Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-8065-4
Fantasy Romance, 2006
I am given to understand that Zebra has big hopes of Jacquelyn Frank being their very own Christine Feehan. I can easily see her becoming just that, and no, people, that is not exactly a compliment from me. Jacob, the first book in the author’s The Nightwalkers series, is a mishmash of all the usual vampire romance clichés one can think of. I don’t see any kitchen sink here, but if there is a sink, it’s probably borrowed from the same bathroom that the other two authors use while they come up with their ideas.
The Nightwalkers are vampires, demons, sorry, Demons, and lycanthropes living in a shadowy world that humans have no awareness of. Our hero Jacob is a Demon who acts as an Enforcer to prevent the Nightwalkers from doing bad things like, oh, eating people or something. I don’t know why such antics are such bad things for the Nightwalkers to indulge in if they are higher on the food chain than humans. Maybe this is like PETA screeching at us not to eat chickens, I suppose. Chickens have feelings too!
At any rate, some human necromancer is being very naughty, summoning Demons and forcing them to do bad things, so Jacob is on his way to the rescue. He encounters our human librarian heroine Isabella who comes in a perfect package of clichés (no dates, no social life, no personality other than being our mighty hero’s damsel-in-distress and preprogrammed mate) and really, I have read this story before many times.
The only difference between this story and yet another random generic romantic urban fantasy tale is that Ms Frank’s writing is laughably and unbelievably purple and melodramatic.
“I mean he has been Summoned! Enslaved!” Myrrh-Ann screeched, whirling in Noah’s hold to glare at the Enforcer with all her terror and outrage. “One moment he was with me, touching me, cradling our unborn child in his hands as he moved within me.” Her hands went reflexively to her rounded belly, as if she were afraid it would be the next thing to be taken from her. “The next moment his face was contorting in such unimaginable pain. Dear, merciful Destiny! He began to fade, feet first, in a swirl of the most acrid and vile smoke I have ever known.” She turned back to the King, clutching the silk of his shirt in her despair, her nails scoring the fabric. “He screamed! Oh, Noah, how he screamed!”
He probably screamed like I am screaming after reading that above paragraph alone. This book is full of unnecessarily dramatic phrases and purple prose like the excerpt above to the point that I feel exhausted after sloughing through the first 100 pages even as my jaw hurt from all the laughing I do at Ms Frank’s expense. Oh, and I love how the poor MIA husband of Myrrh-Ann can apparently stick his hands into the woman’s stomach to “cradle” the poor fetus. Wait, that is not what Ms Frank is trying to say? She could have fooled me.
And as for romance, it seems to me like Jacob and Isabella aren’t falling in love as much as they are being forced to submit to something equivalent to an anal probe in an UFO.
“She is yours, Jacob,” Noah said vehemently. “It is her destiny. She is yours.”
“I will not hurt her. I will not force our prophecies on her.” Jacob walked stiffly back to the couch, once more tending her wound and stroking his fingers through her beguiling hair.
“You have no choice. If she were not human, I would accuse you both of being in the first stages of the Imprinting. The telepathic connection, the undeniable temptation to mate – “
It goes on and on, about Imprinting, telepathy, destiny, and how there is no cliché that Ms Frank doesn’t love. But do these two even like each other? Who knows, with all that destiny-determined prophecy-foretold must-mate-NOW nonsense those two are undergoing as if they are prime livestock selected to breed. And before I forget, how on earth can someone’s hair be “beguiling”? Is it because the hair is so shiny that it hypnotizes the hero?
Ms Frank comes off like an earnest imitator in this story, like a fangirl with the most purple pen given a publishing contract to unleash her reign of terror on the unsuspecting public. The best advice one could give the author at the moment is, frankly, be herself and stop trying too hard to be her idols to such an embarrassing degree as she does in Jacob.