Joint Review – Scent of Salvation by Annie Nicholas

Scent of Salvation cover image
Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: Out now
How we got this book: ARC from the author via Lit Connect

Chronicles of Eorthe, Book 1

Stranded in another dimension, on a primitive version of Earth, Dr. Susan Barlow needs to find a way to survive. There’s no electricity, no cities, and to her shock, no humans. Instead, she faces a population of werewolves, vampires and incubi. The people are vicious but she must find her place among them. And live.

An illness is killing Sorin’s pack. As alpha it’s his responsibility to save them, but it’s a battle this warrior doesn’t know how to fight. Then a blue light in the sky brings a creature he’s never seen. She calls herself human, but to him she smells like hope.

Sorin offers Susan a safe haven in return for a cure, but she’s not that kind of a doctor. She’s a doctor of physics, not a physician. Yet as they search for a cure to save a dying people, they find something special—each other.

But even with Sorin’s protection, Susan can’t help but wonder how long she can survive in a world without humans…

Warning: Feral shifters, power-hungry vampires, and a sole human female suffering culture shock.
We got this blurb from the author’s website.

1. Thoughts on the Hero

Meka: Sorin is alpha through-and-through, ready to protect his pack who are dying off from a strange sickness that he cannot fight with tooth and claw. Reading about his emotional struggle with trying to understand if a Goddess sent Susan to them while juggling the responsibilities of his pack was like a sucker punch to the gut. He was steadfast, didn’t compromise on what he wanted, and was a caring alpha, something that his pack desperately needed.

It was refreshing to read a novel where the alpha hero was not in fact an alphahole and appreciated the insights that Susan had when it came to treating his pack. I felt like I could connect with him and that his struggles were very real. Watching him be so desperate to put his pack back together and prove that he was not abusive like his father made me a little misty-eyed.

I thought that Sorin was very caring and patient of Susan, who just went through the culture shock of her life, and helped her to acclimate to his world. When he found out that he really was falling for her, he was both sweet and tender as well as very protective of her, yet always gave her room to shine.

E: Overall Sorin grew on me. Towards the beginning I found him very much the martyr, almost too self-sacrificing but as the story continued and I learned his backstory I could understand why. He did start thinking and acting more for himself but he still kept his pack towards the front of his mind. Like Meka said, he was a pretty honorable individual who did everything he could to both mitigate and fix the results of his father’s rule. One of the things I liked about him was that he was willing to give a huge exception to Susan because she did not know werewolf culture. That was so completely opposite what she encountered with a different pack who treated her as if she was deliberately violating their norms. I also really liked him when he showed he was willing to work with others, including a rival-ish pack, to help rescue the captured women. He also demonstrated his ability to learn from and trust his formerly abused Omega to play a much greater role then that of a peacemaker. Soren did show a few flashes of assholish behavior but that was more of an anomaly. I did wish I had more time to see him interact with both his pack and Susan in less stressful conditions.

MiscJoy: I liked how Sorin approached being Alpha. He was primarily focused on healing his pack — both physically and psychologically. His personal needs came secondary. It was important to him to build up his pack members self-esteem and he didn’t let arrogance get in the way of seeking counsel from others regarding plans of action. He was secure in himself and his place as Alpha and didn’t feel the need to exert his dominance in a forceful way all the time. He simply was dominant; he didn’t have to keep proving that he was so. It was a refreshing change from how Alphas are typically presented in the genre.

2. Thoughts on the Heroine

Meka: Susan made me jump up and cheer, but I’ll explain my main reason for that a little later. Upset about the fact that the military would be using DOUG, the dimensional traveling machine for their own nefarious purposes, she set it to self-destruct. I knew I was going to like her from that point on. She was thrown in to a world where there were no humans and she had no way of getting back home. She went from being calm to panicked and back to being calm again with a few moments of being ready to get the hell out of dodge no matter the stakes, but when she needed to, she held it together. She waffled between wanting to stay and wanting to go home, but I felt like that was a very realistic and understandable response. She was a smart cookie, and it was awesome to see her using her mind and her skills as she fought to acclimate herself to the world.

After the treatment that Susan received from one pack, she was none too eager to experience life with even more shifters, but when she found out the plight of Sorin’s group, she struggled to come up with a solution to assist them. Watching her care about Sorin’s well-being, as well as stand up for what she wanted was refreshing. Even when she had what I call a too stupid to live moment, she recognized it as such and totally owned it. She was sweet, endearing, and was not going to let Sorin pull the ‘I am alpha’ card on her.

E: Susan was more of a contradiction for me, sometimes I liked her and other time she really annoyed me. She was a combination of incredibly brilliant and clueless at the same time. She easily believed in vampires and werewolves but did not have any idea of how to interact with them. She remembered how to make penicillin but wasn’t concerned about the exchange of bodily fluids provided the other person wasn’t sick. Yet I enjoyed how she never really gave in a resigned herself to her fate but continued to struggle to make things the best she could. I also really loved her response to the military/government’s attempted takeover of her project. I just wish I had seen her stand up on a regular basis to someone besides Soren. While her ability to make medicine brought her a huge amount of respect from Soren’s pack, nothing was said about how/if that would transfer to any other pack so her lack of aggression concerned me but she was an interesting character. Full of both strengths and flaws but genuinely caring underneath.

MiscJoy: Susan was smart and resourceful and not afraid to take action. She had to think quick and adapt to an alien culture. I liked her selfless nature and the way she cared for the Apisi pack. On the other hand, she made some rather impulsive decisions that crossed into stupid territory — like running away from the Apisi pack without any planning, supplies or any thought about survival or means to defend herself — that seemed out of character.

