"Burning Wild," Christine Feehan

Pros: Riveting pacing and plotting
Cons: Justification of emotional abuse
Rating: 1 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group.

 

I’ve read and reviewed four of Christine Feehan’s books including her latest, Burning Wild. I started out expecting good things, since she’s sold well and won plenty of awards. Turbulent Sea I enjoyed, but had minor issues with. Murder Game I had some relatively major issues with—in my eyes she blurred the lines inexcusably between a dom/sub relationship and emotional abuse. Dark Curse disappointed me on more mundane levels: the world-building felt like a hodgepodge mix of elements that didn’t really gel. And this time, Burning Wild has succeeded in absolutely, 100%, pissing me off. So prepare yourself for an unusually ranting book review. I try to keep my reviews as even-handed as possible, but this time, that just isn’t possible.

 

Billionaire Jake Bannaconni was bred by his parents in an attempt to create a leopard-shifter—but they believed they had failed, and they took out their rage on him through constant physical and emotional abuse. Eventually he broke free of them to become one of the most powerful businessmen in the world. A tragic accident left him to raise his young son alone, however, and also left a pregnant young woman alone to raise her baby.

From the moment Jake laid eyes on Emma he became obsessed with her. He manipulated everything around her so she’d have no choice but to move to his Texas ranch and take care of the house and both children. As the emotions between them get hotter, however, their lives seem to become more dangerous—someone is out to get them, and they’ll stop at nothing to succeed.

 

I’ll start with Everything Else, because once I start on the content that made me angry, that’s all I’ll be talking about.

First of all, Christine Feehan is, in many ways, one hell of a good writer. Her pacing is, in most cases, extremely good; my only exception is that her characters sometimes spend too much time over-thinking things instead of acting (particularly early on). Her plotting is tight and action-packed, and keeps me glued to the pages wanting to know what happens next. Her characters are largely fascinating (with the exception that the bad guys in this book are such over-the-top one-sided villains that they’re rather cartoonish). The frequent sex scenes are lavish, imaginative, and hot as hell, with some minor personal quibbles (spasming or clenching wombs will always make me think of PMS and cramps, not hot sexiness).

However, it’s extremely difficult to sit back and enjoy the above when I’m steaming mad about the rest.

Main man Jake is a cold-hearted bastard. Okay, no biggie, you say: it’s a common fantasy that women want to find themselves to be the only one who can warm the heart of the big baddie. This is fantasy, not reality. Sure. Normally I can accept that. I can accept dominant alpha males (although they get a little boring when over-used). I can accept depictions of dom/sub relationships (I’ll be reviewing a fantastic depiction of one when I review Jory Strong’s Ghostland later this week). There are, however, several reasons why this book’s depiction of an emotionally abusive, controlling, manipulative male lead went way beyond any of the above for me, straight to something that I find wrong.

1. A big deal was made out of the fact that a line was drawn between physical and emotional abuse, as though as long as Jake never actually hit Emma or the children he was somehow in the clear. Bullshit. Emotional abuse is real, and can be at least as devastating as physical abuse. To draw this line leaves many emotionally abused people feeling as though if they haven’t been hit, they have no right to call for help or leave their abusers.

2. Jake’s behavior was excused through his traumatic childhood. While it’s true that a traumatic childhood leaves a lot of emotional scars and often is a good reason for giving a person some slack and helping them through their problems, it is NOT an excuse for abuse. Many abused people do not grow up to be abusers. Again, the assumption seemed to be that as long as he wasn’t the physical abusers that his parents were, he was still a good guy.

3. Both of the above points ultimately were made to seem as if they didn’t matter because as long as Emma loved him, she could change him. By “surrendering” to him and doing whatever he wants, of course. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that this magically turns him into a loving man and puts them on an equal footing. Oh, yeah, and the fact that he’s sexy and turns her on is apparently an excuse, too.

4. Any manipulation of her on his part, no matter how nasty, is magically made okay because—get this—she really recognized that he was manipulating her all along and decided to allow it. It’s the worst kind of justification, not to mention it’s virtually a deus ex machina because none of her thoughts revealed until that point have apparently shown us the full truth of what she was thinking.

