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October Round Up

Monthly Mini Review

Frozen MBFrozen by Meljean Brook – C The author kindly provided a review copy of this self-published paranormal novella.  I have great respect for her writing and some of my friends adore her books so I didn’t even really care what the book was about. That may have been a mistake – but then again, I’m not sure the blurb could have helped me out here.

Olivia Martin is a civil engineer working for Gullbrandr Engineering. On her way to spend Christmas with her family outside of Denver, she is asked to drop off some important papers by the CEO, to his son, Erik Gullbrandr, who is staying at their country property. Olivia and Erik first met some time ago and there were sparks of attraction and one very steamy kiss.  Erik shut things down very quickly.  Olivia thought initially this was because they were working together but after the project was finished, she asked him on a date and he turned her down flat.  Subsequently, Olivia’s company was bought out by Erik’s father’s company and they have been no more than colleagues. Olivia still nurses a crush on him – she admires and likes him and though he could be “the One”. She never understood the reason for his rejection.

Erik is horrified and enraged to see Olivia at his castle (it really is, with a portcullis and everything).  It turns out there’s a curse, he’s a paranormal being and on the winter solstice (2 days hence) he will lose control and fuck Olivia whether she wants it or not.  Something about Olivia has triggered the curse and Erik has been trying to keep away from her ever since.

Are Eve and Roarke archetypes?

ar·che·type/ˈärk(i)ˌtīp/

Noun:
  1. A very typical example of a certain person or thing.
  2. An original that has been imitated.
Wikipedia has an extra definition:  An epitome— a personality type exemplified, especially the “greatest” such example.
I’ve been listening to some of the In Death books on audio lately and then I found I just had to skim the first 3 books for the Eve and Roarke bits (plus a bit of Portrait in Death too) because I just enjoy them so much.  I started to wonder if because I enjoy them so much I am seeing them everywhere lately – or, are Eve and Roarke archetypes?
 Eve Dallas:
*  kick ass cop
*  devoted to justice and the rule of law
*  tortured childhood
*  tough but has a streak of vulnerability associated with said tortured childhood
*  has very few close relationships
Roarke:
*  criminal past, now (mostly) legitimate
*  super rich at a very young age
*  has his own idea of justice and the value of the law
*  tortured childhood
*  is totally and completely devoted to Eve

Disclaimer:  Nothing in this post is intended in any way to insult any author or suggest anything improper –  as much as there may be similarities, there are plenty of differences and I do not wish to suggest in anyway that the books I discuss below are anything less than original works – all of which I very much enjoyed.  This post only works if I talk about the similarities I see – even if I stretch the analogies occasionally – I’m not here to point out the differences but they’re absolutely there.  For me, being like Eve and Roarke is a compliment.
I read Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke recently.  I was having a bit of trouble getting into it but then suddenly it occurred to me that Mina and Rhys were a bit like Eve and Roarke.  I felt like I all of a sudden had a handle on the characters and found myself sliding happily into enjoyment.  Mina is a very accomplished murder cop, like Eve and Rhys is basically a pirate  who fell into a dukedom.  He’s now super rich and mostly legitimate but he has little regard for the law,  unlike Mina.  (I could totally see Roarke as a pirate – the romantic kind, not the real kind-  if he’d been born earlier).  Both Mina and Rhys had tortured childhoods (albeit for different reasons than Eve and Roarke) and both bear the scars.  Also like Roarke, Rhys is devoted to Mina – so much so that he plans to single-handedly change the hearts and minds of everyone in England (possibly the world) so that Mina will no longer be villified or discriminated against – so she can be happy and they can be together.
In Sylvia Day’s Bared To You, Gideon cross is at least mildly stalkerish – at one point he recreates Eva’s apartment bedroom in his house so that she can be comfortable there.  In Glory in Death, Roarke recreates Eve’s apartment in his own house so that Eve can be comfortable and have her own space.  Because I “know” Roarke, I had no difficulty seeing Gideon’s actions in doing this for Eva as a positive thing rather than super creepy.  And, because I know Roarke, I had little difficulty in accepting Gideon as being the young billionaire (which really is fairly improbable when you think about it – on both cases).
I’m listening to Gunmetal Magic (review to come) at the moment.  It made me think of Kate and Curran.   Like Eve and Roarke they both have family trauma in their pasts (although again, for different reasons).  Like the other man with only one name (yes, I know that Curran has a last name – Lennart – but no-one uses it), Curran’s view of the law (in terms of human law anyway) is less than strict.  He’s fairly young and wealthy, as Beast Lord, he has control over and/or care of significant business and real estate interests and thousands of people.  He’s so devoted to Kate that he’s prepared to walk away from it all to keep her safe.  Curran even has a “Summerset”  in Mahon.  Kate is a private investigator (and before that she was a Knight of the Order of Merciful Aid which was a cop for poor people) and like Eve, values order.  At the start of the series, Kate has virtually no-one she is close to.  But as the series progresses she develops close friendships with Andrea (her “Peabody”?) and Derek and familial ties with Julie and Ascanio (although the latter is a work in progress).  Eve Dallas had Mavis and Feeney in Naked in Death but 30 books later, she has Dr. Mira, Louise and Charles, Peabody and McNab, Nadine Furst – and Roarke of course.  Kate was basically alone as a child – so was Eve. And Kate definitely kicks ass.
In “importing” the characteristics of Eve and Roarke to other characters I also import my love for them – it helped me to connect and find comfort in an unfamiliar setting (as in The Iron Duke).  It helped me see Gideon as more noble than perhaps others who don’t see any Roarke in him would do.  Perhaps it even makes me see more romance in the Kate/Curran dynamic than only appears on the page.
So, my question was: are Eve and Roarke archetypes? It occurs there are three possible answers to that question:
a)  Yes
b)  Yes but only for me
c)   No – late night pizza is dangerous to my synapses
What do you think?

