The Breaker Queen (Dark Breakers Book 1) - C. S. E. Cooney, Patty Templeton, Jeremy Cooney

This is a combined review of The Breaker Queen and The Two Paupers, the first two volumes of the "Dark Breakers" paranormal romance series. First the positive: the fantasy aspects of these novellas are pretty good. Breaker House is rooted in three worlds, Athe (the domain of humans), Valwode (the domain of Gentry, or fairies), and Bana (the domain of goblins); at midnight, passage between worlds can happen. The Gentry are appropriately beautiful, shifty, and careless of the well-being of humans who cross their path; an impressively vicious struggle for the throne of Valwode is going on. But these stories are more dominated by romance than fantasy, and that’s where I had a serious problem with them. Cooney says she was inspired to write them by the works of Sharon Shinn; I have read two books by Shinn, and in both, a woman falls in love with a man and proceeds to stick with him even though he gives her little in return and her life is very negatively impacted, just because she can’t stop loving. That’s definitely the model of romance followed in Cooney’s series. In The Breaker Queen, the title character (Nyx, the Queen of Valwode) falls in love at first sight with a mortal painter and abdicates her throne to marry him and have babies, although she regrets what she’s given up. The Two Paupers is worse: it uses one of my least favorite romance tropes, where a guy (Gideon, a sculptor) is in severe supernatural danger, so he decides to keep the woman he loves (Analise, a writer) “safe” by preventing her from loving him. Naturally he can’t just tell her the truth about the danger and let her make up her own mind what to do! No, he lies, and goes on a campaign of insulting, humiliating, and tormenting her, even once throwing something at her. And all in vain, since she can’t stop loving him no matter how utterly miserable he makes her. It would be horrible even if he didn’t indirectly threaten her with violence at least three times, one of those times after he’s supposedly “reformed”. No, I can’t regard them ending up together as any kind of triumph. Series rating: not recommended.