Carnal Sin by Allison Brennan

Review: This book reads like grandma’s attic: a lot of clutter, a lot of potential paths through the mess, a lot of shiny distractions along the way. The main characters (hero, heroine, villain) are underdeveloped, last minute additions to a clunky story that wasn’t written for them. The secondary characters are more interesting and human than the cardboard hero or the schizophrenic heroine.

Heroine: The heroine, Moira, was shallow and fickle despite a background that should’ve made her wiser and a little less intolerable. I wouldn’t want this gal as a friend. I think I know what the author was shooting for, and I’ve seen it done elsewhere successfully. Rather than a she-warrior who’s earned her way, been through really bad stuff and exhibits the traits one would expect (stubbornness, quick-learning, fiery), Moira ends up as appealing as a temperamental four-year-old determined to get her way who failed to learn that touching a hot stove will burn.

Hero: The hero, Rafe, is like the piece of treasure you went to granny’s attic to find but got so distracted with everything else, you forgot about it by the time you left. He’s introduced as a true leader – yet he doesn’t lead anyone or anything or even contribute to the story line. The author commits several writing sins, among them: telling instead of showing; not making the character human to the reader; failure to develop the character. This is particularly noticeable because everyone else has a personality. All the hero does is bitch, throw up token resistance that melts like invisible snow, and follow everyone around like a lapdog.

There’s no lust or emotion between the heroine and hero. Their relationship is told (not shown) throughout the book. The leap between what happened in their pre-book past and how they should be acting together is too much for the reader to make while trying to digest the multiple subplots that wander in and out of the story like lost sheep.

The plot could’ve been interesting, if it didn’t resemble a plate of spaghetti. The twist and turns and sudden realizations by the main characters appear out of nowhere, a sign of poor plot and subplot development. There was a mountain of potential in the villain – the demon Lust; however, she proved little more interesting than the hero.

In all fairness, the characters came from a previous installment in this series. I’m one of those who believes that – even if part of a larger series – each book should be able to stand on its own, or you’ll never draw in new readers. I was at the mercy of an airport when I grabbed this book, which meant no selection and no previous books from the series to provide background. It also means that, while this book sucked, the author made zillions off of other travelers in my shoes despite the poor tradecraft exhibited.

This is another example of how publishers are more interested in publishing a popular name than a quality product. Only an established writer could get a book published that espouses so many tradecraft violations that an editor should’ve laughed him/her out the door.

Synopsis: (From back of book) ” Santa Louisa is still reeling from the lethal rampage of the demon Envy, one of the Seven Deadly Sins released from Hell by black magic. The fiendish entity was finally trapped, but when more bodies bearing satanic marks surface in Los Angeles, demon hunter Moira O’Donnell fears the terror has only just begun.

Racing to L.A., Moira discovers that the City of Angels is fast becoming the demon Lust’s decadent playground. She suspects another coven is at work, aided indirectly by her diabolical mother, the powerful witch Fiona. But when Moira’s unwanted psychic powers intensify, she fears her connection to the underworld is putting everyone she cares about in grave danger.

As supernatural war erupts, Moira and smoldering, seductive Rafe Cooper are caught in the crossfire. Cornered by mortal and unearthly enemies, they must master all their own powers to survive—and to understand if the intensely passionate feelings that bind them are Lust’s demon magic or true desire.” © 2010 by Allison Brennan

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