04 February 2009

REVIEW: CHRISTINE FEEHAN - WILD RAIN

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Jove (January 27, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0515136824
ISBN-13: 978-0515136821

Summary:

What has she done? With a new identity, a staged death, and a chance to flee the treachery that stalks her, Rachael has escaped from a faceless assassin. Now, thousands of miles from home, under the lush canopy of the rain forest, she's found sanctuary.

Where can she hide? In this world teaming with unusual creatures walks the most exotic of them all. His name is Rio. A native of the forest imbued with a fierce prowess, he is something to be desired. Possessed of secrets of his own, he is something to be feared.

Whom can she trust? But as Rachael's past looms as oppressively as the heat of the forest, and as Rio unleashes the secret animal instincts that course through his blood, Rachael fears that her isolated haven has become an inescapable hell…

Review:

Wild Rain is the first full length novel in the Leopard series and I’ve found out that either a Feehan series/novel is a smashing hit with me and pushing all the right buttons. This, in combination with her hallmark writing style sets off the story in all its emotional colors. Or the story struggles to grab me, disconnecting me from it and thereby the characters. I get lost in the gradual paced and descriptive writing style of Christine Feehan and a novel quickly dissolves to an interesting and entertaining level. I think this is the main reason why I always feel the threshold of: “Will I start a novel from this author or are there other books calling harder.”

So it is not by definition bad writing on the author’s part but merely a failure to grab me and make me care with vivid intensity about the leading couple in this story, Rio Santana and Rachael Lospostos. Rachael desperately wants to disappear from her life and when an opportunity presents itself she takes it. Rio is returning from a mission and finds a stranger in his bed and he acts on the instinct that comes so naturally to him. I just had this odd feeling of a 21st century Jane meets Tarzan, getting to know each other in a tree house as enemies hunt them both down.

Rio is all about animalistic prowess and being completely in sync with himself and the nature surrounding him. He is a solitary man and only has two cloud leopards to call family. Rachael is on the run and needs to keep a low profile for a long time. You can call Rachael bold but I could also feel she is desperate in her desire to escape her life that she takes her chances in a rain forest. They meet in a tree house and when afflicted wounds need to be treated they are stuck with each other. While together feelings surface as they remember…

If there is one thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the lush and exotic backdrop of a rain forest, the extensive knowledge of animal behavior and plant life that created a brilliant picture in my mind. It was the constant treatment of wounds the first 130 pages or so that gave me an underwhelming feeling. If it wasn’t Rachael who was hurt, needed stitches, antibiotics or ran a fever it was Rio and after Rio it was his friend and tracker Kim whom was hurt. Upon some much needed healing the story finally took off and the connection between Rio and Rachael was further explored and deepened.

The romance in this story is easy going without much internal struggles and personality clashes to overcome. The emphasis lies on the external circumstances pressing down on them as they have to make some hard choices. Otherwise there might have been a natural acceptance of feelings with a few doubts thrown in the mix. Though it made an interesting perception from the author I missed the growth in love. I was convinced of their love for each other but it didn’t affect me as I know a Feehan novel can do. I think I’m going in circles with my thoughts around the word enjoyed. I enjoyed getting to know all about Rachael and Rio, I enjoyed their romantic tale and genuine feelings and I enjoyed the secondary characters with Elijah and Drake standing out the most. All the elements are budding towards more but in the end it doesn’t possess the emotional impact for me.

The plot was solid and emanated a threat for both Rio and Rachael, linking the past to the present. The last 100 pages are what interlaced all the separate threads and I finally had the sense I needed to keep on reading. The plot of the hunter and the hunted reveals all the players and in extension of that a truth is revealed that heads for a wonderful conclusion of Wild Rain.

With top-notch research Feehan has given a natural and exotic feel with the vibrant colors, sounds and smells of the Rain Forest providing a backdrop where two people tell their romance story upon. While I’m not in a raving mood about this tale I will say that I’m very, very intrigued by Elijah and when his story is told I will definitely buy it. Rio and Rachael gave an endearing introduction to the Leopard series of Christine Feehan.

On a side note: I found out that the introduction to this series is told in the anth. Fantasy. I missed certain referrals to the origin of things in Wild Rain so if you have a chance, read the anthology story: The Awakening first.

Quote Rio to Rachael:
“Are you going to stare at me all night?” He growled the words at her. […]
She smiled serenely. “I’m sorry. Was I staring? It’s just that you’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. I thought if I die, you might not be such a bad thing to take with me as my last image.”

Quote Rio to Rachael:
“Rachael, sestrilla.”[…] “Here, with me. Every morning the birds will sing to you. The rain has beautiful songs and it will play them for us. This is our world.”


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