How to Deal with a Reader’s Block

Hellooooo. So, I promised myself more than a month ago that I’d resume my blogging right away after a month of sickness and traveling. But ‘lo and behold, I couldn’t keep my promise. Why, you ask? A case of serious reader’s block! I can’t remember the last time I had such it this bad.

Thankfully, I’m beginning to get over the block slowly. So, I thought of doing a post on reader’s block. I’ll speak from my own experience of what I feel might be the reasons for a reader’s block and in what ways we can get out of it.


why

  • A string of DNFs: It’s difficult to pick up a new book when you’ve gone through a number of crappy books at a stretch. That happened to me too. I unfortunately made a series of bad decisions on my ARC requests on Netgalley. I DNF’ed quite a few of them.
  • Addiction to TV shows: So I picked up this addiction for Turkish TV shows – of all things – out of the blue. Right when I was going through a bout of crappy books. Whatta convenient timing. And then to top it off, I found myself rewatching some of my favorite Korean shows. Basically what I did for half of the November month.
  • Addiction to gaming: So, one lazy day, I discovered that my brother hadn’t uninstalled Far Cry 4 from the desktop at our house. And voila! I started playing the game 24/7. I spent nearly 2 weeks on finishing the game!
  • A rough patch: When you’re having a rough patch in life and there are too many things to stress about, it’s certainly not easy to pick up a book let along get engrossed in it. Thankfully, the reader’s block this time wasn’t due to a rough patch.

I should mention that the first 3 things happened to me chronologically to me this time. And that’s why the reader’s block was so serious! I have a one-track mind. Once I get obsessed about something, it’s quite difficult to get me off that. Meh.


cure

  • Rereading favorites: Rereading your favorite books is always a good trick to rediscover your love for reading. Especially when you have read only crappy books in the recent past, it always helps to reread a book that you loved. And although at the beginning of this reader’s block, it was a struggle even getting myself to pick up an old favorite, I made a conscious effort to try reading even a few pages from my favorites when I could. And that’s really helped me regain my enthusiasm!
  • Audiobooks: Audiobooks are also an effective way of countering a reader’s block. You could listen to an audiobook while commuting or doing your chores. It’s helped me in the past to feel keen enough to pick up the book and read it. But this time I couldn’t even muster the time and effort to do that.
  • Watching screen adaptations: Whenever I watch a screen adaptation of a book and find myself enjoying it, I get a strong urge to read the book. Even if I’ve read the book before, I’ll feel nostalgic to revisit the book!
  • Being selective with ARC requests: This last one is more of a preventive measure rather than a cure. I’ve consciously decided to request fewer ARCs from now on.

I recently realized that having such a huge backlist of ARCs made reading feel like a chore over the past few months. And that’s the last thing I wanted when I had decided to start blogging. So I might read fewer books now and post fewer reviews, but at least I won’t be treating this as a chore.

I’ll be honest. This post didn’t come to me easy.  My writing feels a little rusty now and it took some effort to churn this out. But I can’t explain how refreshing it feels now to have written this post!

But I’d love to know how you deal with reader’s block. This whole slump has left me even more appreciative of  book bloggers out there who’ve been churning out book reviews for years now! So please leave comments and let me know about your experiences of a reader’s block.

Happy Reading!

ARC REVIEW : A JEWEL BRIGHT SEA

A whirlwind of intrigue, lies, politics, and adventure swirls around one woman—and the prize she’s been sent to reclaim …
 
It was her talent for tracking magic that got Anna Zhdanov sent to catch a thief. A scholar’s daughter sold as a bond servant, she has no desire to recover the Emperor’s jewel for herself. But a chance to earn her freedom has driven her to the untamed Eddalyon province, awash with warm breezes, lapping waves, and more danger than she could possibly guess.

Within days her cover as an indolent noblewoman is in question, and it’s clear there’s more to Anna’s task than she knows. Soon she’s the captive of the unpredictable pirate captain Andreas Koszenmarc, hunted by the Emperor’s guard, besieged by a brigand queen, and at odds with her only friend. She must trust someone if she is to survive. But when all that’s certain is that everyone is hiding something, it’s no simple thing to choose 


review

This book has two of my favorite things combined together – magic and pirates! Who doesn’t like that?

