Sent to escort a prospective bride to his brother Emperor Jahn, Alix finds his hands full with not only a willful princess, but an unexpected female gift to his brother as well. Sanura, a woman trained in seeing both sexual pleasure and seeing into men's souls, is fascinated by the darkness that she sees inside of Alix. As disaster strikes and the chaos in Alix threatens to overwhelm him, Sanura must try to stop him from doing something that would break him completely.
This book was a lot of fun to read, because both the hero and heroine had aspects that really fascinate me. Sanura is a woman trained not only to see into men's souls, but also to be able to please them. She can't read their minds, but she can certainly get ideas of their feelings and motivations. Because a certain degree of cynicism exists with that kind of ability, it was fascinating to watch her relationship with Alix. His other side makes it difficult for her to fully read him, and watching her reactions as she tries to understand him help us understand more of what she was trained to do. Also interesting to watch was the shift in Sanura's approach to sex as her feelings for Alix developed. It's not often that I get to see a character in a romance novel consider love in the way that she does, and it was both refreshing and enjoyable.
Alix also fascinated me. I'm somewhat of an amateur psychology buff, and so watching both the way that his darker side works in this book, as well as the way that he has to overcome it, are absolutely fascinating. I can't tell you more without spoiling the book, but I've never seen someone's inner conflict resolved in the way that Alix's was, and I adored it.
The setting and background to this story are full of their own stories, as the setting is a fantasy one. If you're a reader that enjoys lots of lore and background, however, then this might not be an enjoyable book for you. There were several occasions where I wanted more than just a brief explanation of prior events, but that's because I'm a sucker for lore and complex backgrounds. The level of detail was certainly appropriate for a romance novel, though. I just happen to be one of those readers that loves to understand the history of a setting.
The one thing that absolutely drove me up the wall about this book, however, are the major plot threads that are left dangling after the book is done. Assassination attempts are made, along with attempts to possibly discredit the royal family. Yet no one in a position of authority seems to really be concerned about these matters, or even to want to try to get to the bottom of them. I understand that this book is the beginning of a series, and so not everything is going to be solved at the end of this book, but to have no clue about why these things are happening throughout the entire book is somewhat irritating, but to see that no one seems to take much interest is simply maddening.
This book also has a second storyline running through it, centered around another of the Emperor's potential brides. The deeper I got into her story, the more I started to wonder why she didn't merit her own book. I liked her as a character in her own right, but her story isn't a part of Alix and Sanura's at all and just felt out of place because of that. I spent a good portion of the book trying to find a connection between the two stories that turned out to be non-existent, and so I couldn't help feeling like it was filler.
Because I loved Sanura and Alix's characters so much, I wanted to give this book a 4, but the non-related plot and loose ends had me leaning towards a 2.5. I wound up settling at a three, but only because of how much the characters and their dynamics fascinated me. Fantasy fans may be left looking for more, but the book works quite well as a romance.(less)
All her life, Micah has grown up with the Breeds and fantasized about Navarro Blaine. They haven't spent much time together, but they're thrown into proximity when her life is suddenly in danger. Now the two of them can no longer deny their attraction, but what will happen when Micah tries to resist the mating process? Will they find happiness, or will stubborn pride get in the way?
Having never read a Breeds novel, I was looking forward to reviewing Ms. Leigh's latest, since I've had friends recommend her to me. Unfortunately, this book didn't quite live up to the praise for me because Ms. Leigh seems to assume that by now her readers know how her world works. This made for a very confusing read for me, and I know that detracted a great deal from my enjoyment. This is definitely one of those series where new readers should start at the beginning.
From the get-go, I was struggling to understand exactly what the Breeds were, how they came to be, and why so much of the world seemed to dislike them. Because of that, some of the plot elements lacked suspense because I couldn't understand why they were happening. Not having a good sense of what the Breeds are also made it difficult to understand the mating process, and why elements of the process happened as they did. It just seemed that the more I read, the more confused I became, and as a reader that's pretty frustrating.
The concept for the Breeds seems an interesting one; I've always been a sucker for genetic manipulation and seeing how human and animal elements are fused to create something new is always interesting to me. (Not to mention how people react to those sorts of things being done.) I just wish I had more background information so that I could really enjoy the way that the concept was put together.
Ms. Leigh's writing style is also probably not for everyone. If you're a reader that prefers leaner prose, then you might want to look elsewhere. It's not a negative for me, it's just not a writing style that I read particularly often. With that being said, as soon as I got into the flow of the book I stopped noticing it. What I did notice in a few places was a tendency to first show the reader how the character was feeling, and then follow that with a point blank telling of said feelings. That was a bit off-putting.
I also had trouble at times with the characters and their behavior. I couldn't help but feel that Micah could solve some of her problems by sitting down and talking about them, instead of avoiding people. Some of the conflict would have seemed less gratuitous that way. Navarro could also learn to talk out conflict, but what irritated me the most was an incident where he basically threatens someone trying to help him. What really floored me was the text that follows that incident, where it seems that an attempt is made to justify his actions. (Pointing out that someone has been traumatized does not qualify as a reason to threaten them, in my opinion.)
While I found the concept of this book interesting, trying to understand the basic background of the story with little to no explanation was absolutely frustrating, and I know that the lack of context colored how I saw the book. If the concept of the series looks like something that you might be interested in, I would highly recommend starting at the beginning so that you'll be able to catch all of the threads and undercurrents in this book.(less)