First Bitten looked to be a really promising read just going by the premise. It had all my favorite components. There was the female character having to overcome emotional obstacles in order to adapt to her new life. The brooding alpha male who has to protect her from the race, which wants to keep her enslaved since she is the only one of her sex. The hint that there may be some high action where both leads have to avoid the villains of the tale.
Boy was I wrong!
The book opens with our main character, Alexandra, moping over the fact that she has broken up with her boyfriend since she caught him cheating on her…. Again. Her best friend has taken her out to try and get her mind off of him. However, said scumbag boyfriend phones her and it puts her into a foul mood, which results in Alex throwing her mobile phone into the woods. It is this one act that results in Alex and her friend getting attacked. Unfortunately, her friend is killed, but Alex is saved by Nathan, our “hero” of the story.
I could sense the tension building when Nathan explains what happened to her and how she fits into this new world. I was ready for Alex to step up and fight for her independence. I waited patiently for the story to move away from Nathan’s home and out into the real world.
Instead I got a book that was 90% of Alex feeling sorry for herself and pondering why Nathan didn’t like her. She was one of the most unlikable characters I have ever read. At first I cut her a break. Her world had been ripped away from her and she has to adapt to her new living conditions. Everyone is entitled to mourn and adjust, but I wanted some action.
When it finally did kick in, the book was almost finished and took place mostly off screen. Even when one of the main supporting characters, and surprisingly the only one that I found interesting, was killed I felt nothing. There was no emotional punch. I just rolled my eyes and wanted the book to go somewhere.
I will give the author her due. It wasn’t a case of both Alex and Nathan dusting themselves off and everything was peachy. Since the character in question was important to both of them, they both reacted in the expected ways, considering the circumstances around their death.
The writing isn’t fantastic, I have read much better. The author’s description of Nathan’s facial expressions was, at times very strange and unclear. For example, when he is teasing Alex he is described as smiling in this way:-
A pirate smile lurks around the corners of his mouth.
I sat there for a good few minutes, trying to decide what a pirate smile was. Was it a smile filled with rotten teeth? Was it like Jack Sparrow? I just couldn’t get an idea of what the author was trying to say. I wish this was the only time her imagery was patchy, yet twice she uses the following to describe Nathan, when he was being secretive:
His smile is all fox
Again, it doesn’t tell me anything really. The only thing I could think she was trying to describe was that Nathan was smiling slyly, but it isn’t clear and didn’t work for me.
These things wouldn’t normally bother me if there was a good story behind these points, but there isn’t.
The romance between the two characters isn’t very hot nor do I see any sexual tension between Alex and Nathan. Nathan acts so hot and cold all the time, but it isn’t even in the way hero’s in these books normally do. By this I mean, the fact that they act aloof because they like the heroine. In this book, Nathan acts like a complete and utter ass.
Alex isn’t any better. She is written very much as the defenseless female, needing the male to take care of her. She lacks strength of character. This could have been to do with her past, but there is no real character development till the very end.
It’s a shame because the story has some great ideas, hidden beneath it all. The Vârcolac’s have a really interesting origin, yet have no screen time at all. The fallout of Nathan saving Alex is very brief, when you would expect something much more substantial.
As for the ending, it’s clearly left open for the sequel, but there isn’t enough of a hook to make me want to read the next one.
FIRST BITTEN did have some good ideas, but they just didn’t come to the forefront of the book. It was just shy of being a teenage angst type book, with only the language and some of the details of the action pushing it into adult territory.
BUY YOUR COPY