It’s rare for me to read a book, throw up my hands and feel like screaming (and pretty much decide to quit the series) but this is one of them. I decided not to give it a star rating because I don’t know what to rate it. Honestly, I really enjoyed the urban fantasy part of this story but the romantic subplot and the ending of it deserve negative stars.
This is the third in the Mercy Thompson series. Mercy is interesting. She’s part Native America and can shift into coyote form but she was raised by werewolves. Recently vampires, werewolves and the fae have gone public with varying results. The fae in this book are as wicked (or as good) as some of the fairytales and have been rounded up into reservations.
It opens with Mercy being the scent ‘hound’ for Zee and Uncle Mike a couple of fae she knows (the titular Iron Kissed Zee who helped her get her auto repair shop and is her friend and mentor and Mike who runs a bar) after several fae have been killed. To her surprise after reluctantly pointing out the killer (knowing the fae will ‘disappear’ him, he’s murdered violently with Zee (and Uncle Mike) at the scene. Zee is blamed and in spite of his wishes she tries to clear her friend (because the Fae want him found guilty (even if he’s not) just so the humans don’t figure out other things they’re up to.
Mercy isn’t about to let this happen even if it puts a target on her back with the Gray Lords, the rulers of the fae.
And this part of the story was really good. If there had been no ‘romantic’ subplot I’d probably have given it four stars and gone on to find book #4. As it is, there was a romance so unbelievably self destructive and creepy, I honestly don’t know if I would even read another of these from the library let alone spend money on it. It didn’t help that she thinks suicides are ‘selfish’. It would be one thing if it had been a thought. I’ve been through far too many friends’ suicides and I know that unkind thought can cross your mind but to say it to the person’s brother?
Even though this was out years ago I’m going to put the whole romance and the terrible, shouldn’t have gone there ending under a spoiler cut. And what's worse is that this horrible abusive 'romance' won an award! I'm utterly nauseated by this.
So Mercy has been living with Samuel, doctor and werewolf (highly place) who was the love of her life when she was a teen only later realizing he wanted her because their females mostly can’t bear children and her type of shape shifting might allow it. (He’s centuries old. Werewolves in this verse are nearly immortal but likely to die youngish due to violence). She’s also being courted by Adam the pack alpha who claimed her as his mate last book (so creepy).
At no point do I feel like she loves either of these men. Mercy decides that she wouldn’t be right for Samuel who would want basically a house wife and she wants to freedom. He would tie her down.
So she debates about Adam. There is one point he’s so angry he’s punching out walls and forces her into a kiss. And she finds this hot. Literally she goes on and on in her head about how much she is turned on when he’s in a rage and how sexy it was he punched out the wall. She’s not even really put out by the knowledge that he would literally kill a man for talking to her because he’d see the man as a rival and would have to keep the pack respect (real wolves are not this violent, sorry but they’re not).
And all respect for the character goes by the way side. I loathe violence being romanticized. I see it a lot with shifter fiction especially but I’m seeing it more and more in urban fantasy (even worse when it’s in YA UF). If you hook up with a man willing to punch walls, scream and beat up someone for merely talking to you, you’re going to end up on an ID Discovery channel show either talking about your narrow escape from the man who was supposed to love you (often with the scars that nearly took your life) or your friends are on the show talking about how you didn’t deserve to die like this.
It’s not romantic. It’s dangerous. I am literally more disturbed by what this book puts for as a desirable romance than I am by the fact the villain raped Mercy. That’s right, there’s an on-page (not particularly graphic but still) rape after Mercy is controlled by a fae-magical object and participates in the sex controlled into ‘loving’ the villain.
And that’s the end of the novel. I don’t normally spoil an ending but rapes are an exception (another friend was talking about this book with me and saying how upset she was her friend who gave her the book hadn’t warned her).
There is literally NO reason to have Mercy raped to be ‘taught a lesson’ and I’m SO tired of authors doing this. Mercy decides of course she’s ‘not going to be a victim’ (which I swear is the whole reason this exists in this book for her to be able to say that). The rape adds nothing. It didn’t make the villain more villainous. He’s already killed a few people.
It did, however, make Adam seem even worse. What it’s like to be rape victim has to be explained to him at length by Ben (whose own bad behaviors suddenly stem from him being a victim of childhood rape). Literally him not blaming Mercy hinges on someone else explaining rape recovery to him. Mercy herself spends the last twenty pages thinking she’s not good enough for Adam any more and hiding (so much for not being a victim). It’s not really character growth but I will allow some of it because worrying about how your significant other will see you IS part of being raped for some women.
And at the end, the very end, just days after being raped, the book ends with Mercy dropping her clothes to the floor for Adam.
Count me way out.
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