I read the blurb on this one and decided that it sounded like a good read. Unfortunately this was not to be an enjoyable reading experience for me. Rarely, do I start reading a book that just is not a good fit for me, but this is one of them. I say not a good fit for me because all of us have differing taste and this might be a great story to someone else.
As I began reading, I thought that it was interesting as it introduced me to the concept of a hidden civilization in the Antarctic made up of human-like people whose duty was to return the resident evils to Pandora’s Box (at least that was the men’s duty).
It introduced the unique concept of how the males of this remote small group of people were allowed to find their life mates in the human populace with a remote possibility that one of the females born there in their village might be The One. But that is when the world building stopped being as interesting because there was no clear description of this group of people other than they were hidden, lived regular domestic home lives and not quite regular humans. They had special gadgetry and its way into the book that I discovered that they had special abilities too. I’m left with a hazy idea about these people through most of the book. Now their courtship ritual is given more detail. It is a unique method of searching for the right female. The men (and maybe the women, it doesn’t say) were given these year long windows of time to go anywhere they wanted in the world to hunt for their mates. They know them when they see them because there is a soul deep connection. The poor hero of the story, Declan, has tried three times and come back empty-handed receiving several rejections (what about the part of knowing instantly that someone is your soulmate?). There is this long waiting list for each new turn to go mate hunting that could be years before you get a new turn. The good news for Declan is that his age is frozen when he reaches mature adulthood until he finds his other half and then he starts to age normally again. Most of his warrior friends are already happily married so he feels lonely, left out and depressed because he’s received so many rejections. The story begins when he’s about to try again and is a nervous mess about putting himself out there yet again.
Meanwhile the heroine, Ellie, is fighting traffic to get to work while chatting to her friend on the phone. She arrives late and disgruntled only to be pounced on by her well meaning co-workers with a new guy for her to try. Ellie is orphaned by the death of her parents and left alone when both her grandparents die. She had a very painful experience when a guy left her after she fell in love with him and she closed herself off from the chance of another guy hurting her so she hates to go on these coerced for her own good dates. My sympathies were with her at this point.
The cutest part of the story, which is early on, takes place when Ellie chooses to lie to her co-workers to get them off her back. She makes up a stunning specimen of a man that she’s dating. Boy is she surprised when a man of that description comes walking through the doorway of her office. To keep up the deception, she grabs him and drags him outside telling him to play along like he’s her boyfriend. He does and saves her from getting caught out by her co-workers.
But this early on cutesy moment was the very last time I even liked Ellie which is a problem because her point of view is half the book and the relationship between her and Declan makes up most of the book.
The man who gallantly played along with her and thought she was adorable was Declan. He feels that special spark toward Ellie and knows she felt it too, but he’s confused when she rudely tells him to go away after she used him (hello, he came into your real estate office for a reason girl and it wasn’t to ruin your day). He is sweet and charming to her after that first rebuff bringing her flowers, wanting to go to lunch with her, and even tries to approach her several times to get to know her. But she turns into a hateful, mean, selfish harridan. And her excuse? This one guy in her past lied to her and hurt her feelings so now every guy only has designs on doing the same thing. Somehow this translates in her mind that its okay to emotionally torture Declan who puts himself out there leaving himself vulnerable when she stomps all over his heart. Even her best friend looks at her like she’s expecting her to cackle and fly off on her broom when she witnesses how Ellie treats Declan. In case you think this dislike of mine is about her having a right to decline a man, its not. I’m okay with her not wishing to see Declan or start a relationship with him. It was her methods and excessive behavior that turned me off on her.
Then later when she does give him a chance after an incidental meeting, her horrid behavior gets worse because then she starts the hot and cold treatment on his feelings. There are a string of scenes where she accepts his attention and then freaks out and rejects him usually when he’s just being honest and loving toward her about himself and what he wants in a relationship (really Ellie? You don’t want lies, but you won’t believe the truth either). He does as she requests each time when she insists that he to take her home and then she gets angry when he gives her a hurt look and complies even though she’s just got done stomping on his poor heart with steel toed combat boots again and yes, again.
Oh and in case she hasn’t hurt him enough, she rejects him because she prefers to be alone, but goes on a blind date arranged by her co-workers. This guy truly does have bad designs on her and scares her with his whole Fatal Attraction possessiveness. She runs straight to Declan and does the damsel in distress letting him help and protect her.
But not for long, because yet again Declan puts himself out there as a decent guy who just wants a chance with her and she still thinks he’s putting her on. So even though the psycho guy who makes yet another attempt to get at her back at her home is still at large, she’d rather go home and pretend that all is normal against the advice of her friend, Declan and even her own instinct. And guess what happens to our too stupid to live heroine? Yeah, tagged and bagged by the bad guy forcing her trusty hero to worry and fret again while he tries to find her.
Early on, I just felt sorry for Declan who must be getting jerked around by fate to have earned such a mate and I truly didn’t care that Ellie’d gotten taken by the bad guy. I was actually hoping for the plot to take a twist and match up Declan with Ellie’s friend who was such a better option since she was fun, spunky, loyal and loving.
The other plot line of the story- the capture of Jealousy which is one of the evils was pretty good and I have to say that it was exciting and kept me reading. A different heroine would have made all the difference in the world for me. I would have found the story a decent read if the heroine would have been different because the idea of the secret race of people tracking down the evil escaped from Pandora’s Box is a great basis for a story and I like the author’s creativity in coming up with it. This is a series so the second book might be much better with new h/h and a new evil to chase down and capture.