By Rachel Vincent
I want to love STRAY and ROGUE. Rachel Vincent builds an interesting world with both a caste system and gender bias. She portrays the werecats as they enter a time of change – where a stray might be adopted by a Pride, a girl might inherit, and the strays are tired of being pushed around. The main setting of the novels is a ranch in Lufkin, Texas. Vincent received help from her dad, a native Texan, in portraying the setting correctly. For the main part she succeeds, except for one baffling geography moment.
I’m not entirely sure where Lufkin is, but at one point a character states it will take an hour and a half to reach Dallas. Later Faythe and her boyfriend Marc fly to New Orleans from Houston International. I understand Vincent might not be able to use the name of a real airport; I assume Houston International represents either Hobby or Intercontinental. However, I do not understand why people less than two hours from DFW or Love Field would choose to drive a little under four hours to reach Houston.
That’s a small quibble. I am quite capable of loving books with geography errors – certainly I make many myself. While I enjoy the world, I do not love the main characters. I do love some of the secondary characters. Jace, in particular, is a sweetie. I rooted for him in the first book. Faythe’s mom is a BA disguised as June Cleaver, but Faythe is too self-absorbed to notice until the end of ROUGE. Luckily, Faythe become less self-absorbed throughout the story. Her personal growth could move a bit faster, but I saw evidence that she was beginning to think of the Pride first.
Nothing in Marc’s personality changed to make me like him better. Take this sentence: “I’d never known him to demand anything less than all of my attention, and I didn’t recognize this polite, courteous behavior.” There was a more alarming quote, but my bookmark failed to stay in place. Their relationship seems abusive to me. Not just on Marc’s part, but on Faythe’s as well. He flat out states he does not trust her. ROGUE is a paranormal romance. In my romance stories, I need the main couple to be in love. Marc and Faythe feel mutually dependent rather than loving to me.
The mystery half of the plot – tracking down a killer of tomcats and kidnapper of strippers – felt like it was given equal weight, but the culprit was too obvious. Faythe shows her brain many times in the novel. With her mental faculty, she should have put the pieces together long before she did. On the other hand, I liked Manx. I wish she entered the novel earlier so she could have more screen time.
I still plan to read PRIDE when it comes out. The action scenes are fantastic and Faythe could grow to be a strong heroine. But if Faythe shows little growth again, I might not stay for all six planned werecat novels.
ROGUE is officially released today and PRIDE should be in bookstores this fall. Find out more at Rachel Vincent’s website.