Saturday, October 22, 2022

Nancy Campbell Allen - Kiss of the Spindle

Doctor Isla Cooper is cursed. Literally. Each night, at the stroke of midnight she falls into a death-like sleep from which she cannot be awakened for six hours. To make it worse, the curse has an expiration date—after a year, it becomes permanent. And the year is almost up.
In a desperate attempt to find Malette—the witch who cursed her—Isla blackmails her way onto Daniel Pickett's private airship bound for the Caribbean, only to discover she's traveling with three illegal shapeshifters and the despicable Nigel Crowe, a government official determined to hunt down and exterminate every shapeshifter in England. Isla and Daniel must work together to keep the identities of the shapeshifters hidden while coming to terms with their own hidden secrets, and their blossoming attraction to each other.
Filled with suspense, intrigue, and plenty of romance, Kiss of the Spindle is steampunk Sleeping Beauty story. It is a race against the clock as Isla and Daniel try to hunt down the elusive Malette before Isla's death-like sleep becomes permanent.

Comment: Last year I've read and liked the first book in this Steampunk Proper Romance series, which is a loose adaptation of some fairy tales. That first book focused on Beauty and the Beast and now we have Sleeping Beauty.

When this story begins, heroine Isla Cooper, an empath doctor specialized in helping the shifters with their emotions, is about to blackmail Daniel Pickett, of the Pickett company, to let her travel to the Caribbean for research. In fact, Isla wants to go because she knows that's where the witch Malette is at and months ago Isla was the victim of a curse and now she wants a cure. However, on the same trip Daniel is taking three men, all shifters, because of a certain law regarding the presence and forced registry of shifter in England so he wants everything to be as discreet as possible. No one counted with the presence of Nigel Crowe as well, an officer of the crown, always trying to catch shifters and prosecute them. The journey will be a tricky one for all involved, but Isla knows she needs to be calm for her curse forces her to sleep between midnight and the sunrise... will she arrive at the island on time for a cure?

This second story is very loosely connected with the first - the only thing I can remember is the fact the hero of this book is the brother of the heroine in the first one - but I'd say the structure is well done and one does not need to have read the other book in order for this to make sense. I guess I could also say it's more enriching to do so anyway, but to be honest I don't remember that much from the first book...

This story begins with some notion of haste, because everyone embarking on the journey seems to need to arrive as quickly as possible. Since they couldn't for more than one reason leave earlier, this journey is important and I think the author did a good job trying to impart that quickness. In a way, this did set the mood for the early chapters, it felt as if things had to be in motion and the presence of the agent of the crown made everything feel even more complicated, as if at any moment something could go wrong.

All characters had reason to travel but three of them are shifters leaving England because of the law. I thought the biggest worry, apart from the heroine's quest, would be how long or how stressful things would be before the agent of the crown proved the three men were shifters, so there is some tension at first and that, for me, was well done, I was stressed just thinking about the possibilities. However, things got to a point - when the heroine shared her plight - and then the focus seemed to change as well...

As soon as the heroine tells the others what happened, they immediately tell her they will do their best to help and even Nigel, the antagonist, seems to become softer...Isla also works her "magic" on him and invites him to do things with the others, creating a sort of bridge. I thought this would be cute and quite a change, you know, beating a mean-spirited person with kindness, but actually the author had other plans and the connection between Isla and this Nigel is much closer than what the premise seemed to indicate. I don't mind the path taken, but there was a clear change in tone and in plot from this moment on and at times I felt the story wasn't truly delivering on what I assumed it would be the key idea. Nevertheless, most of the hinted plot related situations are solved in a satisfactory way.

As for the romance... this being a proper romance, the only thing we see besides love declarations is kissing, but I think the author gave us enough scenes and interactions to make the falling in love idea feel organic and believable. Isla and Daniel seem to be a stable couple or, at least, a couple who will be able to convincingly have a steady relationship in the future. I don't have much to comment on their personalities, they are good people but not stubborn in their ways to think they are better than others or that we, the readers, should look at them as the only important characters here. Their characterization was done well enough, I think.

I was entertained while reading, I can think of the details I'd change, the ones I liked, it's true some scenes towards the end were a little less interesting to me, but as a whole, this was a good story. I think it's a fact I will read the other two stories too, next year.
Grade: 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment