Bound Together by Christine Feehan

bound

The Sea Haven series comes to a climactic end as the mysterious man from Blythe Daniels’ past re-enters her life.

For five years, Viktor Prakenskii has put his life on hold in order to take down the world’s most feared motorcycle club from the inside. But carrying out the insane violence and seeing the club’s exploitation of the innocent has brought his traumatic past roaring back. And there’s only one cure: to see the wife he left behind…

Blythe Daniels thought she’d never see Viktor again after he murdered her stepfather and left without a word. She rebuilt her life without him, becoming a personal trainer and physical therapist…becoming strong enough for others to lean on. But when Viktor comes back to Sea Haven, he’ll make Blythe question everything she thought she knew about good and evil—and the dark desires of the heart…

—                         —                         —

Bound Together is the final chapter of the Sisters of the Heart series as well as the prequel to the Torpedo Ink series that will debut in 2018. It felt like a reunion novel in many ways; so many threads and characters were brought back from previous books in this series, and also from the Drake Sisters series.

There were a TON of expectations for Bound Together. And I think overall that the author did a pretty good job of bringing everything “together”, a task that I can only imagine seemed insurmountable at the start. There were lots of points that I loved in this novel, but there were also a few things that I found myself to be very skeptical of or opposed to. One thing that I’m not even going to touch on further is that there were a few continuity issues between BT and the previous books in the two series, and that the plot line was fairly predictable for anyone familiar with Feehan’s work.

This review is going to have major spoilers, which is one of the reasons I have waited a month to write it. Fair warning…

Ms. Feehan was able to impressively weave together the old characters from the Drake Family and the farm (about 25 people) with Viktor and his MC (another 9 characters on page), plus children they’ve rescued, background peeps from the village and a horde of bad guys. That is a lot of people who need “page time” and distinct voices! No wonder the author was hard-pressed to wrap everything up in one book.

Now, before I sound too critical of her efforts, I want to point out that I think Ms. Feehan did the best anyone could have done considering the massive amount of material to be covered in a minimal number of pages. That being said, I believe that it was more suited to two tomes released back to back as many romance authors have been doing lately (looking at you Ann Mayburn!) or working with the publisher to write a book that is much longer than the others in the series.

Now as much as I wanted to meet the MC members who are a part of Torpedo Ink, they should have been left behind to show up in the first book in the next series instead. As it is Ms. Feehan only introduced half and left the others off-page. Their inclusion led me to feel that some of the others didn’t have their stories finished. Lexi in particular, I wanted to catch up with and see her adjustment to Gavriil’s announcement that he wanted to join the outlaw MC!

There is almost no interaction between Viktor and the other Sisters of the Heart throughout all of Bound Together, and there is no interaction between him and their children. Many of those “sisters” are only mentioned in a couple of chapters but Blythe was a strong supporting character in each of their backstories.  I also was desperately anticipating the meeting between (a very pregnant) Joley and the Prakenskii brothers but this is not included in Bound Together which made me feel cheated as a reader.

I don’t want this review to reiterate the entire background of the Torpedo Ink members, but suffice it to say that they have no idea how to interact in society nor do they realize the limits of normal relationships. Fair enough, considering how they were raised, but Blythe fits in a little too easily with them. I understand that forgiveness, compassion and acceptance are her dominant personality traits but she accepted Viktor and co a little too easily in my opinion. She seems to go from literally physically struggling to get away from Viktor to solidly having his back in all situations, and reflecting his exhibitionist tendencies.

Ms. Feehan has continually painted each new hero in her books as the “baddest of the bad”. Well, at some point you reach the ceiling and there is nowhere else to go. She asks the reader to suspend their belief, and accept that each new group is that much more skilled. And I’m not buying it anymore.

In Bound Together, the Torpedo Ink members are described as being more dangerous than any of the other survivors of the program our earlier heroes emerged from. I think Torpedo Ink can be slightly more dangerous in that they don’t even want to try to live within the constraints of normal society, to “fit in”, and that they are totally willing to kill innocent people to protect themselves from perceived danger, a step that none of the others has taken thus far. Perhaps their only redeeming qualities are that children are off limits and that these actions are done out of an all-consuming fear. Fear that one of their own will die or otherwise be taken from them.

But I heartily dispute the idea that these men and two women have skills that far exceed the other Prakenskii brothers (and Aleksandr). They were all “trained” in the same schools. In fact, the point is continually made that the T. Ink crew weren’t trained so much as incarcerated and tortured all their lives, and that they didn’t start running missions until their twenties, compared to the others who had the best training in the world and started running missions as teens.

Who do you really think is going to be more effective? More skilled? More experienced?

Ya, not the new boys on the block.

I also don’t think they would have easily taken to playing with the children, and caring for them, as happens in the end of the book. These are men and women who never had a childhood. They don’t know how to play, or even how to laugh, points that are made repeatedly throughout the story. They are not well-suited to immediately adapt to parental roles, and certainly wouldn’t know how to entertain and play with children of different ages, or know what is age appropriate for each. Viktor is the only one of them who I believe would have a chance, and that is because of his experience with Blythe and that he was the oldest when he was taken, rather than a baby or a toddler.

