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Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Author:  Jacquelyn Frank  
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality4; Humor—1   
Publisher and Titles:  Ballantine
          Cursed by Fire (2/2015)
          Cursed by Ice (3/2015)
          Bound by Sin (9/2015)
          Bound in Darkness (11/2015) (FINAL)

This post was created on 4/14/15 to present an introduction to the IMMORTAL BROTHERS series. It begins with an overview of the world-building and presents the publisher's blurbs for the first three novels. In addition, I have added a few comments about book one. As more books are published, I will add those publisher's blurbs to this entry. 

NOTE: I will not be adding any personal comments or reviews for the remaining books because it appears that they will be quite similar in nature—an all-too-familiar paranormal romance plot with good-versus-bad themes and characters, a simple story line, an overdose of angst, and a vigorous infusion of graphic sex. If you read paranormal romance for escape (or for the sex scenes) and if you have enjoyed Frank's story-telling style in her other series, you will probably enjoy this one as well, but if you are looking for multi-layered characters and an inventive approach to the paranormal romance genre, you won't find it here.

       This series takes place in a standard fantasy setting—a medieval, feudal culture with kings and nobles at the top of society and starving peasant farmers at the bottom, with a sprinkling of magic just to liven things up.

     People pray to 12 gods and goddesses who do not get along well with one another. As the series opens, the deities have split into two factions, each trying to wrest power from the other. 

On one side are the good gods and goddesses: 
     > Weysa, goddess of conflict and peace; leader of this faction
     > Hella, goddess of fate and fortune
     > Meru, goddess of hearth, home, and harvest
     > Mordu, god of hope, love, and dreams (brother of Meru)
     > Lothas, god of day and night
     > Framun, god of peace and tranquility

On the opposing side are the bad gods and goddesses:
     > Xaxis, god of the eight hells; leader of this faction
     > Grimu, god of the eight heavens
     > Diathus, goddess of the lands and oceans
     > Kitari, goddess of life and death
     > Jikare, god of anger, deception, and storms
     > Sabo, god of pain and suffering

     Although Kitari is on the bad side, the good gods believe that she has been forced into that alliance. Part of the series story arc involves the good gods trying to free Kitari so that she can follow her own free will, preferably to the good side of the fight.

     Two hundred years ago, four warrior brothers had the audacity to drink from the fountain of immortality. The gods punished them by imprisoning each one under horrific conditions: 
     > Dethan, who is chained in the deepest hell in Xaxis' territory while being burned alive, allowed to heal, and then burned up again (the eldest brother)

     > Garreth, the youngest brother, who is chained to a mountain in Diathus' territory while being frozen solid, allowed to thaw, and then frozen again

     > Jaykun, who is chained to a star in Grimu's territory while being burned alive, allowed to heal, and then burned up again

     > Maxum, who is under Sabo's control. His whereabouts and punishment are unknown as the series opens. Before his punishment, he was a mercenary warrior, hiring out his sword for both good and bad causes.  

     In each book, one brother is freed by the goddess Weysa and commanded to go forth and gain her more followers so that her strength will increase. In the process, each brother finds his soul mate and follows a rocky but sex-filled romantic road all the way to the inevitable HEA ending.

     This is a by-the-numbers paranormal romance series with one-dimensional characters (either all good or all bad), courageous but conflicted tragic heroes, virginal but lust-filled heroines, plenty of graphic sex scenes, and lots of political intrigue and battle action. In Frank's earliest NIGHTWALKERS novels, the characters were less melodramatic and more witty, but in her later booksas in this seriesFrank has taken a humorless, angst-filled interior dialogue approach to her story telling, which for me is a major downer.

                       NOVEL 1:  Cursed by Fire                      
     For centuries, Dethan has been trapped in a fiery inferno for defying the gods and snatching the power of immortality. Condemned to have his battle-hardened body licked by flames only to regenerate and be consumed all over again, Dethan has lost all hope—until the Goddess of Conflict appears. She will release him from torment—if he’ll use his power and strength as a warrior to raise an army and defeat a fierce enemy faction of gods.

     Free to live as a man once again, Dethan meets Selinda—heir to the throne of Hexis—and his thoughts quickly turn from the conquest of cities to the conquest of this headstrong beauty. Betrothed to a cruel, calculating powermonger, Selinda needs a champion, and so Dethan enters into another bargain: If she will share her bed—and her body—with him, Dethan will save her city from destructive forces within and without. As the lovers ignite a searing passion, Dethan will risk all—even the wrath of the Goddess of Conflict—for a chance to make Selinda his forever. 

