Sweet Dreams
by Dana Marie Bell, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-60504-132-7


Sweet Dreams is a Halles Puma story, which means puma shapeshifters living in Prides and behaving like lions when pumas by nature are solitary cats. But I suppose the ship has sailed, so to speak, and nothing can be changed even if the author wants to change anything, so Pumas living in prides that come complete with alpha cats (groan) it is. The capital P in the word "Pumas" is important, by the way, because the Handbook of Rules for Writing Generic Paranormal Romances insists that all paranormal romances must capitalize the first letter of every other word so that the word becomes Very Special.

Rebecca "Becky" Yaegar is having the time of her life at the masquerade party of the local Pride. Remember, the P is capitalized because it's the law. She first gets attacked by an enraged woman and then she learns that she's the mate of the Beta. Fortunately, the Beta is a hot guy named Simon that she already has the hots for. After all, we all know it is impossible to say no to one of these hairy creatures even if we wire out legs together so it is going to very hard to lie back and think of England should the mate resembles Jabba the Hut after an accident with the hair transplant machine. So, Simon is hot and Becky is hot. What do you think will happen next?

I have one single issue with this story. The author has inserted only one mood for her characters, especially the heroine: permanent snark. When Becky is attacked bloody by a enraged woman, she snarks. In and out of danger, everyone snarks. I can only imagine that they will still be snarking away as they are slowly being eaten away by sharks. If you don't believe me, just take a look at the following excerpt.

Becky screamed in pain as Livia bit down on her shoulder. Her claws raked along Becky's sides, drawing even more blood.

Livia sat up slowly, one clawed hand wrapped around Becky's throat. "Emma's coming," she purred, tilting her head to the side as she listened to something only she could hear. "So happy she could join our little party."

"Swell," Becky coughed, digging her fingers into Livia's forearm. She had to get the Bride of Satan off of her!

Livia hissed at her and arched down. Her teeth were pinching at Becky's neck when Emma appeared. Becky looked over Livia's shoulder at Emma and saw the horror in Emma's expression before it was quickly shuttered away.

Emma cocked one hand on her hip and stared at Livia like the blonde had lost her mind. "Okay, some of the peroxide must have leaked into your brains to make this seem like a good idea. What will killing Becky accomplish, other than to piss off Simon and Max and ruin your manicure?"

The bitch snarled again, but she didn't tighten her hold on Becky's throat. Those wicked black claws remained poised above Becky's stomach.

"Did you run out of Liversnaps or something? Oh wait, that's dogs."

Honey, what is this? How am I supposed to take a story seriously when the characters treat everything like an inside joke? It is as if Ms Bell has taken one too many sips of José Cuervo before she sets out to take on MaryJanice Davidson one-on-one. If this is really the case, watch me as I stay far, far away from the ring.

Rating: 54


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