Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane

Hi everyone! How was your week-end? I hope it was as good as mine :P The weather was gorgeous and I finally had a productive week-end!! Yay! Let see, I did some cleaning, I finished my TBR read for Wednesday, Breezing Through got a new look and I updated my book spreadsheets :) Not bad, right? What about yours?

As you can see, there was no Hauling Sunday yesterday... Considering the amount of books I've bought recently, it's no surprise really LOL. The good news though is that it gave me time to work on this review :P A good trade-off I think :)

Oh, before I forget! New poll for this week-end's mini-review is on the sidebar! Don't forget to vote!

Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane
published by Berkley in June 2012
The life of Lark Jaansen, hunter in Clan Gennessee, has been shaped by violence and unrest—and it defines her future. Well-trained and resilient, she’s met her militaristic match in Simon Leviathan, a warrior not of this world. Locked in mutual admiration, and a desire so hot it burns, Lark and Simon have something else in common: they love the dark, and as a shadow is cast over their world, they’re each coming into their own.

A mysterious war has been waged among the Others. As witches and humans turn against each other, as faes retreat in fear, and as vampires rise, Lark and Simon discover that an unseen force is behind it. A single, hungry entity older than recorded history has returned to gorge on the magick of his victims. It is the Magister, nothing less than the end of time. Finding it is Lark and Simon’s first hope. Surviving it is their last.
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Bound by Magick series, Book #2

The Story: War is brewing between the witches and mages - humans who steal witches's magic, and after an attack on their leader, Clan Owen from Seattle has realized how unprepared they are. To bring their hunters, i.e. enforcers, up-to-date, they invite Lark Jaansen, one of Clan Gennessee's hunters' team leaders. Based in Los Angeles where the lifestyle is more frenetic and relations between Others, less amiable, Clan Gennessee has more experience dealing with threats... and Lark has had no qualms utilizing modern weaponry such as guns and security cameras instead of only relying on their magic.

This change of scenery is a welcome distraction for Lark who for the first time in her life, finds herself at odds with her sister, the other hunter's team leader in LA. Their strained relationship is putting the unity of their team at risk and as such, distance is necessary. In Seattle, Lark has found a new place to belong and is making new friends. Among them is Simon Leviathan, most probably the sexiest male specimen Lark has ever seen and a Lycian, kind of a werewolf/shapeshifer from the other side of the Veil. As a third son from a powerful pack and having set out to make his own ways, Simon knows what Lark is going through and admires her.

To their surprise, their friendship turns into something more... even though they are not each other's type and therefore have a lot of doubts as whether or not this relationship will work. However, they don't have much time to figure things out as the threat looming over them is much greater than they anticipated...

My Opinion: Yay, I finally read my first Lauren Dane book! This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, as I've been hearing so much good about Ms Dane's writing and her books, and I have the books in the TBR pile to prove it! LOL. But for some reasons, I just never picked them up to read ^_^; I think deep down, it's my subconscious telling me something. I bought those books because everyone enjoyed her books and I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, but really, they didn't appeal to me ^_^; Heart of Darkness and Chaos Burning are different though because they are about witches and you know how I like witches as characters :) I've yet to read Heart of Darkness, but after Chaos Burning, I definitively will!

I really, really enjoyed Chaos Burning and it's in large part due to Lark, the heroine. She made the book for me :) I loved her quirkiness and joie de vivre, it made her fun to read. And in my opinion, what sets her apart and makes her so interesting is instead of being flaky and ditzy, she was competent and decisive. It was a very lethal and sexy combination and it's really no surprise that Simon fell in love with her :) Outwardly, she might not have been Simon's type - and by the way, I enjoyed reading the descriptions of her outfits LOL, but personality-wise, she fits him perfectly. As for Simon, he was a good hero... I do feel his character wasn't as developed as Lark though, but still, you get a good sense of his person. He's such a good guy and very considerate and caring. I have to say though that I preferred him prior to when he realized he was in love with Lark, that's when his alpha instincts all came out and he became ultra-protective. It's good that Lark didn't take his shit and set him straight, that she could handle him. Still, I felt that from then on, the relationship became a bit uneven. I was more equal, honest and interesting when they were friends and hung out, playing cards and smoking cigars LOL. Still, I did quite enjoy the romance :) I really liked that it wasn't love at first sight or a rushed relationship. Instead, Lark and Simon spent time together, got to know each other and actually became friends, before realizing this was leading to more. It sounds so simple, but it felt refreshing ^_^; I wished Lark and Simon had taken more time once they acknowledged their attraction to each other to transition between friends to lovers. I felt Simon's change in behavior was quite abrupt and too domineering. Obviously, Lark was attracted to Simon, but I don't think she really considered a relationship between the two and then, Simon started pushing her into one and she had no choice. I'd have liked for Lark to have more time to come to term with it. Still at the end of the day, this couple just works because their personalities matched so well :)

As you know, I'm a fan of witch, mage, wizard and sorcerer characters and while they are a few series with them at the center, very often, I find the world building a bit lacking and their abilities, undefined. That's actually why I still haven't read Heart of Darkness yet ^_^; But I'm glad to say it's not the case with Ms Dane's series. I found the world building to be quite interesting and I liked that the witches clans were so structured. I think the key here was to not focus too much on the other supernatural beings as to limit the information dump. I admit there was a few instances where I felt a bit lost, but that was more me starting the series on the second book than the world building. While I think the world building was solid, I still would have liked for the witches powers to be more defined, a short explanation of everything they could do would have been great.

So I loved the characters, enjoyed the romance and liked the world building. That means Chaos Burning should have rated very high... and it did, but not as high as it could. Basically, I felt with so many good elements, the storyline was a bit of a let-down ^_^; On one hand, I liked that the timeline spanned weeks instead of just days, that Lark had time to settle in, meet people and create contacts instead of being thrown in. I liked seeing the witches work with the Others... but on the other hand, I felt the storyline was to passive. I would have enjoyed seeing Lark investigated a bit more, for them to really find clues and the lead up to their discovery. In this case, I felt it was too easy and they were handed the answer. I mean, the villain's thugs were so stupid that Lark really had no problem catching them and then, she just ripped their minds for the answers. So not the best, but it was acceptable. What wasn't was the whole storyline with the Magister, which is supposedly a huge storm that cleanse and by cleanse, read kill all Others and humans. This is a huge threat that concerns everyone, but the way it was written... Readers should have been at the edge of their seat and I wasn't, my feelings weren't invested in it. One of the problem is from the discovery to the dealing of the Magister, it was too quick and unrealistic. One second, you have no idea what the Magister is in essence and the next, you're vanquishing it. In my opinion,Ms Dane should have taken a few books to really developed this threat, make it something big and dreadful instead of squeezing it in the second half of Chaos Burning... and unfortunately, that's why this book lost steam for me.

My Grade: B. Chaos Burning started out really well, it's just too bad it didn't finish as strongly. It remains a very enjoyable read though and I'm definitively going back to read Heart of Darkness now :) And good news, Ms Dane has the third book planned for next February! Yay!