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Primal Instincts by Susan Sizemore

September 20, 2010

Description first:

Tobias Strahan leads the elite vampire squad known as the Dark Angels, protecting the city’s paranormal denizens. It’s the perfect job for an übermacho Prime . . . until clan heiress Flare Reynard stirs an obsession in him that refuses to fade. Flare’s mother—desperate for a grandchild—has made Tobias an intriguing proposition, and it’s soon clear to Tobias that Flare is nothing like the spoiled princess he’d assumed her to be. She’s smart as hell, wickedly funny, and loyal, and Tobias knows deep within that she is his bondmate—the bondmate every Prime searches for.

Flare has every intention of providing her clan with children—but on her own terms. That means a donor and a clinic, not a wild tumble with the most potent Prime of them all. Flare knows it’s a mistake to get close to a warrior like Tobias, since their searing connection puts her heart, his loved ones, their entire world at risk. But logic is no match for fierce, instinctive desire. . . .

I was sick this weekend, which turned out to be a good thing because it meant I got to catch up on my reading. It also allowed me to burn through Primal Instincts in a day and half. It kept me reading while lying on the couch amidst a pile of tissues. When I bought this book it was because of two things: I had read somewhere (I no longer remember. It could have been the AAR boards.) that Susan Sizemore was a good bet for Kresley Cole Fans. The other reason was that, while shopping for new, current books to review the weekend before last, this title caught my eye. I can’t say it’s because of the cover. I’m one of those people who is embarrassed by Romance covers, with all their half naked men and women–and Primal Instincts is no exception. But it was clearly the newest Sizemore title. I flipped through all her other books, but I confess that I chose this one in the end because its description seemed to suit me. Yes, I love alpha heroes. I admit it. I should probably join a support group (though I don’t think it would help).

I knew going in that there would be backstory that I wasn’t privy to. I knew there would be characters and world-building that I’d have missed. But I also thought, based on experiences with other series, that maybe this would be the book that drew me in. Plus, I don’t mind reading a series out of order when the stories are just linked–and the romances are all stand-alone. It’s when the series contains the same characters that I get persnickety.

This turned out to be an occasion when I was sorry to realize that I wish I’d started with the first book in the series. I think it would have made Primal Instincts a better read for me. I thought at first that it would be–as I mentioned–like reading Hawke’s book first. But I realized, as I read it, that all that would have done was detract from the delicious build-up of tension you get when you know that a character you love will be getting his/her own book. I didn’t have that with Tobias and Flare and that’s just too bad.

Long story short, I felt like I had missed the first half of this novel. Tobias and Flare begin their relationship almost immediately. They both have issues and baggage–Flare more than Tobias–but from the get go, there’s an established connection between the two. Now, I’m just assuming that there was buildup in the earlier books. I could be wrong–please feel free to contradict me. But I was frustrated by the disproportion between the time that Tobias and Flare spent having sexual thoughts about each other and the time when they were supposedly getting to know each other. The description on the back cover tells us that Tobias learns that Flare isn’t “the spoiled princess he’d assumed her to be” but the amount of time that Sizemore spent on expanding this side of the relationship was teeny-tiny compared to the “She’s beautiful!”/”He’s hot!” stuff. I think I also felt that Sizemore spent too much time developing the plot–there’s a shocker–doesn’t happen that often in a Romance novel–and too little time on Tobias and Flare’s relationship. I liked them. I liked that Flare–sorry, Francesca–had depth. And Tobias did too. And I was rooting for them to be together. But they spend sooo much time fighting off the enemy, solving the mystery, saving the world, that there really wasn’t much left over for the relationship. I mean, yes, they have time for sex. And they do talk and secrets are revealed, but it just wasn’t enough for me.

I would also like to add that, though Tobias has a daughter, never once do they talk about the impact their bonding will have on her. Francesca never so much as reflects on the idea of becoming a stepmother, which I thought was odd. True, Saffron is in another part of the country for most of the novel, but Tobias talks to her and about her often. The subject of Francesca and Saffron even meeting never comes up, and then, when they do, it’s brushed off in a matter of a few lines.

My final gripe with this novel was that I didn’t know enough about Sizemore’s vampires. Each author creates his or her own mythology and you learn about it as you go. I liked the idea of daylight drugs, but I was often confused–does that mean they live normal lives? I.e., sleep at the night and work during the day? And do they need to drink blood to survive or not? How much and how often? I was also confused by all the Clan/Tribe/Matri/Family stuff. Most of the time I wasn’t sure what anyone was talking about and this made it kind of hard to follow the plot. But this–all of this–is stuff that I’m assuming I would have been better prepared to handle if I’d read the first eight books in the series first.

Now that I am done with my personal griping, I would like to add that this book engrossed me. I read it while I was brushing my teeth. I read it while waiting for the water to boil for my tea. I always wanted to pick it up again. This is saying something, given everything I’ve said above. I liked Sizemore’s writing and I liked her characters (although I was vastly disappointed that Chiana’s story was never completely resolved, but maybe in the next book). I was intrigued by the world that Sizemore had built and now I want to try it all over from the beginning. Oh, and I also want to say that I think Tobias and Flare deserve a sequel. Their relationship would still be worth reading about. But the joy of serieses (is that a word?) is that they allow you to check back in with beloved characters.

I decided, in the end, to give this book Four Points. Sizemore deserves as much from a reader whose criticisms mainly derive from ignorance. However, I reserve the right to alter my opinion, should it change after having read the rest of the series. Joking. (No I’m not.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2010 12:24 pm

    So do you think that it is something a Cole fans should definitely consider reading? (I’m the opposite – I need to read a series in order and cannot jump into the middle.)

    • rubylavender permalink
      September 21, 2010 7:54 pm

      I think you should give it a try, just start from the beginning. And let me know how it goes!

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