Author: Chelsea (Peril Please) (page 1 of 89)

ANNOUNCEMENT-Welcome to Instagram!

Weellll, people…the time has finally come-Star-Crossed Book Blog is finally venturing into the Instagram world! You heard us correctly: We can’t stand not joining in on all the beautiful, artsy, and creative ways that all of our fellow book bloggers/friends have been displaying their favorite reads.

It’s not that we haven’t wanted to…but life gets busy, you know? We created it forever ago, but just couldn’t put all the pieces together to make a fun, cohesive, and altogether SUCCESSFUL bookstagram without doubts.

Well, I’m here to say that for 2018 we have put our heads together and really brainstormed a fun way to get our account going…and I’m reasonably sure y’all will be impressed. Well…we’re newbs-go easy on us, ‘Kay?

So, without further adieu, I present to you our account information so you can storm on over there and follow us:

Username: starcrossedbookblog

(Easy, right? lol and anti-climactic!)

Because, believe me, without your support we wouldn’t be where we are now. We love you and you guys are the best.

Here’s to a totally innovative 2018! We hope you guys enjoy the ride alongside us and love all our new ventures in the year to come. Cheers and happy new year!

BOOK REVIEW: Amour Amour (Aerial Ethereal #1) by Krista Ritchie & Becca Ritchie

BOOK REVIEW: Amour Amour (Aerial Ethereal #1) by Krista Ritchie & Becca RitchieAmour Amour (Aerial Ethereal)
by Krista Ritchie, Becca Ritchie
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Love is a circus

"Every day,” he says lowly, “I hold a person’s life in my hands. The circus is based one-hundred percent off trust. I give it all to someone, and they give it all to me.”

The best aerial technique won’t land 21-year-old Thora James her dream role in Amour—a sexy new acrobatic show on the Vegas strip. Thora knows she’s out of her element the second she meets Amour’s leading performer. Confident, charming and devilishly captivating, 26-year-old Nikolai Kotova lives up to his nickname as the “God of Russia.”

When Thora unknowingly walks into the crosshairs of Nikolai’s after-show, her audition process begins way too soon. Unprofessional. That’s what Nik calls their “non-existent” relationship. It’s not like Thora can avoid him. For one, they may be partners in the future—acrobatic partners, that is. But getting closer to Nik means diving deeper into sin city and into his dizzying world.

Thora wants to perform with him, but when someone like Nikolai attracts the spotlight wherever he goes—Thora fears that she’s destined to be just background to his spellbinding show.

She’s trying to find herself. Some days I still wonder if I’ve found me. Maybe we never stop searching. Maybe we evolve the way seasons change, seamlessly without really knowing, not until all the leaves have fallen.
This is who I am today.
Tomorrow I may be the same.
But in years, I’ll be someone else. Someone I may like more. Someone I may like less. And that’s okay. Because I’m still living.

It’s no secret that I loved Connor Cobalt with all my heart when I read the Calloway Sisters spin-off series in 2015. He and Rose made me happier than I could have imagined possible. And while I adored those two books that centered on the controlling and over-achieving duo, I just couldn’t fathom liking another book out of that series. They were always a bit long and always….heavy-ish, so I just couldn’t reconcile liking a book by these authors that relatively none of my friends have talked about.

I wish I could tap into his mind, even for a moment. To see how he sees me. For as much as Nikolai conveys, he’s still a mystery.
And I’m the curious girl who’ll step into it. Time and time again.

Then one day I just decided to give it a try….and I met one of the sweetest, most dedicated, most loyal men ever. I swear, why did all these books I adore have to come near the end of the year? What I needed was a book that wasn’t your typical romance, that wasn’t NA smut, something with some substance. And, ya know, normally I don’t love books that are a bit slower build, longer than they really need to be (which is a Ritchie trait, if you ask me) without much action, but it seems that some of my absolute favorites this year are just that: Punk 57, An Enchantment of Ravens, and now Amour Amour. There must be something in the water, because I am DYING of thirst when it comes to these books.

It became something more without noticing. Without realizing. “Am I a mistake—”
“No, myshka. You’re just the unexpected, beautiful thing in my life.”

Thora is selected to go try out for an Aerial company that has circus shows all around the world-her dream show? Amour. I kind of just pictured Cirque-du-Soleil (which I think was the point?) as I read, and it seemed to resonate and help me picture things I might have skimmed over before (I’ve never been that imaginative…which is why I use all the same stock actors and actresses with each book I read lol). Anyway, she gets called in for an audition, but she just isn’t up to par-not yet. And that’s where Nikolai comes in.

