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A Witch's Beauty: A Daughters of Arianne Series Novel Kindle Edition
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As a reader of romance, albeit not in my real life, I tend to be more critical of female characters than male characters. I expect my heroine to be stronger, kinder, and more tolerant than the heroes. I want her to be tough, but not bitchy or even worse, feisty, a dreadful adjective that should be reserved for toy poodles. Vulnerable, but not whiney. Long-suffering but not wimpy. I want to identify with her; to do that I must like and respect her at least a little bit.
Since I 1) like myself a great deal and 2) am not a tortured soul, I often dislike and/or cannot identify with a tortured romance heroine. I'll forgive the hero all kinds of weirdness that I just won't put up with in her. (Psychoanalyze me if you want, dear reader.)
So congratulations to Joey Hill for creating Mina, possibly the most tortured and yet still likable and understandable heroine ever. She's horribly disfigured, angry, dangerous, mean, proud, and frighteningly powerful. (Not me at all!) But Mina's also gutsy, loyal, frank, devoted, self-sacrificing, and wonderfully enough, lovable. I understand what precious David the angel sees in her.
David has his own difficult history, but he's refreshingly sweet. When it comes to Mina, he wears his heart on his sleeve, but he does it with courage and style. His light and joy balance her darkness--hey, I think that's a theme in the book!
Anyway, you will like this book even if you don't like unhappy heroines. But know that Mina & David have suffered, are suffering, and will suffer a hell of a lot more before they find their Happily Ever After in the last chapter.
Things I forgot to mention:
Hill's excellent world building!
A Witch's Beauty is the second book in a series.
The introduction of a super-intriguing character for the next book, A Mermaid's Ransom, which will be on my doorstep this week!
A WITCH'S BEAUTY is a volatile and an emotionally dark rollercoaster of a read. The heroine, Mina, is an anti-heroine and an extremely dark character not only with regards to her nature but by genetics as well. The trials and tribulations she faces on a day-to-day basis would make the stark reality of most people's lives appear as a quiet picnic verses the raging chaos of Mina's hellish existence. Barely clinging to her sanity, Mina is pulled back and forth like the tides of a storm-tossed ocean between her mermaid half and her Dark One half. Light verses dark, with the constant need to maintain an exact balance between them both or an explosion of consequences will be the result.
The Dark Ones are an evil race of beings, a plague really that preys upon the humans of Earth. Since the dawn of our existence, the angles have guarded us from Dark One attack and are shown no quarter, just death. Mina, known as a Dark Spawn, is shunned alike by her fellow merpeople and the angels above with the stigma that all Dark Spawn eventually become like their Dark One sires after succumbing to their inherent evil. Unfortunately, after recently garnering the undivided attention of both the angels and the Dark Ones with her powerful sorceress abilities wielded in the epic Canyon Battle a few months previous, Mina is finding herself wrestling more and more with her Dark One half especially when a certain angel takes a personal interest in her.
One of the few human-born angels, David sees a woman within Mina verses the Dark Spawn that everyone else does. Currently, the seawitch's fate is very delicate causing the angels to believe that her safety from Dark Ones is paramount. Mina's magical abilities are like nothing ever seen and without knowing which side she'll ultimately fight for, the angels take a course of action to prevent her from making the wrong choice. David's request to be Mina's personal guard doesn't necessarily stem from gallantry but rather a deep seeded desire for her that can at times make him careless. Using his supremely dominant nature against Mina, he quickly dissolves her control but this in turn reveals that her Dark One half is much closer to the surface than any of his fellow angels could have ever imagined.
Mistaking Mina's darkness as a sickness rather than her blood and her undeniable nature, David attempts to eradicate what he assumes is a learned condition. He knows that she uses her darkness to shield herself from others around her and protect her inner self but what he doesn't understand is that the light he glimpses within her has a tenuous hold on her Dark One half and that balance is needed in order to not tip her soul into the evil that beckons her so strongly. With an iron will, Mina contains and controls her Dark One half but David's constant light and his attempts to demolish what is in fact her intrinsic nature nearly has catastrophic affects.
David of course has his own inner demons but unlike Mina, he's had the benefit of healing and acceptance from his angel brethren. Mina has never been offered any support by her people or her mother who abandoned her for death when Mina was nine. Someone to champion her is an unknown luxury and David's initial attempts to win Mina's trust is met with fierce resistance. If you've never experienced love or friendship then having it offered to you is something you'll resist because having it and then inevitably losing it (for life has taught Mina time and again that happiness is never lasting) will surely make life go from unbearable to intolerable. The whole concept of rather having love and loss than no love at all is not an experience Mina wishes to learn. Better to have no love at all. Fortunately David is persistent and he's determined to prove to Mina that there's nothing she can do, that no amount of her darkness can push him from his willingness to love her unconditionally.
I must admit that I dreaded the end of AWB not because I didn't want it to end but rather that I feared the hell that Joey W. Hill would inevitably wreak upon David and Mina. That may be why it took me so long to get through the novel for I feared the worst and the worst was definitely brought upon the seawitch and her angel lover. The foreshadowing was consistent not only with purpose but with darkness as well giving fair warning that the end would not be easy. That the lessons needed to be learned, by Mina especially, would not go down lightly. The proof David had to deliver to Mina that his love was unbreakable was beyond difficult to read and I did feel a measure of anger at Mina while understanding that there was a lot needed to break through the fortified walls of her highly guarded heart and soul. There was also the gratification that she felt incredible regret but I was surprised by what it took for her to finally open her eyes. In addition, her decision to remain away from David after the cataclysmic ending didn't help her cause in my opinion but she does eventually give up a hefty part of herself to save David when he most needed it and thus proving her capacity to love and that she deserved his love in return.
In my opinion, A WITCH'S BEAUTY was truly Mina's story with David, her hero, maintaining more of a supportive role although no less valuable. They both shoulder their own demons with the major exception being that David's range of acceptance far surpasses Mina's, whose evil is held closely and protectively to her heart. A dark anti-heroine isn't common in the romance genre and I found that it's not my favorite reading experience but I whole-heartily accept this type of heroine and admire her for her differences. I believe it's a mark of a talented author to showcase such humanity in a being that would have been rejected by anyone else. Hill's love for Mina is very evident and she wasn't afraid to take her characters through the extreme to wrench open Mina's heart.
Mina is also highly unconventional in her appearance, something that I found to be both extremely daring and admirable. Again, it's a mark of Hill's talent that she was able to pull off Mina's appearance so effortlessly and in such a way that she's easily accepted by the reader. I don't wish to go into detail regarding Mina's appearance because for one I couldn't do her justice nor would I be able to convey the broad and over-reaching reasons for it. Mina's outward appearance is a direct mirror to her inner and when the reader reaches the end of AWB, we see how Mina is able to come full circle with not only her outer beauty but her inner as well. Magical really.
A WITCH'S BEAUTY is very character driven. There are still Good vs. Evil concepts like its predecessor, A MERMAID'S KISS, but the concepts are condensed more specifically within Mina and David verses one race against another and the need to choose a side. Again, it is a testament of talent and I willingly give any author abundant respect for trying to tackle so bravely such a difficult, and at times, unclear and elusive concept.
This series is truly amazing and if it wasn't for my own personal hang-ups with Mina being an anti-heroine, I would have easily given this book five stars.