Review of Ursa Unearthed by JL Madore

Ursa Unearthed

What Amazon says:

Mika’s life has never been normal, but it’s hers.
After being told by the Great Spirit that her destiny is to stand up for the Earth Mother’s children and “save the great species from extinction,” she buries herself in an investigative journalism career hunting down poachers and exposing illegal trade in wildlife exotics. A survivor by nature, she would rather fight injustice than maneuver the hassles and heartache of relationships.
When danger suddenly finds her unprepared, Mika’s perception of her life is shattered and she’s hurled into a realm of magic and murder she does not understand. Seduced by Bruin, the powerful warrior who saves her life, Mika is catapulted into a world where Were-creatures and Scourge assassins threaten not only her life but her heart as well.
With the boundary between worlds crumbling, Mika realizes that committing to save the great species of Weres will draw her deeper into a reality more terrifying to her than anything she’s faced before.
Trusting in love.


 

My thoughts:

I read and reviewed Blaze Ignites a year or so ago, because Jenny and I had worked together in a critique group and I was itching to find out what the finished product was like. When Jenny offered me a review copy of Ursa Unearthed, the second novel in her Scourge Survivor Series, I again jumped at the chance.

I love to see my writer friends grow and mature in their craft.

I’m happy to say I lurved Ursa Unearthed.

Jenny writes in a bare (dare I say, naked) style. Not a word is wasted. Action and hot sex propel the reader through the book. I actually finished reading it the week before last. At my reading rate, I burned through it.

My critical eye caught a few, very minor, editing gaffes, but by and large, my only critical comment on the story itself is that Mika’s “lie,” the thing that prevents her from committing to Bruin until things become so dire she has no choice, is not well developed at the outset. I occasionally found myself irritated with Jenny’s protagonist for her failure to get over her bad self, spank that inner moppet, put on her big girl panties, and deal.

Developing her trauma would have given this reader something to hang that irritation on. There would be a reason beyond being transported into a world of magic and danger to prevent her from accepting her altered circumstances.

Given that Mika is Native North American, has a spiritual connection with the Earth Mother, which grants her supernatural insights, and her main support, her grandfather, accompanies her to Haven, Mika shouldn’t have been so resistant.

Having said that, I think Ursa Unearthed is a fabulous book. The characters are otherwise well-drawn and Jenny has a knack for making you care about them.

And yes, you read that correctly earlier, there is lots of hot sex in the novel and Jenny writes this well, too. You’ll tingle in all the wrong naughty right places 😉

The story is standalone, but readers of Blaze Ignites will recognize many familiar faces in the cast. They don’t detract from Mika and Bruin’s character arcs, though. The spotlight remains where it should, on Mika and her bear.

My rating:

Four out of five stars.


 

About the author:JL Madore

JL Madore didn’t find writing so much as it found her. Waking each morning with a vivid cast of characters tangled in chaos in her head, it seemed essential to capture them on the page. With Blaze Ignites and Ursa Unearthed published and receiving rave reviews, she’s turning her attention to Watcher Untethered, an unpublished paranormal/erotic romance manuscript which just won 4th place in the Toronto Romance Writers – The Catherine. Aside from spinning tales of elves, weres, demons and fallen angels, she’s also Vice President of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, a 300 member writing organization just outside of Toronto. http://www.jlmadore.ca/

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Review of Blaze Ignites by JL Madore

As I mentioned in our interview, I’d worked with Jenny in an online critique group.  I was so pleased to hear that she moved ahead with her novel and was eager to read the results.

The Amazon blurb:

BLAZE IGNITES blends strong, clever women and tough, sexy men in a fast paced, Blaze full page covervolatile cocktail of action, seduction, and wicked humour.

“Destiny my ass.” Jade Glaster refuses to believe the Fates rule her life. Orphaned after an attack by Scourge soldiers, a young Jade vows never to be powerless again. Once grown and strong, wielding the affinities of fire and healing, Jade protects innocents as an enforcer for her world’s elite policing agency—The Talon.

When an emissary mission to reinstate a race of exiled Elves brings Galan into her life, Jade finds herself overwhelmed by new passions, some welcome, some not. Although Galan’s antiquated views on women offend her to her heated core, when the Scourge attack his family, she helps him navigate the outside worlds he knows nothing about—the magical Realm of the Fair and, stranger still…the modern streets of Toronto.

Through their sensually charged pursuit of justice, Jade discovers that when dealing with the Fates—destiny is never random.

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My thoughts:

Jade Glaster doesn’t think much of fate.  Her life has been a literal shit storm to this point (in fact, the series was originally called the Shit Storm Survivors, which I now note has been tactfully changed to Scourge Survivors) and if this was fate’s doing, Jade wants none of it.

Her Talon code name is Blaze because of her red hair and fiery temper, which often results in the unleashing of a literal blaze of power.

One of Jade’s laments at the outset of the novel (aside from the Scourge murdering her parents), is her apparent frigidity. When her duties for Castain, chief of the Fae gods, bring her face to face (and crotch to crotch—had to be said) with Galen, however, Jade’s problem ceases to be one of not reacting to men, but of her overwhelming reaction to Galen.

This is not what she needs right now. She has a mission to complete.

The writing is taut and gives the reader Jade’s attitude with both barrels. I like the ‘tude and the sexy bits, which are well-done. I only have a few issues with Blaze Ignites, and most of those are matters of personal taste (word choice, creative decisions) which other readers will likely not cavil at.

Events begin with a bar fight involving an Otterkie that is never mentioned again. Readers often expect details like this to have a pay off somewhere later in the novel. It’s a loose thread that should be woven in.

Though conflict, physical and otherwise, abounds, the novel takes a while to pick up the pace. When things swing into high gear, the author keeps them at a high pitch with few exceptions.

