Review: Fever by Joan Swan

When Dr. Alyssa Foster is taken hostage by a prison inmate, she knows she’s in deep trouble. Not just because Teague Creek is desperate for freedom, but because the moment his fingers brush against her skin, Alyssa feels a razor-sharp pang of need…

A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose. At least Teague doesn’t, until his escape plan develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives, he can only give her lies, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever…

I debated reviewing Fever given this is a debut author and I wish nothing but the best for any aspiring writer. However, I also believe that readers need a fair and honest Fever - Joan Swanreview from a person who finished the book in it’s entirety.  The reason I finished the book is because at times I am a masochist when it comes to not DNF’ing a story.  In all seriousness though, I hoped to find something to justify why one of my all time favorite authors would give a positive quote to the book.  What I found was the potential of a great plot that was flawed by writing.  I would like to share a few high points about why this book did not work for me.

Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I love a dark, gritty, story, but I also need an authenticity to the darkness.  Why is this aspect of the story there?  What purpose does it have?  How does a character overcome an issue or walk through it?  Alas, I asked myself these questions when reading Fever and was not able to speculate on the answer that would further the storyline and/or pull me in as a reader.  Quite honestly, one reason for this is that the book began with a disturbingly negative racial tone which set the overall delivery of the story.  What was most annoying is that the racial slurs used were entirely unnecessary.  The author already established that the character was an asshole, through and through, so the continued use of derogatory, demoralizing racial comments added nothing but frustration and frankly a bitter and disappointing view with regard to the writing style of a debut author and her work.

As an avid reader of all genres of romance, I must say that I do NOT want to read such characters as the ones portrayed in the first 1/3 of this book.  It is not an enjoyable experience nor one I desire in a romance story when I read about secondary characters that are in the plot only to mouth off sentences such as the following:

“These porch monkeys gonna pound your cracka faces into the pavement.”

“Whatcha doin’ with these honkies, pretty?”

“What do you say baby?  Wanna taste of black meat? It’s an all- you- can- eat buffet.”

“You know what they say…once you’ve had black, you never go back.”

“Yeah, like how the fuck we’re getting out of the hell hole that bitch got us into now that those niggers jacked our ride.”

“I’m going to fuck the living shit out of this slant-eyed cunt.”

After reading those quotes, if your eyebrows are shooting up to your hairline and your head is inching backward as if you could somehow physically distance yourself from the overt [crassness], you are not the only one.  I could go on with more quotes, but I think I’ve made my point.  It’s disturbing, uncomfortable, and for me, infuriating because I have read enough romance to know that you can establish a bad, ruthless, asshole of a character without bigotry.

Racial issues aside, I contemplated DNF’ing at the 120 page mark for the simple fact that I believe an author should establish at least a glimmer of why the reader should believe in the hero or the hero/heroine forming a romantic relationship and it had not happened.  I still did not know why the hero was a criminal.  The circumstances surrounding the crime were a mystery.  And why I should believe he had any redeeming qualities that would result in the heroine falling for him or having any empathy towards him was equally illusive.   There was no justification as to why I, as the reader should believe in them as a couple.  Both the hero and heroine’s personalities were flat, lacking chemistry and a believability that they could actually form a relationship of trust and love.  Overall the story was poorly executed and left me with a negative taste that will make me think twice before considering future releases from this author.

Rating: F
Fever by Joan Swan
March 1st 2012 by Brava
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    • Amy says

      Katie- From what I remember, the hero does not say the racial slurs. Only the other inmate that escapes with him and the gang members they encounter while on the run.

  1. says

    Yikes. Everything I’m hearing about the book is like this. May I ask who provided the cover quote that hooked you?

    I’d been seeing a *lot* of hype from authors about this book. Wondering if they’d all read it, or were [just] supporting another author.
    … Am I allowed to say that? :X

    • says

      Yes, I’ve noticed a lot of author support of this book, but mostly just hosting guest posts, giveaways etc. In this case I don’t automatically assume the author has read the book, I assume they are just supporting a fellow author.

      On the other hand, I tend assume that authors who provide cover quotes are endorsing the book and therefore have read it.

      I could be wrong in my thinking though. *shrugs*

      • says

        *waving* Heh…if you’re talking about me, I did read it a while ago. I’m seeing a lot of reviews like this…seems like people either love it or hate it. I knew this was going to happen…hence, the “will have readers talking” thing. People are definitely doing exactly that.

        The racial slurs were very disturbing, but it struck a nerve with me, because as I was reading that horrible character, I remembered an incident in Mississippi when I was evacuating from hurricane Katrina, and my friend and I listened on our walkie-talkies to two assholes who were discussing black people in the most awful, disgusting, nasty way they could.

        To this day, my jaw still drops when I think about it. Then we happened to catch up with them at a gas station, and I got into it with them…it turned ugly, and thank God a cop pulled into the station a minute later. That’s what this nasty character reminded me of…I saw him as a stomach-turningly real — though probably not typical — example of what’s out there. I have to say, I was VERY glad when that guy got nice and dead!

        • says

          *Waves back* lol. You know how I love you Larissa! I’ve never hid my fan girl devotion to you! :) And yes, after reading your quote I thought, I’ve got to finish this and try to find something redeemable. For me, it just was not there. The whole relationship between the hero/heroine never felt authentic to me and the ugliness of the secondary characters just left a disappointing and bitter taste in my mouth for a romance novel. Had this been a UF book, I might have had different feelings, however, I stand by the fact that you can establish an asshole of a character without the overly used slang. Thanks for your comment.

