Daring by Elliott James
Narrator: Roger Wayne
Series: Pax Arcana #2
Published by Orbit
Published on: September 23, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Werewolves
Length: 9 hrs & 38 mins
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THE WEREWOLVES HAVE A NEW LEADER...AND HE CANNOT BE STOPPED.
Something is rotten in the state of Wisconsin.
Werewolf packs are being united and absorbed into an army of super soldiers by a mysterious figure who speaks like an angel and fights like a demon. And every Knight Templar -- keepers of the magical peace between mankind and magickind -- who tries to get close to this big bad wolf winds up dead. No knight can infiltrate a group whose members can smell a human from a mile away...no knight except one.
John Charming. Ex knight. Current werewolf. Hunted by the men who trained him, he now might be their only salvation. But animal instincts are rising up to claim John more powerfully than ever before, and he must decide if this new leader of wolves is a madman...or a messiah.
I was left with mixed feelings when I finished CHARMING a few months ago; I liked John’s character, Roger Wayne’s narration, and the author’s quirky writing style, but the love interest, and info dumps were definite cons. However, when I read DARING’s blurb and discovered that the werewolves were going to be front-and-center in round two, I just knew that this series deserved a second chance. And, even though I didn’t love this installment either, it was more along the lines of what I’ve come to expect from Urban Fantasy, and my issues with this one were vastly different that its predecessor, so at least it was a step in the right direction. The story was darker, the humour more subdued, and I did struggle to see the links between the four parts, but it all came together in the end which made this novel marginally better than its predecessor.
The prelude was a hoot, James shared a list of the ‘top ten things that people who didn’t read the first book really ought to know’ which served as a good recap while also turning a boring necessity into a fun intro. The opening section was my favourite because it not only explored John’s past as a Knight, but provided some much needed clarification about his insta-attraction to Sig, and set the tone for the rest of the story. The second part was somewhat of a mixed bag; I liked learning more about this universe’s werewolves, although certain aspects were a little overly touchy feely for me—too much zen, not enough predator. The final two were the meatier pieces with plenty of action, unanticipated twists, and an ah-ha ending. The world-building was also greatly muted which made this installment more about the journey than the magical rules which was a welcomed tweak.
DARING was nowhere near as funny as book 1, but given the nature of this tale, it fit. That’s not to say that I still didn’t crack a couple of smiles while listening because I did, however the overall tone was much heavier. I was disappointed that the majority of the secondary characters that the protagonist formed connections with previously were for the most part MIA, although they were replaced with new ones, so at least the author found a way to fill that void. Sig’s role was minimal which made me exceedingly happy because she was my main problem with CHARMING, so I liked that the Valkyrie was pushed to the back burner for the time being. John’s POV continued to delight and entertain; I loved how he talked directly to the reader, and his keen wit and sarcastic dialogue are the main reasons why I am diggin’ this series so much.
As expected, the narrator delivered another winning performance which was why I had no qualms about pre-ordering this audiobook. His voice is well-suited for James’ writing style, and he absolutely nailed Charming’s first person POV. The hero gets his butt handed to him on multiple occasions, and Roger Wayne helped to add authenticity to that fact by slurring his words as though he himself had gotten punched in the teeth. He also showed adaptability as a narrator by taking a step back from the first installment’s snark, and adopting the more somber tone that this tale demanded. It normally takes me a week on average to listen to nine+ hours, but in this case my listening time was cut in half thanks in large part to Wayne.
DARING is proof that werewolves make everything better!
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it’s a series that was tempting me but some told em that book 1 wasn’t that good so i opted to wait to see if teh series was getting better before starting getting the book and now with your review it seems to be getting better so back on teh list^^
miki recently posted…He Ain’t Lion ( Ridgeville1 ) by Celia Kyle
This series is getting better, but it’s still not quite there yet. Book 3 will be the deciding factor on whether I continue reading or not.
I have not tried this series yet, but it looks good. I’ll have to find room for it on my list. I’m not familiar with this narrator or author. I do agree that werewolves make everything better. 🙂
Melanie Simmons recently posted…The Beautiful Ashes Audiobook by Jeaniene Frost (Review)
I’m not sure that I would have made it past CHARMING without Wayne’s narration what with the weird love triangle, major info dumps, and all.
Werewolves do make everything better. There is an inverse relationship between werewolves and vampires; one making things better and the other most certainly not.
Nathan ( recently posted…Tough Travels- Curses
I’ve never worded it quite so blatantly, but I 100% agree! The two are complete opposites.
Sad this wasn’t necessarily a great read but it is reassuring that it was better than the first.
I know how hard it can be to love a genre, read tons of book, and then be able to find something original and mind blowing.
kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn
The author did away with info dumps, and the love triangle, so double YAY, but the 4 separate parts didn’t flow overly well. Still, not a bad trade IMO.
Great review Carmel, I was going to listen to this one right away, now it’s been put on the back burner. I’m with you, this a case of how the perfect casting or interpretation for a reader can make a book way more engaging. I’ll will listen one of this days, sounds like an entertaining listen.
Lupdilup recently posted…The Beautiful Ashes Audiobook by Jeaniene Frost (Review)
I know this one was originally high up on your listen list, but yeah, no rush. It’s good, but not great.
