Friday, 10 August 2012

Triple Threat: Review of Succubus Unleashed, Interview & Giveaway

Triple Threat: Review of Succubus Unleashed, Interview & Giveaway

Succubus Unleashed (Telepathic Clans, #2) by B.R. Kingsolver

Author: B.R. Kingsolver
Publication Date: June 25, 2012
Pages: 242
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Source: A review copy provided by the author (Thank you!)
Book Description from Goodreads:  
It's not easy being a succubus. 
Brenna O'Donnell and Rebecca Healy continue their integration into the Clan. Learning more about their Gifts and always seeking someone who will love them. After a crash course in learning about her genetic heritage, Brenna O'Donnell has discovered what it really means to be a succubus and has learned to embrace her strange Gift. Her major concern is whether Collin will accept her for what she is. As she adjusts to telepathic society, others in the Clan have plans that will strip the last of her freedom.
The social season is around the corner, including events that Brenna never imagined in her wildest dreams. The succubi, representatives of the Goddess on Earth, are at the center of an ancient worship. And if a girl is going to be the center of attention, then obviously she needs a new dress. 
Between the romance and glistening balls of the Clan's social events, Brenna and Rebecca discover life is not secure. Telepaths from other Clans are kidnapping young girls and selling them into slavery.

     I loved the first book in the Telepathic Clans series (entitled The Succubus Gift, review HERE) and I thought I'd have to wait a year or more before I'd get my hands on the second one. So imagine how ecstatic I was when I saw just a few months after I had finished the first one that the second book's release was imminent! 
     The first book was incredibly intricate with lots of plot points. The poignant points stuck with me, but there were some more subtle parts that I may have forgotten. But not to worry Kingsolver opens with a great refresher forward of what Brenna O'Donnell went through in The Succubus Gift with a sneak peak for what was in store for this installment. 
     The cover this time around is a unique blend of realism mixed with animated power swirling around. I think I might like this cover more than the first. It definitely portrays the stronger version of Brenna. 
     Succubus Unleashed picks up immediately where the last one left off. As a result of the events of the last book, Brenna has become far more comfortable and confident in the powers and needs of being a Succubus. Brenna's also being acclimated into her family, and introduced to her very very vast fortunes. Which she uses to take the reader on a lust worthy shopping trip. 
     Kingsolver has an amazing talent for taking several stories that offshoot into different directions, and pulling them together into one cohesive story where they play on and enhance each other. This time around there's a lot of focus on family politics with questions of inheritance, relationship drama, mysterious kidnapping of Succubi and a huge discovery that completely changes the way that Succubus will live.
     While the story still focuses on Brenna, I feel that the other characters get their share of front page time equally. Which is awesome because I pretty much love all the secondary characters just as much, if not more than Brenna. We get glimpses into their personal lives and as well as working together as an unstoppable team. They get into some pretty epic street battles (I kid you not, it's like Street Fighter, fists and balls of energy flying everywhere - it's freaking AWESOME!). 
     Brenna has changed in leaps and bounds this time around. I love that while she is still a strong and intelligent character, she manages to maintain a certain air of youth but in certain situations she becomes this dead serious all-business woman that isn't to be trifled with - it provided surprising moments for both me and the other characters at times.
     Collin - Brenna's now boyfriend is still my absolute favorite! He's strong, supportive and all around adorable. In this part of the story, we even get a sneak peak into some of his relationships, which causes some major tension but also leads him down a new road in his life. 
     Rebecca - Brenna's best friend, with Brenna's discovery that Succubus gene carriers are prone to intense sexual urges, I feel that Rebecca has definitely grown up. She's taken control of her life and doesn't feel so ashamed any more. It was great to see this, I always wanted Rebecca to be okay with herself and now that she is a bit more she's become confident and this confidence ends up translating to other aspects of her life! 
     Succubus Unleashed takes a more intimate look at the inner workings of the clans, and especially the role of the Succubus. We're introduced to very old and familiar iconic pagan rituals that are presided over and sealed by a priestess. While Brenna is initiated into all of this, the reader is opened up to this wonderfully enlightened world where women are revered and respected for their sexuality. I loved this so much! Especially in today's world where women's rights are slowly being stripped away and where women are shamed for being confident in their sexual wants and needs - Kingsolver isn't afraid to embrace the fact that it's a part of our nature and that it's totally okay to relish in it. With this in mind, Kingsolver takes her sex scenes up a notch, which one of the lines in the book perfectly describes as "... the most civilized and discreet orgy you'll ever attend." (loc 1948). 
     But what really blew me away was Kingsolver's use of realistic science to explain key aspects related to the clan abilities. It's so rare for authors to actually bother to explain things like this, let alone explain it in perfect clarity and have it work so well in the story. Plus it completely spoke to my Biology Major side - I totally squealed and went "I KNOW WHAT THAT DOES!" before she even fully explained it. I love having these light bulb moments while reading. 
      The Telepathic Clans series has a little bit of everything for everyone. International mystery, romance, political drama, paranormal abilities, epic smack downs and to-die-for shopping trips. I don't think I'll ever be disappointed by what Kingsolver writes, and I'm already eagerly bouncing around waiting for the next in the series!