And he assumed right. Again. Probably based on Shay’s height, frame, build—like he did me that first night in Vegas. “Can you at least pretend to be full of remorse and regret?” This would be so much easier.
“No. A devil protects his demon.”

Nikolai lives and breathes the circus, grew up participating in shows with his family from the beginning. He’s a show stopper, and the spot for his partner just opened up…which is why Thora is in Vegas trying out for the coveted position. While doing his after-hours show on a Saturday night at a club, he challenges a cute girl to oppose him-and he instantly feels something towards her. A need to shield, to protect her perhaps. When they part ways that night, he warns her to not let the city eat her alive…and then the day of try-outs arrives, and he’s shocked to see that she wasn’t just a visitor in his town, but a tiny girl with more passion than she knows what to do with.

The slight prick of fear heightens my adrenaline, setting a fire beneath me.
Who can explain the drum of their heart or the burst of their lungs? Give me that person. I need them because words fail my senses.

So the story goes. Alas, I will say that, while I knew what the end would produce, the rest of the story was surprising the whole way through, a mystery until the end-and I respected that. I loved that I kept guessing and was never really right, and that, even though the story was a little predictable all in all, the writers kept it out of the cliché zone. Did I love that the motto of the story basically implies love comes second? Hmm no. When I read, I look to escape reality, not drench myself in it. But I did love that they weren’t pushovers for their attraction to one another. Did I love that it took so long for what I wanted to be said and for it to be admitted? Actually…yes. I did. I LOVE a slow burn, and I love how the authors didn’t just give me all the cookies in the cookie jar right away, but also didn’t keep them from being together. I won’t spoil, I’m just saying that it worked for me, and I didn’t think I’d be happy about it…but I was. I SO was, because it just gave me millions of butterflies and melted my crusty self into a puddle of goop when all the little things happened, leading up to a crescendo of feels.

He said, “All you need is luck. The rest, you’ll do great at.”
I smiled. “Is that my trainer speaking?”
“Yes,” he said, “but you’d probably think it’s a problem.”
I hesitated, “Why’s that?”
He stood up, towering above me with those intense grays. “Your trainer is in love with you.”

I’ve gotten even more dramatic in my old age, haven’t I? I’m a sap, a puddle of goo…but I just love that I can still be surprised by books when I thought I was starting to lose all my fangirl feels. Nikolai…I don’t know. He’s Russian, which was hard for me to picture? I know that makes me sound like a snob, but obviously I’m not a total snob because he won my heart over in, like, two pages. He stole my breath at the oddest of times, when I least expected it, and he would do ANYTHING for Thora.

“I’d help you every day so that you could see a better tomorrow. I will never give you less than that.”

***

“Why help me?” I ask softly. I expect him to say, I don’t have an answer.
“I admire your courage. I know what you’ve given up to be here. I know the kind of artist it takes to land a role. I know that you won’t receive one on your own. And I imagine you, myshka, two years from now, working at Phantom with the same aspirations, the same dreams, in the same place where you are now. It’s wasted courage. And wasted love. You shouldn’t have to waste those things.”

Which, okay, let’s talk about that name real quick-it’s like a couple name smash that went wrong-Thor and Nora for the win? Ha BUT ANYWAY, he had rules. He was strict with his ‘Circus before love’ bit. But Thora wiggled into his heart, made him feel whole…and she made him question what was more important. And, when faced with the fact that he may lose her if she didn’t make the Aerial team in January, it broke his heart-but not once did he let it show that he would die if she left, because her dreams were more important to him than his own happiness. I mean…I can’t even. He was just…I can’t. Not once had he been distracted from the true love of his (and Thora’s) life, the circus, but Thora made him break the rules, made him do things he’d never done before. And one scene breaks my heart in the best possible way, and I can’t say but….I think you guys would know if you read it. It’s EVERYTHING.

He stares down at me, waiting. I always pause. And he rarely fills the silence with his own voice. He just looks so deeply into me and gives me time to find the right thing…
“I’m in love with you,” I whisper.
He tries to smile but his eyes flood instead. “Don’t love me more than your dreams, myshka. Because I love you too much to let you give them up for me.”

So yeah, it wasn’t a perfect book-it didn’t have non-stop action, it might have dragged JUST a teensy bit, and I wanted to punch her best friend. But Nikolai’s adorable jealousness, the family bonding that only these sisters can write/produce, the friendships, the palpable love between Nikolai and Thora, the tenderness with which he treats her, takes care of her, the story line that makes you feel like you’re a part of Vegas…yeah, I’d say this is one of my absolute favorites. Hands down. And I’d say you’d be silly to not give this one a try.


