SPOILER ALERT!

Mysterious Mysteries Are Not-So Mysterious

A Hidden Fire - Elizabeth   Hunter

I just realized this is my first UF read after Georgina Kincaid.

 

Uh-oh.

 

And my first vampire book in a while.

 

Dubs uh-oh.

 

I'm not really actively avoiding these particular "creatures" in my PNRs and the reason I've put off reading this was it had the lethal combo of having a generic title (I seriously can't even remember it while writing this) and being offered as a kindle freebie from amazon. This is a book that is so easy to overlook if not for the strength of recommendations from tasty tasteful friends.

 

This started rather well for me and there were stretches that did grip me then stretches that were just puzzling, the kind that doesn't really amuse me. I liked how this offered something new in this tired mythology for me as their abilities are tied to a particular element. The lead characters were likable: the smart, spunky librarian, Beatrice was a good complement to the mysterious, standoffish Giovanni. Especially once you get to know the professor and his quirky little 'family' of a butler, a priest and a kitteh(!) a little better.

 

Gratuitous cuddly cat gif belongs here.

 

Cuddly Cat

 

The dialogue was funny and the story didn't rely purely on the hero and heroine's chemistry to move the story along. If anything, the main characters' banter with the secondaries had better depth to be both entertaining (Carwyn and anyone) and heart-wrenching (Gio and Caspar's).

 

My problem lay in the consistency of these characters, particularly Gio and Beatrice. I'm all for breaking streotypes but I can't seem to reconcile the details in Gio's character. There's something that didn't mesh well with the fusion of mild-mannered emo book dealer, alpha territorial male and quirky cat-loving wrestling fan. They were interesting separately but some of the pieces didn't make complete sense to me as a reader.

 

“What about the sun?” she asked. “Extra toasty?”

“I’m not going to burst into flames, but I avoid tanning beds.”

“Silver?” “Some of my favorite cufflinks.”

“Garlic?”

“Please,” he sneered. “I’m Italian."

 

(There's a Jersey Shore joke in there somewhere... anyone?)

 

Gio was charming, quirky and dorky. I liked him but couldn't fully commit to getting enamored by him.

 

Beatrice was a strong, level-headed heroine and I couldn't really find any fault in her until she was taken and imprisoned in Greece by Lorenzo for 6 weeks where she seemed to have done nothing but mope. I thought she'd be smart enough to figure out Gio's intent atleast since all she got from it was a haircut, color touch-up and a couple of new clothes in her wardrobe but nope, she had to be rescued and reassured in the end just like every other PNR heroine, making the first 75%, strong and independent Beatrice moot.

 

As the seeming pivotal point in their relationship, I failed to reconcile the gravity of that situation and Gio's reaction (which could be easily explained with fanged alpha logic, I guess) to the point that it was almost comical. Not looking for the rape trope here but can't we at least give her one scratch instead of giving her a personalized wax job?

 

My other issue was the mystery. Perhaps I'm just that kind of reader who likes to participate in the mystery solving with crumbs of clues to figure things out than just being kept in the dark until the last two chapters. Which I guess should be a clever way of making me want to re-read those damn letters but only annoyed me when it was eventually revealed. Taking away my sympathy for that particular character.

 

Speaking of sympathy and the lack thereof, I kept trying to invest some, any emotional connection with B's daddy issues... but I really couldn't bring myself to care. If this storyline gets revisited as the series progresses, I hope this would be given a bit more background especially if it would play such a big part in the overall plot.

 

Yet despite all these gripes (where would I be without my gripes?) and those letter-induced migraines, I can't say I'm not looking forward to seeing what this series has up its sleeves for its thoroughly entertaining cast.

 

Apart from wresting, Beowulf and Tommy Bahama.