Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for an historical paranormal/ magical romance set in 1750s England. THE BLACK LOTUS by Claire Warner is an interesting read, featuring a headstrong debut, an immortal rake and some seriously messed up “familial relations”.
Catch an excerpt and review and be sure to enter the giveaway below.
It is 1752.
The year that will change the life of heiress Melissa De Vire. As she makes her first fumbling steps into society, she meets the handsome young cad Justin Lestrade and his world tears her perceptions apart. For Justin is more than he appears and his secrets and enemies are manifold. Drawn irresistibly to him, she finds herself sinking into a realm of feuds, magic and old curses and her life will never again be the same.
How about a little taste?
“Justin?” He turned as she spoke, “I think you should pursue Melissa De Vire.” He dropped what he had been holding and walked towards her. “What?” Utter shock permeated his tones and he stared down at her as though he could not believe what he had just heard. “You must be mad.”
“No, just practical.” Unconcerned by the anger on his face, Emily reached down and pulled the gold bracelet back onto her wrist. “You like her, that much is obvious and she seems to have some interest in you, despite her transparent denials.”
For a long moment, Justin said nothing, stunned by the words that were coming out of
Emily’s mouth. “Haven’t you just convinced me that this existence is so much hell, that you would lie with someone you don’t care for just to rid yourself of it? Why would you ask me to pursue someone I couldn’t be with? Do you hate me that much?”
Emily turned away and sat down in one of the chairs. “I don’t hate you Justin, but if you don’t take her and make her yours you will regret it.” She picked up her bonnet and began pulling at the flowers set into it. “Alistair already knows about her, give it a little time and she will be linked with us. I’d much rather you drag her along rather than leave her to be fodder for John.”
“So how does my brother know about Melissa?” Justin’s voice was dangerously quiet as
he stood opposite her. “Have you stirred the pot again?” He turned and slammed his fist into the wall. “I thought you were past these petty games. Real people are at stake.”
“Yes.” She stood and faced him. “Real people are at stake and if you do not act this time, John will merely take her from you in the same way he took Anna.” She grabbed his fist and brushed the drops of blood from the knuckles. “Do you not realise yet that there is nothing that you can do to hide her from him.”
“I’ve spoken to her once.” He hoped that she did not see through the lie, “And that has been all. God curse it Emily, she may only be intrigued, do not turn this into a grand love affair on the basis of one conversation.” He pulled his hand free and seized the back of her neck. “If you start this, you’d better be prepared to face the consequences.”
Emily laughed in his face. “Don’t threaten me darling, I won’t take it.” Her hand snaked around his wrist and she pressed hard on the joints, causing him to gasp in pain. “I will not spend the next few decades suffering from your ill temper. Don’t forget love, that I know you almost as well as you know yourself.”
Justin allowed his hand to drop from her skin and whispered. “Then why would push this? I am interested yes, but I know that I can’t have her. John need only know that I flirted with her, as I do with many women.”
“I push because John will know regardless. He has his spies and he will find out.”
This is a very very very long historical paranormal romance. I think I may have truly enjoyed the story if it had been 200 pages shorter.
Melissa is debuting in her London season when she meets the enigmatic rake Justin Lestrade, newly returned from the colonies to take up his family estate. He’s a bona fide rake with dubious connections. Melissa, who is very different from “polite society” must be sequestered after her disastrous debut, because the scandal of her yelling and slapping an attacker is too headstrong for the lads of London to accept in a suitable wife.
Going back to the country, Melissa learns that her estate is close to that of the ruined Lestrade homestead. The county is rife with gossip regarding both Melissa and Justin Lestrade for different reasons. They do find cause to meet up, both taken with each other and fearing a future. For different reasons. Headstrong does not begin to describe Melissa. Reckless, feckless and foolish would be better adjectives.
I’m usually a fan of a plucky historical heroine, but Melissa is really a woman out-of-time, here. It’s London 1760s or so, and she seems one step from burning her corset and demanding autonomy. She knowingly associates with persons that will undoubtedly make her unmarriagable, and this is okay because she doesn’t want a strange man/husband lording it over her all the time. Buck up, Mellie, all is completely lost due to your own frippery.
Justin and his family have dark secrets. These dark secrets have to do with Justin’s recognized intelligence well beyond his years, which are (supposedly) numbered at 19. Let’s just say that the curse of Lestrade is unique, but confers unwelcome and gruesome side effects. Is he involved with the mysterious disappearances and deaths of young maidens in the London area?
Well, the mystery of the dead women is pertinent to the story, but not directly Lestrade’s fault. Justin and Melissa sense a developing bond though they have little contact. There are players at work behind the scenes that are hostile in practice and malevolent in intent. It is a race to see if they will uncover the budding affection between these unsuited lovers, and how they will upset this burgeoning apple cart. The magic behind the mystery is complicated and rightfully deemed a curse.
I had wished the work was a bit less verbose and repetitive. It definitely hampered my enjoyment. Also, the book ends, but the story does not. It seems that the end comes at the climax, and there is a whole new adventure to unwind in a new book–with Melissa rising from the ashes of her family’s downfall. Really a depressing end, even if the love story is beginning to get underway.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author in Ms. Warner’s words
When I was a child, I made up games and characters when my sister and I played with dolls. As I grew older, I would make up scenarios and scenes, fully intending to write them down but never finding the time. In my late teens, I discovered the world of role playing and settled into an avid ‘geeky’ life of D&D, comics, sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Years passed and I finally gave voice to the stories in my head. I write romance, fantasy, action and adventure. I love tales of steampunk and history, tales of magical powers and dark curses lurking in the shadows. Though The Black Lotus is not my first attempt at a novel, it is the first I have finished.
And some fun facts about me:
My favourite Disney film is Atlantis.
I’ve been a film extra and stood 5 feet away from Sam Rockwell.
Babylon 5 is my fave sci-fi show.
I cried at the end of Toy Story 3.