Pros: Intense erotica and romance
Cons: Over-the-top erotica and romance
Rating: 3 out of 5
Review book (uncorrected proof) courtesy of Penguin Group
Expected publication date: 8/7/2012
Stygian needs to find a missing woman named Honor Roberts, who might hold the key to saving a young child who was injected with a terrible serum. He’s looking for her with the help of Liza Johnson, who works for the Navajo Nation. Unfortunately, Liza is far more wrapped up in his case than it seems at first, and things only get more complicated when the mating heat develops between both of them. Finding Honor just might end up destroying their own fragile relationship. Behind it all is Jonas Wyatt, who would do almost anything, hurt almost anyone, to get to Honor and save the little toddler he loves as his own.
A couple of series-relevant observations first, that probably hold up for all the most recent Breed books. First of all, this is a looong series, and unlike some authors, Lora Leigh doesn’t do much to make books stand alone. I’ve read just enough previous books that I was able to hold on by my fingernails, but that was it. So either you’re already a fan/reader and you’ll be okay, or you have to choose whether you want to go back and start from the beginning, reading the whole series in order to catch up to books like Stygian’s Honor—which is book 27 of the Breeds series. That’s a lot of books in a series; not many new people will be willing to go back and read that many books from the start, so it tends to be helpful to write them as independently as possible. Instead, I find that it only takes missing a couple to leave me spinning rudderlessly wondering what happened. I’ll note that this book in particular won’t stand alone; only part of the story wraps up in this one, and it’s pretty hard to understand the background for it without whichever relevant books came first. So, if you’ve already read the other 26 books, you should have no difficulty with any of this and can now commence complaining at me for spending any time whatsoever on the question of whether someone could come into this book without the entire 26-book background behind them. (Hey, it’s a valid question that matters to potential new readers.)
Leigh has a particular style regarding erotic romance that I find somewhat “meh,” but of course will be very reader-dependent. I can certainly understand its appeal to many people. On the one hand, it’s the kind of over-the-top erotic/romantic content that guys on the internet think of and make fun of when they think “romance novel” (which is funny since most romance novels aren’t that over-the-top). Because of the nature of the “mating heat” between a Breed and his/her apparently-destined mate, a sort of biochemical compulsion that drives them, it provides the perfect excuse for the characters (and thus the readers’ imaginations) to go stark raving wild. It allows the characters to lose control under the influence of their possessiveness, lust, and love. When you live in a world where you’re supposed to exert a lot of self-control and people look down on you for not doing so, this can be a very attractive fantasy scenario. I can definitely understand why it would be just the fantasy material a lot of people would want and need, and despite finding it kind of ridiculous I still also find some of the scenes pretty hot.
To get back to this particular installment in the series: too much of the story was telegraphed ahead of time. Too many things about Liza’s life and Honor’s background just didn’t really make sense to me. And the sheer mysticism of some of what was going on felt… weird. Particularly since most of the books in the series that I’ve read so far have been mostly in the realm of “science fantasy” (i.e., science fiction that’s really fantasy dressed up as science).
However, I will say that Stygian and Liza do have great chemistry and wild sex, of just the type to satisfy folks who are already fans of the no-holds-barred sex style from Leigh’s Breed novels. Which is to say it happens often and explosively.
On the one hand, since the copy I reviewed was an uncorrected proof, I really can’t make any observations regarding error count that will hold up in the final copy you’ll see. That said, I’m used to seeing uncorrected proofs that are already more polished than this, so hopefully it’ll go through a very thorough additional copyediting.