I like to try new authors to me, and I also enjoy fantasy, so I thought this book by Jenn Dease fit the bill perfectly. I also loved the cover and was waiting for the kind of serious story and passion reflected in it.
Title: Captain’s Mate
Author: Jenn Dease
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Scarlet Tie Designs
Rating: 3.0 of 5 Stars
Can a Dragon and human solve the problems on a naval ship in the middle of the Pacific while falling in love?
Patrolling in the Pacific Ocean, there are problems aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.Newly appointed Lt. Commander Franklin Delano Michaels is sent to rectify the problems between the Marines and the human sailors.When he meets Marine Captain Danegeld Drake, the Dragon shape-shifter in charge of the Marine squadron, there’s an attraction that takes them by surprise.
There are more problems aboard ship than Franklin knows about.A Dragon shifter doctor whose infirmary is being sabotaged.A Dragon/human mating between one of the Marines and a Sailor.A plot against Dragons throughout the military.And a possible build-up of the Voldai, an enemy that almost defeated the allies in the ‘Almost War’. Can the two of them build a future together with all this going on?
I have to start this review with a small rant and plea to writers of Fantasy of any kind. In m/m fiction we have examples of the best kind of fantasy writing. They range from the building of whole new worlds from the clothes they wear up, to the seamless splicing of fantasy with reality and everything in between. I love the imaginative qualities of fantasy writing, but it is not easy and when it fails it fails spectacularly. One of the small areas, which can ruin a whole story for me is that of names of characters. Why, when you are creating a whole new world is it necessary to confound the reader from the first by calling your characters ridiculously long or difficult names?!
This novella is a case in point. It contains at least twenty mentioned characters and the majority are Dragon shifters. These Dragons have at least three names plus military ranks plus clan names, and the married female dragons seem to keep maiden names additionally. I could not keep the characters straight in my head.
The other problem is if the names chosen for fantasy characters are based on a language, which is fairly unpronounceable to begin with except to those who speak it fluently #cough# Welsh. A reader wishes to identify in some way with the main characters, especially the heroes, and this is difficult if your brain cannot recall that character’s name. So fantasy writers a request, make them strange and new, but maybe make them phonetic so my poor brain can remember your delicious creations.
So back to Captain’s Mate…it is as I said full of characters. I’m not sure I could tell you a lot about them as their personalities didn’t really seem to exist except for one older dragon called Syrus Moon notable because he was older, and grumbled a lot. All the action takes place on board the USS Ronald Reagan, which I’m sure has more relevance to American readers but made me flinch. I have never been aboard a battleship and I would have liked to know what that was like, but all I really know is that there is a corridor with hatches, where everyone spends nearly all their time. I actually started to feel claustrophobic when reading. The plot and corruption was solved pretty quickly with few problems and really felt like an excuse to throw together the MCs Franklin, a human sailor, and Dane a Dragon Marine Captain.
Even their passion and sex was cramped and small and some of the dialogue was definitely not to my liking,
“I want to talk to you about something very important.” Dane stopped in front of the chair. “I have feelings for you. I was not expecting them.” He leaned forward and whispered against Franklin’s cheek. “I’ve never felt the emotions, the passion I feel now. You are my mate.”
There wasn’t much from the object of his affection after this statement, just a lot of exposition about the military’s views on same sex couples and dragon’s clan homes etc. Franklin does not actually respond verbally for two pages. The magic of fantasy comes from the believability of the unbelievable. Nothing in this novella stuck with me as believable not the dragons, not the protocol on board a battleship, not the fact that the new great thing to come out of this story was that Dragons should learn how to take off from water. These are marines and serve in the navy on board battle ready ships, and they can’t really swim or take off from water?
I’m so sorry, I hate to tear into an author’s work like this. I have great admiration for those who write, and are brave enough to go the distance and get a book published it is very scary, but please love your own work enough to really check it. My last complaint is that during one of the sex scenes where ‘lube’ becomes necessary, it starts in a bottle then it’s in a tube, then a bottle again and again a tube. A small thing but it really pulls you out of a passionate scene.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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