*I received an ecopy of this book via Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.*
I went into this book fully expecting to have my heart ripped out after how painful the first book in the series was. Instead, I ended up on this rollercoaster of deceit, lies, subterfuge, and betrayal… and I loved it. Seriously, if ever there were a book that perfectly compares to a rollercoaster, it’s this one. Right from the beginning I was hooked, then everything kept building up and my anticipation built right up with it, and then suddenly there were all these twists and turns and loops as betrayals popped up everywhere until I didn’t know who to trust or which way was up. I don’t even know how to organize my review or explain why I loved it so much—it was just so good!
I think, however, that this book had three main things going for it…
1) The book was juicy. There was still that underlying pain from the events of Book 1, and those events were not forgotten or overlooked, something I appreciated, but this book was also filled with romance and suitors and sexual tension and all the head games Sebastian played. I know we live vicariously through every character we read about, but it felt like more with Victoria because the romantic aspects were the kinds of things you would sit around talking about with your girlfriends. One relationship in particular (I’m using the term loosely) was so realistic and well-written that I swear I could feel the tension myself. I mean, I hated *SPOILER* (Sebastian) *END SPOILER* in Book 1, but even I couldn’t help but see why Victoria was attracted to him this time.
2) The book was funny! But not in an obvious way. It was my favorite kind of humor, the kind that built up as things continually got worse and more absurd and crazier until finally there was just kind of chaos and the character herself even reached that moment of, “If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry,” because of course he would show up here and of course that particular thing would happen and of course it would happen at the worst time possible because that’s just how life has been going. But Victoria also got more and more sarcastic in this book, apparently the events of the first book made her more jaded and less naive, and I loved her more with each thought and remark. I think I felt a bit distanced from her in Book 1, but this time she was so relatable.
3) As I mentioned briefly, this book was full of deceit, lies, intrigue, subterfuge, and betrayal. It was like every character was playing on the same board, but they were all playing a different game. And I couldn’t figure out who was on the same team, but it didn’t matter since they were all too busy keeping secrets and lying to work together anyway. Just when I thought I could trust someone, he’d turn around and prove me wrong, or vice versa.
There was also still some emotion in the book, though it wasn’t heart-squeezing in the way the last one was. I felt for Victoria and her pain, but for me, a lot of the emotion actually came from putting myself into another character’s head. *MAJOR SPOILER* Even though I couldn’t figure out why he broke contact the way he did, and even when he did that terrible thing, I never lost my faith in Max. I even figured he might not have wanted to do what he did but that Eustacia told him to. And in keeping that faith, I kept imagining how terrible it must’ve been for him to spend so many months being so deep in cover and so alone, pretending to be someone and something he HATED, having to pretend to betray everyone he cared about, and having to do what he did. *END SPOILER*
Also, one issue I had with the first book was that it took a while to really get going, but I didn’t have that problem with this one. Yes, it was slow-paced, but it was deliciously slow-paced, the kind that sucks you in and wraps you up in it. As I mentioned already, I was hooked from the very start. And the historical-flavored writing has grown on me. I loved the writing style and the amazing way with words that Colleen Gleason has, especially when it comes to portraying emotions and sexual tension.
Wow, ok, I didn’t mean for my review to get this long, but there were just a lot of great things about this book. So I’ll just wrap this up by saying I loved the twists and turns, I loved the characters, I loved the writing, and I look forward to seeing what will happen next!
Fans of Book 1 in Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Hunters series. Anyone who likes historical fantasy with lots of emotion, lots of twists and turns, and a kickass female protagonist.