Overall: 5/5 Steaming HOT Cups of Tea!
This time around it's like Taken (international kidnapping/prostitution ring!) meets The Princess Diaries (you've inherited all this!!) meets Sex in the City (designer shopping, clubs and copious amounts of *wink wink* fun!) with a splash of X-Men (extensive powers and fights in the middle of the street). It's always a fun time! 

I did a mini question blitz for both the characters and the author, so enjoy!

Character Questions:
For Rebecca:
1. As a Protector and Succubus gene carrier, you get a wide array of powers that you use frequently. What's your favorite one?
The one I'm most intrigued by is Construction, the Lindstrom Gift. You can build a complete simulation of a person, their mind, personality, likes and dislikes, how they view the world. It's incredibly detailed and actually uses Nth-dimensional geometry. Imagine being able to actually build a house like an Escher drawing. But the one I appreciate the most is the Kilpatrick Gift, Power Shielding, because it helps me feel safe.

2. Since the whole revelation about Succubus Gene carriers, does it give you a more positive outlook on life now?
It was a shock at first to discover it had a genetic basis and realize that I wasn't crazy. I'd harbored a fear for years that I was some kind of psychotic. Knowing it has a physiological cause was a relief. It's allowed me to come to terms with the problem. Brenna looks at it like a skin disease or diabetes. You can allow it to dominate your life, or you can come to grips with it and say that it's something you take care of and live your life.

For Callie (Brenna's Aunt):
1. What're your plans now that Brenna has stepped up to the plate? 
Brenna's still very young. When I was her age, I was bumming around Europe, partying and having a good time. I want to give her as much of that kind of freedom as I can, but I also want more time and freedom for myself. My husband Randolph doesn't play much of a role in the books, but I love him very much and I'd like to spend more time with him. I've always wanted a daughter, and perhaps we can do that now.

For Brenna:
1. Collin and yourself have grown in lengths in your relationship. Do you think marriage is going to be coming up soon??
I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might say something I'll regret later. 

2. Quick who is better in bed Noel or Collin? (I promise I won't tell :D)
They're very different. I don't think it's fair to compare lovers on some kind of one to ten scale. Noel is a stronger, harder, more dominant lover, rougher, though he's considerate and has never hurt me. Collin is gentler. Making love to him is more of a sharing, sensual experience. We take the lead at different times. We're very good at giving each other what we need. Now if you'd been crude and asked who was larger, then I'd have answered Collin ... ;)

3. I'm super excited about your plan for research. What do you hope to gain from it?
I originally started studying the mind hoping to understand the psychic talents I knew I had. My original research seems so insignificant now. But I think with all the knowledge we have about our Gifts, all the training we receive, that we don't completely understand them. Why is Rebecca so much stronger in controlling energy flows than other people with her same Gifts? How can we help her to develop the control over her sexual energy flows that succubi have but she doesn't? How do combinations of Gifts interact? Are there ways we can enhance our Gifts? Are there Gifts we haven't discovered yet? 