I have to point out, for a supposedly “kick-ass” heroine, Jade gets her ass kicked more often than not.  This I did have a bit of a problem with, especially given the denouement of the novel (which I will not give away).

It just seemed to me that Jade shouldn’t have had her ass handed her or to be in need of rescue as often as she did. Yes, Galen needs a maiden in distress, but there might have been another way around this.

Blaze Ignites is a solid contender in the paranormal romance and urban fantasy sub-genres and suitable for fans of Laurel K. Hamilton and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Readers of Charles de Lint will find Madore’s work enjoyable as well.

A good first novel in a new series that I’m sure we’ll see more of in the future.

My rating: four out of five stars.

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About the author:

JL MadoreJL Madore, lover of family, animals and chocolate, spends her days writing fantasy romance and paranormal erotica. Strangely enough, she hadn’t considered being a writer until her writing muse found her lying in a hammock in a Panamanian rainforest.Blaze Ignites, the first installment in the five novel Scourge Survivor Series, was born out of that tropical haven. Though she didn’t actually see any Elves or Weres running through the trees or swimming in the waterfall grottos their voices came to her there and had a story to tell.

To learn more, you can follow her at:
http://www.jlmadore.ca
http://www.twitter.com/jlmadore

Six questions with JL Madore

JL MadoreJL Madore is the writer of fast paced, sexy fantasy and paranormal romance series with heat levels ranging from sizzle to erotic. She is the winner of the Writing Fairy Scholarship for New Writers 2012, a board member of WCDR – the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (a 300+ member writers group focused on developing authors in all aspects of writing), a member of two writing critique groups and a two time student of ‘A Novel Approach’, a yearlong workshop to study the craft of writing novels and hone ideas into working manuscripts.

You can find her at www.jlmadore.ca and on Twitter @jlmadore

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Welcome to Writerly Goodness, Jenny 🙂

After working together for a short time on an online critique group, I lost touch with Jenny.  I’m so happy that the publication of her novel, Blaze Ignites, was what connected us again.  Congratulations!

WG: When did you first start writing, and when did you know that writing was what you wanted to do, long term?

JLM: Writing actually snuck up on me. I often read about authors who say they ‘knew since they were a kid’ or ‘have been jotting down stories since they could hold a crayon’, but that wasn’t me. My interest actually came about when my husband and I got fed up with the day-to-day and moved our family to Central America for a year. From September 2008 to August 2009 we lived in Llano Grande, Panama. No jobs. No school. Nothing but the four of us on a stunning tropical rainforest property for a solid 12 months. It was during those quiet afternoons, lying in a hammock, reading the one and only novel we brought with us–my daughter’s copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight–that I started to imagine different ways the story could have gone. That lit the fire.

WG: How did Jade’s story first occur to you, and how long did it take you to write your first draft?

JLM: Well, I’ve always been a huge lover of Elves. As a pre-teen I devoured the Elf Quest graphic novels and who isn’t in love with Legolas Greenleaf from Lord of the Rings? I mean, really. When we returned to Ontario in the fall of 2009, I decided to get the story out of my head. Casting Galan was easy and I knew I wanted the protagonist to be a kick-ass female, so Jade had to be able to hold her own. The first draft was written in six months, the only problem was I didn’t know how to write well. I recognized that if I wanted the novel to be any good, I needed to study the craft of writing. After three years of courses, critiques and revisions, Blaze Ignites is ready to hit the public eye.

WG: Are you a pantser, or plotter?  How does that play into your revision and editing process?

JLM: Most definitely a plotter, but not too tightly bound. I write linearly with a general story and loose outline and let the characters adjust things as they go. The funny thing for me was that I saw the big picture story arc for the Survivor Series and kept writing. Before I went back to finalize Blaze, and while I was learning the craft, I’d written the first drafts of the following three books. After that, the editing and revisions just seemed to fall in place.

WG: You’ve gone the self-publishing route.  Were you always set on self-publishing, or did you try for a traditional deal first?  Why did you ultimately choose Lulu?

JLM: I queried traditional agents and publishers over 2012 and although it sounds funny, during that year I received some genuinely supportive rejections. It seemed the industry opinion was that though they liked the story and many commented positively on the voice and humour, ‘Elves won’t sell. The market won’t support a fantasy love story with Elves’.  I disagree. And if I’m wrong, so be it. Galan is an Elf. Decision made, self-publishing it is.

Lulu seemed the most user friendly for a launching platform for me and where I am right now. I’m currently working on uploading to Createspace and others, as well as talking to a printer, but life gets in the way sometimes and it is slow going at the moment.

WG: When did you start building an online platform and how is that supporting your work as a writer?

JLM: My online presence is definitely a work-in-progress. I’m not technically inclined in the slightest, so that side of my writing career is a struggle. I think I probably did everything backwards, but my website, www.jlmadore.ca is only recently up and I tweet when I think I have something worth saying. It’s too early in the game to say how it’s working, but I’m on board for the long haul.

WG: What’s coming up for JL Madore and Jade Glaster?

JLM: The survivors at Haven have many sexy adventures ahead of them: Book 2 – Bruin’s story and Book 3 – Lexi’s story, are being reviewed by critique groups and beta readers, Blaze full page coverwhile Book 4 – Lia’s story is almost finished and waiting in the wings. Currently I have a paranormal erotic/romance series that’s been getting interest from the traditional publishing world, so I’m working on that. I’d love to have a hybrid publishing approach and span both worlds. Fingers crossed.

Thank you for sharing your time and experience with us, Jenny!  Break a pencil with your future writing endeavours 🙂

My pleasure, thank you so much for the opportunity and my best to all your readers.