I guess I was expecting this series to be a little like the Immortal Guardians series by Dianne Duvall, although perhaps without the military aspect. It wasn’t.
The Cauld Ane are a form of immortal Vikings, who moved from Iceland to Scotland in the 1400s. The core team that the stories revolve around (at least to start with) include siblings Kade, Connall, Brodie and Fiona, along Fiona’s mate Angus and his sister Payton. Most of the Cauld Ane are hundreds of years old, with some of them having been born in Iceland in the 1400s, although Payton is only 14 at the start of the series. There is virtually no explanation as to why they differ from humans. They eat the same (they don’t drink blood) although they eat more often, however they can’t abide any heat over 20 degrees Celsius, and they’re all allergic to almonds of all things.
The idea behind the books was fine, but I found the books themselves a little lacking. Each book focuses on a different mated pair. Each Cauld Ane ‘knows’ who his/her fated mate is as soon as they are 25 years old….assuming their mate is alive and they meet. Kade and Samantha meet just after her 25th birthday, and same with Connall and Pepper. Brodie and Payton meet when she is 14, and although Brodie knows that she is his mate, she must wait until she is 25 to ‘know’ that he is her mate and for them to be ‘bonded’ together as mates.
There were a few things that irked me.
- Instalove. The Cauld Ane half of the relationship falls into instalove as soon as they meet their mate. It is literally impossible for them to cheat on their mates, physically or emotionally. They love their fated mate from the moment they meet. The end. Ugh. That made it frustrating, because they were declaring love for these people they genuinely didn’t even know, or perhaps had met only hours or a few days beforehand. It was ridiculous.
- The non-Cauld Ane half of the relationship also fell in love very quickly. By 40% through the book, the couple had declared their love, forever and ever, amen. Why was there still 60% of the book to go??
- Payton started off unsure if Brodie was her mate despite all evidence to the contrary, somewhat scared of him, and definitely scared of sex and with strong religious beliefs that sex was only for procreation. Those doubts, fears and beliefs disappeared without explanation, which was unfortunate, because I felt that this book had the most potential to escape the pitfalls of instalove as we had some lead-up before Payton turned 25 and magically fell in love with Brodie. Instead, without any explanation whatsoever, she suddenly loves him and agrees to marry him, without the reader ever knowing what led her to move past her doubts and fears. Oh, and that was at 27% through the book. They had declared their love and agreed to marry by 27% through the book. What the actual? What’s the rest of the book? Sex and filler?
- Speaking of sex, every time a couple had sex, the man went down on the woman. Without fail. They NEVER had sex without the man going down on the woman. In one case, the guy went down after the woman had already had four orgasms (I’ll get to that) and he’d come as well, and he commented ‘So wet’ (73% through Bound By Blood). Um, no shit, dicklick! What did you expect after she’s had four orgasms and you’ve come in there once as well?! So ridiculous.
- The women always have multiple orgasms. Once, the woman came six times in one session. I was exhausted just reading about it! It’s not normal for a woman to have six orgasms in a row. I’m not saying it’s not possible, and some women orgasm more easily than others, but to have every woman in your books have multiple (4-6) orgasms every time they have sex (which could be 2-3 times a day)?
She’d had three orgasms in the last thirty minutes, and she was heading for a fourth.
- And the men often came more than once, without a break or breather in between. The author claims to be married with kids, but I’d have put money on her being a virgin. Talk about unrealistic expectations! Perhaps the men’s miraculous recovery time was due to being Cauld Ane, but it’s not said. Both the women and men treat it as normal. Well, it’s not. Normal males require recovery time between orgasms.
- Oh, and when you wake your partner up for sex at 4am, it is highly likely that you’ll be able to go back to sleep afterwards, not ‘Well, there’s no way we can go back to sleep now’. Argh! It was just ridiculous. I ended up skipping all the sex scenes. They weren’t sexy at all, they must made me roll my eyes every time with how unrealistic they were.
- Oh, and all the women were virgins, with intact hymens that broke during their first experience of intercourse, despite at least one of them being a very active horse rider.
He gave one hard thrust and she felt the sting of her virginity slip away.
The more I read, the more frustrated I got with this series. There were some good things. I liked the use of unique gifts for different Cauld Ane, and how those were integrated into the stories. I liked the surprise of Heather and Abela. There were definitely a few things that were unexpected which kept the books from being overly predictable. I even liked the characters and how each one had a unique personality that made them interesting. Now if only the actual romance between the two main characters lasted a whole book and not just a fraction of it…