I recently finished Erin Kellison's Shadow Bound which tempted me to take it home because of the fact that the publisher considered it a "guaranteed read" and was willing to refund the purchase price (according to their arcane and limited set of conditions) if the reader didn't like the story. The deadline for refund had passed, but I was more interested in the idea of the guarantee than the guarantee itself.
I am a willing victim of marketing.
Was the story good? Well, yeah. I stayed up late to finish it, slamming the last few chapters into my brain as my eyes fought to take "just a brief break" as midnight came and went. There was tension, an overwhelming sense that the ending would be bleak, jumping jacks of hope that it wouldn't, viscious kicks to hope's groin, and so forth as the pages resolutely keep flipping down toward the resolution.
In the end, however, I felt that author's idea for the story might be more interesting than the formula that shaped the published narrative. The go-go-go plot, flipping sometimes through high-energy bedroom routines, just didn't give me much time to get a purchase on the characters or the structure of the world. It was as if someone had helpfully cut out all that distracting and tantalizing scent just so the blooms would be more showy. I wanted more time with the mythology, more time to run my hands over the joinery that connected the magic to the mundane. In particular, I wanted more time with a main character who developed both through her own strength and the press of circumstance. Perhaps a main character who more fully owned the story.
I'm undecided on whether to get the second book in the series. It looks like that book might delve a little deeper into interesting areas; however, I feel the template has already been set by this first taste. The guarantee was solid, I did enjoy the book. I would have liked more story, though.