Book Review & Conversation – Burned by Karen Marie Moning

Book Review & Conversation – Burned by Karen Marie Moning
Book Review & Conversation – Burned by Karen Marie MoningBurned by Karen Marie Moning
Series: Fever #7
Published by Delacorte Press, Random House
Publication date: January 20, 2015
Genres: Adult, Romance, Urban Fantasy
512 pages
Format: ARC
Source: ARC via publisher, Purchased

It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.

MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.

When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed.

Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.

It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil gets blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.


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Book Review:

* Originally Posted at Romance at Random (now The Smitten Word)

“I could turn you inside out. Play you like you play the rest of the world. You’re not a singularity anymore. I’ve become your equal in every way.”

To put it simply, Burned is an adventure from the beginning to the end. Moning delivers an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story with her signature finesse. Enthralling, powerful, and downright sexy, Burned is everything you’ve been aching for and more.

Even though I’m a Fever series newbie and haven’t waited years in between books, I still missed the Fever world and these dear characters. Most of all, I missed Rainbow Girl Mac, so it was so nice to be back in her the comfortable headspace of MacKayla Lane. Of course, more Barrons was a nice bonus.

Burned picks up right where Iced left off, a showdown between Dani and Mac. In Iced, Dani was sure that Mac was going to kill her after she revealed a devastating secret. On guard at all times, evading Mac was Dani’s main goal. Now face-to-face with the one person who showed her an iota of love, Dani doesn’t want to hurt her but she also doesn’t want to die. There was no telling who was going to attack whom first. What happens is game-changing. I may have jumped up and down. Don’t worry, I’m not going to divulge what happens. I’m trying to keep this spoiler-free, folks! But what I will say is that Moning took this fight to a place I did not see coming.

Mac, the Nine, and the Druids have their hands full with some pressing emergencies. The gang is missing some key players, and they fight to get them back. For one, Christian MacKeltar is at the mercy of one the most deliciously macabre villains—the Crimson Hag. The woman is perpetually knitting an intricate skirt for herself comprised of the guts of her victims. It doesn’t get more gruesome than that!

Meanwhile, Barrons and Ryodan form an alliance with some of the most unlikely beings to try to get Dublin back in working order, but of course, that’s not their only objective. Along the way, they run into a few small obstacles, namely a new player in the game. An ice cold fighter whose goal is to kill and conquer at any cost. One who will give everyone a run for their money.

While this book has multiple points-of-view, one in particular I won’t divulge, the reader is primarily in Mac’s head. Mac’s comedic timing, brilliance and vulnerability are some of the traits that make her such a great character. In Burned, you find out why Mac has been missing in action, what she and Barrons have been doing (wink!), and learn more about the evil that lurks inside of her. Her internal dark passenger is a constant thorn in her side in addition to the physical Unseelie creatures that follow her at every turn.

I was dying to see Mac and Barrons as a couple and you get plenty of that. I wouldn’t say that it was particularly steamy, but their carnal, sizzling attraction is still very much there. The two of them are magnetic and unparalleled. Mac and Barrons are not your typical couple. They aren’t the couple to hold hands and whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears. I loved that really not much has changed with them. They still fight and bicker like an old married couple and Mac still drives Barrons bugfuck.

“Sleeping with him, acknowledging our feelings for each other, has changed everything.
And nothing.
In bed, we’re one couple.
Out of bed, we’re another.”

Iced and Burned introduced the reader to other men in Ryodan and Barrons circle. We got to know Lor and Ryodan in Iced. In this installment, you get a sneak peek at Kasteo, and become MUCH more acquainted with Lor. I LOVED Lor. He was a huge dose of comedic relief!

Burned made me like Ryodan even more, maybe even love him. There were a few moments in Iced that made me really dislike him, but he more than redeemed himself. I really began to understand his character more and his motivations. He’s surprisingly human. I loved the continued tension-filled relationship he has with Dani. I cannot wait to see where that ends up. Dare I say that my favorite scene in Burned involved Ryodan? Yes, I think I shall say that.

So much happened in Burned, which was completely and totally awesome. Moning continues to knit and meld these intricately brilliant storylines, just as the Crimson Hag knits the guts of her victims. In Burned, she gives us answers, but she also creates new pathways for the story to go. There are so many secondary plotlines and I’m very excited to see where they go.