Anna is on her way to find an important gem that was stolen from the emperor, before falling into the clutches of pirates, who also happen to be looking for the gem. She is forced to join hands with the pirate captain Andreas. She doesn’t trust him but she has no other option. What follows is a journey filled with magic and mayhem.

It took me some time to get into the story. Because we’re dropped into this strange world without any warning. The world building throughout the book left me wanting for more. I wanted to know more about the world, its history, the system, culture, everything. But the author doesn’t really go into the details.

We get introduced to a lot of characters at first and so much is happening right off the bat that I felt like a fish out of the water for the first quarter of the story. I wish the author took some time to absorb us into the world. I had to take a break from the reading because I found it all too much. But thankfully, after a point, I could find myself getting into engrossed.

I love Anna. She’s a fierce and brave protagonist. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. I also liked the secondary characters. Andreas is another interesting character. He’s got this quiet, unpredictable vibe that I enjoyed. But he remains a mysterious character even in the end. Having said that, I’d have liked a little more backstory to more of the characters.

Another qualm I have with this story is the romance. It had this almost slow-burn quality, but didn’t get enough breathing space amidst all the action and adventure, to build upon. And that’s just such a waste.

This was the first book in a series. So we can’t be too disappointed with all our unanswered questions. But at the moment, I’m feeling slightly indifferent about the next book.


ratings

★★★☆☆

Publication Date: 3rd September, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher -Kensington Books (via Netgalley)

Links –  AmazonGoodreads Book Depository

ARC REVIEW : WE MET IN DECEMBER

Following a year in the life of a twenty-something British woman who falls hard for her London flat mate, this clever, fun, and unforgettable romantic comedy is the perfect feel-good holiday read.

Two people. One house. A year that changes everything. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling, but grand, Notting Hill house-share with four virtual strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor, at a Christmas dinner hosted by her landlord. They don’t kiss, but as far as Jess is concerned the connection is clear. She starts planning how they will knock down the wall between them to spend more time together.

But when Jess returns from a two-week Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else—beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his.


review

Okay. Look at that title and the synopsis. Can you blame me for having subconsciously compared it with my absolute favorite “One Day in December“? I’m unreasonably angry with this book as if it’s intentionally mislead me to compare the two.

Not that there are no similarities between the books. Both take place over a period of time. The characters are forced not to act on their feelings. There’s an involvement with a mutual friend. But that’s where the similarities end.

There’s no angst. No unresolved tension. No heartache. No sparks. No chemistry. Whatsoever.

Jess falls for Alex right off the bat. She can’t stop self-gushing over his handsome looks. And before we know it, she’s telling us about how she can’t stop herself from falling in love with him the more time they spend together. But that’s the thing. She’s telling us this. We don’t see these things happening. And there was nothing remotely convincing about her words.

On the other hand, the first time we get into Alex’s head, which is quite far in the book, he can only talk about his ‘friends with benefit’ thing with another housemate Emma, and his worry over how to navigate it, as he has no interest in starting a relationship  after a disastrous break-up with his ex Alice. His feelings for Jess simply don’t get enough breathing space to convincingly develop.

This book is supposed to be a romance, but we get more time spent on secondary characters and their stories than the central romance. Nothing interesting happens. We get excruciatingly minute details on Jess’s new life in Notting Hill, but not on her feelings for Jess, except for one line here and there. There’s no proper buildup of the romance. Even the character development is lacking. The author barely scratches the surface when it comes to developing the romance.

I simply wanted more from the book that has been compared to Richard Curtis romances. Are you freaking serious? If you want me to go into this book thinking it will be similar to Love Actually, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones, you better deliver on the awkward heroes, the amazing chemistry, great one-liners. At least give me some semblance of a romance!

The only good thing about the book was that it’s a fast read.


ratings

★★☆☆☆

Publication Date: 5th September, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  AmazonGoodreads Book Depository

BOOK REVIEW : SPIN THE DAWN

 

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.



review

Normally, the word ‘Mulan’ is enough to tempt me to start a book. But then you add ‘Project Runway’ to it? Color me intrigued. Besides Mulan, I could also find elements from stories of ‘Aladdin’ to ‘Spirited Away’. There are other myths explored in this novel, mainly from Chinese origins. I particularly liked the re-imagination of the silk road.

