The Gathering
by Jennifer Ashley, paranormal (2007)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-505-52688-5


The Gathering is the conclusion of the first round of the The Immortals series. There is another round of four books coming out in 2008 in case you can't get enough of the cartoon pornographic comedy that this book turns out to be. This book would have been the Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode that the show makers are too embarrassed to put out because they would have been fined by every watchdog organization for putting people off sex for good.

We have our Immortal fellow Hunter who is wrenched from his pleasant days of indulging in orgies and what not by what seems like a summoning spell to an island off California. However, our heroine Leda Stowe, an ex-witch, claims not to have cast the spell, since she is too busy saving bears and tigers from evil people who want to turn them into fur coats and trophies. Hunter is soon making love to Leda left and right while telling her to stay put in the house while he takes care of everything. There is a subplot involving grand evil, missing mothers, and Tain the rogue Immortal, but the whole drama comes to an anticlimatic end that has me scratching my head. This is it? We have four books leading to this anticlimatic ending that serves only to set up a sequel for Tain?

If I haven't read enough series in the romance genre to be cynical about calculated marketing practices by now, I may actually feel insulted by how the story - the series - is wrapped up. Remember, people, female villains are skanks who must die but male villains have valuable penises that may be of good use in leading these men to soulmates that will turn them into woobies, so male villains must always be "saved" for future sequels. It's the law.

Hunter is a pretty chauvinist guy who just wants his woman to stay put and put out, but even then, the author makes him so obviously overpowered compared to the bad guys that there is nearly zero suspense in this story. All Hunter has to do is to wave his sword or even go bare-handed and the bad guys will still go down faster than bowling pins terrorized by a professional bowler. Also, all Hunter has to do is to wave his other sword and Leda will go down on him... er, I mean, this story is just as ridiculous when it soon becomes clear that every time the characters are not taking part in cartoon action drama, they are having cartoon sex. Hunter wants sex all the time. He thinks of it always. Every swat of the bad guys into the ground is just a brief intermission in between his constant quest for sex. Needless to say, this story soon becomes nothing more than cartoon sexual marathons interspersed by Captain Planet drama.

There is a strong pro-environmental message here, which is done in such a wrong manner that I suspect will make even PETA too embarrassed to send naked models parachuting down to this island to protest the cruelty to animals. Here, animals are portrayed as human beings in beastly bodies, which is just not true and only adds to the whole cartoon nature of this story. The author puts plenty of embarrassingly juvenile "animals need to be free to be happy, animals are our friends and we just need to understand them!" sentiments here until I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Somehow I suspect that the author won't be happy if there is a tiger running free and happy in her backyard in the very manner that she claims all happy animals should live. This story would be exactly like a silly episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers were not for the sex scenes that just don't know when to stop.

Alternately cringe-inducing and needlessly corny, The Gathering feels like a bad parody of an erotic paranormal romance to me. I can only wish that the ladies involved in this uneven series will lay off the unnecessarily tawdry pornographic movie overtones in the next round, because this one is a huge disappointment especially for a book that is supposed to wrap up a four-book story arc.

Rating: 53


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