Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Assassin's Honor HBIC Review from Emily @ What Book is That?

Title: Assassin's Honor
Author: Monica Burns
Page Count: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Copy for review provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
Read the first three chapters here

50 words or less: Archaologist Emma Zale is reeling from the murder of her parents and her mentor when Ares DeLuca appears on the scene and sweeps her into a world of assassins, honor, love. betrayal, action and drama.

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is to lay in bed and read an entire book cover to cover with no interruptions (ah, the joys of not having children.) This week's pick for the honor was Assassin's Honor and it was a fun, exciting, engrossing read- perfect for a lazy morning or a day at the beach.

Although this book marks the author's first foray into the world of paranormal romance, she jumps right in like a pro and sets up a complex, layered world that I as a reader could really sink my teeth into. There's a lot of world building and details about the Order of the Sicari, their roots in the time of the Roman Empire, their conflict with the Praetorians, the rules and codes of the Sicari community, and much more. A good part of the book is spent (as is the case in many initial novels in a series) setting up the rules of the setting for the story, but it's a unique setting and, being the sucker for world building that I am, I didn't mind that.

The hero and heroine are also unique. They have instant chemistry, sure, and their scenes together are spicy, of course, but what I really enjoyed was the depth of emotion that each one showed throughout the novel. Emma is a tough, independent woman, but when she gets upset it's because something or someone has made her feel that way and not because she needs to put on an act. Likewise, Ares is a typical alpha male, but he understands that not everyone finds those traits and behaviors appealing, and realizes that Emma has no reason to want to like, trust, or even talk to him, as he's certainly imposed tremendously on her. Oftentimes in PNR the feelings and thoughts of the characters take a distant back seat to the goings-on in the world at large, and I'm happy that each main character had a chance to really develop as an individual. I hope these two make appearances in future books.

Another interesting thing about this book- no immortals in sight! The fact that everyone in this story can die just like regular people helped to ramp up the drama during the fighting and battling, and illustrated the depth of feeling that Emma and Ares had for each other- "I don't want you to get hurt" takes on a whole different connotation when you mean that literally, instead of just figuratively because the other person can't be killed.

Maybe it's because the hero and heroine were so well-developed and felt so authentic to me, but the main thing I didn't care for about this book was the sort of two-dimensional secondary characters. Lysander and Phaedra are immediately set up as the hero and heroine of the next book (due out in September) but beyond that we don't really get to know anyone else. It felt like most of the ancillary characters were introduced because the specific scene where they appeared required it. Who is Cleo? Whatever happened with Ewan- is he a good guy or a bad guy? What about all the other Sicari that were so distrustful of Emma at first? The villians in this story felt pretty flat too. We didn't really find out for sure who was behind the murders of Emma's parents and her mentor until the end of the book, and once the mastermind was revealed, it didn't feel all that climactic- nothing was ever revealed about the guy!

I love how, even though I know a story is going to have a happily ever after, I can still be on the edge of my seat while the final plot elements are resolved. I found the happily ever after in this book to be especially satisfying considering the wringer of drama the characters had to go through to get there, and that sealed the deal for me wanting to read the next book in the series when it comes out.

Despite my reservations about the supporting cast, this was a fun read with lots of action and adventure, mystery, intrigue, and, of course, a really sweet romance.

Overall Grade: B+


Anonymous said...

Kick-butt review Em...and I love the Sunday thing......mmmm I look forward to my reading sundays..:)