Tour’s Books Blog

October 31, 2009

Book Review: Animal Urges by Tawny Taylor

  • Title: Animal Urges
  • Author: Tawny Taylor
  • Type: Erotic Paranormal Romance – single author anthology
  • Genre: Genetically engineered shifter novellas
  • Sub-genre:  were-bear; boink-fest
  • My Grade: D+  (2.3*)
  • Rating: XX
  • Where Available: as ebooks from Ellora’s Cave or in used book stores
  • FTC Disclosure: purchased as a used book

I often find myself wondering why I continue to inflict the pain of empty stories by authors who have a bare nodding acquaintance with plot or character building.  You’d think after reading Ms Taylor’s Island Guardians novellas I’d have learned, but no, I bought this in a pile of used books from a seller on Half.com.  I need better impulse control and a lot less optimism.  I never thought I was into pain, but I may need to reevaluate that opinion.  There are several authors who show occasional glimmers of talent that they then chuck out the window for sex driven boink fests with minimal story.  Ms Taylor is one.

Mark of the Beast is the first story in what was supposed to be a shifter series about yet another bio-genetics company that performs illegal experiments on humans, blending human and animal DNA – and since we’re in Alaska, it’s polar bear DNA.  Unfortunately, the story telling is minimal, but there is some character development with Tarik Evert, though Abby isn’t especially believable as she moves from one extreme to another.

Abby Clumm gets talked into an Alaska wilderness vacation by her long time friend Katie Spenser, but flights delays and trouble with air traffic controllers has her stranded in a cabin alone with an animal the size of Bigfoot clawing at the door and an unloaded shotgun for protection.  Of course, she didn’t know how to shoot, so being unloaded was kind of a moot point.  Suddenly, the scratching stops and there’s a naked and confused man there.  She initially assumes very naked and beautifully built Tarik Evert is some slightly crazed local, but learns he’s a research scientist for Omega.  And for some reason, both of their libidos are in overdrive. (Hey, it’s erotic romance)  But when the afterglow wears off, she gets scared of what she’s done, and her propensity for falling in love and getting her heart broken in record time, so she hightails it out.  When he awakes and finds her gone, he shifts to bear form and runs, returning to human form near his own cabin.

Confused by what’s happening to him, Tarik goes into the Omega offices and finds he detained by security.  Alexander Torborg, the CEO and supposedly Tarik’s mentor and friend, tells him he’s a genetic experiment.  The tattoo on his hip is the mark of the beast his DNA was modified with.  Raul Zant, head of security and a friend, follows orders and locks up Tarik, but Torborg made a mistake when he threatened Abby.  She’s his mate and any threat to her brings his beast out.

The thin plot continues in Touch of the Beast, adding Katie and Raul to the mix, with Torborg holding Raul’s younger brother as hostage to assure he brings Tarik back.  Raul is attracted to Katie and both are shocked beyond comprehension when Tarik shifts to bear when Torborg threatens to shoot Abby.  Torborg is mauled to death and now our four of them need to find out what’s happening.  To do that, Tarik feels he must go back to Omega and get his files.   HUH?  Yup. Let’s go back to the place where you were incarcerated and just walk through the door.  Apparently, the too-stupid-to-live gene is unisex.  It does play neatly into Raul’s plan to bring in Tarik to free his brother, Bryson. Needless to say both are captured, they get free and now there’s a price on their heads.  Torborg was only the figurehead and the real leader doesn’t want anyone to know about his experiments, so he’s going to have them captured or killed.

Good thing the new CEO of Omega is an idiot about internet security and they get the list of names of those ‘enrolled in the test’.  Well, it seems Raul has an inner bear as well, and so does his brother, but the para-military mercenaries catch them for Omega.  The ending has the building exploding with the mercs inside and a woman with a gun holding all of them hostage as she announces that it was she who blew up the building.  The End.  Well, obviously there were more installments planned, but I checked her booklist on Ellora’s Cave and these were the only two Animal Urges series written.

As with most of the stuff Ms Taylor writes, these two novellas are unrepentant boink-fests, though slightly less so than her Island Guardians series.  There’s just enough story to make you wonder what happened, but not enough to give the characters and depth or believability.  You can’t really engage with them because they’re bare minimalist sketches.  Shallow, often illogical, lots of sex, the some threads of a real story, but nothing to hold onto, all characteristics of Ms Tayor’s Island Guardians stories as well.  Here the setting is cold and snowy and the sex does not include menage, but otherwise, it’s just two typical Tawny Taylor novellas that make up the book.  The problem with any unfinished series, regardless of genre, is the annoying loose ends.  I can pretty much figure the woman with the gun is connected with the DNA replacement and likely Bryson’s ‘mate’, but beyond that, who knows – and I admit I don’t care that much.  Are the 2 stories worth the price?  Nope.  The print book has a list price of $12.99 and the ebook novellas, currently on sale at $4.42 each, are just not worth the price.  If you’re a Tawny Taylor fan, stick with Island Guardians.

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