Book 1: The Demon Lover – 2 stars
I have really mixed feelings about this one. I had purchased the second installment in this series by Juliet Dark (pseudonym of Carol Goodman) at used book sale without realizing that it was part of a series. So, I purchased the remaining books and finally started the series.
Firstly, the title is terrible. It sounds like some trashy harlequin romance novel, which is a put-off before even beginning.
Secondly, there are multiple editing mistakes.
Thirdly, there are mistakes that should have not only been caught by editors, but also should never have been made by the author in the first place. The most annoying example for me was the author’s use of “ya” instead of “yeah”. Now, granted, both of these words are colloquialisms, but that doesn’t mean that they are interchangeable – they are not. “Ya” is a slang word for “you” while “yeah” is a slang word for “yes”. Goodman/Dark doesn’t seem to have realized this, and neither has her editor. When you can’t even get slang right, it doesn’t really do much for my faith in you as a professional writer.
Fourthly, this story could have been so much more interesting. There was so much potential here! But everything was kept rather superficial. And then entire thing ended up being predictable – and the second Liam Doyle was introduced, it became painfully so.
Fifthly, the characters lacked depth and realism (and yes, I say this even within the context of fantasy fiction). No one wants to hear about a 26-year-old who has a PhD (28-30 would be the average age for this) and who is already on a tenure-tracked professorship (30 or older would be the average age for this one), who can afford to buy a beautifully-maintained, historic 5-bedroom Victorian house while still being able to afford Louboutin shoes on a whim. She treats her boyfriend like he’s disposable, judges others fairly harshly while claiming to like them, and just seems rather useless overall which has a special kind of irony to it because she’s claims to deplore the helplessness that’s seemingly inherent to the characters of gothic fiction.
I kept reading it, convinced that something would redeem it, but nothing did.
Now, it wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It’s like Twilight fluff for adults. The author doesn’t even try to interject any humour anywhere. Like, no one in this novel got me to crack so much as smile – miserable characters.
That being said, the other two books in this series are sitting there, staring at me so I do feel compelled to read them (and they do have slightly better overall reviews, so here’s to hoping!). But I’ve read other romantic-esque fantasy novels that don’t take themselves anywhere near as seriously as this one seemed to that were much more entertaining.
Book 2: Water Witch – 1 star
“Since I’d been forced to banish my boyfriend four months ago I’d thrown myself into an orgy of home repair.” You’ve got to be kidding me! An orgy of home repair? Of all the words to describe home repair, orgy is pretty much at the bottom of my list (to say nothing of that sentence’s blatant lack of adequate punctuation). I mean, I’ve heard the term used before – without sexual connotations – but, really? And it got worse.
The thing with “Bill” was pretty much the single most obvious thing to happen in the history of the written word – and it was poorly written. No character development, no relationship development… Just all around terrible.
Man! Every mini storyline and conversation was just so trite. The first book, while not fantastic, at least showed hints of creativity. This was just crap.
I’m going to read the last book in the series simply because I’m invested at this point – I bought all three without having read the first one (this particular state of crap is on me) and I’ve already read the first 2/3 of the series, so I might as well see it the whole way through. But I’m reasonably convinced of the plot…
Book 3: Stone Angel – 1 star
This one was marginally more interesting than the second book, but still a horrendous disappointment. There was absolutely no character development, no relationship development, the story moved so quickly that it read more like an itemized list of things to do rather than a detailed story. And frankly, by adding time-travel to 17th century Scotland, it seemed like Dark/Goodman was writing a cheap knock-off of Outlander.
The overall ideas aren’t bad, but they aren’t really explored. These are basically underwhelming, underdeveloped, and under-seasoned romance novels that just happen to have an element of magic. Callie falls for 3 iterations of her incubus (Liam/Bill/William) with little to no explanation. I’ve felt more for characters in sonnets (poems in iambic pentameter that are 14 lines in length) than I did in about 1000 pages’ worth of Dark’s/Goodman’s stories. This is particularly disappointing given that the core idea woven through these three novels is quite interesting and could have been much more engrossing.