Fiction Vixen is pleased to welcome back Tori aka @smexys_sidekick from Smexy Books.
Amy: Tori, welcome back to Fiction Vixen! As we are mutual Rhiannon’s Law lover’s I knew you would be the perfect sidekick to join me today as we review the latest installment to the series, The Ripple Effect by J.A. Saare.
Tori: Wow. We had bets at smexybooks that I would be banned for life after the last joint review. I can’t believe I bet against me. LOL So glad to be here. Thanks for asking me to join you on reviewing The Ripple Effect.
Amy: The first order of business, which I think you will agree, is The Ripple Effect is NOT a standalone book. None of the books in this series are so if you go into any of the books solo, you will be lost. Second, this is Urban Fantasy at it’s finest. Full of grit, gore, revenge, retribution with each book you are stepping back into a mental and emotional workout of characters that takes you on an unbelievable ride. After recently reviewing several contemporary/erotic romance books, I had to keep reminding myself I was back in Urban Fantasy land because The Ripple Effect embarks on a dark journey of cause and effect and ends with a vow of vengeance. Like Rhiannon, I felt like every corner she turned, every room she entered you sensed a bad omen ready to descend on not only her, but all of the people she cares for. As the reader, you are pretty much either assaulted with violence, regret or heartbreak throughout the entire story. I don’t know about you but I was ready for a Xanax and a Vodka tonic when I finished.
Rhiannon’s Law #18: No one asks for their life to change, but it does. The bad things we face are tests created to separate the strong from the weak. Once you’ve found your place–as the savage lion or the tranquil lamb–it’s up to you to take the next step, to decide what comes after. Even if it means destroying everything standing in your path on the road to deliverance.
Tori: I agree 100%. Most Urban fantasies are not standalone titles and do tend to walk a darker road than other genres. The Ripple Effect, for me, is the turning point where Rhiannon and other pivotal characters taking a stand. The last two books set the stage for this all to happen, though we didn’t know that. It’s not pretty. It’s not soft and fluffy. There are no promises given and any thoughts of hope or mercy are quickly disabused. I had to put the book down many times in order to get myself and my emotions under control.
Amy: I admit I had a hard time with the first half of the book. While I know and expect Rhiannon to be hard headed and immensely stubborn her flippant choices and careless actions wore on me to the point I wanted someone to slam her head against the wall and scream “wake the hell up”! Little did I know I would get my wish in spades as the story progressed. Rhiannon is such a love/hate character. She is on one hand so caring and vulnerable and yet so belligerent in having her way and not seeing how it affects anyone beyond herself. I think this book is a major wake up call, slap in the face, total ass kicking for how Rhiannon lives her life and how the consequences of her actions negatively affect the people she cares for the most.
Tori: Oh yes. I admit to feeling the same way concerning Rhiannon’s thoughts and actions. I think it says a lot about an author who is able to stay true in her characterization, even if it means letting the bad show along with the good. Rhiannon is a mixture of contradictions. One one hand, her past and the way she became part of Disco’s life had me rooting for her. She is forced into so many corners, corners that are put there by those “claiming” to love her. Human nature commands us to fight or flee when we are threatened and Rhiannon does both. Unfortunately, we are all held accountable for our actions and Rhiannon learns that the hard way in The Ripple Effect.
“Space was something he didn’t want to give me when I was in trouble. In the past, when he felt me withdraw emotionally, he forced me back to reality. Before things had gone to shit, I loved that about him. He refused to let me hide from myself.”
Amy: I think Gabriel “Disco” shows great remorse in this story and so much of that is revealed in action more than words which is conducive to his character. He grovels and apologizes but what is more powerful is he allows Rhiannon to make her own choices and not intervene (even though he is more than capable) regardless of if her choices are detrimental or not. I’m glad that Ms. Saare did not alter his demeanor to become a pussy because it would have been so unbelievable of his character and of Rhiannon’s character loving him.
“A lot can be communicated through the eyes–if a person is remorseful, if they are in pain, if they are happy. I couldn’t see myself through his gaze, but I thought Disco could view my feelings on the surface as I witnessed his. There was definitely love and hope. There was also a healthy dose of lust and need.”
Tori: Poor Disco. I admit I wanted to geld him at the end of The Renfield Syndrome but here, we see that his humanity has greater control over him then we thought. Jealousy and fear are powerful emotions and when a vampire feels those, the consequences can be catastrophic. I like that he learned a valuable lesson in that if he wants Rhiannon to truly be his, he has to let her be free. Free to make her own choices; whether it leads to triumphs or failures.
Amy: We gained and lost several characters in The Ripple Effect. I will not mention my thoughts on those lost, (spoilers) but I really enjoyed the introduction of Bane and am curious to know more about him. I hoped in the end, Rhiannon and Disco would form an alliance with Bane to set in motion a mortal attack against the half-demons and vampires. I’m expecting that we have not seen the last of his character.
I think Ms. Saare did a great job conveying the brutal ugliness of where the race in general has evolved and how in the end it has to dissolve in order for Rhiannon and Disco to have any form of peace. The half-demons were totally nasty and I kept thinking the whole time; Rhiannon, you better hold on tight to that “sucker” because in the end you do not want any demons standing. I look forward to witnessing how Disco and Rhiannon’s vengeance plays out in the next installment.
“Every time a demon is summoned, a kitten dies. Please God, save the kittens.”
Tori: Oy vey. The last ¾ is so action packed and arc expanding, I’m not sure what I can say without spoiling. How about one big SQUUUEEEEEE!! Marigold Vesta, the fallen angel Rhiannon made a very reckless bargain with, shows us that she is definitely a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see how Saare allows that storyline to play out. Yes, we do lose some characters but we also gain some new ones that should prove very interesting. The world and the political climate is in complete upheaval and the way Saare ends it, I don’t know what to think. I sense some serious medieval retribution coming our way and I want a front seat on that action.
One thing I love about this series is the honestly Saare puts in it. The horror and brutality isn’t hidden under flowery statements and romantic subterfuge. Vampires aren’t tame, poor misunderstood beings. They rule with iron fists and their love can lead to death.
Amy: I totally agree Tori. Ms. Saare really evokes a raw and compelling edginess to not only her stories but also her characters. After every book you are at a loss in determining how this series will end. Saare consistently keeps you twitchy with anticipation for the next installment which is one of the many things I love about this series.
Tori, I think we both agree that Ms. Saare delivers a brilliant Urban Fantasy world balancing forgiveness, consequence and vengeance with powerful and memorable characters that we are fully invested in unto the bitter end!
Yes Amy, the dark and bleak world Ms. Saare has created is compelling with its continuous evolution but it’s the characters who make the series for me. Brilliantly developed and personalized, they are a constant factor that keeps holds us hostage as we watch their lives unfold. As I stated earlier, this installment lays all the cards on the table and forces Rhiannon and everyone else to play the hand they are given. I look forward to seeing how Ms. Saare tops this one.