I feel like a traitor. I LOVE Gena Showalter. She is one of my top go-to authors for paranormal romance. So when I found out about this book and the Royal House of Shadows series, I was sooo excited. But (I can't believe I'm saying this) I was disappointed. This book had all the hot sex you'd expect from a Showalter story, but for me, it was missing something substantial. I couldn't connect with it; I couldn't feel
what the characters were feeling.
The premise of the series is this: An evil sorcerer has killed the king and queen of the magical world of Elden. But before they died, the sovereigns used their last bits of power to reach out to their four children. The king instilled in them a burning need for vengeance; while the queen wished them away to safety. Each of the four gets his or her own book, penned by a different author. Showalter's book features the eldest prince, Nicolai.
When his mother's magic whisked him away from the castle, he was in the middle of a sexual conquest... And with the strange way the magic worked, he reappeared as a sex slave. Some evil witch princesses bought him and had his memory erased. He doesn't remember who he is, but his need for revenge still burns in him and on some level, he knows he is more than a slave.
Using magic, Nicolai summons a human named Jane to free him. (The how and why of this are revealed over the course of the book.) Jane appears in the visage of one of the princesses and together, they flee from the royal court.
The two are instantly attracted to each other. It's one of those "mine
-at-first-sight" things. I'm not usually bothered by the whole alpha-male "mine" mentality, but here, it went on and on. And while I am a big fan of some steamy love scenes, I tend to enjoy them most when they resolve an underlying sexual tension. I just didn't feel the tension here... the two of them were ready to get busy with each other from the first moment they saw each other. No build-up at all. Nothing to grab me and say, "If I can't see these two get together soon, I'll die." Their attraction was explained later, but it was too little, too late.
Beyond that, I never felt a fear that something would come between them. Jane's concerns about Nicolai's reaction to her job felt out of left-field and contrived. Worries that he might have a woman floating around out there... suffice it to say, I wasn't worried. Then to top it all off, I didn't understand how Jane resolved the final obstacle to their happily ever after. Nicolai sends her a note telling her to "use her head" and then all of a sudden her science experiment works in a way it's never worked before? I'm just... kind of at a loss.
I'm sorry, Gena, because I really do think you're awesome. 3 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley