Sorry about the infrequent posts lately. It's this moving business. It's like someone has jammed a straw up my nose and decided to suck my brains out.
I'm trying to keep up with my reading/reviewing and the latest book on the chopping block is the Just One Sip anthology by Katie MacAlister, Jennifer Ashley & Minda Webber. Yeah, more vampires. Woo-Frickin'-Hoo. I went through a stretch where I was reviewing a ton of paranormals, and finally had to tell TRR's editor "Enough!" At first I wasn't sure what was causing the burn-out (and at such a rapid pace). Well I eventually figured it out.
The lack of free will.
One of my quirks is that I like people (and coincidentally fiction characters) who know their own minds. They're comfortable in their own skin. Now you might think this makes for "boring" reading - but it truly doesn't. In fact, for me, the best romance novels are about women who don't need the romance. They're doing fine on their own. They don't need no stinkin' white knight to rescue them - they'll figure it out for themselves. When the hero comes along, with his ability to induce screaming orgasms, and they fall madly in love - well that's all gravy for our heroine. If this romance never happened she wouldn't curl up into a little ball and die. She'd keep moving forward. Either way, she's OK.
This isn't always the case in some paranormals because so often the author takes these choices out of the heroine's hands. I've expounded on my utter dislike of the "soul mates" bullshit on more than one forum. Hey, I love The Boyfriend. I mean, I really do. But if he died tomorrow or left me or whatever - I like to think that my life would not be over. I would, with some time, be able to move on. I would find a way to be happy. There would be other options out there for me once I was ready to explore them. So no, I don't believe in soul mates. Why? Because soul mates implies that there is just that one special person out there for you and that's it. You're screwed if you never find them, and if you do and you lose them - well T.S. because you're done. You're out. Forget it.
Such as it is for many paranormal heroines. Some deity proclaims, "Sorry cupcake - but this werewolf/vampire/tree nymph is the only guy for you. And if you don't like it? Well that's just too damn bad. It has been decided for you. So it's either this guy or become a Crazy Cat Lady."
Wow. What options.
Which brings me to the Jennifer Ashley story in this anthology I'm reading. The hero is some sort of vampire master who needs the heroine to freely give her blood to him so he can regain his lost powers. But how to convince her? How about doing the vampire equivalent of the Jedi Mind Meld? The heroine fights it - but she almost keeps calling this asshole "master." Can you say puke?
To the author's credit - she must have realized that I hate this plot device (and really, y'all know she was thinking of me), because she tries to rectify it in the ending. For the most part she's successful, but in order to do so the villain has a change of heart (which didn't work for me very much since I rather liked the villain as a true "bad" guy - but he's still marginally "bad" in the ending so there you go).
So what does all this rambling come down to? Please, for the love of Pete, allow the characters to have some free will. Allow them to make their own choices. Even if they are disastrous ones - they are still choices they made. Choices that they were able to make, good or bad, because of free will.
And truly, what is more sexy than that?