**spoiler alert** I really WANTED to like this book more than I did. It uses the sci-fi as more than a poorly painted backdrop for the story; it's int**spoiler alert** I really WANTED to like this book more than I did. It uses the sci-fi as more than a poorly painted backdrop for the story; it's integral to the tale. The reason this book failed for me is that it built the surrounding non-romance story just enough for me to feel like there were giant holes that needed filling.
My problems: - The main relationship wasn't really built up over time. Instead, she runs into this guy! On her prison planet! Who it turns out she's secretly been in love with for a while! I really needed more establishment of their relationship before we got thrown into the "so in LUUUUURVE" part. - She's a starship captain, but she spends a lot of her time in dangerous situations being distracted by...luuuuurve. I would have liked to have seen her be competent AND smitten. - Speaking of which, we don't really find out how much she loved her ship until it was destroyed. Just laying in a couple more sentences about her ship-love earlier in the book would have given its destruction more emotional impact. (This was a recurring problem in other aspects of the book - things caused emotional upset without any groundwork being laid for them to do so.) - There was a lot of deliberately sci-fi made-up language in this. Why make up a word when there are perfectly good English-language words in existence to cover the topic? - The hero was a bit too emo for me (that one's just a matter of taste)
Despite my critiques above, I did find things to like about it. - The ex-husband wasn't a total jerk! (And I gather he gets his own book later, so yay!) - One character that seemed set up to be the bad guy totally wasn't. - Several twists came as genuine surprises to me.
I may try the next one, just to see if it does a better job than this. But all in all, I found this book frustrating - there were so many ways that it could have been a great book, I really wanted it to be much better than it was....more
**spoiler alert** I would really like to give this a 3.5. I'm rounding up.
Sherrilyn Kenyon is a hugely popular writer in the supernatural romance genr**spoiler alert** I would really like to give this a 3.5. I'm rounding up.
Sherrilyn Kenyon is a hugely popular writer in the supernatural romance genre. I've read a couple of the other authors on her level of popularity - Christine Feehan and J.R. Ward, for example. I could barely get through Feehan's work, and Ward, while cracktastically addictive, can be very frustrating (tissue-thin female characters, white vampires that speak badly outdated gangsta slang and listen to hip-hop, severe retconning). I expected that Kenyon would fall in between the two.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kenyon may actually be the best of the three. The angst-ridden backstories of her male characters are truly horrifying, and appropriate to their historical setting. The world seems well-rounded and well thought out. The female characters have at least some depth to them. Our main male character, Zarek, is somewhat jealous, but not pathological in the "you've been within 100 feet of another male, I must RAAAAAGE!" way that put me off Feehan, so I give it a pass on that level. I was immediately engaged, and she's second only to Ward in her ability to end a chapter in a way that makes you say, "I have to read the next chapter to find out what's going to happen!"
On the downside, Kenyon does fall victim to the trope of the beautiful woman with golden hair and the magic hoo-ha who solves all the psychological ills of her lover with great sex, as well as the trope of, "Someone could come in and kill us at any moment! We should be watching the door, but let's take a break for a marathon sex session while our pursuer mysteriously leaves us alone!" (I wonder if heroes and villains in romance novels make a deal that the villain won't attack while the hero is shagging?)
I could see Kenyon telling the same story over and over again, but the preview chapter of the next book seemed very different. So I'll probably give that a shot!...more
**spoiler alert** Man, I was really excited. I thought this was the first Goodreads First Reads book I'd get where I could rate it a four or a five. A**spoiler alert** Man, I was really excited. I thought this was the first Goodreads First Reads book I'd get where I could rate it a four or a five. And then I hit the last 30 pages. This had an awesome middle, but had some serious missteps at the beginning and end. If the ending had been better it would get a four.
First, the middle.
The middle of this book illustrates the work of glassmaking in an almost visceral manner. It brings alive what it must have been like to make glass hundreds of years ago, and the difficulties of glassmakers on Murano today. I also grew to like the main character, Leonora Manin, who after a difficult divorce has moved to Venice to reconnect with her heritage and further her work in the glass arts. I liked watching her delve into her own history.
So, that's the middle, and the stuff I liked about the book.
The things that knocked it down to a four:
Two-dimensional characterization. We have two "bad guy" characters in the novel, Roberto and Vittoria. Neither of them have any redeeming qualities; they're just self-serving and eeeeeevil. But two-dimensional characters are par for the course here; Leonora's beau Alessandro is similarly two-dimensional, going from perfect lover to jealous lover to last-minute hero without any real deep sense of his motivation.
Unexpected mid-chapter switch in perspective. In the beginning, the story is told in close-third from two perspectives, Leonora and that of her ancestor Corradino. In later chapters, we get the perspective of another character in Corradino's era, and that's...fine. It moves the story forward. But then in Chapter 20, Leonora goes to visit Professore Padovani. In the middle of the chapter, with no warning and no section break (and no real purpose), the perspective shifts to Padovani for a few paragraphs, and then back to Leonora. It doesn't add to the story; it just looks like she wrote a rough draft from Padovani's point of view, switched it to Leonora's, forgot to edit six lines of the original draft, and then the editors rushed and also missed it. This happens several times in the last two hundred pages of the book, and it doesn't add anything - it just takes away from the story.
