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A romantic, suspenseful, genre-bending debut set in Edwardian London.

Amid the sumptuous backdrop of the London season in 1905, headstrong Katherine Sinclair must join the ranks of debutantes vying for suitors. Unfortunately for Katherine, she cannot imagine anything more loathsome—or dangerous. To help ease her entrance into society, Katherine’s family has elicited the assistance of the Earl of Thornewood, a friend and London’s most eligible bachelor, to be her constant companion at the endless fetes and balls. But upon her arrival in London, Katherine realizes there will be more to this season than just white gowns and husband hunting.

Through her late mother’s enchanted diary, Katherine receives warning to keep hidden her otherworldly ability to perform arcana, a magic fueled by the power of the sun. Any misstep could mean ruin—and not just for her family name. The Order of the Eternal Sun is everywhere—hunting for those like her, able to feed on arcana with only a touch of the hand.

But society intrigue can be just as perilous as the Order. The machinations of the fashionable elite are a constant threat, and those who covet Katherine’s arcana, seeking the power of her birthright, could be hiding behind the façade of every suitor—even the darkly handsome Earl of Thornewood.

With so much danger and suspicion, can she give her heart to the one who captivates her, or is he just another after her power?

288 pages, Hardcover

First published November 4, 2014

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About the author

Jessica Leake

5 books708 followers
Once upon a time, Jessica Leake was a psychotherapist, but even though she loved her clients, she couldn't stop writing. She wrote and wrote until she got her first book published, and then she wrote some more. In between all that writing she had four beautiful and hilarious children with her husband (best friend and man she's known since high school; also hilarious), moved back to her adopted hometown of Greenville, SC, built a chicken coop, and got a bunch of chickens that poop breakfast every morning. She also has two dogs to keep the chickens in line. (The dogs made her write that last bit.)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews
Profile Image for Beth.
3,127 reviews262 followers
December 14, 2014
Arcana is a historical romance with a big flare of paranormal on the side.

A young debutant, Katherine Sinclair, is about to make her debut. Her father arranges for her coming out with her grandmother and the assistance of the Earl of Thornewood. Quickly, Katherine realize that her coming out is much more dangerous than she ever imagined. As a woman with the gift of Arcana, Katherine must weed out friend from foe...but foe is lying closer to home than she can ever imagine.

Suspicions and danger abound, unsure who she can trust, Katherine relys on a magical diary left by her mother to give her clues to her future.

This was a fun and highly entertaining read.

I did have a few questions - problems with the plot but I was so taken by the rest of the story that those issues were pushed way back to the back burner.

Leake writing style sucked me right in and kept me on the edge of my seat with anticipation. Being a fan of an enchanting historical romance, I was only overjoyed that it had this paranormal/magical twist. Don't miss Jessica Leake's Arcana.

I received this ARC copy of Arcana from Talos - Perseus/PGW/Legato/Consortium in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication November 18, 2014.

Written by: Jessica Leake
Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Talos
Publication Date: November 11, 2014
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction | Fantasy | Paranormal
Find this book on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Reviewed for: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews583 followers
August 12, 2019
As much as she loathed the pomp and circumstance, Katherine Sinclair was about to make her debut into London society. When London’s most eligible bachelor, the Earl of Thornewood is conscripted to be her companion, Katherine had no idea he would be both charming and frustrating in equal measures.

Katherine has a secret, one that would mark her as a pariah. She has a gift, a gift that could cost her her life, a gift that will make her question everyone she meets, including the seemingly genuine Earl. How could he be enamored of the country girl? Can she trust him? How can she tell him who and what she is really is without having him going running from her in disgust?

Little did Katherine know, her enemies were closer than she knew and the diary her mother left her could be the words she needs to forge into the unknown. The words she finds only raise more questions as she must learn to trust in her heart, no matter what.

ARCANA by Jessica Leake had me from page one! A budding romance that moves along in fits and starts, a stuffy grandmother, a headstrong young lady and a blend of historical times and customs. Secret powers and a world humans know nothing about make this an original tale that is both well-written and hard to put down! No rapid-fire pacing, just a perfect pace that kept those pages turning and turning so I could find out more about these fabulous characters!

Series: Silvani - Book 1
Publisher: Talos
Publication Date: November 11, 2014 (Reprint 2016)
Genre: Historical Fiction | Fantasy | Paranormal
Print Length: 268 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Lauren.
518 reviews80 followers
September 15, 2017
Wow. That's about all I could think while I was reading this book. I hate to admit that I probably wouldn't have found this book on my own, but I was lucky enough to have someone from Skyhorse publishing reach out and offer to send me some books in exchange for some reviews/ picture on my IG account. I obliged and she sent me this and one other and all I can say is I am so thankful. 

The world-building and the progression of the storyline in this book are both absolutely perfect. As soon as I got about 30 pages in, I was hooked and it was a whirlwind from that point on.

I loved how the author incorporated her mother's journal to her and how/ when it would show her new entires. 

I loved the main character Katherine and her siblings Lucy and Robert. Their support and love for one another is exactly what I feel like all siblings should aspire for. Katherine had to be one of the best and most consistent main characters throughout, while still having a fantastic character development. Her wit and humor was absolutely amazing and I loved how much it made her stand out in her time.