For Collin:
1. So...Pia...Where do you see that relationship going?
I dated Pia for about two years before I met Brenna. I like her a lot, but she's always wanted a different relationship than I did. She's pretty monogamous in her outlook, and I haven't ever been that way. Discovering that I'm an incubus explains why. I think she'll find someone who better fits what she's looking for.

2. After Rosie's proposition it got me thinking. Do these kind of request happen often in the telepathic clans? It sounds like it ends up with a big extended family. 
They do. Seamus' two younger children, Jill and William, were conceived as a favor to friends. In one case, the husband thought he was infertile. In the other case, the husband had very weak Gifts and William's mother asked him to father a child who would be stronger. We're very careful about inbreeding, but when you live 200 years and women are fertile the entire time, they often have children spread out over decades. Being able to control conception is a liberating event for women, and the Clan has known how to do that for thousands of years. It's very common for a man or woman to have a number of partners over the years, and women tend to pick men they think would create strong children to get pregnant by.

For the Author:
1. What was the inspiration to start writing this story ?
I've been a fantasy and science fiction fan since I was a kid. I started reading urban fantasy a couple of years ago and was intrigued by the emphasis on strong women protagonists. But I was bothered that women in UF and PNR still tend to be submissive to men. Then I ran into Richelle Mead's succubus books and discovered a female character who was a sexual predator, one who dominated men. But the traditional succubus as a minion of the devil didn't sit well with me. Why does a woman have to be bad to feel good? Our society is so ingrained with the traditional Christian morality that says a sexual woman is a bad, immoral woman. With modern science and a few paranormal talents, why would a woman automatically hide behind a man when the going gets tough? 

I was searching for a unique type of paranormal character. Vampires and weres are more common than house cats in contemporary literature. So I combined telepathy with the ancient Celts' goddess worship and came up with a new mythology explaining the Sidhe and Druids as telepaths in a matriarchal social structure.

2. Brenna is such a strong and well put together character. I love that she's in the field of science so successfully, and that she constantly surprises everyone. Was she modeled after anyone in particular?
Not really. She's a combination of strong, intelligent women I've known throughout my life. Women who didn't apologize for being women and considered themselves equals of men in every way. I think you'll see women like that in every book I write. I'm sick of weak women and condescending men. I'm tired of women who have to be masculine to be viewed as strong. I like the idea of a glamorous woman in an evening gown kicking the snot out of a monster with her high heels and then fixing her lipstick and seducing the hunk she just saved.

But something I'll never do again is create a character as invincible as Brenna. I should have given her more weaknesses for the sake of tension and drama.

3. While I was reading, as soon as I came upon the part where dominant/recessive genes were being used to explain the Succubus gene situation, or the part where they were discussing the purpose of Myelin sheaths in regards to electrokinesis the biology geek in me squealed at the revelations. What made you want to include such details in the story, and how did you do the research for it?
I went to nursing school and have a degree in biology. In scifi, authors often build their worlds using a scientific basis or theories and then project them. You don't have to do that as much in most paranormal books because everyone knows the myths behind vampires and werewolves and witches. All the Gifts are those that have appeared in psychic literature at one time or another, I just extended and developed them. As to the myelin, there was an article published in National Geographic while I was writing the first book explaining how children's brains mature and how the myelin strengthens and thickens through young adulthood into our 30s.

4. Can you give us a sneak peak into what you have in store for Brenna and the Clan? When can we expect the next one?! 
I'm currently working on major revisions to the third book. I hope to publish it this fall. All I'll say as far as teasers is that Rebecca gets what she deserves.

After that, I'm going to put Brenna away for a while. I have a new character set in the same world, a succubus private detective, and I'm hoping to have that book published by Christmas. Then I have an idea for a totally different world and character, a Valkyrie going to college at Oxford University in England.

Thanks so much to the author for taking the time to answer my nosy questions! 

Have you read The Succubus Gift yet? If not what are you waiting for?! Especially if you're a fan of Urban Fantasy, and looking for something new! 

Or if you've read The Succubus Gift but haven't gotten around to reading Succubus Unleashed here's your chance!! 

The author has graciously offered e-book copies of The Succubus Gift and/or Succubus Unleashed. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter! It's INTERNATIONAL as long as you have some way to read e-books! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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