First off, a warning—my comments in this review on how this book made me feel could have you predicting certain outcomes, but I’m not actually going to discuss the plot, and there are still numerous possible outcomes. So no actual spoilers, but I went into the book pretty blind and felt it would be unfair to not allow everyone else the same chance.
I’m actually finding it hard to write this review though. The thing is, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times again, I love emotion in books. Rip my heart out! Make me feel things! The more heart-wrenching the better!
—except I think I may need to amend that last statement. I may have found my limit. And that’s why I’m not sure how I feel about the book. On the one hand, the story, the characters, and the relationships were all written in a way that made me understand what the characters were going through and feel it right along with them. I commend the author for that. But this wasn’t just heart-wrenching; this was like someone reached into my chest and grabbed my heart, and then they just squeezed it enough to make me uncomfortable and held it there. At some points they would let up a bit, then they’d squeeze it harder again. At one point they let go entirely and I thought I was in the clear, but nope. They reached right back in, and that time they kept squeezing until it turned to mush.
It usually takes more than one book for me to get too emotionally attached to characters, relationships, etc., but the way the book kept me filled with emotion the whole time, not knowing what would happen but knowing it probably wouldn’t be good, was, I suppose, the difference between ripping out my heart completely vs. turning it to mush with the built-up pressure. (Though which is worse, I’m not even sure.) It was painful, but also good in this really masochistic way, so it really just depends on what you like.
My only real complaint is that the book was slow-paced and didn’t really pick up until over halfway through. I would’ve liked a little more action or something happening the whole way through. But I did like the historical aspects and the romance (which was pretty much the focus). There wasn’t exactly a love triangle, but the romance was still unpredictable and complicated and had me completely on edge.
I also thought the characters were good. Victoria was kickass and strong and stood up for herself; I didn’t really relate to her, but I empathized and understood the difficult decisions she made. Phillip was kind and loving, but he also wasn’t stupid and didn’t back down from what he cared about. Max was intense and an interesting enigma. And all of them were suffering.
I am a masochist when it comes to reading though, and I did find the suffering yet strong characters compelling, and supposedly the full series has a happy ending… so I do plan on risking my heart to give the next book a read ;-)
Anyone who likes historical fantasy and having their heart squeezed until it turns to mush.