Genres: Erotica, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Romance
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Normally I’m a very persistent reader and don’t give up on books easily. I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve DNF’d since starting this blog (for non book blogger friends, DNF=Did Not Finish). Spellbound by Sylvia Day is one of them.
I picked up the book because it was on sale for $2 and because Amazon told me I’d like it based on other things I’d read. Normally I prefer to listen to book recommendations from real people rather than the algorithm that Amazon pulls out of its ass, but I decided to give this one a try anyway. Sylvia Day is on of those authors whom I’d been hearing about for a few years now that I never bothered trying, and Spellbound seemed as good a place as any to start. It’s a relatively short book that consists of four “short stories” that tell the characters’ story in chronological order, so in reality, they’re more like chapters that start by providing an overview of what’s happened in the book thus far. And since the stories are published together, the repetition/overview when transitioning between stories is completely unnecessary.
The story is set in a world where warlocks pair with familiars, who have the ability to turn into cats, in order to enhance their power. Warlocks and familiars work best when in relationships build around the familiar’s submissiveness, because …JUST BECAUSE. There’s very little world-building in Spellbound, and it took a while to even realize that the familiars could turn into cats. The whole warlock/familiar dynamic had the potential to be interesting, but instead of exploring that in any way, Day immediately jumps into the superficial romance between Victoria and Max. We know nothing at all about Victoria when Max shows up at her office door. The two have insta-chemistry, because …why?
And then this line, which was my favorite part of the book (note the sarcasm), in which Max drinks a glass of milk in a very dominant manner:
With calm, deliberate movements, Westin lifted the bottle and drank, the working muscles of his throat making her mouth dry. The implied threat in his actions was not lost on her.
What did I just read? How is drinking a bottle of milk threatening? Why is there a bottle of milk? How is this sexy/dominant/anything but ridiculous? I just don’t get it. And at this point in the story, we didn’t even know that Victoria could turn into a cat, so any symbolism that could have been thrown into the gesture (I took milk from a cat! Look how much of a dick I am!) is completely lost on readers.
The mark of a well-written and enjoyable erotica novel is that a sexual relationship or experience between characters serves as a lens through which to view their development over time. That didn’t happen in Spellbound. I can’t really say much about Max and Victoria or their relationship. Neither character was fleshed out. Insta-love led to kinky sex almost immediately, and the sex got in the way of any sort of character development whatsoever. The sex scenes didn’t advance the plot at all, and I got the feeling that the only reason why this book was even published was to milk the commercial success of 50 Shades of Grey.
I tried very hard to get through Spellbound, but gave up after reading the first two stories. According to my Kindle, I was 50% of the way through the book, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
After hearing so much about Sylvia Day’s writing, I was extremely disappointed with Spellbound. Some perfunctory browsing on Goodreads shows that a lot of hardcore Sylvia Day fans didn’t care for it either, so if you’re considering trying her books, it’s probably better to skip this one and read her more famous Crossfire novels instead.