Her mother's backstory and world had to be one of my favorite things about this book. All of that, set with the backdrop of London's High Society in the early 1900's, it was incredibly well done.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who's a fan of historical fiction and fantasy. It's fantastic. 
Profile Image for Holly.
1,415 reviews960 followers
December 8, 2017
3.5 stars

This was such an interesting mix of historical romance and a little bit of fantasy. The heroine, Katherine, lives in England at a time when people owning cars is a relatively rare thing, so this takes place in whatever time period that is - Edwardian? I have no idea about these things LOL. This is primarily a story of a young woman's London debut, complete with courtship and balls, so this would be a straight up historical romance. That is, if it wasn't for the fact that Katherine also has magical powers, powered by the sun and given to her my her non-human mother. It's an interesting twist to the genre and I rather liked it. On the author's website this book is labeled "for adults" but Katherine is only 18 and there are only a couple of brief descriptions of heavy petting, so I leave up to you to decide if this should be considered YA or not. I just wished this book had a more fully fleshed out vision of the villainous society and some deeper/wittier conversations that historical romance books are known for. I would still be interested in reading more books by this author.
Profile Image for Karina Sumner-Smith.
Author 19 books164 followers
August 18, 2014
Delightful! Leake’s debut is a charming, romantic tale that sparkles with otherworldly magic.
Profile Image for Talk Supe.
1,246 reviews90 followers
November 1, 2014
ARCANA was a very pleasant surprise. As the cover art did nothing for me (cover snob moment!) I instead focused on the Edwardian Era setting (Downton Abbey) instead which Jessica Leaks depicted so well! The aristocracy and their elitist rules, the balls, debut, coming out party, the hunt for a husband, the romantic tension! Gah its so good it almost felt like I read historical romance instead of fantasy set in an era long gone.

ARCANA's myth is fae-like and though it plays an important role in the story, it wasn't the focus. This novel isn't about the heroine growing into her powers, rather its a halfling trying to assimilate in the human world special abilities and all.

But who am I kidding?! The primary reason why you SHOULD read ARCANA is Lord Thornewood! Rakish, rich, oh-so sexy, he will denifitely make you swoon! So don't be turned off by the cover art and even the fantasy element if you're not a big reader of it, ARCANA is more magic realism than supernatural and very romance-centric. You'll be glad you read this.
Profile Image for Brandy Wilkes.
190 reviews12 followers
August 18, 2014
WOW!!! What a great debut novel. The world that Jessica creates is so very fascinating. Not only did she create one world, but two! Both fascinating in their own right! I want to visit her world and live in it. I want to dance with Lord Thornewood. I want to have my own sprit animal! I cannot wait for further installments in the Arcana series....
Profile Image for Mandie Baxter.
285 reviews35 followers
January 18, 2017
11/23/14-11/29/14: Read the original drafts and even know what would happen the finished draft kept me so engaged!!!

Love this book so much and can't wait for everyone to experience the magic within!
Profile Image for Julie Reece.
Author 5 books370 followers
July 22, 2014
Can't wait for everyone to read this story. In fact, I can't wait to read it again!!!
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
780 reviews168 followers
January 28, 2016
Arcana is a historical fantasy set in Edwardian London. Katherine Sinclair has always been an unconventional young lady, but when she presses her luck one time too many, her father decides it’s time for her to make her societal debut. At eighteen, Katherine chafes at the restrictions placed on her by virtue of her sex and station. And if these restrictions weren’t enough, Katherine also struggles with the necessity to keep her magical abilities secret. Only her family knows her true abilities, and keeping them hidden during the season, just might be more than she can manage. Being branded as a witch is no way to win a husband.

Smoothing Katherine’s way into society is the notorious Earl of Thornewood, a reputed rake, with a lot of social pull. The Earl both infuriates and enthralls Katherine. But the question is whether or not she can trust him with her secret ability (he's hot, and she just might want to marry him). Katherine has been warned by her late mother to beware potential suitors. She will meet two, and only one of them will be what they appear. Soon enough Katherine is thrust into society and is pulled between two very different men. With the Earl, Katherine is leery of his reputation, but the man that her grandmother is pushing her towards just might be the greater danger. Add in a jealous debutant and Katherine’s season is not quite as dull as she might have expected.

Arcana was an interesting book and not really what I was expecting. On the one hand, it had a strong fantasy element to it. Katherine’s mother is from an alternative world where these abilities that harness the power of the light are commonplace. In England, Katherine has to make sure that she always keeps her powers under wraps, but at the same time she cannot help but use them, especially if it means helping someone in danger.

The other strong element in Arcana is the historical component. The setting is opulent and there’s no question that Katherine is a daughter of privilege and restricted by this status as well. I liked the historical setting and I was often reminded of the historical romance genre. In fact, I would say that I liked the historical element more than I liked the fantasy. Personally, I found the fantasy element to be a little heavy handed. The alternate world and Katherine’s powers were not fully fleshed out, in my opinion. I don’t feel that I have a good grasp on the reason behind the magical powers, they just seemed to exist for the sake of the plot. Ultimately, I thought the fantasy element could have been better integrated into the plot, but perhaps it’s the author’s way of opening up to a series. I have no idea if this will be a series, so don’t take my word for it, I certainly see the potential for a series.

