I've been a Liz Carlyle fan for nearly 15 years. And we're talking the kind of fan who has had to replace copies of her paperbacks because the spines have fallen apart from overuse. I fell in love with her work because, in addition to creating complex, suspenseful, believable, steamy hystorical romances that always have a healthy dollop of mystery, Carlyle's characters were unforgettable and her dialogue was clever. However, for the past few years, as she has spun out the tales of the Fraternitas Aurea Crucis, I have found myself picking up each new installment with a sigh, and the hope that I would once again feel the old magic. If anything, the plots were so complex that they detracted from the story, and the characters felt increasingly difficult to relate to, steped as they were in mysterious powers and/or resentment, rage, fear and a host of other emotions so negative that in my opinion they detracted from the enjoyability of the books.
And then came A Wicked Man. Since Ned Quartermaine's backstory is tangentially related to the stories of the Fraternitas Crucis, I put off reading this book, afraid I would find another well-written but difficult to love disappointment. Instead, I was delighted to discover a likable, intelligent, witty heroine who is easy to relate to and someone I might actually want to know in real life. Add to that a disreputable but still honorable, lonely man who is terribly easy to fall in love with and a skillfully drawn cast of supporting characters who help bring each scene vividly to life, this story was easy to enjoy, and will be fun to re-read. It's a simple tale--there is very little in the way of mystery, although there are a few clever twists that showcase the author's talent for plot development. If you're in the mood for a complex, thrilling murder mystery, this isn't the Carlyle for you, but if you want a warm, almost sweett--but undeniably still sexy!--novel, this is a great read.
A note about the narrator: Overall, I enjoyed Carrolyn Morris' reading. It was well-paced, and she differentiated the voices well. She also did a great job with the erotic content, which not every reader can pull off. My one complaint: She mispronounced several words! If this sort of thing doesn't bother you, then I appologize if I sound like I'm nitpicking. However, if you're a stickler like me, be warned!
This entire series has been about Sookie's growth as a character. In the first book we met a social outcast, a recluse, crippled by her telepathy and terrified of herself. She was the perfect victim, because she had no self-confidence, and was semingly unable to take control of the events effecting her life. In the past few books, and especially in this one, we see a stronger, smarter, more resiliant Sookie, who has learned to value herself and her abilities and who has decided to take control of her own future--as much as anybody can.
While I, like most other readers, enjoyed the ins and outs of Sookie'sromantic life throughout this series, the underlying story was of her coming into her own.
"I also knew, that if he turned away from me at this moment, I would survive that, and I would find a way to flourish...I'm Sookie Stackhouse, and I belong here."
If you're a shipper with a particular adgenda, beware, you may be disappointed. If you've been reading between the lines, you can pretty much guess how this story ends. The curtain comes down on Bon Temps with only the faintest shaddow of vampires in the wings. And while Sookie's future is uncertain, it's not without the hope of love on the horizon.
Absolutely. I came very close to calling out from work so I could spend some quality couch time with this novel. I resisted the impulse, but I definitely spent my entire commute and my lunch break with Johanna Parker's excellent narration keeping me company.
If you've put time and emotional energy into reading this series for the past few years, read this one. Yes, there is a distinct air of "tying up loose ends" at various points throughout the book, but you'll be left with a sense of satisfaction for having seen Sookie through to the end of her journey.
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