Pandora’s Box: Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison

storms_heart While we no longer run Pandora’s Box as a monthly feature, every now and again, two of us will read a book and come to such different conclusions that we just have to talk about it and share it with you. That’s exactly what happened when Leigh Davis and Wendy Clyde read Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison. Curious to see what they had to say about it? Check below the jump for a brief description of the plot and then Leigh and Wendy hash it out.

When Tricks, aka Niniane Lorelle, the daughter of Dark Fae King Rhian and Queen Shaylee is seventeen years old, her parents and twin brothers are killed in a coup by her uncle Urien. Escaping from the castle and Dark Fae’s Other World Niniane travels to New York, seeking protection from the Wyr. She becomes an integral part of their group for almost two hundred years. But after her uncle attempts to harm Dragos, Lord of the Wyr and his pregnant mate, he is killed, leaving Niniane as heir apparent. Concluding that the Fae would be highly suspicious of the Wyr’s motives, Niniane travels to meet the Fae delegations without Wyr protection. After an assassination attempt, Niniane kills her cousin, and goes to ground. She is filmed kicking her cousin and yelling “I hate my family, I hate my family” by a bystander, who then posts it to YouTube and where it goes viral and makes the news. After seeing this Tiago Black Eagle, one of the most feral Wyrs demands a leave of absence to locate and protect her.

Tiago, one of the ancient Wyr, and head of Dragos’ private army doesn’t know how old he is, however he remembers shape shifting for the first time among people who build Pyramids for their kings in Egypt. Even though his contact with Tricks has been very limited he feels compelled to come to her aid. Finding her is easy with since most of his talents and power center around hunting.

Leigh: Wendy, thanks for joining me on reviewing Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison. While this is my first introduction to Thea Harrison’s books, if I remember correctly, you have read both Dragon Bound, and then Storm’s Heart? How do the two books compare?

Wendy: Leigh, thanks for letting me get my two cents in. I know you didn’t enjoy Storm’s Heart as much as I did and I’m glad to present my views. I did read both books and enjoyed them very much. I like that both heroes shapeshift into amazing creatures and that both books are often humorous. The imagery is also very good. Dragon Bound is by far my favorite of the two, though. There was too much inner conflict regarding Tiago and Tricks’ romance for my taste. I wanted them to be happy together, but for a large part of the book the HEA was in question.

Leigh: Well, honestly I missed most of the humor. And I felt that the conflict keeping the heroine and hero apart just disappeared. I suspected from the first chapter that this book was going to be problematic for me but I soldiered on, hoping against hope that the book would get better. The first 100 pages I was like a pinball, in the story, out of the story, in the story and so forth. The cause of my frustration: least favorite plot devices such as the heroine in pain but still up for some sexual shenanigans. I know that the heroine kicking her relative, and then being found chain smoking cigarettes, drunk on her butt from bubble gum vodka and babbling about some nonsensical song is suppose to be funny but as soon as the author discloses Niniane has been knifed between the ribs the book went downhill. Over the next hundred pages or so, Tiago and Niniane do the sexual attraction/bickering dance interspersed with Niniane ‘s illness related to her wound. A little dallying, then she is so weak she can barely get out of bed. More sexual innuendoes, and toying and then she is so dehydrated that a doctor has to give her IV fluids. Back and forth. Sick, well enough to bicker, sick, smoldering attraction, sick, make out. And then several plot devices frustrated me. Tiago smells Niniane’s wound for poison, but he doesn’t seem to be able to detect infection setting in. And I never did understand why after knowing each other for two hundred years, their sexual attraction for each other suddenly ignites. Is more explanation about that given in the first book? Plus what did you find humorous?

Wendy: Wow. The fact that Tiago should have smelled the infection starting never occurred to me. Since it didn’t, I was able to enjoy the rest of the book without that fact weighting my opinion. I can certainly understand how it could have colored yours, though. The reason Tricks isn’t well known to Tiago is that he rarely visited New York during the time Tricks lived there. He was off keeping the peace while the Native Americans were being moved onto reservations when she first arrived, and has since been based mainly in South America. Its mentioned that he saw her maybe 20 times, mostly in staff meeting type situations, prior to her needing his help to get her throne. I’d have to reread the book to remember all the instances that made me smile, but one that stands out in my memory is Tiago’s helplessness in the face of Tricks’ grief. It always amuses me when the big tough warrior freaks out because a woman is crying. I think that the dry, somewhat sarcastic voice of the author is what I find so attractive. Her characters speak the same way my friends and I do to each other. And regarding the disappearing conflict, yeah, I get that. They make it pretty clear that they’re just shelving some issues, to be handled later.

