Format: Kindle, 2012
You may remember that I gave Wanderlove by Belle Malory a 7/10 because I liked it but had some reservations about the plot. Well for some insane reason (I wasn’t even drunk!) I decided to buy the second book expecting something on the same level and HOLY CRAP. I am so very glad I made this decision because this book was seriously amazing. I absolutely positively loved it which is now not only making me rethink my ban on reading second books if I didn’t love book #1 but also causing major introspection, something I try to avoid at all times. The shallow end of the pool is fine with me, thank you very much.
Obviously our readers are brilliant (and beautiful, and fun, and people I’d want to drink with) so I’m sure you know this but there are going to be SPOILERs in this review regarding the first book. If you don’t care then forge ahead but I just wanted to let you know. Oh, and if you’ve been deterred by my review of the first book I really seen no major issues why you can’t skip it and enjoy the heck out of this book.
Plot: As you may remember if you read Wanderlove, at the end of the book Lola awoke with the memory that the oracle was not, as believed, a crystal but was actually a person. That person is Estelle (Essie), who since a young age has been able to give the answer to any question you ask, provided you’re physically touching her (and not just Jeopardy level stuff but also “how do I rob a bank without being caught”). If the knowledge of this falls into the wrong hands there could be seriously bad implications for the future of humanity. No biggie. This is where Lola, her fiancé Gabe, and his brother Rex step in. While they all have special powers thanks to their Romany heritage, Rex’s powers are particularly important since his super-special brain cannot be breached by any mind readers and can therefore guide Essie to safety without the enemy finding out. So the focus of the book is on keeping Essie safe as well as searching for a way to break the curse. Oh, and of course there’s a love story because every book needs a little romance! Squee!
Review: Unlike with the first book I have no ambiguous sentiments about this one – I adored it. Many of the issues I had with Wanderlove weren’t major problems here. Yes, like Lola, Essie is weeks from her 18th birthday but, unlike Gabe, Rex is only 21. So basically (in terms of my life) this would be like crushing on a senior while I was in my freshman year in college. Totally acceptable. Another aspect of this book that I loved was that Essie and Rex’s relationship built the way a relationship should: gradually. They bicker, begin to tolerate each other, become friends, there are hints of growing affection, etc. I LOVED their relationship at all stages. There’s a scene where they’re trapped in a motel and bored and begin drawing on each other to pass the time – holy sexual tension Batman! I don’t want to tell too much because I don’t want to spoil all the little bits but trust me: the chemistry between the two of them was off the charts.
OMG and at one point when Essie is thinking about how all she wants to do is be a normal college student she sees a brochure for American University. Shout out!! (Not really but I’ll take it.)
My one complaint about the book, and the only reason it won’t be getting a 10, is that I still don’t care about the past-life story line. By that I don’t mean the fact that they knew each other in past lives, but when the author takes time out of the Essie/Rex story I’m loving to write about people in the past I have no interest in. I guess it was interesting to see how the relationships in the past all fit in but I really would have preferred sticking to characters I already knew and loved.
Oh and I know this probably doesn’t add points for anyone but me but the group actually attended an Irish Traveler wedding!!!! I swear the outfits and conversations detailed (grabbing!) were straight out of an episode of “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” which was awesome because I love that show. (The American version: not so much. I think they’re a lot meaner.)
In the end I’m going to give this one a 9 out of 10.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 10. Holy crap but Essie was awesome. She handles everything that comes her way incredibly well. Let’s just say that if I was told I had to pack a bag and write my family a note saying I might never see them again it’d take me a whole lot longer than an hour to do and there might be a temper tantrum. (And I’m saying this would happen now, not at the age of 17.) She’s so tough but nice and accepting of Rex and all his faults. Oh, and of course there are troubles along the way between Essie and Rex (I don’t think this is a spoiler since all books have issues between the romantical couple) but when Rex realizes he’s been an ass Essie doesn’t immediately forgive him because she possesses enough self-worth to ensure that he truly realizes how awesome she is. You have to admire that sort of restraint!
How much did I like the love interest: 10. Rex definitely pushes all my hottie buttons. He’s gorgeous, rough around the edges, might be in love with someone who died several hundred years ago (#pastlifeproblems), sweet, a talented artist, pays attention to those he cares about, has old-fashioned manners, awesome in a fight. Sigh. I really loved Rex. In fact I loved Rex and Essie so much that I actually started slowing down my reading as the book progressed so that it wouldn’t have to end. I could gladly have read hours more of the two of them just sitting in hotel rooms drawing on each other (squee!). The only thing I was confused about was: in the past lives why was Rex the King when he has two older brothers??
How believable is the plot: 5. For the same reasons listed in my first review.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. I saw a few issues but I’m really taking a point off because the past-life tale just came at such an odd point in the story and really jarred me out of the action.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. It didn’t matter if it was action scenes or just Rex and Essie chatting while staring at the stars, I was fully drawn in. Oh and did I mention the Irish Traveler wedding??? I think I re-read those pages about 5 times.
Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 2. One because I don’t believe in alcohol-free weddings (be them in real life or on the page) and the second because of the past-life digression.
Final Score: 9/10. And I’m going to admit something which 36 hours ago I would have bet you $1,000 I never would say: if there’s a third book in the series I’ll even read that. I’m thinking Gabe and Rex’s brother Baro who was mentioned in the first book or the dude with the evil uncle from this one.