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Monday, September 16, 2013

Twilight Hunter by Kait Ballenger

TWILIGHT HUNTER has gotten a lot of attention around the blogosphere -- in fact, it was seeing the cover everywhere that sparked my interest in the series. Having read TWILIGHT HUNTER, I can see why people are into it but the book is not without its flaws.

As always, let's start by accentuating the positive. The worldbuilding in TWILIGHT HUNTER is really well done. The idea of the Execution Underground -- this band of hunters of the supernatural -- really intrigued me. They basically vigilante their way through life and seem to be the bogeymen of the supernatural world. Members of the Underground are human, except for Jace, who's been hiding his supernatural heritage, with good reason considering how mean his boss is. (Damon easily wins the award for least favourite team member here.) They're basically Batman, complete with neat toys and a secret liar, but minus the butler. It's a great premise for a series and I really enjoyed getting to know Jace and his teammates. I have a real soft spot for Shane (got to love those athletic academic types!) and I was really touched by David's backstory.

There's also some cool werewolf mythology in TWILIGHT HUNTER. The bulk of the lore comes up in the latter half of the novel so I won't go into it in detail here but I was quite intrigued by Ballenger's take on werewolves. You'll see what I mean when you get there but it's almost impossible for me to write something that adequately describes it without blowing the surprises out of the water. So I'm going to leave it here, with this: the quotation at the start is there for a reason.

Another great aspect of the novel is Frankie. She's a kick-ass heroine and I loved her loyalty, her smarts, and her determination and commitment to doing right while being true to herself. She's a modern woman in a traditionally male role as leader of her pack and there was never a question in my mind about her ability to run her wolves properly. It's just a given -- Frankie is awesome. She doesn't want to bow down to tradition that would see her mated with someone she doesn't feel romantically about, which is a strong stance to take when she physically and socially must mate once a year. Luckily, she happens into Jace and, as a part-shifter, he qualifies for the Mate for the Year award, even though he doesn't know it.

As a side note: I really didn't enjoy this part of the story. Female werewolves in Ballenger's world have this estrus cycle, which means that, once a year, Frankie turns into a super horny chick who MUST. HAVE. SEX. Doesn't matter who's there, as long as it's a werewolf. Biology takes over and she must do the deed. Jace, to his credit, asks her if she means it when she says she wants him, even when he's succumbing to the pull, but this part of the story (and this is in Chapter 4 so I don't think it qualifies as a spoiler) wasn't my favourite. Frankie's rational mind has been overtaken by her need to have sex and it's one of those blurry lines in romance that make me very uncomfortable. She's very clear about the fact that she has no interest in a mate -- and has left town every year to avoid it -- and so it was hard to get past the fact that Frankie was out that night specifically to avoid mating, and she ends up doing the deed with a stranger.

In fact, there's a lot of angry sex in this one. I mean, (a) there's a lot of sexual content in TWILIGHT HUNTER but (b) Jace is an angry dude. He has a lot of issues stemming from his family background and it sometimes manifests in some very ugly ways. If you prefer romance novels that fade to black, you should avoid this one.

Before I wrap up, I do want to say that the cover is really eye-catching. It's got an instantly iconic feel and I want to send a shout-out to the creative team at Harlequin, who did an amazing job with this cover!

The take-home message of this post: TWILIGHT HUNTER is the first novel in what could be an excellent series. There's a lot of promise in the characters and the worldbulding and I definitely want to see where Ballenger takes us next, even though there were aspects of the story that didn't work for me. You should try the excerpt and let me know what you think.

Read an excerpt


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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