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Trueheart (Portland After Dark) (Volume 1) Paperback – March 28, 2016
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Okay, so I preorder this one and read it in less than 24 hours... I simply couldn't put it down! Overall, the pacing was great... Clean writing, with an obvious depth of research into the subject matter to make the mentions and details of characters and lore of the fae world very believable and acceptable. The good guys (Thomas and Tess) were appealing, well-drawn, and had a wonderful chemistry right from their first meeting. The bad guys were suitably menacing, though in decidedly different ways. My only complaints are that it ended at all and that I have to wait until 2017 to continue the journey.
Review breakdown below (Possible Spoilers, though I'm trying to avoid it)
Plot: The plot can be divided into three parts that involve the main characters.
Thomas, the lead male, is a human/ fae who was captured and enslaved by the seductive Queen of Faeries more than 200 years ago. Striving to be free from his bondage, Thomas does what the Queen wants, including the current assignment to find out who is stealing from her. As to what is being stolen, and why, you'll have to read to find out.
The second plot track involves Tess, a social worker who is trying to find out why so many young men are showing up in her care with delusions about "green men" and such. Some are reduced to catatonic states, others withering away and dying. Tess' quest to help her patients leads her to the Underbridge market, and into the path of Thomas.
The third plot is the romance element of the story, and the author does such a wonderful job here. The credit goes to shaping such believable, and lovable, characters. Both have flaws that must be overcome, but the acceptance of one for the other is so beautiful that you find yourself really feeling for them, rooting for them to succeed.
As mentioned above, Thomas and Tess are so wonderfully drawn and filled out. You feel what they feel, want them to succeed and be happy.
As to the "bad guys", which are all of the fae world, their is a wide variety of creatures guaranteed to frighten and amuse. The main bad guy, Hunter, is described very visually (in fact, you get a glimpse of him in costume on the beautiful front cover), but you also sympathize with him in some ways, as he is also bound to the Queen.
The Queen? Vicious and vibrant, bad and beautiful, clever and cruel... We're don't learn her "truename" during the course of this book, but hopefully we will in the future, when somebody takes the b*tch down. ;)
Quality of Writing:
Smooth writing style, clear and clean. The depth of research done on the subject of the fae world and its lore was obviously extensive and brings a authenticity to the story that is necessary in a genre piece. In addition, the knowledge of the city of Portland and the surrounding area is also extensive. I don't know if the author has ever been to those places, but based on her writing she would never get lost if suddenly dropped there. I am now looking at large grass-covered mounds in an entirely different light.
I am a newcomer to the paranormal romance/ urban fantasy genre so for me this was a very original piece. My limited experience with anything resembling faeries prior to this consisted of Peter Pan and Tara Janzen's Chalice trilogy, so the subject matter was fresh and fascinating to me. I found myself looking up things like "kelpies" and "trow" so that I knew what I was reading about.
The categories I used for this review are based on screenplay reviews I used to do, so that's why I'm throwing this one in. I think when you read a book, you see it. Like a movie in your mind. And the movie I saw with this book was SPECTACULAR!
So that's it... Five stars for sure! And I can't wait for the next installment, "Ironbound".
Thomas has the onerous task of finding the thief who stole from the Queen objects of power for which she has nefarious plans. He is caught between two deep desires: protecting Tess from the Queen’s minions and most especially the deadly, relentless Wild Hunt, and fulfilling the job which he is compelled to do which is capture the thief. Thomas has yearned for so long to be free and human again. Meeting Tess, a seemingly powerless human, and being inextricably drawn to her fills Thomas’s heart in a way he had long forgotten. There is power in courage of those such as Tess who would risk all to save the lost and enslaved, most especially Thomas. When Tess sees Thomas for who he really is, and after the initial shock of finding out the Fae are real, she sets her mind to releasing the enslaved and finding the vanished as well as avenging her brother’s death regardless of the personal cost.
Tess and Thomas each exemplify courage and determination to preserve against seemingly insurmountable odds. What they find in each other gives them strength and hope when dark and difficult times arise. This very enjoyable Dark Fantasy tale has all the foundations of a good story whether you enjoy those supernatural elements or not including action, adventure, and well thought out characters underpinned by a love story balancing the darker aspects. Ms. Sterling’s writing will take readers on quite a ride engendering a desire to go on to the next in the series to spend more time in this enchanting world.
Thomas was human and has lost much of his humanity in his service of and to the queen. Tess is a social worker on a mission to discover the drug that she believes is responsible for destroying several beautiful boys, including her brother. They come together over coffee near a goblin market. So very Portland. :)
The romance is sweetly built and convincing. Thomas's split loyalties and internal conflict are achingly presented. Tess's discovery of the fae world felt overly familiar - perhaps because I'm really, really drawn to this type of story? But I loved how far Sterling takes it. There is no faery tale ending in this dangerous melding of worlds. Instead it's shocking, which somehow makes it all the more delightful.
This is the first in the series, and I'm very much looking forward to the next book.