Series: Institut Scientifique #3
Published by Signet Eclipse on January 5, 2010
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Romantic
Sexual Content: Lots and lots of fairly graphic sex scenes (nearly every other chapter).
Reviewed by: Abigail
Satisfaction can be found in the darkest places. From Melinda Morel, the award-winning author of Prey and Devour Vengeance has its price. But you pay for passion forever... Descended from werewolf hunters, Catherine Marais has vanquished countless of their vile kind-including the one that slaughtered her father. Her debt of blood and honor was fulfilled-but her heart is empty.
The only one who ignites Catherine's passion is Ian-a handsome, elegant vampire whose seductive touch she cannot resist. But when he offers her the dark temptation of eternal commitment to each other, Catherine must look within her heart-and her truest desires-to find the answers she seeks...
Smolder is the third in a series about the lives and adventures of some of the main characters from Devour who also continued to play a part - with some new additions - in Prey. Catherine Marais, French aristocrat, lover of the sexy vampire Ian Morgan and one of the Institut Scientifique's most relentless werewolf hunters, seems to have finally met her match when the Lupus Magnus, leader of all French werewolves, puts a contract out on her. –Melina Morel (interview with The Romance Studio).
I’ll admit that I struggled to get through the first half dozen chapters of Smolder. Things did pick up after that, but not nearly enough. If you read Melina’s earlier Devour and Prey, then you’ve already met some of the many, many characters in Smolder, but its not necessary to have read it, and if its anything like Smolder, I can’t recommend it.
Countess Catherine Marais is part of an elite werewolf hunting society in France known as the Institute (get used to that word, you are going to be reading it a lot if you pick up Smolder). When a wounded werewolf gets away and identifies her to the werewolf community she becomes #1 on their most wanted list. This new threat prompts her 200+ year old vampire lover Ian to start pressuring her to join the ranks of the undead. Meanwhile Catherine’s partner Paul and his now wife Julie want to have a baby, but only if they can be sure it won’t be a werewolf. Throw in an unresolved side plot about cloning, an anxious werewolf leader with a nefarious past and a son with an aversion to joining the pack, and there is more then enough story going on here. The real problem is with the writing.
There is a lot of dialogue in Smolder. Maybe as much as 75/80% dialogue verses 25/30% description. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, if the dialogue is good. But I would venture to say that the dialogue is arguable the weakest part of Smolder. I found it unnatural, tedious, and cheesy in many places.
Then there are the characters. I never felt any connection with Catherine partially because the novel is told from shifting 3rd person perspective, but more so because despite copious amounts of dialogue, very little is revealed about her as a character (except that she really likes vampire sex). Some of the secondary characters have depth (Luc for example as the unwilling teenage werewolf), but there are way too many to keep straight especially with so many foreign names.
I did enjoy the Romeo & Juliet-esque subplot featuring Catherine’s human niece Solange and Luc the werewolf son of the Lupas Minor, and even the scenes where Ian verbally attempts to convince Catherine to become a vampire (95% of the time, however, he tries a more carnal persuasion with lots and lots of repetitively described sex). The main plot of the werewolves trying to kill Catherine was significantly less interesting.
Personal Pet Peeve: While the cover art for Smolder (and Melina’s two other paranormal romances) is gorgeous, apart from the wolf, it in no way reflects the actual book. Catherine looks nothing like the model, she favors guns not swords, and she is never described wearing anything close to the leather ensemble featured on the cover.
To be clear, I didn’t hate this book. I didn’t feel strong emotions about it at all. And having taken a few days to consider Smolder before finishing this review, I’m having a hard time remembering anything about the book that impacted me. So in a sense, Smolder does live up to its title if you consider that it is defined as: to burn slowly and without a flame. But that’s the problem: not one page has any fire.Series Titles: