The Monster Within by Lola Rayne

Sometimes the monster that haunted you as a child truly is real…

All it took was one phone call to bring Nicole Jones’s life crumbling down around her. Now a nightmare she thought she’d left in her past is back, and he’s not exactly bringing her candy and flowers. While fleeing, in a non-terrified fashion, she meets a menacing man in a dark alley. Then promptly passes out at his feet.

Gideon Evans hasn’t exactly been having the best run of luck, but all that changes when a buxom little blonde collapses right in front of him. Or at least he thinks it has. It doesn’t take him long to realize that bombshell is an appropriate description for more than just her looks. Now he’s facing several problems, including a surprising enemy, his own dark past, and a rather inconvenient case of lust.

Can they work together to battle the nightmare that’s chasing them? Or will they succumb to the monster within?

review

“… his lips descended on hers. There was simply no other way to describe the manner in which he kissed her. It was not gentle or sweet; it was raw and brutal. A statement of carnal intent.”

The paranormal genre is not my niche. I have enjoyed reading it in the past but as I grow older I need more and more scenarios I can easily identify with, and less and less make believe supernatural action. Very few series of this kind still go onto my reading list by default, but let me tell you, this one most definitely will.

In this first short novella-type instalment of the upcoming Mounting Darkness series, we are introduced to all the major characters. Our heroine is Nicole. We meet her at the instant when her painful past suddenly catches up with her, causing her to panic and flee from the scene. Nicole had hoped for her horrific nightmares to stay in the past, but they come back seeking her out, angry and hungry for vengeance. In this moment of distress, she is saved from her own panic attack by a stranger, Gideon, who comes to her rescue inexplicably drawn to her. What follows is a very speedy introduction between the two lead characters, in the Biblical sense as well, and the appearance of all the other secondary characters.

This is an incredibly enticing story of magic, supernatural creatures, a new world that Lola Rayne craftily weaves for us but only allows us to dip our toes in it. Her writing style is flawless. She can make you feel whatever she wishes you to feel. Her prose is elaborate and yet to the point, current but not overly slang-ish. It never distracts from the story itself and it draws you in from the very first sentence. It is laced with delightful humour, making even the more dramatic scenes quite entertaining and light-hearted.

“The fact that she’d actually forgotten that her main squeeze was lying unconscious on the floor caused her to flinch before she rushed to his side. She had always assumed she would make someone a very sh*tty girlfriend, and as far as she was concerned, this clinched it.
“Oh well, sweetheart, you’re stuck with me now.”
“Huh?”
“Nothing baby. How do you feel?”

Ms Rayne can also undoubtedly write good chemistry between characters, some of the scenes are so full of passion that you might need a glass of water afterwards. But the length of this book did not do the story any favours, especially when it comes to the natural development of the attachment between the lead characters. The pace with which bonds were forged felt slightly rushed to me, making me wish they had more time to explore the draw between them. I had no time to properly connect with the characters myself. I loved Nicole’s sharp-tongued sassiness and passion, I was weak at the knees from Gideon’s vulnerability and yet dominant alpha male tendencies, but I was left hoping for more pages to pace out a good thing. Their connection was solidified physically through some very sizzling hot lovin’ rather than through careful character compatibility and development and this was dissatisfying for me, a little less for Nicole and Gideon. They went from 0 to 100 in a matter of hours, almost whip-lashing the reader into a situation where we were told they were “mates” rather than shown the build-up of feelings between them.

I was left a bit uncertain as to why this book needed to be a novella rather than a full-length book. I believe it would have had a greater impact on the reader as a full instalment rather than just a teasing bite. This book only sets the scene for the rest of the series. It establishes the links between the characters, hints at some of their shared histories and makes sure the reader is sufficiently intrigued to keep on reading. It literally only puts the keys into the ignition, turns the car on but it never puts it into ‘drive’.

This genre might have not been my ‘natural habitat’ and it might have made me uneasy at first, but I very quickly found my bearings and never looked back. A great beginning to a tantalising new series.

4stars

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