Boreal and John Grey by Chrystalla Thoma. Fast, fun, fey and…I just run out of adjectives starting the the letter f. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would not use the word “feisty” when talking about book characters unless I’m talking about a cute-angry kittens (see right). But it was kinda that too.
Written in five “episodes” of about 50-pages each, this little series (“season”) is fun and fast. Ella works for the Paranormal Bureau taking down evil monsters when they cross into her world through the veil between worlds. But for the first time in centuries, they are coming across in droves, and they’re getting harder and harder to kill. When Ella’s work partner goes missing, she finds that she has to rely on a stranger-without-a-past named Finn to survive.
I’m no fan of TV terminology in my reading (Associations: episodes, seasons, why is Grimm so terrible? ZIVA WHY DID YOU LEAVE US), but the elves and the stoic male lead with his tragic past more than makes up for any mental sidetracking into all the shows I am currently watching except I’m not because I don’t have the time, but –
Right, the book! Heartthrob male lead Finn’s combo of stoic stubbornness and skittish vulnerability should have been ludicrous, but it pulled on all of the heartstrings of the part of me that thrives on angst in novels. That, and the Ella-Finn relationship dynamic is ridiculously entertaining. It pulled me in and kept me reading.
Now, while this mini-series is urban fantasy (cue the endless and somewhat exhausting litany of monster attacks and knife-waving-around) it also sits very firmly in the Romance genre. This means you get a bunch of all those things that would make you sad in romance, if not for the cute and the sexytimes. Example, the story skips from “complete strangers” to “oh yeah, I’ve known this guy for a while” vibe with nothing in between to account for it except convenience.
In fact, I got the impression that all the events of the story happened in the course of a couple weeks, with the whole falling-in-love of episode 1-3 happening in about as many days. This bothered me right up until a sex scene (a respectable halfway through the story) distracted me away from the timeline I was grumpily jotting down on a napkin. Like most relationships in Romancelandia, you just need to roll with it. Once you get that trick down, it’s all a race downhill to the finish.
Which really brings me to the biggest takeaway of the Boreal and John Grey series: if you’re the kind of paranormal romance reader who can just switch off your brain and enjoy the story and fun dialogue, you will dig this stoic, tragic male lead and his monster-stabbing, witty romantic interest. If you’re like me and keep a running tally of monster attacks and calendar days since The Characters First Met, mileage may vary.
(If you’re reading this and flashing back to my last review of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, yeah, it’s like that here too.)
PS. You can jump in at episode 1 or episode 2 without much trouble, but don’t try episode 3 or higher as standalones. It’ll confuse.
Book copy for review courtesy of the author.