Review: Destiny United by Leia Shaw

Destiny UnitedIt is very rare that I don’t finish a book and while it is no longer impossible for me to do, it is still very difficult. I have no doubt that one of the reasons I was able to make this a DNF read was because I had recently read its prequel and many of the problems I had with this book I had also had with that one. While I did make myself finish Destiny Divided, Book 1 in the Shadows of Destiny series, I accepted halfway through Destiny United that this series and its heroines are obviously not for me and there was no point in my continuing.

Destiny United is about Erin / Aila Bolton, the younger (foster) sister of Sage Peterson, the heroine in Destiny Divided. Erin is setup as being the opposite of Sage personality-wise, however what she is supposed to be according to descriptions of her (what we’re told) and how she actually is (what we’re shown) are two very, very different things. Erin As She’s Told is a timid nice-girl with an anxiety disorder and a reliance on alcohol to cope with her illness. She suffers from panic attacks when she has to go into a new place and/or be around people whom she does not know. She does not trust easily because of her unstable upbringing, and a traumatic event in her youth made her even more distrustful of men in particular. She is smart, nice, well-behaved, and always wanting to please people. You get the idea, right?

Now, let’s compare her with Erin As She’s Shown. This Erin initially gets nervous going alone into a bar filled with people, she does it and manages to be calm enough to flirt with a group of guys so that she can get them to buy her drinks. Other than that, we’re not shown any addiction-battling or proof of this supposed dependence. Erin’s anxiety disorder is also not consistent, at times crippling, at other times nonexistent. She makes sure to always have a boyfriend, because with her avoidance of new and/or crowded places, it’s convenient to have a guy who will shop and pay for her things. Erin describes herself as being too nice and accepting, which makes everyone treat her like a doormat; I never saw evidence to support either of these statements. She whines frequently and acts immaturely.

Erin also does what I absolutely hate that characters sometimes do: rebelling for rebellion’s sake. Marcelo is sent to protect her because there are sorcerers and werewolves who want to kidnap or kill her, yet she continuously tries to make a stand, put her foot down, show she’s independent, and not listen to Marcelo because she can take care of herself (despite all evidence to the contrary). Despite the fact that she knows nothing about the supernatural world, or that she cannot fight, cast spells, and does not have powers. At one point they run into three sorcerers who try and harm them, and Erin is upset that Marcelo has killed them and wants to call an ambulance. They just tried to kill you, sweetheart! That’s not being softhearted (as Marcelo sickeningly sweetly sees it), it’s being stupid – as is her continued wilfulness towards him.

While I liked Marcelo, I could not buy the developing relationship between them. That he lusts for her, sure; we hear enough about her hot little body for that part of their connection to be completely believable. However, he’s an 800+ year old vampire, and something that I’ve come to realize really annoys me in vampire romance books is when a very old vampire does not seem to mind having a romantic / sexual relationship with a 20-year-old who acts about half her age. Even if physically they’re well-matched, mentally and emotionally he is hundreds of years older than her – I mean talk about cradle-robbing!

As people age, not only does their body become tired, but their spirit does as well, having seen and lived through so much. Yes, Marcelo is a vampire, but either he’s human-like and therefore would be even wearier, since he’d been “alive” for more than 10 times the average human lifespan, or he’s vampire-like, and then he should be more unfeeling and not as in touch with his emotions as he so evidently (and endlessly) is around Erin. She acts like a willful child with him – albeit a child with apparently nice breasts and butt – so why is he so profoundly affected by her? Why has he decided within the space of a few days (out of the ~300,000 days he’s had) that she is his mate and that he can give up the quest to find his human wife (who was also turned) that he’s been on for more than 800 years?!

Other than Erin’s personality, I also had issues with the pace and flow of the story and how in the first half she and Marcelo seem so disconnected from the rest of the sup world. We abruptly and jarringly are told the entire history of Erin’s other “persona” (Aila) when Marcelo comes back from looking on the internet while she was passed out post-transformation. He tells her (and the reader) this entire back story that we were not even given hints to, as if he came across it in a Google search result or on Wikisupspedia. Also, the reader isn’t told for quite awhile about the battles and power struggles between the different supernatural species or the events with Sage that precipitated all this, making it unclear at the beginning to the reader as to exactly why Erin is being pursued.

Finally, I was dissatisfied with how Erin’s anxiety disorder and alcoholism were woven into the story. It seemed at times that the author forgot that part of her character’s history, then remembering it all of a sudden and throwing in a scene in which she is about to have a panic attack or has an urge to go to the bar nearby. I really disliked the times when her anxiety disorder and the pills she takes to combat it are depicted as being weaknesses. Marcelo alludes to this several times, however it wasn’t used as a character development component in which Marcelo overcomes his ignorance about mental illness; instead, the manner in which these parts are written makes it seem as if these statements are indeed true and the character development they relate to is Erin overcoming her disorder by making herself do so. This plays right into one of the most frequent myths / misunderstandings about mental illness: that a person can just snap out of it, if they really want to. Believe me, if it were that unbelievably easy, I don’t know of any person with a mental illness who would not do it.

