Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
An exciting, well-written debut
on February 5, 2012
I really enjoyed this book! Not only did it have a great romance, but it was witty and exciting.
The setting was really unique--the Ottoman Empire after the Napoleonic Wars. You could tell that it was well-researched, but you never feel like you're getting a history lesson or reading a travel guide--the setting and historical aspects were really well-integrated into the story. And there's so much adventure in this book. This is definitely not a romance novel where all the characters do is go to balls. Randol has the characters traveling and spying and getting up to their ears in intrigue.
Randol does a fantastic job at keeping the characters believable. They are talented and strong but have their share of weaknesses too. Mari was resourceful and brave--which are both characteristics I love in heroines. She definitely wasn't the shrinking violet type, but she wasn't headstrong either. I feel like so many times when an author tries to write a brave heroine, the character just ends up doing really stupid things that have me pulling my hair. But Mari's practical and levelheaded, and she ended up being someone I really admired.
Bennett is a great character too. He's very duty-conscious but not to the extreme where he's too straight-laced or smothering. Randol does a great job at making his motivations clear, so even when he does slightly overbearing things, you can at least understand why he's doing it. The secondary characters were surprisingly well-rounded and made for an entertaining backup cast.
Most of all, I think this book was just so well-written and readable. The writing style flowed and felt natural and never seemed awkward or obvious. It was really well-paced too. I started reading this book intending just to stop at bedtime, but I got so sucked in, I stayed up way past that. So needless to say, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more by Anna Randol.