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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Arc Review: Barbara Monajem - Sunrise In A Garden Of Love And Evil

Mass Market Paperback: 317 pages
Publisher: Love Spell; Original edition (March 30, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0505528258
ISBN-13: 978-0505528254
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Book one in Bayou Gavotte Series
Main Characters: Ophelia Beliveau & Gideon O’Toole
On sale at: Book Depository Store.com

Cover Summary:

Being irresistible sucks. Ophelia Beliveau learned that at puberty. When her friends grew breasts, she sprouted fangs as well. The effect on boys was even more dangerous.

Ophelia's peril has only increased. As a woman, there's been only one solution, but she can’t avoid men forever. Solitude satisfies no craving, and now her self-imposed exile must end. A vandal has destroyed her garden. A web of blackmail and murder is being woven across town, with Ophelia at its heart. And then there’s Gideon O’Toole, a detective sworn to uncover more secrets than she thirsts to bare…

Leontine's review: SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE AND EVIL is a rare read, only in this case it’s not said in the most positive sense of the word. I do not often come by my five star reads but neither do I encounter the two star reads very often. Unfortunately this novel was the latter for me, one of those rare reads that didn’t work for me on a multitude of levels. One book that took me eleven days straight to go through 316 pages and I ended up being a very frustrated reader. I think what lay at the foundation was my disconnection with the main characters.

Ophelia Beliveau is a gardener for a living and due to a rare gene she changed into a vampire when puberty hit her. Now she has a sensual allure for men, sports fangs and of course, needs to drink blood. At one hand she has this spunky attitude and cut-and-dry humor, that I of course didn’t get, yet on the other hand she can whine to friends and get blurry eyed because she had to deal with obsessed lovers in the past. The relevance for these pouty bouts are that she is falling for Gideon, and since he also reacts to her allure she’s scarred history will repeat itself. Gideon O’Toole is a cop at the Bayou Gavotte police, an average but good looking man with a nice demeanor whose everyday life gets ruffled up by on very sexy lady, Ophelia.

I felt that the attraction for quite a while was largely leaning on just the fact that Ophelia as a vamp has this allure. There just wasn’t all that much depth to be found in the growing connection between the main couple. In three days they went from their first meeting, to Gideon professing his love, asking Ophelia to move in and basically ask her to marry him. If I could’ve felt the love lightning strike, the absolute need pouring from their souls to be with one another, that scintillating desire to touch, kiss and do more with each other, I perhaps would’ve believed it. Instead I got this yes/no game where I felt Ophelia was picking a daisy telling herself: Have sex with Gideon, Not to have sex with Gideon, Have sex with Gideon…etc. With Gideon I had little quarrels with but he is a beta man and not the kind of hero I completely fall head over heels with.

Then the plot, it started with somebody harassing Ophelia with a dead cat and destroying her garden which leads to a blackmail scheme which was another thing I didn’t really get. People were blackmailed with pictures that were taken, and I’m talking about a mother who nurses her baby naked, a teenage girl experimenting naked in front of a camera, an art teacher who poses naked, well you get the picture, lots of nudity involved. It weren’t some deep, dark secrets that were threatened to be exposed, I personally didn’t see the threat in those pictures, okay I wouldn’t like to be exposed naked either but to give large sums of money for these pics, nah, not really. Half way the book the plot thickens with a murder and lots of pages went in to unravel the whodunit which left lots in the romance development to be desired.

I’m crunching my brain here to say something good, something positive but in the end the characters fell flat for me. The plot didn’t do its job save it had a nice even pace, the chemistry between Ophelia and Gideon didn’t work for me. As I read this book I felt very disconnected, I had to finish this story on sheer force of willpower and this is a huge sign for me this novel wasn’t working for me. I know in my mind it probably isn’t a bad book, perhaps the factor that I’m no fan of Charlaine Harris isn’t working in my favor here either. An author quote on the cover states; “In the spirit of Charlaine Harris’s DEAD UNTIL DARK.” It just didn’t work for me, it was too simple, to shallow in emotions, the humor I didn’t get, the secondary characters who were nice but only spirited Zelda perked my interested once in a while.

As all these low points for me started to add I got frustrated and making SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE AND EVIL a chore to read. I don’t think it is Barbara Monajem’s objective to make reading a chore with her book but nonetheless it still was for me. 

Sometimes the magic isn’t happening and I can only hope that other readers will find more enjoyment in SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE AND EVIL than I did.

Ophelia counted slowly to ten before opening the door. There Gideon stood, pheromones in jeans and a checkered shirt with rolled up sleeves. What was it about rolled up sleeves? Powerful forearms, strong, capable hands…Pull yourself together, girl!

2 stars


Natascha / Ashleagh said...

Oh hun, I'm so sorry that this read didn't do it for you. Making me wonder if I would get the humor ;-). It can't always be a great read though.

Marissa said...

Sorry to hear this read felt flat to you, the plot sounds a bit strange to me, but reading is such a personal thing...

Leontine said...

@Natascha - I think if you get the humor, you can relate to the characters then half the battle is won and you're really going to like this story. It just didn't add up for me with this one. It just sometimes happen :(

@Marissa - Reading is indeed a personal thing, that is why I think others might enjoy it more then I did!

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1 star: Too many flaws and not worthy of your time.

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