The beginning was promising. I found myself invested in Maia and her family very fast. Her family slowly descends towards its ruins, after she loses her mother, and her brothers to the war. It’s the same war that forces the emperor to marry the enemy’s daughter as a truce. And to please his bride, he arranges a competition for her to choose her master tailor.

Maia’s father is also summoned to participate in the competition or send his son to represent him. But her father is a mere shadow of his former self from a series of emotional loss, and her brother unskilled in the family business. It had long before fallen upon Maia to take on the reins as the main tailor in the family business.

We move to the castle when Maia goes to the castle disguised as her brother, a capital crime. I enjoyed the competition with all the mysteries, the competitors, the politics, and the details of all the dressmaking. I was also torn between feeling sympathy and suspicion towards the princess who’s forced to wed her enemy and does everything in her capacity to delay the wedding. The best part of the book came at the end of the first part where the author totally subverted my expectations by doing the unexpected.

The pace slowed down a lot in the second part, with Maia going on an unimaginable journey in order to collect the materials to make an impossible wedding gown for the future empress. I found my attention wavering from here on. I also could not find myself invested in the romance between Maia and Edan. It’s probably because I just could not find Edan’s whole character arc to be unconvincing from the start. But my loyalty towards Maia remained constant throughout the book. I loved her courage, vulnerabilities and mostly the conviction of following her heart.

Although the pace picked up in the third and final part, and there were some very unpredictable twists, my interest could not be restored to what it was at the beginning.  I also have qualms about how someof the plot unfolded. Some resolutions felt unearned. I’d really like to vent about them but can’t because of the spoilers. But I’m hoping that the second book will give us better explanations to, though. And I’m certainly interested in reading the sequel because of how the book ended.

It’s interesting if you look at my breakdown of rating for the three parts of the book –
5- stars for the first part, 3-stars for the second part, and 4 stars for the third part. Heh.


ratings

★★★★☆

 

BOOK REVIEW : NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity–and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest–until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary…

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba’s tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll need the lessons of her grandmother’s past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.


review

Even after all the raving reviews about the book, I felt a little reluctant in starting it. Mostly because I’ve read more stories with present storyline with granddaugther and past storyline with grandmother, and they’ve disappointed.

Next Year in Havana definitely didn’t disappoint me. It however gave me bittersweet feelings. It left me feeling a little forlorn, to be honest.

I was invested in the story right from the beginning. The author takes very little time to set up the story both in the present and the past timeline. In 2017, Marisol is visiting Cuba for the first time in her life, only ever having heard stories about it from her grandmother Elisa. She’s there to spread the ashes of the grandmother who could not have her wish of returning to her homeland fulfilled. But once in Cuba, she finds that there was more to the grandmother who raised her as a daughter, than she knew.

In 1958, Marisol is experiencing her first love with revolution engulfing her country. A sugar heiress, she could pretend until recently that there weren’t big changes happening outside the walls of her high society life. But then her brother decided to become a revolutionary, and she herself fell drawn to a man who himself is a revolutionary.

I am not a fan of the ‘love at first sight’ trope. But I am a sucker for ‘the sparks at first sight’ as long as it’s not all elementary physical lust that many contemporary romances have reduced it to. I like my romances to have some slow burn and longing. Both the love stories in this one had them in spades. While Marisol thinks Luis is off-limits, Elisa’s feelings for Pablo have barely any future. Her father is a sympathizer of the ruling president, Pablo is a friend and a supporter of Castro, the revolutionary.

I was more invested in the past timeline with Elisa. I also liked her romance with Pablo. Both of them are as opposites as can be. And yet, these two managed to make it work. It had tragedy written all over it, and I guess that made me even more invested in them. The author managed to keep me curious and wondering about their fate. Which isn’t an easy thing to do. The mystery only made the story even more enjoyable. I also enjoyed Marisol and Luis’s parts but by the end I felt that there was more to tell as far as these two are concerned.

