Friday, January 24, 2014

Review: The Dark Horse by Patricia Simpson

The Dark Horse (Forbidden Tarot #2) by Patricia Simpson

Release Date: October 27, 2005
Genre: Romance, Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Tor Paranormal Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Goodreads • Amazon 

Claire Coulter’s brother is dying. To Claire’s astonishment, her boss offers to pay for the the risky operation that might save him. The catch? Claire must accompany Tobias Benton on a search for the Fountain of Youth.

Despite believing Tobias is on a wild goose chase, Claire agrees—she’ll do anything to save her brother. The trip is a disaster: Tobias doesn’t just want Claire’s company—he wants Claire. But Claire is drawn to Jack, their mysterious and sexy guide.

Although the strange and beautiful deck of tarot cards she’s carrying with her predicts a positive outcome, Claire suspects everyone around her is hiding something. Especially Simeon, an urbane older man who claims to be studying snakes, but whose dark demeanor hints at a terrible past.

Claire’s psychic sensitivity alerts her that all is not what it seems, but can she figure out who to trust before it’s too late?

So, I think I’m immune to cowboys. I just don’t find them attractive, at all.

Okay the second book in the Forbidden Tarot series was not as appealing as the first, but I think that’s because it had less of The Mummy vibe going on. This book is also more explicit than The Dark Lord, in my opinion. Which, I mean, is the point of adult romance, but I was a little taken aback by it. Apparently, I’m a prude or something.

Also, I thought this novel had an inappropriate view on gender relations for a while. Claire, our beautiful protagonist, practically hates men—or at least, she distrusts them innately. At many points in the novel she shuns the help of men with a disdainful thought on how they’re all the same. Which, obviously, I disagree with. Now, I do concede that part of Claire’s development in the story is that she gets over this stigma, but it just really bothered me.

Oh boy, I feel a rant coming on. Hold on to your seats, guys!

I know you all probably know this, but being a feminist, or a strong woman doesn’t mean that you have to put down “the man.” Not at all. I feel like women, as a class, should not strive to dominate over men and vice versa. We should all just learn to respect each other. Unless of course, you or your SO wants to be dominated, then by all means you do you. Am I an idealist? Of course! But this is my personal philosophy and should by no means be construed as a mandate on how everyone should live his or her lives. I just wanted to give you guys a glimpse on where I’m coming from. :)

Rant over. We can resume discussing the novel.

Okay so basically, the plot of this book is that Claire comes into possession of the Tarot deck from The Dark Lord and her life goes to hell in a hand basket. Her boss Tobias is constantly sexually harassing her (you guys can guess my opinion on that front), and blackmailing her about her brother’s kidney transplant. What an ass, right? Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to like him. The only thing I have to say in his defense is that he is a virgin (NOT saying that is a bad thing! If that is your personal choice, rock on!). And his virginity is often used as an excuse for his actions. Such as: Oh, he almost raped her—it’s okay he’s a virgin! Which is obviously not an appropriate excuse for half of the things he does. However, it does give you insight into he character. He is starved for human contact, and unfortunately has no idea how to go about it. In his frustration, he often turns to violence. It’s sad really, but as I said before: not an appropriate excuse.

Now let’s get back to Claire. Claire just confuses me, and she confuses about half of the characters as well. About 60 pages in, she is miraculously given the ability to psychically communicate with animals, and it’s just weird. It serves a purpose, but there was no gradual lead-in to that. She’s also a very strong, very willful woman, and I completely respect that. However, she is so against violence that it’s dangerous. I mean she talks about how there is no good enough reason to beat someone up and then her boss tries to rape her. What are you going to do then, Claire? Talk him out of it? Because I’m pretty sure that that strategy ain’t gonna fly. But other than that and her general contempt for men, I like her!

And now Jack: the guide. He comes from a dysfunctional family, who hilariously accompany them on their journey to find a fountain of youth. They have a saddening relationship with one another, but they’re also great comic relief. Grandma Betty? I want to be Grandma Betty: the seventy plus year-old-woman who is so kind most of the time, but isn’t afraid to curse or give her family some much needed tough-love. I straight up think of Betty White. And I love it.

Oh, sorry, I was supposed to be talking about Jack. Anyway, Jack is the lone wolf kind of guy. Misunderstood and mistreated by society. He has a spirit animal that comes out at random intervals. Oh, and Claire can communicate with it. It’s kind of kinky, and sometimes really uncomfortable. But whatever, it’s their life. As he’s guiding them, he feels a certain attraction to Claire and it’s obviously reciprocated (SPOILER: THEY HAVE SEX…in a cave…good for them).

And lastly, Simeon Avare: yes, the very same Simeon Avare. He is not nearly as creepy in this book as he was in The Dark Lord. He takes a backseat, mostly. One thing I do have to say about him is that I felt like he did a 180 in character. The Simeon I remembered was suave and attractive and definitely into women. However, in this novel, he seems to shun them. I understand how Simpson explained his change in character, it just seemed contrived. There are also little excerpts from Set (AKA: Simeon), which just ruined the haughty image I had of Simeon. Don’t get me wrong, they’re hilarious, but I felt like they weren’t consistent.

And in conclusion I’d like to say this: I feel like everyone is watching too much Ancient Aliens. It’s weird and it needs to stop.

But I did enjoy this book, and I’ll probably read the last one just to see where the story is going.

Much love, babes! ;)

About the Author

Patricia Simpson grew up in the wilderness of Western Montana, where it meant a 3-1/2 hour drive just to buy shoes. When she was young, the iPad hadn't yet been invented, and there were no radio stations in the area, so on the many long drives for shoes, Patricia amused herself by reading novels or creating her own stories in her head. She was encouraged to write by her sister, who always asked to be read what she had written so far that day, her Egyptian-born English teacher in junior high, and then again by a creative writing professor at the University of Washington. Instead of seeking a writing degree, Patricia chose to pursue a BA in Art and has worked as a graphic artist/web developer at the University of Washington since 1982. Patricia still enjoys painting almost as much as she loves to write.

Ms. Simpson has won numerous awards for her fiction, including Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, Career Achievement Award, and has been a finalist in the RITA awards and for Best Indie Paranormal of the Year.

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