My review of A Curse Embraced by Cecy Robson:
I reviewed the first book in the series, Sealed With a Curse, and really liked the fact that the action doesn't stop and that the characters are fascinating—especially the four Wird sisters, who are powerful but don't quite fit within the hierarchy of the paranormal community in Tahoe. This book, the second in the series, continues the story of Misha; the local vampire lord, Aric; the vampire Alpha; and Celia, the oldest Wird sister who is a tiger-shifter (but not a were) and possessing of other fascinating and really useful powers. Here are six things you need to know about this book.
1. If you are at all sensitive to sexual violence, rape or assault, do not read this book. The demon lord that menaces the characters along the course of the story is intent on reproducing, and his methods are unpleasant, to put it mildly.
2. If you don't like entrails in your stories, for the love of all that is holy, do not read this one. I do not like entrails. I was too far into the story to stop reading, but I'm now intimately familiar with the internal organs of many, many creatures and characters.
3. I really, really, really, reallyreallyreally didn't like how assault or massacre of ancillary characters or groups of the weres and the surrounding community was addressed with one line and then not dealt with past that. Something happens off-screen that leads to a painful decision for Aric. On one hand, that event was big enough to make him do something really difficult, but on the other hand, it wasn't mentioned much at all beyond the initial revelation, or by the other characters.
I also didn't like that the women who were abducted for nefarious purposes were not healed or killed or anything. Their fates were not really mentioned at all, even though they were used for emotional motivation for the characters.
If there's one thing that makes me angry in action stories with a lot of violence, it's a lack of grief. Horrible things happen to other characters in the background to motivate the main characters, but there's no grief, no processing, no emotional effects of the horrible things that happened. I hate lack of grief, remorse or even resolution of characters whose fates are painful, and when the characters don't deal with what happened, or even MENTION what happens to these poor characters who are in horrible circumstances, I feel manipulated and I get REALLY pissed off.
I'm trying not to spoil the revelation (though it's pretty obvious what the demons are up to when the abductions start happening in the story) but dammit, if the story is going to show me the terrible possibilities of the characters who were ancillary in previous scenes AND who were introduced in such a way that I'd feel empathy for them, at least let me know what happens to them, dammit.
4. The story of Celia and Aric is left with a big cliffhanger that leaves a lot open-ended (because that's what cliffhangers do and all) but also reduces my respect for Aric. He has ground to make up if I read the third book. Hell, it might not even be a cliffhanger so much as it is a "not happy for now at the end, sorry" kind of ending, which, DAMMIT. I dislike that.
5. In the first book in the Weird Girls series, there is a LOT of silly humor to balance out the entrails. There's a lot less humor and a lot more entrails and anguish in this one, and so I didn't like it as much. It was the humor that hooked me in the first one, and it was much less present in this one, much to my disappointment.
6. Celia is still an amazing character. Despite the entrails, the lack of resolution for the background characters, the battles, the sexual violence, and all the other things I don't like as a rule, I keep reading for Celia. She's powerful and vulnerable, she's smart and she's dedicated to keeping her sisters safe and alive, and she's going to struggle every last inch to get her jobs done. She's an amazing heroine.
My grade for A Curse Embraced: B-, in part due to inadequately resolved violence done to background characters, and mothertrucking cliffhangers.
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her on Twitter @smartbitches, on Facebook, or on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned towards a book.