Note: This book could be read as a standalone, but it does contain major spoilers for A Flight of Magpies. It will also be more enjoyable read as partNote: This book could be read as a standalone, but it does contain major spoilers for A Flight of Magpies. It will also be more enjoyable read as part of the series, in my opinion. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley.
From the beginning of this story, as we hear Ben Spencer's vengeful inner thoughts, I knew it would be right up my alley. I loved the old skool quality of Charles's story in Another Place in Time and this Victorian-set romance also has that desperate intensity, at least most of the time.
Former police constable Ben is seeking Jonah, the magic-using lover that used and deserted him, leaving him to face the ruination of his entire life. If you've read A Flight of Magpies, you'll know that Jonah is charming, feckless, and amoral... but that his worst actions were motivated by the need to protect someone else. And no surprise, Ben is the someone he was protecting, though Ben himself has no idea of that. So when Ben does find Jonah, there's a complicated mix of guilt and happiness and love between them that culminates in some scary (but consensual) hate sex. But that's just the start of their adventure.
I loved that there was no whitewashing of Jonah's character from the previous book. We do learn that there are reasons for how he is, but he isn't magically reformed. As in an old Harlequin, we never see his point of view, so we have to understand his feelings for Ben through his actions, and learn to trust him along with Ben.
This is very different in feel from the other books in the series. There's no paranormal horror, though Jonah and Ben have some very unpleasant experiences in the everyday world. The paranormal element is depicted much more for fun here, as Jonah can harness his windwalking powers for others to enjoy. (Think Elsa making snowdrifts for Anna to jump from in "Frozen.") In general, it's more of a conventionally structured romance, with the story driven primarily by the powerful love Ben and Jonah feel for each other. (Not that I ever found the romance in the previous books lacking, but it does develop over the course of the entire series.)
I was somewhat disappointed by the middle section of the book, which gets kind of morose and lacks the interesting tension of the beginning and end. But the way the seemingly impossible situation is eventually worked out is very satisfying. ...more
4 1/2 stars. A beautifully done tearjerker in the classic style, except with a gay, Jewish main character. My review at Dear Author: http://dearauthor4 1/2 stars. A beautifully done tearjerker in the classic style, except with a gay, Jewish main character. My review at Dear Author: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/ov......more
I was impressed by the elegant style and serious tone of Satie's first book, and this one is even better, with a compelling romance, sympathetic charaI was impressed by the elegant style and serious tone of Satie's first book, and this one is even better, with a compelling romance, sympathetic characters, and even a well done mystery plot. The heroine Sophie has an unusual disability, very poor long-term memory, and the effect this has on her life is beautiful imagined and movingly described. Trust is a major theme in the story, and it plays out in a fascinating way.
I compared The Secret Heart to Jo Goodman, but this reminded me more of Cecelia Grant, primarily because of Sophie's absorbing interest in the ink industry. The rich detail around her unusual profession makes this just the sort of historical romance I enjoy. It doesn't hurt that it also features a hero who can't stop loving the heroine, no matter how hard he tries.
This is only loosely linked to The Secret Heart, and it's fine to read it independently. However, after reading the blurb for the third book, I suspect that threads from both of the first two books will be followed up there....more
(Disclaimer: I'm friendly with this author online, but that doesn't mean I always love his books. Reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley.)
Halfway t(Disclaimer: I'm friendly with this author online, but that doesn't mean I always love his books. Reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley.)
Halfway through this short story, I switched from Kindle to Nook and was shocked to discover how short it really is. (36 pages, of which 13 are other material.) There's so much richness to it that its limited focus --with little in the way of exposition or characterization or any of the things we normally look for -- just seems like an intense laser beam spotlighting a poignant moment. Hall could have written an entire series about this barely sketched world; instead he wrote just enough.
From the beginning, the story is infused with sadness and regret. Our unnamed narrator was created to be flawless, meant for privilege; instead he fell in love with performing mermaids and ran away to join the circus.
She was sun and sky and flame that day. And I thought I had never seen anything so beautiful, or so free. I was young. I didn't know any better.
Our narrator is carefully trained to see the Mer as wild animals -- "behavior shaping, stimulus discrimination, auditory queuing and lexigram reinforcement" are their tools. Any kind of anthropomorphism is discouraged.
All day and all night, Naera crouched in a corner of the tank and screamed. Vocalised. We were meant to say she vocalised.
When a merman called Nerites arrives at Cirque de la Mer, a Mer who seems to be seeking some kind of connection, cognitive dissonance really begins to set in.
I don't want to say more... in fact, I may have already said too much. Without being particularly surprising in any way, this story is a voyage of discovery. ...more
(This is an edited review, because my original arc of the book had a major error. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley)
3 1/2 stars. At 16, Nia(This is an edited review, because my original arc of the book had a major error. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley)
3 1/2 stars. At 16, Niall helped his lover Jacky raise a demon, hoping to save him from his abusive father. Instead, both boys wound up endowed with frightening power, with their relationship permanently disrupted and a government agency called The Guild after them. Niall is hiding out in Ireland when he meets Cohen, a young trans man who's beginning to physically transition and needs time away from his family. It could not be a worse time to find a new love, because Jacky is out for revenge against the Guild, and he has no scruples whatsoever about achieving his goal.
I haven't read many books with trans* characters and I appreciated finding one which isn't about the character's gender identity, although of course it's a very important aspect of his life. I don't know enough to say whether the portrayal of Cohen is accurate, but it felt very real and created a lot of empathy in me for him. I would have liked to see the rest of the story fleshed out more -- it's a little short and thin for the complex issues it raises, and the ending is quite abrupt. ...more