Fierce (Fierce, #1)
This initial entry in the Fierce series is told from nerd-girl Autumn's POV. Autumn is a likeable character. I found her internal struggle to be compelling - the sheltered, bullied girl who wants desperately to fit in but just...can't. Her first day of college, she encounters a Bad Boy in Hunter Bane. For some reason, he keeps engaging her. Though she doesn't understand it, she can't stay away from him, even though her past experience with bullying dictates that she should want to do so. The fact that she pushed her own boundaries to befriend Hunter when he seemed to need it most showed a depth to her character that was unexpected. That she also found herself wanting more from this enigma of a young man confounded Autumn and created adequate internal conflict, which would easily have driven the narrative enough for me to award 3 stars with nothing else going for it. But what set this story apart, what drives it to a 9-star (4.5-star) from me, was that the external conflict alone would have made for a thrilling read. I won't spoil you, but there are elements of suspense in this story that will have you at the edge of your seat at times.
I'll warn you, this is a very typical New Adult read. Personally, I like New Adult and don't mind some angst or a lot of sex, provided I've been given characters I like. In this case, I got what I wanted and then some. If you read nothing else of this series, read Fierce. You'll fall in love with Bad Boy Hunter Bane, just as Autumn does, swooning when he calls her Leafy and cheering at the end. But this story doesn't end with this book, so keep reading. You'll be glad you did.
Fury (Fierce, #1.5)
I've noticed that New Adult authors gravitate toward the two-part story. If you've read a lot of NA, you know what I mean. This is where you hear a story from one character and then hear it from another, but not in the same book - two separate stories, told from two separate POV, but the same plot. I get why it happens - I wrote a blog post about it not that long ago. And, as I said in that post, many times I've read the second story and thought, "Why did you write two separate books?" That's not the case with Fury.
Hunter's story is quite complex on its own. There is so much of it that Autumn does not know about, things that are very pertinent to the narrative. I could tell you, but that would change your enjoyment as you discover them on your own. If I was writing this story, I'd have integrated the two POVs because I think that it's possible to do so. BUT - and here's where I can make exceptions - this book and its predecessor are told in First Person. I don't typically write in first person and there are many reasons for that. One is that you have a harder time selling to the reader that they know things the characters do not. And for that reason, I think we can justify a second story from Hunter's POV told separately from the first book.
Personally, I loved Hunter more when he was seen through Autumn's eyes. Perhaps it was his self-loathing, or maybe his arrogance, but I had a hard time feeling the same level of worship toward him that I did in Fierce. Nonetheless, I still liked him by the end of the story and I felt genuine empathy for him. I can see why the choice was made to tell the stories separately. What I'd like to see is a story that weaves these two books together into the same narrative. I wonder how it might read differently. An 8-star (4-star) rating from me.
Flame (Fierce, #2)
I received this book for an honest review. On the 5-star rating systems, it gets 4 stars from me. On my blog rating, which uses 10-star ratings, it gets 7.5 stars. I'm rounding up because I think that this was an excellent conclusion to Hunter and Leafy's story and I want to recognize that. But there were some issues that made this my least-favorite entry in the series.
First, my annoyance at some of Hunter's attitude in Fury carried over to Flame and multiplied. When he was 100% in protect-Autumn/rescue Jessie mode, he was under a lot of stress and I guess I forgave his behavior more. But here, the worst is over and his attitude is all because of his insecurities and his inability to deal well with his past. Okay. I get it. He's damaged. It was hard to feel sorry for him when he was a HUGE jerk to Autumn more than once. I won't spoil it by saying why, but there were several moments early in the story where I wanted to slap him. For her part, Autumn experiences even more growth than we saw from her in Fierce, so I can't complain about her story too much.
Second, there are a few things in this series that stretch believeability for me - things that are maybe not impossible but are highly improbable - but though they're not enough to make me dislike the story, they are also more obvious once we get to this segment. The narrative moves slower and is more character-driven, so perhaps that's why the improbability becomes more evident. When you're blazing through action, you notice less flaws - sort of like flying through on a bullet train compared to a slower locomotive. The faster you move, the less you can see of the weird stuff on the side of the tracks. Where Fierce and Fury were more like a bullet train, Flame was like long-distance commuter train. It still moved, but I could see more as I passed.
That said, there was one thing that absolutely redeemed the story for me by the end and bumped up its rating, and it was the fact that both characters grew. I don't mind the rougher characters, the ones who are not perfect book boyfriends, as long as they grow. Likewise, the stereotypical heroines have to stretch, too. Here, I loved that geeky Autumn embraced her sexuality and Hunter tempered his sexual beast and they were able to meet in the middle. That's a good metaphor for the emotional changes they undergo as individuals and as a couple. He gave her the love she needed and found that he was stronger than he believed, and she grew to love herself through his eyes. And as I always say, give me characters I can stand behind, and I can overlook a lot of other issues.
Clarissa has said that there may be other stories in the future for Jessie or maybe Jaret, but for now, this is the end of the Fierce Series, and I'd guess, given the ending, that it's probably the end of Hunter and Leafy's story told from their POVs. It was a nice conclusion to the series, and I'd recommend that you sit down and read them in sequence. You'll be rewarded with a lovely ending.