“Pick up the fucking knife…I said kill me.”

I absolutely loved the way this story developed, building to a crescendo that propelled me to keep turning the pages. I could NOT put the book down. There were a couple of moments that I felt dragged a bit, but once I hit this novel’s sweet spot, there was no going back. I devoured this book with a feverous ferocity. I haven’t done that in a long time.

There were jaw-dropping moments that left my heart racing, my brain jumbled, and a huge smile on my face. With this series, I’m always trying to theorize and try to predict how Moning is going to plot her way out a problem. There was on particular plot point that I was immensely happy about. You’ll know it when you get there. With that little nugget of knowledge, I am immensely excited about what’s in store for these characters.

The wait for Feverborn will feel like forever, but the waiting is all worth it when it comes to Karen Marie Moning. Burned is a must read and the perfect continuation to the series!

Book Conversation w/ Megan & Eliza:

Non-Spoiler Section:

Megan:  Wow! Burned was such thrilling ride.  After reading Iced, I was ready to get out of Dani’s head and get back in Mac’s headspace.  I loved Burned from beginning to end, but I did think there were a few moments towards the beginning that dragged a little. It didn’t bother me in the least though because SO MUCH HAPPENED in Burned. What Iced lacked, Burned made up for in spades.

I will say that now that I’ve read Burned, I have a greater appreciation of Iced in retrospect. Moning wove much of what transpired in Iced into Burned. Burned picks up right where Iced left off with Dani and Mac going head-to-head. Finally after Mac being missing in action, we finally got to see her and Dani attempt to talk out their feelings. I don’t want to reveal what happens at the end of this fighting sequence but I will say that I did a little Irish jig at what Moning did. I was so elated.

You can read more of my non-spoilery thoughts over at Romance at Random (Full Burned Review).

Eliza:  This is a hard one for me, because on one hand I loved so much of it and on the other there was one part that angered me to the point that makes it hard for me to think about the book without wanting to hit something.  Overall, I enjoyed it – having Mac and Barrons back, getting more of the backstory between Ryodan and Dani, the interaction between Ryodan and Jada, learning more about the Nine etc.  It was a strong return to the Fever world we remember.  Iced didn’t really feel like it was part of this series but Burned definitely did and in the process of reading gave me more of an appreciation of some of the set up that went on in Iced.  The action moved and there was plenty of comic relief and plot development though I was not a fan of the constant changing of perspective which was jarring and often frustrating.  The huge flaw for me unfortunately was the Alpha Alternative aspect of it.  It was a betrayal that was so wrong to me that it left a shadow over my enjoyment of the book as a whole.  She fundamentally altered a major aspect of the first five books when there was no reason to do so.  It added nothing but tainted so much more.

SPOILER SECTION:

WARNING!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!! DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ BURNED!

Seriously, don’t complain to me if you’re spoiled.

Seriously.

Megan: I missed Mac so much after reading Iced. I was so done with Dani’s…um…brilliant personality. Plus, I really wanted to see how she and Barrons were doing after that dramatic profession of love in Shadowfever.  One thing I thought Burned lacked was more of a focus on Barrons and Mac adjusting to their relationship. I wish we would have gotten more of that. Moning is famous for making us starved for them as a couple, which is part of what makes readers flip through the pages, but I wanted more. Does that make me greedy? Probably.

I loved what she gave us though. I loved what Mac said about them as a couple, that they were both islands. In bed, they are one couple and in public they are another — simply Barrons and Ms. Lane.

Eliza:  I was more than ready to be back in Mac’s head. After spending so much time with her in the Fever series I was invested in her.  She’s one of my all-time favorite characters.  I was really excited to get to see the dynamic between Mac and Barrons playing out now that they’re an acknowledged couple.

The one thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was that there was so much going on in this book – almost too much.  Perspectives kept switching.  Just when you’d get used to being with one character, you’d be flung over to another.  I felt like I had whiplash. It was the complete opposite of Iced where very little development was going on and I was desperate for the plot to get furthered.  Here, it was as if she was making up for that and I just wanted it to slow down a little and give me more time with the characters and the development.