Leigh: While you remember the scenes about grief as a positive, I remember rolling my eyes. There is a scene after Tricks breaks down crying where Tiago calls Drago for advice. Pia, Drago’s wife, explains that Tricks is reliving what happen to her parents and he should have some sympathy and if he can’t then someone else needs to be there. At this point I was thinking that while discovering your family has been murdered is traumatic, two hundred years is certainly time so the grief is not so raw. And then of course when Tiago, comes to help her she has to run away with the “Oh, no, I can’t accept help, I must do it myself” line. Luckily the author introduced “ Carling Severan, Councilor of the elder tribunal, sorceress and Vampire Queen” finally giving me a character to care about and praise be, she healed Niniane’s knife wound, eliminating the source of my misery and disbelief. I wasn’t impressed with the trope of “ my beast/animal needs her” scenario either.

Wendy: Yes, I see your point about her grief being old, but the issue is that what she was feeling when she fell apart was Ninianne’s grief. She’s somewhat of a split personality. When her family was murdered in the coup and she travelled cross country alone before that part of the country was civilized, she was just a defenseless seventeen year old girl. She had to bury that girl and become Tricks in order to survive. Now that she’s Ninianne again she’s finally having to relive all those old nightmares and face her loss. Because she’s buried it for so long and never allowed herself to feel the pain, when she finally does it feels immediate. The running away did seem stupid at first, but then she explains that she HAS to get justice for her family and the only way to do that is to regain her throne. Tiago was threatening to drag her back to Cuelebra tower by force and she knew that once she got there she would likely be too afraid to leave again.

You liked Carling? I thought she was a bitch, regardless of the healing potion. I know some of her motivation was explained later, but I still didn’t like her and I worry what she’s going to do in the next book. I may need to reread Storm’s Heart, but I didn’t get the “my beast needs her” vibe. I thought it was the regular boy meets girl and falls in love scenario. Tiago did “mate” with her, and because he’s a Wyr was very fierce about it, but that’s not unlike a normal human man meeting a woman and wanting to protect her and keep her for himself. The “my beast needs her” thing probably doesn’t apply because Tiago IS his beast. He’s not dual natured like so many shifter heroes are with a primitive animal side and a civilized human side. Tiago wears two skins, human and thunderbird, but he only has one heart, one brain, one set of impulses.

Leigh: Well, I do agree with you about Tricks/Niniane being a split personality. You were able to appreciate that much better than I was. This is one example of how one book is viewed differently. What grade would you give?

Wendy: I’d probably give it a B+. It would be in A territory except for the thing I mentioned about the internal conflict regarding the H/H staying together. And I have to admit that your realization of what a dumb mistake it was for Tiago not noticing the smell of infection bothers me. What grade will you give it?

Leigh:It was in solid D territory for me until after Carling was introduced, After that I would grade it a C so it would all average out to a grade of C-.

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16 Responses to Pandora’s Box: Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison

  1. farmwifetwo says:

    Leigh, nit-picks books like I do… probably why we get along :) I loved Dragon Bound… I couldn’t wait for Storm’s Heart. I didn’t get it until after Leigh’s review was up on AAR and since we don’t always agree and I knew it wasn’t one of her fav genres I shrugged and still bought it.

    Was I disappointed. WOW!!! Leigh’s nit-picky points are dead on. I’m going to try the 3rd, still debating on asking the library to get it instead of buying it… but if we don’t get a return to a strong plot, strong characters… it’ll either be a library read or off the list.

    I gave it 3 stars since it was still better than most paranormal’s out there… but after the first…. I expected more.

  2. Dani says:

    I really enjoyed Dragon Bound but Storm’s Heart was a letdown. There was a tiny scene in Dragon Bound that set up this second book but there was no depth to it and I expected to get some back story in this second book to explain that scene. There wasn’t any. I got tired of the sick, bickering, sick story line as well.

