I’m not going to rate this one – Book 1 in Bryn Donovan’s ‘Knights of Manus Sancti’ trilogy – because I don’t think that would be fair. Why? Even though ‘paranormal romance’ isn’t a genre that appeals to me, I thought I’d give it a go to broaden my reading horizons. And I can now say, without a doubt, I know it’s not a genre that appeals to me. The fact that I didn’t enjoy this isn’t anything to do with the story but down to my own personal tastes, and that is why I won’t rate it.
‘He was sent to kill her… Now, he’s desperate to protect her.
When Jonathan West, a battle-scarred warrior with supernatural gifts, is sent to Phoenix to execute a witch for practicing dark enchantments, it doesn’t take him long to discover his target is innocent – and the beauty of her soulscape and her untamed spirit make his blood sing. Cassie Rios, divorced and recently unemployed, has no idea why wild animals have started mauling and even killing anyone who sparks her fury. She realises she’s a danger to everyone around her, and Jonathan and his shadow organisation may be her only hope. As she learns to control the magic she never would have chosen, she and Jonathan surrender to the white-hot desire that flares between them. But the secret society of Manus Sancti has its own seductions, and she soon faces a choice that could lead to her destruction.’
Bryn Donovan has done a good job in creating the Manus Sancti organisation, weaving our known history into how the organisation came to exist; that did hold my interest along with the magic-inspired beings and their powers. I guess if the ‘romance’ side of the story wasn’t so prominent, I’d have enjoyed it more. But then it wouldn’t be classed ‘paranormal romance’, would it.
Now, I’m no prude – at least, I don’t think I am – but the sex scenes were a little too graphic for my taste; personally, I like for certain things to be left to my imagination. I also find it annoyingly distracting when, in moments of tension and/or danger, there’s some reference made to the ‘hotness’ or desirability of a character. Again, there seems to be a level of expectation for that in this genre.
See why I’d rather not rate it?
My other niggly complaint includes the use of non-English terms, with no explanation as to their meaning. One Spanish term – sonámbula – is used to describe Cassie regularly but she herself doesn’t ask what it means till we’re over halfway through the book. Basically, it means ‘sleepwalker’.
Also, there’s no explanation as to why the members of the organisation, which has a Latin name – Manus Sancti – greet one another with the Arabic ‘salaam’. Jonathan, who we’re told was brought up Catholic, says, ‘inshallah’. Little things like that I find weirdly annoying.
As characters, both Cassie and Jonathan are likable enough, with the requisite traumas and hang-ups expected of romance characters. Although she wasn’t a damsel in distress and reacted well in dangerous scenes, there were times I found Cassie annoying, especially when she seemed to come across whiny and petulant over her ancestor’s journal.
Another thing – this could be why the romance genre in general doesn’t appeal to me – a non-negotiable requirement of the genre is a ‘happily ever after’. For me, this makes whatever danger the two main characters face not feel dangerous because I know they’re going to make it. Which cancels out any tension/conflict. But, obviously, that’s just me. I get it that those who love the genre know that; what appeals to them is how the whole tension/conflict angle plays out so that the couple end up together.
If you enjoy the paranormal romance genre, I’d say give this a go. Donovan’s style is flowing and easy on the eye, and she juggles the various characters well.