I deserve a medal for getting through the first one hundred or so pages of this book. Painful is an apt description. After that, the story gets better.
In short: To avoid her uncle's unwanted sexual advances, nineteen-year-old Elena runs away from home and situates herself in Wolfram Castle where she meets a "dark, enigmatic man" to whom, after a few days' acquaintance, she proposes a marriage of convenience, which he - unsurprisingly - immediately accepts. So, the journey to eternal bliss begins, filled with vampire duties and intrigues and a lecherous, problem-causing uncle.
The issues - and there are many:
Style - over repetition of phrases and unnecessary details litter this novel, distracting the reader from the main storyline. Here are the most glaring examples: Every other paragraph begins with or has one of the following prepositional phrases in it - "with a smile," "with a start," "with a sigh," "with a shrug," "with a shake" - lots of head shaking going on in this book. Also, "preternatural hearing," "preternatural sight," "preternatural strength" are annoyingly prevalent. Then there are the innumerable paragraphs devoted to detailing every aspect of all of Elena's gowns, purchases, breakfast settings, and so on. Amanda Ashley needs to learn how to incorporate variety into her writing and edit for conciseness, presenting her reader with a more smoothly flowing product.
The setting - present day Romania - brings up another issue. Elena's and her uncle's behavior and beliefs do not adhere to the time period. One is not of a "marriageable age" at nineteen in 2011; just as one cannot grow up not knowing anything about sex (as Elena) in the 21st century; and an uncle - even not blood related - cannot boldly propose and expect to marry his niece, even in Eastern Europe. Also, the use of "my lady wife," "my lord," and "husband" are terms fit for the 18th or 19th century, not today. If Amanda Ashley was trying to achieve something purposeful with these contradictions, it went right over my head.
The main characters are Drake and Elena. Elena is a very naļve, innocent sort of girl. It is her naļveté that leads to her rash actions - running away from home without a plan, proposing to Drake after a 2 day acquaintance. She is not a bad character, just nothing that impressed me. But in all fairness, she is only nineteen. Drake, on the other hand, is over 500-years-old - quiet the age difference that. He is honorable and duty-bound, a nice, serious man.
The relationship between the two had a precipitous jump not just to the altar, but to the
"I love you-s" as well. How and why Elena and Drake developed such strong feelings for one another, I could not tell. The sexual attraction wasn't palpable, and the sex scenes were a rated G affair.
I am giving this book 2 and ½ stars because it had some potential. If the author cleans up her style, adds a more mature heroine, and develops not just the sexual tension, but the "romance" aspect of her next book, it could be a good read.
originally on romancecritic