This actually is the opening scene of the book and it is fast and exciting, really urging you to bond with the heroine in her struggle to save her loved ones and herself, alas you already know, just like she does, that there’s no chance of that.
Then over 300 years later, Roseline, sees a way out, a chance to escape and she seizes it, knowing that if she fails to get away, she will suffer Vladimir’s wrath once again, because she has tried this before, but it has never worked. Still, she gives it her whole and eventually she finds herself in the United States, posing as a 17-year-old girl (because that’s the age she looks), going to a somewhat exclusive school, trying to go undetected, never attracting attention to herself. During her time there, though, she is befriended by the eccentric Sadie and her brother William, knowing very well that with her being Immortal, her looks are by default mesmerizing to humans causing them to be attracted to her. Consequently, she doesn’t go as undetected as she would like to, but she tries. She is buried in some kind of comforting routine till Gabriel, the school’s star student and athlete and most sought-out boyfriend is smitten by her, and an exchange student from Romania, Nicolae, comes to stay with Sadie and William. Nicolae keeps staring at her and it’s not long before he reveals to Rose that he knows who she is and what she is, and that he is there to check up on her. Rose doesn’t know in what capacity, but she is afraid that Vladimir knows where she is and Gabriel chasing after her all the time doesn’t help one bit.
Now, it sounds a little cliche or rather like something that’s been described before, but the story finds ways to be original and refreshing. I really liked that the book started the way it did, because it was fast and it immediately drew you in and made your heart beat a little faster. It was told in a smart way in the sense that in the first chapter, you already know why Roseline was running, who and what she was and why it was instrumental that she get away, making you feel like you already knew her and really ready to become invested in the actual story to start in the following chapter. Actually, the majority of the book’s most important characters was really introduced in the first chapter, although Sadie, William, Gabriel and Nicolae were introduced later on.
The characters were quite diverse without coming off as caricatures, which was really good. Even Sadie, with her continuously changing wardrobe and make-up going through punk, goth, bad girl and Christian phases didn’t come across as fake, while all characters were not good or bad, black or white. There were shades of gray which is the way it seems to me in real life.
It is important that the characters seem real and plausible without being too saccharine or “perfect”. Rose isn’t perfect either. She has been through a lot, but she is not a little lamb, nor is she a hyena (as a vampire). She is a person with her faults and shortcomings, never, however giving up the attempt to become a better person. Gabriel isn’t a jock or a perfect guy either. The characters get mad, yell, lose their patience, laugh, fall in love and act crazy just like they would in real life and that’s the best aspect of the book.
The writing is not exactly factual, nor overly decorative. I think it’s a nice balance between the two and it makes reading the book quite entertaining. I also liked the fact that even though there is an aspect of insta-love between Rose and Gabriel, it is not pursued in a rushed way and Roseline doesn’t trip all over herself in order to avoid or chase the charming human boy. Throughout the chapters it feels like Rose really lives her life in a normal way not changing dramatically just because of Gabriel (although why she run away towards the end I’ll never understand). Gabriel is more smitten than she appears to be and faster than her, but he is a teenage boy so hormones and their “bond” can quite explain that.
I have to admit that I didn’t see a few twists around the end coming and it was a welcome surprise as for the most part of the book we didn’t see or hear from Lucien and Vladimir again, letting us enjoy Rose’s new life but also making us wonder what was going to happen.
On the other hand, there were some aspects of book that left me wanting a little.
For the most part we did get to see what Immortals were. They were more than humans. Stronger, faster, prettier and intellectually superior in certain ways as they lived history and did not just read about it.
I quite enjoyed the twist in the lore, where what we consider Vampires are just Immortals that have been addicted to the taste of blood. They don’t need the blood to survive, they can live off human food, but they need blood to heal, as blood is a life giver, and if they consume it too much, it becomes like a drug clouding their judgment and affecting them physically and psychologically, turning them blood-thirsty and eventually sadistic monsters (like it happened with Lucien and Vladimir). Blood is like cocaine for vamps, then, but they do have a choice which is a nice difference from the usual lore that Vampires always feel the thirst.
However, I feel like it could have been explained a little more and in greater detail so the whole thing could have been made distinct and invested upon so that in the future books we could see how the whole addiction process happens and how easy it is for a vamp to go to “rehab”. XD
I’d love to have seen that in relation to Rose, as I’m sure that Vladimir must have tried to get her addicted.
