Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Motor City Mage by Cindy Spencer Pape

I received this book courtesy of the publisher from NetGalley.

Title: Motor City Mage
Series: Urban Arcana #4
Author: Cindy Spencer Pape
Publisher: Carina Press
Target Audience: Adult
Pages: 191
Chapters: 13 + epilogue
PoV: 3rd person
Tense: Past tense

Story: As a cop who keeps paranormals in line, Des has a hard time trusting them. So why does he want the beautiful werewolf Lana more than his next breath? She's mouthy, flamboyant and distractingly sexy—not the type of woman for a reserved mage like him. Lana admires Des, but she can't be with someone who won't take her seriously, no matter how much she'd love to rip off his dress shirt. 

When a dangerous new drug shows up in Detroit, Des must locate the source, and Lana is determined to help. But their plan goes awry, trapping them in a demon dimension. To return home, Lana and Des must flee through a series of unpredictable alternate realities, fighting enemies while trying to shut down the drug trade. But if they're going to survive, they'll have to rely on each other, even though getting closer will add fuel to a fire that's already burning out of control...

Thoughts and impressions: First of all, let me point out that I went into this novel, the fourth in a series, without having read the first three books. While it is possible to read this book as a standalone, there are a lot of allusions of events in the previous books in the first few chapters that did leave me feeling a bit left out.

At first glance, this book seems to have all the right ingredients to be one that really tickles my fancy: various flavours of mythical beings all living among us humans and protecting us from various other flavours of mythical beings, magic and mayhem, and romance to boot. So it sounds like it’d by just my thing… but unfortunately it wasn’t.

For starters, Des and Lana both secretly desire each other as soon as the book opens. While I can accept that there will have been things passing between them in previous books, I would have liked at least some work up to their relationship, alas this was not to be. They soon (and we’re talking before the 10% mark here) get physical, which is much too early in a book for my tastes. For me, it’s the lead up to the sex that’s interesting and the sex itself is just the icing on the cake. Here I only got the icing and, as anyone who eats only the icing will know, it’s not as nice without the cake (and is, in fact, liable to make you feel ill).

By the time chapter two is over and done with, they’ve just slid right into this sexual relationship, no fretting, no awkwardness, no questions asked. I felt like I’d missed out on the whole of their courtship, and if I’m honest with myself, the courtship is the whole reason why I read romance novels in the first place.

What’s more, I’m not particularly fond of romances where events are just there to string together the sex scenes. I did occasionally feel that this was the case in this novel. Indeed, there are what I consider to be a large number of sex scenes present for a novel of this length and some – not all, but some – just really didn’t work for me. The language use in these “some” felt clunky with expressions like “she milked his cock”. Sometimes it felt like the author herself wasn’t quite at ease with what she was describing and as such these scenes came across as awkward.

Basically, the sex started too soon, happened too often and felt too central to the plot for my particular tastes.

Beyond this, in certain scenes there were just far too many characters present, all doing different things but without sufficiently distinct voices for me to be able to differentiate between them. This led to moments of frustration for me as I couldn’t remember who exactly X was, where Y came into it all, or what the relationship with Z happened to be.

In contrast, the scenes where only two to four characters were present worked well and I especially liked the scenes where Des and Lana were being held captive in a prison cell. Another was when they were travelling across a very cold planet and they come across an alien who offers them a ride in his cart. Scenes like these really shone.

As for the plot itself, certain things just felt like they were handed to the characters far too easily, such as Vin’s involvement with him immediately reaching out to them, or Des’s boss’s downfall at the end of the novel. Vin taking Des and Lana into the demons’ drug operation led to one particularly clunky fight scene too, which leads me to think that those sorts of scenes are not this author’s forte. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as every author has something they find harder to describe in a way that transports the reader. That was the only fight scene that left me cringing, though.

Another thing that I really enjoyed was Des and Lana’s trek through the other dimensions that they have to travel through in their attempt to return home to Earth. The author’s vivid imagination really brought these places to life for me. Now I want an ele-cow too! They sound so adorable.

Had the book been focused on these travels more than the sex, then I can quite see that I would have found this a very entertaining story. As it is, this just wasn’t the book for me. I think that it would appeal to other readers who do prefer more sex in their stories.

Style: Occasionally things were mentioned twice a few paragraphs apart and some scenes were particularly clunky. It was a very colloquial style with extra words where they’re not needed in places and words completely left out in others.

Final verdict: At the end of the day, this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. It had its redeeming qualities but unfortunately the things that didn’t work for me outweighed them. 2 stars

Extra notes: Bad language is present. Obviously sex is too.


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