Passion Play by Beth Bernobich
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Reading the ARC's jacket copy (and the publishers info on Amazon) is misleading: there's very little in the book that explains why Therez fears Galt beyond a creepy feeling during one evening. Since this is the reason she decides to leave home, one would think that her reasons for fearing him would be given greater prominence.
After running away and renaming herself Ilse, she finds her escape route is, well, perhaps an even worse choice. The scenes after Alarik Brandt's discovery of her worth started to read like one of the bodice rippers I'd read years ago, but the scenes were not graphic enough (actually, none of the sex scenes graphic enough to equal anything in a book like Love's Tender Fury, nor were they clean enough for me to consider this for high school students). There was a lot of suggestion, however.
I found those scenes distracting from the rest of the book - the political intrigues, the sense of magic as a real thing (and like the sex, it's not explored in enough detail to qualify as a real fantasy book), the growing relationship between Raul and Ilse, Nadine's role in the household and Ilse's life. It was almost as though the author was taking bits of different genres and mushing them around to create something somewhat less than the sum of its parts. Yes, this is the first in a series, so perhaps things will get better in books to come. I'm not hopeful.
ARC provided by publisher.
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