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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: Mercy

MercyTitle: Mercy
Author: Eleri Stone
Page Count: 96 pages (epub format)
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for reviewed obtained via netgallet.com in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less: Survival is the name of the game among the Yaguara, a race of jaguar shapeshifters living in the Amazon. Iada is their queen, and in order to become king, a guy has to defeat her in combat. And she's never lost...until now.

Mercy has all the ingredients for a good shapeshifter romance: a cool setting, an entire culture that serves as the setting for the book, mystery, intrigue, chemistry, the works.  Maybe it was because the book was only 96 pages or maybe it was because it took me a little while to warm up to the starring couple, but at the end of the day the overall effect of this book did not live up to my expectations.

As individuals, Iada and Gabrial are fine.  Iada is trying to navigate an endless web of doublespeak, family betrayal, and violence, and that has made her not trust anyone any further than she can throw them.  Gabriel is fanatically devoted to protecting half-bloods like himself, since under the current regime in Yaguara society they have less than no rights and are pretty much murdered on sight.  When Gabriel enters the tournament to become king, and wins, he astounds everyone by not killing Iada, even though he could have; by showing her mercy, he claims her as his mate and queen.

That's all well and good, but "I didn't kill you so now you owe me" isn't really a good basis for a relationship.  That shows as Gabriel and Iada don't trust or really like each other for about 95% of the book.  They have great chemistry and can't keep their hands off each other, sure, but the trust, the connection, between the two of them isn't really there.  When Gabriel isn't trying to seduce Iada, he's lecturing her about something, whether it be her uninformed attitude towards the half-bloods (referred to as mutants through most of the book), her life under the thumbs of her uncles who'd like nothing more than to usurp her throne, or something.  I understand that Gabriel has a huge chip on his shoulder and that many people, including children, are relying on him and that he hopes to achieve great change as king of the Yaguara, but I don't think that belittling Iada was the way to go about it, especially once he realized how much danger she was in every day just from existing.

Easily my favorite character in the book was Enrique, Gabriel's grizzled old mentor.  Enrique understands from the get go that trust and healing between Gabriel and Iada is the only thing that will bring about any positive change for the Yaguara people as a whole, full blooded or otherwise, and he also understands the precarious, dangerous, deadly position that Iada is in way better than Gabriel does right up until the end.  I appreciated that, once Gabriel realized he'd been an epic ass and needed to make amends with Iada and asked Enrique for help, he still made Gabriel sweat it out, to teach him a lesson about appreciating good things before they're gone.  The ending of the book was very satisfying.

I definitely think this story could have benefited from being a) longer and b) more detailed.  The foundation for a solid story was definitely there, and I'm definitely interested in reading more about these characters and the Yaguara people, but as a stand alone book I was hoping for more character development, a better resolution to the conflict, and more authentic drama between the characters.

Overall Grade: C

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