Thursday, May 18, 2017

Finding Anna series by Sherri Hayes

Note: The series reviewed contains themes only appropriate for those over the age of 18. Some of the content may be triggering. Also, take heed that there may be some mild SPOILERS ahead.

Finding Anna isn’t what I expected it to be, but in a good way.

Although it is categorised as erotic romance, this 4-book series is really a story about a victim of human trafficking and sexual slavery taking back her life with both the help of other people and her own iron will.

Like the story, Stephan is not a typical protagonist of the genre, either. I liked that he isn’t the tortured hero with a dark past type, but is a genuinely good person and does not just his best to help Anna, but what actually is best for Anna. Which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t mess up, because he does.  

However, for a change from a lot of male protagonists in the genre, Stephan doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge his faults, apologise for his mistakes and try to fix them. For the most part, though, he is a level-headed man, with the patience and self-restraint of a saint, and would be almost too good to be true, if not for having a few actual flaws.

Even though Anna is very dependent on Stephan (as she would be on any other given person, considering that she literally cannot function on her own after her captivity), Stephan doesn’t take advantage of that. On the contrary, he encourages her to spread her wings and return into the world – but at the pace that is comfortable and safe for her. And even when, out of concern for her, he disagrees with her decisions, he still supports her and helps her carry them out in any way he can, even if it means having to step aside.

Additionally, I loved that Stephan isn’t Anna’s only source of support and doesn’t limit her to his social circle; Anna also reunites with a childhood friend, who also brings other people into her life, and I loved how both men put their mutual dislike and distrust of each other aside for her sake.

For erotic romance, Anna and Stephan’s relationship is pretty tame and doesn’t go further than light kink and develops slowly, progressing to intimacy only towards the end of the second book. Which is good and necessary, as it is contrasted against Anna’s horrendous past experiences.

Hence, Finding Anna is an emotionally demanding series, both for the references and flashbacks to the abuse Anna has been through (and which can be hard to stomach, so be warned) and the ways it affects her in the present.

That said, it is also very satisfying to see Anna recovering from her trauma, regaining her sense of self, and reclaiming her sexuality. And although that is bound to be a life-long process, Anna’s abusers don’t win. She does. And gets to live (mostly, I assume) happily ever after. 

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant (Captive Prince short stories #3) by C. S. Pacat

SUMMARY (from Goodreads): The Adventures of Charls follows the dealings of a humble cloth merchant in the days before the royal Ascension. Set after the events of Kings Rising and The Summer Palace.


I am only taking away a star because of that abrupt ending. I need Charls's reaction when he figures it out, damn it! And, well, Damen’s or Laurent’s POV would be immensely more welcome. Although, I can well imagine our beloved kings had fun trolling Charls behind his back the entire time.

I pretty much loved everything, from all the undercover shenanigans to Laurent totally being ‘chaotic good’ and the mention of the cuff (I assume Laurent is still wearing his, too) to all the glimpses into Damen and Laurent from Charls’s POV.

Seeing the events and characters through Charls’s eyes was definitely entertaining as he is very perceptive in some ways (and I loved his loyalty and concern for both Laurent and Damen, I mean, Lamen), but his wit fails him in certain aspects and leaves him terribly (but adorably) oblivious.

All in all, The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant made me laugh and smile and still does even days after reading it, and was a great addition to the Captive Prince universe.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

This was a refresher reread for me due to the TV show Black Sails, which was created as sort-of a prequel for Treasure Island and you should totally watch it if you haven’t already.

I first read Treasure Island in 5th or 6th grade (I remember taking it from the 5/6th grade literature section in our school library, so it must have been around then). That was about a quarter of a century ago, and I only recalled a handful of names (namely, Flint, Silver, and, curiously, Ben Gunn) from it. Hence, now that the show ended, it seemed a good time for a reread.

Of course, Treasure Island is a YA (before there was YA, I guess) adventure story, while the show itself is much more serious, complex, and, of course, intended for adult audience. It is also more than superior to the novel (I know, blasphemy!) and I choose to actively ignore some elements of the book in favour of the show.

That said, I actually found Treasure Island fairly interesting this time around – and I suppose also the first time, because it is the kind of read that would have appealed to me at that age. I can see why I didn’t remember it well, though.

The story is a fast-paced adventure, which tells more than shows and is scarce with details and, thus, isn’t very memorable. The main character being a boy (and also kind-of the author’s self-insert, I think) might have contributed to it being easily forgettable, as well.

Nevertheless, I didn’t hate the book and I found certain elements entertaining in the light of Black Sails. Therefore, the reread was overall worth my time.