I never even dreamed of finding love. It’s been low on my list of pursuits. I thought I’d tackle that later. Maybe in ten years. I’d fall in love for the first time then.

I wish someone would’ve told me that you can’t search for love. That one day, it will find you.
An unexpected thing.

BOOK REVIEW: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

BOOK REVIEW: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.


“…Why do we desire, above all other things, that which has the greatest power to destroy us?”

What to say about An Enchantment of Ravens? Do I say it came out of nowhere and simply blew me away? Do I say that it stole my heart in the blink of an eye, a breath, a moment? Do I say that I’ve had the same favorite book in mind for 2017 since January and this story came and [almost] blew that one to smithereens? Because there is only one word that truly describes what I feel (and felt while reading) about this book-Perfection.

The whole world and its myriad possibilities shrank down to the tingling caress of his fingertips every time they brushed my scalp: all its beauty, and all its terror. Did other girls feel like this the first time they let a boy touch them?

This book, to me, was absolute perfection. A breath slowly releasing with each page that passed, calming me in a way not many books do anymore. It calmed my soul because, with every new moment, I felt like I was coming home. I don’t get to read fantasy often, so when I finally get to read one and it touches me in the way this novel did, it makes my heart sing. I felt at peace, yet that and the release of breath are contradictions-because, even though my soul was calm and my heart was singing it’s praises, my head and my whole being were dying with the peril and heart-wrenching, soul crushing forbidden love.

I’d always scoffed at stories in which maidens pine for their absent suitors, boys they’ve hardly known a week and have no business falling for. Didn’t they realize their lives were worth more than the dubious affection of one silly young man? That there were things to do in a world that didn’t revolve solely around their heartbreak? Then it happens to you, and you understand you aren’t any different from those girls after all.

I was a mess, crumbling to pieces on the floor, as these two journeyed (a traveling-ish book, too, oh my! What’s happened to me?!) towards a perilous and mysterious end they could never have predicted. Every page dripped with beautiful writing. Every scene that Rook acted as if Isobel were nothing amplified their animosity over a love that could never be. Every step was a heartbeat they began to share as they slowly fell for one another. And every look from the other fae was a jab in the gut, a reminder of how badly things would surely end. Every single one of these moments stole my heart.

This was a look that would make time stop, if it could. Soft and sharp at once, an aching tenderness edged with sorrow, naked proof of a heart already broken. Here I stood in a dragonfly dress, holding his arm, and he knew our time was almost over.

Look, I know I’m being over-dramatic. But this book, guys, this book! It. Was. EVERYTHING. To me. I can’t explain it. And I can’t deny that I could see why some people would be bored. Scratch that, because it’s a bold faced lie-I really see no flaws with this book, and that’s so unheard of for me. Can I say that it’s not for everyone? Sure. I admit it. I mean, it’s fae, for crying out loud. But other than that, we have a true masterpiece here:

-A beautiful, vivid, detailed world
-A strong heroine with a backbone that won’t give up her life or her dreams for the love of her life
-An amazing, flawed fae, a self-sacrificing Prince who would do anything to keep Isobel safe, to save her no matter the cost, and risks himself on a regular basis
-Peril
-Imminent danger, though subtle and enough to make your heart stop with its coyness
-Fun banter
-Hate to love (kind of. I can’t quite explain what happened here)
-And….it’s a standalone. Come OOONNN now. Score.

Was I enamored with what he represented—that wistful fall wind, and the promise of an end to the eternal summer? Did I only want my life to change, or did I want to change it with him?

***

How much was I willing to risk for it? The old me, the one who’d hidden Rook’s sketches in the back of her closet, would never have asked that question. But that was the problem with the old me, I was coming to realize. She’d accepted that behaving correctly meant not being happy, because that was the way the world worked. She hadn’t asked enough—of life, or of herself.

I hate to say it, but this book may have swooped in out of nowhere and became my favorite of the year. Yikes. Poor dirty, sexy Punk 57. RIP. A new sheriff came to town, and it contains no smut whatsoever…but made my heart palpitate in an unyielding beat that I simply can’t contain. I miss this book on a daily basis, wishing I had more Rook and Isobel to read about.

