Cooke's "Kiss of Fate," a non-review

Once upon a time, I got so caught up in the plots of the books I read and movies I watched that no matter how poor the execution of those plots was, I had to find out how they turned out once I started them. Since then, my priorities have changed. Maybe it’s that I don’t have the free time I once did, so I don’t want to waste it on something I don’t fully enjoy. Maybe it’s that there’s a limited number of ways for plots to turn out, and I’ve pretty much seen them all by now, so if the window dressing on the way there isn’t good, there’s no reason for me to stick around.

For whatever reason, once in a while I start but don’t finish a book. When that happens I don’t actually review the book as such, but I am happy to explain on my own blog why I chose not to finish the book, to give you a better idea of whether you might enjoy it yourself.

Deborah Cooke’s Kiss of Fate got me as far as page 90 before I decided to move on. To give it credit, parts of it were enjoyable and tempted me onward, such as the tense action scenes and the often-enjoyable interactions between the male and female leads. These should have been enough to impel me onwards in most urban fantasies, but in this case it wasn’t enough to hold onto me. You can decide for yourselves whether the things that annoyed me would be enough to hold you off, or whether that would be enough to keep your interest.

But first, I’ll share the back cover text with you:

For millennia, the shape-shifting dragon warriors known as the Pyr have lived peacefully as guardians of the earth’s treasures. But now the final reckoning between the Pyr, who count humans among the earth’s treasures, and the Slayers, who are determined to eradicate both humans and the Pyr who protect them, has begun…

Haunted by dreams of a lover who takes the form of a mythical dragon, Eileen Grosvenor searches for the truth. She never expects to find a real dragon shape shifter, let alone one who awakens her passion and ignites memories of her own forgotten past.

Erik Sorensson is focused on leading the Pyr to triumph over the Slayers, even if it costs him his life. When an ancient relic that can turn the tide of the battle reveals itself, Erik knows he has to retrieve it from Eileen’s possession. But when he tries to do so, he’s shocked by an incredible firestorm that compels him to confront the truth about Eileen’s identity. Her presence reminds him of mistakes he’s determined not to repeat, and Erik is forced to make a choice: duty or love.

Only by unlocking the secrets of the past can Erik and Eileen fulfill the final prophecy of the Pyr. Can they face their deepest fears and claim their destined love in time to defeat the Slayers?

Okay, I’ll get the niggly, petty detail out of the way first: the author’s need to italicize “Slayers” was like fingernails on a chalkboard for me. It makes sense with Pyr because it’s a language issue, and words in foreign languages are typically italicized. But Slayers? Maybe it’s because I know that if I’d done that while I was freelancing my editors would have figuratively smacked me, but it drove me mildly insane.

Now, on to the real meat of what made me give in and stop reading: apart from the aforementioned action and attraction scenes, the author’s pace reminded me of a pin-neat businesswoman in a perfectly-tailored suit clacking down a hallway with military precision. Which is to say, instead of a story that sucked me in and immersed me, I found what felt like a precisely-planned tale that the author pushed along its rails with great… well, precision, to repeat myself. As though she was going down a checklist of what the characters had to do, when, and in what order, and wasn’t giving them room to behave naturally.

There really is some neat stuff in Kiss of Fate—some fun characters, interesting action, etc. If you’re looking for a quick read and the above doesn’t bother you, then go ahead and grab it.

However, I do have one last complaint to make, and I admit this detail might have also helped to tip the balance for me in favor of not finishing the book. To quote from page 73:

It was true that she had rotten luck with men, that she always picked the one who would be unfaithful—like her ex, Joe—or the one who didn’t make a commitment, the one who was bisexual, the one who was a chronic liar, the one who was married already…the list went on and on.

I found this hugely offensive. Cooke listed the characteristic of bisexuality in the same breath as being unfaithful, being a chronic liar, and being an adulterer. The implication is that if one is capable of being sexually attracted to both men and women, this somehow makes one unfit for a monogamous relationship. Excuse me?! To be perfectly blunt, I consider myself bisexual and have for almost 20 years; I’ve also been married for almost eight years—monogamously involved with the same man for almost twelve years—and we’re still absolutely in love with each other. Implying that a bisexual is incapable of monogamy makes no more sense than saying that a straight man is bound to sleep around just because he’s sexually attracted to women.

Review copy courtesy of Penguin Group.

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