Character Development: D
Cover Art: A-
I saw that this book was up for a Goodreads award. I saw that it was highly rated. I read the blurb: "...Library...young scholar...bewitched alchemical manuscript...a horde of daemons, vampires, and witches soon descends upon the library." Well, they had me at "horde" and "library!" I didn't even read the second paragraph, which, in retrospect, I really should have done, although it honestly would not have stopped me.
The blurb promises excitement, magic, and danger. Instead, we get a few pages of excitement, magic, and danger followed by an entire book of yoga lessons, rowing practice, billiard games, wine-tasting, deer-stalking, and vampire "let me tell you about all of our pasts" reminiscing with the very occasional appearance by a bad guy just so we can pretend there's a plot. I'm not joking, there are pages and pages where the hero and heroine just sit and drink different wines, and talk about where the wine is from, and how the wine tastes. Since the prose is terrible, these passages are painful. I resorted to skimming.
The villains are easily defeated. The plot lacks coherency. First, the heroine finds the magic book and all the creatures are after her! Exciting! Dangerous! Oh, wait. They're just waiting to see if the book will show up again. In the meantime, she meets a vampire! He's dangerous! A predator! Oh, wait. He's taking her to breakfast. And then WHAM! The book becomes an unabashed Twilight-alike, complete with overbearing vampire male who will go to any lengths to "protect" his woman, including lying to her face, killing people, and drugging her , dishrag heroine who goes along with it because she loves him SO MUCH that it's okay if he wants to control her every move, a sexless relationship because he doesn't feel the time is right even though they are married and she is begging AND the possibility of heretofore impossible offspring from the protagonists . They date, they gaze at each other, they tell each other how in love they are...for hundreds of pages, while the reader sits there thinking, "Guys? Remember the magic book? Could we maybe get back to that? It was kind of cool..."
The only part of the book that wasn't directly lifted from Twilight/Christine Feehan is that the heroine is a career woman as well as a witch. When Diana is doing her research on alchemical texts, the book is actually fairly interesting. I liked her for not wanting to use magic, for wanting to prove she could be a great scholar by using normal human methods...until the truth was revealed. Also, making the heroine a witch who NEVER uses magic really handicapped the witch storyline for most of the book, and honestly there's nothing special about Diana otherwise, no matter how many times the hero calls her his lioness or his brave girl (what is she, five years old?!) The story does pick up a bit when Diana's aunt gets involved toward the end, but then it shrivels right back up.
Oh, and it's a trilogy. I am not sticking around for the next two. I kind of want to do a live re-read of this one, though.
Extra credit: Snippets that are easily taken out of context, like "Cupping the nut in my palms, I rolled it from one hand to the other..." She's talking about a chestnut, but seriously, awkward statements like that crop up often enough that I'm not sure if it's really poor writing or an attempt to make the book subliminally sexy.