This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: New Adult Romance, Paranormal Romance
Published by Small Publisher
Released on November 15, 2015
Cover got me!
Never heard of the series, the author, or this book, but a split-second during a book browse and…had to have it. Head full of gothic, dark, spine-tingling paranormal tale, I took a deep breath and plunged in and…oh my beautiful eyes, a spider shifter and-and a gryphon shifter. So yes, it was off to a good start and ultimately became a moderately engaging story.
This one is part of the Woodland Creek series tied together by the theme of the Woodland Creek setting and the inclusion of shifter characters in each book. There are different authors for each of the books and it seems that each story is written as a standalone and can be read in any order? Not sure on that, but that’s my best guess since this is the only book from the series I’ve read.
Olivia, wife to new mafia don and wizard, Wes Scarlett, is sent in by her husband to assassinate rival mafia boss and murderer of Wes’ late father, Hugh Prince. Olivia is good at what she does since she is a spider shifter and can get into the tightest places and go undetected. She is loyal to her husband and the Scarlett family, but really she wants to walk away from death dealing and start a family with Wes whom she loves deeply. Her past life is the secret she keeps from her husband hoping he will never find out.
Evie, the sheltered, innocent sister of Wes, attends college and dreams of the day she can be with her human childhood sweetheart, Patrick Drake. Patrick is a ray of sunshine compared to the dark word full of secrets and duty to family she inhabits. She knows about the feud between the two mafia families and is loyal, but has been deliberately sheltered from it all. Her dark dreams foretell violence to come from a mysterious stranger with green eyes. But then Evie learns a powerful secret about herself from her mother who has kept secrets up until now. One encounter with a charismatic, gorgeous stranger, Avalon Prince, makes her realize that she is now being drawn into the storm of revenge that has come with the retaliatory death of Hugh Prince.
Wes Scarlett only ever wanted to work in his lab and enjoy his family, but then Hugh Prince started a blood feud that ultimately killed Wes’ father. He is not cut out to be the head of his mafia family and so seeks to end the rivalry once and for all. Wes makes a fatal decision. His decision doesn’t set easy with him and the guilt is strong, but then he feels real fear when the last remaining Prince family member returns to Woodland Creek with an evil smile and a sinister ultimatum regarding Evie.
Alright, so this one jumped right in and started off strong. The author had brought together some unique and powerful elements- mafia family wizards, spider shifter assassin, gryphons, a dark tortured man set on revenge, a young innocent girl planning to marry her childhood sweetheart, ominous mansion settings, secrets, betrayals, and small college town in the fall. I should have been completely satisfied.
But I wasn’t.
Not that I hated it or even disliked it. Well actually, I was a little irritated because there was so much potential. This was a story that just ‘missed it by that much’ to quote Maxwell Smart.
I’m leaning toward the opinion that it bit off more than it could chew for the page count.
What caught my attention most was that there were echoes of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights with Avalon so much like Heathcliffe and the old Beauty and the Beast fairytale in those scenes where Evie sacrificed her happiness with Patrick to go live with Avalon to save her family’s lives and end the deadly conflict.
Avalon as a character and his plot thread eclipsed almost everything else in the story. Wes and Olivia’s story thread and even the conflict between Wes and Avalon was strong enough to balance against Avalon’s charisma. And this was an Avalon that wasn’t even completely teased out and at full potential. Things were introduced about him that were left unexplained and that alteration in his character at the end left me so disappointed. He was shades of gray and then suddenly he was full blown black with black on top.
Evie had the growth journey of young, naive and pampered princess having her eyes opened to the darkness in the world and tough choices. Her romance with Patrick was sweet and easy- not a lot of depth especially since he is ignorant of the paranormal world hidden in plain sight around him. I liked them together and they are a cute couple, but Avalon’s presence rushes over this lightly developed romance with his grief, loneliness, deep longing for someone to love and being willing to ruthlessly go after it not understanding until he has her in a cage that he can never make his caged bird want to stay if the door of the cage were to be opened.
Wes and Olivia’s story line really needed its own book. They are intriguing characters with backgrounds that scream to be developed into something more. This pair and their relationship was my favorite part of the book outside of Avalon’s handsome, dark, and broody pull.
In the end, I was happy to have read this mildly dark gothic tale of revenge, romance, and doomed love that hit pretty close to the mark. I think it is definitely worthy of a sweet paranormal romance lover’s interest.
I picked the book up at Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #193 NA
Mt. TBR #82
New to Me #79 author/series
Blogger Shame #24