This post may contain affiliate links or I may be reviewing a book that I have received for free as part of a review program or as an advanced reader copy. That being said, all opinions are my own. The book cover, book trailer, author biography, author photo, and plot summary for Burden are courtesy of lilafelix.com.
I’m the type of person that walks into her college residence hall welcome party and goes around to shake literally everyone’s hand to introduce myself (true story, y’all). Therefore it wouldn’t be a surprise that I emailed all the book bloggers and romance authors I could find after following all of their social media channels to introduce myself. Stalker-like? Nah. I just like to call it dedicated. It worked out in my favor, too, because I made some great connections with people. One of those people was author Lila Felix. I already had some books of hers on the review schedule, and she asked if I’d review Burden, as well! Of course I said yes. I’m going to leave you with the parting words she left me: “Enjoy Hawke!”
Burden in 85 Characters or Less
Rescued bear learns societal ways and fights unique identity to love her mate and help her town
Full Plot Summary
In the depths of the Louisiana swamps, clans of bear shifters roam freely. Hawke Turnclaw, the Alpha over all of his kind, is drowning in the legacy left to him by the Alpha before him, his own father. When he goes on a rescue mission to save a rogue Black bear from the clutches of a Grizzly clan, he finds more than just a Black bear, he finds his mate.
Echo has always been told she’s an anomaly, a fluke. She’s the only bear of her kind and that makes her a hindrance to her clan. She’s tried to run away, but they keep her tethered through guilt and a shock collar around her neck.
And then someone shows up claiming he’s her mate. Now belonging to a new clan, will she ever be able to understand that she’s so much more than just a burden?
New Twist On Werewolves
If you think off the top of your head about people turning into animals, you’re probably going to go straight to werewolves. At the very least, the animal you think of is a wolf or dog. In Burden, Felix takes a turn and heads towards people turning into bears. She develops this whole society and ruling government amongst the bears and among other shapeshifters, like the wolves (yeah, there are still wolves here.)
I was so intrigued by this new type of society that I would have loved to learn more about it! We read a bit about the interactions between the different shapeshifters, the roles that the women played in varying societies, and the hierarchies between the bear types, but I was quite interested in learning more about how their societies and rituals came to be and how they ran on a day to day basis. The change between Echo’s first clan and Hawke’s clan was a major point in the story, so I don’t think it would have been too difficult for Felix to expand on that to give readers a more in-depth view of bear society.
When I say formal, I don’t mean in their actions or their societal traditions, but in their speech. Echo sounded like a normal young twenty-something, while Hawke spoke like he was ancient. I was under the assumption that his clan made him act no more historical than any other bear, but his speech proved otherwise. His actions fell in line with the 24-year old leader who just found the love of his life that he was, but his words didn’t fit that image.
All of the books that you’ll find on Roses in Ink and that find their way onto my Have Read list are going to be modern books. They’ll have modern characters, modern settings, and modern ways of speech. By that, I mostly mean that they’ll use contractions, slang, and dialects natural to the environment they live in. Hawke rarely ever used any contractions and he spoke of their society in all bear terms (see my point above about learning more about their society), which made it really hard to relate to him on a modern and personal level.
Anticlimactic Mating Ceremony
The entirety of Burden let up to the mating ceremony and Echo losing her virginity. It was central to the bear’s culture and to the sexual tension that built between Echo and Hawke throughout the story. It dominated the social tension and potential disrespect in the society, too. Therefore, you’d expect the mating ceremony and the immediate aftereffects to be a large hunk of text in the novel. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.
I think the whole mating ceremony took about three paragraphs out of a full-length novel. Hawke and Echo recited the words of the ceremony, somewhat spontaneously marked each other, and then had sex. As a reader, we didn’t really learn anything about those moments; we were merely told that they happened with minimal details attached. Not that I’m wishing for some combustible scene, but I would have appreciated some romance, magic, or even newfound awareness to accompany the mating ceremony.
Great Contrast Between Animal and Human Emotions
It should come as no surprise to you that, as I’m a vet student, I value animals. I value them as much as I do humans and admire them even more than I do humans. I value the simplicity and purity of their emotions, which is something I don’t think you can find in humans very easily. Felix did a fantastic job of illustrating this contrast in Burden.
When Hawke and Echo were humans, you could hear their worries, their fears, and their insecurities, learning how they dominated their lives and ultimately critical moments in their relationship. They constantly encouraged each other to listen to their inner bear, though, who could decipher or remove those muddling thoughts in favor of pure emotion. When they listened to their bear or took their bear form, their trust and their love was simple. There was no questioning. There was no fear. There was only simplistic emotion. This might be a bit of a stretch to say, as I’m not sure this was Felix’s intention, but it was practically an insight into the core of love and how it’s supposed to be. Does anyone else get this same impression whenever they witness animal emotions?
Where to Buy
Lila Felix is full of antics and stories. She refused to go to Kindergarten after the teacher made her take a nap on the first day of school. She staged her first protest in middle school. She almost flunked out of her first semester at Pepperdine University because she was enthralled with their library and frequently was locked in. Now her husband and three children have to put up with her rebel nature in Louisiana where her days are filled with cypress trees, crawfish, and of course her books and writing. She writes about the ordinary people who fall extraordinarily in wild, true love.