Review: Of Blood and Bone by Courtney Cole

Format read: ebook provided by the tour company
Formats available:ebook
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: The Minaldi Legacy #1
Length: 226 pages
Publisher: Lakehouse Press
Date Released: September 14, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Luca Minaldi is powerful, rich and mesmerizing. But he is also a reclusive enigma. He lives in Malta, a fairytale-like place filled with sunshine and sea, beauty and secrets. And Luca’s darkest of secrets is the best kept of them all.

Eva Talbot is spending the summer in Malta to finish up her doctoral dissertation. When she meets Luca, a mysterious and handsome shipping magnate, there is an instant attraction. He has a disturbing and beautiful energy that she has never felt before. But she senses the darkness that lives within him.

Eva is hired to care for his mother, a woman who suffers from dementia, but it is Luca who Eva will eventually risk everything to save. She desperately wants to reach inside of him and fix what is broken, while at the same time, she knows that she is falling for him. Her life becomes a swirling chaos of darkness and romance, of secrets and mystery. And the question that emerges will become the most important answer of all.

Can she save Luca from the darkness that plagues him without losing herself?

The answer is a matter of life or death.

Be prepared to be surprised. From the description, even from the title, I expected Of Blood and Bone to be a paranormal romance. It isn’t. Think of it as romantic suspense, but of the old-fashioned gothic school of suspense.

Except that the heroine is a psychiatrist. One who falls in love with her patient, even after he has slightly kinky sex with her, and then doesn’t remember it the next morning. But Eva’s not licensed to practice yet, so she’s not violating any rules.

And Luca Minaldi technically isn’t her patient. His mother is. If Eva Talbot could technically have patients. Which she can’t.

Luca’s mother says he’s evil. Luca believes that he’s a monster. That he’s fated to be a monster, just like his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather. That he’s cursed.

Eva’s sure that there’s a scientific explanation for everything. Even the murders.

And she’s right. It’s just not the explanation that anyone thinks it is. And just when everyone thinks it’s over…it isn’t.

Escape Rating B: Luca compares himself and Eva to Heathcliff and Catherine, except that he’s sure that his monstrosity is a real curse and not just a character flaw. Eva names his problem Jekyll & Hyde syndrome, but is certain there’s a real disease behind it. There will be a point in the story where most readers will be certain Luca is a werewolf. It’s not that simple.

Even when you start to figure out who, and you get the glimmer of how, you won’t know why. That was the suspense that kept me riveted to my iPad. But Eva the psychiatrist should have figured things out long before I did, no matter how distracted she was be her affair-gone-wrong with her all-too-hot would-be patient.

But the series is off to a absolutely fascinating misdirecting start. I was so sure I knew what book 2 in the series would be, and then, on the last page, the author totally threw me into another direction. Again. Whiplash. Wow.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Darker Still

Darker Still, by Leanna Renee Hieber, is a Victorian ghost story with a twist. The strange romanticism of Victorian spiritualism was particularly suited to this haunting tale of a painting that had captured rather more than just the likeness of its handsome subject.

Natalie Stewart was struck mute at the age of 4 when she witnessed her mother’s death under the wheels of a runaway carriage. When our story begins, the year is 1880, and Natalie has returned to her father’s New York City townhouse after her schooling in the Connecticut Asylum. The Asylum is a school for children with unfortunate handicaps like Natalie’s; some are blind, some are deaf, some are crippled, but all are well-to-do. As is Natalie, since her father is an important man at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

An intriguing new painting has arrived in New York. It is a portrait of the late Lord Denbury. Denbury is a compelling subject in his own right, young, aristocratic and handsome. Dead by his own hand just after the portrait was completed, distraught over the death of his parents. His case is tragic. But there is something about the painting itself: it seems as if the man’s spirit inhabits the painting, almost as if he is somehow alive in that canvas.

The story of the tragic young lord compels Natalie to visit the current owner of the portrait, Mrs. Northe, in spite of the fact that Natalie can only “speak” either by writing or by sign language. But Mrs. Northe is eager to meet Natalie.  She almost seems to be waiting for her…and Mrs. Northe knows how to sign!

When Natalie is brought before the painting of Lord Denbury, she is certain, she feels, that Denbury is trapped in the painting. Each time she looks at the painting, she sees that something has changed, something has been moved. In the painting, Lord Denbury is writing on the desk, asking her questions, communicating with her!

Natalie takes Mrs. Northe into her confidence, fearful that she will be thought mad. But when Mrs. Northe believes her, they conduct an experiment. Natalie touches the painting, and falls in–to the world of the painting, where Lord Denbury waits for her to save him.

On that other side of the canvas, Natalie must face her greatest hopes, and her greatest fears, in order to have the chance at a real life. The one thing that she feared her handicap had placed forever beyond her reach.

Escape Rating B+: This was a neat story to be reading the night before Halloween. Very gothic, with an added slice of the Picture of Dorian Gray thrown in for good measure. Just a slice.

While I enjoyed Natalie as a character, I found that having the entire story told from her first-person point-of-view to be a little limiting. I wanted to know a lot more about why the other characters were doing the things they did. Mrs. Northe’s motivations were not as clear as they might have been. Was her flirtation with Natalie’s father a ruse, or was she genuinely interested? Why did the demon choose Denbury in the first place? What society of devils? Who else is involved? I still have questions.

And how are Natalie and Denbury going to get out of the pickle they’re in? When is the next book?????