Storm of Shadows by Christina Dodd
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Although this wasn't perfect (but what is perfect in life?), I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the messages here, about grabbing onto love, even if nothing is guaranteed; facing your fears head on; choosing to do the right thing, even when walking away or being selfish is easiest; and finding value in something you might have overlooked. I could go on.
I feel that Ms. Dodd is finding her feet in the paranormal genre. I thought the first in this series, Storm of Visions, was rather awkward, the world-building taking precedence over the romance. I did not feel that way with this book. I felt there was a smooth integration of romance and paranormal storytelling here. Some things are still a bit shaky, but I think this series will become more solid with each book. Even still, I like the different sort of story she has here. The Chosen Ones, banding together to fight the Others. The pervasive presence of evil that the Chosen Ones face (both in human and supernatural form). I like how they were abandoned and unwanted, but have incredible gifts that can tip the balance of power. I'm still coming to know each Chosen One, yearning to know what their role will be, and that will keep me reading. I want the answers, and I want to see who they end up with!
Aaron was infectiously likeable as a hero, despite the fact that he didn't always come off as favorable in the narrative. He burned with raw intensity, but had a confidence, an urbane polish that allowed him to be utterly at home in high society and academia, even if he looked like a warrior in his GQ finery. However, he had some self-knowledge to face in this story. His beginning was heartbreaking and horrifying, and the path of his life wasn't an easy one by any stretch. He had to fight for everything he had in life, not always making the right choices. Aaron had to come to like and respect himself, and that journey made him so loveable. His chemistry with Rosamund was very appealing. Rosamund also did a lot of growing in this book, as well. I was glad that Ms. Dodd tricked me a little. I have some issues with makeover stories, and I was kind of worried this would turn into one where the heroine has to become a glamorous swan to be worthy of the hero. Not so. Long before her makeover, and long after, Aaron noticed the real Rosamund, the one he fell in love with, and it was kind of funny that he was annoyed that she seemed able to overlook him. Rosamund is a real, 100% bonafide nerd. I loved her for it. She is so immersed in her work and studies that she forgets about things like buying new clothes when her old ones get faded and frayed, she has no clue how to flirt, and I like how Aaron has to fight to earn her attention. It's a nice change. Deep down, though, Rosamund did notice Aaron, but it scared her, because her attraction to him had the power to rip away the barriers against hurt she had built when her mother and father died. It was easier to bury herself in the past, and to avoid love and emotions, but Aaron made that impossible for her. I love to read about intelligent, learned heroines, and that's definitely Rosamund. However, she is clueless about real life, and it was very endearing, others having to help her with the normal stuff, even though she is extremely smart about antiquities and ancient history. I liked that Aaron liked her knowledge and her intelligence. He didn't want to throw that away just for the outer package, although he did recognize the unpolished beauty she had from the beginning. So, with both the hero and the heroine in this book, I loved them, flaws and all. Like people in real life, I was able to care about them, even if they did things I didn't like. I thought they were a great couple together.
Dodd has a way of writing a delicious hero for this reader. Aaron wasn't so different. His layers appealed to me. I loved how protective he was of Rosamund, how she confounded him, how he was completely jealous of the other men who were all over her. He knew the real Rosamund, and that was the woman he wanted, and he wasn't afraid to fight for her. When Rosamund comes to accept how much Aaron means to her, in a pivotal, heartbreaking moment, I was completely plugged into this book, waiting to see what would happen next.
It's nice to read concise, straightforward writing, and that's Ms. Dodd's writing style. Even for its simplicity, the deeper levels were here. The mythology/lore was intriguing, and a little horrific at times. The story of the prophetess, and her ugly journey, where it led; the Sacred Cave, and how that related to Aaron from his birth, very fascinating elements. The people that Rosamund and Aaron encounter on their quest, and the dangers they faced. It kept me reading, even though the romance also appealed.
Although the paranormal aspects still need some polishing and developing (in my opinion), I thought this was a very enjoyable read, and the romance was wonderful. It's just short of five stars (because I am pretty picky about rating paranormal romance), but it definitely earned a 4.5/5.0 star rating.
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