          • says

            LOL — I love you too! :) And I totally agree that you can establish an asshole character without the slang. Or without torturing/killing animals. OMG, don’t KILL THE KITTEN!!!

            But yeah, I’m actually thinking about doing a blog post about this (not THIS specifically, but on risky authorial choices and reader reactions to them.) I’m finding all of this really fascinating. In fact, it might make a really good panel at a conference.

            Now you’ve gone and done it…got my brain working. Gah. It’s Friday night. The brain is supposed to be turned off!!!

            • says

              LMAO!!! Tell the brain to shut down. It’s the weekend! But do do the blog post eventually! Just don’t kill the kitten! Even though I’m not a fan of kittens, lol! I’m a dog lover. Correction, a dog, demon and horseman lover. Rarrrrrrrr!!!

    • Amy says

      Now that I know the author’s writing style, I will not be seeking any future releases.

  2. says

    Wow, I am stunned by those quotes! Exactly like you said, my eyebrows were shooting up. I give you credit for pushing through the whole thing.

    • Amy says

      I wanted to finish only to provide an honest review so readers would know what to expect.

  3. says

    Great review! I too have to wonder about all of the hype, and I especially wonder about the big name endorsements. The story has elements I enjoy, but overall this doesn’t sound like something I would even finish. (I personally have no problem DNFing books!) I love a hero who can redeem himself, but you point out a very necessary fact: the author must give us some glimmer of reason as to why he is worth redeeming. Especially early on when we are forming our opinion of his character. If the reader can’t see it, than don’t expect us to believe that the heroine can see it either. Again, GREAT REVIEW. You saved me $10!!

    • Amy says

      I agree! The reader forms an opinion early on of the hero/heroine and in my opinion the author should establish the true background and overall view of the character certainly within the first 100 pages.

  4. Jennifer S says

    Thanks for the review. I’ve seen lots of promo for this book and had it on my list to possibly buy. Now I can mark it off. After your review, I know this is something I wouldn’t enjoy. I read for enjoyment and there are too many other books out there that provide that.

    • says

      There were so many positive reviews out there that did not address anything about the racial tone that was written. I wanted readers to be aware, because I was not and was not expecting what I got!

  5. says

    NOPE! I was turned off months ago on all the hype surrounding this book, in specific. I don’t get how one book can have so much pimping, but I digress. To use this level of unending racism as a writing method in Romance is such a cop out and lazy writing. Use creativity to make me dislike a villain, not something so “easy”… Ugh.

    • says

      I will agree with you that it was excessively pimped and with all the early reviews posted, I did not read one that addressed the ugly racial tone. That shocked me more than anything. Especially for a romance novel!

  6. says

    Months ago I got extremely tired of the hype on a book that was months away along with it being a debut book. After about a month of seeing so many tweets from the author I removed it from my TBR pile. Then on Goodreads about a month ago I read about a lot of people with ARC copies being turned off by the language. Reading your review confirms I will be passing up this author. It’s sad that the author can’t get across a point without using cop outs in language slurs. I love supporting debut authors, but what this author needed was a better editor it seems. Thank you for your honest review and the quotes that really convinced me to pass on this novel.

    • says

      It definitely had an excessive share of pimping on twitter. And yes, I had hoped for the best with her being a debut author but for me her writing style totally missed the mark in hooking me as a fan.

  7. infinitieh says

    I did finish the book and enjoyed it but I wasn’t turned off by the language. However, I grew up reading mysteries and scifi, not romance, so perhaps I just have a higher tolerance. I’m just pleasantly surprised that there existed a Rom Suspense that I didn’t DNF.

    Besides, what kind of language would you expect from members of the Aryan Brotherhood?

    • says

      I can see it not being as big of an issue for readers maybe in scifi, mystery or general suspense novels, but NOT in a romance novel. That is not what I want or expect to read in a romance novel. An author can establish an asshole of a character without excessive bigoted language.

  8. elizabeth says

    Thank you I was this close on buying the book but I hate books where the characters are asshole.

  9. says

    Count me as someone who literally, and I mean literally, physically recoiled at the racial slurs you quoted. Two of the slurs I don’t know the meaning of.

    I haven’t read the book so I can’t judge the story, but I always question when shock value is used in books. Is it done for the shock value alone to get a big impact because it’s an easy way of doing so?

    I don’t feel comfortable or feel right in telling an author on how they should write or what they should write, but from the reactions I’ve seen from other reviewers, they were not expecting what they read from this book. And to be honest, if the book is going to be brutal, dark and gritty in language and content, then using a man titty cover is sort of a market fail.

    • says

      That is so funny you said that about the cover and so true! And I will admit the cover is what drew me to the book. I’m shameless for a good cover! 😉 Needless to say the man titty did nothing to help the content.

  10. says

    Wow. Good on you for pushing through til the end, Amy. When I read the excessive use of anything like that, anything designed to make a character seem over the top eeeeeevil, it tends to read as pointless shock value to me.

    • says

      The racist character definitely overshadowed the main hero/heroine IMO and it was over the top and entirely unnecessary. The character was an asshole without the slurs. He hit her in the face and threatened to rape her.

      100% Personified Asshole….racial slurs not needed for validity!

  11. says

    I hate this kind of language, in any genre. And even though it was not the hero, but a secondary character, I am not going to read it. And I agree, this book has been hyped so much already, I am going to stick with the authors I already love to read.

  12. says

    Nice review Amy- I was out of town and I’m just catching up :)

    I dnf’d at pg 50. At first I was shocked at the slurs and by the time I decided to dnf I just felt a little sick. Still not sure why that character had to be in there.