Reviews

Review: Prey for Me by Claudia Rose

Generally, I love Ellora’s Cave. In fact, I’ve written more than one blog post about how much of a fangirl I am. That’s because I have rarely–and I really mean, rarely–read a book of theirs I didn’t like. The quality of their work is so often far above any other digital publisher, it’s mostly not even a competition.

But every once in awhile, a dud comes along that just makes me go, “wtf?” I know it’s not the author, because I’ve read another of Claudia Rose’s books and enjoyed it. I know it’s not the idea, because when I read the book blurb, I though, this is gonna be a good book. I couldn’t wait to read it. I also know it’s not Ellora’s Cave, because as I’ve mentioned before, they generally do very good work. So I’m not sure what it was. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe I had some bad shrimp, but I hated this book.

Hated. Like, if we gave grades on the Pen & Muse, I would give it an F. If we gave out stars, I would give it 1. You get the idea. I didn’t like it. And I’m actually shocked by this. It’s one of only two EC books I’ve ever read and thought, I wish I could have my money back. Okay, and I didn’t pay for it, so not like I expect a real refund. But if I had paid for the book, I would have wanted my money back at the end. Super ick.

Seriously, the language was just a snooze-fest, and if I heard the “Prey… for me” chapter ending one. more. time. I was going to throw my Kindle across the room. Plus, the whole starting off with a young, hot vampire having sex with an old, dying lady? Not hot. Not. Hot. At. All. In fact, gross. I know “they” say show-don’t-tell, but sometimes, it’s better to TELL. Like just start off with him in the basement. You can TELL me that he had sex with an old lady and then she died. You don’t need to show me.

I’ve still got the full-body-icks from that one. And then the relationship between Aunt Rose’s undead lover and Aunt Rose’s young, nubile neice just did not pick up (which, first of all, YUCK… who wants their granny’s sex-overs? That’s like, sure, grandma, I’ll take your sloppy seconds. WHAT? Yeah, yuck.). It was a frustrating and disappointing book. It won’t affect my patronage of either this author or Ellora’s Cave, but for the love of God… no more granny sex. And no more granny-dying sex. And no more I-just-shagged-your-dead-aunt-but-come-here-lover sex.

And, please… for the love of everything that is holy and everything unholy: No. More. Stupid. Puns. On. Names. “Prey… for me”? No. Just say no. This book was like a novella marriage of Pregnesia and Twilight. Okay, I just had a full body shudder again.

To the author, I’m very sorry for this review. I don’t mean it personally, and I know it’s probably hollow to hear that when I’ve just said I hated your book. But I’m sure you’re a very nice person, and I don’t mean this as an attack on you. Who knows? Maybe people will disbelieve my shocked review and buy your book anyway. Weirder things have happened. And it’s very possible that I’m on crack and everyone else who’s into vampire stuff will just eat this up like warm blood. Like I said, nothing personal. Just… I couldn’t get past thinking that this guy had been with, basically, her grandma. And the whole “will I ever mean as much to him as Aunt Rose?” shtick? I’m actually having dry heaves right now.

Okay, I’ll stop. It really wasn’t that bad. Well, that’s not true. I did think it was that bad. But like I said, it’s just my opinion. Read it for yourself. Heck, review it for yourself! Do whatever you want. I just know that I’m looking forward to Claudia Rose’s next book being VERY different from this one. And including no almost-a-corpse sex, please. That’s my request.

(Seriously. Go read the excerpt for yourself…)

TITLE: Prey for Me
AUTHOR: Claudia Rose
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave

Book Blurb:
Burnt out from solving one violent crime too many, Detective Jessica Croft welcomes the chance to take a break from her job and throw her energy into renovating an old mansion inherited from her Aunt Rose. But Jess’s life takes a bizarre turn for the worse when she knocks down a false wall in the basement of her new home and discovers Prey—an enigmatic vampire with a death wish—interred within.

Prey’s unintentional liberation attracts demon vampires like bees to a honeypot. Caught in the middle, Jess becomes a reluctant pawn in their sadistic games. Hounded at every step and desperate to survive, she turns to Prey for help. Together they discover a union more intense and intimate than either could have imagined. But can they accept the terrible price they will ultimately have to pay to be together?

