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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blood Brothers

***½ Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts. Contemporary paranormal romance.

I've been wavering between 3.5 and 4 stars on this one--if I go with the 4 stars, it'll be out of loyalty, and possibly because if it were a new-to-me author, I wouldn't expect quite as much, so maybe I'm being harsher than usual.

In a small town, three boys are born on the same day to very different families. Despite their disparate backgrounds, they become fast friends, and on their 10th birthday they decide to become blood brothers (seems like it should have been 7, or maybe 14, for consistency's sake, but Nora does know boys, and 10 makes more sense, boy-wise). In the process, they accidentally unleash an evil that causes the townspeople to react violently and out of character for a couple of days, after which they remember nothing. The evil returns every seven years, each time a little stronger.

This year they'll be turning 31, and even though they have months to go before their birthday, they're starting to feel the presence of the evil already. The town is dying--several families are leaving, and Caleb, Gage, and Fox decide to be proactive this time instead of reactive.

They're helped by Quinn, an author who wants to write about the town, and who falls in love with Caleb. Shortly afterward, they're joined by Layla and Cybil, who pair up immediately with Fox and Gage respectively.

I did like the characterization of the boys, and how that followed through to their adult selves. They seemed realistic and believable. And I liked that they decided to do something about the evil instead of just reacting to it. I liked how they started using logic to try to deduce how the evil worked, who it affected and why, and what they could do about it.

It's marginally interesting that whatever it is has its effect by possessing the townspeople, but it's only scary if you spend some time extrapolating, thinking about what it might be like. Our heroes don't seem particularly frightened--just curious, frustrated, responsible, determined. So that's partly why I didn't get caught up in the story.

Blood Brothers is the first of a trilogy, but I'm a little curious about why it needs to be three books. As far as I can tell from this first one, the story could be wrapped up in another 50 pages or so. The three couples are already paired up, they've already started to solve the problem--all that's left is to find the magic spell or talisman and voila. Hopefully I'm wrong, but the point is that I'm not left feeling anxious or even curious about what's going to happen in the next two books.

I tend to not like Nora's paranormals, and I've done a lot of thinking about why that might be. (The Key trilogy is an exception--I've reread it in the meantime, and loved it.) It's not that I don't like paranormal or scary stuff--look through my index--there's a lot there that's much scarier, much more heavily paranormal. I think it's that these are paranormal-lite. Horror fantasy romances for people who don't read scary fantasy much.

Which is not a criticism of people who liked this book (or the Circle trilogy). It's just that I think the reason I'm not all that impressed with this book is that I've read about some scary evil threatening a town before, and it was much scarier, and much more exciting. This feels muted, to me, like Nora's backed off from making it too intense, too scary.

Again, that's fine if you're the right reader for that. And I'm not. I'd have been happier if the horror were stronger--like Terry Brooks's Word & Void trilogy, perhaps, or something by Robert McCammon. Or, alternatively, if to compensate for a weaker horror plot, we got humor or romance. But the romance plot is weak--there's nothing standing between Caleb and Quinn (or any of the other two couples).

I've talked myself into 3.5 stars. It's a paranormal romance with not a lot of paranormal, and not a lot of romance.

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I can't remember how I stars this book (you more than welcome to look for my review on this), but I do recall not feeling it that much. Thinking it was an okay book. I think when I read the book, I felt it was more focus on the paranormal plot and not more of the romance of it. You might be right about the paranormal being more tame than other paranormals out there. And the fact that the book to me, feel like there isn't more left of others characters needing their HEA, since it all been told in the first book.

You know I love trilogies or series books. But it make the wait for the next installments more exciting (for me) when we know which couple getting their HEA in the next one.

And I'm thinking that Nora might had big plan waiting for us in the next two installments, which might be the reason why it felt like the romance is all said and done in the first book (IMO) if I can remember.

Great review :)
I forgot to say, yes am going to buy the next two installments when they're release :)
I feel the same thing, Darla. The romance isn't as intense as her other books, and like you said the paranormal isn't too heavy either. Though I'll be buying the other two books when they are released, I'm not really anxious about them.
Not so much that the romance isn't as intense, but that it seems Nora is sacrificing ROMANCE (the attraction, build up, tension) to the story.

I don't see why we had to meet the mates of all the guys in the first book--this, imho, short shrifted BB.

But this book was a VAST improvement over her last trilogy, the Circle, which was horrible. I would rather she go back to trilogies like the Chesapeake Bay, Dream and Born. But that's just me.
Julia, that's exactly what I'm wondering--it really feels like there's not much story left. I'll obviously buy the next ones, and hope the trilogy improves, though.

Actually, I think I liked Morrigan's Cross better than this one. As for the trilogy as a whole, though, I'll have to wait and see. I think it's probably the subject matter--I'm fonder of vampires than I am of spooky evil, and the brothers were pretty interesting in the beginning of the Circle trilogy.

But no, it's not just you--I vastly preferred the Chesapeake Bay, Dream, and Born trilogies.
MC was very slow to start for me, until Holt met up with Cian. The second was TORTURE, and Valley was the best. But I've always said, Nora doesn't do vamps well.

Me? I like the more evil/spooky stuff, probably because in my teens I gorged on King and John Saul--he scared the Bejesus out of me with HellFire--I was 17 when I read it and couldn't sleep for 3 days after I'd finished it!

I don't mind the "overall" plot--what I liked about the other trilogies I mentioned was, that in each of the stories, each couple had their OWN story independent of the overall plot--Who was Seth? Getting the goods on Gloria; and of course with Dream and Born, there wasn't a Main plot that each couple was a part of. THAT'S what I miss.
I agree with you both, I vastly preferred the trilogies like Chesapeake Bay, Dream...etc. Mainly because the couple had their own story, as Geeta said.

Hmm, I still haven't read Circle trilogy and I need to my copy of Dream trilogy though *duck head*

You need to do what with your Dream trilogy? Read it for the first time or re-read it? I think you left out a word or two, lol.

My personal opinion, based on Nora's last two trilogies, and even her single titles, is that she's slipping as far as the romance goes.

She needs to live up to what she's been saying (as recently as two weeks ago) about how "romance" is important to her in her books, because I'm not seein' it.
Geeta - OOPsie! I need to get a copy of the two Dream trilogy, that I'm missing. I read all three books before, and I only got copy of one of the book (I don't know which one) but just need to get the two others.
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