“I just recalled the spring court holds a ball this time of year. If we haven’t missed it, we might be able to attend.”
“Yes, that seems like the perfect thing to do while fleeing for our lives,” I said.
“Then we shall go,” he concluded, pleased.
I snorted, completely unsurprised. “Fair folk are impossible.”
“That’s irregular, coming from a human who can’t even eat a raw hare.”

***

“You had better not have done that to anyone,” I warned him.
“I haven’t!” he said, with feeling. He proceeded to ruin the effect by continuing, “It’s always seemed tiresome. All they do afterward is leak a great deal, and then come back to the forest to shout at you.”
I shook my head. God, what a menace.

I won’t say much more or waste any more time, but I will say that Rook was…he was just perfection. He was a pouty, cocky, privileged little shit, but he had a heart of gold. He was different from his kind, showing emotions that long since died with the fae, making him a problem. Making him a threat. Making him someone who the fae want to dethrone and catch in any little mistake so they can take everything away from him. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a man/boy who cries, who makes desperate sounds, etc., and he had this in spades. For someone who is virtually indestructible, he was a vulnerable prince-both in personality and in physicality. But even so….he did everything in his power to keep his love safe. But we all know how forbidden romances go, don’t we?

He hesitated. But then the horn sounded again, and he only added, “One raven for uncertain peril. Six for danger sure to arrive. A dozen for death, if not avoided. The enchantment is sealed.”

***

“And I’m not certain you’re in any state to protect me,” I went on, sensing a lost cause. “Just now you were almost assassinated by a teapot.”
“Isobel.” Rook looked at me gravely. “Isobel, listen. The teapot is of no consequence. I can defeat anyone, at any time.”
“Oh, is that so? That’s the truth?”
“Yes,” he replied.

All in all this book was absolute perfection. Yes, I said that at the beginning, but I’d like to round out the review by saying so. I guess I did just think of one flaw-it was near the end, and I’ll admit I’m super hard on endings-they almost are never what I’d like them to be. Not dramatic enough, not believable enough, not what I envisioned, etc. This wasn’t huge, but it did bother me…the villain. I do think that was…hmmm…less than I expected. But that’s all. Literally. Everything else I loved, and I don’t say that lightly. I hope I’ve convinced at least one person to read this. And, if that one person is you, I’ve done my job thoroughly, as far as I’m concerned. Oh, and if said person is you, and you read this scrum-diddly-umptious book….message meeeeeee :P. I have, like, gotten to talk to NO ONE about this!!! Boo.

Our worlds are small, our lives are short, and we can only bleed a little before we fall.

BOOK REVIEW: Rival (Fall Away #2) by Penelope Douglas

BOOK REVIEW: Rival (Fall Away #2) by Penelope DouglasRival (Fall Away #2)
by Penelope Douglas
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

From the New Adult sensation and New York Times bestselling author of Until You

Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war…

She’s back.

For the two years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game…

I’m back.

Two years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me….

*So my quotes are dead. They died. I wrote this review a month ago and have no clue where my quotes went. So…that sucks. But the review must go on :P*

It goes without saying that I basically read what I have time for and, frankly, crave this year. I don’t have extra energy to drudge through a massive fantasy (even though I so dearly miss them) or even to delve into my YA sci-fi….it’s just one of those things, guys. I love my daughter, but boy does she zap all that extra time away!

That being said, my favorite books this year have been YA/NA contemporaries…with a flair for the dramatic (if you can’t tell). It seems crazy to me, but my absolute favorite read this year has been, without a doubt, Punk 57. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but in some ways, this book just always sticks in my mind.

When I’m trying to pick out a book, it’s always ’I really want something JUST like Punk 57, where can I find one?’….and the desperate search continues/ensues. And the only logical answer that I can find has been staring me in the face the whole time: No one does Penelope Douglas like…well…Penelope Douglas.

You can’t keep looking for sad imitations when what you seek is HOT, dirty hate-to-love foreplay and giving as good as you get until you finally get together. Only Penelope Douglas has mastered this, for me, and I should have realized it sooner.

I had read Bully FOREVER ago and LOVED it. But I’m not the type to jump into another character’s story after being with another couple. It’s just not my thing. I don’t know why, but that’s just me. So I had bought this book FOREVER ago and just couldn’t bring myself to open it up. And then recently I was going through all my unread books on my iPad and saw this sitting at the very bottom-I could have hit myself over the head. This book was EXACTLY what I needed, even if I didn’t know it. It doesn’t help that Penelope Douglas makes me border that fine line of ‘crossing the line of what I deem acceptable’ in romance.

