Series: DARK BREED
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings: Violence—5; Sensuality—4; Humor—2
Publisher and Titles: Avon
"Before the Fall" (prequel novella, 11/2011)
The series heroine is Kyana Melek Aslan, a half-breed tracer for the Order: half Vampyre and half Lychen (werewolf). Her job is to track down Dark Breed miscreants and bring them to justice. She and her fellow tracers are also trying to track down the missing Chosen and rescue them before they are murdered. Kyana was turned into a Vampyre two centuries ago after being beaten nearly to death by her abusive husband, a rich sultan. She has no love for humans, believing that they are cruel and careless beings who create most of their own troubles, but she protects them nonetheless, by hunting down and disposing of Dark Breed.
NOVEL 1: Ascension
My initial impression is that this series, rather than being fresh and inventive, is an attempted knock-off of Sherrilyn Kenyon's DARK-ONES series, but with way too much convoluted world building and not enough humor and character development. The plot of book 1 has a few serious holes, with the main characters jumping to hugely spontaneous conclusions based on small (or no) amounts of factual information. Also, almost everyone seems to have an intense dislike for Kyana, accusing her of being power hungry and greedy but showing no real reasons for those intense negative feelings, other than the fact that she is a half-breed. The story line implies that Kyana has been a loyal warrior for the Order for many, many years, so I was hard pressed to understand why so many people hated her so deeply. I'll give the next book a try, but this isn't one of my favorite series—at least not so far.
NOVEL 2: Bedeviled
The second novel begins just a day or so after Ascension ends, and Kyana is still trying to accept the fact that she is the new Goddess of the Hunt, or will be when her full ascension takes place in just a few days. Kyana's primary problem is that Haven is out there somewhere in her new vampyre/lychen form possessed by the spirit of Cronos, and Cronos is still determined to collect all of the Eyes of Power (e.g., Zeus' staff, Poseidon's trident, Hades' amulet) so that he can return to his corporeal form and take revenge on his sons—not to mention his plans for world domination. Here, Kyana summarizes the situation: "Haven was her best friend. That she'd kinda sorta turned Haven into a mix of Vampyre and Lychen to save her life hadn't changed that. Neither had the fact that her blood had driven Haven slightly cuckoo and now she was hell-bent on destroying the world on behalf of the dead-but-still-deadly god Cronos. It was Kyana's job to hunt her down and bring her back to sanity before she accomplished that goal." (p. 10)
Now that all of the world-building is out of the way, the plot of this second book is more action-oriented than the first book. This book focuses on Kyana and Ryker as they search for Haven/Cronos and capture her/him briefly before she/he once more escapes their grasp. Then they start the search-capture-lose sequence anew—and then again, all of which begins to get tedious and somewhat illogical. How can a lethal vampyre/lychen/goddess and a powerful demigod be defeated over and over again by a god-possessed witch, especially when they have their own talented witch (Silas) as part of their team during several of their attempts? In the midst of all of the repetitive searching, we also have plenty of repetitive angst, as Kyana constantly worries that she can't commit to a long-term relationship with Ryker because she'll soon become bored with him, and Ryker endlessly agonizes that Kyana will never see him as anything more than an outlet for casual sex. Kyana also ruminates at great length on her deep feelings of guilt over being the cause of Haven's monstrous condition. Meanwhile, back on Olympus, the aging gods and goddesses are becoming weaker and weaker, and some of them as yet have no Chosen to replace them. This problem directly affects Kyana's small group of friends when, one by one, they are tapped by the gods to be their Chosen—either temporarily or permanently. The ending leaves the Cronos situation hanging in the balance, with the more search-capture-lose adventures surely coming in the next book. Midway through the book, the author apparently tries for humor when she has Nettles, an elderly seer, dress for bed in "pink pajamas...covered with tiny gray mice and there were feet...sewn in, a hood stitched into the back." (p. 225) To top this off, the hood has mouse ears. This little episode is tossed in as an attempt to lighten things up, but the manipulation is so obvious and awkward that the scene is more annoying than it is entertaining.
Although the mythology of the series is over-the-top complex, it is well-defined and works well enough with the story line. The weakness lies with the characters, who are, for the most part, shallow and predictable. The gods and goddesses are like paper cut-outs, with their brittle beauty, fine clothing, and superficial personalities. Kyana is the most predictable of them all—reacting to almost every situation with stubbornness and rage. Ryker is always his lovesick self, trying to believe that Kyana has the ability to be the best that she can be. (I kept thinking of the old commercials for the U.S. Army.) In book 2, I was hoping for more depth of character for the lead couple, but, alas, that doesn't happen.
NOVEL 3: Chosen