Alyssa Day introduces us to a engaging new world in this first installment of her League of the Black Swan series. I had a bit of trouble engaging in the story in the first half... mostly because of the romance. But I got more invested... especially in the final third of the book.
The story begins with Rio in deep trouble. She witnessed a kidnapping at the hands of a powerful and Very Bad Man. Thanks to her ability to read minds, she knows he is now coming after her... so she runs to the most powerful man in Bordertown for protection, a wizard PI named Luke. Rio is messenger and has delivered to Luke before. In fact, she has quite the crush on him... and figures --if anyone can save her, he can.
It just so happens that Luke is investigating the very kidnapping Rio witnessed. And he has a thing for her too. When she fills him in on her situation, he quickly becomes her protector, her partner in solving the kidnapping, and later, her lover. All this, as she tries to figure out the mysteries of her origins. She grew up an orphan, knowing nothing of her past, but suddenly all kinds of powerful beings have an interest in her and her upcoming birthday. Now, it seems like everyone knows who she is, except for her.
I had a really hard time buying into the relationship here. Luke and Rio are completely smitten with each other from the get-go. A physical attraction, I get. But I never understood why --after centuries without love and near celibate conditions-- Luke's plan to avoid attachments is so utterly decimated by Rio. WHY is she so special? WHY does he love her? And speaking of love... these two are tossing around the L-word in a couple of days. All of this kept me from really connecting to the romance. I didn't feel deeply invested in either main character either. I didn't dislike them or anything; I just did feel like I knew them beyond the superficial. I didn't feel for them
That's not to say I didn't end up enjoying the book. The world building was good and once we started learning about the secrets of Rio's parentage, the story really got interesting. I liked how that all played out. And I didn't see it coming. For that reason, I'm glad I stuck with the book. But the first half was difficult to get through.
Rating: C+*ARC Provided by Berkley