Having never read the first book in the series, Wicked Enchantment, I went into Cruel Enchantment, a bit wary. This is a habit I have done in the past, where I pick up a book that isn’t the first in a series. This is usually a good indicator on how a book can stand on its own. Thankfully, Cruel Enchantment is one of the books where you aren’t lost if you skipped book one like me.
The book opens in a very dramatic fashion with our first glimpse of the lead male in the story, Aeric O’Malley. He is an Unseelie fae with the gift of bestowing the power to kill other fae through the forging of his weapons. On his mind is one name; Emmaline Siobhan Keara Gallagher, the former assain of the Summer Queen and the person who killed his mate. So consumed with his hatred, Aeric does little but imagine what he would do if he ever got his hands on the person who killed his true love. Unfortunately he along with his fellow brethren are effectively locked in a compound to prevent them from wrecking havoc in the human world. Emmaline is on the otherside, living as a free fae in the human world…..up until now
Now here comes the complicated bit and it took me a little while to get my head around what was actually going on with Emmaline. She is a fae working for an organization called the Humans for the Freedom of the Fae – or the HFF for short, but she is pretnending to be a human sympathizer to the Phaendir who are responsible for the imprisonment of the fae.
Emmaline is going into this compound to get Aeric to make a key to open a box that contains some magical object of fae power, on the pretence of giving it to the Phaendir, while really she is going to give it the HFF. All while in disguise so that, hopefully Aeric won’t recoginse her. Oh, and did I mention that she is going to be pretending to be part of some film crew for a show called Faemous which reports on the Summer Court? Confused? Yeah, me too!
Thankfully the whole plot falls apart since Aeric had some sort of alarm set for when Emmaline set foot in the compound. He therefor kidnaps her and holds her hostage with intent to enact his revenge for the death of his beloved.
It’s at this point I lost some sympathy and respect for Aeric. I got that he was hurt deeply and that he would want vengeance for his beloveds death. I understood that this would cause him to want to do terrible things to Emmaline and yes, I know that this is a known plot device used in fantasy novels where the leads end up falling helplessly in love by the end of it (Sorry if this spoils the ending, but it is a Paranormal Romance), but one scene had me really despising him.
After Emmaline explains what happened the night she killed his beloved, something snaps within Aeric. An internal switch flips and he goes from wanting to kill her into something that is almost villainous. All I will say is that Aeric uses Emmaline is such a way that it almost seems like she is nothing but some sort of harlot. By taking advantage of the fact that Emmaline’s known feelings and attraction to him, he twists it into something that is perverse.
Before this, Emmaline protests constantly that he is a good man. That he won’t harm her. Yet, Aeric hurts her in a way which is much deeper than just physical wounds. For a hero, he went down a lot of points in my esteem.
What I did like was the development of Emmaline as a character. To me she was the saving grace of the book and her complex background was the most interesting part. Watching as you saw her deconstruct what she was, who she is and what she wants to be was great to read. Emmaline knows that she is not innocent, but Bast has fleshed out a backstory that shows how she was and still is a pawn in a larger game. Emmaline manages to overcome so much by the end of the book. If it hadn’t been for Emmaline, then i don’t think I would have enjoyed the book so much.
The supporting characters also were well thought out. A few that stood out for me were; David, a fellow mortal member of the HFF who has a history with Emmaline; Calum, a free fae and member of the HFF who has information that led to finding the artifact and Gideon, an ambitious member of the Phaendir who has feelings for Emmalines alter-ego.
These three characters made the plot much deeper that just what was going on in the compound. I especially liked Gideon’s storyline. He is an interesting villain and you never knew what the truth was and what fiction with him was.
The political plotlines were written in a way that kept you on your toes. You were never sure who was double crossing who and by the end of the book I wasn’t sure where the main plot was going.
For a book pegged as Paranormal Romance, the more steamy scenes are written really well. Eventually we do see a softer side to Aeric, but how he thaws towards Emmaline is nothing new and it is only when Emmaline is tortured by her former tormentor does Aeric really believe her and sees that she was used as a tool by the Summer Queen.
I look forward to reading the other books in the series, if only for the promise for the strong female characters and further developments in finding the other parts needed to complete the quest to open the back page of the Book of Bindings in order to bring down the wards.
This is a book that you could pick up easily, even if you hadn’t read the first one. There is some brilliant world building and some really great characters in the book; however the male lead was almost at the tipping point where I didn’t want the heroine to end up with him.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Wicked Enchantment
- Cruel Enchantment
- Dark Enchantment
- Midnight Enchantment
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