Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Dusk Conspiracy (Werelove #1) - Lakisha Spletzer Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.Born into a rich family where her father puts her down at every turn, her mother has been dead since she was a child, and the servants that care for her are more like parents than her actual parent, Laylah Le Croix is lonely and bullied by her classmates. After a group of shapeshifting men nearly kidnap her for what she thinks is no reason, she meets a young man named Donil Silentshadow and a wish to be free from her constricting life takes shape. Meanwhile, a werewolf Alpha who killed Laylah's father thirteen years before has returned and she's after both Laylah and her father Henry, sending the Were world into a frenzy to stop her for their own reasons. As a heroine, Laylah just didn't work for me. Maybe it's because I've never been a fan of "shrinking violet" type heroines. Maybe it's because I found it strange for her to apologize to someone for stabbing them when the stabbing victim in question hurt her. It could be my subjective irritation with the little things, like how she had a tendency to take a while to realize something simple or not wonder about her mysterious lucid dream. Whatever it was, I wasn't able to cheer for her and I don't feel that she grew very much in the course of the novel. In the case of her dad Henry, a great job was done making him a hateable prick because I hated the heck out of him.The Were society, its organization, the differences between Laylah's futuristic world of the twenty-third century and the present time, and how Laylah's world came to be were all points of the story that captured my interest and wouldn't let go. When other elements of the story began to irritate me, my desire to know more about Laylah's world was what kept me going. It was disappointing to find that most of this information was suddenly dumped in at the end of the novel instead of properly worked into the story, but the worldbuilding was something different and I liked it.There is nothing in this book that makes me believe Donil and Laylah have genuine romantic feelings for one another because of how suddenly and unrealistically it happens. On Donil's side, it feels like an infatuation born of lust and maybe a taste for the forbidden, since he's not supposed to associate with a Le Croix like Laylah; on Laylah's side, she sees Donil as a way to rebel against her father and be free from his tyrannical rule. They may have a mate bond, but that doesn't excuse the lack of genuine romantic development and believable romantic feelings between them. If anything, it seems more like a case of being strangled by the red string.The main character herself is a plot hole because scientifically, she isn't supposed to exist. Her parents, being a werewolf and a werepanther, should not be able to have a child together because while they are both Weres, they are still two very different types of Weres and too genetically different to be able to conceive a child. Just as a wolf and a panther in the wild wouldn't be able to procreate together, Laylah's parents shouldn't have been able to have her. The writing has a bad habit of telling instead of showing. I made strikethroughs in my head of what could be cut and would improve the novel rather than hurting it: large sections of text telling us what this character is like and what they do despite never showing up again or having any importance to anything, scenes that had no importance, subpar descriptions ("angry silence" and "Zina's chuckle was filled with malice and violence" are two I remember), and more, and unimportant information that has no bearing on the characters' personalities or the plot. Description are repetitive in that they go along the lines of "He did this. She did this, infitive. He did this, infitive," but this particular flaw is covered up due to the book's dialogue-heavy nature.This is just a little fun one: considering that the "he" in question is a werepanther and it was hinted just a few pages ago that werepanthers ate people, "the way he looked at her made her think of how a starving animal stared at food" is not a particularly good choice of description of how he's looking at Laylah. I've got a laundry list of points in the book that made me very uncomfortable. Both of the "evil" women were emotional, lively people, the kind I most identify with, and every single woman on the side of good was quiet and reserved. When the idea that "a woman should be proud of her figure, not ashamed of it" is voiced, which is an idea I very much agree with, it comes from the villain. A scene about a third of the way into the book has Laylah saying things about why Jacques hit her that bear a striking, very uncomfortable resemblance to what an abused woman would say when trying to rationalize her abuse.This may be the point that offends me worst of all: multiple women in the book are motivated by men, whether it is vengeance for one, anger at one for spurned love, or the desire to be with one. Why do their motivations have to be men? Why can't they be motivated by anger at the an unfair rule or the father's choices in how to raise his daughter, a desire for power due to rough treatment by others over time or to avenge a perceived wrong, or the desire to be free from an mentally/emotionally abusive and neglectful father? Females can have a motivation that has nothing to do with men. The implications of all of these examples offend me as a young woman.Lovers of romance, worldbuilding that sticks out as unique and original, and a heroine trying to find freedom and her way in life might want to check this out. Werelove Dusk Conspiracy may not have been a book I enjoyed, but there will always be people who will love this book for its characters, plot, and flaws the way I was unable to.