Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)

Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2)

Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3)

As far as background characters, Crest is a good example of this issue: in the first book he's a polite, apparently well meaning, pleasant seeming man who is romantically interested in the protagonist. He goes out of his way to be kind, interested, and non-judgmental of her rather bloody line of work — he brings her dinner, takes her out to the theatre, helps her carry bloody and unconscious bodies without hesitation. His only downsides, at least as far as I can see, is that 1) Crest isn't more dangerous than her and doesn't try to dominate her — as a nearby shapeshifter aggressively points out as a bad thing! -and 2) Crest takes her to a restaurant she doesn't like — which I can't really blame him for, since she never tells him her likes and dislikes. Seems pretty okay so far to me, you know? I mean, any man who'll help me hide the bodies can't be all bad! ;)

Unfortunately later in the book the Pack alpha becomes fixated on the idea that Crest is the "big baddie." The alpha, the protagonist, and some shapeshifter friends find Crest while he's alone and actually extort the poor man — under threat of violent assault and possible bodily murder! -into "voluntarily" donating some blood for what is essentially an illegally applied blood test — a test which clearly demonstrates Crest's innocence. After that rather shocking demonstration of bad faith, the idiot alpha further decides this embarrassing debacle was all the protagonist's idea — and blames her for his stupidity! He goes flouncing off in a huff after promising Crest a favor from the Pack, leaving the protagonist to further demonstrate her social ineptitude when she treats the rightfully furious Crest so indifferently that I can't right now remember if she ever even said she was sorry.

I certainly can't blame Crest for hastily and indignantly backing off on his budding friendship with the protagonist. My personal thought was it was no surprise the protagonist was alone and lonely, if she continued to act like she preferred the company of flaming assholes to someone who was actually generous and thoughtful to her.

By the next book, however — which occurs less than four months later — Crest has become someone so worthless that he sends his terrified shapeshifter fiancee to beg the protagonist to intercede for them with the Pack's alpha, to allow their marriage.

Again: WTF?!

I had severe issues with this turn of events within the story, for several reasons. First, what happened to the favor promised to Crest by the Pack's alpha? Is the much-vaunted word of the alpha really that worthless, or did the author just forget? If the former, I'd have to say it's the alpha who's a waste of time, not Crest; if the latter, shame on the author for not being more careful with consistency within her world!

Second, Crest is considered "pathetic" for appealing to the protagonist to intercede on his behalf with the Pack alpha. I can't figure that out — if Crest has already asked twice for Pack permission for the shapeshifter girl to marry him, then why is trying another avenue of appeal "pathetic"? I would consider that resourceful, myself. If anyone was truly pathetic in that situation, I'd have to say it's the alpha who is so insecure in his position that he has to torture his people with silence, and treat them like nothing more than disposable property or bargaining chips.

Thirdly, Crest is scornfully denigrated behind his back by the shapeshifters for "forcing" his fiancee to go in his place to speak with the protagonist. I have two perplexities here. One, considering how grossly he was insulted, why would Crest want to talk to the protagonist? She threatened to kill him — for no good reason! And two: isn't the fact that Crest made no effort to dominate the protagonist precisely what was considered his "downside" in the previous book?! So why is it now suddenly a bad thing to force a woman to do what he wants?

There's either a truly creepy message being pushed here — it's "right" for the stronger partner in a relationship to slap around the weaker one — or the author is doing precisely what I've stated I can't stand: forcing Crest into the "bad guy" categorization to maintain the false dichotomy within the stories. If the former is true, I'd have to say these books are simply vile, with a deeply atrocious message! If the latter, I hope the author did it unconsciously: basically justifying the protagonist's atrocious treatment of Crest in the previous book, so the protagonist remains a "good guy." Unfortunately what ended up happening for me is that I was left with no one I could really empathize or identify with.

To sum up: I didn't really care for the protagonist — I found her physical uber-competency and her super-duper secret "power" to be dancing perilously close to being an all-powerful "Mary-Sue." I also loathed the main "romantic" interest being a creepy stalker, and the simplistic treatment of the "bad" guys.

However, I got the books from the library on the recommendation of a friend, so I was willing to read all three of them to see if things improved over time. There were some amusing and interesting bits in the stories, and I thought the background conflict re tech and magic was interesting and would bear further exploration. I've heard there are more books in the series, but I don't think at this point in time I will bother; they're good brain candy but I can handle only so much of that.

More interestingly: what are your personal commandments for authors writing urban fantasy — or whatever your favorite genre is?

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