessandro, whom we know likes her a little more than what should be admitted.
However, there are rules to every being, vampires included, and for them to be together wouldn't be easy or always a fair relationship.
I felt in sync with these two and I thought it would be interesting to see the development of inter species, so to say, relationships and connections.

The plot, however, starts to unravel more towards the traditional path of evil vs good, and characters had to unite efforts to battle an enemy, etc. I confess some parts were very boring and I was not always that interested in the politics of things, even though the little things about how each species works is intriguing, the way things developed was not and the overall tone of the story, despite some more serious scenes and moments, was one of predictability and typical expectations.

The romance is also weak, in my opinion.  Alessandro and Holly start as mild friends, more work buddies than anything else and in the middle, the sexual attraction is highlighted in each scene they share. It felt it came out of nowhere, it was not smooth, it was not something I felt they couldn't help it. I would even say that the author didn't really plan on developing the romance in a convincing manner...they players had to go a certain road and that happened in a slight fake tone.

After finishing the book I end up feeling the romance was not special enough to make up for the rest of the novel's elements which I found too plain. The ideas are there, the expectation builds up but it feels as if the author only had the ideas and wanted them to play out but didn't go that extra effort to make it unique or captivating.
Reading the blurbs of the following installments doesn't make me feel like trying them, so... I suppose I'll stay here with this world and this author.
Grade: 6/10

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