I watched some tips from netgalley on how to make a better and more interesting review. For the most part it was some really great advice. For instance, it said no matter how you feel about something, you have to say why. You can’t just say, “I loved it” or “I hated it” without giving the reader and to some extent the author some reason. It’s just common sense. For one thing, author’s aren’t going to know what’s working and what’s not unless somebody tells them. The other piece of advice that stuck with me was don’t tell spoilers. Don’t ruin the book for people who haven’t read it yet. Which is also really great advice. Lots of people read reviews because they want to know if they should read the book or if it will make them want to throw the book across the room in a fit of rage. Which has led me to my current conundrum, because I cannot tell anyone why I disliked this book so much without revealing important plot points. As it was a video from a highly respected reviewer, I didn’t have the opportunity to ask what I was supposed to do in this situation. Don’t read past the more if you don’t want spoilers.
This was regrettably the first book I finished in 2014, and it was a toss up between this one and the final Dexter novel as the first review of the year. Both were a disappointment, so I’m really glad I took a week off from reviewing last week to highlight the best of 2013.
So, Therez, who eventually changes her name to Isle, runs away from an arranged marriage based on a hunch she had that her intended not a good man. There were implications that he made his former betrothed disappear in an unsavory manner. The one bright spot in this book is that she isn’t magically protected from all the bad in the world just because she’s the protagonist. Bad things happen to her as a direct result of her impulsive decision to run away from home. The first fifty pages or so might be a little difficult for some readers to get past as a result, but the even brighter spot is that she is not magically cured of her trauma just because she met the hero. It takes pages and lots of therapy for her to recover from what happened to her.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of things that happened in the second half of the book that I am very outspoken about. The hero is an eunuch and openly bisexual, but neither one of these things really add to the plot. This review by Jennifer already brilliant outlines the problem with Lord Kosenmark’s depiction as a eunuch, so I won’t recover that territory. What bothered me more was the underlying thread that suggested that homosexual love should be pushed aside in favor of heterosexual love, even when in this case children are not possible in either relationship. Now, in the case of Ilse and Lord Kosenmark, I might have let it slide if only because they are the main focus of the book. Even if I never did feel the chemistry in their relationship and to me it felt like they just got together because the plot dictated it, I understand how the other man got pushed aside. Had it been an isolated incident, I might have even forgiven it. But Nadine strongly hints that she has feelings for Ilse, and her feelings are also pushed aside in favor of Ilse’s relationship with Kosenmark. Also understandable since we are informed Ilse is straight. But it didn’t end there. The former lover went to a dangerous location to spy for Lord Kosenmark and was subsequently killed. Not only killed, but his throat burst, in effect silencing him. As we never see him with any character other than Lord Kosenmark, it’s difficult to tell if he’s bisexual or gay, but the end result is still the same. The character exclusively in a homosexual relationship was not only killed as a direct result of his love, but was silenced at the same time. And that is the reason why I could not express my distaste for the book and back it up without revealing major spoilers.
Had the book gone a different route, I might have been mildly interested in reading the sequel. However, this one left me with a bad feeling that I don’t want to repeat in another book.