Monday, August 25, 2014

Commentary: 'Fated' (The Vampire Destiny Series #1) by Alexandra Anthony

Yesterday I finished reading a short Nook book, Fated by Alexandra Anthony. Fated is the first book in Anthony's Vampire Destiny series of paranormal erotic romance novels. This was the review I posted on Goodreads after I finished the book:

Fated (The Vampire Destiny Series Book #1)Fated by Alexandra Anthony
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This erotic paranormal romance is a quick, easy, fun read with lots of hot sex. I thought the mind-reading heroine, Josephine, reminded me of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries series heroine Sookie Stackhouse. The main difference is that while Sookie is blonde, Josie has reddish blonde hair.

Josie is a Southerner, but the setting of this story is Bali, where Josie is on a sort of working vacation. The hero, Stefan, is tall, blond, and Nordic. He has icy blue eyes and speaks Swedish, which automatically made me think of Alexander Skarsgaard as Eric Northman on True Blood...which is, of course, the TV adaptation of Harris's novel series. Did this read a little like True Blood fan fiction? Yes, and I didn't mind. There isn't much of a plot until the very end of the novel - the action mostly happens in bed - but I didn't mind that either, because the characters were likable and the sex scenes were well-written. It was a nice escape into a vampire fantasy world.

View all my reviews on Goodreads (review ends here)

I bought this ebook from the Barnes and Noble website. I'd discovered it on the website. The website not only lists books for sale and accepts reviews but also allows book clubs to contact the authors for book club meetings. FYI, I'm an affiliate and earn a small commission when a group books an author through my site.

Because I bought the book at Barnes and Noble, I also wanted to post a copy of my review to the B+N website. It was then that I discovered the ebook was no longer available on that site. I thought this was a little strange, but not too strange. When I read Play Him Again, I went to review it on Smashwords only to discover it's no longer for sale there.

So then I thought maybe I'd post my review on (FYI, I am an Amazon affiliate, but there isn't an affiliate link in this post.) Here's where I discovered the controversy with this book. I didn't read any of the other reviews on Goodreads.

Fated has 275 reviews on Amazon, with an average of 3.5 stars. It has 120 5-star reviews and 45 1-star reviews. The 1-star reviews, for the most part, all convey the same information: namely, that Anthony plagiarized parts of Fated from a True Blood fan fiction author who went by the name of ficlet78. But how am I to determine whether these accusations are true or false?

By Googling "Alexandra Anthony plagiarism," I came upon ficlet78's WordPress blog. In a post dated July 28, 2014, ficlet78 (who signs the post as "Heather") says she Googled a few sentences of her fan fiction work titled "Pretty Kitty" and found her words being used in an excerpt on Anthony's WordPress blog (which is private, i.e. not accessible without an invitation). She then discovered Anthony's work for sale on B+N and Amazon. Heather says she's contacted Anthony and asked her to take the work down. It appears this is the reason I could no longer find the book for sale at B+N.

If you read through the comments, you'll see that in a comment posted July 31, 2014, Heather says Anthony admitted copying Heather's work. Heather writes, "As angry as I was/am, I have to take the moment and give her some credit. She could have ignored my messages. She could have taken the psycho-bitch route and denied the whole thing, then done everything in her power to discredit me. But she didn’t. She admitted it. Publicly. And while she did take one scene from my work (which is all I and several others have found so far), she did the hardest thing and was a fucking adult about it. So I thank her for that, at the very least."

The blog Book Goggles posted about the incident on July 30, 2014. Read here

However, since I'm unable to read Alexandra Anthony's response firsthand, I'm aware that this is only one side of the story. I'd hate for a hardworking author to be unjustly accused of plagiarism. At the same time, because we authors do work so hard, often for little or no compensation, it's especially egregious when someone does cross the line and pass someone else's work off at their own.

When I was a student in a Catholic high school, I was told I would automatically fail my English classes if I were caught plagiarizing in a paper, even if it was unintentional (i.e. failure to cite a source). I guess that lesson always stuck with me. It never crosses my mind to use any words other than my own, except when I let the reader know that something is a quote.

In summary, I enjoyed Fated, but I have reason to suspect it's not entirely the original work of Alexandra Anthony. I leave it for the reader to decide for herself.

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