So these are all the main points that I dispute or had issue with while reading Bound Together. Each is relatively minor overall, but stayed with me after finishing the story, especially when taken together.

That said, I did enjoy the book, and it met many of my expectations, but for the author to expect that one regular-length book could culminate in a thorough and fan-friendly reunion story for 12 previous books and introduce a new cast of characters for the next series is far-fetched and laughable. For what it was, it was good, but I wish the author and publisher had been more flexible, and willing to think outside the box to make Blythe and Viktor’s story fantastic.

* * * *

xx

Advertisements

Water Bound by Christine Feehan

Water Bound is the first book in a new Sea Haven series by Christine Feehan, called Sisters of the Heart. It follows the last book of the Drake Sisters series but can be read as a stand-a-lone. The plot picks up on the same day as Hidden Currents ended.

water-bound

The last thing Lev Prakenskii remembered was being lost in the swirling currents of the ocean and getting sucked deeper into the nothingness of a freezing black eddy off the coastal town of Sea Haven. Just as quickly, just a miraculously, he was saved—pulled ashore by a beautiful stranger. But Lev has no memory of who he is—or why he seems to possess the violent instincts of a trained killer. All he knows is that he fears for his life, and for the life of his unexpected savior.

Her name is Rikki, a sea~urchin diver in Sea Haven. She has always felt an affinity for the ocean, and for the seductive pull of the tides. And now she feels drawn in the same way to the enigmatic man she rescued. But soon they will be bound by something even stronger, and their tantalizing secrets will engulf them both in a whirlpool of dizzying passion and inescapable danger.

—                        —                          —

Water Bound was the first book I ever read with an autistic heroine and I love how the author portrayed her. She has lots of quirks and concerns but never comes across as stupid, ignorant or selfish. She knows that she needs things a certain way in her life and is mostly comfortable with that fact. She has sisters she chooses to make a life with and tries to overcome her taciturn, solitary lifestyle in order to give back emotionally to those she loves.

Rikki is incredibly independent and fears being a burden on her family, probably due to her background in foster care and state run facilities. I like how she and Lev work together and Lev’s journey into understanding how she thinks. Lev shows a remarkable understanding of what changes Rikki can accept and how to slowly introduce new things that challenge her perceptions of her limitations in life. Of course he makes mistakes sometimes but hey – to err is to be human.

I’ve included one of my favourite humorous scenes in the book. Rikki is caring for Lev after his head injury and he is getting pretty tired of eating the PB she thinks constitutes the perfect food.

<Rikki speaking>  “I’ll fix you a sandwich.”

He looked pained. “I don’t eat peanut butter.”

That genuinely shocked her. “Who doesn’t eat peanut butter? It’s the perfect food.”

He shuddered. “Even to make up for all the things I’ve done wrong, I don’t think I can do it.”

“For a man who carries around as many weapons as you do, you’re a bit of a baby.”

“It isn’t being a baby not to eat peanut butter. I don’t think babies eat the stuff.”

“That’s un-American.”

“I’m not certain I am American,” he pointed out.

She had to agree with him there. “Fine. You can put peanut butter on waffles. Blythe bought some of those frozen thingies that you put in the toaster. I’m not sure how old they are. Do frozen foods last like four years or more?”

He groaned and dropped into the nearest kitchen chair, pushing his head into his hands. “Death by peanut butter. I never thought I’d go that way.”

Feehan, Christine. Water Bound (Sea Haven-Sisters of the Heart Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2038-2048). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Water Bound introduces the idea of a new type of magic where certain people are born with a special affinity to control an element, but it’s more than just the ability to use fire or water. There is an emotional connection to it as well, and unlike the previous magical gifts we have experienced in Sea Haven, using element “magic” does not drain you of strength. But your gifts are also limited to that one element.

Clearly each of the remaining Prakenskii brothers are going to be paired up with one of the Sisters of the Heart <so called because they are not biologically related > in the series. I hope we learn more about them and get to see them reunite with each other.

The next book in the series is Spirit Bound so I will try to review it in the next few weeks, as I count down the days until the last book in the series is released in March!

* * * * *

xx

Earth Bound by Christine Feehan – a review

Christine Feehan writes four series that I love. The Sisters of the Heart series is definitely my favourite of those. I was super excited for the release of Earth Bound, book four in a series of six. Feehan writes books in such a way as they can be read as stand-a-lones, but you definitely get more out of them by reading in order.

earth

Blurb:

After escaping from a cult, Lexi found refuge with her sisters on the farm that more than sustained her body—it nurtured her soul as well. But she never forgot the terror she left behind or the always present fear that the cult would find her again, and claim her. Then her nightmare came true.

Lexi was discovered and threatened—only to be suddenly saved by a stranger. He is Gavriil Prakenskii, and he’s awestruck by the woman he’s rescued. She is destined for him. He can feel it in his soul. But how can Lexi find happiness with a man steeped in secrets and shadows, one intimately acquainted with violence, and whose very love could be the death of them?

