Book Review

Review: Copper King by Vivian Arend

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Title: Copper King
Author: Vivian Arend
Publication Info: Vivian Arend April 24, 2013
ISBN: B00JXR516Y
Genre: Paranormal

Book Copper KingI’m beginning to think that maybe novellas aren’t for me.

Copper King started off as something that’d be right up my catnip alley. Billionaires in Vegas, bear shifters, a no strings attached arrangement that turns into something more.

Yes, please. I’ll take two!

For a quick rundown, Jim Halcyon, is in Vegas for an annual competition. He and his friend, Damon, have a yearly contest and the winner gets to keep a lucky coin they both bought when they were younger. Our heroine, known as Lillie for most of the book, is in Vegas for a “last hurrah,” though the reasoning behind why she wants/needs one is kept a relative secret until the end. The two experience some animal magnetism (harhar) and they plan on enjoying the rest of the week together. They both know that come the weekend, Jim will be doing his weird contest thing and Lillie will be leaving Vegas.

In the world of paranormal romance, I definitely lean more towards the shifter camp than vampires. Maybe because I find the latter subgenre a bit oversaturated. With shifters, wolves definitely get all of the glory, so if an author goes a bit unconventional with it – lions, tigers, bears (oh my!) – that’s an easy way to win me over.

But in Copper King the fact that people legit turn into animals isn’t central to the plot. The story would have worked without it. Even the twist towards the end. I do realize that with a novella, the ins and outs of a story are scaled down to a neat, digestible chunk, but when you have a limited amount of space, details and plot devices should be poignant and essential to the story.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Lillie. We don’t really learn much of her background and that’s probably due to the plot twist later one. However, we do get hints that she’s a numbers girl, a bit of techie. At first, I was excited because I love female characters that dabble in hobbies or exist in occupations that are normally male dominated. And, being in Vegas, this could have added a great splash of counting cards…maybe the hero and heroine battle over a game of poker.

Instead, Lillie falls into the trope of the oblivious, tech girl, but it’s not quite a balance, and her character development rests too much on the former and no enough on the latter. Her knowledge of technology, odds, and ratios is only mentioned a couple times and rarely does she do anything with it.

Over the course of the novella, Jim and Lillie spend a few days together, but there interactions aren’t meaningful enough to me to warrant falling in love, which of course they do because…hello, romance novel. They had sex a bunch, watched movies, wandered around a park in their bear forms, but that’s it.

And then there are the word choices. Example the first: “Nicely packaged ladies.”

WHAT MAKES A LADY “NICELY PACKED”?

Curled ribbons? Fancy paper that you buy at those stationery stores (they’re awful on my wallet, by the way, because of course I need my own personalized stationery)? Does he pick them up and shake them to find out what’s inside?

Then there’s this:

“Her nipples were the first to go, like an early-warning system, this one of lust, the nubs springing to full attention.”

I hope you’re picturing what I’m picturing. Car alarms, sirens, her nipples springing forth like one of those boxing glove jack-in-the-boxes.

Most of the book is spent just hanging around Vegas. Seeing shows, doing striptease classes, having sex on baby grand pianos, you know…the usual. Until Lillie realizes she’s in love and needs to skip town to handle her business real quick.

If you’re interested in the big plot reveal, SPOILER (Highlight to read):

Lillie is arranged to be married to another bear shifter and the “last hurrah” makes sense now. As bears are more of a solitary shifter race, it’s not uncommon to use marriage services. So she hacks some airport database to get a plane to get her to her betrothed’s house to call everything off. They’ve never met. Jim is all panicky because Lillie is gone, having left a vague, cryptic note. He gets a new phone (his previous one having been confiscated by his buddy, Damon, to get him to stop working and enjoy the weekend. When he turns it on, he has a voicemail from a matchmaking company, saying they’ve found him a wife.

GUESS WHO IT IS?!

He doesn’t know it’s her because he only knows his sexy, bear lady as Lillie (a nickname of her middle name). So then he flies out to his house to meet his new fiancée and call off the engagement.  And lo and behold, the two are reunited and everything is cleared up.

Of course, they get their HEA and all is right with the world. Cue hours of sex in the kitchen. And no, I’m not joking. Hours. Someone’s got to start chafing at some point.

Were there pluses to the book? Yes, it wasn’t an awful reading experience by any means.

I will admit that this is my first foray in Vivan Arend’s shifter novels and I wasn’t overwhelmed by the world-building (everyone does shifters differently). On her site, she mentions that this can be read as a standalone story and it can! I’m always gun shy about spin-off series because of that very reason.

I did like Jim a lot. Maybe that’s because we get to know more about him as readers; more of his history is divulged to us, like how he spent his summer vacations and his relationship with his parents. Shapeshifters are also integrated into normal surroundings, though their existence isn’t known to humans. From my understanding, there are shifters in certain positions of power (like owners of glamorous hotels) to enable quiet, separate areas for them to relax, and I enjoyed the imagery of minks and jaguars dog-paddling around a giant infinity pool.

