I was really looking forward to this book – gothic, different setting (in the Black Forest, Germany, 1820s) and a castle (which hopeless romantic doesn’t love a castle, prince not required?). I read it the day I got it. Here’s what I think:
1. The sense of place and atmosphere were wonderful. Thanks to the vivid description, I felt I was there, in that place and time. The Black Forest, the castle and the little town of Kirchwalden came alive.
2. The author cleverly used sensual element (erotic playing cards) and fairytale element (grandfather clock, gargoyles, snatches of fairytales) to make the story interesting. I especially loved the gargoyle aspect of the story.
3. The chemistry between the hero and heroine (Celia/Cissy) was palpable. I enjoyed their scenes together, which were far too few, since Fenris spent most of his waking hours avoiding Cissy, on the pretext of his guilt and unworthiness, even after the consummation of their marriage.
4. The characterization of Fenris and Cissy – he was the typical gothic hero with a wooden leg (dark, broody, ill-tempered but who could also be tender and sensuous). She was feisty, brave, compassionate, stoic but also believed in fairytales – a pretty likeable heroine, except for a few quirks that irritated me to no end…her penchant for snorting and rolling her eyes, and the biggest of them all, the “ridiculous similes” (as she called them) that she loved to utter: addle-brained daftie, maggot-headed loony, blunder-headed churl…just to name 3. She was 27 years old and all these silly name-calling made her juvenile.
5. This was an easy read, in the sense that it won’t tax your brain cells. Everything was just the way they were – nothing that required delving into. The mystery of who wanted Fenris dead was light. You would know, when the first mishap happened, that it wasn’t an accident – but the characters of the story didn’t immediately suspect it. You could spot/guess the villain a mile away.
6. The author used a lot of words that have modern connotation such as shag, holy cow, bro and bloody. There was also a lot of misspelled words.
Conclusion: This was a pleasant, superficial read.