I won’t lie-this woman is kind of sick, if you think about it. I love her, don’t get me wrong, but this woman be twisted. The things these couples go through before they get together is depraved and just plain…wrong…but it’s just…..oh my god it’s so good. I HATE drama in any other books or series. I hate contrived situations that make no sense. I HATE adding cheese when there doesn’t need to be any…but between Penelope Douglas and Linda Kage, I am putty in their dirty minded little hands. I. Can’t. Get. ENOUGH.

As it were, I found that this book overdid it quite a bit-Stretched the story-line beyond thin. That’s most likely why my rating is lower. Actually, no, there’s A LOT more to it than that, and my reasoning really bothers me, but I’ll do that in a spoiler below. But then…..there’s the hate to love aspect. And I’m just a sucker for that. For two people who love each other but fight to the bitter end to deny it until they fall madly all over each other in love. And then I revert back to my issues: Why did she keep running away? Give me a fucking break, dude. You love him…so STAY THERE. This just plain grated on my already fragile nerves with this story. Let’s just get to my BIGGEST problem with this story and why it never could have gotten above a 3:(view spoiler) Makes me sick, it’s not up for discussion, and my opinion of the story lessened IMMENSELY after this sordid plot development. Bitch, Bye.

BUT-aside from all this? I LOVED the romance. I LOVED the sexual tension. I LOOOOVED how possessive he was of her and how Madoc reacted to other guys. I LOVED all this…I just wish I didn’t have to wade through all the bullshit to see it. I also loved Jared and Tate’s relationship in the background-with time, I loved the integrated stories and how it brought me back to the old days when I read this book. Waiting this long to read this story helped me to really fall hard for characters I had long forgotten about, and it was like taking in a breath of fresh air. Though….I must say, even though I adored Bully, I really don’t think it’s a very healthy relationship Jared and Tate share. Eh, but its fiction-I’ll just try and keep the Jareds (both book and real boy) of the world FAR away from my little nugget (Even though her mother does so love a bad boy now and again).

AH AND AND AND-The end. C’mon Douglas. Really? REALLLYYYYY? C’mon. lol. (view spoiler). I’m just sayin’. Cute? Yes. Absolutely. Cheesy? OH YEAH. Necessary? I think not.

Yeah, I rated this a three (But, at the end of the day, I was down and sad…and I just needed a Madoc. Sue me) and had more problems with it than not…but there’s just something so alluring about an extremely addictive hate-to-love romance. And when I say hate???? It’s legit hate, y’all.

YUM.

BOOK REVIEW: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco

BOOK REVIEW: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri ManiscalcoHunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2)
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

 


“The world is vicious.”

“The world is neither kind nor is it cruel. It simply exists. We have the ability to view it however we choose.”

Like with many books, you never know what you’re going to get with the second installment. I’m especially hard on second books, only because I normally am a ‘first book’ kind of girl. I always love that excitement of meeting new characters, falling in love with them, and the general peril and mayhem that ensues to set up an epic series.

BONE WHITE, BLOOD RED. ALONG THIS PATH YOU’LL SOON BE DEAD.

But such isn’t always the case, and I fall hard and fast….for no reason at all. Because almost always book two disappoints me (as does book three) because it’s almost never as enthralling as the first. I can’t say that’s the case here because the first book didn’t have me just jumping with joy or anything, but it had a lot of potential and led up to what could be an epic storyline.

Once again I’ll address the elephant in the room: Audrey Rose’s ability to get under my skin with the feminism (please see book one review, in no way am I dissing feminism). Now, again, it’s fine. But it’s still there and it still bothered me-but where book one had it sprinkled throughout, book two it started from the get go and only lessened after imminent peril ensued. I’m happy it did, but I don’t know how to feel about it. Why does she feel the need to overcompensate? Thomas knows she’s a capable woman and he wholly respects her-he’s just trying to help! I’ll stop here, but I do wish she didn’t lash out at him when he’s only trying to help-misguided as it was.

I thought Thomas knew that much about me. And once upon a time he had, but somehow he was no longer thinking with his head. Somewhere along the line, Mr. Thomas Cresswell—or rather, the unfeeling automaton he’d been accused of being—had grown a tender human heart.

Now! That was really all that bothered me, honestly. I won’t lie and say I fell head over heels right away like I had hoped I would-I mean…castles, right ??? But there was just something I wasn’t connecting to right away, and I feel as I though it’s my fault because I’m JUST. SO. TIRED. And I suppose I wanted more in the romance department right aawwaayy, fickle fickle me, because Thomas clearly loves her so. No worries, though, because the last 30% was a swirling crescendo of everlasting feels and heartfelt moments and declarations of love-and, finally, the action I so craved became prevalent and I about died of revulsion (this is an entirely different matter.)

He slowly lifted his gaze; for once he didn’t hide his emotions. Before he responded I saw the depth of his fear sketched across his face. All posturing and arrogance gone. In their place stood a young man who appeared as if the world might be breaking around him and there wasn’t a thing he could do to save himself. He’d fallen over a cliff so high all hope of survival had perished before he’d hit the ground.

I guess I’ll stay on the Thomas train so I don’t splatter him throughout the entire review (like I so love to do)-he was just something else. Every look, every moment, every thought bleeds love and devotion, and he would literally do anything for Audrey. He only wants her happy and wants her to achieve every dream she desires. He lifts her up and supports her when she needs it most, he’s her partner in crime at each and every turn, and he would sacrifice himself over and over to make sure she gets out alive. And he does so-on multiple occasions.

“Thank you for that reminder, Cresswell,” I said sweetly. “What would I do without you?”
He turned to me, expression as serious as I’d ever witnessed it. “You would miss me terribly and know it. Just as I would miss you in ways I cannot fathom, should we ever part.”

My heart…my heart just can’t handle his love. And at times…I guess I felt she didn’t deserve it. Here he is, laying himself bare more than once, vulnerable, wanting to be put out of his misery, and she just won’t give him even a nugget of…anything. She does, I mean obviously, but it definitely made me defensive and protective of him. And this all comes full circle, really, because it goes hand and hand with the feminism-she finally gets her head out of her ass and realizes he’s not trying to take her voice away nor strap her down, he only wishes to lift her up…and be beside her in all aspects of life while he does so.

I don’t want to come off like I had a ton of problems with the story because I truly didn’t, I just don’t believe in stomping on others just because you’re insecure about your stature in society. And she really does shape up, I believe, in the manner that she knows who the real enemies are and who she needs to fling her haughtiness at, and Thomas is NOT one of them. See? I still think she needs to be strong, just don’t be a total jerk towards those that love and adore you.

Hearts were beautifully fierce yet fragile things. And I did not wish to break Thomas’s.

But okay, can we seriously talk about the dreadfully terrifying tunnels in this castle? Rainbows and unicorns there are not. Picture a much more…sinister…foe-my number one phobia IN THE WORRLDDDD, to be exact. If you thought for one second that book one was creepy and you didn’t enjoy it, STEER CLEAR of book two. I shit you not. It will give you chills down to your bones. I, for one, have the most vivid, terrifying [recurring] nightmare-I’ve mentioned it in numerous reviews before, but it literally hasn’t changed a bit. In a haze yadda yadda, see a plaid shirted man standing next to the bed yadda yadda, he reaches for me yadda yadda. I kick at the apparition (Because that’s what it is, surely?) and all of a sudden it’s gone. But, as my husband repeatedly tells [lectures/gets angry] me…I’ve apparently been belting out a blood curling scream and kicking and punching him in my sleep. Yeah. I don’t even remember this shit happening, I just know the before, the after, and the sore throat and pounding heart I inevitably have-oh yeah, and a severely ticked off husband. Oops.

Rightfully so, mind you.

“Impressive, Wadsworth,” Thomas said, turning his gaze to me. “If we weren’t about to face another terrible passageway filled with life-threatening danger, I’d take you in my arms this instant.”

What was I saying again? Oh yes, nightmares. Nightmare inducing is what this book is, if only because of the hair-raising and spine-chilling settings and subtle scares. I only get my nightmare when something (generally in my subconscious, I never know it will be triggered (OBVIOUSLY)) triggers it, but I know that after (or during, I forget) reading this story? Let’s just say I had a woken up baby and-again-a severely upset husband. I think I even upset the dog. So yeah-a word to the wise: Proceed With Caution. Ye be warned.

“Honestly?” I whispered harshly. “Must you paw at me now?”
“While I’ve thought a great deal about groping you in this delightfully macabre setting, Wadsworth, I doubt my mind has the ability to will it into fruition.”
“Do you swear?”
“On the potentially empty grave of Great-Great-Great-Uncle (view spoiler), yes.”
“Then who is, Cresswell?”

I hope everyone will give this series a try. It’s an underdog, I mean to me, and I think it deserves all the praise it’s getting. I don’t think the second is as ‘read’ as the first, and this disheartens me-because if you liked Thomas even a little in the first, you’ll love and DEVOUR him in the second. Just sayin’.

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