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Why I read it: I’ve had this on my TBR for ages and after finally reading Here Be Monsters in the Burning Up anthology, I decided to read it.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I’ve read very little Steampunk.  I listened to Gail Carriger’s Soulless (which I liked) but I’ve been a bit reluctant to take the plunge after a bad experience with some paranormal history books a few years back.  But, I’ve heard time and time again that this book is excellent and I did buy it so I decided to take the plunge and read.  It did take me a bit of time to get into.  It helped I think that I had some background of the concept of the Horde and the nanoagents and “mechanical flesh” from reading Here Be Monsters so I can’t say it was any worldbuilding issues which kept me apart from the story at first.     However, by about the 1/3 of the way in, things started to gel and by the halfway mark I was hooked.  I’m not sure I can say anything particularly illuminating about why I found it difficult to get into – I just did.

At some point in the book, it struck me that Rhys and Mina are a bit (but not entirely) like Roarke and Eve Dallas.   As I’m a fan of the in Death series this is a good thing.  Rhys has a tortured past, is very wealthy, has scant care for the law and he always takes care of his own.  Mina is a police officer and much of her self esteem is tied up in her badge.  While she was well loved as a child (at least, I gather that under Horde rule that was the case – maybe I’m wrong and people didn’t feel love then?), she was the result of her mother being raped by one or more members of the Horde and this has caused significant trauma in her family.

Her half Horde (ie Asian) features stamp her as being part Horde and she is reviled wherever she goes.  She fights hard for acceptance and finds that those who come to know her accept (and even love) her but she tries to stay under the radar mostly.  Rhys cannot stay under the radar and as such, Mina knows she should avoid him.
I liked the way racism was an issue in the book and how seeing the individual rather than the stereotype can change hearts and minds but there has to be a lever of some sort (or regular positive proximity) to encourage people to be willing to look.  At the same time, it wasn’t heavy handed social commentary – it was very much part of Mina’s story and not at all preachy.
I liked that Rhys struggled to express himself and didn’t have much time for courtesies and enjoyed Scarsdale’s role as his “social interpreter”.  Because I spent time in Rhys’s head, I found myself forgiving him things which I might not otherwise have.
In the end, I was caught up in all the swash and buckle of the story and heat of Mina and Rhys’s attraction – Rhys does certainly have a way with the dirty talk. 🙂
There was one scene right near the end which glossed over some important events and that was a little disappointing – after all the build up I’d have liked to be present for the big explosion.
What else?  Yasmeen, the Lady Corsair is a fascinating character, as is Archimedes Fox so I’m looking forward to reading Heart of Steel but I must say the one I want most to know more about is Scarsdale, the homosexual navigator with the unfailing sense of direction.  There are some novellas coming out soon and I think at least one features Mina and hopefully Rhys so I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re getting on.  Heart of Steel is on my TBR and I imagine I’ll be picking it up very soon.
For me, The Iron Duke had a bit of a slow start, but I ended up enjoying it very much.

Grade:  B+

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