I don't know if I read in stops and starts because I wasn't gripped, or if I wasn't gripped because I read in stops and starts. I struggled to connectI don't know if I read in stops and starts because I wasn't gripped, or if I wasn't gripped because I read in stops and starts. I struggled to connect with characters in the first half of the book, just didn't feel invested, but the second half, especially the last third, finally grabbed hold of me and I loved it. I think the issue is that the scenes highlighting the book's theme and the heroine's strength were primarily relegated to the end of the book, and the hero was a little too stagnant until the end of the book. The ending is powerful though, and overall this is still an enjoyable read that I would recommend....more
The plot premise was ideal for setting up emotional conflict between the hero and heroine: a serial killer's son and a woman whose been traumatized twThe plot premise was ideal for setting up emotional conflict between the hero and heroine: a serial killer's son and a woman whose been traumatized twice by killers. The best tension comes from characters with diametrically opposed fears, wants, and needs, so I was excited for the ride.
My main criticism of the book is that the rich backstory the author created for Brynn was ENTIRELY irrelevant to the plot. Not a single aspect of her baggage and traumas had an iota of influence on the story once she meets the hero. Instead, Brynn is a Mary Sue.
The first display of this is her complete lack of emotional response to the event that brings her to be in the hero's care at his secluded cabin. (view spoiler)[Anyone would have an emotional response to nearly being murdered, and it should have been compounded for Brynn since this is the second time violence has rocked her world. But for Brynn, it barely registers. It creates no new baggage, and in fact she never even reflects on wanting justice for what happened to her. Someone with her backstory should desperately want to make sure the attempted murder was arrested so he couldn't harm others. (hide spoiler)]
It also felt unnatural that Brynn never once had reservations about disappearing from her life back home for a month while she had to wait out her recovery at Cassidy's secluded cabin. Other than having Cassidy go to town once early on to call her parents to let them know what's become of her, it never crosses her mind to worry over all the people in her life not knowing where she is, what the fallout will be for abandoning work, unpaid bills, who is taking care of her cat, nada. She's just happy to be falling in love.
I wasn't convinced that her physical recovery was realistic. (view spoiler)[ I don't see why a stabbing that hit nothing vital would result in being unconscious for days. (hide spoiler)]
As for the romance, I'm rarely a fan of insta love, so while this story aspect didn't work for me, I know some readers will love it. But for me, I agreed with her mom that it seems hard to take her emotions serious when she goes from being consumed with love for her dead ex to falling head over heels for Cassidy in the span of a few weeks. It often felt more like a mix of Stockholdm Syndrome meets Nightingale Syndrome meets trauma bond. Would deprived Cassidy have fallen for any woman who fell into his care? Is Brinn's attachment to him rooted in transference?
The biggie complaint, though, is that Brynn is completely unfazed when she finds out that the hero might be the son of a serial killer. There's zero emotional turmoil for her because she loves him so much that she just doesn't care about this news. There's not a single moment where she reflects on the horrors that evil men can inflict. There's nothing she needs to face within herself to overcome what should have been an obstacle to happiness.
But good news! Brynn only has to be unaffected by that reality bomb for a brief moment, because immediately the plot twist is revealed that makes it all a moot point. (view spoiler)[The switched-at-birth device was so disappointing because of how it was used as a cop out for coming to terms with difficult questions about human nature and for robbing Brynn of much needed growth. (hide spoiler)]
And then there's frustration over the moral of the story being that Cassidy's mom and grandfather were right to fear DNA to such an extent that living unloved in isolation actually is the only option for a person with tainted DNA. (view spoiler)[The author's message was that nature truly does rule all and nurture has ZERO influence on a person, which frankly I believe is horseshit. (hide spoiler)]
My frustrations were cemented by the 75% mark, so from then on I'd lost the ability to suspend disbelief or refrain from eye rolls. (view spoiler)[I'm supposed to believe that in a small town where everyone seems to have amazing memories about events and town residents from decades past, no one was able to physically identify the dead body found in the lean-to as the man they knew as Preacher Wayne's son? Isn't it lucky that the records clerk has no scruples about handing out birth certificates that she shouldn't, and that the clerk notices AND understands the note of "congenital heterochromia iridis" on the birth certificate? I'm supposed to think it's a good idea for Brynn to set off into the wilderness alone on an ATV armed with no gear other than a "wrist GPS," a piece of very specific tech that happened to be available at the hardware store in this tiny town. And thank God the GPS is able to give her turn by turn directions for how to get to the super secret pond on Cassidy's property. Imagine if there was an actual challenge for Brynn to find him! And of course she won't let her father accompany her on an ATV for this adventure, I guess because she still feels the need to prove she's a capable independent adult, which surely trumps the practicality of having a second adult accompany an off-road wilderness trek. (hide spoiler)]
I also felt the worldbuilding needed more attention. It wasn't clear how the hero lived off the land from a food standpoint. Early on he says he doesn't kill animals because he doesn't want to activate his killer instinct, so I assumed he was vegetarian, but then we learn he eats fish, and I could swear there were mentions of them eating meat. We know know he gets eggs and milk from his animals and there's vague mention of growing things, but there's no info on what all he grows and how much work must be done for it. How much does he rely on packaged food and household products that he buys on infrequent trips to town? How much can he really haul on his ATV for stockpiling the supplies he doesn't grow or make? Does Brynn's period not present a challenge?
As for Cassidy, I mostly liked his portrayal, but I frequently wished I could experience more of his awe and cluelessness at being exposed to new experiences. I didn't need a 27-year-old virgin hero who was immediately great at sex. But honestly his characterization and inner struggle was the best part of the book....more
What a treasure! The story climax scene in the House of Lords was one of the most satisfying endings I've read in a long time. I got goosebumps. ThrilWhat a treasure! The story climax scene in the House of Lords was one of the most satisfying endings I've read in a long time. I got goosebumps. Thrilled for this debut author to be on the scene writing intelligent historical romance with fresh historical content....more
I feel like I should have liked this book more than I did. The world building was terrific and the concept was fun. The language and imagery and humanI feel like I should have liked this book more than I did. The world building was terrific and the concept was fun. The language and imagery and human insight were all well done. It just didn't hold my attention. I read this book over months of stops and starts. Ultimately I think middle grade fiction just isn't for me. I liked the characters, but I wanted more from them. I wanted character arcs and growth, but this is entirely a plot-driven story, which I imagine is typical for middle-grade adventure fiction. I can see this being a 5-star read for the right reader....more