Title: Hunting Julian
Author: Jacquelyn Frank
Page Count: 354 pages
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was from my personal library
50 words or less: Badass bounty hunter Asia was on a manhunt to catch Julian, the guy she thought murdered her sister. Except Julian is actually a being from another dimension who kidnapped the sister for her sexual energy and is now kidnapping Asia as well. Well, everyone makes mistakes, right?
As a huge fan of this author's Nightwalker and Shadowwalker series, I was beyond excited to discover that there was a new series coming out. I love the language use, characters, worldbuilding, and details from those books, so I figured I would get more of the same in this new series. While there are plenty of elements here that are definitely unique, overall I felt the finished product of the book lacked a little of the panache of the other two sets of novels.
First though, I will give props to this author for introducing a landscape to paranormal romance that I can safely say I've never encountered before. In this world, you have to visualize the universe as a gigantic piece of tiramisu. Earth as we know constitutes one of the layers, say, the top one, and allllll the way at the bottom is Below, where Julian is from. The beings that inhabit Below are just like regular people in every way except that they live off of energy instead of food, and can't produce the energy themselves. There are also virtually no women in this world, as they were all killed off by a plague. In order to keep Below going, Gatherers, like Julian, have to go to Earth to find women who can produce energy in enough quantities to sustain Below through either their strong emotions or their sexual energy.
Asia reacts to all this pretty much as I think any of us would, that being with a big, fat WTF. Asia is kind of a ball buster throughout the entire book, and while I certainly don't mind kickass heroines who aren't going to just accept any load of crap the hero decides to dish out, I found her to be kind of tiresome after awhile. Since the main tension of the story revolves around the developing relationship between Julian and Asia and whether or not she will accept a place in Julian's society, this puts the tone of the book in kind of a pickle. But, I'll get to that in a minute.
The description of the setting and the unique rules of the world of Below were my favorite parts of the novel by far. I was reminded of really vivid sci-fi or fantasy novels where the worldbuilding takes center stage. In that way, this book totally lived up to my expectations.
When it comes to the characters and the interactions between them, though, that's kind of a different story. Not to mince words, but I thought the premise of needing to kidnap women so that they can have as much sex as they want because the energy that's produced from all that sexin' is what powers and feeds this society to be about as sexy as a rubber porkchop. Julian's position is that women in this society are revered and honored and that, as far as lives go, it's not a bad one, is kind of undermined by the fact that around every corner lurks someone who wants to see Asia take a dirt nap in a big hurry. And, when Asia doesn't take too well to not only being snatched out of her life where, although it was a lonely existance, it was one that she'd created for herself, she's accused of being selfish and mean-spirited! Sorry, but I don't see "let's have sex so we can save the lives of orphans" catching on as a pickup line any time soon.
The finale of the book, where Julian and Asia finally accept their relationship and look forward to a happy life together, was a little....bland, to be honest. I thought it was kind of rushed in order to make room for the setup for the next novel, and left open a kind of obvious plot hole: if these two screwing like rabbits produces enough energy to feed the entire colony, why do we need any more Gatherers or novels? I'm just asking.
For all that, I find myself intrigued to find out what happens next in this series. The next book, Stealing Kathryn, is out soon, and I'll probably read it, although I might opt for a copy from the library this time.
Overall Grade: B-
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