The author does really well to paint a beautiful and nostalgic portrait of Cuba then and now. I have very few ideas about Cuba’s history so I can’t judge about the accuracy, though. But this book certainly made me more curious to find more on this fascinating piece of history.

The last third of the book was not satisfactory to read, to be honest. The twists, and the reveals only left me feeling frustrated over the “what ifs”. It makes me even sadder that things like these could’ve easily been a reality for many Cubans back then.

I am not ready to read the sequel yet. I need to read a cute story before I can go back to this world. I would also like a sequel on Luis and Marisol. Even a novella would be welcome.


ratings★★★★☆

ARC REVIEW : VALENCIA AND VALENTINE

TAG : 20 QUESTIONS BOOK TAG

Tag Time! Brianna tagged me to do this a while ago. I’ve been meaning to do this but just couldn’t find the time! I miss doing tags and really enjoyed doing this one. The questions were really creative!

Untitled


1. How many books are too many in a series?

I’ve read series with 10 books and wanted more. I’ve also read duets which I felt would’ve been better off as a single book. If there’s a story to tell, I am fine with as many books needed to wrap it up nicely.

As long as I don’t feel that the writer is just churning out new books in a series just for commercial reasons, and doesn’t take ages between each book *cough* GRRM *cough*, I don’t mind.

2. How do you feel about cliffhanger endings?

I think if a book can wrap up its own solitary arc, and a cliffhanger is there just to give a glimpse of what’s waiting for us in the next book, I’m fine with it. But if it leaves you with none of your initial questions for the book answered, then it’s a big no.

3. Hardback or paperback?

Both! I have a weakness for hardbacks. But paperbacks are easy to carry when I’m traveling. And I always feel  like something’s missing if I don’t carry a book with me when I’m holidaying!

4. Favorite book?

How do you even answer that? But if I had to really choose one, I’d just choose the Harry Potter series because they’re what started it all for me!

5.  Least Favorite book?

Veronica Roth’s Allegient, maybe?

6. Love triangles : yes or no?

No. Unless they’re written really compellingly. And that rarely happens.

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

Well, I did lose my interest through one-third of Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez. Although I plan to get back to it, I’m still a little disappointed because I was looking forward to it and wasn’t as taken by it as I thought I’d be.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

Valencia and Valentine.

9. Last book you recommended?

All the pretty monsters.

10. Oldest book you’ve read?

The only book I can think of is The Quran.

11. Newest book you’ve read?

Fix Her Up.

12. Favorite author?

There are many. But I’ve been craving Jane Austen recently. So I’ll say her name!

13. Buying books or borrowing?

I prefer buying. Borrowing can be stressful. And yet the easy option.

14. A book that you disliked that everyone seems to love?

Any book by John Green or Colleen Hoover.

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?

The blasphemy! Bookmarks. Although I’m pretty good at remembering the page I’m in and don’t need either of these.

16. A book that you always reread?

Harry Potter. But I have a knack for rereading any book that I like.

17. Can you read while listening to music?

Yep.

18. One POV or multiple POVs?

One POV. Because if I happen to dislike the character with another POV, I tend to not pay as much attention to the story when they’re narrating. And sometimes, I like to be kept guessing about the intentions of the other characters. It keeps things interesting.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

One sitting. In fact, I rarely start a new book if I don’t have the time at hand to finish it soon.

20. Who do you tag?

Sara, Alyssa, Mogsy, and anyone who’s interested to do it!


 

SERIES REVIEW : VERONICA SPEEDWELL #(1-4)

A Victorian mystery series about “a natural historian with a specialty in lepidoptery which makes her a butterfly hunter and world traveler who is always up for adventure.”

review

Veronica Speedwell is a free-spirited lepidopterist (one who studies or collects butterflies) who always gets thrust into adventures with Stoker, a taxidermist ( one who preserves animal’s bodies).

First things first, I had to google a lot of words while reading this series. Well at least, my vocabulary has become more enriched because of this series!

————–

The Strong Points

Premise

The books have all a Shelock Holmes vibe to them, with each book based on a different crime. There is a lot of initial mystery regarding Veronica and Stoker’s past life. Although much of it has been resolved, a few questions are yet to be answered. Veronica and Stoker are natural historians, but they might as well be detectives with how they easily get embroiled into solving criminal cases.