But ultimately, what makes this book so horrific to me is that it spends a very, very large number of its pages stridently defending Jake and justifying his actions. It’s one thing to simply portray a fantasy that some women might have. It’s another to go to such great lengths to justify abuse as a part of a romantic relationship. (This is exactly the kind of thing that gives the larger world such a dim view of romance and erotica novels.)

Normally I’d have to give Feehan at least a 2 or 3 because really, in many ways she is a very good writer, and it wouldn’t seem fair to give this book a 1 out of 5 due to one issue. This time, however, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t.

Let me explain something I thought I wouldn’t be talking about for a long while yet. I once knew a woman I’ll call Mary. She married an emotionally abusive man who was very controlling and manipulative. I and other people around her often wished that she would leave him, and tried to offer her help, but he had used financial circumstances and such to leave her feeling trapped (much as Jake did to Emma).

Later, when Mary was dying of cancer, I spoke with her in the hospital. She told me she knew intellectually that her husband would never change, but that she just could never emotionally give up on the hope that he would.

This is the kind of book that encourages that hope and that fantasy, that urges people to try to heal damaged, emotionally abusive people, that tells folks they’re safe as long as they aren’t being hit, that tells them go on, surrender, if you just really give in to your abuser then they’ll change. And after seeing Mary’s sorrow, after knowing she died without ever getting free of her husband, reading that attitude made me physically ill.

I have always felt VERY strongly that books, games, movies, etc. are not responsible for people’s actions—people are. I loathe the idea of censorship, banning books, etc. But if a young woman I knew was going to read this book, I would want to make sure we sat down afterward and had a very long talk about the realities of emotional abuse. There’s a difference, to me, between depicting a harmless fantasy, and spending half of your pages trying to convince your audience that the actions of an abuser are acceptable. And this book went waaaay over that line.

 

This review is written in memory of a very kind woman who deserved far more than what she got. May she rest in peace.

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38 comments on “"Burning Wild," Christine Feehan
  1. I’d just like to let you know that I read your entire review. I’m very sad about this and your reaction. I haven’t read any books by this author and I’m afraid that now I will not read any of them in the future.

    I know what you mean by the author justifying the characters actions. I can’t believe that the author didn’t portray that male lead in a better way. How disappointing.

    I hope that you feel better now that you’ve expressed yourself and that you have made peace with reading this book and losing your good friend “Mary”. How sad to have the memory be tainted by this book.

  2. heather says:

    Thank you, Jess. I think I’m going to have to assert wifely prerogative tonight and ask my wonderful husband to do something fun, relaxing, and distracting with me. For once, I’m not even going to take this one to donate to the library—it’s going right into the recycle bin.

  3. darla d says:

    Wow, Heather – I am amazed that even with your warning about how angry you were, you still managed to put out a fair review of the book. I understand and agree with your anger, and I won’t be picking this one up.

  4. Leslie A says:

    I haven’t read “Burning Wild” yet, but I had planned to. I don’t know if I will, now. I have the same complaint as you do about the male leads in her books. I’ve read every one of the “Dark”, “Drake”, “Ghostwalker”, and “Leopard” series, as well as other books she’s published. I’ve noticed that while I thoroughly enjoyed the earlier installments of her various series, the more recent ones have become darker and more mean-spirited. I don’t enjoy them as much. Her male characters don’t try to win the love of the women they want anymore; they just try to control them, and keep insisting it’s for their own good. That’s not love, no matter how much spin you put on it. Her earlier “Dark” books had her Carpathian men trying to woo their lifemates, and to give the women time to fall in love with them. But now they just take what they want and are–I agree–emotionally abusive. In some of her books I feel the abuse extends to the bedroom, as well. I used to buy every book in the various series, but now I don’t want to spend the money when I know I’ll be disappointed on some level, so I just check them out from the library in order to keep up with the major plot lines. The author has me “hooked” on the story, so to speak, so I don’t want to miss what happens to characters I cared about in earlier books. But now I end up skipping over lots of pages, because I’m upset at the way the female leads are treated. Sometimes I just skim through new book to see “what’s new”, and then that’s the end of it. I only re-read her earlier books. I don’t know what’s going on in Christine Feehan’s life lately, but she has gone over the line. The words “tender”, “sweet”, “romantic” don’t apply to her male leads anymore. It’s been a real disappointment for me, since I’ve loved her books for years–“loved” being the operative word here.

