Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-133-7
Fantasy Romance, 2015
A part of me will always wonder whether Faye Avalon’s First Beast is meant to attract some kind of niche readers – just like how those “spanking romances” usually attract a certain crowd whose tastes do not match mine. If it is clearly one of those stories, then I won’t be so hasty to judge, but because First Beast looks like the result of disastrous and lazy uses of romance clichés, I’m going to just judge away anyway.
Talia is a big shifter groupie, ever since she was saved by a panther after she was lost in the moors during a trip to London when she was twelve. She marries the were-panther Joshua, whom she claims to love, but at the same time, she refuses to be really mated with him and even takes contraceptives to avoid giving him a brat. She wants to be a reporter, you see, and a brat will only tie her down. Of course, when she meets the man who is not her husband, whom she feels “an intense connection” with, then he can blast her with all the baby goo he has, because, you know, who needs a career anymore when a woman has found true love?
Yes, she finds true love with another guy – her husband’s half-brother. What a surprise, another shifter clan keeping it in the family. Caleb McLeod acts like a date rapist, stalker, bully, paranoid asshole, and more – which of course are all the lovely traits that make a woman ovulate from the power of true love. How can Joshua, who defies his people to marry a mere human and goes down on the wife while generally being all sweet and polite, compete? Women want real men who accuse them of slutdom, whoredom, betrayal, and worse while blackmailing a married couple into letting his penis come between them. Caleb clearly loves Talia because, unlike that wimp Joshua, he knows what he wants and he goes for what he wants. What a hunk. Oh, and he has a bigger penis too!
Of course, Talia needs a reason to end up with Caleb without looking like an adulterous whore, so for the most part her orgasms are due to necessity in various circumstances – she’s being pumped for the sake of her husband’s mother! But she wants Caleb anyway, so it’s not icky rape or molest or anything, since she finds him hot and turns into a raging waterfall in his commanding presence. Besides we all know hot guys can’t rape or molest, don’t be silly – only ugly fat guys are sex fiends! And to make sure that Caleb gets to lawfully penetrate Talia for the happily ever after without looking like a giant disposable douche, the author makes Joshua a bad guy in the laziest way possible.
Oh come on, woman up and just write a story about adultery already if the elements are already there. Don’t insult me by inserting lazy contrivances and lazier pop psychology just to make the main characters look better. The main characters are already douchebags, may as well them magnificent douchebags! At any rate, I just can’t deal with the way the author wants to push the envelope but doesn’t dare to really do it. She ends up making her story even more offensive to my intelligence. This is why this one gets only one oogie. The author needs to embrace her characters’ inner douchebags and revel in it – stop pretending and we will all be happier at the end of the day.