Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Other Half by Elaina M. Roberts

For Kristiana Latimer, the Fifth Annual Human-Other Summit creates more aggravation than hope for the future. As a security guard for the hosting hotel, her job requires that she remain civil and professional with the visiting dignitaries regardless of provocation. But the Summit has yet to address the many growing concerns of the nonhuman integration. And when Michael Zakhara, the mysterious Head Ambassador, requests that she serve as his human liaison, Kris’ civility and professionalism are tested to the limits.

Just as they acknowledge their growing attraction and begin to work together, Kris’ niece and nephew are kidnapped, along with a half-dozen other nonhuman children. Suspecting the head of the local hate group, the Human Purity League, and Kris’ former boss, the couple organizes a stunning array of humans and nonhumans alike to help search for the missing children.

As tensions rise, Michael and Kris succumb to their intense mutual attraction. Secrets are shared, and truths revealed. But the Summit only lasts a week. Will they have time to save the children, address the issues at hand, and accept that they have found their other half?

Where to Buy

This is one of the books that I've had for quite some time but never got around to reading until recently despite being friends with the author (sorry Elaina). I didn't really have many expectations going into it, except perhaps that I'd expected there to be a lot more sexy times than there really are. Or at least more explicit sexy times. Not that I'm complaining about that, because I think the balance between explicit and closed door is pretty good here, but it was a bit surprising to me nonetheless. Overall though, I'd really expected to enjoy the book more than I actually did because I'd enjoyed her other book The Fox's Mate. This book really shows that it is a first novel I think, for the writing is not quite as skilled as in the later work. It definitely has its moments, but overall was a less satisfying read for me.

One of the first problems I had with this was the heroine, Kris, and her somewhat changeable personality. At the very beginning she's shown as a very tough, independent, no-nonsense kind of gal that's all business. She's not really prejudiced against the Others, but neither does she feel overly friendly toward them (with a few notable exceptions like her sister). She doesn't seem to be quite the ice queen sort, but neither does she seem to be very prone to letting her hormones get the better of her common sense or get in the way of doing her job. Yet within 24 hours almost of meeting Michael, she's ready to toss most of that out the window to get down and dirty with him. Within a few days her attitudes toward him and toward the Others in general have taken an almost 180 turn. It all seemed rather overly-quick and sudden to me. To be fair, she does remain conflicted and uncertain if she's doing the right thing by agreeing to have a relationship with him, and the mate bond is supposed to be a powerful force that magically changes the perceptions and attitudes of those affected by it. Still, given that she's not really a particularly submissive or passive sort, I'd have expected her to resist its pull longer than she actually does. Even if only by way of lying to herself and others about what its urging her to do and feel.

Michael was a much less problematic character for me. His characterization remains pretty stable throughout, and he fits the sexy hero role quite well. He's definitely an alpha male sort, yet he's not caveman-ish in his mannerisms or treatment of Kris. He respects her, and gives her the space she needs, allowing her to make up her own mind about him (for the most part at least -- he isn't above employing a bit of persuasive seduction from time to time). He's also open minded and more than willing to listen to, and act upon, the concerns she has regarding human and non-human relations. What sets him a bit apart from some other alpha male heros is that even though most of his instincts make him want to wrap her up in cotton batting to keep her safe, he's still truly interested in helping her realize her full potential as an individual. He encourages her to speak up about her views and ideas, and supports her as she increasingly finds the confidence to do so.

This book had a lot of potential I think, but it too often fell short of realizing it. Primarily I feel like it needed more editing to help it flow better, for the story seems to wander around a bit at times, and often can't quite seem to make up its mind if it's a romance or an urban fantasy dealing with interspecies relations and political intrigues. The first quarter or so and the last quarter of the book are primarily standard PNR, but the middle portion often reads more like an urban fantasy with occasional waverings back to PNR territory. While it's true that the two genres are generally closely related and often overlap a great deal, there are some distinct (though difficult to define) differences between them, and to be truly cohesive a story needs to decide which one it is. This one never quite does that in my opinion. Of the two, I felt the urban fantasy intrigue portions were the most interesting, and the strongest in terms of the writing. Aside from the story-based issues, there were also quite a few grammatical and typographic errors I spotted throughout which could have been caught with another pass or two of copy editing.

Negative comments aside, I absolutely did not dislike this book, I simply didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to or as much as I've enjoyed other books I've read. The author has created a very interesting world here, and one that I'd like to read more about. There are many issues that are left unresolved at the end, and it's clear that the author intended there to be a sequel. Whether or not there will be, I don't know, but I'll most likely be interested in reading it if there is.

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