  5. heather says:

    darla: I’m glad you felt it was fair! I was trying very hard not to simply slam it.

    Leslie: I’m glad to hear that the earlier books were much better, because I was having a lot of trouble reconciling these books with Feehan’s vast fan-base and rack of awards. I guess this is one reason I don’t like long series: if the author goes down a path like this, you’re stuck wanting to know what happens to your favorite characters, but not wanting to read the author’s version of it, if that makes sense. I read somewhere that Feehan realized this book would be controversial but felt she had to be “true” to the characters. I can’t help feeling that this fails to address two important issues, though: that this kind of relationship is inappropriate to a genre that’s all about romance and happily-ever-afters, and that if she really was just trying to be true to the characters, she wouldn’t need to spend so much space justifying everything they do. I don’t know what’s going on in her life, but I hope she stops trying to force-fit it into the romance genre.

  6. Anonymous says:

    well ms. feehan did warn before hand that this wasn’t a book for everyone and unfortunately it wasn’t the book for you. especially when you sound as if you personally went through similar experiences yourself or people that were very dear to you. What’s sad too is that you mixed your own personal feelings into that of a book that is a harmless read whether readers choose to read it or not. Regardless we are all entitled to our own opinions so more power to reviewers, just try to at least assert some positive views once in awhile regardless or personal views.

    • heather says:

      I’m sorry that you can still call this a “harmless read” after everything I pointed out here, but well, that’s your take on things. I’ve read all sorts of romances, from dom/sub fantasies to fairly dark and violent reads and found them to be “harmless.” However, I was very clear in my review as to why this particular book crossed that boundary where others did not. If you choose not to see that—well, I hope you never have to know someone who does go through something like this, because believe me, you won’t be happy about having someone portray it in a romantic light and spend so many pages blatantly attempting to justify abuse as acceptable behavior.

      As for how I should “try to at least assert some positive views once in a while regardless or [sic] personal views,” did you actually read my full review? I said quite a few positive things about Ms. Feehan’s writing abilities. She’s a very strong writer in quite a few respects, and I had no trouble saying so. Since it seems that you missed several major points of this review, I hope that before responding again you’ll give it a more thorough read.

  7. Septime says:

    Hi Heather, I have not read “Burning Wild” yet but will do so soon. I find your review quite interesting. Having read most of Feehans books I would say that the topic of childhood abuse in its different forms and its repercussions is of real concern for her. But so far, there have always been creatures with magic or supernatural powers to take care of those with damaged bodies or souls, a combination that places the healing and solution in the realm of a magic world where fairy tales come true. Apparently, in “Burning Wild” a mere mortal finds herself at the receiving end of the manipulative actions of a powerful shape shifter. And if I understand your review correctly, the author’s explications of the hero’s behaviour may be given with the best of intentions to inform and instruct people but they seem to justify said behaviour. I am looking forward to reading the book so that I will be able to compare my impression to your thoughts.
    Please, forgive me for my poor English which, unfortunately, is not the foreign language I speak best.

    • heather says:

      Hi Septime, I look forward to hearing your take on it. I’ve heard from one or two other people now who say they really loved her earlier books, but have found some of her most recent heroes go over the line into being outright abusive. I have no problem at all with wanting to explore issues of childhood abuse and its ramifications, but I do think she has stepped over the line into justifying abuse in certain ways, and I hope she sees that and goes back to what I understand are her far better strengths.

  8. Laina says:

    I totally agree with everything you wrote. I am a fan of Feehan’s work, enjoyed pretty much everything she’s written, but agree with Leslie A that in her later books the heroes have become more abusive. That said, none of her books have made me this angry and disgusted. I literally wanted to vomit after getting halfway through this book. I can’t even finish it.

