By Gena Showalter
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Genre: Paranormal Romance
THE SWEETEST TEMPTATION…
Black ops agent Solomon Judah awakens caged and bound in a twisted zoo where otherworlders are the main attraction. Vika Lukas, the owner’s daughter, is tasked with Solo’s care and feeding. The monster inside him yearns to kill her on sight, even though she holds the key to his escape. But the human side of him realizes the beautiful deaf girl is more than she seems—she’s his.
THE ULTIMATE PRICE…
Vika endures the captives’ taunts and loathing, hoping to keep them alive even if she can’t free them. Only, Solo is different—he protects her. But as hostility turns to forbidden romance, his feelings for her will be used against him…and he’ll be put to a killer test.
Gena Showalter is one of the small numbers of authors on my auto-buy list and it doesn’t even matter what genre or category. I love her Alien Huntress series and thought there were so many possibilities within the world, I was happy to see she was doing a spin-off series. This first book has to be the most un-Gena book I’ve read – I put it down more than a few times and checked the cover once to see if I missed a collaborator’s name.
I don’t think you need to have read any of the other Alien Huntress books to be able to pick this right up. There’s really not anything mentioned in here that Showalter expects you to already know and honestly, there are so many species packed in, it’d probably be all Greek anyway unless you’d kept notes.
Evil circus-master Jecis Lukas has created a terrible money-making attraction by kidnapping different alien races and putting them in cages on display for the viewing public. His daughter Vika tries to take special care of the captives, but for each kindness she shows them, her father beats her. His newest capture is a giant beast of a man named Solo who doesn’t want to go along with the program and follow directions. He learns the hard way about all of the ways Jecis has to punish and torture him, along with seeing Vika do whatever she can to protect and comfort him.
It pains me a great deal to say that Gena Showalter has written a Mary Sue of a main character. Vika is pretty and sweet, but she’s also fairly clueless and doesn’t really do anything interesting but wring her hands and kiss Solo when he’s sleeping. Nearly all of her other female characters are empowered or at least pretty damn sassy, but Vika felt like a comforting bowl of Cream of Wheat. I love Cream of Wheat sometimes, but it’s not exciting and I don’t want to eat it for several hours. When the hero’s big impetus to be with his heroine is that he has to take care of her, I immediately think they ought to start booking the couples’ therapy sessions.
There was more to like about Solo because he was on the page longer and had a past with friends and a job. He’s definitely a he-man Alpha but even he’s a little bit vague and hazy, sort of a generic alien hero from Central Casting. I don’t really have a clear idea of what he looks like physically beyond that other people think he’s ugly and menacing and when he gets angry, he gets redder and his teeth and nails get long. Emotionally, he hits all of the right hero high notes: he’s all gruff and angry at first, then attracted to our Mary Sue, then protective and finally madly in love, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. It’s not a horrible pattern, it works in so many books (including lots of Showalter’s), but it just felt off here.
There’s not a lot I can say about the plot because there wasn’t much there. Most of it was spent at the circus while Solo was caged and he and Vika were getting to know each other and the romance is about 85% sweet/15% hot. The beginning was good – I liked the way the story was set up with both Vika and her father and the potential for some truly evil goings-on. Bits and pieces in the middle felt like old Showalter, with some nice gory action scenes, and some things close to the end felt like they would go in a good direction before they fizzled. I was left with some hope for what I think will be three more books, because those guys were interesting and hopefully will have some better stories to work with.
Would I recommend this one? I’m a die-hard Showalter fan and I’m not even sure. I bought it and I think I could have waited and checked it out from the library and not felt so bad about it. It’s not a horrible book, it’s not a great book and it’s definitely not Showalter’s best book. When I finished, there wasn’t much that I read that would be necessary to know for book two in the series.
My Rating: C