Magic Academy. Fantasy New Adult Romance. Jillian Keep
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I liked the sound of this, books around magic and spells can be so much fun so was happy to review it. I’ve mixed feelings though – parts of it, the magic academy, the spells and Firia’s difficulties getting accepted were really fun to read. Like a well written YA novel (this is classed as NA but this part is very much YA in feel) it flowed very neatly, from the start with Firia summoning the demon to her acceptance into the academy, and the life once there. This part was really believable (within the usual constraints of fantasy of course!) The parts I found I was uneasy about were the sexual ones, the demon Varuj, when he first appears is disturbingly demoniacally sexual, but that’s soon over. Then later in the book when Firia first has sex with him there’s lots of “she’s a tight little virgin, and he’s a huge demon” sort of prose, its clear he’s in demonic form, and frankly sounded as if he was going to split her in two! Not sexy, not erotic just eurghh… I’ve nothing against sex in books, in fact I read erotica very often, but so much of the sex here read as if it had been added to a good YA book for the purpose of titillation and reclassifying as NA. It wasn’t sexy, wasn’t erotic, and given that the non sex parts were so good, should have either been left out or written to the standard of the rest. That’s just my opinion of course, not everyone’s 🙂
There’s such a lot left unanswered, that the book feels really unfinished. I’m not a fan of cliffhanger endings but this doesn’t really do that, just leaves us with so many odd circumstances and unanswered questions. . I’m not clear whether this is a stand alone or there is more to follow – its certainly got potential for more to come, and it would be interesting to read more of Firia and Varuj at the academy and beyond, especially if the sex scenes were a bit more – well, sexy…. Edit: just read that there is a book two coming.
What bothered me?(apart form those awful sex scenes) Well, there’s the question of Varuj and the lady he seduces…I still don’t know why he did it, and what Firia will feel when she finds out. What’s all that telling her “you’re mine” and making her repeat it, when he’s always told Firia that she was his…fickle when he didn’t seem like a fickle person, and this didn’t seem to serve any purpose. If it was to make Firia jealous why not let her see them, but it’s all kept very close and secretive. Then there’s the question of where he was after he left the academy with Luca to rescue Firia’s dad ( I love Luca – he’s a real gem), he seems to have been in limbo for months? What was he doing? And why? I couldn’t blame Firia for thinking he’d abandoned her, and for getting together with Mae’lin, he’s a really sweet elf, but too kind and gentle in some ways for Firia, she needs someone with fire in his heart, someone with a take charge attitude, who will challenge her and Mae’lin is just too kind and gentle. And what were Bran and Ala’nase thinking at that final trial? Risking all sorts to get Firia out of the way – that just didn’t ring true. Despite what’s happened Alanase is supposed to be Firia’s best friend…and if the past events she’d had recently was still active, attacking Firia was the last thing she’s do. Poor Mae’lin got left in limbo too….it seems a very abrupt ending. Even with a book two coming I don’t like all these unanswered questions. It’s a bargain price though at just 77p for 332 pages.
Stars: three and a half. The non sex parts I’d rate at a five but those awful sex scenes brought it down for me 😦
ARC supplied via Netgalley
ARC provided by Netgalley.
I love romance, and this story is about a troubled romance between two young people, Rain is 19 and Knight 22. They both have shadowed pasts, Rain believing she was responsible for the death of her boyfriend in a water park accident, and Knight believes he wasn’t enough to make his girlfriend want to live. They meet when Rain takes a supervisors job at the pool Knight works at.
It begins with a hot sea scene where Knight is heavily attracted to Rain, doesn’t know who she is and kisses her senseless….she’s caught by surprise, and when he learns her name he’s the one surprised and they get off to a very bad start. Still, the attraction between them swivels back and forth, with Rain holding back because of a pledge to not love or have sex, her way to make amends for her boyfriends death. She’s obsessed about the safety of others, often putting herself in danger. Knight hasn’t wanted anything other than meaningless sex since his girlfriend died four years ago, but the pull of Rain to him can’t be denied. They struggle with feelings that they don’t want to give in to, meet sort of halfway in a strange relationship that Rain convinces herself will be OK and true to her pledge. However Knight then struggles with her safety, feeling he wasn’t enough for Camille he gets upset when Rain – he thinks – blatantly disregards his feelings about her safety.
There’s lots of tension, both sexual and other, like when he tries to stop Rain doing something for one reason, and she sees it as sexual discrimination and rebels…Its a relationship fraught with danger, tension, hot searing makeout sessions, and anger and breakups. I really felt for them both, a great couple with a special attraction, but until they could get on and put the past behind them where it belonged, they were going to stay on that unhappy see-saw of on/off relationship. There were some scenes such as the party one where Rains friend Amy either has too much alcohol, or a spiked drink, and can’t stop one of the other lifeguards from going too far. She’s saying no but he’s not listening, Rain tries to intervene and gets caught up in it by the other boy with them. It had started as just chatting and good company, but shows how quickly situations become dangerous, and how people we think can be trusted can’t always. Luckily Knight is around to put a stop, but its a situation that’s seen so many times with people thinking a girl saying No doesn’t really mean it 😦 Its sad but reality that things like this happen. In contrast there are times when the gang of guards get together and we see how in the main they are a great bunch, supportive of each other, understanding of problems and just being a great bunch of young adults.
Eventually Knight decides he wants to begin a proper relationship with Rain, accepting his past and hers, and that she will always need to concern herself with others safety. He’s convinced they can find a middle ground between them if they work at it, and that will allow them both to feel comfortable with each others feelings. He knows he loves her and believes she loves him, but he can’t work out how to persuade her that the pledge she made isn’t fair to herself. Help and advice comes from a most unexpected quarter 🙂 That was a really nice touch.
There’s some sensual, sexy make-out scenes but no graphic sex here, its a romance that concentrates more on characters and solutions to problems, makes us look at why people act as they do. Rain may have come off as Ice queen with her no sex rule, and Knight as shallow with him not going in for permanent relationships, just casual hookups but in reality they were both very different from that, and their attitudes and behaviours were shaped by past events. I enjoyed this book, I like novels that don’t just focus on actions and surface emotions, but go deeper. (ha! Pun on title and I didn’t even intend it )
Priced at £2.67 for 357KB/162 pages it’s on the upper range for the genre. I enjoyed it as a one off read, but it wasn’t one I’d re read so not one for keeping. I think maybe if we’d known more about them, their hopes for future, pasts other than the tragedies, their families etc I could have engaged with them more. At times I was incredibly frustrated with Rain, though I sort of understood where she was coming from I didn’t agree with it. She didn’t seem to have uncaring parents so you’d think she’s have been more in contact with them, and they’d help her see how unnecessary her pledge was. Knight – well, he seemed an Island for we didn’t get to meet any of his family, and few of his friends, and yet he’d been part of this group since school so it made me wonder why he didn’t have help from some of them.
Stars: Its a difficult one to rate, I enjoyed parts, but was annoyed at them both at times and never felt totally gripped by the book, so though its better than just a 3 star OK I can’t go to a four star, so its three and a half from me. Maybe readers within the age group of the character will get more appeal from this book.