    • heather says:

      Hi Laina, thanks for including your feedback! Again, since I haven’t read as many of her past books, I appreciate hearing how her fans view this recent aspect of her writing style. I hope she’ll listen to people’s feedback and consider either dialing back on the abusive tendencies of her “heroes”, or exploring them in a genre other than romance.

  9. Shelly says:

    I was really interested to read your review of “Burning Wild” which I haven’t read yet and probably won’t. I just finished “Dark Possession” (lastest in the Carpathian series) and “Murder Game” and was really disturbed and turned off by parts of both books especially “Murder Game”. I’ve noticed that the male character in both books (esp. Murder Game) literally physically force the female lead to do what they want them to do. There are several instances in “Murder Game” where he yanks her around and leaves bruises which the book notes that he’s proud of doing. But what really turned me off were the “love scenes”. They have gotten extremely graphic and now definately in the porn realm. The forced oral sex on him esp. where he’s holding her head down and “instructing” her how to do it better made me want to gag. I have absolutely nothing against sexy scenes in romances and have read many that fall in the very racy catagory but have never been so turned off like this. I agree that the earlier books were much better and the heroes more tender and loving. I’ve read them several times but I won’t be rereading these.

  10. Lindy says:

    I like christine feehan, her book mind game was my first romance novel read and i grew to love her books and though i acknowledge that her newer books have become dark and really harsh, people shouldnt stop reading her books because a few are sick and twisted. Burning wild really freaked me out and some of the “love” scenes scared me but i still finished it out of loyalty to one of my favorite writers and will continue to read her future books because she may have some characters later that are more loving and tender. maybe.

  11. heather says:

    Hi, Lindy! I appreciate your take on this—definitely I understand wanting to be loyal to an author you’ve enjoyed, and certainly if I’d been enjoying her books for years I’d be loath to give up on them, too. If I were in your place, I’d probably “check in” with one now and then to see whether she’d returned to the style I enjoyed, but I doubt I’d be able to stick with them the way you are. When there are so many gorgeous books to enjoy in the world, why put yourself deliberately through a bad experience with one?

    I was struck by your phrasing of sticking with books that have “really freaked [you] out” in the hopes that Feehan might return to her former “loving and tender” characters; it oddly echoes the idea of someone sticking with an abusive lover in the hopes that they’ll change their ways.

  12. Happy Dark Reader says:

    I LOVE Christine Feehan! She is the greatest paranormal writer of all time. Her books (Dark and Wild series) are not about 100% human emotions and a lot about animal instinct and survival. I’m sorry that people (including myself) have had bad experiences in life… but that is life itself. It would NEVER jeopardize me from reading a book as good as “Burning Wild”. I think Feehan’s creativity and imagination is amazing. Jake’s character is very sweet and nurturing throughout the entire book, look at all the misfits he adopts and how gentle he is to Emma and the kids, not to mention how very, very, sexy he is. It is about survival; his survival. Sure his animal instincts come out, that’s what makes it so exciting and oh so interesting. I loved reading “Burning Wild”; in fact, I’m reading it a second time as we speak.

  13. heather says:

    Hi Happy Dark Reader! If Feehan had simply justified Jake’s actions by saying he was part animal and therefore didn’t operate by human standards, I wouldn’t have had nearly as big a problem with this book as I did. It’s the fact that she spent so much word count justifying his actions within an entirely human context that makes it not-okay. Feehan doesn’t just let it stand at “he’s a leopard shifter, so he’s different.” She justifies and excuses his behavior throughout page after page of rather defensive characterization—it comes across like a person trying desperately to convince her friends that her obnoxious big brother is really a total sweetheart when he belittles and demeans them.

    I’m glad you at least enjoyed this book!

  14. Happy Dark Reader says:

    Hi Heather, I have a niece named Heather, she’s a sweetheart. Thanks for your input; I was hoping that you would reply. You and I have different opinions on the message brought through the characters in this book. You see a serious control freak, when I see a man helping people with protection that are in desperate need because of misfortunes in their lives. He truly takes care of people. I see a man who survived absolute torture. A man who builds an empire, with a good head start, thanks to his only good relative his Great-Grandfather. And I see a message that no matter how bad your childhood way, you can conquer anything (including love when it was never taught to you) if you set your mind to it. Of course a persons childhood will always have an effect of who they you are. Look at what he has come from in the beginning of the book until the end. He’s already a different person. He’s always been alone, without any kind of love whatsoever… of course the going to grab on to something positive with both hands in an attempt to keep it. Even in reality, that holds water to me. I admire Feehan actually going to the rain forest and researching animal behavior and life there in general. I like the way she can take your mind to the rain forest and make a real visual of what it would truly be like. Honestly, Heather, I’m a true cat lover also .

