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Friday, October 8, 2010

'Embrace' The Violet Eden Chapters #1 by Jessica SHIRVINGTON

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:


Violet Eden is dreading her seventeenth birthday dinner. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. The one bright spot is that Lincoln will be there. Sexy, mature and aloof, he is Violet’s idea of perfection. But why does he seem so reluctant to be anything more than a friend?

After he gives her the world’s most incredible kiss – and then abandons her on her front doorstep – Violet is determined to get some answers. But nothing could have prepared her for Lincoln’s explanation: he is Grigori – part angel and part human – and Violet is his eternal partner.

Without warning, Violet’s world is turned upside down. She never believed in God, let alone angels. But there’s no denying the strange changes in her body ... and her feelings for Lincoln. Suddenly, she can’t stand to be around him. Luckily, Phoenix, an exiled angel, has come into her life. He’s intense and enigmatic, but at least he never lied to her.

As Violet gets caught up in an ancient battle between dark and light, she must choose her path. The wrong choice could cost not only her life, but her eternity...

‘Embrace’ is the first book in a new paranormal romance series called ‘The Violet Eden Chapters’ by debut author Jessica Shirvington.

Violet Eden is celebrating her 17th birthday, much to her chagrin. For most people birthdays are all about celebration with friends, family and loved ones. But for Violet, it’s just an ugly reminder of her mother’s death. But this birthday is different because her father has a present for her - from her mother. A hand-crafted wooden box with a note inside, warning about trials to come and sides to be chosen. . .

Violent thinks little of the cryptic words, until a chance encounter with a handsome stranger sets things in motion. Phoenix is tall, dark and dangerous, and Violet’s best friend (and unattainable crush) Lincoln is wary of the new-comer. In fact, Lincoln has been acting strange ever since Violet’s birthday. . . because Lincoln has a secret. . . A secret that will change the course of Violet’s life, forever.

I will say I’m not a *HUGE* fan of the angel storyline. Books like Becca Fitzpatrick’s ‘Hush, Hush’ and JR Ward’s ‘Covet’ left a bad taste in my mouth. But because of Sarwat Chadda’s ‘Devil’s Kiss’ I am willing to give this new paranormal craze a chance.

Jessica Shirvington’s book is stand-out for the detail to mythology and religion. Shirvington has really delved deep into the angel legend and built a cryptic and charming world around these messengers of God. Everything is covered from Cherubim to Seraphim and thoughtfully explained via old biblical stories of Adam, Eve and Lilith. Fascinating. I especially loved the angel storyline in this book because Violet is in the thick of it. She is an angel-in-the-making and at the centre of a Holy war. Most YA paranormal romance’s cast female leads as regular humans and damsels in distress, proffering their male romantic counterparts as the more interesting supernatural characters. That’s not the case in ‘embrace’.
“Get away from me,” I said.
He laughed a high-pitched cackle. It caught me by surprise; it was not the deep laugh I’d expect him to have. “You have clout, girl, I’ll give you that. But you’re unfinished. Look at me.” His last words resonated through my mind. My eyes flicked up towards him without my permission. “You are still moulding,” he said ruminatively. “Your clay is still wet.”
Secondly, I loved the romance in ‘embrace’. An author will always have me hooked if they offer up a good old-fashioned love triangle. . . even more so if one member of said triangle is a bad-boy. That is the case with ‘embrace’ as Violet is caught between two very different angels. Lincoln is a Grigori, a ‘watcher’ like her. Violet has known Lincoln for two years and had a crush on him from the moment of meeting – but ‘Linc’ was always determined to keep things platonic. Violet soon discovers why Linc never reciprocated her feelings when he reveals his true, angelic-self. Lincoln is a Grigori, a ‘watcher’ of humanity, and he’s been sent to Violet to help guide her on the path to Angeldom;
“That doesn’t explain how you know about me!”
He looked back at Griffin as if seeking support. Griffin did not move from the shelter of the doorframe. Lincoln turned back to me, arms wide. “I know because an angel told me. I know because we all have a destined partner, someone who is already a Grigori. . . or will become one. I know because. . . you’re my partner, Violet.”
Thus the love of Violet’s life has been lying to her for two years – pretending to be human and keeping Violet’s legacy a secret from her.

Then there’s tall, dark and handsome Phoenix – an exiled angel and enemy to the Grigori. Phoenix is drawn to Violet and her untapped angelic potential. The two form an unlikely friendship, but Violet soon discovers that Phoenix is hoping for so much more that she’s not entirely ready to give.

Between Lincoln and Phoenix, Violet definitely had her hands full. . .
I will say that I was never really rooting for Lincoln. Shirvington makes a lot of the fact that he and Violet have been friends for two years – but that was more of a hindrance than a help for their chemistry. It felt like a lot of their romantic ‘spark’ was based around that two-year friendship, but when ‘embrace’ starts Violet is learning about the angel secret and angry with Lincoln for keeping it from her. We never really get many scenes between them, and have to rely on Violet *telling* us that she’s loved Lincoln for two years rather than reading their tenderness for ourselves. Then there’s the fact that Lincoln was the squeaky-clean cookie-cutter choice. Now Phoenix – he was the yummy bad-boy option and infinitely more interesting.

