Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Immortal Ever After (Argeneau #18) by Lynsay Sands

Valerie Moyer has been kidnapped and locked in a cage for ten days.  She stopped eating the food after realising that its full of drugs.  Having not eaten in four days and her energy almost completely drained, Valerie is about to engage in the fight of her life in her bid to escape and hopefully free the rest of the women who are being held captive.  What Valerie doesn't want to admit is that the people who kidnapped her are not mortal like she is.  Fortunately for Valerie, the immortal hunters are on the case.  When Anders first sees Valerie, he instinctively tries to control her and read her mind and is stunned to find that he cannot, which makes Valerie his lifemate.  Anders is an immortal just like the beings who kidnapped Valerie and so to win her heart, he will have to convince her that not all immortals are the same.

Anders has popped up in a few books in this series thus far.  It's about time he got a lifemate of his own.  I was really hoping that Anders's story would be huge because he has always been such a mysterious character.  I am glad that I learned his origin story but feel that other than his surly nature, I still don't really feel like I really know him.  He's sort of a blank slate and could really be anyone.  

Valerie as a lifemate is a huge relief, considering the last few in this series. Valerie actually manages to save herself twice and is not pleased at the very idea that Anders might see her as a damsel in distress.  I love that Valerie helped Leigh deliver while stopping occasionally to knock out an immortal with a hanger.  That scene really got me giggling.  Valerie is educated and while she has some issues with her body, she's not constantly harping on it the way that some of Sands female love interests have recently. All in all, Valerie is a big step up.

That being said, there are some issues.  Valerie was kidnapped off the street, forcefully fed on and kept in a cage for ten days. Sands says that Valerie has nightmares because of it and that is certainly natural but the character herself didn't actually feel like she was going through PTSD.  One cannot be held against one's will, drugged and abused and not have some kind of emotional trauma.  I suppose with a HEA looming, Sands felt it better to move onto Valerie getting the hots for Anders and moving the story along.  Unfortunately, this made the story feel sort of off to me. 

In terms of writing there were a few issues.  At times, I feel that Sands is intentionally trying to stretch out her word count because she has nothing new to give to the series.  I quickly got sick of Valerie having to walk her dog and discussions about pop bags. Why did Sands feel it necessary for Valerie to have conversations with her dog Roxy and then tell the reader that Roxy doesn't really understand what Valerie is saying? Does she think that none of her readers have ever owned a dog or interacted with a dog?   Then of course, Valerie had to shave and was distraught with the hair on her body - keep in mind she just been separated from her kidnapper. Who the hell worries about how they look in a bathing suit after being kidnapped, starved and tortured just days ago?  Finally, and this I cannot believe an editor missed, if Ambrose was turned during WWI why would he have a renaissance style painting of himself?  If they had said maybe early photograph I could have bought it but renaissance painting?  It totally suggests that someone dropped the ball.

Anders is the only regularly appearing character of colour in this series.  It's nice to know how this MOC ended up with a Russian name.  That being said, he still felt like a white character painted black. Yes, he had an interesting back story that culturally fit but beyond that his character has never really developed and has spent the majority of his time in this story grunting, being rude and delivering interesting one liners. I had so wanted him to grow beyond that when he finally got his lifemate.  It's almost as though Sands doesn't know what to do with the scant few characters of colour which she creates.  

Finally, in terms of GLBT people, Sands did her typical erasure thing but given how she has used homosexuality in the past, it's probably a blessing.  Sands however did confirm in this novel that there are indeed gay Immortals, who do end up having life partners.  If this is so, why haven't we received more than a cursory mention of gay people thus far?  It's a fair question given that this is book 18 of this series.   Sands could absolutely have more inclusion and still throw in her HEA's and comedic moments.  

Immortal Ever After, like all of the Argeneau books, is meant to be fluff and occasionally funny.  The problem is that this series has become way to formulaic.  All the characters with the exception of Lucian, all seem to speak with the same voice and are absolutely interchangeable.  Sands continues to weave the Argeneau family together but there are so many, I've long since lost count of how they are related and have moved past the point of caring. More than anything, at this point, the Argeneau series needs a real shake up.  I am pretty done of repetitive nature of the plot. Zmog we're lifemates let's live HEA is not a plot and it does not add to characterisation.  If we are going to see this characters again, they need to become real.  I should believe in the romance between them.  I should believe that they are individuals with their own failings and flaws. I am tired of the perfect bodies, (yeah I know nanos) and the happy happy joy joy of how it all comes together in the end.  I have stuck with the series so far, so I am determined to finish.  Sands will not defeat me.