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Joint Review – The Thing About Weres by Leigh Evans

cover_the_thing_about_weres

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publish Date: July 30th, 2013
How we got this book: eARC from publisher via NetGalley

THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER

In the never-ending saga that is my love-hate relationship with Robson Trowbridge, I, half-Were Hedi Peacock, have had a change of heart. Ever since I shoved Trowbridge through the Gates of Merenwyn, I’ve been the leader of the pack—hard to believe, right? The thing is: I’m half-Fae. So even though my Were side is ready to heed the call of the wild, the other part of me is desperate to take flight. And much as it pains me to admit it, life without Trowbridge is really starting to were me down…

I AM WERE, HEAR ME ROAR.

To make matters worse, the wolves of Creemore want my blood—and the North American Council of Weres wants me dead. So I’m just counting the days until Trowbridge returns from the other realm…and comes to my brave rescue…and becomes my alpha mate. Wishful thinking? Of course it is. But given all the mess I’ve been through already, what’s the harm in doing a little bit of daisy-plucking? Besides, Trowbridge owes me bigtime. A girl can dream.

*blurb from Goodreads

MiscJoy: When Has and I reviewed the first book of this series, The Trouble with Fate, we had mixed feelings given the issues with pacing and clarity, but overall felt the story and worldbuilding had potential. Personally, by the time I finished that first book, I was hooked despite the problems I had getting into the story and couldn’t wait to read the next installment. I enjoyed The Thing About Weres and felt it improved upon the story. I continue to appreciate how Evans keeps me on the edge of my seat with regards to putting her characters into dangerous situations without a sense of how they are going to get themselves out.

By the time I finished this book, I felt a bit drained (not in a bad way). This book tugged and pulled me along, sometimes against my will. The narrative at times melted into a stream-of-consciousness-esque style that didn’t always follow a linear path and I sometimes fought against the flow of it. At the peak of a tense moment, the story would meander away for a bit leaving my emotions in tatters as it followed its own winding path, not the one I wanted. As a result, the pace moves at an erratic rate. I never knew what was going to happen which kept me off-balance for most of the story. I found elements to the story and characters frustrating (because characters don’t always do what I want them to) which is not a criticism in this case. I liked the tension and not knowing which end was up, and often wished I could read faster (alas, I read turtle-slow) so that I could get to some small moment of denouement and relax a bit before the next disaster. It was really quite the ride.

Has: I definitely agree with you about the tugging and pulling in the narrative. I felt it affected the pace of the book which felt that it really dragged in places especially in the middle but I was still engrossed in the story and the characters. It was surprising because the first book was so full of frenetic energy and very fast paced but this was more of a slower paced and introspective book which had too much angsting for me and I wanted more proactiveness in the plot. The overarching plot with the repercussions of the ending of the first book with the pack tension and Trowbridge still stuck in the fae lands kind of dragged for me. It also felt that this build-up was all filler for the next twist in the story arc. Which reintroduces Lexi, Hedi’s long lost twin brother who was abducted the night her parents were murdered and Trowbridge’s return along with a mysterious young werewolf called Anu who brings a surprising twist in the book. The story only got going for me when they appeared and what is really happening in Merenwyn, which had some surprising developments. And I definitely agree with the engaging elements such as the humour, characters and world-building kept me glued to my ereader screen.

MiscJoy: Hedi is an odd character and one I have a difficult time coming to terms with. She’s not particularly brave or forthcoming. She’s stubborn, usually to her own detriment. Her snark often crosses the line into pissy-as-all-hell about everything. And she tends to live in victim-ville. I found her penchant for blaming Karma, Fate, Destiny or whatever other force she wanted to displace responsibility for the consequences of her actions more than a bit aggravating. Karma was a bitch. Fate was a bitch. Hindsight was a bitch. But it was never Hedi’s fault. No, she was instead a victim to all the whims of these forces. Even how she saw her Were and Fae aspects to be different parts of her, but not really her. She held them as separate entities that resided within her and often blamed them for her actions as if she herself had no part in it. Sigh. I sure hope she matures as the series progresses and begins to take responsibility for her choices and their consequences instead of blaming Karma et al. (And while I’m at it, Karma is an impersonal force – you get back what you give out. It’s not out for revenge, it’s not laughing it’s ass off at your misfortune; it is a balancing force. Fate is the fickle one. As for Destiny, there’s just no getting around that one regardless of what you do or don’t do. It was a bit irritating that Hedi kept misrepresenting these universal forces as if they were all out to get her, but I suppose it did support her victim viewpoint.)

