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Anticipated release date: April 5, 2016
I adored this book. Just… completely adored it. It wasn’t what I expected at all. To be… perfectly honest, I don’t read book blurbs‐ I skim them. I have yet to find a blurb that isn’t unbearably boring and kind of like DunDunDun! which is a big turn off for me. (I get that you have to do this to get readers interested. It just doesn’t interest me.) So I skimmed this blurb and I for some reason twisted it around in my mind that it was going to be… action‐y and, like, lots of misunderstandings and stuff, and more paranormal than fantasy. Which… I’m not a big fan of that stuff, so I don’t know why I thought I’d be interested. Because it was a fantasy with mermaids, maybe. And maybe because I thought the cover was amazing.
Anyway, the book’s not really like that at all. It’s about Colm, our main character, who grows up in a tiny farming village. When his father dies, his stepmother urges Colm to leave home for a bigger city, where he can make a better life for himself, and maybe find love‐ she knows that his interests don’t lie with the girls in the village. Or any girls at all. So off he goes, and he starts to build a life for himself with his stepmother’s aunt and her grandson, Nichol, in the city. And he starts to fall in love with Nichol. But there are secrets about Colm that even Colm doesn’t know, and when they emerge… things start happening.
So… this book is pretty slow. Not in that it’s boring‐ not at all. I was never, never bored. It just… meanders a bit. Colm’s journey is kind of long and interesting, and then, his settling into his new life takes a while, and then he has some other, rather tame in the grand scheme of things, adventures, and for people who are looking for a fast‐paced romance, this might not be their thing. But I’m a fantasy reader first, and this was definitely my thing. I loved the slow build of the story and the romance. I loved how absolutely absorbed I was by the world‐building, the fantasy elements, the relationships Colm builds with his new family. It was slow and gentle and not packed with action‐ and this is my favorite kind of book. The plot doesn’t even really start until the book’s almost over, but it worked perfectly for me.
I also loved how realistic the characters were. Right from the beginning, I felt like I not only knew Colm‐ who’s quiet and a bit awkward but so smart, and talented, and kind‐ but his sister, and his stepmother, and his little brother. Even his father, who’s dead before the book even starts, felt like a real person. I read for characters, so this was important to me. And I loved how all the ties between the characters were not necessarily typical, but how they felt honest. In one of the very first scenes, Colm comforts his stepmother, thinking of her almost before himself, and I just loved that scene so much because it told me so much about them and also their bonds.
Since the characters are so great, it’s easy to see that the romance is also going to be really interesting, and it was. I loved Nichol. He was complicated where Colm was, on the surface, more simple. And the romance between them takes a long time to bloom. But when it does, it felt very real to me. I liked that it was obvious that they cared for each other, but that there wasn’t any kind of instant love. They had problems that still needed sorting out, right up until the end of the book‐ and I wasn’t left feeling as if their romance was perfect, even then. They had a lot of room to grow together, and I loved that.
The sex was also super interesting‐ not that it was, like, especially creative or filthy or anything like that. There are some books where a lot of really steamy sex works best, but here, the sex was… not tame, but kind of elegant? It was still steamy, for sure, but it was lovely and tender. Some books are lovely and sweet and then, bang! Really raunchy sex! This never quite feels realistic to me. You need the sex to match the book and the characters. And here it did, and it was just really delightful to read.
So, I don’t think there was anything I disliked about this. I thought some of the magical critters and the naming was a bit over the top‐ like you could see where the author almost got carried away with world‐building‐ but it was never really annoying. Not all questions get answered about everything, and I bet this will annoy some people, but I actually really liked it. It left room for either more books, or for the imagination to take over, and that was fun. This is well worth a read. I actually think I might just turn around and start this over again, because it was so delightful.
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