Publisher’s Note: Originally available in the Vampires at Heart anthology.

Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

3 Comments

  • Hi Camryn,

    Claudia Rose here.
    Thanks for your review, I think it’s brilliant. Nothing beats a visceral response to a book–give me that over indifference any day.

    I wrote Prey for Me years ago—and I’m still pleased with it. Sorry you don’t like the idea of a young man loving an old woman. But actually Prey isn’t young (even though he hasn’t physically aged) and the point, which I’ll bet many older readers will attest to, is that although people in relationships age, they often see their partner as being much the same as when they first met. And even geriatrics still enjoy sex (elder porn anyone?). Sexual attraction is often in the mind, and in Prey’s mind Rose hasn’t changed from the girl he fell in love with. There’s a constancy in him which I think is pleasantly at odds with the male in mid-life crisis who casts off his wife for a model young enough to be his daughter.

    As for the neice falling for her aunt’s vampire lover, the fact is the neice and aunt hardly knew each other, and she’s never met Prey. The neice falls for the stranger she sees before her, primarily because he represents salvation from a terrible threat to her life. It’s nothing like a daughter getting it on with her mother’s boyfriend, whom she’s known for a decade.

    Sorry you couldn’t get past those elements to appreciate the dynamics in the rest of the book. I wouldn’t expect everyone to like it because it contains some mixed up, nasty, deviant stuff that has to be taken care of, and Prey’s evil over-sexed sister and the perverted succubus named Juice play key roles.

    If I have a failing in my writing, it is that I don’t think I do romance well, which may be what you fundamentally object to. In Prey for Me I’m better with vampire dynamics and manufactured vampire history than I am with the love story. I’d say that’s the case with all my writing for Ellorascave, I struggled to write good romance, which is why I’ve only published four books as Claudia Rose. I have to say, though, that the Ellorascave folks are among the very best publishers I’ve ever worked with (completely professional, utterly scrupulous, and tremendously innovative). I feel lucky to have been accpeted by them, and I wish I’d been better at the genre because I’d have happily published with them for as long as they would have me.

    I do agree with you about the sad pun though:)

    All the best

    Claudia Rose

    PS In the spirit of revelation, I should say, and I hope it doesn’t disappoint too many readers, that Claudia Rose is my pseudonym and that I’m actually a guy. Maybe that’s why I struggled to write romance properly—not enough attention to the seduction and foreplay? Perhaps that’s also why I don’t have a problem with a young (younger looking) man loving an older woman. I can readily imagine being sexually attracted to an older woman (Helen Mirren, say, or Angie Dickinson) and making love to her.

    Heh… I’ll bet this has been one of your more interesting comments.

  • Claudia Rose (or, should I call you, Buddy/Bro/Dude?):

    I’m really glad you stopped by here. I was just thinking about this book the other day. And if I’m honest, I don’t think twice about many books I review.

    It’s refreshing to find an author (and maybe it is the Y chromosome) who can handle my dislike of their book and not get defensive. Like I said, nothing personal, and I’ve reviewed another book of yours that I enjoyed, so it’s not you. It was just this book. It wasn’t the romance writing, necessariliy. I just had a full-body dislike for the hero from pretty much page one. It’s hard to get over that. I respect the people at EC a lot, so I’m sure it has redeeming qualities. I just couldn’t get into it at all, and found myself not liking the hero any better as the book went on.

    And on a side note, I’ve dated younger men before (I’m 32, so not THAT much younger, but still… younger), and I get the being attracted to older women thing. Hell, sometimes I’m attracted to older women. But there is something innately icky about a man having sex with a dying woman, while she’s actually dying. Especially when he turns around and sticks it to the woman’s neice (whether they knew each other or not is irrelevant).

    So I respect you a lot as a person and an author for coming on here and taking the BS I dish out and being a decent person about it. That takes (forgive the sad pun) a lot of balls.

