Review: Dai's Dark Valentine

Dai's Dark ValentineDai's Dark Valentine by Dariel Raye

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Many threads thrown together does not make a complex built world.  The concept of this story is familiar with supernaturals being hunted by humans.  The fact these humans are aided by witches is ironic.  In this story, Daitre is a beloved daughter who is whisked away into the future for her own good.  She is ill equipped to live without Daddy's guidance and protection.  So she is given a bodyguard who is a time bending fae sorcerer as a pretend husband.

Here's my problem with this book.  It tries too hard to throw too many plot devices into one book with little development.  There are betrayed daughters with daddy issues, star-crossed lovers, a vengeful brother, anti-supernatural groups, time travelers and a naïve spoiled princess.  Daitre is a character who is young, sheltered and foolish.  Her bratty behaviour with her guard cum faux-husband, Joban is tiring.  Joban is the only character in this book worth reading about.  His history is interesting.  Instead of building his past and crafting it in a way to give him layers, it's thrown together hastily with a few hints.  Exploring more into his parents' relationship would have helped.  For example, his father is supposed to be a terrible evil mage.  Since Joban never knew his father, why would he fear to be evil like his father after just learning about him?  Sure, one could pose that Joban already feels bad because he has to do terrible things.  Not sure what all these terrible things he keeps alluding to, because if it is just killing people to protect his employer, it's kind of mild to me.  Then again, I expect law enforcement, military and bodyguard character types to kill and it doesn't even make me blink.

Daitre comes across as the usual clueless girl who consistently does something ill-advised because "no one is going to tell HER what to do."  She lacks common sense which makes me want to smack her upside the head several times.  Her inability to communicate with Joban is frustrating because it is a contrived miscommunication to create conflict.  This is not the type of conflict I enjoy reading because it makes me think less of the characters.  The lack of maturity is a pet peeve of mine.  When I don't like the characters, my enjoyment of the book decreases.

The world building is light and there are a couple of plot holes.  It would have been nice to learn more about the world and showing how the community of supernaturals originated.  The world building is condensed and told rather shown.  This is probably because the focus is on the supposed chemistry between Daitre and Joban.  The romance is lackluster for me and felt awkward.  This is because it felt like a 15 year old girl trying to get her "sexy time" on with a much older man.  Plus the chemistry between the two characters repelled instead of attracted me. 

I would recommend changing this story into a trilogy and spending more time building the world and characters.  Trying to tie off all the threads near the end of this book made it feel rushed and unfinished.  Here  is what would have made the story better for me.  Have the first book focused on Daitre's childhood, her father's fight with his "arch nemesis" and Daitre's thrust into this new battle.  In the first book, Daitre can still be naïve and foolish.  In the second book, when they jump into the future, allow Daitre to grow by showing instead of telling.  Now in the middle of a war, Daitre can grow and show her emerging strength as a shifter.  Spend more time exploring Joban's family and his connection with the community.  More scrimmages with the anti-supernatural group would help too.  The last book should have the big showdown, final reveals and a mature grown Daitre fighting at the side of her now loving husband Joban.  This would have made a good solid paranormal trilogy. 

* Review copy provided via Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

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