Friday, December 22, 2017

Beneath the Skin (De La Vega Cats #3) by Lauren Dane

Gibson, Bringer of the De La Vega werejaguar Jamboree, has no time or patience for representatives of a much smaller Jamboree violating his territory and makes this very very clear

And then is shot with silver bullets

Thankfully, Mia is close when he is shot and able to get him to safety; a wonderful foundation for a new friendship… but not so much when Mia and Gibson’s families have been at odds for generations. And Mia herself is still recovering from a brutal crime and trying to figure out what to do with her life: getting involved in Jamboree politics in the face of attempted murder was not on the agenda.

I’m going to say I was torn when I first picked up this book. I knew Lauren Dane as an author focuses on Paranormal Romance which I’m just not a huge fan of. This isn’t a criticism of her or the genre by any means, merely an expression of different taste. So that leads me to think “not for me” and back off - except she also wrote the Rowan Summerwaite Series which I love and I consider it to be a deep and terrible crime that there are not more books in this series. So I approach this from a complicated position of high and low expectations.

And so we have this book - which is a paranormal romance with an interesting world, some great characters and generally something I really enjoyed which means in the future I’m going to be even more confused

Oh to add to the ways I unnecessarily complicate what should be a simple review - I managed to pick up book 3 of a series. Yes, so this is me deleting my review complaining “I feel like I jumped half way in to a series and have a missed a whole lot of back story!” It turns out that’s because I jumped half way into a series and have indeed missed a whole lot of back story. Go me. So let me add some praise for this book both giving me enough information about the characters and world setting for me to actually enjoy and understand this book but not trying to dump so much back story into this book as to make it unwieldy. Oh and this series is a spin off from an even larger series. Yes this has not been my best decision.

I often dislike the tropes that are common in most of the paranormal romances I read as they seem to be summed up by “unreasonable people turning minor issues into ridiculous convoluted obstacles”. I generally think all these people should stay away from each other because no relationship that has two people this inclined to drama could possibly work except for the neighbours if they have a big enough supply of popcorn

But this book takes so many of these Issues and then… behaves quite reasonably? Like Gibson and Mia’s families have a long grudge after some seriously Not Ok shit Gibson’s granddad pulled on Mia’s grandmother. This has clearly left long wounds on Mia’s families and is a barrier between them. But one that is resolved because everyone is truly shockingly sensible and realises that maybe holding a grudge for 2 generations may not be that fair?

Or there’s the time Mia is angered because Gibson suggests that maybe she needs protection and she pushes back at the idea but doesn’t turn it into more than a moment they need to address - and doesn’t run off on her own or something equally ridiculous to prove her strength and courage

Or there’s the time Mia’s mother is furious because Mia’s relationship with Gibson appears to have put her at risk. Yes that’s a barrier but equally it’s recognised that Mia doesn’t want to derail her future for it nor will doing so make the threat disappear

It’s not that the conflicts that we so often see in Paranormal Romance aren’t present; it’s that the characters deal with these conflicts like actual human beings who respect each other and have half an ounce of sense and it’s amazing how that really does make these storylines so much easier to follow.

And it gave me much more chance to like Gibson and Mia, their history, their experiences, their clearly powerful connections to their families who are so very important to them without them having to dominate the story. (I suspect, now, that these characters will receive)

There is a lot of sex in this book which didn’t overly thrill me and I did think I’d like to see more of the actual investigation of the people trying to kill them. The actual motives and the plans of the attackers are somewhat shaky - but it works because people ARE shaky. They over-estimate themselves, they assume their opponents will do everything they expect them to, they don’t have a plan B - this works because, like the romance conflicts, it isn’t ridiculous. It feels real; I like it.

Mia is a disabled woman, a veteran, yet not defined entirely by her physical prowess: while still being more than capable (her military experience isn’t used to turn her into an Action Girl or Weapon). She’s a victim of a horrendous crime and coming to terms with how that has changed her future and her dreams, deals with ongoing physical and mental pain from that in a very well portrayed fashion. Gibson is Black along with his family - made up of his brothers, their latina wives and their mother, influential matriarch all of which have clear characters, relationships and history (which I think was probably explored in different books) making for a cast of interesting, diverse characters who are powerful, sensible and developed.

One of Gibson’s brothers is in a triad relationship with a woman and another man, but in the brief moments they appear it’s really not clear if this is anything but straight (two men in a relationship with a woman) or bisexual (the men in a relationship with each other as well as a woman).

So despite absolutely failing at reviewing, this worked out really now. Of course, my obsessive nature now means I need to read the previous books in this series and the series it spun off from. The good news is, from this book, this is going to be a good thing