    There were a few good scenes in Storm’s Heart but for the most part, I found it unoriginal and tiresome. It’s such a huge contrast to how I felt about Dragon Bound that I hope it’s not an indication of things to come for this author. I thought Pia and Dragos were both compelling characters and their angst made sense given their stories. Storm’s Heart, not so much.

    The worst part of Storm’s Heart is the set up to the climax where Tricks is left mostly undefended by all of her bodyguards. I found this a really lazy way to set up the final scene and it just made me angry with the author and her characters that that was the best she could do. Why, when they knew their adversary must be getting desparate, would almost everyone leave Niniane alone? I hadn’t been loving the book up until that point, and that pushed it beyond the pale for me.

    I’ll likely still read the 3rd book in the hopes that Harrison can achieve what she did in Dragon Bound but Storm’s Heart didn’t work for me.

  3. Barb in Maryland says:

    Add me to the disappointed with “Storm’s heart” crowd. What was so fresh and fun and deliciously over the top in “Dragon Bound” now just seemed old and recycled in “Storm’s Heart”. Plus I didn’t like either Tricks or her alter ego Niniane and I didn’t like Tiago.
    I totally agree with Dani’s concerns about the plot dynamics, especially at the climax. Lame-o.
    But I did like Carling and I will definitely pick up the third book when it comes out. The sample chapter at the end of “Storm’s Heart” showed promise.

  4. bungluna says:

    Different people do perceive things in different ways! I liked this book better than the first one. I liked the fact that Triks wasn’t human and didn’t act like a kick-ass. I liked that Tiago acted more like his animal than a human male. In fact, what I like about this series is precisely that I perceive the author making an effort to portray her heroes as non-human. I gave it a 3.5/5 in my review. Keep in mind that I’ve only given 5′s to about 4 books in my life and I’m an inveterate readaholic.

  5. DJ says:

    I loved “Dragon Bound,” it felt like a book that just flew out of the author and was truly wonderful to read. The “Storm’s Heart” book wasn’t as much fun for me, although I did still enjoy it. The difference between an A book and B book for me.

  6. Susan says:

    The second book barely got a C- from me.

    I was all ready to sit back and enjoy the ride after Dragon Bound and this book disappointed me at every turn. The biggest downfall is lack of any action or dialogue. Leigh pointed out many of the things I had trouble with, but also most of the book took place inside everybody’s head, or as exposition. I skipped HUGE chunks of this just to get to the next line of dialogue.

    And then the ending when they finally made it to the castle, it all felt rushed. I wanted the book to START there, and see how Tricks takes over her kingdom. Instead we get an insipid epilogue and a rushed ending. Bummer.

  7. Lucy says:

    I didn’t even finish Storm’s Heart, while Dragon Bound is one of my top books of 2011. I just didn’t care about the characters; Tricks and Tiago didn’t attract my attention in the first book. I wish the whole series could be about Pia and Drago!

  8. Leigh says:

    Farmwifetwo, you have me pegged don’t you. I don’t seem to have a problem with romantic comedy books, but add a sense of drama, and I tend to watch the plot devices. I liked Carling, but not enough to buy the book without reading feedback from other nit pickers like you (grin).

    Dani, I wish I had read the Dragon Bound first, but now I am so leery I don’t even want to try it. Maybe someday when I don’t have anything else to read I will pick it up.

    Barb in Maryland. . . I hope you post something after reading the third book. Like I stated to Farmwifetwo, I am going to wait for feedback first.

    bungluna and dj – I am so glad that Wendy and I were able to do a joint review. Since I tend to focus on certain plot devices, and know that not all readers approach a book that way, your comments and Wendy’s provide other readers a chance to evaluate both. Thanks for posting.

    Susan, I do agree with you, expecially about the ending. Lucy, I didn’t care about either of the characters either.

  9. Emily says:

    I liked Storm’s Heart, but not nearly as much as Dragon Bound. The split-personality thing lost me. I missed the Tricks version. Plus “Ninianne” reminded me of just plain “ninny.” Or “nincompoop.” But I thoroughly enjoyed reading your reactions to the book. Wendy, I agree with you about Carling! I’m relieved that I’m not the only one who doesn’t like her. She skeeves me out. Poor griffin-boy–I’m worried about him.

  10. Lori j says:

    I was disappointed and skimmed big chunks of the book too. So sad after the first book.

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