I also thought that the villains and the conflict was a little predictable and simplistic. The warnings from Katherine’s mother via a magical journal were unnecessary when it was very clear from the beginning just who the villain was. It was Katherine that didn’t seem to have any clue who to trust, not readers.

Lastly, I’ll also mention the romance. If you’re worried about the love-triangle possibility, don’t be. It’s very clear early on just who Katherine is going to end up with (or who she would prefer to end up with), and don’t worry it’s not the villain. There’s nothing remarkable about Katherine’s relationship with the Earl, he’s mysterious and brooding and Katherine is conflict and convinced that no man will want her after learning of her powers. What I did like about the romance was the banter between Katherine and Thornewood as it was rather amusing. Katherine was never afraid to give the Earl some attitude, and predictably, her lack of simpering intrigues the jaded lord. It may not be original, but it works, and it works well in Arcana.

Arcana was an interesting teen read, and for the most part I enjoyed it. I loved the historical setting and the opulence of Katherine’s class. There is no question that I’m a historical romance fan, so that part of this novel really appealed to me. Even the predictable nature of the plot was okay; sometimes it’s comforting not to have surprises in your reading. The weakest part of this book was the fantastical element. I would have liked to have seen this better explained and used a something other than a means for Katherine to stand out among the bland debutantes.

Would I read another by this author? Yes. I did like the writing, and I liked Katherine’s family. It would be interesting if the author focuses on Katherine’s other siblings in another books, and if the fantasy elements were further explored, I think there is a potential for future novels to be stronger and more complex than Arcana.

Originally published with similar reads at The Book Adventures.

*Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Tina.
612 reviews23 followers
November 6, 2014
Where do I even begin? If Jessica Leake had a library full of books I would go and purchase every one! Arcana is a fabulous story and I was hooked! This book begins with the presentation of our heroine, Katherine. We are immediately introduced to her special abilities and proceed to embark on a whirlwind fantasy adventure. This book is set in England in 1905, so naturally we are taken on an adventure through high society London and debutant balls. Katherine is forced to London where she is spending the season with her Grandmother and makes her debut into society, hoping to make it out alive. She is accompanied by the devastatingly handsome Lord Thornewood, the sons of her father’s friend, to help her ease into the ranks and create a place for herself. He is a man with a reputation in London’s society circles, yet he is one of the few people that Katherine is able to be more open and free with. As the season progresses, advences are made towards Katherine that are at first welcomed and then greatly distrusted. There are people who seek to use her power and destroy her life. Secrecy is of the upmost importance, yet this sweet woman will not stand by as people are hurt. She saves a boys life and suspicions arise, cause her to be the focus of the Order. She must fight to keep her secret and when she has no other option but to save another life, she is outed for all the world to see. She attempts to find her solid footing yet life continues to throw so much chaos at her.
I have never read a historical romance before but now I am thinking I need to rethink this notion. This book was set in a world that was full of life. I loved the blending of the fantasy and supernatural element with London in 1905. The backdrop of the bustling city was vibrant, full of life and excitement. Jessica’s writing and descriptions of the world Katherine resides in allows the reader to see the world in technicolor. It is so descriptive yet never overwhelming in it’s description. I loved the “season” of ladies coming out and each girl introduced has a personality that was full of life and character. The sweet girls, like Penelope, were kind and generous. The catty girls, like Eliza, live to climb the social ladder. The secondary characters added a depth to the story that made it well rounded and great!
Katherine was an incredible heroine. She was independent, loving, kind, thoughtful, and cautious. She has lived with her special abilities her whole life and she is constantly battling the push and pull of her arcana and her duty to the human world. She is torn between the life she knows and the one she desires to know. Her sense of humor and banter with Lord Thornewood was so refreshing. She was witty and clever. Her relationship with her siblings is one that was deep and loving. She loved her Father and he loved her. Their immediate family was a tight knot group, a home full of life and love. Lord Thornewood is the handsome devil that is intrigued by Katherine’s independence and spunk. He finds something deep within her that changes his views on many things in life and he needs to know more. The romance between the two is so sweet. It is deep and loving! Their chemistry and connection is on fire, and their stolen moments and kisses are passionate. I loved their relationship.
The fantasy theme is one that I am usually hesitant about since it can change a good story into something cheesy and far fetched. That is not the case here. Arcana is able to couple the fantasy with romance and history in such a way that it creates greater depth. As the reader you cannot help but be drawn into the world of the London high society and irresistible magic. This story left me smiling. Jessica Leake has raised the bar for historical fantasy fiction and I am excited to see what she has in store for us next. Arcana is an incredibly written and fascinating debut that has put Jessica on the list of authors you need to know!
Profile Image for Tressa (Wishful Endings).
1,720 reviews183 followers
November 2, 2014
I love historical romances, especially when there is a creative or intriguing twist to the story. In Arcana the twist has to do with Katherine's (and the women in her family) ability to use Arcana, or absorb energy and use it to heal or to exert some control over other things. The story becomes further intriguing as Katherine finds that she will face two suitors, one who will become a friend and one who will become a foe.

