Review: My Familiar Stranger by Victoria Danann

Posted July 18th, 2012 in book review / 6 comments

My Familiar Stranger

Book #1 of The Order of the Black Swan Series

by Victoria Danann

Publisher: 7th House (April 2012)
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format: eBook (375 pages)
Source: Review Request by Author
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 stars)

Minutes ahead of inevitable assassination, Elora Laiken is forceably transported to an alternate dimension similar, but not identical, to her own. She is stranded. Alone. Far from home. A stranger in a “strangish” land.

Of course a girl could suffer worse problems than having gorgeous suitors. Perhaps more importantly, in the midst of an epidemic of vampire related abductions, can she stay alive long enough to choose between an honor debt, true love, or the breathlessness of single-minded passion?

My Familiar Stranger is a full length, stand alone, Paranormal Romance novel that also sets up the foundation for the Black Swan series. It is loved by fans of paranormal romance, fantasy romance, and urban fantasy. ~ Goodreads

At a Glance
I actually turned down this review request the first time around. One, I was ridiculously behind on my review requests, two, I felt the beginning of My Familiar Stranger (from the sample chapters I got) was too slow. Then I saw many of my blogger buddies really enjoying this book. So I knew I had to give it another chance. I am very happy I did.

The Good
Here’s the Story…
Elora’s world is no longer safe for her. Hoping to save her life, her mentor throws her into a portal which takes her to a world similar but different than hers. Unfortunately, the journey through the portal is like going through a cheese grater. So as Elora heals from her trauma, Storm is there to help her every step of the way. But once better, Elora finds her eye wandering towards the cocky and sexy Ram. Both men are a part of the Order of the Black Swan, a team of men who rid the world of monstrous vampires. But are they both strong enough to keep Elora safe from what goes bump in the night? And can Elora choose between obligation and love?

With Names Like Storm and Ram, Who Could Resist?
As this story picked up, I was fascinated by the dynamics between Elora, Storm, and Ram. This was not a straight forward romance. I truly did not know who she was going to choose for the longest time. Storm was so wonderful, taking care of Elora when everyone else didn’t trust her. He is like the leader of his team, and he does what’s best for everyone. He is just an all around sweet guy. But his feelings for Elora start to change him a little. He is often frustrated with her stubbornness, even while he admires her for it as well. Then we have Ram: laid back, lady’s man, provocative. He could get any girl, except for Elora. She doesn’t want to be another notch on his belt. But Ram has a secret, one that involves Elora. Their futures are more aligned than she thinks. I could totally feel for Elora because Storm is a great guy who would be a perfect companion, but Ram is so raw and sensual, it’s hard not to want him too.

While Elora is trying to get her heart in order, she also has to deal with living in her new world. Leaving behind a past of heartache and regret, she has to learn to assimilate to an alternative dimension. A place in which she is a sort of prisoner until she proves herself trustworthy. Luckily, she passes with flying colors. Elora’s differences work perfectly with the Order’s initiative, killing vampires. I love how Elora finds a place to fit in in her new world. She doesn’t let the little stuff get her down. She is strong, impulsive, tenacious, and endearing. She is the kind of person I would want as my best friend.

A Vampire I Can Sink My Teeth Into…
My Familiar Stranger is a very character driven novel. Everyone is so fascinating to read about. They all have their stories of woe and victory, making them the all the more interesting. I have to admit, Baka was my favorite character by far. A “nice” vampire who wants to help the Order reach their goals. His enthrallment with Elora changes him for the better. They both share that dry humor and sexual tension that make their conversations thrilling to read. They help each other relax into their new roles, being that they are both outsiders in different ways.

My Familiar Stranger is a fun read that leaves you smiling till the very end. It’s not heavy on the action, but the little there is is amazing. The slow build up to the story’s climax was well worth the wait. Danann left us with a wealth of story left untouched. She has set herself up perfectly for a great series, one in which everyone can get their Happily Ever After. I hope this is true because I am still sad for the men left behind, and I want them to find love as well.

The Bad
As I mentioned before, the beginning is very slow. Too much description slowed down the pace and turned me off. Luckily, the story picks up after the first couple chapters.

The POV shifting was annoying, and the division of time was very confusing and jumbled.

Danann likes to explain and recap conversations instead of writing them full-out. I didn’t like that. She also has a tendency to tell more than show.

There are some repetitive parts that needed to be cut to make the story flow better.

The Snuggly
There is sex, which you can find pretty far into the book. It’s well done and nothing too much for a paranormal romance. I was a little sad about the circumstances around the first time Elora has sex with one of the men (I will not mention who because that would ruin the surprise), but I still enjoyed the playfulness and sexiness of Danann’s sex scenes.

I loved this love triangle. It was done very differently than most love triangles I have seen. Elora first starts out developing a relationship with Storm as he takes care of her during her recovery. Then she meets Ram, and starts having feelings for him two. They are both very different men, and I enjoyed watching Elora slowly make her choice.

I will be continuing this series. Danann made sure that you can’t help but fall in love with all her characters. I have to know what is going to happen next. This was not a perfect book by any means, but it’s a nice respite from the real world. Recommended for those who are looking for a different kind of paranormal romance (in a good way).

She was explaining exactly how it happened; that she hadn’t been sure how to verify beyond question that a suspect is a vamp. “So I asked to see his fangs and he showed me. Then I gave him wood.”

They were just turning into the alley when she finished that sentence. Baka, still there waiting for pick up, started laughing all over again.

“Gave him wood!” He shook his head and reached for moisture at his eyes. “This just gets better and better.” All three members of B Team tensed when they realized Baka was in the alley. “She killed him with a toothpick that she grabbed out of some fellow’s mouth as she ran by. Did you know that?”

Ram, Kay, and Storm forgot being wary of Baka and simultaneously turned to look at Elora like she was an alien which, technically, she was. But they were looking at her like they’d never seen her before. Finally, she raised her hands.


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