Saturday, July 28, 2007

Step Into Darkness by Naomi Bellis

Spoilers Alert!

Book Description

At the height of the French Revolution, a Viscount’s daughter enlists the help of a man who turns out to be a perilous threat to her family…

Sarah Leaford is desperate to rescue her father from the dungeons of Paris, and it seems that her success depends on one man: Gentleman Jack, the greatest thief in all of London. What she doesn’t know is that Jack is already well acquainted with her father…

Years ago, Lord Carleigh framed Jack for murder, leaving him a ruined man destined for the gallows. Now Jack has a chance for revenge – but to take it, he must resist falling for the beautiful noblewoman and her mysterious, untamed magic.

Drawn together by a dangerous mission, they must not surrender to the passion that flares between them. Sarah and Jack are not simply a maiden and a thief, and more lives than theirs are in peril. So much is at risk that even the dead take notice…

This was Naomi Bellis’ debut, and I must say she wrote rather well, and created a well-paced adventure, peopled by a motley cast of characters.

Jack was actually a spy, and not just any spy…he was one of the best in all of England. “Gentleman Jack, the legendary thief” was a carefully-cultivated cover. Jack, together with his friend and fellow spy, Gabriel d’Aubrigny, operated under the command of The Master, who took them out of Newgate prison and a certain death, in exchange for their services.

Sarah’s mother was known as the French Witch, who descended from one of the old families of the Circle. After she married Sarah’s father, she stopped using her Gift as forbidden by her husband. So, even though Sarah had inherited her mother’s magic, she never learned to use them. After her mother died, Sarah started to see her in her dreams. And it was Sarah’s mother who led her to Jack, the one man who could rescue her father.

Sarah and Jack felt an instant attraction on their first meeting, and their chemistry was good. Their attraction, and later, love, for each other was well written and believable. Their characters felt real too.

I was rather intrigued by Gabriel d'Aubrigny. The son of a French marquis, he was an expert forger, who was also fussy about his clothes. His devotion to Jack was steadfast. His was a complex character and I hope the author would write his story one day.

I was a little disappointed with Jack. Despite of being one of the best spies, he had to be rescued by Sarah thrice – at the conservatory, at the monastery at St Roget and lastly, from the hangman’s noose at Newgate. And in many instances, he fell short of his reputation – I was just not convinced that he could be one of the best spies.

The men, with the exception of Sarah’s father, were chivalrous to a fault, including the villain. They seemed to fall all over each other to do things for the damsel-in-distress. Ironically, the damsel-in-distress was at times the most clear-sighted and proactive of them all, and the least in need of saving.

As for the “magic”, there was a little of it - not enough to classify this story as a paranormal. The author did not delve into the Circle, and the Gift that the old families possessed.

This wasn't a "dark" story. I didn't think there was enough “darkness” to do the title justice.

Conclusion: A pleasant read. It didn’t wring my emotions. The story didn’t exactly draw me in - I felt very much like a third-person looking in at the proceedings.

My rating3.5
Sensuality ratingWarm

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