I loved the beginning of this story! I loved the setting and the way the story first introduces us to Katherine's beloved family. I loved getting that unrestrained glimpse into Katherine's thoughts and personality and her relationships with those closest to her. Lucy was especially endearing and Robert definitely was the perfect chummy and teasing older brother. I also enjoyed James, Collin's mischievous younger brother with his teasing and antics. This story was full of family, their loyalty and love for one another, and these light and teasing, but also serious relationships.

I especially loved the banter between Katherine and Collin, with Lord Blackburn, Eliza, and others. There were so many great one-liners, retorts, and reactions that cracked me up and some relationships and comments that upset me. There were also unguarded and sweet moments when a feeling or communication was shared with words, slight touches, or through a look.

There were a few areas where I thought there could have been a little more development (in some of the characters and in the world-building) and where I thought Katherine should have had a stronger backbone or thought more clearly. I also would have loved less descriptive kissing scenes. The story would have been sweet and still beautifully climatic if there would have been a few stolen kisses and then a nice drawn-out kiss at the end, but that is how I like these types of stories. The mature content and wanting more development to some parts of the story lowered my rating a half star, but those that don't mind the content should thoroughly enjoy reading this.

I would recommend Arcana to those who enjoy reading historical romances with a magical twist, intriguing characters, are full of family, danger, and romance, and don't mind the mature content.

Content: There were a couple of overly descriptive kissing scenes, one scene that just sits on the not-quite-line of sex, a couple times when a man tries to force himself on a woman, and some brief violence.
Source: From the author and the publisher through Edelweiss, which did not affect my review in any way.
Profile Image for Alicia.
218 reviews18 followers
December 28, 2014
I'm not sure what, exactly, worked so well with Arcana but I really, really liked this one.

It wasn't the prose or writing style - if anything, it's written rather plainly. It's not a terribly unique plot - Arcana is just another word for "magic." It's also not the characters - they weren't terribly well developed.

Maybe Arcana just came along at the right time and I was in the right place, because I literally couldn't put it down.

The setting reminded me of Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty but without the gothic undertones. Wren craves, and requires, sunlight to fuel her magic and powers as opposed to Gemma who practiced her magic only during night time hours and in a dreamlike state. But there are other similarities, such as a mother who died too soon with secrets and access to a world her daughter craves to join. And in Arcana that world is a fantasy-come-true, with spirit animals, dragons, unicorns, and a royal family.

The love story was predictable, but I actually found that refreshing. I just finished the Drakon series by Shana Abe and those very adult-oriented love stories were so.... complicated. Wren and Colin had complications, sure, and their intimate moments were definitely a smidge more intense than PG-13, but overall it was lovely how honest they were with one another. In fact, I would only change one thing: That we heard more from Colin's POV, and that she would have started calling him by his first name much, much sooner than 95% of the way through the story.

Which brings me to the villain. Again, a little predictable. Lots of hints and foreshadowing that indicated where this was going well in advance. But maybe it's because I just got out of the Drakon series, because again I found the straight forward approach really refreshing.

Arcana was like a big, warm, chocolate chip cookie. Easy to enjoy, delightful to consume, and perfect in its comforting and easy expectations.
Profile Image for Angela.
460 reviews10 followers
August 19, 2014
3 1/2 Stars for an intriguing mashup of fantasy, historical and paranormal romance.

Katherine is the kind of heroine I like. She speaks her mind, bends the rules and is loyal to her family. The first scene we learn her love of her family and are introduced to her power.

The world building felt very organic and the fantasy element really added dimension to this story.

Katherine is having her first season in London --begrudgingly. She is pursued by two handsome, and debonaire lords. Her mother long since past away has written an enchanted journal for Katherine, which reveals its pages as needed. It warns her of treachery among the mundane.

Katherine must avoid the perils of society, love and an evil sect that wants her power.

I really enjoyed the fantasy part of this story. It was so unique and uniquely told. There were some loose ends, but I imagine we will see more of this world in another story.

The romance did feel a little predictable, but the chemistry was excellent and it helped drive the story.

If you love Jayne Ann Krentz ARCANE SOCIETY novels, then you will enjoy this!
Profile Image for Alma .
1,156 reviews8 followers
January 30, 2016
It is 1905, and 18-year-old Katherine Sinclair is unlike other young ladies. She has inherited the gift of arcana from her mother, which is power derived from the sun allowing her to manipulate elements to heal people and animals. Katherine has enjoyed freedom in the country with her widowed father, as well as with her brother and sister, but her father insists she and her sister join their grandmother in London to make her debut into London society. Read the rest of the review on my blog: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.c...
Profile Image for Nichole.
802 reviews17 followers
October 3, 2014
I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss for an honest review. I really loved this book! It was unique and I couldn't put it down. I could picture Wren's debut and just imagine how horrible it would be to live in a time where women have no say in their futures. I hope Jessica will write more about Arcana, maybe stories about Wren's siblings. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book. I loved it!
Profile Image for Eryn Chickey.
1 review1 follower
October 9, 2014
Absolutely LOVED this book! The beginning slowed down for at bit, and being that I have a knowledge for how story writing works, I knew it would pick up--and it did to the point where I couldn't put it down! I was sad that it ended knowing there was nothing else to read. I hope this author writes more books with the character's because there are so many routes to go!
Profile Image for Lillian.
934 reviews63 followers
November 14, 2014
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

