Tour’s Books Blog

October 20, 2009

Book Review: Trinity by Lauren Dane

Filed under: Uncategorized — toursbooks @ 8:06 pm
  • Title: Trinity
  • Author: Lauren Dane
  • Type: Erotic Paranormal Romance
  • Genre: Menage; shifter
  • Sub-genre: Cascadia Wolves meets witches and jaguars
  • My Grade: C+ (3.2*)
  • Rating: xxx
  • Where Available: ebook is available directly from Samhain this week and next week at 10% discount (Hyperlinks are for convenience.  I receive no compensation)
  • FTC Disclosure: Purchased ebook on the Samhain site

Just released in ebook, I immediately bought Trinity.  Lauren Dane was one of the authors that really got me interested in erotic paranormal romance.  Enforcer and the shorter Tri-Mates are two of my all time favorite shifter erotic romance books.  I love her Witches Knot series as well.  All were published by Ellora’s Cave.  Dane switched to Samhain and changed her style, focusing less on the plot and more on the relationship.  Books that had started out in the erotic paranormal suspense genre switched to straight erotic paranormal romance with just a hint of suspense.  The stories were 90% about the relationship and maybe 10% about suspense.  That balance shifts over the final 5 books in the Cascadia Wolves series, but it never again achieves the balance that her earlier work had.  As a die hard romantic suspense fan, I was disappointed in this change in focus and continue to be so with her new work in the futuristic series she’s writing, including Undercover and Relentless.  Here’s the problem – as an erotic romantic suspense writer she was better than she is as an erotic romance writer.  Now I know there are those who would disagree, those who want a story that’s about a relationship, and that’s OK, but Dane generally has an underlying suspense element and the combination just comes off as lame.  I just read Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy and it is a classic contemporary romance and, as a true romance, it was an excellent book.  It still told a story with characters that had three dimensions and felt like people you’d want to know.  Dane’s current books have that in-between feeling, like they aren’t sure if they’re romance or romantic suspense.

The story takes place several years after Cade Warden defeats Walter Pellini and takes control of the National Pack in Boston taking over after Templeton Mancini was poisoned, but killed by Pellini in his bid to control the packs.  Jack Meyers is the National Enforcer and the Number Two wolf in National.  He stays as Cade’s Enforcer at the end of the earlier series and gets his own story here.  Jack is out and suddenly a woman all but mows him down as he exists a market in Boston.  She isn’t at all what Jack expected, but she is his mate.  She is also a human and a witch.  Courting a human is no easy task because the mate bond can’t be reversed.  In Trinity, Dane goes into the rituals and customs more than in her previous books, especially with regard to how the female of a mated pair reacts to her anchor finding his mate – badly.  (This helps clarify the events in a previous book.)  Jack hadn’t expected to be living around the female he anchored when he offered to the anchor bond for Grace Pellini Warden, Cade Warden’s mate and now the National female Alpha.  But just like Cade with Nina, his brother Lex’s mate, he’s more than a little in love in with Grace and has been for years, but everything Cade told him was true – the feeling of finding your mate is so unlike anything else it’s wonderful.

Renee is puzzled by her reaction to the man she nearly mowed down.  There’s a strong attraction there, but she’s been married after the fashion of her mate’s kind and that makes another male off limits, even a gorgeous surfer man like this one.  She gets home and Galen, a bi-racial jaguar shifter and her mate, immediately smells wolf on her.  He might be a cat, but he’s an alpha and like any alpha, he reminds her that why she’s his.  Cat shifters don’t mate like wolves, they imprint, and for some reason he feels the need to imprint her again.  But Galen realizes something is happening and he’s part of that something.

Next day, Jack shows up at Renee’s coffee and juice stand in a space in her step mother’s magic shop that she leases.  Susan/Phoenix and she dislike each other, but Renee has spent most of her life trying to win her distant father’s affection.  At nearly 30 years of age, she still hasn’t and now her step mother is interfering beyond her usual bitchy, controlling way.  I found Renee’s acceptance of her step-mother and father’s behavior very odd.  Seeing Jack again reinforces Renee’s belief that there’s something there she, Galen and Jack must address, the magic is just too strong to ignore.

