Sunday, April 10, 2016

Review: An Erie Garden Party by V.L. Locey

Title: An Erie Garden Party
Author: V.L. Locey
Purchase at Torquere
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Kris Norris
Genre: paranormal, shifter
Length: 32K
Formats pdf, mobi, epub, html

Spring has finally arrived along the shores of Lake Erie and no one is happier than skunk shifter, Templeton Reed. Now that the snows have melted, he can frolic and play on the grounds of Lupei Manor, the formidable home that he shares with his life partner, Mikel Lupei, the alpha of the Lake Erie pack. What a pity that his joy is short lived.

Not only does a stranger appear to shake things up in the manor, bodies begin showing up on the grounds as well! Could the newcomer to the pack be the one viciously killing innocent humans and shifters? Or is there a more nefarious force at work lurking just outside the boundaries of the ancient manse Templeton, Mikel, and their LGBT friends call home?

This is the latest in the series featuring Templeton Reed, skunk shifter and lover of the Lupei pack’s alpha, Mikel. Readers of the series will recognize a lot of recurrent characters, such as the grumpy vampire in the basement and the butler, Rugby. The butler was the subject of a running gag, and I admit I chuckled over it every darned time. I can just see Templeton’s eyes bugging out.

Templeton comes across as small and kind of fussy, inclined to describe himself as adorable. He’s a skunk shifter, which in this rigidly hierarchical world, puts him way below the wolves. That he and the pack he’s attached to are all gay is another hierarchical issue, because gays have no place in this shifter society. They’re all tiptoeing around the possibility of being outed, which complicates solving the murders. Getting outed as shifters has its own set of terrors.

Mikel, the alpha, is charmingly primitive in his full moon appetites, and Templeton and he clearly adore one another. Keeping Mikel’s mind on business at hand when the moon is nearly full is a chore. Templeton gets used as a chew toy and a lovey and an ally, strong in his own way. Considering that messing with a skunk is such a terrible idea, he deserves more respect than he gets. Size isn’t the only way to be fearsome.

I’m coming in late to the series, which make the mystery at the heart of the story, the dead bodies turning up at the shore, not entirely fair to the readers, as some clues are in other books but treated as if they’ve been mentioned here.

I was somewhat put off by the style, which is occasionally stilted and formal. Sometimes this was at odds with the characterization, sometimes in synch with it. I found myself enjoying the world and the story and the characters, all while wishing the actual flow of words and the sense worked better. Such as here, where Templeton has just sprayed a strange wolf.

The wolf rolled back its black lips. Canines as long as my petite little skunk arm flashed in the morning sun. I hissed like a doused cat and took a step in reverse. A car door slammed. My head and the rogue wolf’s jerked in the direction of the noise. I made a break for it. Praying it was Mikel and not some poor human deliveryman, I ran about fifty yards before my lover came trotting around the side of the mossy old mansion. He was in his finest fur. I squeaked and screeched in warning. Mikel pranced over to me. I dashed between his long legs and hid there. The rogue walked up to the Lake Erie alpha and licked his face. Mikel began wagging his tail and then jumped on the rogue playfully.

Actually, I’m imagining Mikel chewing out the newcomer for A) messing with a skunk and B) especially messing with THIS skunk. Nobody’s going to lick a freshly skunked pal, I don't care how glad you are to see him, he reeks.

So while there certainly are some enjoyable elements, I’d like the style and logic to work on the same level as the imagination. 2 marbles

This is in no way the author's fault, but honestly, Torquere, this file is a mess.

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