Cornerstone Deep - Charlene A. Wilson
This review is hard to write for me, but then again this book was hard to read. I won the second book in this series, Cornerstone Deep Echoes, in a first reads giveaway. So obviously, I had to read this book first. I really wish I had read this book before I entered the giveaway - I'd have known not to enter the giveaway. But alas, the only way I learned of this series was though the giveaway. I was intrigued and looked forward to reading this series a lot.

First things first. *Trigger Warning for Rape* in this book. If you want to know what you're avoiding...Within the first 20 pages there's an attempted assault that is only incomplete due to the friend of the victim walking in. Then the friend prattles on about what a great guy the would-be-rapist is. Then it happens again later, while the woman is under a spell that makes her want her rapist, who is also now her captor and owner. The treatment of supporting characters, well, supporting and gushing over the rapist is sickening.

I wanted to like it so much. There are some elements in this book which are great, very creative and different. However, it feel apart with the characters, poor execution and basic lack of information exchange.The world setting is quite certainly different. Yet there were things missing, that just didn't make sense. I also found it hard to grasp the concepts well through the story. Truly, the best thing of this book, was the reference guide. The guide made sense and filled in a lot of things that helped. For instance, this world is supposedly the mirror of Earth and in the year 2024 yet, there are no mention of internet, computers, planes, trains, cameras, video recorders, etc. I mean after all wouldn't it be easy for people to capture one of the Shilo boys slipping up? Everyone here has a cellphone with picture/video capabilities, yet there is no mention of this. Did this world just progress conveniently differently for the Shilo boys to not have to worry so much about getting caught? Also, how do they swing lying to everyone when they live so long? No pictures to haunt them? They only have painted portraits? These questions and more nagged at me, this lack of information, this lack of detail, truly drove me out of the book and out of my mind.

I'm sorry but without a proper explanation I find this set up extremely hard to swallow. No poor explanation, glimmer or glimpse into the history of this world is given. As fascinating as this world may be, if it was given a chance to be a world instead of a cardboard cut out setting place in a cheap play. Yes, a very talented art student worked very hard and made it look very pretty yet you can still see how flat it is and its outline. It is totally erected for the benefit of giving the Shilo boys a playground made miraculously in an instant out of smoke. The world building is simply lacking in the building department.

I have to admit having the main god, god of conformance was pretty funny. That god is only as good as you are, and there's a good reasoning why he doesn't step in and help. That solves a lot of problems of gods. I do wish we knew if these three were the only gods or if other realms have other gods. I just find it so restricting to know nothing beyond the narrow shallow view of the cardboard cutouts.

Now with a background capable of being interesting if it was investing in, that leaves the story riding on the shoulders of the characters. Now matter how chiseled, strong and handsome they may be, they are not Atlas. I was seriously annoyed by almost every character. It wasn't all bad though. The characters did all have a personality and stayed in character. They were well done and thought out. Their dynamics were interesting. Really, characters had so much potential too like the setting. They acted consistently, though it was consistently annoying. I just couldn't stand them, mainly the main male characters. Most of the women I liked, I just thought they should run far away from the men. The men just seem to breathe on them and now their in love. I didn't really see the attraction.

Cole - Goddamn is this dude cocky, disrespectful, stupid and just so full of himself. He ditches a woman by just leaving and not explaining. The woman is so in love with him, she still thinks they are together. This is a major plot point. In fact,all of the plot comes from Cole's stupidity. It was just annoying. It's all spun to make it seem like he's still a great guy, just so blinded by love. Oh how sweet! Not.. His treatment of Charlotte and Anna makes me wish he'd spend eternity alone. He didn't give a shit about Anna, until he found out she's his soul mate. Who cares about all the people you've harvested and made as slaves?

James - Now James is a great guy. He has really no flaws. At All. His stupid decisions comes from the stupid assumptions his entire family makes. Usually an all perfect character annoys me because it's so unrealistic and hard to relate to. This time around, I was just glad to have someone I didn't hate. I mean really, if James wasn't the smart, calm and nice dude the whole family would fall to shit. Maybe they should have.

Vincent - Now, this young brash drunk on love dude is pretty great. He argued not do harvest Anna. He argued against many of Cole's stupid decisions. He gets angry often being stupid himself, but this is spun as just being passionate and head strong. His treatment of his wife, Elaina, was a major irritation.

Anna - I honestly liked Anna. As just Anna. I was so annoyed at everyone with their treatment of Anna as a thing to be manipulated and owned. It was disgusting. Those claiming to love her, just wanted to control her. Not just Dressen but Cole too. Does no one want just Anna? She's lost everything yet they morn for her soul, her re-birthing evolving soul but no one loved Anna just as Anna, for the person she was now. She was a strong, determined, dedicated, talented woman but people just wanted to use her.

I understand it's just a story and there is going to be jackasses in them, even main characters. But besides a few bright moments I just couldn't deal with these people. They were supposed to be the anchor, the meat, the driving force of the story but they made me want to drive off a cliff. Maybe it's just me, not my style, not my book. Maybe I was just missing the important clue in to why these women would be in love with these men.

So the characters and setting had potential, but ultimately fell flat. That leaves the plot to talk about. The story actually wasn't that bad. It was just hard to get into, hard to care about and hard to finish due to all the other elements of the book. I really wouldn't have finished this book if I hadn't won the second book in a giveaway.

Now, what if you are just looking for a fluffy, enjoyable romance to sink your teeth into? Who cares about the world building? Who cares about the plot being rescued literally, by the gods? It's all about the romance of soul mates steaming it up. But even there I think the book fails to deliver. There are several sexy moments and sex scene. The first of which is a very detailed sexual assault. Well, lovely. Then the rapist gets his victim as a complacent, no free will no memories sex slave. Again, very detailed sex scenes with them that is just unendingly creepy. I was just so repulsed. Oh, but what about the other sex scenes? They failed to titillate me. The way it was described was so hard to imagine and get into. With all the halos, birds singling and godly perfectness about it all, it was hard to
remember we were talking about sex. Maybe it simply wasn't my style or I just couldn't enjoy it because of all the other issues with the book. I can't be sure. I just found it all so lacking.

Don't get me wrong, I like an enjoyable fluff book, especially paranormal fantasy. That's the whole reason why I entered to win the second book in the giveaway. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this book. It has moments, it has some great elements, and it certainly had potential. I just know that if I hadn't won the second book in the giveaway I'd have quit reading it and that means something since I finish everything.

I like to be detailed about reviews for my own record and so that if other people read my reviews they have an idea of what to expect. Obviously of course this is all my own opinion and others have really loved this book, this series. Don't take this personally. I am indeed a fan of this genre but not this series. I would not recommend these books to anyone.