3. Favorite Scene

Meka: Not sure what this probably says about me, but one of the most memorable parts of the book for me was early on when Susan was trying to be respectful of the alpha’s wife and ended up getting slapped for her trouble. After a rough day when no one was understanding her and she struggled to get accustomed to the way people expected her to do things only to be attacked, Susan had enough and she slapped the alpha’s wife right back. Not gonna lie, I did a cheer and promptly told my roommate that she needed to get this book when it came out. When the group ran while the alpha’s wife chased them, I laughed, hard. It was so comical and so awesome. It’s definitely one of the more stand-out scenes in the novel that shows Susan is no wilting flower.

E: I was torn between a few scenes but I think I am going to go with the one when Susan and Soren had a few days mostly to themselves out in the wilderness. They had the opportunity to get to know each other a bit and I got to see them interact together. It was by turns sweet, touching, intense, smexy, and a stark reminder of how much Susan will have to adapt to become comfortable in her new home. I wish they were able to spend more peaceful time together because that scene was what brought this story out of the physical lust and into emotional romance for me. It just needed more!

MiscJoy: My favorite scene was when Sorin, Ahote and Peder had to break into Benic’s castle. Peder came up with quite the unorthodox plan and I could only imagine the agony it wreaked upon the shifter’s senses. For some reason, I kept hearing the characters from The Princess Bride calling after them: “Have fun storming the castle!” Tee hee.

4. Dislike about book

Meka: I understand that when a series is starting off, there is going to be quite a bit of world-building that goes along with it. We as readers are just coming in to this world and don’t understand its rules or customs. It was nice in that we got to learn as Susan did, however, this is where the book began to fall apart for me. It was all too much, too fast and it felt disjointed. First we have to learn about the shifters and their rules, and then the vampires, and then incubi, and it just became very confusing to keep up.

There were a lot of great supporting characters, but they seemed to take center stage more than our hero and heroine. Every character had a motive and I cared about their stories. I hope they all get sequels, too. It was difficult for me to believe in Susan and Sorin’s romance because they never really had an opportunity to develop one. Everyone else’s wants, needs, and love lives kept stealing the show.

The book had smokin’ hot sex scenes, but I never felt like our hero and heroine ever got the chance to connect. Every time there was a sweet moment between them, the POV would switch to someone else, and I found it to be annoying.

The climax of the book was so convoluted that I found myself starting to check out. The resolution fell flat, and the epilogue left a lot of questions unanswered. I thought that Susan and Sorin were great together, but I feel like I really missed out on how great they could have been because there was not enough page time with them.

E: I found that Scent of Salvation had some parts that struck me as rather jarring. I thought the world-building was almost too complete for a first book in a series. It seemed like so much world-building went on that it detracted from the character interaction. As a result some of the supporting characters seemed rather formulaic and others at times outshone the hero/heroine. I also thought that having the default language for everyone set as English with only technicial/scientific terms a challenge to explain was a bit of a cheat. If everything followed the history path that Susan theorized I think there still should have been some serious language differences or communication issues among the different species and with Susan. But I did like Susan’s theory and I think it will be interesting to see how/if it plays out in future books.

MiscJoy: I think my main complaint about the book is the lack of depth. We weren’t given much if any focus on the character’s development — they were just presented in the story as fully formed and didn’t really go through a progression based on interior motivations. Plot points and conflicts just sorta happened and then were easily resolved without much consequence. The villain turned out not to be much of a villain. These issues meant the tension fell flat for me.

I thought the concept was interesting and the worldbuilding had promise, but certain aspects just didn’t jive for me. I struggled with the idea that this alternate history branched off from our history and yet continued to mirror our history instead of developing independent from it. Both dimensions spoke English (really?), but yet somehow the written form of it on Eorthe was unrecognizable as such. Time travel was supposedly impossible and yet, the major world events occurring on Eorthe were about two hundred years in our past. If that was the case, then what happened to the shifter’s native culture and why did everyone speak English? Either Eorthe and Earth developed in a sort of symbiotic parallel or they branched off and went their separate ways, but the resulting hybrid of these two ideas here just didn’t work for me.

5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade

Meka: Scent of Salvation is a fast-paced book with three-dimensional characters that make the book come to life. There are many laugh out loud moments and a great deal of adventure and emotional punches. With that said, the world building while intricate is entirely too much and other characters had more page time than I felt our hero and heroine did. I was not sold on the romance aspect of this book. It was a fun read, though, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
I give Scent of Salvation a C.

E: While I though Scent of Salvation had some flaws I did find the premise and some of the theories fascinating. I have my hopes for the next couple in this series, but I think they will face some serious problems with the vampires and pack politics. I also found that reading this book, especially the beginning, made me want to watch the movie Stargate. Nicholas did seem to take some shortcuts but I think with as much of the world established by the end of this installment, later books can focus more on the characterization. I will admit that I absolutely loved how the vampires plans were derailed and how he realized what his single-minded focus cost him.
I also give Scent of Salvation a C.

MiscJoy: I enjoyed the relationship that developed between Sorin and Susan. I liked how Sorin saw Susan’s strength in her intellect and her ability to serve the pack even if he wasn’t sure how the pack would accept her since, as a culture, they primarily saw value based on physical strength and dominance.

Even though I felt the story suffered from an overall sense of depth and some confusion in the worldbuilding, I do think that the writing style was quite readable. The author did a good job at writing an active narrative and kept the story moving forward at a good pace.

I give Scent of Salvation a C.

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3 thoughts on “Joint Review – Scent of Salvation by Annie Nicholas”

  1. Congrats! Scent of Salvation sounds like a great beginning to a new series. I love the mix of PNR with Sci-fi elements. As if the Blurb isn’t enticing enough, after reading the excerpt, especially the extend version where Susan encounters Kele, I am soooo fiending to read it!

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