What did you love?

Eliza:  I loved Dani getting to one-up Ryodan.  Even though Dani is “gone” and she’s technically Jada, I was happy to see her having the chance to offer up some payback.  I felt like Ryodan was pretty abusive with her in Iced and although we get more backstory on that in this book I thought Dani was owed a chance to put him in his place.  I loved watching her condescend to him and annoying the shit out of him in the process especially because she had the upper hand and he was powerless to walk all over her like he used to.

Megan: I loved the fact that Dani is fecking all over the place.

What was your favorite moment of the book?

Eliza:  For me, one of the most powerful moments in the book was when Barrons brought the heads of the Unseelie Princes into the bookstore and he and Mac were forced to confront all of those unspoken feelings regarding the rape and the aftermath.  I thought that discussion was so raw and the emotions were portrayed so well on both sides. I would have liked to have seen that dealt with a bit more because it was such an emotional burden on both of them and it carried huge implications for their relationship. They both had a lot of unresolved feelings of guilt and anger that they needed to share with each other in order to have any hope of moving on.

Megan: I think you can guess which moment was my favorite since I won’t shut up about it… The tension-filled sexual showdown between Jada and Ryodan was freaking awesome. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read it. I reread that scene multiple times. After all of that sexual tension and build-up in Iced, something needed to happen. Hot damn, that kiss was filled with passion on both sides. And not just the romantic kind of passion. I hope that Moning doesn’t make us wait too long. Dani and Ryodan need to have sex. The end.

Eliza: I think that’ll happen in the fourth book. I’m betting she’s going to make you wait.  It’ll be fun to watch your sexual frustration.

Megan: My heart goes out to Ryodan’s balls. They have to be so blue.

Eliza: He didn’t appear to be saving himself for her.  Speaking of, I do love the way the Jo situation played out in this book.  I wasn’t a fan of what was going on between them in Iced but I liked what transpired on that front here. Lor!

Megan: I wasn’t a fan of the Jo/Ryodan circle of love/sexy times. Even though the Dani and Ryodan thing was gross and weird, I still felt like Dani was Ryodan’s and Ryodan was Dani’s. Just not at that exact moment. I wanted Jo to jump off a cliff/take a hike/go away. I say that in the nicest way possible. And as far as Ryodan’s sexual escapades, I like to think that Ryodan’s balls only have eyes for Dani. They’re still blue.

Eliza: I agree with those feelings though I was angrier at Ryodan than I was at Jo because Ryodan was perpetrating it and I felt he was doing it as a way of manipulating Dani and her emotions – almost as if he was punishing her for being too young for him.

What did you think of Barrons and Ryodan’s “knights of the round table” group?

Megan: I was so PISSED when I found out that Barrons was inviting Mac’s rapists for a little chat. And it was IN THE BOOKSTORE, Mac’s safe place. I was every bit as angry as Mac was that he would sit in the same room with them, let alone in the bookstore. But I held on to the fact that Barrons is very calculating and there is a rhyme and reason to everything he does. I still didn’t like it.

Eliza:  I had a difficult time with that as well. I felt like she had had her power taken away enough and he was taking it away again by not giving her any choice in the matter.  Inviting the princes into the bookstore seemed like such a betrayal even knowing that Barrons would have an endgame in mind.  I trusted that there was a reason for it but it was still hard to swallow.

Megan:  I loved Barrons and Mac’s discussion on the Unseelie Princes being lynchpins and how Barrons planned on taking them down once he was done using them for what he needs.

Eliza:  The parts that resonated the most with me were the conversations between Mac and Barrons and this was one of them.  I wish there were more of these moments where the feelings that they always avoided talking about came out.  There was so much honesty in those conversations and it was painful and beautiful.  I’ve always felt the heart of this series is the relationship between Mac and Barrons and I was craving these encounters between them.

That Jada chick, she’s a cold bitch. What did you think of her?

Eliza:  When Jada was first introduced, I didn’t really think much of her.  She was too cold to the point of being one-dimensional.  Obviously, as the book goes on we learn more about her and her character and for me she became one of the best aspects of the book. My favorite moments with her were when we saw glimmers of Dani’s humanity coming through.  Watching her struggle to deny and suppress that part of herself which she deemed weakness made her much more relatable.