    And for the record, I’m all about the deviant. I just don’t do family-style sex. Tie em up, bite em, brand em, shove sex toys in every hole they’ve got, whatever… but I have to draw the line somewhere. And I happen to draw that line right around people having sex with people who are related to each other. Cousins, brothers, moms, grandparents, aunts, I don’t care. I don’t like it. And I’m unapologetic about that. I’m sure there are people out there who aren’t bothered by it (you’re obviously one of them, and I applaud you for that), and they are the perfect audience for this book.

    I will say, this has been by far the most interesting comment I’ve ever gotten on a review. You are awesome, and I thank you for coming by here and commenting. We love to have authors here–you just happen to be the best-behaved F-review-book author I’ve ever seen.

    I wish you all the best in your writing career. I’m sure I’ll pick up another book of yours in the future… just as long as you don’t put any more nearly-necro-half-incest scenes in. 🙂 Come on… I had to get one more in. I am a sad, miserable person who needs to find something mean to say about everything. Okay, that’s not true, I’m just really sarcastic and long-winded. But thanks for stopping by and being awesome. Seriously. You rock.

    ~ Cam
    (whose book is coming out soon and who will probably not respond even remotely as awesomely to my bad reviews, so I’m learning from you…)

  • Hi Cam,

    It wasn’t until you mentioned disliking the ‘hero’ that the fundamental difference between the male and female perspective hit me. I realised that I never think of Prey as the ‘hero’–it’s the neice, Jessica, who is my hero. Prey’s a bit of a limp dick who is profoundly lucky that she needed him to save her, and thus he earns redemption. It’s Jessica who saves Prey to save herself, and she’s the one who is the most active in the novel, In terms of gender stereotypes she’s far more active than Prey, who from the get go is extremely passive and self-pitying (did that stoke your dislike of him?). In fact, now that I think about it, all the female characters in my EC books are more active, strong-minded and dynamic, while the males are generally more passive or less developed. The women I write are the sort that interest me—complex, vulnerable, witty, intelligent and capable of hard choices—they all have elements of my wonderful wife of 25 years (I’m pushing 50). As for the men—I fear that on one level they’re plot devices, and insufficiently well-rounded as a result.

    Now that I realise that the women characters are my ‘heroes’ it makes me wonder whether I’ve been writing Romance books with the dynamics reversed—which may be why the haven’t appealed to some women readers (and while I struggled with the formula). I’m not trying to generalise here, but most of the alpha males I know are superfical losers, and I like women who take life by the scruff of the neck despite obstacles the world puts in their way (Tina Engler who founded Ellorascave is one). All of my female characters tend to be pretty feisty and independent. And the males they hook up with, while not metrosexuals, do have a sensitive side to them. Brandt de Vos, in ‘Ladies’ Night’, can cook and cry, in addition to being able to snap a cage fighter’s neck in a second.

    I’m not sure about the sex when dying thing—does it seem too close to necrophilia? I agree that that would be a downer at the start of a book. But Prey does it because Rose begs him to. Do partners stop making love when one has a terminal illness? Not in Lionel Shriver’s ‘So Much for That’–I think it’s a way of maintaining connection with life. Anyway, I respect your opinion on that one. When it comes to what couples do—I think it’s down to what each partner feels comfortable with. Sex shortly before death must be the ultimate taboo subject—although I have some recollection that in the animal kingdom some species (whales? elephants?) will try and mount a dying female? Not sure why.

    No need to apologse for the review at all—I enjoyed writing as Claudia Rose and I’m proud of all four of her published pieces. I’ve published plenty of things elsewhere in different genres with different names, but Claudia is the one time in my life I’ve had the privilige of trying to be a woman. It was very liberating.

    Last thing–I’m not quite clear what you mean by ‘family sex’. Incest revolts me, but I’ve known more than a few girls and guys who started with one family member but ended up falling in love with a sibling. The connections between Rose and Jessica are so tenuous as to be non-existent and Prey, by definition of vampire, is morally ambiguous. There’s also a sub-plot in ‘Prey for Me’ that specifically rejects incest in the story of Prey and his relationship with his sister.

    All the best

    “Claudia Rose”

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