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Marked by Odin Paperback – November 7, 2012
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About the Author
Coral Moore has always been the kind of girl who makes up stories. Fortunately, she never quite grew out of that. She writes because she loves to invent characters and the desire to find out what happens to her creations drives the tales she tells. Prompted by a general interest in how life works, her undergraduate schooling was in biology. She follows science news and enjoys conversations about genetics and microbiology as much as those about vampires and werewolves. Coral writes speculative fiction and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Writing at Albertus Magnus College. Currently she lives in Connecticut with the love of her life, who offers both encouragement and kicks in the tail when necessary. Also in residence are two mammals of the families Canidae and Felidae.
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Based on my experience with the first book and this book's cover art, blurb and tags, I had a certain expectation for the story that was turned on its head as I read the book. Fortunately, I'm a romance reader and I like m/m romance so it turned out fine for me. In fact, it turned out more than fine (I'm sooo happy for Gunni!) but a reader expecting a more straight-up (no pun intended) urban fantasy may be sorely disappointed. So with that elephant in the room out of the way, let's move on to the review.
The story picks up a short time after the first book ends and you will see several of the same characters in this story, primarily Brand, Dagny, and Gunni. However, the story will end up focusing on Gunni and Leo. Brand and Dagny will play a secondary role but still in the story in a significant way. Almost like an ensemble cast but with a heavier focus on Gunni and Leo.
The opening scene involves Gunni and it really caught my attention and drew me in. Why? Because of what happened to Gunni in the first book. My heart hurt for him and I was already emotionally invested in his character. I wanted him to have a happy ending. Gunni in his wolf form is doing some recon on a brood that Brand needs to get under control. Gunni is spotted so he runs and then gets run over by a car. He ends up at a vet's office. I had thought the vet, Cass, was going to be Gunni's love interest and as the story progressed, it seemed to point in that direction with Gunni even having protective feelings over her. Then suddenly Leo comes into the story and wham...the story just takes a total turn into another direction. I almost wonder if Cass was an intentional romantic red herring. I even went back to the blurb to reread it and I can now (with my knowledge of the story) see a very vague hint at it but without knowing the story, I would not have picked up on it.
I did like the romance between Gunni and Leo. It was very tender and emotional. I thought they made a good match. They both had emotional scars that needed healing and they complemented each other well. I believed in their relationship and felt a connection between them. The sex in this story is explicit to a certain point but it does not reach what I consider an erotic romance level. It felt like the author was being careful not to cross certain lines in her descriptions of the love scenes but did so without resorting to corny euphemisms (which I so appreciate!). There were even a couple of scenes that faded to black. Even though more explicit scenes would not have bothered me, I felt the author struck a good balance and there was enough to help build the connection between Gunni and Leo. Did I mention that I am soooo happy for Gunni? Because I am!
As I mentioned briefly above, the conflict involving the poacher does take a back seat at times to focus on the romance and that part of the story actually did seem to fizzle a bit, but there is some intrigue and it does come back into the story eventually. Much like the romance, the plot takes a sudden turn and goes in a different direction. It doesn't come out of nowhere though; there are events earlier in the book that set it up if you pay attention. In the end, I think it played out in an interesting way.
I enjoy the author's writing style. It is easy to read and flows well. The dialogue for the most part is comfortable and felt natural to me except for some moments during the love scenes that felt a bit corny but I expect that from almost any romance. I mean love can be corny at times, right? As long as it doesn't go overboard, I'm okay with it.
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I liked it better than the first book. It was a page turner for me and I look forward to the next book. I'm very curious who the focus will be on in the next story. There are also a few things that come up later in the story that I think will be carried over. I recommend reading the first book, Broods of Fenrir, before you read this one. The characters carry over and there is an overarching storyline. Also, understanding the emotional place that Gunni is in (which is a result of what happens in the first book) is important to the story, IMO. I definitely have the next book on my radar and look forward to continuing the series. I'm giving this book 4.5 stars but will round up to 5 because I'm leaning more in that direction than the other. And for the last time I just have to say...I'm sooooo happy for Gunni! :)
Word Count: approx. 57,000
Print pages: 214
ePub pages 167
Kindle locations: 4417 (story text ends at 99%)
Includes Table of Contents
(I received a copy of this book from a a giveaway in exchange for an honest review)
Brand has defeated his sadistic brother and taken ownership of his Brood. He is now working to bring his Brood into the 21st century and stop the barbaric behavior they have been indulging in before they drive themselves into extinction. He is also trying to keep Gunni from fading into death. Gunni is still grieving over the violent death of the love of his life, Alice, and it is slowly killing him. When Gunni and Brand chance upon a deadly trapper who has caged members of the Brood, they also encounter Leo, a human who appeals to Gunni and his wolf in ways he has never felt before in a man. But Leo is a shamen and considered an enemy of the Brood. When Leo is hurt trying to help Gunni locate a missing brood member, Gunni heals him, initiating a bond of sorts, and suddenly the hole in his soul begins to close. Now Gunni must make a choice. Will he adhere to Brood tradition and let Leo go? Or will he follow with his heart and accept the healing love Leo can provide?
