Shadow Play (The Fae Games Book 1)
By Jill Ramsower
Genre: Fairy Tales/Gothic Romance/Arthurian Fantasy
Rating: 3 Stars
“After two years at a dead-end job, Rebecca Peterson walks away from everything she knows to follow her dreams in Ireland. Instead of dreams, the dreary streets of Belfast rekindle her terrifying nightmares; and this time, they aren’t confined to her imagination. Twisted and vicious, Faeries are being unleashed on Earth to prey upon unsuspecting humans. Becca must stay alive long enough to learn about this deadly Fae world and discover why she’s been drawn into its clutches.
Delving into the underbelly of the city, Becca discovers that she is not entirely alone in her struggles. However, centuries of secrecy make gathering information a challenge. When Becca crosses paths with two mysterious strangers, her life is only complicated further. The gorgeous but brooding Lochlan demands complete honesty while refusing to provide any answers of his own. On the other hand, Ronan’s enigmatic, charming persona is refreshingly disarming. With his sights set on making Becca his, he offers more help than most. Both men claim to help her, but Becca quickly learns that trusting others is difficult when you have secrets of your own …”
I was given this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Shadow Play, book one in The Fae Games series by Jill Ramsower deals with the Fae, a population of mythological creatures that seems to abound in literature these days. Not that I mind, I truly enjoy stories that deal with the Fae…so, BRING IT ON!
Rebecca (Becca) hates her waitressing job in a New York City diner. Finally, one day she reaches her limit and quits; opting to stop simply surviving from day to day and go after what she really wants, her dream job as curator in an art museum. On a whim, thinking she probably doesn’t have a shot at it anyway she calls about a job at a museum in Ireland and is miraculously hired sight unseen…just from a brief conversation over the phone.
Now, I admit it; I found that pretty damned far-fetched. Talk about Seelie and Unseelie Fae all you want and I’ll happily go along with you. But have someone hired for a job in another country based off of nothing more than a short conversation and a few background checks and yeah….I’m skeptical; but ooookay I’ll go along with it for the sake of the story. Perhaps she had an amazing stroke of luck…perhaps it was something a tad bit more, who knows?
Regardless, Rebecca packs up her life in NYC and makes the move across the pond, not knowing what may lay in store for her. Then strange things begin to happen and she finds herself wondering if all the men in Ireland are rude and slightly off their rockers. That’s when her reality begins to change and the creatures she thought only existed in fantasy books begin to become reality, with two men at the center of it all; Ronan a charming and handsome man she meets at the museum and Lochlan, a gorgeous brooding bully of a man she cannot seem to resist.
This seems to have all the makings for a really good read doesn’t it? I agree, but I hate to say that it comes up just short of being that for me. Don’t get me wrong, I found it interesting and it did keep me reading but it really didn’t live up to its potential. And, I think what it really came down to is this; a lack of development in the relationships between characters. Sorry Ms. Ramsower, they just felt flat to me. Except for the relationship between Becca and Ash. I suspect that’s because Ash is based on someone Ms. Ramsower knows personally. At least that’s how it felt to me.
As for Ronan, he comes off as charming initially but I know from the very beginning who this slick charmer really is; he’s an eel with an unsavory motive. And Lochlan, well that relationship with Becca develops at a snail’s-pace. So that when something sexual does finally happen towards the end of the book, I was suspicious of it and saw through that before it even began as well; and I hate when that happens.
This book is marketed as a “gothic romance” but I have to disagree with that label. There may be a couple of sexually charged moments (more like highly intimately domineering moments) but there really is no “romance” to it at all. Not that there has to be romance in a book such as this, there doesn’t need to be…it could simply be fantasy fiction. Just don’t market it as a romance. There’s barely even a romantic element to it.
This leads me to my last observation. This book ends on a cliffhanger. I have no problem whatsoever with books that have a continuation to them but this one book never really wrapped up and even in a book with a continuation you need to wrap up each part of it. This made the book feel as though it simply ended abruptly and that left me feeling unsatisfied. Probably much the way Becca felt after the last chapter of the book. Obviously, you’d have to read it to know what I’m referring to.
I know I’ve said several things that I felt should have been improved, so let me end this review on what I did like about this book.
I liked the relationship between Becca and her best friend Ash. They have the kind of friendship I have with my best friends. When you need them they are there, no questions asked. When you need to tell them something that makes you sound bat-shit crazy; they say, that’s bat-shit crazy but because you are telling me…I believe you. When you call them in the middle of the night and tell them you need to bury a body…they say, where do I need to meet you and do I need to bring a shovel? No? That’s just me? Well…you get the picture.
Anyway…the dialogue between those two was fun and genuine. I could truly feel she was based off of someone the author knew personally.
I also appreciated how Ms. Ramsower worked in some characters from the Arthurian Legends (although this still is not an Arthurian Tale genre). I found that little addition to be unique and honestly, fairly plausible; a nice believable addition.
Also, as a book formatter I have to give props to whoever formatted and edited this book. I only remember finding one spelling error and the formatting was consistent throughout. That is important to someone like me.
So, down to the nitty gritty; would I recommend this book? Sure I would, particularly to those who enjoy a good fantasy adventure with what I would call a romantic element to it. It’s no panty burner but it is interesting, unique, and I think enough to keep me reading the next book in the series. I give it 3 Stars, and please keep in mind that for me that means I like it enough to go ahead and recommend it….but it’s not quite a “ya gotta rush out and get it” either.
Check out Jill Ramsower’s Shadow Play, Book 1 in The Fae Games series and tell me what you think of it as well.