I have to say this surprised me. The story lagged in the beginning but once it picked it up I enjoyed it. Wasn't as great as I was hoping it would be. It had the classic beauty-and-the-beast theme but with a darker edge. I really enjoyed the hero in this Roderick Cherbon, who is far from perfect. Yes he was brooding, mean, short-tempered but I understood him. I didn't know what to make of the heroine at first, Michaela who came off naive, immature and a bit self-serving in the beginning then dramatically turned into a out-spoken opinionated adult within a few chapters. It threw me for a loop because she was presented more like an innocent young incredibly naive girl in the beginning chapter and then changed all of a sudden to this mature, demanding take-no-prisoners woman in the next few chapters. The change was so abrupt that I didn't buy it. It was unrealistic for me. I didn't get where the dramatic shift in personality came from.
The last 5-6 chapters is what sucked me and kind of saved the book for me. I wasn't really sold on the H/HR pairing, I just didn't buy them as a couple in love it seemed to focus more on Michaela taking care of the household, being a mother-figure to Leo etc. I do wish the romantic aspect was pushed more in this and went deeper because I thought it came off very one-dimensional. Speaking of relationships, I loved the relationship and history between the hero and his best friend Hugh Gilbert and I have to say I was surprised, shocked yet intrigued with where the author took it. I'm usually good at picking up where certain characters are going or what's going to happen but this was one of those 'woah!' moments for me. It's not that I didn't see it I saw a few hints here and there, it was more of the surprise that she took it there. I love her for doing it though and applaud her for it cause it pulled at my heart and made me kind of root for the best friend at times. Haha! A first for me! Cause those kind of stories/piarings to be honest aren't my thing. But I must say that scene by the water's edge blew me away.
Just read the scene where Hugh desperately tries to save Roderick with every ounce of his being and then tell me where you would stand. That scene really got to me and stood out from the entire book. So intense, gut-wrenching and emotional. Me loved it! :P
To be honest, that scene destroyed any notion of a H/HR pairing in this. For me at least. Through most of the story I struggled with imagining Michaela being 'it' for Roderick. Many times I felt the chemistry was lacking plus the author spent little time showing them connect or spend quality time together. While I understood the angst and separation it still felt incredibly disjointed and odd. There was only one love scene and while sweet and poignant I felt it was overall lacking. But seeing Hugh struggle and yearn for something he couldn't have broke my heart. I got more passion and deap-yearning longing from him then I did from Michaela. Which kind of sucks. And watching Hugh almost sacrifice himself and beat the life into Roderick had me wishing Michaela was the one to walk away. Which isn't a good sign. To me, I felt the author got it backward here and why I struggled with this book a little. I felt what Hugh and Roderick shared and Hugh felt for him was so much more powerful and believable. I kept rooting for him and found myself wishing he didn't leave. So it just made the H/HR pairing in this look sub par and unsatisfactory. And just underwhelming.
And a side note, if there is an award out there for most adorable young character ever written in a book it should go to little Leo Cherbon. What a little cutie pie. I wanted to pull him out of the book and put him in my pocket and carry him around. His babble talk and infectious innocence and charm was so sweet and fun to read about. I loved the close bond he had with Hugh ('Hoo' as he's affectionately referred to) Roderick and Michaela as well. There was a little magic/fantasy in this which to be honest I could have done without but it was fun to read about nonetheless.