Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
I decided to review these two books together because they are written by the same author and to me shared the exact same strengths and weaknesses.
This author is new-to-me and I read a novella of hers that I just loved, One Shot Too Many (31 Days of Steamy Mocha) - Nikki Winter . I thought it was a great little story with some fun writing. It also had a theme that I really enjoyed -- that of a person who is laboring under a longtime unrequited love and finally takes their chance at letting the other person know. But this was a novella and I really wanted it to be longer.
Because I had really enjoyed that first sampling of this author's writing, I decided to try one of her longer books and was able to borrow What a Bear Wants - Nikki Winter.
(I borrowed because 1) I am studiously NOT buying new books and 2) I am studiously NOT buying new books from new-to-me authors at the page-to-price ratio this book was going for)
This book features an alpha-female wolf shifter named Fallon who owns and runs a popular resort for shifter families. The hero is Ransom, a Bear shifter who runs a rival resort and wants to buy Fallon out. But she isn't selling. The book starts it with a series of very amusing back and forth emails between the two. Honestly I was as charmed as Ransom at this point.
Ransom decides he is going to visit Fallon's resort as a guest to try to persuade her to sell in person. It doesn't hurt that she is very easy on the eyes and maybe he can persuade her in other ways as well.
The two meet, disagree, fight and succumb to a wild attraction that quickly becomes something much deeper.
The second book I borrowed was Beauty and the Barracuda - Nikki Winter
This book features business partners Sansone and Nyssa. They co-own a management agency that specializes in representing athletes. The structure of this book is interesting in that the book begins with the two of them together and madly in love and it is through an extended flashback that we see how they ended up together. They start out as semi-enemies when Nyssa is a top agent for a firm and is expecting to be promoted, but Sansone is hired from an outside agency for the job instead.
They bond when they both realize they are being used and become friends and later partners. We learn that over a seven year period as they struck out to build their own business that they had been busily pining for each other.
Like I said, both books have very similar strengths and weaknesses.
I liked the author's writing style. She writes in a very humorous style that is incredibly reminiscent of Shelly Laurenston. I love LOL humor in romance and feel that we don't get enough and this author really delivers in spades. Her writing in very sharp and witty. The words are like little funny bullets that puncture as you read.
I also really enjoyed her basic set ups in both books. The resort in WABW was a great setting. We got a few glimpses of how Fallon ran her business and how her staff and friends were devoted to her. There was also a territorial dispute between her and the neighboring wolves that added a bit of conflict to the plot.
In BaTB, the set up was similarly interesting. The sports management agency was a nice change. it is profession you don't see a lot of and I liked the back story of how and why Nyssa and Sansone started their own agency.
Also in both book the chemistry, both emotional and sexual between the hero/heroine was excellent.
However, as much as I liked these things they weren't enough to really elevate either of these books to a place where I just flat out loved them.
Probably, imo, the biggest weakness of both books was that I don't think the author gave her characters distinct voices. They all sounded exactly alike. They all spoke alike. They -- to the person -- were all sharply snarky, quite witted, expert verbal fencers. Characters who had never met each sounded alike.
The characters were almost always 'ON'. As I noted, the humor is reminiscent of Shelly Laurenston's. That kinda bent, off center, crazy, I-don't-give-a-fuck, over the top type of humor. But for SL that humor is only gets dialed up some of the time and usually only within certain characters. In these books ALL the characters were always out there. As I was reading i wanted more quiet beats, more character to shine through. Not just allow the quips and wise-cracks to do the heavy work.
Frustratingly, in places, I did get a glimpse and I could see where the author built the framework of some intriguing depth to some of these people. There was such potential in some of these characters to be deeper or more. But those glimpses were fleeting and we get right back to the snark.
I do think when the respective couples were allowed to be together and show their emotional side the books felt stronger. I wish there had been more exploration of that.
I think Sansone and Nyssa get the romantic edge of the two books. I liked their vibe just a bit better than Fallon and Ransom's. A huge problem with Beauty and the Barracuda - Nikki Winter was that a LOT of it was all tell, tell, tell. I think I would have liked that book a lot more if we had gotten more showing than telling.
But overall, What a Bear Wants - Nikki Winter was the stronger book.
I do want to continue to try this author. I want to read the full length book that the novella gave me a taste of.