Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Laurann Dohner & Lora Leigh

After much procrastination on my part, I finally got around to trying Laurann Dohner's very popular "New Species" series.  I am currently on book 3.  I will update this post accordingly.

First of all, my overall impression is that these books are an “okay” type of read.  Certainly nothing to write home about.  Each of the titles I’ve read so far had some good scenes, and I found the main characters to be mostly likeable.  That being said, the heroines seemed to be all cut using the same mold (and frankly, now that I think of it, so do the males), and yes, the word “Mary Sue” had popped into my head for that reason as I’ve been advancing on the series. 

Why do I say it is nothing to write home about?  Well, even though the author has her own voice (which is a very good thing) fact remains that she didn't really bring something truly new to the table, and her writing style needs a GOOD editor.  The characters are not particularly "special" either.  She has a penchant for “small” heroines even though her favored height for every single one of them has been 5'4" so far, which happens to be what is considered the average height for American women, that is not small in the slightest.  Of course, she’s trying to make the “small as compared to the Species males” point, but frankly, after book 3, it grew OLD. 

Regarding the writing style, mind you, I am an extraordinarily forgiving sort of reader.  However, after a while, the style grates on the nerves.  She writes everything in short sentences or phrases.  Including dialogue.  There is ZERO flow in her writing, and I’ve read at least three of her stories so far.  Her narrative and dialogue both read like “tatata dot tatata comma  tatata dot.   tatata...” etc., understand what I mean about flow?    Her stories (at least all of the ones I’ve read so far) seem to have been written at a 9th grade reading level, which is how I was taught how to write in business English classes in college, and how they used to teach people to write when studying journalism as well (I know because I had several friends who studied journalism while I was majoring in business administration).  It doesn’t work that well when writing fiction though.  I write like that, which is the main reason why I have never pursued nor intend to pursue becoming a published author.  This sort of writing style (to call it something) is most definitely not restricted to this author, I have to admit.    

All of the above being said, frankly, I do think that these stories in the right hands, would be really good.  I fully understand why they are so popular.  Even when I am mostly irritated as I go forward with each book, the author makes the reader care, and that means she does have what it takes to be a truly good author. 

Now what about "Lora Leigh" (as per the title of this post)?  Here's the deal.  Anyone that has read Lora Leigh, can't help but think that Laurann Dohner definitely got her inspiration from Lora Leigh's mega popular "Breeds" series.  I admit that I became an insta-fan of the “Breeds” series when Lora Leigh first introduced the series back in 2002 with a very short novella titled "Wolfe's Hope", published by Ellora's Cave.  After that came the first full length title (length by Ellora's Cave standards, which is shorter than mainstream publishing standards) titled "Tempting the Beast" which truly started the series with a bang and a boom.  If memory serves, this title came out in 2003.

I have been reading a number of reader criticisms regarding the editing of the New Species books.  Frankly, Lora Leigh's Breeds in their early days (before Penguin  picked up the series) was not much better on that department.  However, Lora Leigh instilled an intensity into her books that is not easy to imitate or emulate.  I don't think that the series, once picked up by Penguin, had the same sort of "feel" or "intensity" as it used to have when it was still at Ellora's Cave, either.  To be fair, I do have to say that this was to be expected, as the books were to go mainstream, so there were certain things that they had to improve, as well as "soften" in the process.  The books are now longer, more developed, is you may, yet a lot of the early fans feel just like I do: it just isn't the same any longer.

All this being said, I can see why Laurann Dohner's New Species seem to be so popular.  It's fairly easy for Lora Leigh's fans to cross-over when they want to get a "fix" on this sort of storyline.  Lora Leigh used to be a mega-prolific writer while at Ellora's Cave.  I would dare say she would have upwards of five new books per year, spanning different series (sadly, a number of those other series have been flat out "dumped", pity, really).  However, this has changed, and we may get 1 or 2 of her Breeds  per year, if we are lucky.  I am not really into her other series, which are popular as well, but not just my cup of tea.

I do need to mention that I stopped rushing to get Lora Leigh's new Breeds releases about four years ago.  They don't appeal to me as they used to, and one of her last few releases in the Breeds series, "Navarro's Promise", seemed to have major issues, so I admit I never got to read it and completely put me off from reading the following titles in the series.

I do plan on going back to the "Breeds," and try the latest installment in the "New Species", if only to see if I can update this post.  We'll see.

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