I loooooved Phoenix (possibly because I kept picturing him as Ian Somerhalder). He was the more fascinating love-interest because Shirvington keeps reader’s guessing about him throughout the book.

Phoenix constantly walks a fine-line with Violet; between obsessive and sweet, creepy and affectionate. Maybe that sounds odd, but it worked for him. Phoenix is very up-front about not being human; he revels in his angelic powers and exiled nature. It’s almost like Phoenix is caught off-guard by his feelings for Violet, so he’s constantly swinging between extremes and trying to stay on guard with his violent emotions.
Then there’s the fact that he was just plain cheeky-fun, and had real spark with our girl Violet;
“You’ll come back, and you’ll be Grigori.” He spoke with such certainty it made me smile. “I doubt very greatly, however, that you’ll kick my ass. But me and my ass will enjoy your efforts.”
I did have a few problems with the book; some big, but mostly small.

For starters - the setting. The book seemed to take place in Nowheresville – I couldn’t even confidently tell you if it was set in Australia, UK or USA. I leant more towards an Australian setting, but only because Jessica Shirvington is based in Sydney. . . but there’s no real attention to landscape and the book felt a little bit loose and anonymous because of the lacking scenery.

Secondly the inciting incident takes a while to happen. For the first-half of the book the story is all about Violet discovering her Angelic roots and having to decide whether to accept or refuse her destiny. Interesting in itself, but not a particularly substantial plot. . . more of a character arc. It’s not until half-way through the book that a real plot-trigger is pulled and it’s revealed that a holy war is being waged between the Grigori and exiled angels. But it is not until page 203 of this 382-page book that the kick-off starts. It’s just lucky that I was caught up in the Angel hierarchy and mythology enough to keep reading up to that trigger-point.

On a very minor note the front-cover kind of threw me. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong, and the model on the cover is exactly how I’d picture Violet to look. But the cover screams ‘Jodi Picoult’ rather than ‘paranormal romance’ to me. If you hold the book away from you, you will notice that the purple shading behind Violet looks a little like sprouting wings - but if I was to see this on the shelf I wouldn’t instantly assume it was a paranormal-anything. Like I said, a small observation and nothing at all to do with the author. . .

‘embrace’ is the first book in what promises to be a compelling new YA paranormal series. A novel of light and dark, good and evil and one girl caught between two male personifications of that age-old battle. I look forward to second book ‘Enticed’, to be released in the second-half of 2011.

3/5

7 comments:

  1. oooh - i love this review. i'm a sucker for a well drawn love triangle too.

    i agree - i was surprised when i realised that this was a paranormal - you are so right about the cover going with a jodi picoult vibe LOL.

    i havent read much angel stuff - i assume its fairly cliched and melodramatic (sorry to all the paranormal fans out there) but this looks okay. i was actually interested with it being Australian, so it's a shame it doesn't give off that vibe. i bet the angels that kick back down under would be the hottest around the world... ;)

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  2. Nomes - thanks!
    The angel storyline... ahhh. It is cliched - all light vs. dark, good vs. evil. But 'Embrace' actually does some interesting things and harks back to the Old Testament mythology and hierarchy. It's actually really interesting and bad-ass.

    I am only assuming it was set in Australia, but no detail is given about a possible location (or if there was I totally blinked and missed it). It's a shame because the Australian fantasy/paranormal writing scene is pretty much non-existent so when one of our own gets a book out you'd kind of hope they take advantage of the original setting (like Kirsty Eagar's 'Saltwater Vampires')

    'Embrace' was great though. A very cool angel story and YA to boot!

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  3. How do you find the time to be so detailed in your reviews, even drawing upon quotes??

    Anyway, I'm still pretty interested in this one. I do like it when a setting is clearly established, and it sucks that it wasn't done so well in EMBRACE. Hmm...I haven't read any angel stories just yet.

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  4. YAY another Phoenix lover. He was amazing, wasn't he? *SIGH*

    I also got the 'nowheresville' vibe, too! I ended up picturing Australia because it's where Jessica's from, but also because she used 'mum' and a few other things that were familiar to me here in Australia. I just don't know WHERE in Australia! LOL!

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  5. Wow, what a beautifully detailed review! Gosh, I hope that one day, I'll be somewhere near as good as you are at reviewing. :)

    I linked to you in my review of Embrace...right here. Is that okay?

    Tina

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  6. I have this book on my wishlist for so long now but it's sold out at BookDepository and I can't find it anywhere.. amazon, Play.com... nowhere! :(

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  7. Couldn't put this book down. A unique story. Mystery, suspense, good vs evil, and a love triangle. I highly recommend this book.

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