  15. heather says:

    If Jake’s actions were so understandable, I think they would have stood on their own without help. As it was, the book was thickened considerably by the number of pages spent justifying his actions. I’m not talking about narrative, depictions of his childhood, etc.; I’d put that in the category of story that stands on its own. But Feehan spent quite a bit of verbiage defending him; I don’t think she’d have felt the need to do that if she felt the character would be understandable on the merits of his background and nature alone.

    I have a feeling you and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. 🙂 Sure, Jake had some redeeming tidbits to him, but I just don’t believe that they excused some of the things he did and tried to do. Nor do I think they should.

  16. Happy Dark Reader says:

    You’re funny, “agree to disagree,” that’s cute. Yea, we totally disagree, but I still think you’re cool! Sometimes when I’m reading a book and the writer ramble on and on about a character’s personality, it irritates and bores me, and I end up wasting my money on it. But, I honestly didn’t see that in this book. The explanations were interesting to me and didn’t seam like his character was being justified. He knew he could be a jerk, and mentions it several times!! I didn’t get board reading it. Not at any part of it. I would smile to myself and think WOW!!! Sometimes. I was thinking of the logic of the story. I mean, think about it… If you were powerful (in a make believe/magical sort of way) and were raised the way Jake was and could pull off all the things he did… now that is true fantasy to me. I loved the first part, the reading of the will! Wow, to me, that was powerful. I just thought the way he treated Emma was down right SEXY!!! lol. Waiting two years… being patient… jealousy… all that animal instinct (mm mm mm), I thought he was really awesome!
    Hey, on another note, is Jory Stone really a good writer? I need some new reading material for the summer. I trust your judgment. I won’t hold it against you for not liking “Burning Wild.” I forgive you ((wink)). Make suggestions to me, my friend. Thanks.

  17. Happy Dark Reader says:

    Well, I’m reading “Ghostland”. Pretty cool!! I likes!

  18. Tracy says:

    I used to be a huge fan of Christine Feehan – and loved her books, I can tell you from personal experience that I will never again buy another one of her books, to financial support a author by purchasing on of their books is to give your approval of their conduct.

    And while I agree with Heather’s sentiments – my reasons are more personal. I have found that Ms Feehan is extremely prejudiced to anyone not living in the States – you can not purchase any of her ebooks if you do not live in the States or Canada. And heaven help you if you complain to her on her website – you are basically told to sod off – and be grateful and she write 4 books a year for us fans.

    I think she has grown too big for her boots, and forgets that it is us fans that made her popular, and us fans who fork out our hard earned money to support her, and when considering that one of her books costs more what most people in my country earn in a week – well she will never receive any dime from me that’s for sure.

  19. palewolf says:

    I must admit, I agree with you too. I read the book, and it was my first experience reading any of Christine Feehan’s works…the plot was thought out well and imaginative, with some great key aspects, and “climaxes” (I also agree with the womb clenching thing, sounds like severe PMS or child birth and really doesn’t make much “sexy” sense)…what I find aggravating however is her constant leaping from one character’s mind to another…for me, I get lost with that sort of writing style (generally I can wiz through a book, but being a bit ADHD this sort of thing makes me have to stop, and then re-read to get a grasp on who is thinking what in any given scene)—I personally think she should stick to ONE character’s POV through a WHOLE chapter, THEN move on to another in such a way that the storyline stays flowing and consistent…but for me, I will be just getting the hang of what one person is feeling, thinking, about to do, and then I am RIPPED away from their head and thrown into another person’s thoughts, feelings and potential actions–quite honestly it’s sloppy, and irritating to not be able to keep up, IMHO. (I am actually suprised that NONE of the critiques I have read mention that…it’s sort of a “writing 101” thing to me–I understand that there are numerous ways to write, and that on occasion styles like hers can work…but in most books with multi character POV style they stay in ONE character’s head throughout the duration of a single chapter, and then move to another character in the next chapter–it makes more sense –to me– that way).