Protagonist

Veronica is an extraordinary heroine. She is quite advanced for her era, and abhors all things domestic, marriage and children. She’s intent on traveling the world and finding more adventures. a headstrong, straightforward intelligent and adventurous girl, quite advanced for the era. She is not afraid to admit about having had sex with men. She reminds me a lot of Brennan from Bones.

Hero

Stoker is reserved, broody, smart, impulsive and a slightly damaged. He has a scarred face from an encounter in the wild with a jaguar. The mental scars from his family and ex-wife, though, are the most damaging. He’s my kind of hero. His evolution from the recluse resigned to his fate, to the gentleman slowly finding his feet back in the society, over the series, was a delight to read!

The couple

We start off with Veronica and Stoker being reluctant companions, then see them develop into work partners, then to close friends and ultimately to something more. I loved both of them together. While they are quite similar in terms of their profession, intelligence, love for adventure and of course family secrets, they’re also very different. Veronica loves provoking and teasing Stoker who is an easy victim.

Stoker starts off as a disgruntled man, expecting Veronica to be disgusted by him. But she, being the mischievous and frank girl she is, has no qualms in expressing her attraction towards him. It’s him who blushes at her initiating talks of sexual encounters! Their teasing and bantering eventually turns into a defense mechanism whenever things too get intense between them. It was their relationship more than anything else that had me turning the pages.

Secrets

Both Veronica and Stoker have deep secrets. We learn about Veronica’s birth secrets and family ties quite early in the series, but Stoker’s is a more complex story with many layers. He’s been burned in love. While Veronica has never been in love, she and Stoke share a kindred spirit. Each of them grew up thinking that it was them versus the world. It was amazing to see them slowly open up to each other about their scars and bond even more over it.

————–

One thing that bothered me in the first book was the nonchalance of both Veronica and Stoker in taking lives of animals. But as the series went on, I was pleased to see a change in temperament for both of them. I went into this series for the mystery, but stayed because of the characters.

This series is supposed to have 5 books, with the final book being scheduled for next year. I’m already excited with the clues we have gotten about the next book. Hope it ends with a bang!

Below are my mini-reviews of the books with their ratings!

ratings

A Curious Beginning: ★★★★☆
I wasn’t very drawn towards the mystery in the first book and rather was more interested in Stoker and Veronica’s equation. The start was alright but it was the introduction of Stoker’s mysterious personality that won me over. There were circus hijinks and attempts at abduction. I liked the ending too.

A Perilous Undertaking: ★★★★★
I liked the second book the best in terms of a being satisfied with both the case and the progression of the overall. I think it’s my favorite because I liked the case and it was the strongest in terms of characters introduced in relation to the crime.

A Treacherous Curse: ★★★★☆
We finally got a case which gave us the answers to all our questions about Stoker’s past. This book would’ve been my favorite if not for the ending. I wasn’t satisfied with the explanations and resolution in the end.

A Dangerous Collaboration: ★★★★☆
This one had the weakest case in my opinion. But the progression of the relationship between Stoker and Veronica was the most satisfactory. We finally see a reversal with Stoker being the one playing games and provoking Veronica instead of the usual opposite.

BOOK REVIEW : IF I’M BEING HONEST

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.


review

This could also be titled “Self-taming of a self-proclaimed shrew”.

Cameron Bright is a mean girl. She thinks her friend Andrew is the one for her. But when he sees her being unnecessarily harsh to a classmate of theirs, he calls her a ‘bitch’. Cameron can’t bear Andrew having such a low opinion of her and wants to get into his good books again.

A discussion on ‘Taming of the Shrew’ in her English class makes her decide to tame herself à la Katherine. First step is apologizing to people she’s wronged. However, at first, it’s all because she wants to get Andrew back. Eventually, though her intentions become genuine. She even finds good friends and a potential love interest along the way.

What I liked most about the story was that Katherine is very self-aware. She knows what she is and does not pretend to be something else. She also knows why she is the way she is. She’s got a deadbeat mother and a rich absent father who are unmarried. Although her father lives in another city and is busy looking after his empire, and too busy to say two words of kindness to his daughter, Katherine wants his approval.

