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Book Reviews: Lifting the Veil #5-6, by Susan Laine

Love of the Wild - Susan Laine Stealing Dragon's Heart - Susan Laine

(Stealing Dragon’s Heart can be read as a standalone)

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Book 5: Love in the Wild

Trying to jumpstart his waning career in travel and nature journalism, Jim Faulkner jumps out of a plane in the middle of the night to get the inside scoop on werewolves in Connor’s Crossing, Wyoming. Unfortunately, he lands in a tree and gets stuck. His rescuer is a mysterious and solitary man living in a cabin in the woods. Although Jim feels an odd connection to Dakotah, Dak’s silence is all but hostile.

Jim won’t give up though—he finds ways to be around Dak, both for the bond and his belief that Dak is a great source for wilderness information. As Dak continues to dismiss him, Jim is suddenly surrounded by progenitors—the most powerful werewolves in existence—who all seem to want Jim as their mate. After one abducts him, Jim has to fight for his freedom and for his one true mate. No matter how reluctant said mate is.

Book 6: Stealing Dragon’s Heart

Notorious master thief Finn Grayson is hired to break into a high-class skyscraper in New Shanghai and steal a priceless artifact known as the Shard. But someone’s gotten to the Shard first—and the penthouse suite turns out to be a dragon’s lair.

Cameron Feilong, Guardian of the Earth Shard, is ancient enough to realize that he and his unbidden guest are being used like puppets on a string. Forming a shaky alliance is the only way for them to survive and to stop their ruthless foes.

Unfortunately, Finn and Cam seem to be forever one step behind. To learn more about their clandestine enemy, they travel together from walled Asian cities, barren tundras, and underwater temples to secret paranormal clubs and legendary elvish cities rising high in the trees or buried deep under glaciers. Finn and Cam must learn to trust each other before it’s too late, for bringing together the five Elemental Shards will spell the end of the world.

~

Book – Love of the Wild (Lifting the Veil #5)

Author – Susan Laine

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 162

Movie Potential – ★★★★★

Ease of reading – very easy to read and follow

Would I read it again – Yes!

Again, we’re back with the King’s, though briefly, and this is exactly how I imagined the series being. Each book connected by characters, even if it was only a thing connection, as well as the Unveiling event. So far, the non-related books in this series haven’t gone well for me, so I was to return to the same rhythm in writing, the same clarity of thought and the same all-round plot full of romance and intrigue.

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It was really nice to read about older characters. So often in paranormal or even just MM stories, the MC’s are all 20’s or 30’s at the oldest. In this, our MC is nearing 40 and has all the insecurities that come with it. This makes the romance aspect more interesting and realistic than ever.

As for characters, I really liked Jim, who was a fun, occasionally cranky, feisty character. He was a really genuine guy, even when keeping a secret, and held my interest all throughout.

Dak isn’t really my cup of tea. There’s an Alpha male and then there’s a violent male. For that fact alone, Dak loses points with me. The arguing, pushing away and everything else was natural considering his situation. But the moment he lay a hand on Jim, I lost interest in them getting together. I still thought the romantic writing of their HEA was great, as was the detail of the final transformation, but I didn’t want him to win Jim over.

In that respect, I really love Crow and Denver. Both were awesome in their own way and I wouldn’t mind reading about them later. Especially Denver and the big head honcho guy. Their story would be great. These two were such sweet, flirtatious characters. Crow was more forthcoming and seductive, while Denver was the homegrown cowboy just looking for someone to love. Both appealed to me as far better mates for Jim than Dak.

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OVERALL

This was a fantastic story, plot driven with enough sex to keep it interesting, enough fighting to leave me wondering and some awesome characters I want to see again.

The King/Wolf aspect of this series is a serious winner for me. Anything involving them will be fantastic, because the writing is consistent throughout, as though all these books were written as a series and other books, with other characters, were slotted into this world haphazardly, at a much later date. The cohesiveness of the King/Wolf storylines will make sure that, of all the books in this series, I’ll be revisiting 1: The Wolfing Ways, 3: Hunters’ Moon and 5: Love of the Wild again and often. The others in the series don’t appeal to me, at all, in comparison.

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FAVOURITE QUOTE

Now, despite the use of “is” instead of “are”, this is my favourite quote and had me tearing up a little.

““You know how some things, like a consciousness, is more than the sun of its parts?”

Dak sounded puzzled. “Yes. Emergence.”

“Could you accept the possibility I can be ore than what you think you see?””

~

Book – Stealing Dragon’s Heart (Lifting the Veil #6)

Author – Susan Laine

Star rating – ★★★☆☆

No. of Pages – 240

Movie Potential – ★★★☆☆

Ease of reading – some struggles

Would I read it again – Probably not.

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

WARNING: knotted (spiked) private parts, used and mentioned, in this story.

To be honest, I wasn’t that “sucked in” by this story at the start. It took about 20% for me to stop procrastinating and turning to FB for a distraction, before I really got into it. By then, I was more intrigued by where the story was heading and was just beginning to find out who these characters were. It’s a long time to take, just to get into the story, but I’ll let that pass for the moment.

