The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny, Book 1)
Harlequin HQN (US: 26th August 2014; UK & AU: 1st September 2014)
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The cover summary is rather vague, so it’s hard to share anything about the plot in case it’s considered a spoiler. But I will tell you this:
BONDAGE LIZARD PARTY.
(It’s true – look it up.)
If you weren’t interested in the novel before, you may be now thanks to those three words. And The Beautiful Ashes‘s world-building is intriguing enough, which is why I read the entire book properly instead of “skimming” (only reading the dialogue).
However (and it’s a big “however”), the characterisation is seriously dodgy. Minus Zach, because he’s cool, but the two main characters are rather problematic. Adrian is the kind of “Alphahole” for which New Adult has been unfortunately stereotyped, so he’ll be familiar to readers. In one scene he grabs Ivy Jenkins by the throat, and threatens to choke her until she falls unconscious. Adrian is Ivy’s love interest, by the way. And no, that scene wasn’t air-play, or consensual.
As for Ivy…to her credit, many times throughout the story she acknowledges her own stupidity. But that doesn’t stop her from making stupid decisions repeatedly. And she’s shallow, freely admitting that her interactions with Adrian would be a lot less friendly/sexual if Adrian wasn’t so good looking. Ivy is really freaking annoying, so I’m not sure what Adrian sees in her, but Adrian is only subjected to Ivy’s speech – not her thoughts, which all seem to centre on Adrian, despite the fact that she only meets him because she’s looking for her missing sister, who is often far from her mind.
While the novel does get good VERY late on, The Beautiful Ashes is more of a hot mess than anything else.