Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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The Raven (Florentine series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 434 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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This story is both a departure and a link to Reynard's first series which follows the romance of Gabriel and Julianna. That series was a straight up romance. This is part supernatural, part investigative/mystery, part action/drama with some romance thrown in. The Raven is the first book in the Florentine series. The beginning of The Raven starts 2 years after the end of the Gabriel Series. This creates a plot hole that I find problematic but it's not obvious if you have not read The Prince, novella which acts as a bridge between the two series.
The story is very slow in the beginning. At one point I became so bored I put the book away and considered not finishing it. Even Reynard's exceptional writing couldn't hold my attention. The book focuses mainly on a character referred to only as The Prince, the leader of a group of vampires in Florence. The beginning of the book is mostly devoted to explaining the governmental structure of the vampire world and several story arcs. The two main characters don't really meet each other until about the halfway point, which sets off an awkward love/hate relationship between them. They meet prior to that but the POV shift between the chapters results in time gaps for the reader which makes it harder to follow some of the storylines.
I love the way the vampires are done in this book. Reynard retains much of the traditional lore with a few twists which can be explained as the vampires encouraging an over exaggeration of their abilities in order to scare the humans into not seeking them out. Considering that this came out around the same time or shortly after a series well known for it's "sparkling vampires" I was glad to see that Reynard did not follow that path. The Prince's age grants him more abilities than some of the others as he has had more exposure to the items and has built up a resistance which keeps the vampire race from being one dimensional. The Prince's character ranges from focused violence to awkwardly blunt due to inexperience, or maybe his lack of a need to be gentle, to tender and touching. Despite the extensive range, each element reads as believable.
If you are wondering where the detailed description of the Raven is in this review, then please note that she is mentioned about as much in this review as she is in the book. The main story arc of this book is not the romance between The Prince and Raven. That doesn't start until the second half of the book as a secondary story arc. There are some very touching and well written sexual encounters between the two, but as a character, she's only there to help the main plot which involves several groups trying to unseat the Prince from his throne while he seeks vengeance for a crime that happened centuries earlier. We only see things from her POV when there isn't anything of interest going on in the Prince's main story arc, or if it's needed for the advancement of the main story arc.
What I didn't care for was the extensive governmental system which took half of the book to explain. I know that part of this is because I thought I was reading a romance, not a government based thriller. There is also an unrealistic back and forth as the Prince both saves Raven and condemns her. For someone who has survived thousands of years and keeps his secrets close he really screws up over and over with Raven by continually putting her, and himself, in danger from not only other vampires but also from the human police and a potentially giving her a mental disorder.
The tediously slow start and the fact that the story, despite being titled Raven, is actually about the Prince I might have been able to forgive except for one major issue. The story doesn't end. It literally stops in the middle and requires the purchase of the second book to not only finish the main story arc but the secondary storylines as well. Having read the blurbs for the second and third books in this series, it's quite likely that the second book also does not resolve the story and instead requires the purchase of the third book as well.
I won't be purchasing the next two books in the series because I have major issues with series that forces readers to buy multiple books in order to finish one story arc let alone 2 or 3.
There is a supernatural population in a society of the underworld that walk among humans. They are alive and well and large in their numbers. All of Florence's underworld is ruled by the Prince, aka: Lord William, who saves Raven's life after she is attacked and near death. She awakens completely healed of her disability; a great loss of weight and her face looks very little like herself. She cannot remember the past week of events and she no longer needs to wear glasses. She's transformed from a plain duckling to beautiful and breathtaking. But this isn't the story. It's all about art and the renaissance art world...about a prominent family purchasing stolen art illustrations centuries past, unaware of the true owner who plots to get it back after he exacts his revenge. It's about sinister human hunters who kill vampires for the high demand of their valuable blood. And a war brewing between underworld factions while a traitor walks among the Prince's loyal principality. And through all the perfectly timed suspense and dramatic mystery, romance begins to bloom for Raven. I loved how Ms. Reynard conveyed the breakup. I loved that Raven wasn't a doormat; she was strong--- she'd fallen in love but her love wasn't reciprocated, so she leaves and doesn't look back. I loved how Gabriel and Julianne Emerson Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno Trilogy Book 1), have small parts written into the story. I loved how Raven begins asking herself questions that begin to change her views, like; "is it morally wrong to destroy Vampires if they're not killing humans"? "Should they be denied because their food source is different"? She's a protector of life and justice no matter how deserving or inhumane or vile the culprit.
Yes, it ends with a cliffhanger and normally I hate cliffhangers...but in this case, I didn't want the story to end. I loved these characters and wasn't ready to shelf them...so I'm glad there's more. And I'm glad I don't have to wait. Told in 3rd person with very little to no adult language. A few steamy moments but nothing erotic. Character descriptions are strong and reiterated throughout the story keeping them fresh and alive in my mind. An excellent paranormal romance. If you're into paranormal fiction, you'll love this.