ARC Review: Cruel Enchantment

Posted September 2, 2010 by Jen in 4 stars, Paranormal Romance, Rating A, Reviews Tags: ,

Cruel Enchantment
Author: Anya Bast 
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
ISBN: #978-0-425-23637-6
Genre: Paranormal Romance – Fae
I received a copy of this book from the Author for an honest review.
From the author’s website:

Even the most powerful hands need a delicate touch…

Emmaline Gallagher is a master of wielding personal glamour. As a free fae who lives among humans, she must hide her true self at all times as she works undercover within the powerful Phaendir—for if certain factions within the Phaendir gain control, the fae will be wiped from existence. Now, an object of fae power lies within a locked ancient box. And there is only one fae who can forge the key.

Known as “the Blacksmith” Aeric O’Malley can create or destroy almost anything with his forging skills. Emmaline has come to him in need, but he and Emmaline have a past—and he has spent centuries wanting to take revenge on her for her transgressions. But now that he has her within his grasp, something about her keeps him from exacting his vengeance—or is it merely her glamour blinding him?

Trapped by fate, Emmaline must hope that she can reach Aeric’s furious heart before it’s too late…
What I’m talking about:
Welcome to an alternate Earth where humans have learned all about the magical fae races. Back several centuries ago, humans, with the help of the magical Phaendir, imprisoned the fae, forcing them within a land known as Piefferburg City.  Emily is a pious, fae-hating human that works for the Phaendir, and she is about to enter Piefferburg for the “greater human good.” BUT in reality, Emily is Emmaline, a free fae living outside the prison walls of Piefferburg. She is working undercover as a human for the HFF to free all fae-kind. 
The two primary characters in the story, Emmaline and Aeric, share a past and have not seen each other since the night that Emmaline, working as the Queen’s assassin, killed Aeric’s fiancee over 300 years ago.  Their emotional baggage is the basis for a highly volatile and passionate affair. They start this book as enemies – with Aeric driven for brutal revenge against Emmaline. However, this isn’t the typical “I hate you-so I’ll fall in love with you” romance storyline, for Emmaline has been in love with Aeric all of these years. It is through Emmaline’s desire that Ms. Bast marvelously exposes the depths of a desperate woman, one who is amazingly strong, but brought to the her knees by lust and need. Emmaline is desperate for any affection from Aeric, and she allows herself to be used, which leads to conflicted emotions of shame and hope. Meanwhile, Aeric is mad with confusion over his hatred of and attraction to Emmaline. At times I wanted to weep with both characters as they peeled back the facades and learned so much about themselves and each other.
Reading this book is like shedding off layers of an onion – each reveal gets one closer to the heart of the story.  What really happened that night when Aileen was murdered? Will Aeric ever trust Emmaline? As Aeric begins to accept that maybe Emmaline isn’t the monster he believes (and that maybe his beloved Aileen wasn’t as wonderful as he remembers), truths are uncovered and it makes for an emotionally gripping tale.
Outside of our primary love story, there is the overall story arc that is just as thrilling — the fae are working to collect pieces to a “magical puzzle” that will allow them to break down the barriers that confine them.  There are story lines from both the HFF, including Emmaline’s life outside of the fae prison, and the inner-workings of the Phaendir, with the political maneuvering of evil Brother Gideon.  I couldn’t put the book down at times because the action was intense and the story lines suspenseful.
Although this is the second book from the Dark Magick series (and third story if you include the novella included in the anthology Hot for the Holidays), this book can be read as a stand alone. Ms. Bast does a wonderful job “bringing the reader up to speed” with the mythology of her fantastic world. (However, I loved the first two stories and definitely recommend you read them!) 
Overall, this book is a satisfying read on many levels, to include emotional complexities, exciting action, and passionate love. The emotional growth of Emmaline and Aeric – moving beyond their shared history, Emmaline learning to stand up to the ghosts of her past as the Queen’s assissin — captivated me, while the action kept me turning pages well into the night.
My Rating:
Really enjoyed – strongly recommend

And be sure to check back here on Sunday Sept. 5, 2010 for a Sneak Peek of Cruel Enchantment.


5 responses to “ARC Review: Cruel Enchantment

  1. This was a great review buddy! You worded it perfectly and pointed out some great things about the book and the series. 😀

  2. I haven’t read Anya Bast yet…but I can tell from your review she is the kind of author I would like 🙂 Will have to check out book one..thanks!