    Another gripe, since I am on that track, is how she take’s, as I call it, the EASY way out with some things…like with her leopard people and some of their traits–rather than evolve ALL aspects of the things they can do (like she got stuck with how to explain it and gave up trying), she just takes an easy out and skims over the top of the subject (like, “it is so, because I say it’s so, now lets move to the next exhibit, shall we.”) Or with one I am struggling through right now, “Dark Curse” there is a scene in which Nicholas is talking to Mikhail, and telling him a story he already knows-(page end 81 to 82) -I feel she does this to bring the reader into the lore, but it’s LAZY and IMO there are ways to do such a thing without making the characters act or look like they are constantly trying to “one-up” eachother by telling redundant tells for the sake of telling them.

    I am suprised at how well recieved her novels are with this style of writing…I recently found some of her other books–apparently I bought 2 others and then they got tucked away on one of my book shelves–left unread. So I will struggle through these last two, but I am quite sure I won’t be buying any more of her books–it’s just too laborious and exhausting to keep up with the mind jumping. I will take it as a cautionary tail of what NOT to do in my own writing–funny thing is I just read a few sites on writing tips regarding POV (because I have had a hard time nailing down my own POV style) and MOST, if not ALL of them said NOT to mind jump…and then I got her “Burning Wild” book and had a reader’s POV of how confusing and frustrating it can be when a writer writes that way…so it was the book I needed to cement that lesson in my mind–so thanks Christine on that one.

    If she could elaborate on some issues instead of taking a side-stage-exit on the matter and stay with one character through a whole scene, I would have to say the rest of her imagination and story telling is quite awesome, and the romantic aspects can really be racey (if you like that sort of thing, I do). I have a short attention span with things I have to do twice or more to understand, so maybe it’s me and not her books, but I doubt it. Men on “power trips” CAN be sexy, but I agree she needs to pull back a bit on their leash and pop them back into calm, submission to the women–not overbearing and controlling to the point of being bastard bullies. I like that the men are struggling through past trauma’s and don’t trust themselves to not hurt someone, but that doesn’t give them an excuse to be emotionally abusive and ride on the coat-tails of their horrible childhood as justification.

    Just my $1.00 worth…

  20. Kristine says:

    I know you reviewed this book last year. I am just now discovering Christine Feehan. I did not finish this book. I was disappointed that this book was sooo filled with abuse. I even told my husband about it and how she objectified women in this story line. This was so different from Wild Rain. I have read all of her “Game” series and she started to head that way in Murder Game. To the point that I was unsure if I would even buy Street Game.

    I googled the book this morning just to see if anyone else felt the way I did about this book. I have not read any of the Dark series and despite the fact that Christine Feehan can write and writes well, I am just not sure I can bring myself to try another of her books. This one really bothered me. It is not why I buy and read fiction/fantasy/romance.

  21. Amber says:

    I started with Dark Series and found it extremely addictive. I have always loved vampire books but wanted to find one that was more dark, not a teen twilight story line. I found it in Christine Feehan’s Dark Series. I do agree that through out the series the characters get more and more dark. I had a hard time finishing Dark Demon because the “hero” was darker and more cold hearted then the rest. But I have to applaud Christine in her writing (yes, even in Burning Wild). Christine does not focus on one type of character, or even one character. She explores all types of characteristics, personalities, and backgrounds. But still stays true to her “story line” in her series. She finds a way to tie all her books together but makes each book unique. With Burning Wild, I was put off by the abuse, but it was my choice to read it, and my choice to finish it. I did find the story line unique from her previous books and therefore worth reading. Freedom of choice here people, if you don’t find it a good book…put it down! Also freedom of speech to say what you want about Burning Wild.

    I read every comment above and I have to condone you for turning people off from reading ANY of Christine’s books. I applaud her to daring to walk a line that is personal to alot of people. Abuse is wrong, but books are fictional.

  22. heather says:

    Amber: I’m assuming by the tone of your comment that you meant to say that you condemn me in that final paragraph, rather than condone? Because it certainly doesn’t sound as though you approve. Anyway, I’m not telling anyone not to read the book, nor trying to convince them not to. I’m giving what is hopefully enough information that people can make their own decisions as to whether or not the content would bother them. After all, as you said, “if you don’t find it a good book…put it down!” and to extrapolate from there, if someone wouldn’t enjoy it, they probably shouldn’t pick it up in the first place and waste their time.

  23. Jennifer says:

    We’re all quite aware of freedom of choice, Amber, but there’s a difference between portraying abuse and CONDONING it. The latter may be legally permissable, but most would agree that it’s not MORALLY so. If Feehan has the right to condone abuse, we certainly have the right to condemn her, as you’ve condemned Heather. Freedom works both ways. And never assume that something’s “just fiction”; writing presents ideas and ideas breed actions. Writing about abuse is very important, but treating it lightly or inappropriately is emotionally very dangerous for many.

    Heather, you’re right on. THANK you, not simply for disliking it but for explaining what’s so wrong in real life with ignoring emotional abuse.

  24. b020 says:

    Thank you Heather for succinctly and eloquently stating what has been bothering me about many of Feehan’s books. Burning Wild sounds very familiar and I had no wish read this, even less now. I’ve been increasing frustrated by Feehan’s books whose males sexually manipulate their women into doing what they want and taking over their lives. Another recurring theme in her books that really frustrates me- lack of free will for the women. In the Dark series, the women don’t get to choose their male counterparts. Once the male finds the one that turns on the colors for them, they are then sexually manipulated, brainwashed, or forced to ‘save’ the male under the emotional blackmail of being responsible for ‘turning’ them. I’m not reading about two strong characters mutally coming together in her books at all.

    I do think that Feehan is creative and her premise for her stories are great, which is why I got suckered into reading them. But then she would lose me part of the way into it. After reading Book7 of her Sisters series(not realizing it was the last in the series) and reading how the female had been sexually tortured & raped mentally and physically, yet she in the next chapter within less than a couple days she’s having sex with her man to ‘heal’ her & doesn’t mention therapy or aftermath, that was it for me. I refuse to buy any of her books, even borrowing is iffy.

    On a side note: In each series, she has one or two books that are completely different from the rest of her series which makes me suspicious and wonder if she’s got a ghost writer helping her write some of the books.

  25. Thanks for reviewing this book. Actually, I noticed that many modern romance novels have this same protagonist, emotionally abusive. I don’t really like this sort of character and plot because, like what you said, it’s justifying abuse.

  26. Tayna says:

    Thank you for the excellent review and for giving us your personal heart felt background story about your friend. When a young women is abused or treatly badly early on, particularly if that was the pattern of her parents, she won’t understand that this is not normal and not the way it should be.

  27. JUNE says:

    I have to say Heather that I agree completely with your assesment of this latest book. I love most of Christine Feehan books and the ones I dont buy I download to my ipod so I can listen to them but I skipped past most of this book it was terrible I felt ashamed and sorry for the female in this story she was portrayed so terribly. I am a strong female and to listen to this story was most unsettling.
    I also loved most of the Dark series books Back when she was writing the begining of the series even the most hot headed of the males were never like this to there life mates but the last few books of that series we very hard for me to read I am completely invested to the series and want to read the next book but it is getting to the point where I am skipping most of the pages that just make me feel completely uncomfortable as a woman.

    I am very sorry to hear about your close friend and what she went through. I also know a few people who were abused and I dont like any story lines that make it at any point acceptable. Verbal, Mental and physical abuse are unaccatable in any way and should never be made lite of in a romance story no matter what the circumstance.

