Destiny: Absent Shadows Trilogy, Book 1 by S. M. Spencer

Destiny

Absent Shadows Trilogy, Book 1

by S. M. Spencer

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Vampires

Four Stars

Lili McIntyre just ended a difficult relationship and is now on a much-needed summer vacation to Melbourne, Australia for a few months. Her aunt Debs welcomes her Down Under and provides her with a chance to clear her head. On the plane, Lili meets Claire, and that new friendship introduces her to more than she dreamed of. Though Claire doesn’t know it, her new boyfriend, Tom, has an enormous secret. The oblivious Claire introduces Lili to Sam, Tom’s close friend. As a natural double-date, Sam and Lili find themselves thrown together and soon discover a growing attraction.

Soon, Lili discovers why Sam and Tom behave so strangely. They are vampires! Suddenly a world of the supernatural opens up to Lili and her heart will lead her to help Sam keep his secret identity and defend the city from conflicts begun in ages past.

Destiny is an enjoyable book with a fun take on the vampire genre, full of characters created with affection and care. Lili’s struggle to determine her future and the pressures from home struck a chord with me. She feels the urgency to decide her future and move forward, although the hugeness of the decision overwhelms her.

The American/Australian crossover made me wonder through the tale about the author’s origins, but I think I know. Some telling word choice clued me in. I loved hearing about life in Melbourne and all the interesting trips the characters took nearby. Though some of Melbourne’s history appears in the book, I would have like to learn more.

I appreciated the potential for the tale to discuss the subject of abuse. I think that young women, especially, need reinforcement that abuse is real, encouragement that they don’t have to endure it, and illustrations of what it really looks like. Plenty of speakers and nonfiction writers share about abuse, but tales of people enduring and overcoming it reach us in a different, sometimes more personal way.

Lili wonders through the tale why she isn’t scared that Sam is a vampire. I know why: it’s because none of the vampires in this book are the slightest bit scary. Romance and good looks trump blood-drinking. Any slip of the teeth is slight and polite to the extent that Claire never once discovers their identity. Even the scenes that should be thrilling and terrifying lose their teeth because of the detached and passive way the author describes them. My take is that the trouble lies in the author’s unwillingness to make the characters suffer. She loves them too much. Any problem is short and quickly resolved without the pain that blood-drinking romantic interests should pose.

Aside from the pressured calm of the tale, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the second book in the trilogy to find the answers to the problems that Lili hasn’t solved yet.

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March by Sunni Overend

March

by Sunni Overend

Genre: Contemporary, Women

Apple March has fallen short of her dreams. Instead of designing clothes, she manages a boutique. Her reasons for leaving the Emmeline Gray Academy of Design are shrouded in mystery. Her friends and family urge her to rekindle her passion for design, but the Academy’s influence reaches deep into the design world of Melbourne. Apple’s friend Charlie Beauchamp seems to have some important connections. She met him when he discovered her broken down on the side of the road, and he fixed her car by clunking her engine with his croquet mallet. He seems like magic. He draws the fatherless girl into the cream of Melbourne society with his friendly open nature and seemingly miraculous ability to fix the broken. Will Apple find romance with Charlie, or anyone else? Will she overcome the secret tragedy of Emmeline Gray Academy and design once again?

Sunni has crafted an engaging tale of fashion and romance in Melbourne and beyond. Apple is a lovable character, if a bit timid, with plenty of supportive friends to help her. Sunni makes us feel for her and want her to succeed even though we can’t be completely certain if she did the horrible thing that got her ejected from Emmeline Gray Academy or not. The sense of mystery about the event made it feel more important and scandalous when it was revealed in the end.

All the men surrounding Apple (and hitting on her) were handsome but not all good. The romantic situations thrilled and the betrayals stung me just as they did Apple. Sunni’s descriptions of places and fashion made me love them too.  Once or twice the action flagged enough for me to wonder how things would pick up and go, but overall I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next for Apple and all her friends. March was an ideal read for a summer afternoon. (Go Northern Hemisphere!) I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net

I received this book from the author for the purposes of unbiased review.

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Book extract: http://www.sunnioverend.com/files/extract.pdf

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17973433-march