is the debut novel of author Jessica Leake and is set in early 1900s London. Eighteen year old Katherine Sinclair is sent by her father to live with her grandmother in London for her debut and she can think of no worse punishment. You see, her mother was not human but Sylvani, making Katherine half-Sylvani. The Sylvani are a magical race (think fairies), and so Katherine inherited some of her mother's magical abilities. After using them to save her brother from a near fatal accident and being caught, her father decides it is time for her entrance into society. To ease her debut, the earl of Thornewood an old family friend will escort her. But a diary her mother left for her warns of a secret order, the Order of the Eternal Sun, that would seek to use her power hidden amongst London society. Katherine must find a husband, keep her magic secret, and somehow avoid the Order to keep her family name from ruin and protect her siblings.

Unforgettable Characters

I love the characters that Leake has created. All of them are individual and have personality that just oozes off the pages. The story is told from Katherine's point of view, and I wouldn't want it any other way! She is headstrong, feminist before feminism, and wholly against the idea of marriage. She would be happy living as a spinster if it meant that she could be independent and still protect her family. Her magic is stronger than her brother Robert's and sister Lily's, making her a target for this Order of the Eternal Sun. Having never had to control her magic while living in the country with her family she finds London dangerous and she is constantly looking over her shoulder. For a girl who came from a rather good family, she is quite distrustful which the author explains why (sorry no spoilers). The progression of her character really drives the story along and it felt natural. That's why I love her so much!

Lord Thornewood (all together now...::::swoon:::) is the handsome son of the now deceased earl Katherine's father had planned to escort her in her debut. He is devilishly handsome, a bit contrary, and finds himself taken by Katherine's unfiltered opinions. Think Mr. Darcy except surrounded by London's newest debutantes and highest in society. Do I have you swooning yet? I believe the earl is my new book boyfriend as every encounter with him made my heart pitter-patter like a middle school girl.

Lily and Robert, Katherine's siblings, were well-written and added to Katherine's character. Robert is depicted as the typical older brother, over-protective of his little sisters, good-natured teasing, and loving. Lily is the youngest and is described as always happy with a sunny personality. She lends strength to Katherine throughout the book as she is allowed to accompany her to London for the season.

(Not-so) Magical (but Definitely) Romance

The plot of this story really revolves around Katherine's love life and not so much the magical aspect of her being. She has been forced into London society and an early debut by her father, who believes that it is needed to calm her magical talents. Katherine's always found marriage as something she detests. She doesn't want to be forced into it or lose her independence. She's also frightened that she will not find love and will not be able to share her magical abilities with her husband, which would mean a life in hiding.

Enter Lord Thornewood. He is an earl, one of the highest positions held at court, but he also takes a different look at the debutante season. Being an eligible bachelor, young women are constantly thrown at him by their over-zealous mothers. But Katherine catches his eye because unlike the other debutantes, she is not looking for a husband and doesn't want to play the game. Her grandmother however has other plans and introduces Lord Blackburn, who holds one of the lowest positions at court. At first he seems every bit a gentleman and the complete opposite of the earl, but looks Katherine learns can be deceiving.

As Katherine learns more and more about London society, she learns dark secrets are hidden in every house. She must navigate the secrets and learn who her heart desires. But most importantly she must keep her abilities hidden so the Order doesn't find her family.

My Conclusions

If it's not obvious from my rambling and swooning, I loved this book! Historical fiction holds a special place in my heart and when it is combined with fantasy as Leake does with this novel, I find I love it even more. There were times I was so engrossed with the story that hours went by without me knowing. The romance is fairly clean, though there are some sexual situations that are implied. The historical elements are fairly spot on and I felt I was in that early era London and I remembered thank God that I wasn't and never had to go before the King and Queen and court to be introduced into society!! Also I would never have known that Leake is a debut author. The writing, the characters, and the story are complex, well thought out, and completely come to life as you read. Not at all what I expect when reading a debut novel! If you enjoy historical fiction, fantasy (a very little bit), and romance, I highly suggest you check out this debut author.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,312 reviews50 followers
February 3, 2015
This review can also be found on A Thousand Lives Lived, check it out for more reviews!

Historical romances are really not for me. I've went through so many, coming from Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab, and I've only been happy with a few. Jessica Leake has changed that for me, and I am loving this idea of fantasy-romance-historical. Arcana was that book that you will end up dreaming about for decades.

"I won't have you blame yourself," Lord Thornewood says sharply. I shrug and look out the window. I don't blame myself—though I was warned by Lord Thornewood about Lord Blackburn's character. Blame isn't the right word—it's more disgust than anything."

I’m so thankful that the author gifted me an ARC of this book early. I’m too dumb that I never took the chance to read the book beforehand, and my time-management skills absolutely suck. Any who, I regret not reading this sooner. This was an action-packed read that was wild, racy (in a good way) and totally different than anything else I’ve ever read. A lot of the aspects and concepts captivated me, and I couldn't stop thinking about the story even after I finished reading.