The bulk of the story deals with the difficult ménage of a wolf, a witch and a jaguar – two alpha males and human female inclined to please them but willing to stand up to them is necessary.  Jaguar’s stay mostly with themselves, rarely imprinting outside their own kind.  It’s taken Renee years to gain the respect of jamboree that Galen’s father rules.  Plus Galen and his family are very wealthy and he’s a lawyer with the family firm.  Jack is big, blond and beautiful and obviously wants her.  When her father comes to the magic shop to confront her, the threads of magic the three of them generate together are undeniable.  Even Jack and Galen realize it.  Jack had already spoken with Jack’s grandmother and former Cascadia pack alpha, and woman with some magic of her own, so he knows things like Renee won’t need the anchor bond since she’s mated to a jaguar and he knows he’s going into a ménage.  Shifters are more casual about m/m sex and Renee is aware that Galen had both male and female lovers in the past, but now it’s just the two of them, but both she and Galen realize that Jack belongs with them.  Jack knows Renee isn’t the only possible mate for him, but she is the one he wants, even with the difficulty of having her in an established relationship.

Much of the story is about the three of them working through the many issues a ménage creates.  Renee is unthreatened by Galen’s attraction to Jack, in fact, it’s a turn on.  But now she has to find her place in a pack of wolves like she did with the jamboree.  And then there’s Grace.  Underlying this is the threat of the mage who is trying to kill her.  The night of the worst attack, her maternal aunt and a sister she didn’t know she had come to her rescue.  The mage wants her power and by taking it will also take her life.  Galen and Jack learn of the abuse she suffered at Susan’s hands, but it’s learning that some of her memories have been erased that really troubles them.  So much of this is just left hanging it’s annoying.

You would think with the arrival of an aunt, a sister and with them, knowledge of a magically gifted family and her need to learn to protect herself and train her power would shift the book into a more complex story.  It didn’t.  It was really rather bizarre how small and inconsequential a role these characters played.  It made no sense.  They come into the story just to get shunted off to the background while there’s more sex scenes.  Galen does in the mage who attacked her, but it’s all very unsatisfying.  This dangerous person never had any real presence in the book, so aside from his affect on Renee, there’s no suspense around him and the discovery of him and his motivations, just talk.  The choppy plot plods along this broken path right to the cliffhanger ending that was no big surprise.

Trinity reminded me of Thrice United, one of the Witches Knot books, just not as good.  A human female with nice, but remarkable looks and an undeveloped gift for magic mated to two stunning supernaturals, in this case shifters rather than vampires, and one is bi-racial, a dark force that’s seeking to kill her and take her power, a past she can’t remember, family she didn’t know she had due to lies – man, it IS Thrice United reworked!  The whole plot with new characters and a Boston setting.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next book were to fold in the Charvez witches.

Overall, I was rather disappointed by Trinity.  The first third of the story was really good, if a tad slow, then it began moving, but sex and the three lead characters became the sole focus and so many interesting elements came and went without ever getting explored or developed.  I came away feeling the story had so much unfulfilled potential I was frustrated.  The whole marginalizing of Renee’s family was just not believable.  I mean think about it, you find out you’ve been lied to your whole life, your father refuses to discuss it and then disowns you and you make minimal efforts to spend time getting to know your mother’s family who just saved you life.  Renee’s near masochistic relationship with her father and stepmother, the lack of a real villain, too many bit players with no depth, and a very undefined ‘family’ for Renee, leaves this book rather rudderless outside the bedroom.  The banter among Galen, Renee and Jack and feels just right.   They are fairly well developed characters, but lack the stage presence of a Lex Warden and Nina Reyes in Enforcer or Holly, Nate and Rhett in Thrice United.   The sex is hot and the relationship between Galen and Jack, as well as the ménage with Renee, is well done.  Still, there’s too much that doesn’t mesh for the relationship to compensate for the other shortcomings.

One of the reasons I became a fan of Lauren Dane’s books was the excellent balance she struck between characters, plot, suspense and sex.  It’s tricky thing to do well.  Create suspense and sexual attraction while developing characters in an urban fantasy world.  She did very good to excellent work doing just that with her Ellora’s Cave books.  In Undercover, her futuristic book for Berkley Trade, she did a good job with the characters, a decent if uneven job with the plot but a below average job with world building.  Relentless, the second book in the futuristic series, was just not believable.  Trinity is falling below Undercover in character development and plot, and equal in world building.  It scores about the same as I scored Relentless, and well below where I scored the Witches Knot books and the early Cascadia Wolves books.

Trinity is worth a read for Cascadia Wolves and Witches Knot fans, but the story just isn’t as well developed or laid out.  NOTE OF INTEREST: Fans of Dane’s Witches Knot, her Cherchez wolves, and Cascadia Wolves need to get the Ellora’s Cave books soon.  The ebooks are disappearing and so are the print books.  The last 5 books of Cascadia Wolves are under Samhain and available.

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