2/11/08

Driven (2007)

Driven by Eve Kenin
By Eve Kenin

Raina Bowen knows she can handle herself just fine against anything the harsh Northern Waste throws at her. Until it throws her an enigmatic stranger called Wizard. First, she has to haul him out of a brawl he can't hope to win. And next, her libido is shooting into overdrive at the feel of his hard body pressed against hers on the back of her snowscooter. But there's something not quite right about this guy. Before she can strip bare Wizard's secrets, they're lured into a race for their lives, battling rival truckers, ice pirates...and a merciless maniac with a very personal vendetta.

Ah, doncha just love Dorchester at the moment? Not only are they taking chances with historicals (Sandra Schwab's German Gothic Castle of the Wolf, Bonnie Vanak's early 20th-century Egyptian The Sword & the Sheath, and Elspeth McKendrick's WWII Berlin-set Perfidia), they launched Shomi last year, the next generation of Lovespell. Shomi features ass-kicking heroines, tons of action, sci-fi and paranormal elements, and those wonderful, distinctive anime covers.

Driven is definitely Road Warrior on snow, except the Mel Gibson part is played by some tough gal like Uma Thurman à la Beatrix Kiddo. The action was fast and fun, very graphic in places, and served to create an unflinching picture of a barren, difficult landscape.

Yet there was humor, too. The band of rebels she meets up with are a patch-together family like the crew of "Firefly," except they need a few more books to find their rhythm. No one other than Wizard's sister, Yuriko, and the orphan kid Ben stood out for me, although I know there was supposed to be something between Yuriko and at least one of the other men. Time will tell if Kenin pens more books to develop these budding characters.

Despite Raina's tough exterior, she waffled an awful lot. That's the problem with badgirl books, I'm realizing. We as readers don't see the decade or two of kickass that came prior to meeting these hard-as-nails heroines. We see them on the verge of change, just as their destinies are about to be shaped by interaction with the heroes.

It's like the "notorious rake" scenario but for females. If we meet a notorious rake, his whoring and gambling and such are just about over--coz he's just about to meet the woman who reforms him. There are obvious exceptions, but for the most part, authors want readers to sympathize with their characters, cheer them on, and not be generally disgusted by non-Romancelandia behavior. We have to take it on faith that they were once as bad and kickass as their reputations insist.

The star of this book is Wizard, hands down. Perhaps that's what I found most frustrating because I wanted more of him. More of his POV. More of his introspection. About 80% of the book is told from Raina's perspective, and I do loves me some male POV. Too bad. Wizard is damn hot.

Unfortunately, the badguy left me cold. Maniacs do not take over the world. Calm, collected, organized and focused folks do. So this whole "personal grudge" thing was just a bit much. I would've like to read more about his terror and influence over a larger realm of people, not just Raina and whomever she hung out with. Because the heroine must win--he's not going to kill her, and in this case he didn't even go through with some of his nastier threats--the badguy is left without power or punch. You could say that about a lot of villains, but Duncan seemed too narrowly focused. Broaden your villainous horizons, man!

So now I'm curious about other Shomi titles. Are they all so female POV? Will they entertain me quite so thoroughly? Coz dudes, don't get me wrong, this was a super read. Must go investigate...

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