I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Third Son by Elise Marion
Series: Kings of Cardenas #1
Narrator: P.J. Houry
Published by Marion Press on 11-14-13
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 360 pages
Length: 12 hrs 52 mins
Amazon | Audio | Goodreads
Rake. Rogue. Scoundrel. Each of these words has been used to describe Damien Largess, youngest prince of Cardenas, most frequently by his ridiculously somber eldest brother. Damien is perfectly content to spend his days drinking at the card tables, and his nights in the bed of his scheming mistress, especially since doing these things seems to vex his high-handed brother to no end. But when he steps into a glittering ballroom on the night of his twenty-fifth birthday, the roguish young prince's life will be forever changed.
Beautiful. Graceful. Sensual. When Esmeralda steps into the center of the King's ballroom to perform for his youngest son's birthday, every eye in the room is glued to the tall, lithe Gypsy dancer. One pair of eyes seems to burn straight through her, and though she has worked endlessly to shield her heart, she finds her defenses slowly slipping away in the presence of the handsome prince. She cannot resist his devastating charm, nor is she immune to the earth shattering desire in his kiss. As she falls rapidly under his spell, Esmeralda dares to hope for a future she would never have thought possible.
With a deadly plot against the royal family surrounding him in danger and intrigue, Damien will face a decision he never thought he would have to make. Would he step up to claim a responsibility that should never have fallen to the third son? Or will he abandon it to risk all for love?
I’ve been having a bit of difficulty deciding how to write this review. Generally, when I write a book review I start with all of the books best qualities and then discuss what I saw as the problems. However, to understand my stance on this particular book I’m going to have to do the opposite.
The first and most glaring problem was that the author gives away the villains identity so easily in the very beginning of the story. Had there been no prologue I believe the story would have had more suspense. However, due to the existence of the prologue, it was extremely apparent who the bad guy was when the story begins and even more obvious was the direction this story would take. I understand that most romance novels have similar plots to one another, but I felt like the author was worried about how much the audience could or could not understand. I, personally, need a book that leaves my brain in a shambles whilst I’m trying to discover how the couple will stay together or whodunit.
The second problem I had with this book was the organization and pace of the story. Damien and Esmeralda fall in love in only a few pages and the things that should separate them appear to have no effect on them or their loved ones, save the queen and the heir apparent. I was very surprised by how nonchalantly everyone at court took the appearance of a common gypsy on the arm of the prince. In real life this would never have occurred, no matter how stubborn the two lovers were. There has to be some semblance to reality or I cannot immerse myself in the story. As the book progressed I kept thinking about whether a place like Cardenas existed or whether the actions of the characters might have truly occurred. When I should have been concerned about the characters and where the story was headed. The issue with organization is seen when the villain is unmasked three quarters of the way through the book. I was confused as to why so much of Damien and Esmeralda’s story continues well past where the book should have ended.
Now, despite my laundry-list of issues, there is one quality in it that will have me reading the next installment of the series. I believe the characters have great potential. Some people look for an expansive plot or a great setting and while those things are important; I yearn for spectacular characters. For me, Esmeralda shows the best example; she does not let the way others view of her change who she is, at heart. The queen and Damien’s oldest brother say terrible things about her, but she shrugs most of it off and does not dwell on their slander. So many female leads that are setup to be inferior to their male counterparts are so insecure. Esmeralda’s constancy of character is a refreshing change to this genre. It might seem strange, but if I can find a glimmer of hope in a book it will keep me reading.
I should also mention the narration as this is an audiobook. I have to say I was not all that impressed with this particular narrator. It wasn’t that he was bad, necessarily, just that it felt awkward and forced. Almost as if he wasn’t all that interested in the story so it made it hard for me to be interested.