Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jaynell's Wolf (e-novella) by Amber Kell

Jaynell's Wolf is m/m fantasy/paranormal romance. It's the first work in the author's A Wizard's Touch duology. The new Totally Bound Publishing version is approximately 30,057 words long. I have the version put out by Silver Publishing. I have no idea what sorts of changes have been made in the newer edition.
 
Synopsis:

Twenty-four-year-old Jaynell, aka Jay, has been homeschooled his whole life. At his father's dying request, he has enrolled in Mayell Wizarding Academy. He's not sure why his father wanted him to be there, though, since he already knows more about magic than most of the students and teachers there. Werewolves are the only blank spot in his schooling, something he discovers after he meets Thomas, who declares that they are mates. Jay thinks Thomas is hot, but he's not quite ready to be bonded with someone for all eternity.

Jay's new school life is interrupted by an enemy who seems to have it out for him. Can he find and defeat this person before it's too late?

Review:

I bought this a long time ago and only just now got around to reading it. I wish I could say that I should have read it sooner, but I can't. It was awful.

Jay, the main character, was an annoyingly perfect Gary Stu. He was gorgeous and better at everything than anyone else, including upper-level students and his professors. He had the magical power of three people, he could speak perfect Gnome, he could bond with an unheard of number of gnomes, he could see people's magical signatures, he could put together a persuasion potion better than his teachers, he instantly attracted the attentions of the most beautiful girl at school. The list went on. He repeatedly worried about alienating other students because he knew so much more than they did, but he needn't have worried – everyone liked him, except the one cardboard bully.

Personally, I thought Jay was an ass and a snotty know-it-all. He spent much of the story mentally grumbling about how he already knew everything the teachers were explaining and wondering why he was even at the school. At one point, he was asked to demonstrate a persuasion potion and told to use one of his fellow students as a guinea pig. After everyone agreed that the (male) student was heterosexual, Jay told that student to kiss him, which he did. Like I said, Jay was an ass. But, since he was so perfect, wonderful, and gorgeous, the student's only reaction later was to comment that Jay was a good kisser.

The story had enough elements in common with the Harry Potter books that I did some checking to see if this was actually P2P fanfic. I couldn't find any evidence of that, but, yeah, there were a lot of elements in common. Jay was an orphan whose parents gave their lives for him. Devin, Dean, and Dan were identical triplets who were often confused for each other, much like Fred and George. The gnomes seemed a lot like house-elves. Michael Dragonspawn was basically a Harry Potter slash fic version of Gilderoy Lockhart.

At least one fantasy cliche seemed to be thrown into the story just because – although Harry (I mean, Jay) mentioned that “names have power,” this little detail was never used in the story, beyond allowing him to prove, once again, that he could do everything better than everyone else.

Werewolf soulmate cliches were everywhere, as well. The instant Jay and Thomas met, they could barely keep from humping each other in public – they were, of course, soulmates. Sex was required to finish the bond (by the way, only penetrative sex counted). Reminiscent of the rules in Eileen Wilks' World of the Lupi urban fantasy series, Thomas would be forever bound to Jay if they had sex, unable to ever have sex with anyone else, while Jay would still be free to have sex with whomever he chose.

Well, that wasn't entirely true, because Thomas was also afflicted with insane (and cliched) jealousy. If Jay were to sleep with someone else, he would kill that person. Heck, he came close to attacking the student who kissed Jay under the influence of the persuasion potion. He didn't even like it when Jay comforted a student who was distraught over the deaths of some gnomes. Never mind that neither Jay nor the student were doing anything even remotely sexual. Jay, by the way, thought that Thomas' constant jealousy was amusing and possibly even cute.

When Jay first met Thomas, he was fine with the idea of dating him or even living with him. He would especially have liked to have sex with him. Yes, he practically jumped for joy at the idea of having sex with a perfect stranger. But he absolutely didn't want to be bonded to Thomas. Until he suddenly did. Like the writing itself, the story and characters' emotional progression (ha!) were choppy and awkward.

I couldn't connect with any of the characters, and the “emotional” moments left me numb. The sex happened too suddenly to be sexy. All in all, this novella turned out to be a great big failure for me. I'd say that I don't plan to give the author another shot, except it looks like I have another one of Kell's works in my collection. This is why my e-book shopping sprees are not always a good idea.

Read-alikes:
  • Change of Heart (e-book) by Mary Calmes - This is the only book I've read that is even close to being like Jaynell's Wolf. There's m/m romance, a shapeshifter soulmate bond, one half of the pair is reluctant about the bond while the other has no doubts, the main character has special powers, etc. This book was a guilty pleasure of mine - read what I wrote about it here.
  • The Flame (e-novella) by Skylar Jaye - I haven't read this. Another m/m fantasy romance that sounds like it was at least inspired by Harry Potter. The main character is a bit of an outcast - he chooses to study runic magic, rather than elemental magic. He and Marcus, the school's fire mage prodigy, fall for each other.
  • Burn (e-book) by T.J. Klune - I haven't read this. It's a m/m fantasy romance featuring a main character who accidentally killed his mother using fire elemental magic. The man who has fallen for him is described in one review I read as being a "Protector with a capital P."

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