For once, we don’t have a Victorian novel. Yes, that time period is beautiful and involved a ton of witchcraft and spells and beliefs (at least in Cassandra Clare’s books), while this was taken place in a later stage of London, 1905–Edwardian. You see, the idea of the Arcana wasn’t something that was cheesy and found everywhere else, it instead showed something definitely about friendship and missing that person who you loved the most.

This took place in the POV of Katherine Sinclair, who has been given the power of arcana, and she must not use it while others are watching. She is practically royalty—and is lurking for love. This is also great once she meets the Earl of Thronewood. One day, her father draws a hidden journal kept by her mother before she died, and this will tell Katherine more about arcana and its powers and abilities. And then her mother warns that two men will seek upon her and one will be her true love…

KATHERINE WAS LUCKY, OKAY? She was royal, had all of the money and wealth in the world, was stunningly gorgeous, and she had a beautiful man that she fell in love with. But at the same time, she wasn't a snob or rude or a stupid protagonist. I loved reading from her POV, and she was a character who deserved to use the magic that she thankfully ended up having. Also, that gorgeous scene with Thornewood was very special indeed. *winks like a maniac repeatedly and repeatedly*

I do have to say that I wasn't as addicted with the beginning of the book as I was with the end. The ending ended up stronger than the beginning, actually, which was more weaker. I got a little bored when we first started off the story as I didn't know the characters too well and the big plot story that the author had going on here. But soon after 100 pages, I was obsessed and would be giving that last chunk 5 stars for a rating. I became so intrigued that I kept reading and reading for a whole sitting until I finished the book—and it was a pretty big book when you look at the font size.

THE ROMANCE WAS SO AMAZING. Leake definitely knew how to write it well to get me squealing. I won't spoil who was the love interest, but what I can tell you is that it was a total love to get you to fan yourself. AND THE KISSING SCENES, AGH! *fans self*

What can I say? Reading this was like reading a piece of poetry. It was so beautifully written, fast-paced and meaningful. At the same time, I adored the romance and characters. Jessica Leake is definitely my newest favourite author, her words are like an illusion—unreal, moving and like an arcana.

*A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!*
382 reviews4 followers
September 20, 2014
Arcana started off a little shaky for me. It wasn't that it was bad, but it didn't hook me right away. I continued reading, though, mostly because I'm a history nut and this book has some history in it. After the rocky start, things really started to pick up, and I found myself unable to put the book down until I had finished.

Katherine Sinclair is different from most people in more than a few ways. As a girl, she's completely uninterested in going to London for her debut. She doesn't really think she needs a husband, and she finds the social rules smothering. She also has the power of the sun inside her. She can call upon this power for magic, and even though she keeps it hidden most of the time, sometimes she can't help but let her magic flow. On top of this, she is forced to London where the handsome Earl of Thornewood is her companion. She must figure out who is part of the Order whose only goal is to harness the power of Arcana through destructive means, while trying to maneuver London society.

Katherine didn't connect with me right away. Her character felt a little out of reach. Once she made it to London, where she struggles with keeping her true character hidden behind the picture society paints, I started to like her more. She has a quick wit, and sometimes her mouth runs without thinking. She thinks of her family first, and cares deeply for anyone who she considers close to her. She also knows that she can't depend on anyone else for her safety. She may not always be ready to fight, but she'll try to find a way to keep herself from harm.

The two male characters in this novel were interesting. I would have liked maybe a little more mystery about who was good and who was bad, but I'll take what I can get. It was pretty clear from the moment both characters were introduced how they would be divided. While there's really nothing wrong with this, sometimes I like to guess.

The plot itself was interesting. I would have liked a little more weaving of the arcana into the story. I think the novel could have easily read as a good book without the magical element. I wanted the magic there, though. Near the end, it became more of the storyline, but I would have liked more throughout the entire novel.

Arcana started off slow, but soon I was completely drawn into the world Leake created. She has a beautiful writing style and she really made me interested in the characters' lives. It's a good book, although you'll have to like historical fiction and debutante politics.
Profile Image for Monica.
387 reviews83 followers
November 14, 2014
This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews, where you can now enter to win a copy of Arcana and a 25$ Amazon gift card: http://avidfantasyreviews.com/2014/11...

I was pleasantly surprised by how easily this novel captured my attention and ignited my imagination. Arcana is a story that both emotionally involves the reader and contains a thrilling plot. In addition, Katherine is an incredibly sympathetic protagonist, and a refreshingly strong female character. Often novels set in the early 1900’s involve a simpering female protagonist and a plot that moves at a glacial pace, but Katherine’s determination to stay true to herself in a society filled with politics, and the complications that come with her use of Arcana keep the story engaging from start to finish.

Usually I enjoy a story where the characters have a bit more moral ambiguity and are less “black and white,” but I could not help but feel for Katherine’s character and become absorbed in her story. This story is undemanding of the reader, and sometimes it is nice to read an entertaining and well-written novel without having to delve for deeper meaning or philosophy; in fact, this was an extremely fun story to read. I found the story really picked up at around the halfway point, and I actually read the last 60% of the novel without once putting it down. The beginning is not unpleasant, but it is involved a bit more with setting the scene and the intricacies of becoming a debutante in London than with the more action packed scenes in the second half of the story.

