Smut with plot. A very good read. Basically for the characters of the main couple. Both of whom are quite interesting.
Tanner, the hero, repeatedly comes second best in the mind of the heroine (not that the author actually lets her admit it though) when compared to her first great love, the treacherous Chazz, who is offed without regret in the opening chapters. Sorry. Tanner is one big weirdo. He has watched Scheme have sex with other men for 10 years and has convinced himself she didn’t really, really enjoy herself and that he is the one true guy she needs. Poor Scheme cannot even tell Tanner he's a sick psycho stalker because for the first third of the novel she's his prisoner and has to be very careful how she talks to his ego.
What to make of Scheme, the heroine. Here’s what she says about herself:
“All Tanner had to do was withhold one orgasm. Made her wait and then asked her anything. The lives she would have betrayed would be gone forever, because she was weak.” (p160)
So by her own admission. Scheme lives through her twat. And everything else. Loyalty, honor, is secondary to that.
But her behaviour is somewhat understandable because ; ‘she was caving bad where Tanner was concerned. She was falling in love with him.” And the reason for her enamoration. He can give her the pounding she craves, needs. Trouble is. The reader gets the feeling that if Tanner keeled over dead tomorrow, Scheme would soon ‘fall in love’ with the next guy who showed her a bit of warmth or gave her sexual satisfaction.
And then amazingly. A few pages later we get. “Her taste in men sucked. “ She goes on to list why her relationships sucked. All 5 of them, in 10 years. As many people might say. Anyone might make the mistakes she did with her men. But I would like to tell her that she is continuing the pattern with Tanner.
But no way can I condemn or hate or despise Scheme. When you consider the way her father raised her, she’s made the best she can of her life. She works against her father, but she can’t bring herself to leave his sphere of influence and has probably built him up to be more of a monster than he really is. Consider the fact that not only is she betraying him, so is his second-in-command, John Bollen, and so, amazingly, is his chief enforcer, Dog. So how effective could Cyrus Tallent’s machinations and plots really be?
The scene with Dog was the only really ridiculous plot hole in the whole story. The author builds him up to be this big cold-blooded killer and then he turns out to be working for Jonas too. I don’t think the author can bring herself to write in a baddie Breed character. So why give him a personality at all? (Other than that he will get his own novel some time in the future…and that is a pussy reason.)
A fundamental flaw in this novel is this. I don’t think the author makes her case that Scheme is one of the good guys. Ok. Scheme deliberately made mistakes to save lives. But as is clearly stated in the book. Her signature is present on orders to kill innocent Breeds. Scheme has to answer for those actions in a court of law. A Human Rights court. She would fail and be convicted if her only defence was ‘I had no choice; my father forced me to sign.’ Playing the numbers game of ‘I killed some in order to save others.’ is also not a clear defence. The morally correct action for Scheme to have taken would have been to leave her father’s organisation completely.
But of course. Scheme was quite happy with her Dad and the upscale lifestyle he provided until he drugged her to abort her child, which happened when she was about 22 yo. Hmm. So all the Breed suffering in the labs meant nothing to her. See what I mean. If some of my pride siblings had been killed with Scheme’s consent, and she turned up at Sanctuary, I would make one big fuss, mating heat or not.
Presumably that’s why there are so many references to Scheme being ‘punished’ whenever she made one of those mistakes. Because otherwise she would have had too nice a life. I mean. ‘Relationships that sucked’ cannot on any level be compared to Breeds of both genders and all ages being systematically brutalized and routinely murdered through the orders of Cyrus Tallent and his daughter, Scheme.
In a way. The author knows Scheme is a relatively unsympathetic heroine because of one amazing little conversation between Scheme and Tanner where they try to outdo each other in tales of suffering. Apparently, Scheme’s father, buried her alive with a limited supply of oxygen and only released her 2 minutes after her oxygen ran out when she was already unconscious. ‘I survived. I always survived.’ She tells Tanner. He replies ‘You survived. It was your father’s favorite mode of punishment, burying Breeds alive. He released you. He never released a Breed.’ Top that dearie.
But she can’t. In fact. It’s like she never heard those words at all. She just carries on relating her own suffering. And then they have sex. Which they do all through the novel. Repeatedly. So I thought I’d mention that fact. Lovely. There’s a good quota of totally gratuitous and voyeuristic female nudity too. For those that are interested in that sort of thing. At some level. I wish this author had been co-opted to write the romance between Z and Bella in Lover Awakened. Maybe then the central relationship would have taken up more than 5 chapters of a 40 chapter book. But I digress.
The problem with the big, tough hero, Tanner, is that by around page 178 of a 350 page novel, he is just limp putty in the hands of a slut. Or should that be, a hard dick in the hands of a woman who knows how to work her men. Metaphorically and literally speaking of course. Omg! The way Scheme tried to play Tanner when he brought her back to the cave after her stupid escape attempt. Omg! That woman has no shame (or sincerity). And he almost fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I thought this guy could ’smell’ deceit?? The only thing that stopped him succumbing was that he thought he had to hand her over to her ‘true mate,’ his brother, Cabal. tee hee. I just laughed out loud at the scenes that followed. And as a reader, it wouldn’t have made much difference if Scheme had had sex with both the brothers. After all, she’d done something similar before. It’s not like normal parameters count for much with this series. On the other hand. I also felt total love for Scheme when she chastised herself for believing that anyone could ever love her. Ahh. Plus. I’d like to point out that at no time does Scheme have screaming hysterics, unlike that moron, Harmony. But the two women do have one thing in common. Their fertility is decided by the men in their lives. With Harmony, her men just discuss her fertility like she wasn’t there. But with Scheme. Her father drugged her, then had her unborn child terminated, and sterilized Scheme. A recurrent theme in both books. How weird is that. Like female conception and birth is still an issue. In the western world! Now that is much more contentious than Breed ‘mating heat.’ Which, btw, sets in about page 205. For a while, after that, the novel goes downhill imo. I just cringe as all the personal details of the heat between Tanner and Scheme are openly discussed by the complete strangers who sit on the Breed Cabinet. And yes. I know that's pretty much what happens when you go for IVF. But do I want to read a novel about IVF. En. Oh.
I just ate this story up during the first read. But the plot falls apart through its stupidity on a 2nd and 3rd reading. Every twist has a counter twist. But it keeps on going, like a roller-coaster until the very end. And suddenly the story finishes. Just like that.
I'm a reader who finds the Breed mythos more offensive than the smut. Of which there is tons and tons in this novel. However. No way would I read this ridiculous series without the smut scenes. This is another author who turns out about 6 or 7 novels a year. More power to her.
Finally. I'd like to do something only a serious reader of romantic trash can do. Which is. Compare heroines. Katya and Scheme. Both are about 31 yo. Poor Scheme gets criticised a lot for her sexual activities. But up against the prom queen she looks rather tame. Katya, by her own admission has had a lot of men. Including a rock-star. And we all know what that entails. The reader gets told that Superman taught her just about everything there is to know. It's just that the reader gets much more details in Scheme's book. Whilst with Katya's story, feelings and sensations (and shame, tee hee) are discussed more, and the details are left to the reader's imagination. Happy Christmas to both of these wonderful american women!