If I was still an 11 year old girl, this series of books would become definite Must Reads! A prequel to the Peter Pan story of J.M. Barrie's that we all know, the authors have done a wonderful job of setting up all the classic characters, plot devices, and backstory. How DID Peter become Peter Pan? It's all here. Peter, the lost boys, Captain Hook and Smee, the mermaids, the Indians, the Croc, and TINKERBELL! And new characters as well. It's a riotous rumble of a read. I would highly recommend this book to all young people, boy or girl and to adults, like me, who are intrigued by the idea of knowing how Peter came to be Pan.
I was so excited for this book that I actually bought it on pre-order, and I wasn't disappointed. It was a really good read.
The main characters, Wes and Michael are definitely not cookie-cutter characters. They are damaged and have flaws, but they also have sweetness and courage and I was rooting for them from the very beginning.
Wes is a stutterer and I was concerned that the way the author chose to illustrate this would grate on my nerves, but it never did. Nicely done, Heidi! I found some of the author's vocabulary choices different, but once I got into the novel, they ceased to be remarkable - the story is not set in the year 2012, after all! In retrospect, those choices work very, very well.
Heidi does a great job of creating the atmosphere of the late 1800s, even down to the bleakness in certain corners of society - the opium dens, the poverty, the strictures of what's right and proper.
There were many things I loved about this novel, including the secondary character of Rodger, Wes' plants - especially his orchids, Michael's love of books, Barbara's patience. I loved how the love story flourished and I loved the tenderness between Wes and Michael as much as the bursts of hot sex. The scenes in the libraries were among my favorites and I have to admit to rereading the Oxford one again... and then again. :)
I would have rated A Private Gentleman with 5 stars except that I found the climax, the confrontations and resolution came too fast and too... easily? Yes it's a HEA but everything just fell into place so simply and perfectly that I felt it was kind of a little cheat.
To finish off, I fell in love with Wes and Michael and totally enjoyed their story. Go and read it!!
Kings. Oh, my LORD, there were a lot of kings in this book! And that underlines my big beef with The Devil's Fire - not enough time and effort spent on the world-building. This could have been a fantastic read, especially for a fantasy aficionado, but all the fantastic elements were either glossed-over or even totally ignored.
What's the deal with these powers, for instance. The book IS titled The Devil's Fire and I expected more about the actual fire power that the whole plot hinged upon. Maybe drawing some parallels between the power and the relationship between Alric and Gareth? I would have liked a little more time spent on how their relationship changed from its initial antagonism to one of love.
I would have liked the few female characters to be more diverse, something more than sisters, queens, nannies. I would have liked more fleshing out of the villain as well, more backstory, more actual information as to why both Alric and Gareth hated and indeed, feared him. I would have appreciated more insight into Alric and Gareth as well. I felt as if their portrayals were rather superficial, that there was a lot of interesting stuff coming together to make them the men they are, but we weren't getting to see it. I found Alric to be a little um... femified? There were times when he read like 'the woman in the relationship' and I hated that. Yes, he was younger, more sensitive, more introspective, but a man can be all that and not lose his mannishness. This happened mostly in the parts where Gareth was so totally intent on protecting him for anything and everything. (Dude, he can call fire, he's pretty powerful in his own right!)
This could have been a really good book, an epic even, but it reads like a first novel where the author hasn't really developed a mastery of her craft yet. A decent read, but dammit, I wanted more MEAT to it. :) And there were just FAR too many kings running around. All in all, I think a professional editor could have helped a lot, because Sara Bell has some wonderful ideas, they just need... substance. :)
Seriously, that's IT? :/ Damn, that's disappointing. I was really starting to get into this book and root for the characters and suddenly - it finished.
Yes, I know it's the first book in a series, but honestly, it felt more like a Part One of what should be the first book in a series. (I'm trying not to feel a little manipulated.) We met the characters, got a feel for the world in which they live, saw glimpses and glimmers of their personalities, had more than a few questions thrown our way (precious few, if any, answered, BTW.) - and then... that was it.
I was really starting to enjoy the characters. Scarlet and Liall have their mysteries and by the end of the book we're starting to see many of the more subtle parts of their personalities - beyond big, bad Northern guy and small, pretty, young guy with the 'special powers'. I also found myself wanting to know more about secondary characters Peysho and Kio and hope we'll be seeing more of them in books to come.
The world-building was decently done, but again, seeing as this felt like only the first quarter of a good, juicy book, it felt incomplete. (The one thing I miss about e-books is either the lack of maps for these worlds or if there IS one, the inability just to flip easily to it for reference) I would have given this book at least 4 stars, maybe even 5, if it didn't feel like I was deliberately left dangling in the worst of ways.
I will move on to Volume #2, because I'm intrigued by the characters and the writing itself was quite good. I just hope I don't feel the same manipulation at the end of it. :/