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Recently I have been reading more m/m romances, so the fact that I was compelled to finish this one implies quality of writing. Forbidden, by Jacquelyn Frank is a spin off of the Nightwalkers’ Series. There is a brief intro where we see Bella telling the reader a little backstory, but I believe that you could read Forbidden without having read the other series.
Docia is an office manager whose life is cut short when someone murders her. Her spirit is stopped in the Ether by a bodywalkers who needs to hitch a ride to the world of the living through Docia’s body. Once back, a handsome man vows to protect her for her new husband. Yet Docia and Ram are drawn to each other, can they fight fate?
There are 12 species of Nightwalkers, but only 6 of them were know in the previous series: Demons, Lycanthropes, Druids, Vampires, Shadowdwellers, and Mistrals. This new series picks up where that one left off with the mention of the following: Gargoyles, Djynn, Bodywalkers, and Angels. Yes, that is only four, but this is just the first book, perhaps further information will develop as does the series.
What I find fascinating about Frank’s world is that it has so many layers, one series just adds complexity to the plot-line rather than just a bunch of unrelated stories. Now to be honest, I gave up after Elijah (#3), but I think a lot of that had to do with my change in interests (was tired of paranormal and female/male romances). I found her Shadowdwellers book, Rapture extremely well written and the world very layered, as can be seen by my blogpost. To be fair, it is probably time for me to re-read the entire Nightwalkers series and finish that storyline.
What I like about Frank’s females are that they are not just women who lay back and take life’s lumps. I can only assume that our author is one spunky chic herself! I found Docia’s dialogue hilarious, and I can relate to her fears and anger:
Then, as if the agony of being run through meant nothing to him, the rescuer grabbed the attacker by the back of his head and yanked him down to meet the upward thrust of his knee. There was the resounding crack of bone smacking into bone, and the attacker fell dazedly to the ground.
This, she thought inanely, is the part where I am supposed to run. Oh, and that screaming thing would really come in handy, too.
The one continuous thing in her life is her brother, Jackson. He is a cop who we follow throughout this book as he tries to find and rescue her. In a way, this is almost like two romance stories intertwined within Forbidden. But Jackson and his lady are just at the “getting to know you phase”, and I imagine that their romance will be the second book of this series.
If there is anything limiting about this book it is Docia’s character; while not a fighter like Bella, I find her sassiness rather familiar. My question is, what part of this person is an original character and not a remix of the other female characters? The difference here, in Forbidden is how her character blends with her bodywalker, we get to see how strong and well balanced she is emotionally.
Enter our hot stud. Docia describes Ram as this:
Docia felt herself shaking in her own skin as she looked up into what she could only describe as golden beauty. He was gold of hair, a dark and white, uneven blond that rested in ghosts of curls around his head, just light enough at the tips to give him a nimbus effect, like a living savior stepped free of a fresco painting. His eyes were mesmerizing in the way they matched his hair almost perfectly, that rich gold with a halo of lighter gold around the rims of his irises.
While he is the gorgeous warrior, there is a strength and loyalty to his pharaoh (Menes) and duty. In fact, he fights his attraction to Docia rather than betraying his king. This mentality is described early on in the novel:
Ram let go of her, no longer able to touch her as his conscience pricked him with nauseating reality. He turned sharply on his heel and left her.
This would be the end of it, he vowed to himself. He had dared to taste the forbidden. He would never do so again.
We will pick up on this when describing the theme of the novel.
What makes this character outstanding to me is the combination of the bodywalker (Ram) and his human (Vincent). Vincent is the rough, gritty human and Navy Seal now housing the soul of Ram. I actually found Vincent the more interesting character and I was glad to have the opportunity to have Docia and Vincent interact. Their scenes actually provided some character development for one of the main characters. It is their shared sense of duty and honor that makes their personalities blend.
We have to understanding the backstory to discuss the theme. While it is difficult to kill a bodywalker, it is not impossible. There was a war between factions, the Politics and Templars both who think they have the right to rule. This plot is something that can be taken from any European history period, how we see the struggle between the religious fervor and the warrior leader. The theme of warrior versus religious sect is not new. We can see it in world history (Catholics, the Crusades, Church of England, etc.) as well as the Shadowdwellers series. The danger here is if it becomes the same tropey plot line. This is the first book of the series, so we will have to see how this turns out.
There are two layers then to this idea of “forbidden”. In simplest terms, this is that Docia is forbidden to him because she is the promised soul mate of his leader Menes. But on the deeper level, we see what happens if you are so structured on what is forbidden or “right” you miss opportunities. When you stop listening to your heart you stop evolving and growing. Sometimes the forbidden is not something to run away from, but rather it is something for you to search and embrace.
The strength of this book is the quality of writing. The world building and dialogue was magnificent, so vivid I could have been watching a film. I found the secondary characters just as exciting as the main ones, and I fell in love with Jackson and Leo. I want me some Leo right now, he is dark and violent, my favorite kind of Alpha Male! I can only assume that he will be one of our future books.
What could be better?
I am slightly concerned about the lack of character development in this novel. I found very little development from Docia. We really do not get much in the way of interaction with her bodywalker (until the end and I understand why). We are saved from a complete lack of character development because of the fascinating Vincent and the scenes with Jackson. To be honest, I found the storyline of Jackson much more compelling and I almost felt like skipping the scenes with Docia just to get back to Jackson.
Before writing this blogpost, I thought that I loved this book and had plans to give it a four star. But after review, I think I am giving it a 3 star. But let me say this, I still really enjoyed this book and I still recommend reading it! I think this book suffers from being the first novel of a series, with the more compelling “leader” being introduced but not focused on in this book. So we were stuck with a lot of jargon and two less interesting characters than those that will be in the next book. I suspect that I will love the next book (providing my guess of who it will be is true).
If you liked this book, you will probably love her other Nightwalkers series and I suggest you try those. If you want to see a more complex storyline, try her novel Rapture.