Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Book Review: Ginny's Capture by Ellie Heller

Ginny's Capture is a pretty standard, though mostly better written than usual, action-romance urban fantasy following Deidra the magical soldier and her newish crack squad of furry muscle and Ginny, the lone wolf investigating healer, who parted ways with Deidra a few years before. They're soul mates, of course. Part of the Lesbians Vs. Zombies series, they spend a lot of the book investigating, hiding from, and blowing up zombies, but there's not much in the way of typical zombie horror.

Our zombies are undead people who seem pretty functional, especially with the help of medicines, who are incredibly turned on by violence and who respond to hard rock and similar music with a burst of super strength and murderous killing rampages. I did spend a lot of time wondering what else they could be called, as they were awfully functional and speedy for zombies, barring the gradual decomposition, and could have easily been replaced by another fantasy race or drug addicted thugs.

So. Deidra Montague is a secret fairy military representative leading a small team of stereotypically rowdy but useful backup/comic relief werewolves to investigate zombie activity around her beloved ex, Guinevere (Ginny). Ginny and Deidra used to work together in some kind of military unit, but neither knew about the other's magical side. Anyway, they used to be lovers and work very closely on stakeouts (again, I'm not actually sure what they did, but I assume it was zombie related), until a terrible misunderstanding that was entirely Deidra's fault leads to Ginny leaving. Only - oh no! - Deidra's Goddess pops up and tells Deidra that she gets a female mate to join with her forever (hurray!), and it's Ginny (hurray!) who doesn't want anything to do with her... (oops).
So Deidra comes looking for Ginny, who's studying to become someone who can help against the zombie infection, though we actually get more information about that in the blurb than the book (again, not big on backstory!), and discovers that a local crime family girl is hanging around and smelling all zombie like. There's an awkward ex/ oh god I still need you /we are both living our separate lives now meeting in which Deidra tries to manipulate Ginny into staying safe and Ginny sort of goes along with it.

Turns out there's a plot by the local zombie mafia (or the mafia that has been creating lots of zombies; I'm not sure if anyone chooses to turn or not) to steal the coffins from Ginny's uncle's business! Both women figure it out independently, turn up, cross wires, hide from zombies and then blow up said zombies. This was actually pretty good action and went on for about a third of the story. After secrets revealed and heartfelt protestations the two go their own ways while Ginny considers whether she wants to be Deidra's mate (oh who am I kidding? Of course she does).

I'm not at all clear on what kind of magical other realm exists in this story, as it didn't really matter and none of the limited space was wasted on unnecessary background. Essentially, it's a typical 'hidden world of magic and magical people co-existing with humanity' that you find in most urban fantasy stories. I'm not even sure what Deidra is. I'm just going to say 'fairy'.

The Sex

Um. Well. The sex scene breaks with pacing, and shows a complete disregard for setting. I get that the author had to fill the 'erotic' part of the romance quota and actually show some sex, but their relationship was nowhere near that far along. They flipped from warily circling each other while secretly longing to get back together to 'okay, let's have sex now'. It was all too convenient and sudden, and the writing quality took a bit of a drop into choppy, which was a let down after the smoothness of everything up to it.

It took up a fairly large chunk of the story, and nothing happens after they have sex, so it's worth the time to talk about it.

The good: The 'oh yeah, we've definitely had sex before and know how to turn each other on' aspect, including some very specific little tricks and preferences *if you know what I mean*. And it was full of nice touches of realism and originality, from the freezing night air forcing them into a sleeping bag to being in a handy tree house, and the way they both retained their personalities and opinions even after they got their hands on each other. It's always nice to see sex that doesn't switch the brain off and turn the participants into mindless sexy automatons.

The 'may or may not be your style': Magic soulmate magicness. I was already a bit irritated by the way they abandoned any effort to keep quiet and magic glowing lights tipped that over the edge. I don't mind them for the sake of them though. It did also rub in the 'special snowflake soulmate' aspect, which - again, your mileage may vary - seemed to come too suddenly after the wary ex status and getting used to each other again bits of the plot. Also, the perfection of the sex was a little bit eyeroll inducing.

The bad: Um, one Deidra was on a stakeout, and had only moments before been trying to stay very quiet. And then they were very not quiet for a long time. Two, as mentioned, it was much too soon in the story, and the pacing was all off, which was disappointing considering how good the pacing had been up until then - I'm guessing the author got caught out by the short story requirements. Three, the writing also got a bit choppy here and the whole scene could have been wrapped up much more quickly. I don't mind long sex scenes, but I do mind when they actually come at the expense of the story. And of course, there's the tiny nitpicky issue of how Ginny found the secret stakeout in the first place.

Summary Stuff
Ginny's Capture and Dead Kitties Don't Purr [reviewed here] have very similar settings, which is interesting because the other books in the series don't seem to, but I was confused into thinking there was some standard concept being handed out to write from for a while! They are both approximately contemporary, or slightly in the future, at least one of our protagonists is a college student, there are curfews and military controls, zombification is caused by a virus, and music agitates them to violence.

Ginny's Capture shows a society that is coping with the still new zombie threat, with lifestyle and medication, while Dead Kitties Don't Purr is set slightly earlier, with everyone still panicking with a situation getting out of control, and still developing vaccines and response tactics. While magic exists in Ginny's Capture, it's also supposed to be secret. They could almost be set in the same world, though there are enough differences that they probably aren't.

It's a pretty good short story, pick it up if you like urban fantasy/paranormal romance stories. The sex scene isn't a deal breaker, but I wouldn't buy it just for that. The zombie concept works very well in the story, but I spent a lot of time trying to think of a better name for the creatures; they could have easily been some other monstrous fantasy race or drug controlled minions.

You can download Ginny's Capture on Amazon (eBook only) and check out the rest of the Lesbians Vs. Zombies series

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