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May 3, 2014

Series Saturday: Clipped Wings by @HelenaHunting

by Donna Huber

Cupcakes and Ink
Sometimes I really like a good "damsel in distress" kind of story, but not one where the male sweeps in and all is magically better. Even in these stories I still want some realism. I want the guy to be caring and supportive so that the girl can overcome the obstacles more or less on her own. When I saw that Helena Hunting's Clipped Wings and Inked Armor had been published I couldn't resist checking it out. Now a three book series, I read it in chapter by chapter installments a few years ago. It was an irresistible read then, and still very captivating today.

I started with Clipped Wings, but there is a prequel novella called Cupcakes and Ink. For those that came out of the same fandom, the novella is an "outtake". The opening scenes of Clipped Wings are told from the other character's point of view. What I liked best about Cupcakes and Ink is the internal dialogue that I thought was missing in Clipped Wings. It creates an emotional bond between the reader and the character at a level that I didn't think was accomplished in the first book. I think you could read Cupcakes and Ink first or like me read it after Clipped Wings, but I do encourage you to pick it up. Especially, if you prefer character driven stories. A little more depth is given to Tenley and Hayden as their initial thoughts on each other are revealed.

Buy Cupcakes and Ink at Amazon

Clipped Wings
Having read the original draft, I knew the basics of the story of Clipped Wings and was looking forward to re-reading some of my favorite moments and re-connecting with the characters that I had come to care for. I was also curious as to changes that may have occurred in the final product. Even though the book is now available, I assume the copy available through Netgalley is the advance e-galley. Since I read the original story, I have a different perspective than a reader who is for the first time meeting Tenley and Hayden. I noticed scenes that had been omitted. I'm hope in the final published version that the jagged edges left behind were smoothed out. I noticed a few references to scenes that were no longer in the story. As I mentioned the emotional connection with the characters was lacking in Clipped Wings for me. There is a great deal of attention to the physical connection between the two. Though I was familiar the story, the characters were different and I don't think they were as well developed as they could have been. The secondary characters barely had any personality. Even with these flaws, I was still captivated by the story and was drawn back to it again and again because of the potential I knew it had.

Now had I read Clipped Wings when it first came out and did not know how the story played out (in a broad sense), I don't think I would have been very happy with how it ended. Good news for me, and for you if haven't started the series. I was able to get Inked Armor immediately from Netgalley and you will be able to get your own copy in a few days (May 13).

Buy Clipped Wings at Amazon

Inked Armor
I liked Inked Armor better than Clipped Wings. Maybe because I was able to reconnect and get better feel for Tenley and Hayden because I read Cupcakes and Ink before starting Inked Armor. For one, it felt a lot more polished (again, I'm reading advance copies that may or may not have been all the way through the editing process). I still think it was missing something and the more I think about it I realize that a lot of the little details were omitted. Presumably for length. I don't remember what the final word count was on the original, but it was a MEGA story. In the original story we got more details on Tenley's tattoo, but outside of the wings and flames we don't know what it looks like. The stories behind various aspects of the tattoo had connected the reader to the character and without the details, the reader looses that connection. The loss Tenley endured is even glossed over in many ways. The characters that died are just nameless, faceless people and without knowing them we don't know Tenley as well nor fully understand the devastation of losing everyone she loves.

Even Hayden's own spiral into darkness and the recovery seemed compressed, a bit more rushed than I would have liked. I love a story that delves into the character's psyche and there is a lot below the surface of Hunting's characters. I would have preferred for a sex scene or two to have been deleted if length was really that big of a deal. My long time readers know that I don't care for purely physical sex scenes in books, though in this particular series the early sex would have only been physical because of where the characters are in their own emotional development. However, the scenes do not convey any more intimacy as Tenley and Hayden begin to unload their emotion baggage.

Buy Inked Armor at Amazon

I know it might sound like I didn't like the series, which is not true. Was I a little disappointed? Yes. But I think it had more to do with me and not the books. A lot of factors played into why I loved the original so much that weren't reproduced in this reading. Having to wait sometimes weeks between updates increased anticipation. Also you couldn't go to any of the fandom forums without finding others talking about it which added to the fun. And third, I knew how it would end. Had I never experienced any of that, how would I felt about Helena Hunting's Clipped Wings series? I would have still enjoyed it. In truth, I'm probably being harder on the series because I loved the original so much. I'm happy that others will get to experience this tale. Hunting's writing and storytelling ability is good. If you are looking for an quick read to lose yourself in this weekend, then pick up Cupcakes and Ink along with Clipped Wings so you will be already for Inked Armor later this month. Oh and it looks like we'll get another "outtake" novella this summer with Cracks in the Armor.

Buy Cracks in the Armor at Amazon

Book Info:
format: ebook and paperback
published: 2014 by Pocket Star (Simon and Schuster)
source: Netgalley
read: April 2014

Girl Who Reds is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon. Free e-galleys were provided for this review.
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