As a fan of the Jane True series, I went into this book with certain expectations. I know Nicole Peeler can suck me in to her stories, make me laugh, and light me up with sexual tension. And from the beginning of this book, all the way until the end, I kept waiting for those things to happen. Only to be disappointed. This isn’t a bad book. It’s creative with a diverse cast of characters and a different focus and feel than most urban fantasies on the market today. It just didn’t ever flip the switch to make me connect –to care– about what was happening.
I think my first problem was with the relationship between our main character, Lyla, and the eventual love interest, Oz. She is a Jinn and he is her Master. What’s worse, is that she is just days away from the end of a curse that will allow her to be human again, but ONLY if she is unbound at the time that the 1000 year anniversary of the curse rolls around. Oz knows this, but his mission is more important than her freedom. Sure, he promises he’s going to let her go in time, but she is his slave. No matter how “bad” he feels about it, he forces her into his service. She must bow to his will. This did not work for me at all. There was no altruistic brush Peeler could paint him with enough to make me ok with it. Lyla has suffered for a thousand years, and this guy dashes her dreams and places her in shackles. How am I supposed to root for that?
Anyway, that aside, there are a lot of characters, and I’ll give Peeler credit that they are an eclectic group. An immortal oracle and his human, drag queen lover. A snarky, Slavic will-o-wisp. A half-troll bouncer named Big Bertha. They’re a misfit family of outcasts. I liked the color they provided, giving moments of light humor and heart. But it wasn’t enough. Especially in the first half, there were too many names and faces to keep straight, making it hard to figure out who was important to the story and who were red herrings. Like Diamond the succubus, Aki the kitsune, Trey the werewolf bartender, etc.
What the story did have going for it was a lot of action. Things are in constant motion from the moment Oz forces Lyla to bind to him… from his quest for a missing teenager… to the ancient Jinn who haunts Lyla’s dreams… and the creepy monsters plaguing the city. There is a lot propelling the story forward. It just didn’t leave a lot of room for character development. Oz is a “good guy.” And Lyla is an ancient Jinn-human hybrid, who is remarkably vulnerable and decidedly not wise, despite her power and her age. Oh, and did I mention she is a belly dancer and that she and her supernatural friends all work together in a burlesque club?
There is nothing wrong with quirky. Jane True was quirky and it totally worked for me. But here, it felt forced. And Lyla doesn’t have the strength or depth of character to make her first person POV enough of a driver.
I hate to be such a downer. Like I said, it’s not bad. Many people gave it great ratings on Goodreads. It’s just that for me, honestly, the only times it made me care were the times it made me mad. And the end? I don’t even want to go there.
I don’t see myself coming back for book two.
*ARC provided by Orbit
Click to purchase: Amazon
Jinn and Juice
by Nicole Peeler
Release Date: November 25, 2014