Jess the Romanceaholic's Reviews > Jaq's Harp

Jaq's Harp by Ella Drake
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's review
Feb 24, 11

really liked it
bookshelves: short-story-or-novella, netgalley, spy, estranged-lovers-or-marriage, 2011-read, family-issues, on-the-run, classics-retold
Read on February 24, 2011

Reviewed at The Romance-a-holic


As you may be able to tell from the cover, Jaq’s Harp is a futuristic twist on the fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk. I really enjoyed the not-so-subtle nods to the original story, such as the “magic” bio-engineered beans, Monsieur Bovine, a reference to “the blood of an Englishman”, and more.

What worked for me:

* The cover art is simply gorgeous.

* I’m not normally a fan of stories where the main protagonists had a previous relationship, but I heartily approve of this device in shorter works, because it certainly helps to get the action moving. The circumstances around their initial separation helped to add an extra layer of angst to the story, as well as adding sweetness to the resolution.

* There was an abundance of action as Jaq and Harp tried to escape from the compound, and the pacing was perfect.

* The single love scene was well done, and since I typically don’t care for stories where the main couple consummates their relationship before other issues are resolved, I felt that its timing fit well within the storyline.

* I enjoyed the slight glimpse into Harp’s childhood, though I wish that there’d been time to expand upon it. Thus is the way of novellas, however, and it was an acceptable sacrifice in my mind.

What didn’t work for me:

* I didn’t really care for Harp as a character. At one point in the story, both of their lives are in great danger, and he apparently thinks it prudent to strip down to his skin and pretty much tell her to “hop on”, despite the fact that there’s been absolutely no resolution between them. I understand that he was supposedly overwhelmed with lust at seeing Jaq again after they’d been separated for a year, but his timing did nothing to endear him to me.

* I wish that Ella Drake had played up Harp’s reliance on the dice a bit more. References as to how he always carried them, and his occasional use of them to make a decision made me think that he would’ve been much more intriguing had he relied on them a bit more heavily to make decisions in life, a la Harvey “Two-Face” Kent from the Batman franchise.

Overall, this was a quick, entertaining read. Sci-fi fans will enjoy both the technology and social structure, and fans of the original fairy tale will enjoy picking out tiny twists and references sprinkled throughout the story.

4/5 Stars
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