Reviewed: June 18, 2010
Genre: LGBT-M/M Paranormal Romance
Series: N/A ~ (Non-Series / Stand-Alone)
Rating: 1 Star
Length: 176 Pages
This Hellbourne trilogy is not what I would consider a true series of novellas. Instead, it's one novella split into three parts, so readers should be aware that starting this 'series' with Lost & Found forces you to continue with the other two parts of this story, Hellbourne: Bound & Determined and Hellbourne: Heart & Soul to complete the whole of the story arc. But to be honest, I wouldn't recommend you bother.
This is my introduction to Amber Kell and it's going to be a very brief acquaintance, for while I will give her credit for the concept and idea of the plot, the execution left more than a little to be desired. Luc, the half-fae son of Lucifer, is tossed over by his lover of 20 years, the Alpha of the werewolf pack, Bram, when Bram decided pups are more important to him and his pack than decades of love and dedication and that decision goads him into marrying a female were from a nearby pack. Heartbroken, Luc ends up drowning his sorrows in a vampire bar and comes to the attention of the master of vampires. Before Luc knows it, the vampire Nikko has collared him and is calling him his mate. But Luc can only love Bram. Throw in a couple of conflicts with demons, an attempted poisoning, a scene or two with Luc's father Lucifer, and toss in the appearance of an angel, and the plot points and ideas for the story are interesting and put together with some originality.
Now for the reality check. All those great ideas and interesting plot points were badly written and horribly executed. There was no world building, no character development, and a completely bare bones narrative lacking description, definition, or artistry. Characters act out their scenes with a minimum of description or emotion - including the sex scenes, which read more like apologetic and furtive dives into naughtiness than hungry, raw, powerful adult male sexuality. I was tragically disappointed with all three parts of Hellbourne on just about every level. It was lacking in anything resembling sophistication and maturity, and read like bad fanfiction by an author too timid and unschooled to fully capture the sensual, compelling conflagration of a story and present it to interested readers.
I don't mean to sound harsh. I don't want to over criticize. To be honest, though, means that I have to say that I don't believe, using the Hellbourne story as a measuring stick, that Amber Bell's writing ability is currently up to professional contemporary standards. There are far, far too many excellently written (even just competently written) books in the M/M paranormal romance/urban fantasy genres to enjoy without ever having to subject yourself to poor storytelling. I'm not going to rate or review the Hellbourne saga in each piece, because it's not three separate short stories or three encapsulated novellas. This is one story. This one story gets 1 star from me. I didn't hate it, but it was just bad storytelling all the way around.
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