—                    —                     —

Earth Bound finally had one of the key moments that I have been waiting for since this series began! Hallelujah!

The brothers have finally started interacting! I wish we had seen even more between Stefan, Gavriil, Levi and Max, but you take what you can get. This was more interaction than we have gotten in the past, and finally, Ilya made his reappearance into the series! We haven’t seen him since Hidden Currents in the Drake series so I was beyond thankful that he is back.

One thing that sort of bothered me during my read.

It seemed a little weird to me that Gavriil was depicted as this guy who was scary and deadly, even to his brothers. They mentioned that even though Gavriil is still recovering from injuries through the whole book, he could kill them with his pinky finger without breaking a sweat. If you know the series, you know that these guys are all superbad A’s who were raised since childhood in a secret Russian government institution to become assassins. They’re pretty deadly. And Ilya got caught in his house, on his home turf, by his older brother. I don’t really buy that.

The author’s position was that all the brothers were taken from their family and put into the school at the same time. Ilya, being the youngest, was a toddler at the time and Gavriil, the second oldest of seven children, was about 12. So Gavriil may have been operating in the real-world environment for longer but Ilya was literally raised in it from his earliest memories and he is in his late 20s or early 30s now, so he also has a lot of real world experience. It makes it seem really weird to me that Gavriil and the oldest would be so much more dangerous. To me, the brothers should be about equal in skills and the youngest the most ruthless, since he doesn’t have happy childhood memories to ground himself with and understand everyday life.

Despite my tangent, I really did like the book and the increased interaction between the brothers though! It was nice to also see the characters interacting with the kids from Air Bound. I really liked that this book took place pretty much entirely in Sea Haven. Air Bound did not and it felt like that book existed in a bit of a bubble.

I like the romantic story between Gavriil and Lexi. They are such a good team and the author takes enough time for both characters to develop a friendship together before throwing them into the bedroom, which is important given Lexi’s past.

I debated quite a bit between giving Earth Bound four or five stars. I ended up giving it five, because my problem with the book wasn’t really with the plot or characters, so much as the writer and editor. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed an alarming trend the last year or two of these professionals making stupid, stupid mistakes, in series especially.

In a scene with a lot of characters, they’ll refer to “Jones” and his uncle when they actually mean “Kyle” and his uncle because Jones doesn’t have an uncle, he’s there with this brother-in-law. Or another time when a house magically gained two bedrooms, because the author either forgot they’d already mentioned the number or forgot the number.

This stuff makes me sooooo mad. It is a huge pet peeve of mine. If I am the reader and I catch it on my first read, than you should absolutely know your story and characters well enough to not make these mistakes. Clearly, the author/editor and whoever else is relevant is not carefully re-reading the book before submitting it for publication, and that is your job.

So in the end of Earth Bound, they are taking about the new baby who was born in the previous book in the series and multiple times use the words “daughter”, “she”, etc. Well, last book it was “son”, “he”. This isn’t a simple typo where the letter s was accidentally added to “he”, someone forgot the gender of this new child. And because it was the very end of the book, it soured my opinion of the story which really had been great up until then.

I went and checked out the author’s website and a lot of other readers also noticed this mistake. Ms. Feehan clarified that yes the child is male, and it was a mistake that she didn’t catch in Earth Bound. Mistakes happen, so I am still giving this book the five stars. But this author had another huge mistake of a similar nature in another recently released book and so have multiple other authors I’ve read recently, both indie published and traditionally published.

Can we just have a more professional calibre in the publishing world please?!!! But maybe that is another post.

Postscript: The next book in the series is called Fire Bound and will be released in 2016. It is the second to last book for this series and I just heard that both Casimir and Viktor Prakenskii will show up in it. I find that very reinvigorating 🙂

* * * * *

xx

A Warm Hug

I’ve touched upon the idea of a “book family” or “book friend” in an earlier blog post, but I want to write about it again. If you’ve never heard of this term, it’s the same idea as having a book boyfriend.

I have to deal with panic attacks so when I need a breather from life I escape into one of my favourite series, like the Shadowlands. It feels comforting and safe, like friends enveloping me in a warm hug, and since the vast majority of romance novels always have a great HEA (happily ever after), I don’t worry when bad things are happening to the characters. Most of the time, these are books that I have read so many times, I can pick it up and flip to any page (or % on kindle) and know which scenes have already happened and where I am in the book.

Right now, the best books for me to go to when my anxiety is too close are the Sea Haven series by Christine Feehan, Shadowlands by Cherise Sinclair, and Exquisite series or Submissive’s Wish series by Ann Mayburn. That last author writes darker material though so I have to be careful which scenes I choose, or I start with one of the other authors and then move on to Ann Mayburn to “ease” myself back into the big, bad world.

So to my favourite authors, thanks for being there for me at times when real-life loved ones can’t. Thank for helping me to relax and turn my day around, maybe get something else done in the day. And if nothing else, it helps me calm down for awhile instead of letting my brain whirl itself into a frenzied and desperate state.

If you have a really feel good romance series that helps you feel better from some type of upset, please share! Always happy to find something new to help and maybe some of mine will work for you as well.

xx