Hehe. I adore you Carmel! I love how the mere mention of werewolves makes you decide to pick a sequel up despite not madly loving the first book:) While you didn’t necessarily love this one either, I’m glad you felt it was headed in the right direction, so hopefully book three will just blow you away!
What can I saw, werewolves are my kryptonite, Jenny. I just can’t say no! I’m kinda sad that it was the wolf-y part that fell short the most; that whole yoga retreat thing was weird.
Hooray, you certified it a “howling good must-read”! I actually don’t remember that much humor in the first book, but that’s not a problem, I think the focus on werewolves this time will steal the show. Looking forward to this!
Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Premonitions by Jamie Schultz
James’ writing style is definitely unique, I’ll give him that! I’m not yet sold on some of the other aspects of this series, but the werewolves, and main character are awesome.
Agreed, Werewolves are terrific. I am currently catching up on Heather HIldenbrand’s Dirty Blood series and really enjoying the wolves. I think this sounds like a series I need to check out, and I am always on the hunt for a terrific new werewolf book.
I think I won a couple of Hildenbrand’s books a while back, and surprise surprise, they are STILL on my TBR.
Althought having a Valkyrie is awesome, I’m with you about Sig. I’m happy shes MIA here.
I was looking forward to this hoping that it’ll be better than the first. I gave Charming 3 stars but from your review I think this will be the same. She can be funny but I feel her challenge is keeping the humor consistent throughout the story.
Sig only shows up at the beginning and end of this book, so that was a definite plus. You might like DARING slightly more because of that fact alone.
Aye, I do hear I should try book 1 😀
blodeuedd recently posted…Romance Friday: It happened one wedding – Julie James
I’m not sure if this series is your cup of tea, but there’s only one way to find out for sure, right?
I think you cemented my want for book 1 b/c I now want book 2 as well! 😀 I wasn’t thinking about audio but now… I might have to do all of these on audio! 😀
Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…AimeeKay: Readers for Rett Awareness
Well then, in that case I’m doubly glad to be able to add to your TBR. Hehe!
I’ve been wanting to read this series for quite some time! Glad to see that the second book lives up to the first! And, yes, werewolves definitely make everything better.
Nicole recently posted…5 Star Review – Shattered World by Kate L. Mary
Two 4-star reviews in a row is pretty decent IMO for a debut author; I hope you enjoy James’ werewolves!
I haven’t read this author but I love werewolf stories so I may have to take another look at this one.
Mary Kirkland recently posted…Cover Reveal: Snared By Saber by Shelley Munro
Make sure that you don’t skip CHARMING though, it was too much essential world-building to miss.
Ok, thanks for letting me know.
Mary Kirkland recently posted…Happy Raturday!
Yay!! I’ve been waiting to see reviews for this one 🙂
I was surprised by the lack of reviews. Oh well, more Amazon / GoodReads likes for me! 😉
I was quite mixed about the first book but I wonder now if this one would be better to me thanks to your review. Maybe I should try it too. thanks for the review!
You probably disliked many of the same aspects that I did the first time around, so yes, do give Elliott James a second chance!
LOL they do make so many things better. I’ve got this series on the tbr pile. A reader friend of mine just loves them and gotta say I’m totally digging those covers. Glad you enjoyed it!
anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Happiness Challenge–Day 3
There’s a bunch of shorts too that are really fun, a tad expensive for their size, but still worth the read.
I’m glad to hear that giving a second chance to this series worked so well for you, Carmel! Sometimes too much world building can be troublesome for a story.
Pili recently posted…First Chapter, First Paragraph #12: Lark Ascending by Meagan Spooner!!
My go-to rule is 2 strikes you’re out, so reading DARING was pretty much a foregone conclusion for me. Ooh, and the werewolves might have had something to do with that too. Hehe
Glad Darin is better than Charming, Carmel! I did not want to continue after the first book but now I night give it a chance 🙂
kara-karina recently posted…Friday Mini Reviews #30: Anne Bishop, Roni Loren & Deborah Blake
One of my blogger peeps got an ARC of this one, and she knows how much I like weres, so the little nudge from her helped too.
Great review Carmel! This is another series I need to get onto! Although you found Darla not as funny, the storyline sounds fantastic!
Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace
Naomi recently posted…Review ~ Dominic by L.A. Casey
John Charming’s past isn’t a pretty one, so the lack of humour made sense given all of the backstory. No series can be fun & games all the time!
I’m sooo looking forward to reading this one any day now. I just need to like throw in a YA book before I read another adult one since I’m behind so much on all my books in general and YA goes faster.
Heck yes Werewolves make things better!!
Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Black Arts by Faith Hunter
I thought that you were looking forward to this one even more than I was, so I’m surprised that I beat you to the punch. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the werewolves!
Oooh I love it when authors use direct address like that – makes me feel like I’m in conversation with the characters as opposed to just yelling at them like I normally do. Even though I love a UF with humour, I’m glad that the more subdued tone was working for you. Cracking up to an audiobook feels awesome but looks friggin’ weird to other people…it doesn’t always leave the greatest impression when you’re just chuckling to yourself in public (speaking from personal experience)!
Danya recently posted…Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
This series’ first person POV shines even more in audio, but I hear ya about looking cray-cray in public. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. LOL