I was also considerably impressed with Leake’s writing style. Though it is simple, she has a way of completely immersing the reader in the story and making her care deeply for the characters. Leake also has a tendency to describe her settings in a way that brings a clear and picturesque visual to the reader’s mind without inundating her with details. The romance in the novel was intense, but it was blended in well with the rest of the plot, and never completely overshadowed the story (which is a problem I have with many romance novels, and why I tend to stay away from the genre). Katherine’s story is both exciting and heartwarming, and I would recommend it to any reader who loves fantasy, action, and a good love story.

My rating: 7.5/10

Thank you to Prism Book Tours for providing a copy of Arcana in return for an honest review!
Profile Image for Grace Fonseca.
240 reviews21 followers
January 28, 2015
A deliciously flavored novel that has you absorbed from the second you start reading it. Katherine Sinclair has a very special gift or power that she inherited from her mother which makes her very unique. Plus she is a young woman who has to be careful.

What I like about this book was that it read a lot like a historical romance at times. Katherine does something with her arcana and uses it to help her brother not get hurt. Of course, someone sees her using it and then her father says that she needs to find a husband. Katherine really doesn’t want to find a husband. Yet her mother’s diary provides some interesting facts that Katherine uses.

When Katherine and her younger sister are sent to their grandmother’s, things began to change. Their grandmother wants them to become proper ladies and find husbands. Katherine is thrown at Lord Blackburn and you really find that you don’t like him at all. He is one of the men that her mother warned her about in the diary even though names are never mentioned. I really found that Earl Thornewood, Colin was a much better match for Katherine. He is everything that you like in a potential suitor. He’s charming and dynamic.

Of course, Katherine finds that she makes some enemies from other young woman, one in particular. Her Grandmother also does some shady things not realizing that this is going to come back in a bad way. This book has some interesting surprises and developments that you don’t expect to see. I totally love all the interesting surprises and twists that were thrown at you.

The romance between Katherine and Colin was so great. I really thought that these two were a great blend. Plus I found that their chemistry was terrific. The relationship was hot and intense. Even though this was a young adult book, I felt that there was an intimacy developing between these two people. Also the fact that there seems to be a connection forming. It was nice to see this in the book from start to finish. I totally love how Colin comes to Katherine’s rescue near the end of the book.

This was a really great book that I totally loved. I will definitely be reading more books by this author.
Profile Image for Mandy.
181 reviews48 followers
September 22, 2014
I received an e-galley from edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I'm not quite sure what to say about 'Arcana'. In truth, the story and the characters (*sighs*, Colin Thornewood, you gorgeous specimen you!) were extremely likeable and compelling, but I felt like sometimes the author was trying maybe a little too hard. Although Wren was a delight as a narrator, there were instances of telling, not showing, that jarred from the rest of the story, stopping the flow of the narrative.
Most specifically, I felt like the matter of her mother could have been handled differently to make it more mysterious and less... well, cringe-worthy really.
But other than that, the plot was well-thought out and developed, so much so that I find myself wondering if there will be a second book. Even if it was about Lucy (and James...), with Wren and Colin only coming in as secondaries, or even just exploring more about the Order - either way, I would be very excited for a continuation, especially as I haven't had anywhere near my fill of Thornewood men.

A definite must-read for all lovers of magic/historical romances!
Profile Image for Alyssa.
567 reviews8 followers
April 25, 2016
I absolutely adored this book. I had been in the mood for a fun, sweet, yet unpredictable romance, and this book hit the spot perfectly.

Katherine, our heroine, reminded me a bit of Lizzy Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, which is certainly a good thing! I loved the dialogue and witty banter, and was smiling as I read much of the time. The chemistry between the hero and heroine was very well rendered and added a great deal to the book. The fantasy elements were just right - not too much and not too little. The characters were also quite well rounded, especially the secondary characters like Lucy and Robert. I couldn't put the book down (I read it in a little under a day) and was sad when it ended - my two steadfast markers of a great read!

In conclusion, this book is swoon-worthy! I would recommend to all fans of historical fiction.
Profile Image for Mara.
Author 9 books263 followers
August 5, 2015
Solid writing and pacing that could match a stallion make this a must-read fantasy. The London setting reminded me of Downton Abbey and Leake nails the voice. I liked Wren's relationships with her siblings and the magical abilities were nicely explained. Wren (Katherine) herself is feisty, with a sharp wit and equally sharp tongue.

"I've always thought of it as part of Mama, as it is gentle like her but also strong, like the unexpected strength of silk." (p. 18)

"You wear anger beautifully though." (p. 87)

"There is nothing quite so painful as fear on a child's face..." (p. 183)

"There is no greater scandal than the one fueled by fear." (p. 197)
387 reviews17 followers
June 25, 2018
Enjoyable, starts a tad slow with the beginning going a bit overboard in descriptions and adjectives while she sets her scene. Fun, predictable and simplistic with all the tropes, nothing new, but a pleasant read for those us us who can forgive the aforementioned. I'll read more by this author.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,245 reviews385 followers
December 29, 2020
This book was a very happy surprise, an historical romance with a fantasy twist, and I enjoyed it a lot! Really enjoyed the mix of the to genrer and would love to read other books like this
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,055 reviews911 followers
April 7, 2016
An Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher for review. Quotes pulled from the ARC may be incorrect and may be subject to change.

