Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Darkness Bread, Stella Cameron

So, after I finished Shadow of Night, I had to pick a book to distract me. I happened to be on vacation, so my choices were limited. As I said in the review of Shadow of Night, all I wanted to read was the third book of that series. I didn't have that, so I chose this one.

I'm repeating all this because this book had an uphill battle. This is a book from the Chimney Rock series which focuses on a pack of werehounds. The werehounds have been dying out, along with all the other shifters. The females are dying during pregnancy with their children. The first book of the series, Darkness Bound, explains all this. I read it pre-blog, so it's not reviewed, but the basic idea is the leader of the pack, Niles meets and falls for his mate, Leigh. Sean, the main character of this story is Niles' second in command and plays a large part in protecting Leigh. We discover Leigh is a particular race that is thought to have no magical abilities, but actually just has very rare ones. The idea is that these rare abilities would allow them to carry children for the werehounds (don't worry, I'll come back to this one in Feminist Corner).

During the first book, we also meet Silkywidden, a mysterious cat. Well, she is also a shifter, and part of the same race as Leigh. She and Sean have fallen in love while acting as go betweens for Leigh and Niles in the first book. This book starts with the necessity for a decision: Can Sean and Elin (Silkywidden) be together? Niles is concerned because Elin is fey. She's not, but she's not telling anyone that because she wants to make sure Sean wants her, not just her possible reproductive abilities (again, I'll come back to this, patience). See, Elin was kidnapped as a baby and raised by the fey Queen. Niles is worried Elin is a spy for the Queen - and to be fair, the Queen does want her to do that. She's refused. Leigh already suspects Elin's true origins, and she sees the love between the two, so he's firmly on their side. Niles is harder to convince. In the first book, they encounter a traitor among the hounds, this seems to put them all in a distrusting mood.

So, this books is less a romance than the first one was. The romance is pretty much done before it even starts. What the plot primarily rests on is the appearance of a new bad guy, The One. The one has also absorbed the hound that made Sean, Aldo. Aldo has been after Sean ever since Sean escaped from him. Sean is ridiculously protective of Elin, even though Elin helps him (saves him, really) when he goes after The One the first time.  So, it's not surprising when he freaks because Elin has run off to New Orleans.

Now, this is probably what saved the book for me. As I said, this book had an uphill battle. I was pretty...meh about it up till her trip to New Orleans. The reason for that is because it meant crossover with Cameron's other series, Court of Angels. Court of Angels is about the Millet family, as well as the other prominent supernatural families of New Orleans, and their fight against the evil Embran. This series is how I discovered Cameron in the first place. My mom had read the first three and passed them along to me. I enjoyed them enough to check out other books by her. I found Chimney Rock. I enjoyed Chimney Rock, but not as much as Court of Angels. The possibility of some crossover makes both series more interesting to me.

Now, for the bad stuff. The absolute sexist bullshit of looking for a woman for the main purpose of procreating, all the while knowing that it could potentially kill her, is epic. The only thing that saves the first one from this pitfall is that Niles decides he doesn't want children if it means risking Leigh. Unfortunately, he takes a few thousand steps back in this book when Leigh actually does get pregnant. He tells her that if it looks like the kid is going to kill her, he won't lose her, no matter what. So, lemme sum up: no matter what her choice is, no matter what she wants to do with her own body, he will make the decision and end the pregnancy. How he plans to do that is never clear. His intentions are only implied, but...    Regardless, I'm sure you can see my issue. He doesn't seem to respect her decisions or ability to make her own. First, her decision to have a kid, then her decision to end her pregnancy. Add to that his initial decision to find an incubator...

This book continued these issues. Sean keeps treating Elin like she can't handle herself...or can't think for herself. In some cases I agree that her involvement just makes things worse, but he treats her like she couldn't possibly contribute anything of value. It shifts towards the end, after she goes to New Orleans, but...    Sean, like Niles, doesn't care if Elin can have his children - he loves her when he thinks she's fey, and he loves her when he finds out she's not.

Still, there is a taint on the whole series with the idea that they're initially just looking for incubators.

I do like this series, and the Court of Angels, but they're not favorites. I'll keep reading them, but in contrast with Shadow of Night, I'm not freaking out that there's no information on the next books in either series.

Darkness Bred, Stella Cameron

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