Wereplanets: In Smoke by Crystal Jordan is a book that is built on a great premise with awesome world building. The plot doesn't feel rushed by its novella length. That doesn't mean that it is a book without flaws, though in spite of them, I would still give the book a C.
There are four wereplanets with mermaids, weredragons, weretigers, and werebears on separate planets. The werefolk were made from Earthan experiments so they could survive on the various planets. It takes places in a galaxy far far a way and a long time from now, but with the loss of Earth they have gaps in their fantastic yet primitive technology. The world building is awesome and the little hints of the various were cultures were fascinating. It made me want to read more in this series just for the world building.
Wereplanets is a series and in this story, Katryn is a weredragon raised on the weretiger planet who is sent back to her home planet to be mated to Lord Nadir and be apart of his harim which is really a polyamorous relationship that would include the sexy Tarkesh. That is where the story breaks down. This plot should have enough conflict thrown in its way, but Jordan resorts to big misunderstandings to advance the plot.
Katryn is thickheaded like few characters outside of the Anita Blake series. Katryn is described as being intelligent, but there are few examples of that trait.
She has no idea what is up with dragon politics or culture and is about to be mated in a way that would cement and protect a trading relationship with the dragons and tigers, but she still allows Tarkesh to seduce her and kiss her in public.
And, even with the knowledge that there are dangerous bandits in the desert that require her caravan to take secret routes she does this:
“No. Just leave me be.” She knew her words and actions were unreasonable, but she couldn’t help it, couldn’t stop now. Her fists balled at her sides, a sign of her anger at all the things she couldn’t control in her life now. Of all the things she was ignorant of, all the things she should know and didn’t. Spinning away, she ran as fast as her legs would carry her. She needed to escape, to be alone... Digging her toes into the sand, she moved with great speed over the terrain. Her body was built to thrive in desert conditions. Away, away.
Katryn acts like a child at every turn. She is supposed to be from the tough weretiger court, but there is no sign that she has any guile or tact. She needs to read the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, badly.
This is supposed to be a menage, but the relationships between Katryn, Tarkesh, and Nadir are very fragmented. Everything is focused on Katryn. The relationship between Katryn and Nadir is never really built on. Tarkesh seems to be their only link besides the mating. One good thing about the threesome (or in separate couples) was that whenever Jordan got them sexing it up, I had to fan myself because she can write some scorching sex scenes.
Nadir is my favorite character because he acts in a logical manner. It annoyed me when he made Katryn apologize to someone when she was being rude, he gets stomped on by the other two in his mating. He's willing to do something very big for Katryn and she doesn't appear grateful as if its her due.
Oh, and the sequel baiting or whatever the side romance plot was distracting.
Crystal Jordan has a great world on her hands. I would love to read her other books, but I just hope that next time she makes a heroine that it is worth her universe. What do you think about this book? You can buy Wereplanets: In Smoke at Cobblestone Press.