White Stripe, Dark Deeds

Stella Wilder
White Stripe, Dark Deeds
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Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date
February 2014
Book 1 of Death's Disciple
Urban Fantasy

Can an immortal-possessed assassin accustomed to dealing in death and deception lower her defenses enough to work with a disowned deckhand and an urban denizen? Will dropping her guard lead to heartbreak and betrayal?

Yaz wants to be human again. Or dead. She pretty much doesn't care which. Or didn't care, until she met Sloan. One thing she sure as hell doesn't want is to care for that freakin' deckhand and that weird-ass brat from the ghetto with the white stripe in his head. Torn between what she wants to do and what she needs to do, she's faced with choices. And consequences . . .

Sloan's more than a deckhand on a charter boat. He's on a mission, too. But damn if that sexy, cold-hearted bitch that throws knives wasn't effing it up all the time. What he can't figure out is why he's helping her and how to keep her from finding out his own deepest and darkest. He derails his mission, his plan, his life for Yaz . . .

G-Mail doesn't need much. Or so G thinks. Until meeting an assassin with the gift and skills G wants—the gift of immortality and the skill to kill. Can G trust the assassin when it's time to reveal an identity and a secret, or will the assassin join the pile of bones G-Mail leaves in the past?

What happens when three forces converge on the hot and humid Houston docks? What happens when they travel back in time to a parallel past?

Explicit sex–oh yes, and a bit of killing. Come on, it's a story about an assassin! And a hot guy.

Another warning.
This is a part of a series.

Book Review by Barb Taub (author)
Mar 23, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
70 people found the following review helpful
There should be a law against series. If it's a terrific book and readers can't wait to find out more about that world, then writers should have to get a permit to create sequels. The downside is that readers don't always get the entertainment package that Book 1 delivered. The upside is that readers might actually want to read Book 2. Or Book 20. Think about Harry Potter or Star Wars, for example. Their worlds were seductive, the characters compelling, the entertainment nonstop. But you finished the first episode with a completed story line. The Death Star was destroyed, Voldemort rebuffed. Luke and Harry are celebrated as heroes. Sure, there are hints of more to come, but the main lesson is that the episodes stand alone with a completed hero arc. I wish someone had given Stella Wilder this advice.

WHITE STRIPE, DARK DEEDS is the first book of Stella Wilder's Death's Disciple series. It introduces Yazmira, assassin and unwilling host (victim? symbiote?) of a force that gives her immortality in exchange for the souls of her targets. Despite a full-melt phobia about bodies of water, her current assignment calls for her to eliminate targets on a boat.

Her motivation and price for failure is the lives of her descendants. Her problem? Surveillance of the craft shows the presence of a wild card, a handsome deckhand named Sloan who isn't supposed to be there, but who is eerily familiar, oddly out of place, and impossibly attractive. Her attempts to fulfill her assignment without killing Sloan spiral out of control, threatening their lives and those of her descendants.

With no other options, she turns to Sloan for help. He takes her to G-Mail, an enigmatic , damaged inner city teen with a surprising gift, a disturbing secret, and a misplaced desire for Yaz's immortality and killing ability. Yaz fights an attraction to Sloan that could mean his death, fights to get information about her forgotten past and the parasite she carries, and fights the abusive lover who has controlled her for eons.

WHITE STRIPE, DARK DEEDS has an incredibly compelling beginning. "Five days," she keeps repeating, the pattern establishing the gritty setting, Yaz's character, and her goals. The action is nonstop, the tension builds beautifully, and Yaz emerges as my favorite kind of kickass. I raced through the first half of the book, convinced this was going to be one I couldn't put down. The hit proceeds and we find out what Yaz and her parasite are capable of. We meet her abusive handler/lover, we see the first hot but abortive expressions of the attraction between Yaz and Sloan.

And then... Well, unfortunately, that's where it seemed to me that the author lifts up her writing hand and says, "Oh, wait. I need to keep some secrets for the next book. So I'm not going to tell the reader WTF is going on, or why, or what it means." It's like listening to a book report in elementary school. "And if you want to know how the story ends, you'll need to read the sequel."

For me, the rest of the book was an exercise in NOT telling the reader what happens. There are no actual victories, nothing is explained, and nobody achieves any satisfaction. Okay, there is a nice hot sex scene, so I suppose there is at least a momentary satisfaction. But without any resolution, even a happy-for-now, I feel like I watched a show that I didn't even like end in a cliffhanger that I don't care too much about. I'm giving WHITE STRIPE, DARK DEEDS three stars. And that's the real tragedy, because Stella Wilder's writing is flat-out better than that.

When I was an executive, I used to tell my staff that the big goals and projects aren't always enough to keep people enthusiastic on the day-to-day. So we would celebrate the interim victories, the heroes of the happy-for-now achievements. Hopefully, there's still time for Stella Wilder to put in some answers, resolve some problems, and celebrate some victories in Book 2 of the Death's Disciple series. Then she could stand back and let her readers clamor for more volumes instead of having them thrust down their throats. For someone who writes as well as Stella Wilder, it should be a piece of cake.
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