Review: Before the Storm by Claire Ashgrove

Review: Before the Storm by Claire AshgroveBefore the Storm by Claire Ashgrove

Series: #1 Windwalker
Genres: New Adult Romance, Urban Fantasy
on April 16, 2014
Pages: 307
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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four-half-stars  

A favorite author, a new series, fantastic new paranormal world? Sign. Me. Up! While I do adore a good passionate romance and am engaged when a story offers some deep character development like this does, there is just something to be said when an author creates a world that just leaves me with a ‘wow’ on my lips and a hunger for more.

The story opens on a fast-paced leap into the story with a ‘slap in the face’ statement about the heroine killing her own father. Say what!?! Halle Rhoads has been on the run and thought to be dead for several years, but in reality she has stayed near her sister to secretly protect her. Their uncle her sister’s guardian is a mean, abusive man much like their dad and Halle will do anything to protect Faye even bringing down another storm and lightening and take him out like she did his evil brother. Lightning strikes in warning letting her sister get away and her uncle to act wary. Just as she’s ready to unleash the power of the storm on him, a stranger pulls her back and prevents her.

The stranger tells her fantastical things about her, about what she is and what he wants her to do. Kale tells her that she is a witch and he wants her to return with him to his people so she can learn to use her gifts and fight in the war against evil sorcerers- like her uncle which this knowledge is a surprise, but not a shock. Halle has been on her own for so long and toughed things out that she doesn’t trust Kale an ounce and refuses everything, but the opportunity to learn more about controlling her magic.

After they agree that she can leave when she wants, Halle stays with the Camarilla, Kale’s people, and learns from him. Learning her magic also leads to other discoveries namely that Halle is not like these other magic users, she’s a rare windwalker. This makes her life path very different from the others and makes her highly prized for her blood and magic to the evil ones who would tap her to have this power. Nothing is what it seems and Halle gets hit with many surprising truths, but at least she has Kale at her back. She has never trusted anyone or opened herself up to wanting and needing anyone so the knowledge that he withheld some important things wounds her deeply and may have broken anything they had together not to mention he wants to prevent her from what she feels is the most important thing she needs to do. She was alone before and it looks like she’ll be heading into danger alone again.

Alright, I’ve already gushed a bit about the backdrop of this story that assumes the world is filled with magic and incredible magic users of the good and not so good variety. The plot is split between action and character development being the focus. The action scenes are riveting and I also loved how the author slowly unraveled each layer of reveals slowly through the story so there wasn’t this huge info dump. The pace was pretty good too considering there was a lot that needed to be explained and got out there on the table woven with the trainings and the battles. The romance was developed nicely too, not rushed which made sense with Halle’s level of trust issues. But once they came together…they made up for lost time. Kale is so much the perfect hero-type and so loyal to and patient with Halle. Each scene together just sparkled. And that duckling he forced on her? Too cute!

The story is told first person narrative style from Halle’s perspective so hers is the only character that I really got to know thoroughly. The others are revealed through her eyes. Halle was a street kid and now adult. She has street smarts and cunning. She relies on herself and succeeds out of luck and tenacity. Now all she has known is gone and she is left reeling. She gets like a cornered wild creature and comes out swinging a lot (not literally). Now while I admire her for not curling up in a ball and going catatonic over all the stuff she goes through and learns, I don’t admire the stubborn-stupid she wears so proudly. I am twenty-two and a magic user so I can take on the world. Yeah, um…no, but she has to discover that for herself of course. She lets her impulses and emotions lead her constantly and it gets her into trouble and causes her a lot of misery. It was hard being carried along with her as she made those huge errors in judgment and action. I wanted to bop her in the head several times, but I never wanted to give up on her so I guess that is saying something about how engaging her character is.

Things were left with lots of stuff wide open after the big climactic scene. There wasn’t a cliffhanger, but just the story left with a ‘to be continued’ in the next installment. I had several questions at the end of this one that I’ll assume get tackled in the next book.

I’m honestly not sure what sub-genre this is though I’m leaning toward Urban Fantasy so I’ll just recommend it for Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance fans alike.

My thanks to the author for letting me read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • No cliffhanger is a good thing. To be continued sounds like a good flow, I hope the next one is just as good.

    • It always helps for need to know what to expect going in. I actually don’t mind cliffhangers if I know to expect it if that makes sense. I like when a story is labeled UF b/c then I know up front that I’m dealing with a story that will extend past the book I’m reading.

      I hope the next one is good too.

  • Okay Sophia. You’re adding to my list again. lol I’ve not tried hers before! Sounds pretty exciting and dang yeah that’s quite the opener! lol

    I’ve been wanting to do some UF reading soon so will had this to that list!

    • Yeah, I can just see you looking down your granny glasses with the chain on them at me and waggling your finger for plopping one more down on your towering TBR mountain. Haha! I really like Clair Ashgrove’s writing in her adult stuff and this was her first dip into NA so I was curious. Not bad.

      • Bwaha well I rock some glasses but no chain. The herd babes would LOVE that way too much. lol Glad she did the switch well 🙂