It’s him who fixes the mess that her mom makes and will always send the money for their living. Katherine admits to herself that it’s her father’s honest and harsh way of dealing with her that makes her the way she is. Katherine also, although harsh, never shies away from the truth. She also is hell bent on getting her father’s approval, even if it means studying Maths to get into the top business school, rather than the subject appeals to her – pursuing graphic design and arts.

Despite understanding where the character was coming from, I was frustrated and did not agree with many of the things she did. I also had mixed feelings about some of the secondary characters. I just could not connect with them. Having said that, all the characters were really well-fleshed out. The romance started off with great potential but I was not happy with the direction it took in the end.

What won me over in the end, though, was the organic character growth of Katherine. Her self-reflections and transition were a pleasure to witness, despite my frustrations with certain decisions she took. Also, I really liked the honest discussions and discourse on the topic of The Taming of The Shrew by the characters. These intelligent and intuitive insights turned it into an engaging read, even if not a perfect YA by any stretch.


ratings

★★★★☆

BOOK REVIEW : DANCING ON COALS

After escaping robbers intent on murder, Katherine Grant says, “I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Before long I’ll be dancing on the coals.” The highwaymen were the frying pan; the handsome young Apache who saved her from them was the fire; and the coals? Gaetan.

Rage against the enemies of his people has consumed Gaetan from boyhood. The only use he ever found for any white was to test the sharpness of his knife. Forced by his brother to endure Katherine’s company, Gaetan tries to deny what he sees—the white woman has a man’s temper and a lion’s courage. She has an Apache heart.

In spite of hate, distrust and fear, surviving in the rugged country of southern Arizona and northern Mexico forges a strange bond between Katherine and Gaetan. When the bond turns to love, can they admit it? Can they bear the consequences?


review

I came across this title when I was looking for a romance with a slow-burn. This book came out at 2011 and I had no idea it existed. But this book provided just what I needed.

It’s set in the Wild west in the year 1888. The hero Gaetan is Native American and Katherine is a ‘White’.

They meet when Katherine is traveling alone in a stagecoach to New York, amidst all men. They get robbed and her companions murdered. Katherine, who’s spent all her childhood traveling the world and going on adventures with 5 brothers and father who owns a ship business, successfully defends herself. But not long after, a group of Apaches including Gaetan and his younger brother find her.

Initially traveling with the group, Katherine is well aware that the Apaches are the leser of the two evils, and uses that to her advantage by being acquiescent with them. Soon after, situations force Katherine and Gaetan to survive alone together. For Katherine, Gaetan is the only one she can depend on for survival; And for Gaetan, he has a promise to his brother to keep.

Katherine is a hard headed and strong heroine. But she knows when to bow down and take it. Gaetan is a hero unlike any. He hates ‘Whites’ who had killed his parents when he was just a kid and forced him to go to their school. This is a guy who refuses to speak English despite knowing the language. His life’s mission is to kill as many White as he can. But Katherine poses to be a problem he never foresaw, thanks to his brother.

I absolutely loved the romance. It was slow and took its time to build. I loved Katherine, and felt for her. First she is forced to travel with a man who hates her kind and won’t even spare any words for her. Then she is forced to live amidst people who distrust her. But it was Gaetan who owned this book. Here’s a character who speaks very little, but you learn to empathize with him. He is honorable but also cynical and distrusting.

The slow blooming attraction between them was amazing to witness. The enemy-to-lover twist is done so well that it’s believable and solid. I loved seeing the growth in their individual characters and their relation with each other. But what I loved most was Gaetan’s transition. He does not become a softie or change his mindset just overnight. And I loved how he didn’t have to start waxing poetry or romantic dialogue for Katherine or the readers to know what he felt. It was a very subtle and finely done.

I don’t know enough about the context of the history of suffering of the Native Americans to judge the accuracy of the story. I know that the ending was definitely on the imaginative side. But I also felt that the author portrays the Apaches with respect and invokes empathy for their plight. The book did make me reflect more on how unjust and unfair history has been to the Native Americans. So that’s another plus point for the story!


ratings

★★★★★