     To read or listen to an excerpt from Cursed by Fire, click HERE to go to this book's page and then click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.

     This book (and series) has all of the bells and whistles you would expect of a fantasy-based soul-mate romance: weird character names (e.g., Tonkin Mudskin); a muddy Medieval setting; decent, hard-working peasants; cruel and pompous nobles; an over-the-top evil villain, a kind-hearted, courageous, sexually innocent, ingenue heroine; and a tragic, brave, sexually adept warrior hero. The heroine is so over-the-top virtuous that she actually teaches basket weaving to the poverty-stricken peasant children. 

     The book is stuffed with long, anguished interior monologues from the hero and heroine as they mourn their past tragedies, worry about their dangerous present circumstances, and ponder their bleak futures while keeping dark secrets from one another. Frank frequently uses a structural model in which she has a character mentally analyze one choice of action for several paragraphs and then switch suddenly to a completely different choice, generally signaling the change in thought with a paragraph beginning with the word "No" (e.g., "No. She would not be ignorant and weak." "No. That wasn't fair.") In chapter 8 alone, Frank uses this device six times for the heroine and once for the hero.

     My nomination for the silliest sentence in the book comes when Selinda sends Dethan's page to fetch some healing concoctions: "Go to the kitchens and fetch me a bottle of hyaita juice, some kettle greed, gloaming goat, and juni beet juice." Gloaming goat? Really? 

     One more oddity: Selinda's female page is called a pagette—a designation that smacks of 21st century feminism and bears no resemblance whatsoever to a medieval job title. 
                      NOVEL 2:  Cursed by Ice                      
     As punishment for plotting with his brothers to steal immortality, Garreth is suffering a freezing torment until the end of time. Again and again, his fierce fighter’s physique is frozen into a chiseled ice sculpture, his heart hardening like a diamond in his chest—only to thaw and resume the chilling torture. Until, like his older brother Dethan, he is offered a reprieve from a goddess—in exchange for his allegiance in a celestial civil war.  

     Garreth lives to fight and fights to live. But while laying siege to an embattled city, he finds another reason to go on—a beautiful warrior woman named Sarielle, who commands a mythic beast through a mysterious and powerful bond. Terrified of her strength, the city rulers have kept her captive, and now she refuses to submit to a new master. As Garreth seeks to unleash her passion and melt the icy resistance of her heart, will he become her ultimate salvation—or lead them both to greater destruction? 

     To read or listen to an excerpt from Cursed by Ice, click HERE go to this book's page and then click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.

                      NOVEL 3:  Bound by Sin                      
     After being chained to a star to burn endlessly as punishment for stealing immortality from the gods, Jaykun has been unshackled to wage war alongside his brothers. But his freedom comes with a price: Each night Jaykun must still suffer—his body burning from the inside out. One early morning, recovering from his torment, he encounters a beautiful stranger on the beach. Naked from her midnight-black hair to her sandy toes, she approaches him with starry-eyed innocence and the unmistakably full body of a woman.

     Soon Jaykun is swept up with the force of a comet, his desire for this woman hotter than any sun. His brothers fear he is blinded by her radiant beauty, and that she has been sent by their enemies to seduce and destroy him. Jileana is indeed from another world—one Jaykun cannot begin to imagine. But will their passion burn brightly enough to light the way through the darkness that threatens to consume all in its path? 

     To read an excerpt from Bound by Sin, click HERE go to this book's page and then click on the cover art.

                    NOVEL 3:  Bound in Darkness                      

     After drinking from the fountain of immortality along with his brothers, Maxum is condemned by the gods to be entombed in the earth. Even though he has now been granted a reprieve by day, each night he is buried anew, his rock-hard body immobilized, his bones crushed by the pressure. When he emerges, his body heals, but his spirit remains scarred. There is only one way for Maxum to be completely free: He must kill the god who cursed him. 

     The task will require tremendous power, so Maxum must gather talismans to equip him for the battle. To help him on this quest, Maxum approaches the alluring Airianne and strikes a bargain as tempting as it is audacious. A skilled thief, Airianne could be a valuable ally, if only Maxum could trust her. Will this stealthy seductress also try to steal his heart—or will their boldness end up getting them both buried?

     Click HERE to read an excerpt from Bound in Darkness.

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