Megan: I didn’t really know what to think of her at first. I was so focused on trying to figure out who the hell she was and why she was observing everyone. As things progressed and we found out who she really was, I was all aboard the Jada train. The circumstances surrounding the “why” Jada exists is really sad, but I really liked her chilling personality.

Dani and Ryodan time.

Megan: Can we talk about Ryodan and Dani now? Please? Pretty please? I hereby renounce my hatred of Dani. I no longer hate her. I think she’s a badass. The Dani from the first six books was really fecking annoying and I wanted to smack her in the face with the world’s largest Snickers bar. BUT the Dani we see in Burned is ultra Mega-awesome super-powered feckin-A Dani and I love her. She was scary, ice cold, and had a single-minded focus to kill. She didn’t take shit from anyone, including Ryodan, which only made him like her more.

Eliza:   I did love seeing Dani go head to head with Ryodan and having the power to hold her own. I also enjoyed watching Ryodan struggling with what Dani had become and wanting her back the way she was in addition to questioning the part he played in the transformation.  Here he’s faced with a Dani that is old enough for him to be with her (although it still feels a little weird to me) and yet the Dani he wants is gone.

Barrons: Circumcised or not?

Megan: I bet Barrons circumcised his own penis because he’s a badass.

Eliza: Barrons has an otherworldly penis. He doesn’t require things like circumcision so I don’t know what to say.

Lor wins all the things!

Megan: Dude. You can’t help but love Lor.

Eliza:  Lor was one of my favorite parts about Iced and I loved getting even more of him in Burned.  I laughed every time he was on the page.  He’s so different from the other Nine which is a nice change of pace.

What was your “holy shit” moment?

Megan: I was freaking out when Jada’s true identity was revealed. I had an inkling that Jada was going to be someone important, but I didn’t know she was going to be Dani! Holy shit! I’m still reeling. The scene in the abbey when Ryodan figures out who Jada is was EPIC!

Eliza:  My holy shit moment still has to be Barrons killing the Princes and walking in with their heads.  I really wasn’t expecting that and at first I was as angry as Mac that he took it upon himself to do that when it seemed he had no right to take that from her.  The conversation that followed and revealed Barrons’ own sense of guilt and powerlessness helped put that in some perspective.

The Crimson Hag.

Megan: *moment of silence* May the Crimson Hag rest in pieces. I was so sad (and happy) to see her go. I loved her but hated what she did to poor Christian. His chapters were depressing and my heart broke for him.

Eliza:  The Crimson Hag was a perfect menacing evil – kind of like the Gray Lady in the previous books.  She was fear-inducing and gruesomely funny at the same time.  I was relieved to see Christian rescued and how they all came together – in spite of their feelings about each other – to make that happen.

Dani jumping into the silvers was one of the greatest moments in modern day literature.

Eliza:  I could hear you cheering all the way over here.

Megan: Finally, Moning is going to make it okay for Ryodan to boink Dani!

This book left me wanting more Barrons and Mac togetherness. Mac was horny the entire time! Come on!

Megan: I was a little disappointed that Moning didn’t give us any Mac and Barrons sexy times. We got one scene with Mac reminiscing on the state of their relationship but not one sex scene. After all the waiting we had to do in the first five, I was at least expecting a little something in this one. No dice. I really hope that she makes up for it in the next book or I will not be a happy camper.

Eliza: What I love about this series is that it isn’t overrun with sex scenes.  The focus is more on plot, relationships and characterization which I appreciate.  What Moning does so well is to give us just enough but always leave us wanting more which is a delicate line to walk.  That said though, I felt there was a distinct lack of physical romance between Mac and Barrons in Burned and I really wanted at least one scene of them together like that. They have incredible sexual chemistry and it’s such a distinct part of their relationship that it felt wrong that it was almost completely missing. (I’m not counting the Alpha Alternative as a sex scene between them for reasons I’ll mention below.)

Any theories or predictions for Feverborn?

