Book Reviews: Warrior Women, Vampires, and Foxes

“It’s your job in life to screw me up, huh?”
She blinked phlegmatically. “Huh?”
“Never mind. Just practicing in case we ever get married.”

His Captive Mortal
There really wasn’t much to this story, and I’m not referring to the relative shortness of pages. Basically a vampire cursed by a gypsy so that he can’t have sex—or at least it hurts when he does—tries to break said curse with the help of an “I didn’t know I was a magical creature” girl. She’s independent and stubborn, but she still falls for his alpha male ways.
There’s a brief mention as to why he didn’t just come out and ask for her help rather than emotionally and physically dominating her, but I didn’t find it convincing. There’s some character development, albeit more from him than her, and the dialogue has fun moments, but there really wasn’t anything here that showed me why this story stands out from all the rest in this genre. . . is that its own genre now? Paranormal romance? Probably.

Set Up
First and foremost, this is not a new novel, rather a reissue; originally written in 1991, there’s a few anachronisms that let you know you’re not in the present anymore. The PI does have a cell phone, though; hard to remember when those things first came around.
The only thing special here is that there aren’t any more murders, though some came close. The female PI drives around Orange County in her van looking for the killer of a woman she put in jail, putting her friends and assistants in harm’s way throughout. A lot of the peripheral characters no doubt appeared in previous books, which makes it difficult at times. As expected, there’s plenty of red herrings until she gets caught and almost killed, so that she doesn’t actually solve the case as much as luck out in not also dying at the hands of the killer.
A serviceable story, but really no big deal.

This book takes place well into a series about a former female government assassin, which makes things a little difficult at first, especially taking the author’s word at what a badass she’s supposed to be. She now works for an organization intent on stopping white slavery, and when there’s a personal connection she immediately takes off to Bangkok, where things go bad and she and the victim end up in Africa.
From there it’s getting from one scrape to another with a supposedly reformed hunter on the run from the same people she’s after. From the big African city to the animal-filled countryside, they try to stop the big bad, his minions, a rebel army, and rich asshole Americans, while she worries about her daughter being captured in what turned out to be a pointless plotline.
After reading about the elephant massacre I didn’t want to continue this. Good people are also getting killed and kidnapped throughout, making it quite depressing. At a certain point I wondered if, even if everything turns out okay in the end, was it worth all the crap the characters had to go through to get there, or for that matter reading about it all the way to the end?

Love Volume 2: The Fox
This graphic novel takes place in the Arctic, and at the beginning showed some vivid colors rarely seen in these kinds of works. The other rare part about this is that, because it only involves animals, there’s no dialogue—not even the orcas and humpbacks—so I had to keep telling myself to go slower and take it all in.
Though there’s a lot of small animal subplots throughout, this is basically the story of the sly fox from the title—that’s actually missing an eye—going about its daily business of finding something to eat. When it grabs a rabbit it runs right into a muskox, as in nose to nose, which makes it slink away, almost guiltily. The first part is much more about hunting and eating than love.
After a long-running battle between a pod of orcas and a humpback whale family, a volcano explodes. Most of the animals freak out, but the fox doesn’t notice as it hunts; it actually has a mouse in its jaws when it becomes aware of the catastrophe, so surprised that its jaw gapes and the mouse escapes.
A polar bear is trapped on an iceberg that is quickly warmed and breaking apart due to the lava. As it wonders what to do, an orca leaps out and scares him, as though letting him know that as soon as it’s in the water. . . the polar bear heads for land, with orcas just missing him numerous times; so much for being the apex predator, huh? His arrival scares the seals, which hop into the water to get away from him and right into the jaws of the angry orcas. Snack time!
After a fight with another bear the polar version chases after the fox, who hides underground, right into a den of rabbits. . . and leaves them alone, instead racing back out into the lava rather than eating them. Is this the moral of our anthropomorphized story?
Maybe, but more likely it’s about family and the love mentioned in the title as the fox keeps searching the burrows and finally finds its offspring, which it grabs by the scruff and dashes off, trying to get it to safety.
So was it fighting its instinct to kill those rabbits and made a conscious choice to let them live? Or was its sole purpose wrapped up in finding and saving its kid?
At the end there’s a glossary of the animals featured—with their Latin scientific names—which shows this work was well researched. At times the artwork was fascinating, though that’s tempered by the thought that one doesn’t often see nature portrayed to such an extreme in graphic novels. This would be good for kids old enough to know about animals eating smaller cuter animals, more so than just singing along to the Lion King.