Rating: DNF
Destiny United by Leia Shaw
July 4th 2011 Self Published
Paranormal Romance
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Comments

  1. says

    yet she continuously tries to make a stand, put her foot down, show she’s independent, and not listen to Marcelo because she can take care of herself (despite all evidence to the contrary). Despite the fact that she knows nothing about the supernatural world, or that she cannot fight, cast spells, and does not have powers

    This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I can’t stand heroines who don’t understand the supernatural stuff yet don’t accept help from others.

    This sounds like an inconsistent story. Nice review!

    • says

      Thanks Mandi! Yes, the being an Independent Woman and rebelling for rebellion’s sake drives me crazy. I feel like I’ve read this type of heroine in every genre, but they stick out more in PNR because there is the possibility for a much starker contrast between what she knows and what actually is, compared to regular world books where there aren’t any unknown worlds or species.

  2. says

    I really disliked the times when her anxiety disorder and the pills she takes to combat it are depicted as being weaknesses. Marcelo alludes to this several times, however it wasn’t used as a character development component in which Marcelo overcomes his ignorance about mental illness; instead, the manner in which these parts are written makes it seem as if these statements are indeed true and the character development they relate to is Erin overcoming her disorder by making herself do so.

    This is very unfortunate. :(

    Very nice, well thought out review Juliana. Sorry this one wasn’t for you.

    • says

      This issue is personal for me, so I’m particularly sensitive to how mental illness is depicted in books, TV, movies, etc.

      For example, did you ever see the movie Girl, Interrupted? Great acting, but Susanna Kaysen, whose memoir it’s based on, was unhappy with the result, one of the reasons being that she thought it made mental illness seem sexy.

        • says

          Here’s an article where you find out more about her opinion of the movie (she says she hates it).

          I did read the book and it’s very different than the movie. Even the basics – the structure and content – is different: the movie is a clear story with a beginning and an end, whereas Kaysen’s book is like a memoir of that time of her life in snapshots. They have very different feels to them (movie vs. book).

          When I first saw the movie I really liked it, but each time I watch it again my opinion about how it depicts mental illness worsens. It makes the entire hospital experience seem like some grand, sexy adventure. The acting is fantastic though.

          • says

            Hmm, interesting article.

            I really liked the movie. I disagree about it being seen as a grand adventure, though. I think in the beginning it was shown that way–almost as though it were a party, despite the inclusion of the nurses/guards. But the more we get to know Lisa the more the excitement starts to wear around the edges. To me, the real focus of the movie was Lisa and her deterioration. Susanna was just a plausible vehicle to get us into (and keep us in) the situation.

            If you think of it in terms of a Romance novel, it was almost like Susanna was the placeholder heroine and Lisa was the hero, whose personality dominated the show. Or at least that’s how it came off to me.

            • says

              Lisa was definitely the star, both as a character as an actress. I remember it was sort of an upset, because it was supposed to be Winona Ryder’s big comeback after being caught stealing from that store, but Angelina Jolie, who was relatively new on the scene, is the one everyone focused on and who was nominated.

              This was another thing that deviated from the book, because Lisa was not as central a character there.

              Brittany Murphy was also fantastic. Was such a shock when she died.

  3. says

    Great review, Juliana. I have a hard time DNF’ing as well, but you’re smart to call it quits when you noticed a trend in the author’s stories that you didn’t enjoy. I really dislike whenever I run into a book where a character is described one way but is shown to be another. I most often run into it when a heroine is described as brilliant–and all the characters make mention of it–but her actions show her to be dumb as rocks.

    • says

      I most often run into it when a heroine is described as brilliant–and all the characters make mention of it–but her actions show her to be dumb as rocks.

      I know!! Same here; I’ve read a few romances like that and it drives me nuts. If the heroine is really such a genius, then you don’t have to tell us that over and over and over again, because it will be evident in the story!

      • says

        It makes the other characters (most often the hero) look stupid to think that the heroine’s so brilliant when she’s not. It’s hard not to be critical when they seem to be awed by her intelligence just because she manages to remember how to breathe on her own.

        • says

          It’s hard not to be critical when they seem to be awed by her intelligence just because she manages to remember how to breathe on her own.

          LOL! :-)

    • says

      Thanks Amy! I feel so badly when it’s a low rating or DNF that I think I end up writing long reviews so that people realize I had specific reasons for my opinion and can back it up with examples.

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