Reviewed: May 13, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Forbidden, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 178 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
At thirty-five, Doctor Wesley Atherton is a successful psychiatrist living and working a comfortable, steady life in London. Katherine is a twenty-four year old American who is staying with a family friend in London during her fashion internship when Wes, rather literally, first bumps into her on the Tube. Practical to the point of having been mortally embarrassed by his bohemian parents, Wes had never believed in love at first sight (or second or third sight, actually). He had, however, always firmly believed in recognizing what he wanted in life and working to get it, so when he gets his first glimpse of Katherine's beautiful green eyes and sees that almost precocious smile, Wes does everything humanly possible to convince her that sharing a life with him is what she needs to do - and even though Katherine is engaged to another, Wes is determined to woo her.
One evening, following an outing that Wes certainly considers a date, even if Katherine doesn't, their Tube ride comes to a crashing, deadly end, and Wes and Katherine are thrust into Death's awareness - and he's none too happy to have a victim escape his clutches. With the help of a psychic, a spy, and a butler, Wes and Katherine have to embrace a world far more complex and dangerous than they'd previously believed, and hope that the bonds of love that are so new but so deep between them will be enough to save them all.
The most important question I have when looking at the mix of reviews for this Kindle freebie on Amazon.com is this: Did we all read the same book?? It's good for everyone to have their own opinion, but facts are facts, and classifying this as an all-sex-no-plot book is quite inaccurate. The first sex scene doesn't even occur until the 50% mark (on Kindle) and there are only three sex scenes that are described at all, one of which is mostly glossed over. It bothers me when a book is trashed by reviews that incorrectly represent the published material. Is The Sacrifice perfect? No. In my opinion it's quite good (I'll clarify in a moment), but in no way - and this is not opinion - is it a sex-filled smut book with no plot.
The Sacrifice is actually a nifty little story with a quirky cast of characters and a plot that moves along nicely, once it starts moving. I was totally enamored with Wes and thought he made an excellent protagonist. It's actually been awhile since I've read a book I'd classify as paranormal romance-ish with a male lead and told in first person POV, so if he hadn't been so appealing, amusing, witty, and self-deprecating, this book really could've gone bad for me fast. Fortunately, he was all those things, as well as determined, intelligent, charming, and very much committed to his Katherine. I liked him very much.
Unfortunately, and as is often the case with first person POV, the rest of the characters weren't fleshed out as well as they could have been, though I don't really have any major complaints about the level of development in the secondary characters Jennifer, Will, and Charles. The POV just makes it too hard to develop secondary characters fully. At least the history between Wes and Charles and the professional relationship between Wes and Jennifer helped define and flesh out their characters enough to work in the story (Charles in particular). The only real complaint I had with character development was, unfortunately, Katherine. As the female lead, I would've liked to have seen quite a bit more development and dimension given to her personality and what was there was not always appealing. She was a bit too wishy-washy for me - insecure, afraid, and doubting one minute, determined, strong, and certain the next, with no clear rhyme or reason in the vacillation, and she was never written as a fight-by-his-side sort of female. She was pushed into rooms and hidden behind doors. Protected. I can understand Wes' need to do that, but I'm a bit too much of a feminist to accept Katherine's willingness to allow it. That IS personal opinion and preference, though, and others may not feel the same.
I liked the plot and I loved that it was centered in London. I had a few issues with the pacing, though, and a minor complaint about the opening chapters. The story starts with an out of sequence event, the Tube crash, and because of the nature of the crash, the narrative (Wes' perspective) is disjointed and choppy - confused and wounded. While it's completely understandable that it would be that way given what's just happened to him and to Katherine, because we don't know either of them yet, it's a little jarring and takes a bit of perseverance to wade through with any sense of feeling for these characters we've just met. I wish the story had been told in a more linear fashion starting with the meeting of the lead characters, so that when the crash occurred, we had a baseline understanding of Wes in particular and some empathy for his fear about Katherine's plight.
Perseverance, however, does pay off in this instance, and once the story pushes beyond the crash the plot really starts to zing along and Wes turns out to be vastly entertaining as he tells his story. The paranormal aspects of the book are slowly added until the intensity and danger reaches a tense fruition. Again, I have another personal opinion/preference. I wish those paranormal aspects had started to sneak in a bit sooner and built a bit faster. I don't think the plot was slow, but I do think that the pacing could've been improved by spending less time with Wes being oblivious and doubtful of the mounting paranormal events around him and more time on the climax to the story, which I personally thought felt a wee bit rushed and a bit confusing for that rush. As a result, I thought the climax was a little less powerful and lacked the impact it could've had, given the gravity of the thing.
Circling back around to the sex topic, I feel the need to elucidate my opinion. While the sex scenes weren't overabundant in this book, I will admit, the sex is described graphically. Wes uses adult language and isn't real into flowery euphemisms. In fact, he uses colorful, sometimes coarse language all through the book, and while most is British slang, if you're up on the slang from across the pond, you'll know just how colorful and coarse it is. In my opinion, however - and this is very important to me - the sex scenes develop as a natural, healthy progression of the emotional situation the characters are in at the time, as opposed to gratuitous sex for no other reason than to titillate readers. Hey, I'm all for a bit of fun titillation, but I like to leave the gratuitous kind for when I'm in the mood for erotica romance. This isn't that. I found the sex to be neither overly explicit nor overdone. Take that as you will, as I admit I prefer the sex scenes in my books to be as adult and freely passionate as I prefer sex to be.
For a free read, this book is far more than I expected. Considering some of the other ratings and reviews, it's WAY better than I'd hoped. As the start of a paranormal romance series, it definitely has potential and has insured that I will be actually paying for the second book in the series. This was the first book I'd read by Samantha Sommersby. It won't be the last.
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