RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Diamond Dust by Vivian Arend


Title: Diamond Dust
Author: Vivian Arend
Publication Info: Samhain Publishing August 2013
ISBN: 978-1619219519
Genre: Paranormal

Book Diamond Dust This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Darbi Bradley. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Paranormal Romance category.

The summary:

She can’t shift, but she can shake their world.

Caroline Bradley is having one hell of a week. Her wolf lover has sniffed out his mate, making her an instant free agent. Not only that, Takhini territory has been overrun with aggressive bear-shifters electing a clan leader, and the wolf pack is feeling the effects—pushing her diplomatic skills to the limit.

Tyler Harrison is a grizzly on a mission. If he’s going to win the majority of the bears’ votes, he needs one final thing: a female companion. The only woman in town with influence over wolves, humans, and more bears than he’d like to admit, is Caroline.

Despite the sexual pull between them, though, Tyler’s not seeking a permanent relationship. And Caroline isn’t looking to be anyone else’s political pawn. But she should have remembered that when shifters are involved, changes happen in the blink of an eye.

Warning: Billionaire bear hero plus kick-ass human heroine equals a sexually volatile power struggle. Get ready for what might be the naughtiest game of tag that’s ever been played in the great outdoors.

And here is Darbi's review:

I’ll start off by saying this: Diamond Dust falls down pretty hard on basic literary qualities like “plot” and “characterization,” but it really is greater than the sum of its parts and still is pretty fun.  It is the third book in Vivian Arend’s Takhini Wolves series, which seems to be itself a spin-off series. Onwards!

Dramatis Personae:

Caroline Bradley: A human living in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. Her stepfather and sister are wolf shifters, and she grew up in the pack. She is the very recently ex-girlfriend of the Alpha Wolf, and general HBIC (Head Bitch In Charge) of the pack in her own right. She is hyper-capable, funny, sexy, and smart.  Our heroine.

Tyler Harrison:  A bear shifter, lives in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories Canada. Is the head of his bear clan. Has essentially no personality. Our hero.

Our Story:

Tyler is in town for a Big Bear Caucus. He wants to be President Bear…or something. Seriously, this book talks a lot about bear politics without getting into ANY specifics. But basically Tyler is running for leadership of some sort, and would be a decent choice, but the fact that he’s a bachelor is a downside for the bears. Caroline is newly single, and has impressed the visiting bears from the clans with her ability to be a total boss, and also her political acumen. Together they’d be an excellent team!

There’s a little pre-story scene showing that in seven days our hero and heroine will be married. After that Tyler and Caroline meet-cute at the hotel that she manages. He finds her unconscious in his room after she’s hit her head.  He tries to take her to the hospital, which is pretty reasonable since she might have a concussion. She finds this to be overBEARing (I am so sorry), so instead he takes off his shirt, which is apparently the next best thing to the ER.

Caroline heads home to her Alpha Wolf boyfriend, Evan. Unfortunately it looks like Evan has “got a sniff of his mate”. Wolves apparently have “fated mates,” [my god there is a lot of exposition here] and so Caroline is out. Literally out, girl needs to move out of their apartment.  Rough day for you, Caroline, a concussion, dumped, and homeless all in a few hours.  Our girl is cool with this though, she’s got dinner plans with a friend. Through crazy random happenstance, that friend wants to set her up with Tyler from the hotel! Sparks fly, sex is had, and seven days later they get married! Hooray!

Things I Liked:

1. Caroline. As I said before, she’s a total HBIC. She’s smart and independent, not “smart and independent” like women in romance novels often are. She runs a hotel and she does it well, she manages wolf and bear shifters like a boss, even though she’s physically weaker. She’s assertive and funny and caring. She is a great character, and by far the best part of the book.

2. Tyler. Tyler is almost entirely devoid of a personality. There is nothing about him that I find interesting, save for how he relates to Caroline.  That said, he is FOR SURE a welcome change of pace from other “alpha male shifters” that are par for the course in paranormal romances (NALINI SINGH).  Tyler is definitely “alpha” –he’s big and brawny and protective.  For all that he’s not a caveman relic, he doesn’t go crazy when another man touches Caroline. He trusts Caroline and makes his displeasure known to the offending male using his words. He’s protective but not controlling. He doesn’t “decide” what’s best for Caroline, he ASKS what she wants. Seriously, it’s so refreshing.

3. The sex scenes.  Pretty hot, not going to lie.

What I didn’t like (aka, everything else):

1. Their meet-cute.  By nature, a meet-cute is contrived, but this one is particularly egregious.  Beyond what I described above, Tyler also pretends to be her bodyguard for absolutely no reason.  When this is discovered though…nothing happens. Everybody is just fine with this and we move onto another plot device.

2. The plot. There’s the “mistaken identity plot,” the “pretend to be a couple plot,” the “she’s dating someone else plot,” and even a b-story that involves spousal abuse/feminism that is underdeveloped and makes zero sense (bears are apparently super sexist).  All of this is mushed together, and tenuously connected with sex scenes and cute dialog between Caroline and Tyler.

3. Exposition. As is a risk when you start a series in the middle, there is somehow too much and not enough exposition. There’s a whole lot of talk about Bear Shifter elections, but nobody talks about what they’re voting for [King Bear?] and what powers that person has, and what happened to the old King Bear.  Also, why are all the bears in North America having their Bear Caucus in Whitehorse of all places? The Takhini Wolves are okay with this?

4. Tyler is a billionaire. Because of COURSE he is.

5. Character motivations. Tyler wants to be Prime Minister Bear because…reasons. There are four candidates and one is a huge wife-beating jerk, but there is never any discussion as to why Tyler is the best choice of the remaining three. Caroline and Tyler have to pretend to be a couple because…other reasons.  This one bugged me a lot actually. Early on in the book, Caroline, Tyler, and two unimportant people are at dinner. Caroline using her awesome political skills and sheer bravado breaks up a fight between shifter wolves and shifter bears. At this point, all the bear clans decide that they need her to give them a leg up at the Bear Caucus.  Somehow this leads to the fake relationship that lasts twenty-four hours before they just go ahead and bang.

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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Erin Burns says:

    I never quite know whether or not to comment again when you have multiple posts on the same book…

    Anyway, like I said in the other post, I don’t think this is the strongest book in the series, but the series as a whole I do enjoy them, but they don’t often make my re-read pile.

  2. 2
    DonnaMarie says:

    How do you mess up a story with a bear shifter? I mean, BEAR SHIFTER! Sigh.

  3. 3
    Sarita says:

    Fun review, I giggled a little at ‘president bear.’ For some reason it made me think of the old ‘yes, this is dog’ meme. Also smart and independent vs “smart and independent” is a very neat summation of that particular bait and switch issue so many books have. This book sounds kinda meh though.

  4. 4
    Nancy says:

    Great review. I’ve never read a shifter book, as the genre doesn’t necessarily appeal to me – I don’t get the sleeping with a sometimes animal thing – but I won’t be starting with this one.

    I too liked the “smart and independent” comment, as that can make all the difference from actually respecting the heroine and being told by the author to respect the heroine. I also loved this part:

    he takes off his shirt, which is apparently the next best thing to the ER.

    Though, to be fair, I wouldn’t exactly say no to someone attempting to cure me with a hot, shirtless guy, as long as I also received, you know, actual medicine. Let’s just call it experimental therapy.

  5. 5
    Erin Burns says:

    Nancy, if you ever get the urge for a shifter romance, check out Shelly Laurenston. They’re probably my favorites out of the genre.

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