Series: LEAGUE OF THE BLACK SWAN
Plot Type: Urban Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings: Violence--3; Sensuality--4; Humor--3
Publisher and Titles: Berkley Sensation
The Cursed (5/2013)
"The Curse of the Black Swan" in Enthralled (7/2013)
"The Unforgiven" (e-novella, 5/2014)
The series is set in the Bordertown, "five square miles of dimensional fold that lay hidden behind, beneath, and between the streets of Manhattan. Bordertown was the Wild West, but the cowboys and outlaws of the typical frontier town were demon and Fae here. Dangerous and deadly, with or without six-shooters." (p. 5). Thousands of years ago, a tectonic shift "caused reality to fold over on itself twice, making Bordertown the one place on earth where the human, Fae, and demon realm all collide." (p. 71) This resulted in a massive century-long war that nearly destroyed the continent.
At this point in time, Bordertown is home to a wide variety of supernatural beings, including trolls, Grendels, kitsune, goblins, and ogres, as well as the aforementioned demons and Fae, and they coexist in a relatively peaceful manner. I don't know why the author set Bordertown in the midst of Manhattan, because (in the first book at least), all of the scenes take place within the confines of Bordertown, and Manhattan is never mentioned again. The fact that there are so many types of supernaturals could either strengthen or weaken the series; it's just too soon to tell.
Click HERE to read my reviews of the books in Day's acclaimed WARRIORS OF POSEIDON series.
The heroine, Rio Jones (aka Rio Green, Jones, Smith, and Stephanopoulos, among others), is introduced in the second chapter when she witnesses the kidnapping of a little girl and is attacked as she heads for Luke's office to get his help in rescuing the child. Rio is a bike messenger and a telepath who grew up in an orphanage (probably the same one that all the other paranormal heroines grew up in) and knows nothing about her biological parents. She is just days away from her 25th birthday, and all of a sudden, various supernaturals are after her, hinting that something important will happen at midnight on her birthday—that she will develop unknown powers and will have to make a choice. Rio is clueless about what's going on, and so is Luke.
The plot follows Rio and Luke as they rescue the little girl and return her to her Fae aunt (who knows who Rio's parents are but won't tell her). The main story line revolves around whatever is going on with Rio. Who are her parents? What will happen on her birthday? What powers will she develop? What choice will she have to make? These questions are answered in the final scene.
Meanwhile, early on in the story, Rio moves in with Luke, and their romance heats up pretty quickly. Most of the chapters find the couple alternating between a series of silly adventures and a lot of sex. The most ridiculous scene has them slopping through mud and feces to retrieve the egg of a gigantic duck. This little adventure has nothing at all to do with anything else in the story, as is the case with several other minor undertakings. I'm guessing that it's another attempt at humor. These unnecessary scenes come across as plot padding more than anything else.
Neither Rio nor Luke are portrayed with any depth. Rio spends most of her time admiring Luke's physique ("rippling muscles...tight six-pack abs...an incredible specimen of pure male perfection"—p. 148 and other pages), and he does the same for her. It's a mutual admiration society all the way through the book, with way too many repetitiously rapturous descriptions of each other's physical beauty and not nearly enough development of personality. Rio's character is so hard to read that when (near the end) she suddenly goes off by herself with some demonic types, Luke (and the reader) are taken totally by surprise. Rio is one of those tragic, good-to-the-bone characters who is loved immediately by everyone she meets—which becomes boring after awhile as well as being completely unbelievable.
I think that the problem with the book is that Day herself feels uncomfortable with the characters and the world they live in. I realize that it's the first book in the series, but, based on the well-crafted story lines and well-developed characters in WARRIORS OF POSEIDON, I was hoping for more—much more. Click HERE and scroll down to read an excerpt from Cursed.