Sunday, 16 February 2014

#CBR6 6: Taming the Alpha, Adriana Hunter

Page count: 116
Time taken: 1.5 hrs

Trigger warning: Child rape, emotional abuse

Nikki Avery is a stripper, and a pretty good one, working for a strip club which is only slightly dodgy and doesn't actually require her to sleep with anyone. One of the johns catches her eye and she becomes increasingly drawn to him, against her better judgement and that of her best friend Lori, also a stripper.

Jax is the leader of the local werewolf pack, much to the chagrin of his younger brother. He has yet to do the two things which will cement his claim to be Alpha: kill in wolf form, and take a mate. In Nikki, he finally finds a woman he desires more than any other, but can she ever be accepted by his pack? And what is it that stalks the night, leaving behind death and a terrible stench?

This is book five of the Alpha's Touch set, the previous two books not being long enough to count for the cannonball read. To its credit, it is definitely better than "Curves for her Billionaire Doms", a book which I genuinely regret having read, although I have to say "His Golden Cuffs: Sacrifice" was better, scoring a good, oooh, 2 stars as it did (not worth paying for but you're not going to want to claw your own eyes out). This... One star: would make a good object lesson in how not to write a book.

The characters are one dimensional and frankly fucking annoying, the sex scenes irritating and of dubious hygiene - if you're regularly using sex as a way to make yourself feel better about your shitty life and you don't use condoms, you're going to be passing around a lot of clap, fantasy novel or no - and the politics risible. The only vaguely interesting this is the monster and the similarities and differences between it and the werewolves, but seeing as there is fuck all by way of exposition, it's more annoying and frustrating than an interesting take on the legend, which was clearly what the author was going for.

Unlike One Night of Danger, the emotional and mental trauma suffered by the heroine is used purely as a plot device and is magically fixed by Jax being there and listening, because of course that will get rid of all of the trust issues you would have if you'd been sexually abused by your father and your mother had denied it or blamed you depending on her mood. It's not even surprising; the "stripper damaged by childhood sex abuse" cliché is, well, a cliché.

The relationship Nikki has with her best friend is really odd - they have had sex before but there's no real desire there, and Lori has a cavalier attitude towards personal space and fidelity in a relationship - and it feels really out of place in the novel, coming across much more as a lesbian interlude in otherwise straight porn (which, let's be clear, is what this is). I'm pretty sure that Lori's some kind of shapechanger as well, or at least is clued in, but no exposition means I don't know what is possible in this world at all. Jax's relationship with his brother Bec is also really odd, lots of posturing and dick-waving but no explanation.

The book clearly suffers from the fact that it should have more parts, e-readers having reopened the possibility of serials for authors, but I doubt an extra 200 pages would make me any happier - at least this was a fast read, literally the only thing it had in its favour. Unlike many poorly executed books I've read, I don't even have the sense that I could do a better job with the basic idea: it's so poorly conceived there's nothing salvageable. I'd say burn before reading, but it's digital, and delete before reading doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

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