This story introduces events and beings that haven’t been mentioned previously, but there is some mix-up between what we’ve been told of the Unveiled world in previous books to what is mentioned in this one.

~

PLOT

I have 3 very important things to say about the story, before I go into details:

  1. It’s 1st person POV, which wasn’t so bad in the end, but is a pet hate of mine for reasons I’ll explain later.

  2. The story takes place further ahead in the world timeline than the others of the series.

  3. And it really confused me.

Although there was a decent plot here – more consistently written and explored than some others in the series – I had some issues that lowered the rating from a 4, which is what my heart said to rate it, to a 3, which my head decided on.

I hate first person POV. I can’t explain all of the reasons why, but one of them is represented in this book quite a lot: “Now there’s something you should know about me.”: I hate when the MC talks to the reader, especially when it’s to give a lecture or include us in the story or to include a massive info dump in what seems a natural or acceptable way. It’s not and all three reasons crop up in various places in the book.

On top of that, the MC Finn stops the flow of the story to describe himself. And I’m not making that up. He literally does just that, which feels lazy to me. In other books in this series, characters have tossed hair out of their way, as a way of showing the colour of their hair or eyes, and this would have worked so much better. Stopping to say this is ridiculous and pulled me from my reading:

“Perhaps at this point a brief physical description might be in order. I’m twenty-eight years old, relatively tiny at five six, small framed at 139 pounds, lean, agile, and swift, with short brown hair and hazel eyes, more greenish than brown.”

There’s also this little nugget, further along:

“That is why I gave you my stats, so you’d know why I was so good at my disreputable job. So there.”

This sounds far too much like the author reading back and trying to justify their use of the above quote. Again, it reads as lazy and really jars me from my reading.

The way Cameron’s dragon influences people – Irish jigs and singing songs – is another display of the ridiculous that has appeared in the Lifting the Veil series before. In a brilliantly written and plotted world, with good description and incredible characters, the author always spoils the non-wolf related stories with ridiculous magical notions that neither fit the story or the characters and feel nothing more than an attempt to make the reader have a giggle. I didn’t laugh. At all.

There was some good tail and historical/archaeological reference when it came to Finn casing Cam’s apartment and eyeing the priceless artefacts on show. However, there was also an abrupt change in location – more than once – with no warning, separation from the previous scene or hint of travelling or movement.

Also, the previous story stated that all progenitor wolves were created at the same time and created equally. We were told this when one tried to claim he was the King of Progenitors. Now, in this story, we’re being told that there was one wolf Progenitor that preceded them all. This directly contradicts the information given to us in the previous story and, despite having had 3 wolf related stories so far, has remained unmentioned.

Though this version hasn’t been officially formatted, it is in dire need of editing. I can’t say whether that’s been done or not, only that I was warned beforehand that the formatting hadn’t been finalised, which is understandably for an ARC. However, there were spaces missing all over the place, combining two words; dashes were missing, grammar mistakes abounded, full stops were missing etc. It wasn’t flooded with these mistakes, but there were enough that I noticed and marked that as a note. There are even instances of two characters talking in one paragraph, which is not how it’s supposed to be formatted, but which made the reading a little stuttered and confused as I tried to figure out who was saying the words to whom.

Another big plot related problem was that Finn twice claims that Cameron told him something, almost immediately or five minutes after that so-called conversation, despite the fact that we saw no such conversation and there was no indication of any characters talking before or after that fact, that would give him the chance to have said such things.

Instance 1: “I thought you said they were nuns”. Well, actually, Cameron only asked if he knew of mermaids. He never explained what they were.

Instance 2: “As our reluctant elf guide had informed us”. Again, no. We’re quite blatantly told that the elf guide tells them of the secret passageway, then spouts off a prophesy type paragraph then runs off. He never had time or the inclination to say anything else.

I know it all sounds negative, but this is why I was in two minds about how to review and rate it. For once, outside of the wolf-books of the series which were all fantastic, the paranormal element doesn’t feel forced on the story. This doesn’t read as a contemporary story, with a paranormal element shoved down its throat, like some of the other books in the series. This one is natural, consistent and actually made sense.

I took issue with a few things that kept creeping up in the same way as the mistakes. The first was the constant physical reminders that Cameron was Asian. To me, these felt quite racist in the generalising and overall bluntness with which they were described. Both “slanted eyes” and “yellowed skin” – which are two of the biggest Asian stereotypes to exist – were included here. Both in such a way that was supposed to make Cameron sound mysterious and intriguing, but which make my teeth ache with how awfully racist they read.

That’s just a little ironic, considering Finn’s thoughts a little later, concerning someone else.

“I had to bite my lower lip so I wouldn’t start screaming at the injustice and racism around me.”

