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Review: Roar - Cora Carmack

RoarRoar by Cora Carmack
Series: Stormheart #1
My rating: {★★★☆☆}

YA Fantasy
Published June 13th 2017 by Tor Teen

Source: Borrowed
In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

I buddy read Roar with my #squad members, Uma from Books.Bags.Burgers and Amy from A Magical World of Words. As always we had a lot of fun and a lot of great discussions throughout our read and even though none of us seemed to share the same opinions, it's always the best to be able to discuss and debate all the things. You can see Amy's review HERE and Uma's review HERE.

Firstly, let me just state that a three star review means that I did like the book; it wasn't awe inspiring; it didn't amaze me, but I was entertained and I enjoyed the basic story.

What confuses me is that Cora Carmack is actually a contemporary romance author but I felt that she really struggled with the romance and it's progression in this one, and yet the fantasy world building and plot were right on target.

There's a decent magic system and the way that the storms are built and act and the way that both the Stormlings and the hunters fight the storms was highly entertaining and intriguing.

The world of Caelira has been extremely well thought out - history, geography, politics, culture and customs.

Where I really struggled though was in the characters and their development and especially with the romance. Why were all the characters so darned attractive? Why were all the males so overwhelmingly alpha? Why couldn't the romance be compelling?

I did appreciate that Aurora/Rora was so dedicated to her position and that she actually seemed passionate about being able to protect her people.. She had learned how to fight in a way that was realistic and that I respected her for, yet I found myself wishing for a slightly stronger heroine; someone I could really root for and get behind.

I get it, I do - Rora had been sheltered for so much of her life out of necessity to hide her secret. She was essentially a Rapunzel without the tragic backstory, however I felt irritated by her petulance and her inability to own up to her mistakes. I was also irritated with her fascination by the male of our species - not once, but twice she was in insta-lust and I was just wishing for some depth and genuine attachment.

I can see where Carmack was coming from with Locke and Rora but it just didn't translate well for me. She was the 'tortured heroine' with a secret past that had kept her from having any form of romantic relationships prior to this book. He was the 'alpha hero', driven and assertive and he had total control - until he met Rora. She was the 'fish-out-of-water' in completely new territory but determined to prove herself worthy. They were constantly arguing and in conflict with each other which was probably meant to create chemistry convey attraction. There was even the compulsory 'I-love-him-but-I-can't-let-him-get-close' trope. It was just - NOT GOOD. I'm sorry, I just wasn't a fan of the romance.

The multiple POV's where also problematic for me because there's some of his thoughts that I would rather not have known! Instances where he was distracted by her femininity and his arousal - his attraction to her could have been conveyed in a way that really ramped up the chemistry between them, some more showing rather than telling of internal thoughts: Slight hitches in breath or sideways looks but instead we got an internal monologue that was, quite frankly, a turn off.

Let's not forget the outright nauseating shows of alpha-maleness.
After the tenth or so time she had tried and failed to keep from falling against him, he was out of patience. Wrapping the reins once around the pommel so he didn’t lose them, he reached both hands back to grip her thighs, well above her burns, and tugged her forward. She squeaked in response, her fingers tangling in the leather straps and holsters that crossed his abdomen. He would be lying if he didn’t admit that he got pleasure out of both her outraged cry and the feel of her surrounding him.
“There,” he said, his voice low so that only she could hear. “We’re touching. I can feel you, all soft and warm against my back.” He heard her sharp intake of breath behind him, and he could swear her fingers tightened on the holster around his midsection. “You can feel me, and the world has not descended into flame again.” Though there was plenty of heat moving down his spine.
“You are such an ass!”
He smiled. “Probably.”
“Yes, but I’m an ass who gets what he wants.”
Am I shipping this guy with Rora? Ehhhh, no. Why would I?

Prince Cassius was to me, probably the most complex character because he was a little mysterious and ambiguous and darkly tempting with his flashes of personality and the possibility that he could be morally grey instead of completely painted black.

And yet, despite the flaws and the problems I faced in the characters and the romance, I was charmed by the tenacity of our princess, I savoured the unique and well thought out fantasy world and I was fascinated by the storms and the stormhearts as well as the side stories of the elemental magic that seemed to be popping up. I'll definitely be continuing the series when the sequel is available.
This world will make you a victim every chance it gets. Don’t let it.