Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: FLAME AND FORTUNE
Sorcha knew the mission was dangerous. Leaving the safe grounds of her brother’s kingdom and parlaying with the elves across their border . . . well, treachery seemed at least as likely as true peace. But to support her sister, Sorcha would brave far more than the underhanded ways of the elves. Or so she thought, before she was taken hostage.
Of course, her captors didn’t count on her particular abilities—or on the help of the Woodsman, the mysterious thief who made his home in the forest. He saw the battle from the trees, saw the soldier attacking against incredible odds to save a comrade—and then saw the valiant fighter revealed as Princess Sorcha of Norveshka. He can’t tell if he wants to kidnap her or kiss her. But despite Sorcha’s stubbornness, his inconvenient honor, and a rebellion on the cusp of full war, something burns between them that neither can let go . . . (Amazon)
Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
Rating: 1.5 stars
Kerrelyn Sparks' books have come across my different book-related feeds for years. I've had a few of them in my TBR list for just as long. Seeing How to Love Your Elf's ARC available seemed like the perfect chance to get to know her writing and read—what seemed, and I hoped would be—a fun and exciting story.
I was sorely disappointed.
I'm going to first mention the two points that made me somewhat enjoy the novel: the Woodsman had sex appeal (at least beginning to mid-way through the story), and there were a scattering of amusing moments sprinkled about, which is always a bonus.
And then I had to deal with the rest.
Sorcha is our lead. She has red hair, which is very obviously made to state that she has a fiery and independent, headstrong personality. This is pushed on us again and again by how often she tries to fight the Woodsman's will. I was never able to pinpoint what her actual personality is. She was dull often, she spent 90% of the novel pining and obsessing over the Woodsman's looks, and she would attempt to show sparks of life then go back to moving with the flow of the narrative.
And then the Woodsman... We begin the story with a seemingly strong character, decisive in nature, bold will...that goes out the window the moment that he lays eyes on Sorcha. He is so amazed by this incredible soldier-woman he sees while she attempts to escape from the enemy that he, a Wood Elf with an affinity with trees, almost falls right off of the one that he is sitting upon when he sees her. And as soon as he has the convenient chance to get his hands on her (because of course, as tends to happen in these books, some feisty physical response from her to deny his help makes him have to somehow touch her), he goes on to describe her as...
“...Green eyes. As green as the newly unfurled leaves of an oak tree in spring. Sorcha. His hand flinched, still gripping her thigh. She was different. With her face turned up to look at him, the moon shone off her luminous skin, and a million stars sparkled in her eyes.
She was incredible. Unique. Her beauty paired with her brave fighting spirit made a combination that took his breath away. How long could he hold her in his arms?”
They just met. She is unique, her fighting spirit is already fully obvious to him, she is different from apparently any other woman that he has known before...and they just met. Alright.
The pace of the novel itself is quick enough, the events themselves don't really play out other than to state facts a they occur. In “big” moments, like a murder scene, or a battle, we spend a page and a half maybe stating who stabs who, who hits who over the head, who fires an arrow at who, who dies, and then we move on. And I never quite understood the lay of the land. I am aware that there are a handful of kingdoms, but (and this is nitpick-y of me, yet it nagged at me every time that it came up) the distance within the land of Woodwyn, for example, is never clear. It takes these characters a day or two—sometimes less—to travel from one place to the next, on horseback, as if everything is within arm's reach. It just sparked of unrealistic.
And one of the most irritating things about this book was Sorcha's way of speaking o others by referring to them as “ye” and then would switch back to “you” without rhyme or reason. I did not understand it. It trips you up mid-dialogue again and again.
Most of this novel revolves around the two leads thinking of how much they like each other, how big their attraction is, and what they want to do with that attraction from the second that they meet. And it's just forced without the buildup of a good intimate chemistry that sparks. We barely spend any time dealing with the fact of who the Woodsman is and his history, the end of the story happens so fast and things are put to rest so very easily when drama should have actually been spent in those times.
It was, overall, sadly lackluster.