Predator's Salvation
by Gracie C McKeever, paranormal (2006)
Siren Publishing, $4.25, ISBN 1-933563-58-3


This is a revised review because when I first reviewed this book, I made two mistakes. One, I read this book without checking out book one in the author's Sisters Of Emsharra series, Guardian Seductress, and I have no idea what was going on as a result. Two, I overlooked the glossary at the back of this book due to carelessness on my part. Not that the glossary would have helped, to be honest, because Predator's Salvation does not really give the new reader a good sense of place and time of the story. The information concerning the setting and the definitions of all the jargons present in this book are laid clear in Guardian Seductress so you are strongly advised to read that book first before you tackle this one.

Having said that, my opinion of this book doesn't change too much, I'm afraid, after a second reread of it. Therefore, the rest of the review is pretty much my original review of this book with some minor alterations here and there to remove bits where I said I was confused about the jargons used by the author.

I've read and enjoyed the author's books that predate the romantic erotica boom and I must say I'm somewhat taken aback by the opening scene which sees our hero Mateo Diaz persuading an Other Woman to go down on him - she's not too keen on doing so in the first place - only to call out another woman's name when he hits the jackpot. "I'm sure I've seen something like this in one of those tawdry T&A teen horror flicks out there," I tell myself as I turn the page.

This is the second book of a series called Sisters Of Emsharra and Mateo is the intern of the architect firm owned by Alex Ryan, the hero of the previous book. Alex is now throwing women at Meteo like he's a pimp and it turns out that his reason for this is because he wants... er, I don't know, to be honest, even after I've reread this book twice. Then our heroine LaMia Enlil shows up wanting to seduce Meteo in a revenge scheme. I don't why one needs to seduce Mateo since that guy is even cheaper than sushi going for half price ten minutes before closing time but hey, it's not like I know much about anything else that goes on in this story.

Apparently Alex and Ryan are the two last... uh, let me copy the exact words from the back blurb because I have no clue as to what they are: "carrier of the rarest human energy, spirit-boost, and the only remaining blood-relative of the two males from whom LaMia once sampled the much sought-after kundalini." If you know what all that gobbledygook means, send me a postcard and say hi. Most of the concepts introduced by the author in this book are barely developed in the previous book so I'm still lost at times while reading this book. Yes, there is the glossary, although each entry is too short to provide much illumination. At any rate, I don't think a story should require the reader to refer to the glossary every few pages.

Judging from Mateo's performance at the start of the story, I doubt he's up for any kundalini pokeninny whatever, but then again, I have no clue whatsoever as to what is going on in this story. I still don't, even now that I know more or less what the jargons stand for because the problem here is that Ms McKeever doesn't quite succeed in presenting a clear picture of what is going on. There are significant balance and pacing issues here because very often the sex scenes become a liability as they take up space that could have been used for some much-needed exposition or other non-sexual scenes that could have moved the plot along.

Ah, but perhaps you don't care about that. You want me to talk about the love scenes here. Well, they are bondage and mild S&M in nature with the unfortunately named LaMia getting her turn to play the Domme. However, LaMia is not a good Domme since she doesn't discipline Mateo as much as she keeps telling him how sorry she is that she has to tie him up and all. Any self-respecting Domme would have made Mateo suck on her shoe at the very least in order to shut down his protests instead of going telepathically how sorry she is that she has to do what she does to Mateo.

I don't like Mateo because his behavior when it comes to sex and the language associated with it is very... shall, I say, fratboy-like? Immature? This is a subjective issue and I'm sure other readers may find his language spicy enough to be effective but I get turned off when Mateo makes the other woman go down on him without caring for anything more that how he can get off in her mouth while thinking of the woman in his dreams. To me, Mateo comes off as someone who tends to think more about how he can get his rocks off than how he can get the two of them to have so much fun in bed together right from the start and Ms McKeever doesn't succeed in changing my mind about Mateo. The element of emotion in these scenes is, to me, missing.

Therefore, the sex scenes feel really gratuitous here because the author is having her characters doing all kinds of naughty things pretty much right from the start with no obvious emotional bond taking place. At the same time, the sex scenes get in the way of the story, slowing it down until Ms McKeever has to snowball things towards the end to wrap the story up. The characters don't behave in a manner that I can relate to, in the sense that these people will get turned on and want to have sex at the most bizarre moments that are far from sexy.

There is a very strong "plot for the sake of porn" feel to the story here. The story often feels like it's forcefully halted so that the characters will have sex. The length of the story does not favor Ms McKeever in this instance - I can't help feeling that this book would have been better if it is longer so that Ms McKeever can have more space to develop her characters more. As it is, the author builds up a storyline here but often the sex scenes get in the way of character and storyline development. Hopefully the author will find a way to balance sex and storyline so that these two don't get in the way of each other in the future books of this series.

Rating: 53


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