Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Refreshed from reading a more mainstream fiction novel, I picked up (as in from my pile of books) the next in Kenyon’s League Novel series.  Why they’re called that is beyond me since the only thing with the word ‘league’ in it is this Assassin’s Guild that you really never get to see inside in the two novels out of this series.  I have no hope that the third one will.  Well, unless you call Emo Boy Bitch’s break from them in the first novel enough.  Okay, let’s not go there (again) shall we?

This book started out at a good pace and didn’t seem too bad.  My optimism rose.  I thought, ‘Okay.  The editor gave the author a good slap in the face after leaving all that crap in the last one’.  The one thing the editor can’t do is make a better writer.  Not possible.  Either you have it or you don’t.  I still can’t believe the mindless simpletons that praise this author and keep her in front of a computer coming up with this drivel.  The last 100 pages were pure torture to finish and had I not been invested that far in the book, I wouldn’t have finished it.  This book could have been around 300 pages instead of the 500+ it was.  The beginning burble from the author tells of the rejection letters for this because the genre dried up.  No, honey, others were just better at it than you.

Know let’s break down the things that went wrong in this novel.  Grab your coffee, bourbon or kool-aid.  It’s a long one.

Normally in a romance novel, you get inside the head of the two MCs.  Their doubts, their desires, etc.  Kenyon tries this tried and true technique and fails miserably.  It’s like she does it because it’s the norm and it comes across choppy and disjointed.  It’s like the two MCs thoughts are at battle with each other over whose self-absorbed world is more pathetic and whiney.

The female MC, Shahara, acts like this big bad ass chick that bounty hunts- or as Kenyon calls it in her world, tracer.  So you think someone who goes after hardened criminals would be able to handle herself.  At some points yes but mostly not unless it’s necessary to show the speck of weakness in the male MC.  Half the time she acts like a scared infant and should really consider a career move.  The male MC, on the other hand, is very good at threatening to kill but clearly doesn’t have the balls to do it.

If this poorly contrived universe is as hard as the writer would have us believe, the canyon of credibility is vast and deep.  Her action scenes often revolve around two moves- scissor kicks and percussion chop… whatever the fuck that is.  Maybe Nick Cannon comes out of the fingertips of Shahara to Drumline the assailant’s head to death.  Yeah, boy!  Rap-a-tap-tap, bitch!

The awkwardness of the writing also shows in any scene that almost passes as a romantic interlude.  I had to literally re-read several sections.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to get my rocks off.  It was because one minute the Male MC is on top and then the next moment his moves don’t

match that.  I’m supposed to assume that they switched positions?  How does one walk on all fours in a large bathtub full of water and bubbles?

The writer is also obsessed with talking about muscles, washboard stomachs, and bitch needs a sammich.  This is all sprinkled in with the word ‘Gah!’ being overused.  WTF?  I see the word ‘gah’ and I think the character’s being surprised as in ‘Gah!  I didn’t see you’.  For Kenyon it’s some exasperation moment.  It would have served her better to have the character grumble instead but what do I know. K

Another element of romance novels is the lack of trust between the potential lovers.  This is used tenfold to the point your want to jump in the novel, yell ‘gah!’ and scissor kick them both in the head.  The ring part just made me want to rip my hair out… OMG! He still loves his ex!  He has her ring still.… WAHHH!!!

She’s also into pedophilia or at least as an angle.  Two League novels, two male MCs raped by pedophiles in prison because they both were sent to prison at a young age.  Would someone please buy this woman a clue on how to make the characters uniquely different?  Oh wait… Syn drank.  That was the difference except unlike the first novel, he seems to cut back a little even though he laments he functions better on it.  Pseudo alcoholic?  Let’s top that off with the female MC saying she doesn’t like how he acts when he drinks when she’s only witnessed a handful of times and each time he has a different personality- none truly different than when he’s sober.

Research.  One of the most important things a writer should do, whether the world is made up or not.  Granted, making the world up that your story takes place in gives a little leeway on some things, it does not in everything.  For example, the way the two character’s bodies match up.  Kenyon says that Shahara’s tits are smack against Syn’s stomach yet his lips are just a little away from her neck.  Huh?  The next thing is the broken jaw that Syn receives.  Talking with one is not an easy feat yet there seems to be no difficulty in doing it.  Of course the writer is more than happy to demonstrate earlier in the book that he can take a lot of pain except in the love muscle (both of them).  I call bullshit because of the workings of the human body.  If you’re breaking bones and spraying blood, do it right or not at all.

Her world also needs flushed out a lot better.  To see a bounty hunter afraid to go to a planet with thieves and criminals is a little red light of the bullshit meter.  Are you bad ass or not?  The fact that the bounty hunter also doesn’t watch her back is fucked up as well.  If your job is hunting down bounties, you know how they think and what they might do.  You might play by the rules more but you don’t blindly go down alleys either.  All I see is this chick fuck up left and right on something she claims she’s good at.

The last 100 pages of crap.  Like I said.  I almost wanted to throw this book into the fire but I had vested 400+ brain draining pages already.  The grand finale in this book had the dumb skinny sammich-needing bitch not only meeting the ex-wife that ruined her love toy but the mother that abandoned him for her own ambition.  Bang-bang.  No, that’s not a gun going off… that’s my head against the wall.  Again a poorly written illusion of a plot driver.  I’m all for not having a concrete outline because it ruins the flow but not grasping at straws as this author does.

Things that needed to go:

The robot bird/rat/whatever.  Again it seemed like she was running out of ‘witty’ banter and needed to throw an extra character to save it.  Having a sarcastic robot made by the male MC was the solution and quite frankly, it was more of an annoyance than anything.  He appears and disappears at random.

The openness of the characters as a whole.  For a character trying to hide his past, Sym opened up to his pussy-in-a-box more than a two dollar whore.  A person that tried to bring him in and wounded him he opens up to because he feels something.  Right.  See Gap (or in this author’s case Canyon) of Credibility.  A person whose tried to hide his past for as long as this isn’t going to open up and he’s sure not going to allow a convenient Uncle babble on and on about his past to the tracer skinny bitch.  Oh I see she cares so I’m going to tell her everything.

The use of italics for character thoughts on their pathetic life.  Most writers would write out the thoughts instead of using this method as much as Kenyon has.  It’s not that hard to do, really, and with the book already too long what would it hurt?  Besides my brain, of course.

Overboard happy ending:

It was established that Shahara couldn’t bear children because of being severely raped but it wouldn’t be a typical romance novel without squeezing out a few offspring, right?  Syn happens to be a doctor in one of his many past lives and he magically fixes her vagina.  Like love wasn’t enough, right?  Got to have the wailing leeches too.

All in all, though I kind of enjoyed the character of Syn in the first League novel, I lost a lot of that through this book.  The tension, the characters as a whole.  I couldn’t believe them or feel for their predicament.  The female MC asks questions like a five year old and the fact that the male MC doesn’t tell her to STFU (considering his background) is baffling.  The writing is too jerky and seems like elements are tossed in because the writer either stumbles in the storyline or has a big poster of “things needed in a romance novel” taped above her computer.  Oh I forgot to put that in! Tap-a-tap-a-tap….

If you haven’t guessed this now, stay away from this author.  I have exactly one more book to read from her and it will be the last one I ever get.

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