    Wish i had read your review before I wasted my money on this book

  28. kristie says:

    My best ever paranormal romance novel is Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank, when i picked that book up, i didn’t even notice Christine Feehan’s comment on the cover, in fact, at the time, i had no idea who she was. But by the time i was done,i saw it ”I loved this book”- Christine Feehan. And i asked myself ‘who is this that shares my love for Jacob?’ so i walked into the bookshop and picked up the very first Christine Feehan book i found (burning wild). I never once regretted it, anyone who picks up a romance novel should keep in mind that the things in it are fictional and even if not…. why would anyone go around believing stuff because a novel says so? A reader convincing them self that it’s okay to be abused emotionally or physically isn’t the writer’s fault it’s the ignorant reader’s. Jake is a complex character but he never tried to blame anyone for his problems, he took full responsibility for them. he hates his parents but never said it was their fault. I believe he lives by his own moral code. He knows he isn’t the best person in the world so he does the little bits of good he can, Emma loves him even with his imperfections and he didn’t tie her down with money or powerfor his selfish reasons, she could have walked away any time, remember she didnt take his money. he even ensured that he made the playing field even by making her Anyandra and Kyle’s mother officially.

  29. Honichile says:

    [Reviewer’s note: this comment contains spoilers from the end of the book. You might want to avoid it if you haven’t read the book yet.]

    I have ready you review and almost all of the subsequent comments. While it’s clear the review is not objective, I think you and many of those who commented (who actually read the book) forgot to mention one very important thing – Emma is also a shapeshifter. While neither of them may have known she was initially, (as she had not shifted before they met or for a long time after), I think instinctively she knew how to deal with him (and she did quite a bit of teasing and provoking even though she knew what his reaction would’ve been) and it may have been his ignorance of that fact that made him so aggressive towards her. I’m sure that animal instincts are quite different from human instincts and so there was nothing in that book that I found offensive. Plots are based on settings, cultures, choices etc. This book speaks to the characters’ cultures, choices etc. We don’t always agree with these things relative to other people, but that’s the way it is, and our disagreement and disapproval often stems from our own prejudiced point of view, as is evidenced in your review.

    I agree with the person who said you are turning people off from what may be a really good read for them. It certainly was for me…

  30. heather says:

    Honichile: I and others deliberately didn’t mention that part because it’s set up to be one of the major surprises of the book. Reviews should not contain major spoilers.

    As to turning people off from the book, I believe that readers are smart folks who are perfectly capable of reading my and other reviews and drawing their own conclusions as to whether they’d enjoy a book. All I can do is provide enough info that hopefully they’ll know whether it would suit them.

  31. Honichile says:

    Exactly! And yet that’s the part that vindicates Jake. So essentially you didn’t do a full book review. Which makes this review even more disappointing for me.

  32. heather says:

    To you it vindicates Jake. To me it couldn’t change hundreds of pages of desperate attempts at justification.

  33. Josie says:

    Reading the comments above about the character Jake really surprised me. This is one of my favorite Christine Feehan books and I’ve read it multiple times. And, honestly never once reading it did I think of the word abuse. Yes the character can be a bit forceful by pushing his opinion on he but I don’t think it was meant to be abusive. I think everybody knows that how a child grows up plays a significant role in how they are as adults. I think for the childhood he experienced he was quite gentle with Emma and the kids.

    It makes me sad reading the comments of people saying just because of this review they will never try one of her books. Because I can be very picky with the romance novels and she is one of the best writers out there. I hope people can look past this review and try it for themselves to see what it is all about.

  34. Diane Dannenfeldt says:

    I think one thing that the review forgets is that he (nor she) is entirely human. Therefore, one of the driving aggressive forces is that they are part animal, so it’s not always going to be lovey dovey. Plus combine that with someone that has never known love or compassion or kindness and you get what could be considered abuse if they were completely human. If you have ever seen an animal documentary on big cat matings, they are very very aggressive. I figure that no one is going to be looking at this since it’s been 8 mths since the last comment but I just felt like I had to say something. BTW I love all her books!!

    • heather says:

      @Diane: All I can say is that I’ve read & reviewed a ton of books with non-human & shifter protagonists, often with aggressive animal-based behavior, and almost never had a problem with it in those books. Also yes, I’ve watched a number of animal docs (Big Cat Diary was always my favorite!). So no, that basic issue isn’t what squicked me. Thank you for your comment, though.

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