Donners of the Dead

Donners of the Dead - Karina Halle *Spoilers clearly marked

2.5 stars

So, this was, mostly, a decent book. Mostly. In true Halle fashion, the creepy bits were super-creepy. Unfortunately, they were too sporadic to make up for the flat, unbelievable, and overpowering romance that, frankly, left a bad taste in my mouth.

If you feel compelled to add a note to the book's blurb to try to explain things away, it's becasue you know full well that those things are problems. You can't blame the issues I had with the story on the time period. That would be what is called a cop-out.

Moving on.

Our MC, Eve, was likable enough. I felt like I could relate to her, if I channeled a much younger and much more naive me. She's had some hard knocks in life and she's stuck in a very depressing familial situation. For the most part, I thought she stayed true to the role of a young girl with grand illusions of what love is or should be. I was a foolish teen once, so I totally get it. I also totally get it when Eve meets Jake and immediately assesses him as a man. A real man, unlike the boy she's been fawning over.

Jake is a man. He's hard, weathered, rough around the edges and exudes danger. I can get down with a man like that. But then Jake opens his stupid mouth. Turns out he's a complete twat. And you know what? I'm pretty sick of that trope. I'm pretty sick of the asshole who is rude and jerky to the woman, only to come back later with a fucking sob story that is supposed to redeem him. It just doesn't work for me anymore. If I had some asshole treat me extremely disrespectfully in real life, that asshole would no longer be eligible to become my love interest - especially not within days of meeting him. I am not so forgiving. As for Jake, I'm not going to immediately forgive him for the way that he acted towards Eve, because it wasn't just simple douchebaggery and there wasn't enough time (or effort from him) for redemption.

I understand that racism was prevalent during this time, but that doesn't mean that it's okay for him to make such derogatory comments to her. I'm pretty fucking sure that most people that were suffering at the hands of racists then, didn't just turn around and fall in love with their tormentors just because they fucking kissed them or had a sexy body.

I'm Hispanic. If I met some dude that disrespected me by making comments about my heritage or my people, or called me a spic, it would take a HELL of a lot more than some abs for me to ever look at him as more than a fucking racist asshole. I don't care if a Hispanic killed your mom or if a Hispanic person stole your car. This is not about all Hispanic people. This is between me and you. If you want to behave that way because you have a thing against Hispanics, that's fine. You can do that. But there's no fucking way that I'm going to pretend you didn't do that me and allow myself to fall in love with you.

Everyone's mileage may vary, but me, personally, I can't deal with that. There are some things that are too unacceptable in my eyes.

It would be one thing if some time had passed. If a lot of time had passed. Months. Years. A long enough time to have really gotten to know Jake - but that's not what happens. They go from disliking each other one day, to suddenly being practically in love the next. That's just another trope. And that's just not good enough.

And can we talk about the nickname? I was pulled out of the story every single time I read the nickname. Every time. I had to roll my eyes each time. Why are corny nicknames even necessary? If you're going to have a nickname, why make it one that is really weird and unconventional as well as highly offensive for it's reasoning? I'm sorry, but the reasoning behind the nickname is offensive and ties into everything that was wrong with the hero.

Let me see if I have this straight. Jake generalizes that all Injuns eat pine nuts in a derogatory comment towards the two men. He says "they look like they eat pine nuts just like you" to Eve. A couple of pages later, and he's calling her Pine Nut.. —_— How is this endearing exactly? What part about that is cute? Is that supposed to tug on my heartstrings?

Again, I'm Hispanic, and if some dude started calling me "Bean" after mockingly saying that Hispanics sure love their beans, I would probably punch him in the face. At the very least, I sure as hell would never entertain the idea of dating dude. Not just because of the words themselves, but because of the context in which he used them. Jake wasn't being playful. He was being racist and disrespectful to her, those men and all of their people. So he... nicknames her based off his blatant disrespect?

Donners of the Dead by Karina Halle

Before someone tries to say that this is just the nature of the time and that racism was rampant then, or that I need to understand that that's just how things were, let me say this: it's not the fact that he was racist that bothered me. I am a logical person and can understand a character being racist, because that is just reality. The part that bothers me is the part where I'm supposed to romanticize this man after all of his bullshit. I don't give a shit what sob story he gives later. All I know is that he treated Eve in a disgusting way and this poor, naive girl falls for him and lets him get away with it. She doesn't even think about it. She doesn't even take time to reflect. The falling for him part happens in no time. Nothing happens to redeem this man and yet, I'm expected to swoon when they start making declarations of love after mere days? I'm not buying what you're selling.

I think this could have been remedied with the book having been longer. Maybe. I just don't think enough time was provided for these two people to have a meaningful and realistic relationship. Had there been more time or had I been convinced that there was something real making this relationship happen, I would have rated this higher.

Moving on. There were very creepy bits to this story. The entire premise of the story is kind of corny and nonsensical, but the reality of what it's based on is very cool. There is gore and all I could think of while it was happening was that it was frikkin awesome, but that there just wasn't enough of it in the book. There were some periods of tediousness where I would be wishing more of the scary things would happen. This was more in the second half of the book, after the romance nearly completely took over.

There were definitely horror elements in this book, but ultimately, this is a romance. As I stated in the beginning, the horror was just not abundant enough to overcome the overpowering and flat romance.

I still think that this is a mostly decent read, especially due to the short length. The fact that it was short made me push on and kept me more interested, but the length was also detrimental to the romance. I think the relationship needed more time to develop. Then again, it being longer might have just dragged out the flat romance. Bit of a catch-22.

I find it interesting that the amount of pages isn't listed on the book info page. Why don't we have this information? I almost think this is a novella-length "book." That's how incredibly short this was. I don't know how any relationship can be properly fleshed out in such a short story. Especially one that starts off in as volatile a place as this one does.

If you can get past my complaints, it's worth a shot to try this one. It wasn't really awful. It just wasn't up to par the in romance department and being that it is mostly romance, that made it a fail for me. I'm pretty sure that diehard Karina Halle fans will be eating this one up, though. They seem to be undeterred in their love of all things Halle, so if you're one of them, you absolutely should read this one.

Are provided for review by Rock Star PR.