In this story, Hedi never once stepped up to her role as Alpha-by-proxy preferring instead to dwell in denial, guilt and self-pity. Point of fact, she doesn’t seem to like her own Were all that much. Then, when the pack began to fall apart and certain events lead to… [spoiler] the pack turning on her and supporting an action by NAW that would lead to her death, she was shocked that the pack would try to kill her. And toward the end of the story when she declared to Trowbridge that she could never forgive the pack for that, I just didn’t have a lot of sympathy. [/spoiler] Had she actually tried to lead the pack perhaps I could have seen her point of view but to me, it just seemed like more displacing of responsibility on Hedi’s part. Sure the pack turned on her, but she never had their back to begin with so why should they show her any loyalty? Loyalty is earned and she never once attempted to earn it.

Has: Oh yes, this is one of the major factors in the book which I disliked. Hedi’s angsting and bemoaning about fate and karma biting her while not learning or acting on it instead of being proactive got a bit much. I can understand that she started off as a thief and likes to run away from any form of danger and I don’t blame her with her history but she decided to mate with Trowbridge and that entailed the responsibility of accepting his pack. I liked that Cordelia (one of the highlights in the book for me) pushed and advised her on the pack politics but I got tired of the complaining which felt that there was so much inner angsting on her situation. And all this emphasizes again that this is very much a filler book or a transitional one because there wasn’t much development for Hedi’s character in accepting her new role as an Alpha’s mate and I hope we get more of that in the next book.

I hope she does learn from this and the ending does hint that she will become less passive even though she makes mistakes. I would rather her to be more brave and act on her own decisions even if they become mistakes than sit back and waiting and whining about things especially since she hardly changed with the six month long separation from Trowbridge who returns much older and more experienced.

MiscJoy: Yes, I agree, those six months she spent in self-pity navel gazing was frustrating. But there were also signs as the story progressed that Hedi may be learning and maturing. She is still quite young at 22 afterall. She didn’t once run away even when that seemed like a good option at the time and maybe even justifiable. She stood fast. And she took action in some cases that took courage and showed a shift in her previously passive behavior. At a critical juncture to the plot, she contemplated lying to Trowbridge (justifying it as protecting him), but in the end she fully disclosed the scenario to him and in doing so learned that she was part of a true family now and didn’t have to always go it alone. That knowledge gave her a sense of belonging she never knew before. I think that Hedi will continue to grow stronger as she takes action, gains experience, develops some wisdom and allows herself to both love and be loved. I really am interested in seeing how Hedi grows as a character.

Has: I really hope she starts to mature and adjust soon, and I did love the scene that she confesses to Trowbridge everything that happened in the end and asked for his help. So I am hopeful she will open up and develop more in the future. But I was a bit wary when Trowbridge returned from Merenwyn, hardened and almost a decade older before he entered the portal. While I adored their scenes together and that the fun, sexy and the old sexual tension was still there, sizzling away. I also loved that they cemented their mate-bond and their feelings for each other were out in the open so there were no self doubts or hidden tension. And I think that is a good thing for Hedi who has someone who loves her for herself and doesn’t have a hidden agenda about her abilities for being a Mystwalker.

I also liked that we got to see more of Threall and the major players in Merenwyn which is not the paradise that Hedi believes it to be. The sub-plot involving two powerful mages really kicked up momentum for the on-going arc especially with her brother Lexi being involved which was a nice twist.

MiscJoy: Oh yes, it will be interesting to see how those Mages play into the story. This book seemed to focus on establishing relationships and putting key elements in place. Hedi and Cordelia’s friendship became closer. Both Trowbridge and Hedi were finally able to confirm their relationship. We were introduced to Hedi’s brother Lexi and were given more insight into the realms of Threall and Merenwyn. In the midst of all this, both Hedi and Trowbridge were put through the wringer (again) and the way the story ends here just shows that there will be no rest for these two in the third book. I can’t wait!

I give The Thing About Weres a B.

Has: Overall, I did enjoy THE THING ABOUT WERES, but for me it suffered exposition on the angst which slowed the pace of the book especially in the first half and this pretty much felt like a filler book transitioning to the next story arc involving her brother and Merenwyn’s battles which threatens Earth. However once the action kicked in and it moved away from the pack politics, I was sucked into the story. The humour with snappy dialogue was sharp and funny, and the characters chemistry was just as engaging and entertaining. I really like Leigh’s voice which despite the flaws in the book kept me drawn into the story and while I disliked Hedi’s complaining and otherwise slow beginning, I think I am addicted to this series!

I give The Thing About Weres a C+

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