It has been a long journey you guys and it is finally over. In April 2015, I accepted The Red Hot Lovers Boxed Set for review. The author said that I could review one near the release date and get to the other stories after that. I had no idea that the majority of this boxed set were full length stories (only one was a novella) so I naively said sure thing.
Well, I reviewed the first story. Then I actually looked hard at the set. Eighteen books, people!!! Holy snikies. This was a few thousand pages of books. I had to revise my plan. My first inclination was just to set it aside and say ‘no way’. Then I got an idea after seeing former book blogger Iza take a boxed set of books separately and review the books one at a time and not necessarily in succession. I could handle that.
So from then on, I read and reviewed one book a month from this set. It was a fun challenge with all being new to me authors and series. Like many anthologies, this one was a mixed bag. I loved some, liked some, bored by a few and even DNF’d a couple. But now a year and five months later, toss the confetti, I finished. Here is the last book review and I am sooooo proud of myself for finishing. Lesson learned- check how many books are in an anthology and just how long they are before making a commitment. On an aside, this set was made no longer available shortly after I started reading last year and the stories are all sold individually. Gotta say that when this debuted for $.99, that was a deal of all deals now that I know how much was in the box.
Now you know the ‘rest of the story’ (channeling my Paul Harvey, there) and can appreciate the triumph I feel as I present my final review from this set. Haha!
This was a dark and delicious blend of old-style Southern Gothic Romance with a hint of paranormal. The setting of the Southern Louisiana plantations, bayou, and New Orleans was a perfect backdrop for this forbidden tale of romance and dark secrets.
I was getting a prequel story as part of a series, but happily, it stood alone just fine. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it a standalone story.
The story opens on a graveyard scene as Oz Sullivan buries his wife and contemplates the pain of losing her, her losing her fight with cancer, caring for their daughter, and the guilt of not loving her enough because of another woman- a woman who he would never have because she is gone. Onto this scene walks that very woman- she is ready to give him answers to questions he no longer has and has moved on. Or so he thought.
Dipping back into the distant past and the more recent past, the story is told of Oz Sullivan and Adrienne Deschenel. Of the dark sins and gifts of the Deschenels. Of Oz’s strong connection to the family to his forbidden love for the much younger Adrienne. Adrienne is brilliant and wild while Oz is passionate and steady. Their love shouldn’t be, but it is. She and her past rise up to destroy what they have and destroy Oz more than once.
He thinks her dead in the accident that kills her family and then she is alive, but her memories are gone. Alive and no longer his because she clings to her rescuer. Oz is determined to let her go until Adrienne’s dreams show her glimpses of what was. Now she is torn and in her anguish being manipulated. Oz is her strength, but he is placed in a bad situation and no longer is sure. One more heartbreaking twists severs them. Will Adrienne’s truths be enough or are they to be parted for good?
Alright, this one played hard on the gothic elements. It was dark, but not too dark and it was easily figured out well ahead of when the characters discovered their answers. I’m not sure if it was a case of right book and right time or the author had a bit of magic in her writing because though, it was good, it shouldn’t have been as riveting as it was.
This pair had a hard row to hoe. Adrienne came from a messed up situation. Her family was wealthy and old New Orleans aristocracy. Oz came from humble Irish, but his family was now stolid lawyer stock and well respected. Oz was an adult and Adrienne was still technically a minor through much of their story. This gives an aura of the taboo along with the darker side to her family. Still, through all the back and forth that went on, I was cheering for this pair.
The format of the narrative was not easy to follow and I had to really pay attention. There was the present. The distant past and the not so distant past. Plus they alternated narration. The reader is meant to feel turned about, I think, to keep them guessing. I didn’t mind that this story is framed in by the present, but wish that once it dipped into the past that it would have just advanced forward from there instead of doing flashbacks. Not that I couldn’t follow and couldn’t engage, but I did have to flip back a few times to figure out where I was at in the time line.
This was an atmospheric piece. It doesn’t go as dark as some I’ve read in the Southern Gothic genre, but there is just enough grit to give me that flavor. As I said, I figured out the secrets and what led to the various incidents early on, but I didn’t mind the journey with the characters as they worked it out. Oz had the patience of a saint and heart of a hero as he kept getting crushed by Adrienne’s situation and coming back for more. He kept wanting to quit and walk away, but his big generous heart wouldn’t let him. Adrienne is brilliant and wise beyond her years, but her youth comes out in her decision making. She tends to run when it gets tough and leans hard on her emotions.
All in all, I was glad to read this one and am definitely interested in getting the whole series. I would recommend this for those who want something that gets dark and somewhat angsty with strong atmosphere and colorful characters blending suspense with paranormal in a haunting southern setting.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #308 RS
New to Me #126 author/series
Mt. TBR #103
Blogger Shame #44
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