Jen: I went into this book with kind of low expectations after some of my fellow blogger buddies told me they were disappointed. Despite that, or maybe thanks in part to that, I ended up pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it. True, I had some issues which I will detail in a moment. But overall, I found it engaging and entertaining and I will keep reading when the second book comes out.
Carrie: I tried very hard to not read any reviews before starting the book but general rumbles on social media told me reactions were very divided. Honestly, I kept an open mind and reminded myself that this would not be like any other of her books.
Jen: I will give this warning: don’t go into this book expecting anything like Cat & Bones. That’s a one way ticket to disappointment. I could still hear Jeaniene Frost’s voice in the writing but any similarity ends there. The world building is very different. Ivy could not be more unlike Cat. And Adrian is nothing like Bones. That’s not a bad thing, in my opinion. It just means there is a different story to tell.
Carrie: I totally agree. I’ll go a step further and say that I could barely recognize Frost’s authorial voice. The writing, overall, skews young. It’s categorized as New Adult, but save for some strong sexual overtones, it felt like YA.
Jen: The book hits the ground running as we meet Ivy in the midst of a hunt for her missing sister. Her adopted parents are dead and all she has to go on is a cryptic message from her sister to aid her in her search. She realizes she must be onto something when she is attacked by members of the small town where she is hunting. Which leads her to the sexy, enigmatic Adrian, who not only saves her life but opens her eyes to the truth about herself and the world she lives in. You see
Mac is a sidhe-seer Ivy can see past the glamours of demons in our world and she can see into their dimensions in places where the veil is thin. All this is thanks to an ancient blood-line she carries, but knew nothing about.
It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I saw the parallels to Darkfever (which for those of you who haven’t read it, that was the reference I made above) –but obviously they have a lot in common. The heroines are both college age young women, embarking on a dangerous journey out of loyalty to a lost sister. Both must struggle to make sense of the disturbing things they alone can see. And both must fight an attraction to a powerful man who knows more than he is willing to share. But this is not a carbon copy by any means.
Carrie: While reading, I thought of Darkfever (girl trying to rescuse sister only to discover evil hidden world) and also the Charley Davidson (girl as key between the ultimate fight between good/evil) series. Each of the books are different in tone and content, yet the similarities kept ringing in my head.
Jen: First of all, Ivy has struggled with these visions her entire life. She is not a ditz. She may not start off as a powerhouse demon fighter, but she is no blonde bimbo. In fact, she handles the revelations thrust upon her with an almost unbelievable stoicism. Adrian, meanwhile, is sexy, knowledgable and hides things. But he is no Barrons. Despite his skills, he is vulnerable. He fears his so-called fate and his ability to change it. And the mystery of what he is, is revealed over the course of the story.
Carrie: The difference was that Ivy accepted this new bizarre reality far too quickly. Her sister kidnapped, her parents dead and discovering that the hallucinations she’s had her whole life is actually her ability to see through demon glamour and she just rolls with it. Although Ivy began to grow on me as the book progressed, I found her initial behavior a little unbelievable.
Adrian was strong and sexy but a bit of an ass. He reminded me more of Reyes (from Davidson’s books) in that he was from an unfortunate lineage, was always hiding information or giving Ivy half-truths and was constantly yanking Ivy’s chain with his “go away, come closer” attitude. Adrian’s vulnerability gave the character some depth and sympathy.
Jen: I didn’t find it predictable, even if it was a little familiar. I was very interested in how it would all play out. But there were some things that kept me from loving it with my whole heart. Like all of the withholding of information, especially from Adrian. It got really old, really fast –and it continued throughout the book. Ivy has a vital mission and the idea that she should do it without all the facts is ridiculous, especially among powerful beings who should know better. That was big issue number one. Big issue number two was the big “betrayal” reveal at the end. That fell majorly flat for me and Ivy’s reaction felt overblown and contrived.
Carrie: Unfortunately, I found it disappointingly predictable. I was really hoping Frost would throw in a big twist, but it never happened. Ivy and Adrian were framed as a fated mate situation (sort of) but, that too, felt like it went from “I will betray you” to “I love you” with barely any conversation. The sexual tension was well written but, at times, felt out of place. Not only was the big “betrayal” totally flat, but so was the discovery of the magical item and the final rescue.
Jen: Despite those problems, I liked it. It’s missing some of the laughs I am used to from Frost. And it’s missing the sex. But I read it in one sitting –and I want to know what will happen next with this story.
Carrie: I think because elements of the book were so similar to other books, with better developed worlds, that everything just felt ho-hum for me. It wasn’t terrible but I expected more from the author and perhaps that’s my fault. I’ll probably wait until the next book comes out to see if I want to read.
Jen’s Rating: B/B-
Carrie’s Rating: C/C-
*ARC Provided by Harlequin
Click to purchase: Amazon
The Beautiful Ashes
by Jeaniene Frost
Release Date: August 26, 2014