Author: Jane Kindred
Cover Artist: Kelly Martin
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 03/15/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Fantasy, Historical, M/M Romance, Paranormal
It takes a con to expose a con. But this con could strip their secrets bare.
Framed for his twin sister’s murder, Sebastian Swift has been kept drugged in a mental institution since age thirteen, aware of only one horrible fact—every night in his dreams, he drowns.
After a freak storm frees him, Sebastian learns the truth. His guardian, Emrys, has been siphoning off his inherited magical power over the waters of Cantre’r Gwaelod—one gruesome vial at a time. And the man’s bastard son, Macsen, has been raised in his place. Determined to find his twin’s killer, Sebastian assumes her identity.
Macsen Finch isn’t about to give up his guise as the young earl—and not just because of the fortune. His cousin’s return from the dead threatens Macsen’s own efforts to undermine his father’s evil plan. Yet he can’t deny his inexplicable attraction to the imposter.
Acting on their mutual desire puts them both at the mercy of a madman’s wrath. To stop Emrys from stealing his power, Sebastian will have to learn how to use it—and whom he can trust.
Warning: May contain copious exchange of fluids, men in corsets, and dirty dancing. Apply liberally before bedtime.
The first few chapters of this book are filled with characters making nonsensical decisions surrounded by a poor sense of place, all of this making for a confusing start to this read. I mean, the ridiculous choices and actions by Sebastian (one of the main characters), Sven, Abigail, and others made it impossible for me to make any connection to them, let alone feel the desire to do so.
I could have just said “Huh?” and that would have expressed just as well as the above paragraph my initial reactions to this story.
These issues continued far into the story with the odd plotting, characters behaving in ways that just didn’t make any sense, and a tone that didn’t fit the words and story the author was attempting to tell. That’s probably the most difficult thing about this: on paper, the variety of characters amidst this dual-world, with magic and murder and revenge and so much more, it should have been a doozy if it had been done well. This was not. Great potential was not achieved.
I’m trying not to get too specific and risk spoilers but I’ll try to give examples: Sebastian is a sometimes cross-dressing young should-have-been prince who has been kept against his will, and the truth, in an insane asylum. Yeah! So many possibilities. Instead, what immediately follows this introduction are actions and reactions that just don’t fit at all, they just don’t make sense. I’m going to try not to harp on that but, really.
The only character with any kind of understandable and plausible complexity is Macsen. He was forced at just as young an age, as Sebastian was put into the asylum, to become the prince, taking on an identity not at all his, living with his supposed father, Emrys, and dealing with all of the lies and deception built into the years-long situation. There were moments of interest when conflict arose between characters and sense ruled, albeit momentarily, and allowed me to enjoy the scenes. Most times, Macsen was involved.
Macsen pulled the kerchief from his hair and threaded his fingers through the damp curls. “Emrys is a pompous fool who doesn’t have a clue what he’s dealing with.”
“He’s certainly underestimates you, doesn’t he?”
The dark eyebrows lifted with amusement. “Does he?”
A rare clever exchange. Unfortunately, these oases of believability were overwhelmed by everything else I’ve already described, along with half-page long monologues in the middle of conversations, lack of tension, and that sense of place being nearly absent until well past the midway point of the book. And by that point? I just didn’t care much anymore. Any investment I was ready to make had been squandered.
Again, wasted potential. I mean, we have a young prince, Sebastian, framed for a murder he didn’t commit, banished to an asylum by the usurper of his rightful destiny by the rules of this world, a just as young man forced to play the role of said prince, and these diverse characters swept into the whirlpool that should be churning with revenge, freedom, redemption, and justice for all of them. With magic! And clever plot twists!
Instead, we have a largely ineffectual main character in Sebastian, a just as useless stunt-character in terms of plot by way of Sven, Sebastian’s sister whose impact loses much of that energy by the end, and, speaking of, an ending that made that familiar ol’ feeling return: huh?
I asked to review this story based on the blurb and the wheels in my imagination that started turning based on the possibilities. The end definitely did not justify the means because those means felt like I was slogging through a field of disconnected ideas having little chance of coalescing into a well-constructed story.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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