Monday, July 4, 2011

Review: The Heart of War

I love a good smut book.  And I love the paranormal: vampires, werewolves, demons, Gods.. all of them work for me. So I thought this book would be a perfect fit: Greek gods and dirty sex sounds like a winning combination. But it didn't quite work out that way.

The story centers on a Fey woman named Magdelena who washed up on the shores of an island belonging to Ares, the God of War. She is a mystery for him to solve. And as he gets to know her better, he discovers she is betrothed to an ancient Celt God, Cernunnos, who she has been trying to escape for 2oo years. A relationship quickly develops between Ares and "Alena." The book goes on to incorporate the other Greek gods. We learn about their estrangement from Ares. And we discover the depths of Cerunnos' evil acts and terrible plans.

Ares is, for lack of a better word, a complete asshole. It made it impossible for me to root for him as a character. He has a harem of women, who he barely sees as people. He has sex with them all indiscriminately and orders them to not only sleep with him, but with each other and occasionally, his guards. I understand that we're supposed to be watching the evolution of his character as he falls in love with Alena. But he is just so awful for the first half of the book that by the time he begins to soften, I still can't make myself like him. This is made worse by the actions he takes while cursed, later in the book. I know his redemption is the whole point of it all, but I think the author did too good of a job convincing me he was horrible at the beginning.

Alena, on the other hand, is way too understanding and forgiving. She was willing to let Ares keep his harem. And she was willing to forgive and forget instantly after some really unforgivable actions on his part. Yes, he was cursed. But let's get real here... he did terrible things to her and she was still all sunshine and roses with him.

Moving beyond all that, my biggest issue with the book was the brutality of it. Like I said, I'm on board for sex. But I think the instances of rape in this book matched the number of willing sex acts, tit-for-tat. I can stomach a rape in a book, as a single pivotal act that can stunningly alter a character or a storyline. But here, forced anal, oral, and vaginal sex, happened over and over and over. It was too much. It was disturbing and it was overkill. And did I mention the incest? Suffice it to say, there was a lot of that too.

There were also a number of grammatical errors, missing words, and misspellings. I can overlook one or two, but there were probably about 20 instances of this and I almost felt like I was reading an unedited story. A very, very long one. I think this book would have been a lot better if it were 100 pages shorter, 5 rapes lighter, and given one more once-over by an editor's red pen. I applaud the author for her creativity... It was definitely not like anything I've ever read before. It just wasn't for me. 2 stars.

*Review copy provided by author
The Heart of War
by Lisa Beth Darling
Release Date: November 21, 2010
Publisher: Moon Mistress Publishing

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