The second problem was the constant referencing. This has happened in other books in the series, but never to this extent, though the constant use of characters quoting other authors or proverbs in the other books had already become really annoying! In this one, that kicks up a notch to high gear. Not only are celebrities, movies, songs and poets quoted, but sometimes nearly half a page is filled with another person’s poetry being quoted by the characters. These are then followed or preceded by explanations of who the author is and what the title is in an attempt to deal with copyright issues. I have no doubt the percentage of information used falls within fair use, but I see no purpose to any of them. All references could have easily been removed – both in full form and with their owner/title names – without affecting the story. More often than not the plot suggested at what they were supposed to say anyway.

Another strange occurrence is the sudden reference of Sigmund as a dire wolf. Now, previously in the series, all wolf forms have been called lycans or werewolves. There has never been a mention of dire wolves until now and, suddenly, in its wake, there is no more talk of lycans or werewolves either. So it seems one has been traded for another, which provides more inconsistency within the series.

I find it a little frustrating that we know from the start that when Finn and Cam take off together that he’d wearing his black ‘uniform’ that he wore to break into the place. And, naturally, I would have suspected that he had some kind of gear on him, to facilitate his theft. But claiming he’s got a half page of items on his person the entire time – after diving into an underwater world twice, two massive fights to the death and more dangers – is stretching believability. Especially when half those items wouldn’t fit into pockets.

In case you’re wondering if I’m over-exaggerating, this is the list of items he claims he has on him:

“A bump key, pry bar, rappelling/abseiling rope, blowtorch, gloves, screwdriver, lockpicks, glass cutter, blackjack, wire cutters, forgery tools, bolt cutters, grappling hook, basejumping parachute, Swiss army knife, lighter and matches, medical kit, extra pair of gloves, that sort of thing. And that’s just the low-tech stuff.”

See what I mean?

~

CHARACTERS

I really liked Finn and Cameron as main characters. They had their flaws, but they were also complimentary to each other, offering what the other person lacked. And, I got my mythical being falling for another mythical being, so I’m happy with that.

However, I get that Finn is a thief and Cameron is a dragon, but the constant reminders were wearing. Whenever anyone wanted to insult Finn they called him a thief. A whenever Finn was around Cameron, the thought of him being a big bad dragon got him horny.

Finn can be quite childish at times, while Cameron is ridiculously moody.

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OVERALL

Taking everything into account, I enjoyed the characterisation and plot more than I liked the execution. There were some serious issues with how this book was written and presented, which are reflected in the two missing stars from my rating.

On the plus side, the plot was original and intriguing, after a while. I was surprised a few times and enjoyed the overall journey, though it wasn’t all sunshine and daisies.

I wouldn’t read it again, because it wasn’t the kind of book that made me feel I’d want to pick it up and spend time reading it again from start to finish. Quite honestly, I skimmed the last 10% of sex scenes, which are becoming typical for these standalone reads in the series.

It was a nice read. Not fantastic, not terrible.

~

FAVOURITE QUOTE

“It was kinda funny. I was the thief, but Cameron stole my breath away.”

~

SERIES REVIEW

Overall, this series is inconsistent at best and hodge-bodge at worst. Books 1, 3 and 5 would make an excellent trilogy. Books 2 and 4 were disappointing in their own way. Neither story fitted this world and could easily have been a solo paranormal novel, not associated with the unveiling. It wouldn’t have affected the stories/plots at all.

For me, either a series has to have each book related to all the others through characters or events (other than the Unveiling with is a tentative thread at best) or have each book be an individual novel based around the world of the Unveiling. This series combines those two options in a way that just doesn’t work, while claiming this is a comprehensive series. It’s a trilogy with unrelated solo novels hacked onto the end and that’s irritating, because every second read, so far has been a disappointment. Then, when the trilogy resumed, it picked up again.

If this had been left as the stories demanded – a trilogy of books 1, 3 and 5 and a bunch of solo paranormal novels – every book would have worked so much better. Often, the only problem with the intervening books was that they didn’t ring true for the Unveiled world that we’d been dipped into and enjoyed so much in the first book.

It took until book 5 in the series for any paranormal male creature to bottom, which had been a concern of mine (that all humans, whether gay or straight, were expected to take on this role) but I also wanted to see at least one story where the paranormal creature was the MC and not the ‘mate’ they discovered in the course of their adventure. If this world post-Unveiling is supposed to be full of supernatural creatures, why can’t one of them be the MC, finding either a human mate or – better yet – a supernatural mate of their own? It wouldn’t affect the world at all.

As individual novels, the only books I’ll be keeping and re-reading are those of the wolves – 1, 3, and 5. These are the only books that are consistent in writing style, POV use, plot exploration and world building. Sadly, the others failed on nearly all these components and I won’t be revisiting them.

~

To rate the series so far, I’d say it’s pretty simple:

1st place – Book 1, The Wolfing Way

2nd place – Book 3, Hunter’s Moon

3rd place – Book 5, Love in the Wild

4th place – Book 6, Stealing Dragon’s Heart

5th place – Book 4, Monsters Under the Bed

and finally, in 6th place – Book 2, Genie’s Wish.

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