Another thing is that I felt that Nicolae’s presence could have been explored more. In the beginning he comes across as a geeky, nerdy kid who had no sense of how life and people in America were and he recognized Roseline from Romania fearing her, but later on he is a hunter incognito and some of his actions don’t sit right. At first it feels like he is afraid of Rose and he is determined not to bother her or come into contact with her, but a chapter later he stares at her intently even menacingly and warns her that he will be there if she decides to hurt anyone. So if he wanted to stay under the radar why come out to Roseline and if he was going to do that anyways, why act scared in the beginning? Maybe he wanted to draw his own conclusions about Rose and if she was evil, but it just felt awkward to me. I liked Nicolae’s reactions to Sadie, though, and I think I will enjoy them if they are a couple in the next book.
Anyone who enjoys books with vampires and romance will definitely enjoy this one.
Cover / Graphics / Maps : The cover is simple, evocative and looks professionally laid-out. The orange rose has significance to the story and is allegorical of the main character.
Interior Formatting: I read the Kindle version. There were no glaring format issues. The font was large enough to be legible, but small enough to permit speed reading without adjustment.
Readability: Sample paragraphs averaged a readability index of 5.8, which is appropriate for the target audience and most readers of this genre. I had no difficulty with any of the vocabulary or sentence structures in this novel.
Names: All of the names were easily pronounced and accessible. Since the story takes place in a modern context, place names are recognizable.
Hero / Heroine: Rosaline Enescue is a bit of an enigma. Given the terrible ordeal described in the prologue to this story, it’s reasonable to expect a degree of hardness and an aloof attitude from this character. In general, people like their protagonists to be strong, and Rosaline certainly projects inner strength and mental toughness. She’s described by other characters as kind and loving, but she acts more like a streetwise and vigorous force to be reckoned with, rather than a sweet, gentle female. The descriptions that characterized her as the latter grated against the former.
I’d expected Gabriel Marsten to be a dumb jock, mindlessly interested in conquering opponents on the football field and girls in the social arena. But he evolves as the story progresses, from the inaccurate caricature of an athlete into a decent, intelligent and caring young man. He becomes the type of boy that a father would be proud to call his son, only to transform further into something ELSE, entirely. It’s both fascinating and disturbing to experience. Amy Miles has done a terrific job of defying expectations with this character.
Supporting Characters: Sadie and William Hughes are siblings who live next door to Gabriel Marsten. They maintain an annoyed, teenaged tolerance for one another throughout the book, though the role that William plays in the story is less significant than that of his sister. Sadie befriends Rosaline, though the two appear to have very little in common. Nicolae, a mysterious exchange student, transforms from a creepy kid into something very different as the story progresses. I felt that a little platforming of his capabilities early in the story would have made for a smoother character arc near the end.
Villains: Rosaline’s husband, Vladimir, occupies a menacing role that exists mostly on the periphery of the story, except for the very beginning and the very end. A lot of the conflict in this book is internal, with Rosaline, herself. The reader is effectively kept in suspense about the danger of her powers throughout the story. This is something that Amy Miles has done very well.
In addition, flat characters, like Claire Scofield–Gabriel’s girlfriend–and Oliver–Gabriel’s jock friend–serve as antagonists and provide the occasional comic relief. There’s a scene involving Claire using Gabriel’s leg as an erotic dancing prop that had me laughing.
Plausibility of Storyline: There’s a degree of suspending disbelief that every fantasy story must be given. That’s certainly true of this one, but there were scenes and behaviors, such as Rosaline’s frequent disappearances, which did little to advance the plot and probably could have been cut or modified without impacting the overall story. High school students making travel arrangements and departing the country without parental approval raised my brows too, but this IS a story for young readers, and that audience would likely be unfazed by that detail.Reviewer’s Response: Amy Miles has written a vampire story that defies convention in many ways. Though I am not in the target market for this genre, the story retained my interest throughout, and I actually found myself enjoying the characters, particularly Rosaline and Gabriel, as they evolved. One of the strengths of the independent author movement is that it permits stories that depart from main stream, commercial themes and plot lines to be heard. I believe this story is a refreshing example of that trend. For young adult readers, in particular, this is likely to be a very enjoyable story.