Massive infodump in Chapter 2. Pages nine through 20 are dull, tedious exposition on Leonora's backstory. We started off so well! So excitingly! In media res! Can't you keep some forward plot motion going and have her backstory revealed during the action? My ex-husband the English composition professor would have given Fiorato a D for chapter 2.
The things that brought it down to a three: Chapter One and Chapter 38 are the same frickin' chapter. Word for word, cut and paste, eight pages, NO CHANGES. Really? Really? Were you eight pages short of the length required by your publisher? At this point, you've swapped perspectives so often. Can't you give us the same scene from someone else's perspective? Couldn't you at least assume we'd remember what happened?
The ending really left me cold. After all the work Leonora does to find out what really happened with Corradino, her boyfriend - the one who got her pregnant and won't shack up with her and has been totally no help and just THREW her PRICELESS antique NECKLACE made by her ANCESTOR into the GRAND CANAL, for heavens' sake - leaves her standing by the Grand Canal, hares off to the library at the orphanage and finds the book Corradino left behind. Meanwhile, Leonora's off having a baby. (Don't these people have cellphones? I've been to Venice. EVERYONE has a mobile phone! Why wouldn't the hospital call him to say, "Hey, your girlfriend who you won't MOVE IN WITH despite the fact that SHE'S HAVING YOUR BABY is in the midst of a difficult and dangerous breech birth!") Alessandro's basically been the absentee boyfriend for the whole novel, and now at the last minute he saves the day, and basically takes away all the power and self-actualization that Leonora built up through the novel. Because she's got a BABY, see! And that's the most important thing in the WORLD!
As you can see by that incredibly calm and self-possessed critique above, I was a bit annoyed that Fiorato spent 90% of the novel transforming Leonora from someone whose entire identity was formed by others into her own person, and then knocked her back to being the weak woman who is rescued by others. Although, come to think of it, she never really does develop her own identity, does she? She first takes her identity from her husband, then from her ancestor Corradino, then from her husband and son (and after childbirth really seems to lose interest in the whole glass-making thing that was so important before). Ugh. The ending just left a bad taste in my mouth....more
**spoiler alert** The basic trope of this book - man trapped in book meets woman who wants to release him from his curse - worked for me. But I found**spoiler alert** The basic trope of this book - man trapped in book meets woman who wants to release him from his curse - worked for me. But I found the execution lacking.
Every man in this book that's not Julian and not dead (the dead man in question being Grace's father) is a jerk. Even Grace's best friend's husband is a jerk! Just because Grace hasn't found the right man doesn't mean that all men suck, or should suck.
We never get a sense that Grace loves her job of being a therapist - or even likes it. And if she's a sex therapist, WTF is she doing with a dangerous stalker patient like Rodney Carmichael, even on a temporary basis? It made no sense.
And if you had a dangerous stalker patient who had broken into your house, wouldn't you think just for a minute - "Oh, I shouldn't go into an elevator ALONE while my DANGEROUS STALKER who KNOWS MY ROUTINE is FOLLOWING ME"?
And wouldn't you ALERT the front-desk staff as to who your dangerous stalker was? Wouldn't they pay attention and report if the stalker called?
For that matter, wouldn't a therapist realized that setting up a shrine to your parents in your house - leaving their room completely undisturbed and preserved - is not a sign of mental health?
The fantasy that the man who has Never Been Loved will be able to find happiness and healing as soon as he gets into the magic vayjay annoys the crap out of me. Too many women believe this in real life. Guess what? If he's that damaged, you can't fix him. He can only fix himself. And a decent therapist would know that.
Yes, I know it's fantasy. But these were things that were so far out there that they threw me out of the story....more
**spoiler alert** Though I didn't love it quite as much as the first novel, I enjoyed the heck out of this book. Henrietta and Miles seem very well-ma**spoiler alert** Though I didn't love it quite as much as the first novel, I enjoyed the heck out of this book. Henrietta and Miles seem very well-matched, and I liked that neither of them were over-achieving heroes. I would have liked a little more adventure to balance out the romance. There's a nice bit of set-up for the third book toward the end here....more
I may have been disappointed by this book because it was oversold to me as THE MOST GROUNDBREAKING WORK OF FANTASY EVAR. I think if it had been just pI may have been disappointed by this book because it was oversold to me as THE MOST GROUNDBREAKING WORK OF FANTASY EVAR. I think if it had been just positioned as an enjoyable retake on certain fantasy tropes I would have a more positive review. I found the characters somewhat two dimensional (and one verging into Mary Sue territory). The ending left me cold. I did like the magical system she drew up in the novel; it was clearly playing by a set of rules and I would have liked to have seen it expanded on further....more