It is difficult to know where to begin reviewing this book. It is, without a doubt, the most amazing, captivating, and vivid historical novel I’ve reaIt is difficult to know where to begin reviewing this book. It is, without a doubt, the most amazing, captivating, and vivid historical novel I’ve read in a long, long time.
The subject matter itself is gripping: William Bonney, Billy the Kid. For a man who lived such a short life, Billy the Kid cast a long shadow over the history of the American West. No matter what you think of him—anti-hero or sociopath, there is no denying the lure of his brief, violent existence on our collective imagination.
Holguin-Balogh has skillfully woven what we know to be historically true with what might have been and she has created something magical. The story grows in such an organic, compelling fashion the pages almost turn themselves.
The story is told by Ambrosia Salazar, a young Mexican woman who somehow manages to hold her family together in spite of crushing poverty, war, and the arrival of William Bonney into her life. Daughter, sister, lover, mother, healer, care-taker, and more, Ambrosia is the glue that keeps her small world together.
The writing is gritty and brutal but the author manages to show glimpses of the beauty in Ambrosia’s harsh Nineteenth Century existence. There are lyrical and beautiful phrases on almost every page and Holguin-Balogh is a master at painting a vivid picture with her words. Clever, honest lines like, “His half-smile made me feel undressed without a tree to hide behind” abound and there is plenty of humor in the story, even though life in the New Mexico Territory is a hardscrabble existence.
Reading Rosary without Beads is the closest I have come to time travel. What an incredible debut. ...more
It is very hard to rate a Mary Balogh book because I tend to rate them on a special scale using her as the benchmark. As usual I found it very hard toIt is very hard to rate a Mary Balogh book because I tend to rate them on a special scale using her as the benchmark. As usual I found it very hard to put the book down after starting it and read late into the night.
While it doesn't rank up there with some of my favorites from her (the first 2 in this series, 3 from the survivors series, Slightly Dangerous, A Secret Pearl) I still devoured it in record time.
This is a powerful and hard-to-put down book. I think the romance between the two protagonists is less of a focus than their growth as people, but that is okay because their personal journeys are fascinating. I love how she handles the issue of family. I would be easy, from a modern vantage point, to say the characters should just cut ties with their horrible family members, but Ms. Balogh does not take that easy and a-historical way out.
As always, the secondary characters often steal the show. I LOVED Mathilda and got all teary-eyed during her brief moments in the spotlight.
Ms. Balogh really is the queen of Regency romance and this was another joy to read....more
I've been saving this book as a treat for finishing a difficult project. So when I cracked it open I was ready to gorge-- and I did. This book was verI've been saving this book as a treat for finishing a difficult project. So when I cracked it open I was ready to gorge-- and I did. This book was very difficult to put down,so budget some time and find a quiet place to hole up.
I LOVED it. There was some discussion about whether this was better than the first, Prisoner of the Crown. I really feel like there is no point in comparing them because they are so different.. This is along the lines of a classic quest fantasy, but it is a quest for self rather than a ring or something external.
Jenna's character develops so subtly and believably. She has everything in the world to learn at the end of Prisoner of the Crown and there were many ways Kennedy could have gone wrong with her. I worried Jenna would either do a lot of stupid things or become an instant bad ass--neither happens. Instead the journey from pampered princess to Danu priestess is nuanced and thoughtful and gut-wrenching.
Because she is alone for the first time in her life I would have been skeptical if she wasn't afraid and didn't question herself. But I also didn't want to read about a self-pity fest. Her internal monologue is brilliant and I felt like I was traveling with her.
Without spoiling the story, the friends she make both compliment her and bring the best out in her. I thought Jenna's friendships were the most magical parts of the book.
I loved Kaja. She was the perfect blend of toughness without being annoying. Her attitude toward men is hilarious and it made my heart ache the way she helped Jenna in a way that gave her time to heal without isolating her. Becoming a priestess was a perfect idea in so many ways.
And then there is Ochieng. I can't remember when I last encountered a character who surprised me so much with their depth and texture. He has strength without being oppressive and is wise without coming off hectoring or like a know-it-all.. The romance--which is very understated-- kind of developed without me even realizing it. I really can't say enough about Ochieng--I think he's a masterpiece.
I can't wait for book 3 and I have NO idea what is going to happen....more