As a book reviewer for Coffee Time Romance and More, I get to read a lot of fabulous books that I just want to gush about. Then there are some books I come across which, for one reason or another, may not tickle my personal fancy quite as much.
For obvious reasons, CTR has a format its reviewers have to follow. As a result, word count guidelines frequently prevent me from giving the comprehensive review I’m dying to write. Given that I’ve been with CTR for more than a year now, you’d be right to accuse me of being slow on the uptake, but it only just occurred to me that …
I have a blog! If I run out of space to talk about a book on my CTR profile, I can just hop on over to you lovely people and keep right on going.
Hence, I am pleased to introduce the very first instalment of The Post-Review, a brand new series I’m implementing to help alleviate my compulsion to give a comprehensive, space-unlimited review on top of the condensed reviews I write for Coffee Time Romance.
The Post-Review: Calm Before the Storm by Cara Lake
My Coffee Time Romance and More Review – 4 Cups out of 5
This is definitely a high-octane novel. The world which Ms. Lake creates is well-structured, the place of each demonic and otherworldly race in the story clearly explained. The chemistry between main characters Tyr and Irina keeps the story moving along, and the all-out battle between good and evil at the end is gripping. This is an entertaining read for fans of the fantasy genre.
Read the full review here.
When I hit the upper limit of my word count, I had to start trimming back my thoughts on this novel. Originally, I had expanded on the idea that “The world which Ms. Lake creates is well-structured [and] clearly explained.”
I don’t typically read a lot of fantasy as a matter of personal preference. In too many of these novels, I find that the worlds created by the authors are missing key details that bring it to life for me. For example, one shape-shifter novel I read about half a year ago talked about a demon fighter, and vaguely referenced a struggle between forces that extended back nearly a millennium. As a reader, I prefer to have more detail than that. I want to know how the struggle started, and why, and who is involved. It doesn’t have to be a George R. R. Martin amount of detail (for those who have persisted through the Game of Thrones series of books), but I’d at least like to know that there is a back story, and to understand on a topical level what that back story is.
Ms. Lake did a fantastic job of bringing to life the struggle between the forces of Chaos and Gaia, and even their origins, in Calm Before the Storm. Even though the story was about Tyr and Irina, Ms. Lake clearly outlined the children borne of the union between Chaos and Gaia, and how, over the centuries, fractures have appeared in their relationships to one another – kind of like the “struggle between the gods” found in Greek and Roman mythology. Because this back story was illuminated, I was then able to understand how these fractures affected the beings in the different worlds of this novel. This in turn helped me to better appreciate the pressures on Tyr and Irina, as descendants of the Lyrani and Earthani races and being “the chosen ones” that would restore the balance between war and peace.
I also appreciated that Ms. Lake didn’t introduce all of this background at once. She did not front-load the book. Rather, the information came in a steady flow over the course of the story to create an entire understanding by the end. And the way in which it finished, with Gaia’s forces pulling together to save Irina and Tyr from the clutches of Chaos, made for a very satisfying and proportionately appropriate end to this struggle.
In fantasy novels, the sky’s the limit for the imagination of the author, which makes it such an appealing genre to many – readers and writers alike. But world building is a critical factor to the story’s success. It has to be there for the reader to understand what’s going on in the author’s head. More often than not, too little detail is the issue, as opposed to too much (or so I’ve found in my time as a book reviewer). This is the reason why I tend avoid fantasy novels – which, I openly admit, is unfortunate. So you can imagine how excited I get when the author has nailed it. If Calm Before the Storm is typical of her writing style, then Cara Lake is one of those authors.
In a world on the brink of chaos, only two people can balance opposing forces and restore order to the universe. To do so, the two must forge an intimate bond. Unfortunately, they’re complete opposites who are unaware of their powers—and of the consequences if they fail to unite.
A lawyer with good reason to abhor violence, Irina is wary of her new client, a famous boxer accused of murder. As a street orphan, Tyr learned to fight for survival and trust no one. Despite their differences, the two find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other.
With secret forces working both for and against their alliance, Tyr and Irina find themselves on a journey fraught with danger, betrayal and overwhelming desire. Ultimately the fate of billions rests in the hands and hearts of two lost souls who must overcome their fears and learn to trust each other.