Katherine lives with her father and siblings in the English countryside, riding her horse and traipsing the fields. Even though she doesn't act like a lady should be, that doesn't stop her father from turning her into a proper lady. He sends her off to her Grandmother's home in London for the debut season. Little does anyone know, Katherine is hiding a secret of her own, and when two wealthy suitors catch her eye, she has to decide which one is the best for her.

I really liked this one. If only I had more time to read historical books because I quite like the era. This is everything I imagined London in the 1900s to be. English wealth being snobbish and superior to those of a lower station than theirs. The gossip, the scandals, the back-stabbings that would aspire between girls. It's funny how things change and how seldom they don't. Katherine encounters very many colourful characters and some act as villains and some are just plain old friends who are just kind and wonderful. I had loads of fun guessing who would be bad and who would be good. What also surprised me was the magician element that was sprinkled throughout most of the book. In my opinion, I would have loved nothing more than for it to be all fantasy and magic, but it wasn't. Though I wasn't disappointed because Katherine is the type of character you rally with. She's very feisty and has a very modern way of thinking and I loved how she would surprise people with her wit and actions. Like riding a horse with both her legs on either side! It would cause a scandal back in those days and cause shame to a woman's reputation.

I found it wholly fascinating how the author compared the certain roles cast by society between women and men. Where women had to learn things like playing the piano or husband hunting just so they can marry while men get to go to school and learn everything there is to know about the world. It just empowered me even more that we live in a world where woman have equal say in this world even if some try to silence us. Other than high society life, I felt the history would have been better combined if there was a threat from that world. Kind of like a fugitive chase story-line. It would have made it less boring and more exciting because all I was waiting for was for Katherine to tell a certain someone who she is.

As for the characters, one of the biggest villains I pretty much despised is her own grandmother. She has such hidden motives and it wasn't hard to calculate what she really wanted. I also liked Katherine's family and best friend. As for Thornewood, he reminded me so much of Mark Darcy that I wasn't surprised that Jessica Leake said that she loves Darcy. Thornewood is an inspiration of Darcy and it's apparent in his actions. I thought their romance was too cute.

If you like historical fiction with a bit of magic and romance, this one's for you!



"A husband—someone to tell me what to do, what to think, how to live."

"My darling, there are wolves in sheep's clothing everywhere we look. It's the world we live in."

"Though I'm not sure headstrong would be such a terrible insult. I find it as much preferred to that of a vapid gossipmonger."

"I do not relish being the center of attention."

"Jealousy is such an ugly thing."

"You are the only woman who has had the strength to challenge me—on everything."

"Can love exist when one person has such a terrible secret?"
Profile Image for Becca.
418 reviews22 followers
November 7, 2014
Sometimes I think I missed my calling in the time I was born. Then I remember how much I hate dresses, and being "proper"..hehe! This book was just so much fun to read. I loved the setting. The way the characters talked. The whole shabang. I just felt like I was right there in the thick of London's elite.

Katherine's (who goes by Wren) father is convinced the only way she will find a respectable husband is to go and live with her grandmother in London. To have her debut in London and all that goes with it. Wren is much more comfortable in the beauty of her beloved country estate. Riding horses with her brother and enjoying her life. Wren feels more comfortable in riding breeches than in a dress. She is not looking forward at all to going to London.

Wren has some other special gifts that make her think that finding a suitable mate will be hard. She has "Arcana". Magic. Wren has lived most of her life hiding her "arcana" from the world for fear of what may happen. There are people who seek to destroy those with power, so she must keep it in.

Wren and her younger sister take off to London and as Wren's debut comes closer, she is finding it hard to get a long with the Earl who will be accompanying her.

Wren and Earl Thornewood crack me up. Wren is my kind of girl. Spunky, and full of whit. She is such a great female character. Earl Thornewood fits right with Wren. He knew how to take what Wren said and he knew just how to dish it as well. I love it when characters banter back and forth with each other.

There is another who is trying to capture the eye of Wren. Lord Blackburn. Let's just say he is a good "shady" character. I didn't like him from the moment he was introduced to Wren. There just was something "off" about him.

The story was so great, and just when I thought it was going to end the way I wanted it to..BAM, plot twist. The ending of this book is so exciting. I felt like I got slapped in the face when I got to the end. The world was all sunshine and roses and then BAM...It was kind of awesome. I love how it ends, but getting to that ending was exciting.

I love stories about magic. They make me happy. I love that there is always some "one" or some "thing" trying to keep the magic hidden. Or trying to keep the magic for themselves. It makes for an exciting story.

There are so many great characters in this book. Both main and secondary. I loved them all. Well, some were more slimy than others, but they were all great characters. I truly love it when an author makes me interested in more than just the "main" characters. It really makes the story come more alive for me.

Source: I was given this book as part of a book tour, in return for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for this review. These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.

Content: There is some sexual innuendo in this book, as well as some descriptive "foreplay". It isn't a main focus by any means, but just so you are aware.
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