Marked by Oden picks up a few months after Broods Of Fenrir ended. Brand is struggling to bring his brood under control and dealing with some heavy personal issues with his mate, Dagny. Though we see Brand and Dagny, this installment focuses heavily on Gunni and a romantic relationship he embarks on; to the point where other subplots take a distinct backseat. I admit to being surprised on how much softer this book was. While we still get occasional bouts of violence, you don't feel the same anger or darkness in here that was felt in book one. I missed that. I expected to get the same story but we don't in here. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to call this installment an Urban Fantasy. It definitely has a strong PNR feel to it and the romance produced may leave some readers dismayed and a little put out.
I adore Gunni and was pleased to see him in here. My heart broke for him in Broods Of Fenrir and I wasn't sure how or if Moore would be able to pull him back from the abyss. I was very surprised, but pleased, by the route she choose. Gunni is like Brand; he's loyal, forthright, and very protective of those he loves and cares about. He will do as commanded by Brand, but he is inching closer and closer to the edge each day. Emotionally crippled, you can literally feel the pain that Gunni carries with him. The guilt of failing Alice and the pain of her dying eats away at him with the sureness of acid.
Leo, a human shaman, is a delightful addition to this world. An interesting mix of human mortality and magic, he has always existed on the edges of society; shunned for his power and his sexuality. When he meets Gunni, the attraction is instantaneous. Leo, an empath, feels the emotional turmoil that rolls through Gunni and attempts to help him, which in turn brings Leo to Gunni's and his wolf's attention. Leo is exactly what Gunni needs but Leo is unsure if Gunni is ready to accept love in the form of another male.
Moore does a wonderful job on Gunni and Leo's romance. She slowly develops their love, allowing them time to get to know one another and adapt to this unusual situation, though the sexual attraction is hot and heavy. I wouldn't call it erotic because a number of the scenes tease then fade to black, but it works. It's all very sensual it the telling. Moore focuses more on the emotional aspects; their thoughts and desires, rather than overwhelming us with never ending physical descriptions of the act.
Leo and Gunni were good together. It's an emotional journey for both of them as love has not treated either of them kindly. They not only have to handle their burgeoning feelings for one another but also prejudice in the Brood. I love watching two alpha males work out their differences both in and out of bed.
The secondary characters are all just as richly designed as our protagonists. I enjoy that the woman in this book are as strong and deadly as the men. Moore further enforces this as we watch the women in here deal with death, grief, and revenge. I enjoyed seeing Dagny and Brand, and Isabel makes a few appearances and no, she has not toned down the crazy yet. Moore isn't one to shy away from controversy and has no qualms about sacrificing a loved character if the story demands it. We are given some lovely clues to future storylines which has me chomping at the bit to see what is in store for them all.
There are three story lines that run concurrently throughout. As stated earlier, the romance is the strongest storyline and takes over the book. I was disappointed that the trapper storyline didn't develop more and take a stronger stand against the romance. It was interesting and was revealing nicely but fizzled out; though a subplot that developed along side it did play out nicely and I enjoyed the twists injected into it. I also wanted to spend a little more time divulging into the history of the Brood and the other various Broods. Moore gives the information sparingly and I keep hoping for more.
The main conflict wraps up nicely with action, intrigue, and a surprise that I never saw coming. I enjoyed this foray back into Ms. Moore's world and look forward to visiting again.
Overall Rating: C+
Marked by Odin brings most of the lead characters from book 1, Broods of Fenrir, back to help Brand claim his new inheritance. Focus moves to Gunni and his utter devastation from losing his mate. Gunni has refused to change out of wolf form for a long time and Brand is worried that they may lose him forever. When Gunni finds himself in quite an embarrassing predicament (I was laughing so hard) he changes his tune and returns to human form - only to have his life turned upside down.
Brand's new brood is a mess - and that's putting it nicely. While he has his hands full trying to change their ways Gunni develops a relationship with a strange man they rescue from a barn cellar. But this isn't just any man and Gunni finds him irresistible - which is very taboo in brood society.
A very sweet love story between two people that care very much not only about each other, but everyone that touches their lives. A huge surprise waits for you at the end - I finished the book with quite the jaw-drop when I discovered exactly what "Marked by Odin" means.