Megan: I think Cruce is going to escape the abbey towards the end of the next book. With the abbey being overtaken by Fae charm, it seems like Cruce is have some sort of awakening. I think the final battle of the series will be the Nine

Elia:  I definitely believe that Cruce is coming back and I think that Mac is going to finally get to give him his due.  She didn’t get to kill the other princes and in Shadowfever she was denied any sort of true personal vengeance against Cruce so I’m thinking she has that coming.

Speaking of Cruce, I think Kat’s pregnancy is also going to be called into question.  With all of the night-time “visits” from Cruce it wouldn’t be a stretch to suspect that the paternity of that baby will become an issue.

I also have quite a few thoughts about that ending but that would probably be giving way too much away.

Megan: *in the style of Maury Povich* In the case of Kat’s baby, Cruce, you ARE the father.

What didn’t sit well with you?

Eliza: My main issue with the book as a whole was the insertion of The Alpha Alternative.  This was the one thing that I had a very difficult time getting past.  If I felt that this encounter had truly taken place in the original Fever incarnation and was always there hanging in the background throughout the first five books, I would be able to more readily accept it.  However, it is clear to me that this is more like some version of revisionist history in which Moning is changing her own story after the fact in order to manufacture some sort of conflict between Mac and Barrons.  And the sad fact is that a writer with Moning’s abilities doesn’t need to stoop to that level.  She had plenty of naturally occurring conflict to mine in Burned – Mac’s depression and struggles with inaction, Barrons’ feelings about that inaction, Barrons’ struggles with integrating Mac into his life and having an actual relationship with her, the issues that arose in dealing with the Princes and the aftermath of the rape, etc. Doing what Moning did here undermined so much of what occurred in the original series – the slow and gradual build-up of sexual tension, the grudging respect between Mac and Barrons, the beautifully nuanced development of Mac’s character from what she was to what she became.  All of that was detracted from if we are being asked to believe that they had this torrid sexual encounter at the get-go and that Barrons has had it in his head the whole time.  It felt like a betrayal of these characters and I absolutely disagree with the choice to alter something so fundamental about this relationship after the fact.

Megan: I agree with you on that point. It was very clear early on in the book that Mac was struggling with not being able to be in the frontlines cleaning up Dublin. Mixed with that is this new relationship she has with Barrons. Yes, I would have liked to see Moning explore more that instead of mixing in the Alpha Alternative too. While the addition of that didn’t irk me like it did you, I agree with your thoughts and think they’re all valid and founded. I wish she would have kept the Alpha Alternative as bonus material as opposed to incorporating it into Burned where it didn’t need to be.

It seems that Moning is pairing up each of The Nine with their own personal human. I’m not sure I like that. I’m okay with Barrons and Mac and two other couples [Dani and Ryodan and Jo and Lor]. But there is one in particular (Kat and Kasteo) that I’m not sure about. In Iced, I was so drawn into Kat and Sean’s tragic love story. Even though her chapters were short, you could feel the emotional intensity between them. That combined with their long history, made me fall in love with their story.  Then, Ryodan throws Kat in a room with Kasteo in hopes that they can help each other and something starts to blossom. I’m not digging that, especially since she’s pregnant presumably with Sean’s baby.

Second, in Burned you find out Sean had actually escaped Chester’s and was working in the black market. Why didn’t he immediately go after Kat? I have a hard time believing that he wouldn’t do that. He seemed to suddenly be uninterested in Kat in Burned.

Eliza:  I had a lot of questions about that as well.  I wanted a confrontation between Kat and Sean about what’s going on. They’re both keeping secrets – Kat’s pregnancy (it better not be Cruce’s!) and Sean’s working for the black market/not returning to her (this bothered me a lot because their relationship was a long-term solid one before he went to work at Chester’s so it didn’t make sense why Sean wouldn’t at least check in with her) and yet there was never any real interaction between them in Burned so I’m hoping for some forthcoming answers. It seems like there is definitely some sort of plan to hook her up with Kasteo ala Jo/Lor, Mac/Barrons, Dani/Ryodan.  It’s like a human/immortal Tinder thing going on.

Megan’s Rating: 4 stars

Eliza’s Rating: 3.5 stars

You can now pre-order FEVERBORN (Book #8): Pre-Order Here (January 2016)

*Megan received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Eliza purchased her copy.

Amazon: USUKCAN | iBooks | GR

Burned by Karen Marie Moning

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