Aside from some character tweaking, I probably would have liked the idea better in a full-length novel setting and ditched the shifter idea, since it wasn’t integral to the plot for me. A somewhat bored billionaire doing some thrill-seeking before starting an arranged marriage. A woman looking to throw her inhibitions to the wind in Vegas. It’s got contemporary erotica written all over it.

That being said, I may take a break from novellas for a while.


This book is available from  Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    kkw says:

    I read Courtney Milan’s novellas because they’re Courtney Milan’s, but I invariably wish they were not novellas. I adored Sarah Morgan’s Ripped. And that’s it, that’s the complete list of Novellas That Weren’t a Total Waste of My Time. I guess the good news about them being short is they don’t waste *much* time, but the brevity makes them inherently less satisfying for me.

  2. 2
    Amanda says:

    I completely agree. A majority of the novellas I’ve read could have done with a few hundred more pages, which would probably no longer make them novellas. I also think when you’re dealing with that sort of short setup, every detail for the plot should be essential. Don’t waste writing space.

  3. 3
    Lindsay says:

    I’m a huge fan of Vivan Arend’s books and this one was… okay. I was disappointed, but I wasn’t as enthusiastic about Diamond Dust, either, so maybe her bears aren’t for me. There are pretty big differences between species in her world, which I really like.

    The Takhini Wolves novellas I think are outstanding (Wolf Signs and Wolf Nip are my favourites, the latter because it takes the whole fated-mate thing and blows it to pieces, the former because the heroine is Deaf and I can’t think of a single other book I’ve read that features a Deaf protagonist without the entire book being inspirational porn). Her full-length novels in the same setting, Black Gold and Silver Mine, are phenomenal. They can all really be read as stand-alones.

    I’ll also admit that I desperately miss the Yukon, so the main stories taking place around Whitehorse scratch that itch so well.

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    @Lindsay:

    I loved that part of Wolf Nip, where the hero, a wolf shifter, is all “You Are My Mate!” and the heroine is a cat shifter so she’s all, “You’re cute, but we don’t do that.”

    I kept thinking I’d written a review of that story – and yes! Yes I did! Go memory brain cells go!

  5. 5
    Amanda says:

    @Lindsay:

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one somewhat underwhelmed by it. I’m always worried that everyone loves a book and I’m just a crazy person.

    I may check out the two you suggested because 1) the whole mate thing sounds hilarious and 2) I’m a sucker of unconventional characters. I loved The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie because he was said to have Asperger’s.

  6. 6
    Anne says:

    I enjoyed Copper King.  I’ve read all Vivian Arend’s shifter novellas and novels and was happy to read Jim and Lillie’s story.  They are introduced in Diamond Dust.  I was pleased that she is going to write short stories/novellas about some of the characters that are found in the shifter books and I hope she continues.

    I recommend starting with Wolf Signs, which is the first Takhini Shifters book.  It helps with world building.  I too enjoyed the deaf heroine and the way that Arend handles the disability.  Characters introduced in Wolf Signs get their own stories or pop up in subsequent books.  Wolf Nip is the last of the 6 Takhini Shifter books (which I think are more novellas).  The wolf/cat conflicts are hilarious.  I liked Black Gold (which is a book set in the same world with a different pack) very much.  I’m looking forward to the 4th book in that series which comes out later this month.

  7. 7
    Lindsay says:

    @SB Sarah
    It was your review that led me to that series in the first place! I read them completely out of order, but the quote you posted had me right there. I re-read the series every so often—that’s the nice thing about novellas, they’re pretty quick to re-visit!

    @Amanda
    I like that she doesn’t mind taking risks with her protagonists—one of her High-Altitude Rescue books has the hero missing an arm and dealing with that, and I can’t think of anything short of Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club that was anything like that. Except the book isn’t centered around his loss of an arm or overcoming it, it’s just part of who he is.

  8. 8
    Amanda says:

    @Lindsay:

    I’m actually dying to read the Adrenaline Search & Rescue series because of Elyse’s review. The first is sitting on my shelf right now.

  9. 9
    marjorie says:

    I really liked Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega, which felt like the length it wanted to be. Have felt that way about several of Courtney Milan’s novellas. And what was the companion novella that Sherry Thomas wrote, the erotic book that plays a role in the plot of a full-length novel? Something of Larkspear? That was great—hot as a standalone, but also moving and revealing when read thru the lens of knowing the characters in the novel.

    I can’t get past the name “Takhini Shifters.” Just can’t. Looking forward to the Hummus Gophers and Babaganoush Lemurs.

  10. 10
    Maya says:

    @majorie
    That is such a funny line. I want to read Falafel Possums but you are thinking of Tahini, the beautiful sesame paste. Takhini is a river and a hotsprings in the Yukon. And if you already knew that and it is just to close in spelling for you to get past it, well .. I understand.

  11. 11
    marjorie says:

    @Maya, I know. I kid. :)

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