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*** This is the second book in a series. The first book is titled Hunted By The Others ***
After the events of 9/11 the previously hidden supernatural creatures in America slowly started to step out out of the closet and help support the survivors, rescuers and the families of the victims. The American 'Others' received a great deal of adoration and support, with humans even introducing rights and laws to protect them too. Seeing this the Others around the rest of the world also came out of hiding. Today most places in the world treat Others more or less as people.
Shiarra Waynest is still working as a private detective and after getting involved with the Others during her last case, she is now trying to avoid them [apart from her werewolf boyfriend].
In the previous case she worked for the mages, a vampire and her boyfriend tried to kill her and her friends/allies, so they were killed in self defence. Unfortunately for Shiarra the dead vampire's sire - Max - has come to town to find out who's responsible for her death.
The vampire was actually killed by the werewolves, but when Max comes looking for Shiarra, she tries to protect them by telling Max that it was Royce who killed her. But no problem; Max plans to get revenge on Royce by killing a woman who means a lot to him, which [for some unknown reason] is Shiarra...
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Once again Shiarra is bleating about how terrible the vampires are, but once again we never actually see anything to back this up. Sure Max is bad, but if we're meant to see the whole vampiric race as evil, then one revenge driven vampire and his minions aren't enough, at least not for me.
Shiarra says that in the last book Royce blackmailed her into signing a contract, the legally bonds her to him. So issues leftover from that boil over into TAKEN BY THE OTHERS; to the point that she happily blames him for the death of the previous books villain, even though she knows that he didn't do it.
Did he blackmail her? I'm honestly not sure, even after going back to reread it. He does briefly ask her about her family, so she immediately deduces that he's threatening to hurt/kill them if she doesn't sign on the dotted line - but there are several other instances in the books where she is overly dramatic and immediately jumps to the worst possible conclusion about whatever Royce does/says, so I'm not convinced that he was threatening her.
Even if he was threatening her, it's hard to sympathize with her; he had just found out that she was spying on him, is now in possession of a vampire-hunter-spirit-possessed stake [don't ask], and that she was involved with two groups of people who wanted to kill him.
I actually think he saw it as a way of protecting her from the mages and werewolves.
In TAKEN BY THE OTHERS Shiarra spends a lot of time with Royce, so her bigotry, already impossible for me to ignore last time, is now magnified. Yes, this is fiction so it shouldn't annoy me, but I see it as discriminating against someone because of their race, sexuality, disability etc.
What makes her attitude worse for me is that she [and therefore the author] cannot see what she's like; at one point she gets on her high horse and labels a White Hat member as a bigot towards the Others, when she is just as guilty - so long as the Others doesn't include her werewolf boyfriend and mage friend. But the scene that sticks is how she bitches that someone complains about the vampires, yet happily takes advantage of their hospitality's. Pot meet kettle.
In this book Shiarra mainly complains that Royce is manipulative and a user, but all I can see are numerous examples of her playing him along. At one point Royce calls her out on her behaviour towards him, so she plays nice, but her thoughts remain pretty much the same toward him and vampires in general. To me this shows how she in manipulative and is a user, plus it also shows how she has failed to progress and learn from the events of the previous book.
And then how does she repay him for the help and protection that he provides? By getting involved with The White Hats - a violent anti-other group, who especially want to kill him. This is another example of how she uses people; she doesn't like The White Hats either, she is again just playing them along, to use them for her needs.
Shiarra is the one who phones Royce up to ask for his help - several times, so why must she whine about getting involved in his business [and she in his] again? Then she has to wait as he is in a meeting, and she whines because he doesn't drop what he was doing and come running to her aid immediately. All of the above are some samples littered throughout TAKEN BY THE OTHERS that makes it so that I just don't understand why Royce is said to be in love with Shiarra. He must really hate himself.
Even if I managed to overlook Shiarra's faults, there is the issue with Chaz: I just don't like the macho Alpha male stereotype, and for a pack Alpha he is way too impulsive. The author tells us though Shiarra that his possessiveness is cute and romantic, but I practically will suffocated by a character in a book. He knows full well that he can't provide sufficient protection for Shiarra, but is so "grr, MY woman" that he seems willing to endanger her, rather then let Royce offer her assistance - allow me to repeat that it was Shiarra who invites Royce to be around her and her problems , not the other way around.
TAKEN BY THE OTHERS should be a fast read, but it took me a week to finish as I could only force myself to read two or three chapters at a time. The basic plot is a simple revenge driven storyline, that the author tries to pad out by tossing ANOTHER love interest into the mix; at first I thought that he was a better fit for Shiarra over Chaz and Royce as he is a White Hat member. But when I think about it he knows that she has Other friends and is dating an Other, so he should be mildly disgusted by her and unable to trust her.
To sum up; the plot threads and characters just don't gel for me, mainly because we're meant to see vampires as being evil but we don't see anything to back these views up. And, to top it all off, we're meant to believe that Royce has fallen hard for Shiarra. I just can't see what the author thinks I should be seeing here, but I'm clearly not seeing it. It's actually a shame, as the author has a few good ideas and solid secondary characters, so I have no idea how she has managed to come up with such a unlikeable heroine, who I want to see fail; e.g. during a scene where Shiarra's running from some bad guys, I was hoping that they'd catch her. And hurt her. A lot.
*** There is a third book in this series [Deceived By The Others], but there's no way I'm going to read it, as it features a lot more Chaz. My sister swears that I'll enjoy it and that there is a shocking twist in it, but I've picked up on certain hints thoughout this book, so I can already tell what is likely to happen, so there's no point in me reading the book ***
Author: Jess Haines
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Shiarra Waynest is a New York P.I. who's biggest problem used to be keeping her business afloat. These days her problems are much, much bigger... Two seductive and dangerous vampires who have been enemies for centuries now both want Shia. One wants to kill her, while the other's interest is a lot more personal. Throw in Shia's werewolf boyfriend and the White Hats (a powerful group of anti-Others), and there's a recipe for trouble!
Taken by the Others is the 2nd book in the H&W Investigations series and it's due out for release in January 2011. I won my copy in a competition run by the author, Jess. Check out her blog - www.jesshaines.com/blog - for any giveaways or competitions, as well as reviews and news.
The first book in the series is called Hunted by the Others and you can find my review of that here on Dooyoo.
Once again, Taken by the Others is written from Shia's perspective. We're drawn into her thoughts and feelings, as well as the ones appearing in her head that aren't her own! Shia is human, but she's increasingly surrounded by Others (vampires, werewolves, mages etc) who do not get along. When Max turns up, her world is once again turned upside down. He's a powerful elder vampire out for revenge and somehow Shia finds herself in the middle of it all, without much choice. We meet up with characters from the previous book as well as new ones, one or two of whom Shia wishes she'd never set eyes on (literally!).
I enjoyed Taken by the Others just as much as I'd enjoyed Hunted by the Others, if not a bit more actually! The pace is fast and there's never a dull moment (despite Shia wishing her life could be just that bit simpler!). It's most definitely a page turner and once again I found myself immersed in Shia's story and her battle to stay alive. There were times while reading the book when I actually took a sharp intake or breath due to being surprised or shocked, other times I just wanted to shout "Nooo!". Yes, it really is that good a book!
Having read my advanced copy of Taken by the Others, I'm all ready for book 3 of the series... but as Taken by the Others hasn't yet been released and the next book due in July 2011, I'll certainly have quite a while to wait. However, at the end of Taken by the Others Jess Haines has given us a little sneak peek of the next book... and now I REALLY want to read the next book!
(Please note: This review also features on my website).