This is my review for the TBR Challenge I am participating in at avidbookreader.com, but I'll be honest and say that it wasn't the book I intended on reading for today's post. I started reading Rapture In Death by J.D. Robb last week, but have had a busy few weeks with end of school year stuff going on (and a kid home sick for the last few days) that I didn't get to finish it in time. The Beast Within by Lisa Renee Jones was released November 1, 2007, so really hasn't been on my TBR pile for too long, but I did read it earlier this month and it's still one book off the pile, right?
The Beast Within by Lisa Renee Jones
The Beast Within is the first novel in Lisa Renee Jones' The Knights of White paranormal series published by the Silhouette nocturne line. The Knights of White were created by the Archangel Raphael to protect humankind from the evil that preys on them in the form of the Darkland Beasts who are ruled by Cain--the fallen one of Biblical Cain and Abel. The Knights were at one time humans who were victimized by the Darkland Beasts, but saved and immortalized by Salvador, Archangel Raphael's trusted companion. The Knights have spent their immortal lives fighting the Beasts--both the Darkland Beasts, as well as the Beast that lives within them as they share some of the same blood as Cain's beasts. Each Knight must now face and defeat the Beast within themselves in order to become the powerful warriors they need to be to successfully defeat the Darkland Beasts.
In this first Knights of White novel, the leader of the Knights of White, is the first of the Knights to overcome the Beast within. Jag is a strong willed and determined leader who has the utmost respect and reverence from his fellow knights. There is no doubt that he wants to do the best he possibly can by his knights while following out his duty to defeat evil. Having spent the last several hundred years silently mourning the death of his wife at the hands of a Darkland Beast, Jag still carries tremendous guilt that he was not able to stop her violent murder. When Karen Gibson shows up at the Knights' ranch with her sister entranced by the leader of the Darkland Beasts, Jag recognizes Karen as the woman from his erotic dreams and doesn't know whether she is a gift or a curse. When it is revealed that Karen has the same erotic dreams as Jag, they are driven to determine whether their connection serves the purpose of good or that of evil before it is too late and the price is that of a life--as the lives of Karen, Jag, the Knights, and Karen's sister Eva are all at stake.
As a first novel in a series, Ms. Jones does a great job at setting up the world and introducing the main and secondary characters. While the plot seems a bit cliche and predictable, it is still fast paced, entertaining and sexy. Jag was a wonderfully silent and brooding hero, devoted to his men and his mission to fight evil. Karen's determination to protect her sister and her bravery to stand up to Jag and his Knights were both admirable qualities in a heroine.
The sex between Jag and Karen was very sexy in both their dreams and in reality when they did finally come together, but I felt that the build up of emotion between them was not there and the romance was left to the device that they shared love in their past, so poof! They shared it in the present as well. It was very sweet the way this one woman was finally able to bring out a tender and sensual side of Jag that has laid dormant since his wife's death all these hundreds of years. But, I would have still liked to see the romance developed between them without fully relying on their past connection.
I also felt like the author was repeating the same inner dialogue over and over again with Jag's perpetual struggle with whether or not Karen was delivered to him to tempt him or save him. It was explained one too many times in the narration without any progress in Jag's resolution of what to make of Karen's presence.
In addition, I felt Karen's behavior toward Jag was a bit unbelievable. One minute she was furious with him and wanted to get her sister and run fast and far from the Knight's Ranch, and then a split second later, she was melting into his impulsive kisses without even a mental struggle, let alone a physical one. That was a bit unbelievable to me, even if he did feel familiar to her. Also, I expected Karen to do more to try to escape the Ranch with Eva once she realized they were being kept under lock and key and Marisol's healing methods were so unconventional. Bravery aside, I would expect survival instincts to tell her to get the hell out of there, not make out with the leader when he comes to her room to question her.
Two secondary characters from The Beast Within that I really enjoyed were the Knight named Rock and the healer of the Knights of White, Marisol. Both have tragedies in their past and are denying their feelings for each other as it is forbidden for them to be together. I don't see their story on the horizon since according to Ms. Jones' website as the heroes and heroines of the next five books are named and Rock and Marisol aren't there! :(
The Beast Within is a sexy and sweet story, but with a fairly predictable plot and some repetitiveness in the narration.
I haven't yet decided if I'll pick up the next book in this series. I probably will if I come across it, but I'm not rushing out to get it.