Series: Beneath the Veil #4
Published by Zebra on January 1, 2009
FINAL DECISION: I ended up enjoying this book much more than I expected! Some parts were a little slow, but I enjoyed the relationship between Aidan and Olwyn and the different gothic tone of the book.
THE STORY: Olwyn Gawain’s father buys bodies from resurrection men to conduct his investigations. One night a man in his thirties is brought to Olwyn’s home, and she is immediately drawn to the man who appears to be in perfect condition — other than being dead. When her father begins his study, the two discover that the man is alive. When her father wants to continue his experiments, Olwyn escapes from her home with the unconscious man. When he awakes, Aidan Mullin isn’t sure what has happened and who this unworldly woman is. Aidan lies about his identity and is tempted by Olwyn. Olwyn, however, soon discovers the life that Aidan is hiding from.
OPINION: This is a gothic historical with a sense of mystery, drama, and some horror. The writing is different than might be expected because of its subgenre. The story is dark at times, although there is beauty and love between Aidan and Olwyn. The story is melodramatic, and I loved it because it feels so appropriate for the gothic tone of the book.
Olwyn could have been a caricature of an innocent who has been mistreated by her father, but there was something strong and fresh and real about her character even though she feels unworldly and somewhat out of time. She immediately is attracted to the “dead” man who is brought to her father. His presence gives her the strength to break free from her father, and it is so lovely that she accepts that their relationship will be limited and temporary and yet does not shield herself from him. She is the star of this book, and I might have found Aidan annoying in other circumstances, but she makes him more heroic.
Aidan is torn between his developing love for Olwyn and his obligations to the woman he is betrothed to. The situation is complicated, and I appreciated that the author takes the story seriously even as things become even crazier — which readers of gothic novels might expect. There is a beautiful handfast scene that is romantic and lovely. There are some interesting questions raised about consent dealing with Aidan which is not often explored in romance. I don’t want to give away the plot points, but it is explored in subtle ways throughout the book.
The secondary characters in this book are also well-developed (which might be expected as they are part of a series) and yet it was done in a way that didn’t make me feel like I missed something by not reading the prior books in the series. Even the villains are incredibly interesting. There is something really wonderful in how Olwyn develops a relationship with the women in Aidan’s family and how that helps with the resolution of the story.
For the right reader, this is such a good book. The book asks more from its readers as the language and plot might be offputting for some readers. For me, the gothic nature of the book was what I loved most.
WORTH MENTIONING: I was saddened that the author apparently stopped writing after this book. I would have loved to read about Aidan’s brother.
CONNECTED BOOKS: STEALING MIDNIGHT is the fourth book in the Beneath the Veil series. This book can be read as a standalone. I hadn’t read the previous books and didn’t feel like I needed to do so. Both the parents and the grandparents have books, and their stories have some relevance here, but I got all the information I needed here.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.