by Ronda Thompson, fantasy (2002)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52515-1
The rather violent opening chapter (for a romance novel, that is - Anita Blake fans will probably yawn at it) is deceptive. Ronda Thompson's first full-length werewolf romance just cannot wait to turn into a snooze fest story of blindly gullible pure-pure-pure heroine and manly tortured I-hate-my-inner-beastie yawnfest from the hero. If you love those dull long-winded whine-and-virgin vampire romances ala Amanda Ashley, Ronda Thompson's Call Of The Moon will be just what you would like to read. The hero spends the whole book moaning and sighing and the heroine blindly nodding her head and assuring him that he is the best even when she has no reason to believe that way.
If Susan Krinard reads the first few chapters, she'd probably worry though. The plot holds promise: Jason Donovan (oh great - why's Kylie Minogue?) is a reluctant werewolf who has been drifting around in a haze of desperation as he tries to find a way to break the curse for both he and his brother. When he is attacked by two fellow werebeasties one night, he encounters Tala Soaringbird, gloriously brandishing two blades to destroy the werewolves. Because she is the Chosen One ("I'm gonna sue!" screams Joss Whedon, who could use the money after poor Firefly got cancelled), that's why she's poking her nose where it doesn't belong.
But because she's also a heroine, down she goes. Jason saves her, and in return she takes him to her people, a Native American - or should I say Native Canadian? - tribe who dedicate themselves to life the Old Way. I'm surprised you can still find an isolated tribe in Canada. Then again, many Americans tell me that Canada's a wild and unlivable country and Toronto is the center of all evil so hey, what do I know? By "Old Way" I mean a primitive society which is an excuse for our heroine to remain a blinking, gasping idiot who blindly trusts the hero even when he is the enemy. At one point, Tala feels offended when the other women of her tribe takes her to task for bringing a stranger to their tribe. But for Tala, it is more important that he makes her feel like a woman. And also, since she's heroine, her powers have to be fading. Ta-da-dum.
Our hero isn't as whiny as some vampire heroes I've come across, but his lyncantrophy is a plot device to get these two acting like lust-crazed bunnies one instant and sighing lovelorn we-cannot-do-this dimwits the next.
Fans of paranormal romances will know the drill: a tortured hero and a too-innocent-to-be-real heroine. The premise behind the book isn't bad actually, and despite some eh aspects of the premise, it could be grand and fun. Alas, Tara's speech pattern is like a Cassie Edwards heroine graduating from grade school type and her contrived state of purity makes her come off like a blind, trusting idiot. The author tries to give Tala some darker aspects in her personality late in the story, but to the bitter end, Tala still comes off like Bambi trapped in a horror movie.
Oh, and the Native Americans, Canadians, whatever in this story are just as bad as Tala in their corny "shaman" dialogues. They are what you will get when Cassie Edwards' favorite characters manage to pass first grade English class.
Many paranormal romance readers are also fans of Buffy, Farscape, The X-Files, and Anita Blake. Before the rot sets in on these franchises, we love our kick-ass babes Buffy Summers and Dana Scully and Aeryn. We cheer when they fight and make witty remarks and we sigh when they play equal roles to the men (or in Buffy's case, she often overshadows the males) in fighting for whatever cause they believe in. But somehow the romance authors are still fumbling with the Barbarian Barbie fantasy. Is helpless ignorance or "innocence" as we call it in romance novels really that sexy? Personally, so much "innocence" bores me to the point of stupefaction.
Besides, if I'm a "Chosen One" destined to fight evil, you bet I will arm myself to the teeth with super-duper bazookas and more. Because it can't be said too many times, Tala is an idiot. I miss the old Buffy.
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