Series: LONE STAR WITCH
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF) with elements of Horror
Ratings: Violence-4; Sensuality-4; Humor-1
Publisher and Titles: Signet Eclipse
Soulbound (12/2013 )
NOVEL 2: Flamebound
Most of the book (I would estimate at least 75%) consists of a long, drawn-out, angst-filled interior monologue in which Xandra waffles back and forth on whether she can and should maintain a long-term romantic relationship with Declan. Typically, these monologues go on for several pages and then explode into either a major pout or an argument with Declan—which is immediately followed by graphically depicted make-up sex. This pattern is repeated at length throughout the book.
Most of Xandra's fears about Declan's dark side are related to the fact that he plans to take mortal revenge on the Council members who hired Kyle to torture Xandra (in book 1). Xandra is horrified that Declan wants to kill the people responsible for the deaths of four innocent women and the torture of his soul-bound mate: "I understand Declan's anger. I do. If someone tried to hurt him, kill him, I'd hunt the bastard myself. Take great joy in watching him rot in prison forever. But vengeance of the type Declan demands? Sanctioning violent, premeditated murder? Or doing it himself? That I can't understand—or get behind." (p. 181) Even Xandra's friend, Lily, disagrees with her on this topic. When Xandra tells Lily what Declan plans to do, Lily says, "I knew there was a reason I liked that man." (p. 143)
Xandra always assumes that anything Declan thinks or does is motivated solely by his darkness, so when he explains his theory that a conspiracy connects some of the crimes they are investigating, she castigates him and accuses him of jumping to these dark conclusions without thinking things through. I have to tell you, it was a comedic moment (for me, anyhow) when Declan responded, "Don't lecture me in that prissy tone, Xandra." (p. 230) (Of course, Xandra is highly offended, but Declan is absolutely correct.)
Another common theme in Xandra's interior monologues is her fragility. She frequently admits to herself that she feels fragile, but then she gets insulted when Declan worries aloud about her fragility. Speaking of Declan, he is constantly scooping Xandra up and carrying her around, washing (and conditioning!) her hair, and healing her many, many wounds and bruises. While she always reminds him that she is tough and independent and can take care of herself, she generally appears to be enjoying every bit of his over-protective attention.
This book is weaker than the first, mostly because there isn't much of a plot, and the outcome is telegraphed so loudly that the resolution is a foregone conclusion. This heroine really needs to grow up so that her emotions and her behavior reflect her chronological age. If it weren't for all of the graphic sex, I'd classify this as YA fiction.
One oddity about these witches is that they wear magic-infused, designer cowboy boots to enhance their powers. As one of them says, "My magic is much stronger when I'm wearing a pair of Luccheses." (p. 204)
Set in Austin, Texas, the series follows the adventures of Xandra Morgan, the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter of Ipswitch's Royal family of witches. (Ipswitch is Xandra's home town—near Austin.) When Xandra was born 27 years ago, she was supposed to become one of the most powerful witches in the world, but instead her powers have remained latent, except for a few simple spells she learned as a child.
On Zandra's nineteenth birthday—a milestone occasion that usually signals the onset of a witch's powers—Zandra once again failed to deliver. When she left her birthday celebration and ran off into the woods in despair, she met Declan Chumomisto, a powerful warlock to whom she felt a tremendous attraction. They spent the night in intimate conversation that included some passionate kisses, but then Zandra found a murdered woman in the woods and Declan disappeared, seemingly for good. Zandra has dreamed about Declan for years and has always felt that he betrayed her by accepting her trust and then abandoning her.
As a powerless witch in a family of powerful witches, Xandra always felt like a failure and an outsider in Ipswitch. As soon as she was able, she turned her back on her family, went to culinary school, and opened her own coffee shop/bakery: Beanz.
Xandra's personality skews closer to late adolescent than to late 20s. Although she tries to talk tough, she actually comes across as fragile, needy, and barely able to hold her life together. Declan is the usual dark, moody, alpha hero who expresses a desire to keep Xandra safe, but on the other hand, he doesn't share important information with her about the reason for her lack of powers until very late in the game.
This novel has some strong points: an inventive mythology, a decent plot, and a nice depiction of a troubled mother-daughter relationship. What it lacks is a strong heroine who doesn't collapse into an emotional puddle and need to be rescued by a male—either her brother or her lover.
I'll be updating this post very soon because the second novel is due shortly.