Review Detail

Books EW Elaine White December 18, 2018 2303
 POV: 1st person, dual POV

Holy Cow! What a way to start with a bang! Once again, Rosalind Abel gives us a Prologue of two halves – one half from Seth's POV and another from Charley's. This is perfect, because we really benefit from seeing the situation from both sides. And it allows for that explosive moment of discovery where – although we, the reader, know who is involved and what is likely to happen – the characters finally figure out just what has happened and with who.

In The Victorian, Abel takes the enemies-to-lovers trope and turns it on its head, creating a unique and original plot, perfect for the two characters who were brought together. With Seth and Charley, twenty years of history, hurt, grievances and pain are exposed. Their story is one of self-discovery and self-acceptance, changing hearts and minds by taking the risk of looking past the veneer on show to the world and searching beneath the surface for what is real. It's beautiful, it's heartbreaking, it's hot as hell. The Victorian, yet another smash hit, is actually the perfect Christmas tale; it has redemption, hope and love, while managing to be both heartwarming and devastating at the same time.

I always feel struck dumb and speechless, when I finish a Lavender Shores novel. Like all my thoughts are a tangle and lost in the pages I've just put down. Like my heart and mind are still stuck there, on that last page, and it will take me hours to get them back again.

For now, all I can say is that I was immediately drawn into the story. We've been circling the whole Seth/Charley debacle for eight books now and never known the full story, only hearing snippets and gossip from the other Lavender Shores townspeople. To finally see them together was one thing, but to start with that dual Prologue was something else entirely. To see it from both POV's is my new favourite way of starting a story; and it's a way that I've never seen another author attempt. Though it starts with a threesome, there's really not all that much “three” about it, except for some direction and a short period of contact at the end. And the Prologue is the only time it happens, but it also gives us a bit more insight into all three characters; Seth, Charley and Silas. I loved that it showed us different aspects of who each of them were.

As always, I loved catching up with the previous Lavender Shores members. Seeing Andrew and Joel's big news, the changes that had happened for Alex, Moses and Xander, even to see most of all the previous characters revisit for the founding family and town events. Mabel, who had been a side character and a staple of Lavender Shores since book one, became the mother hen and comfort blanket to this story. She and Sapphire were a beautiful addition to Charley's journey that let me feel at ease with the time he spent in turmoil. Knowing they were there for him, had always been there for him, was just something that made my heart lighter, even in his toughest moments. The inclusion of politics, with the appearance of Senator Gonzales, was actually perfectly appropriate. Not only to the story and the political times of the real world, but also due to the essence of Lavender Shores, the characters that the Senator interacted with, and the impact it had on Charley and Seth.

For me, the story was a little darker than some of the others, more reminiscent of Micah and Connor's tumultuous relationship, but it was fitting for the characters and what they were going through. It didn't deny us the strangely satisfying hate-sex or the enemies-to-lovers aspects, nor did it eliminate the romance, as some books might have. There was an equal amount of self-hate, 'I loathe you' and 'I can't get enough of you' to make this a true enemies-to-lovers, while also leaving room for romance to creep in and surprise all of us, the characters included.

Lavender Shores is the only series I know of that has each book that can actually be read as a standalone. Most books that advertise that ability prove not to be capable of it; referring to past events or linking too many previous characters in ways that prove confusing for new-to-the-series readers. Lavender Shores doesn't have that problem. You see past and future characters in every book, but there are no spoilers for their stories. You could easily dip into each book in any order you wanted, or just choose the one you wanted. However, I'd recommend reading them all, in the order they're meant to be read, only because each one is pure gold, a joy to read, and each one offers some deeper connection to all those that follow. To get the proper effect of Lavender Shores, you need to immerse yourself in the world and embrace every small character. You never know who will surprise you. Or that you could fall a little bit in love with Robert for defending Will, that Pete and Ruby could break your heart; that a tattered baseball card could make you cry, or that a book club could be so scandalous. Lavender Shores can be that home away from home, locked in a book you can re-read to your hearts content, if you let it.

I've been reading Lavender Shores books since the first novel released in June 2017. I have re-read book one three times, I own the paperback, and I'm collecting the paperbacks of every book in the series. If that doesn't tell you that I love the writing, the storytelling, the author's voice, and the characters, then I don't know what will. Maybe the fact that I have – without exception – given every book in this series a 5* rating. Never before have I read a series that has had nine full-length novels and every single one has been perfection. But that's what Lavender Shores is. Every book captures my heart and mind, breaking it and mending it again. Then the next book comes along and does the same. Each one is better than the last, and each new couple touches me more deeply and more personally than the last. That's the beauty and treasure that has become Lavender Shores.

Now I just need Nick's story, and that would be the cherry on top. In all honesty, I actually made a note at 3% that I loved seeing more of Silas in this book and that he'd be a great match for Nick. Then, after reading the amazing story for Seth and Charley, what did I find? Only the best news, that had me doing a literal fist-pump in glee! Silas is the next book, and I'm going to get my wish! I couldn't be happier.


 Favourite Quotes

Forgive me for not picking my usual one quote, but there were a few that spoke to me and I couldn't leave them out. This first quote is one that I can't explain. I can't even tell you when in the book it happens, only that when Charley said these words, my heart broke:
“I'm exhausted.”

“God, the man was cruel. That wasn't news to me, nor a surprise. I'd known that for two decades. Part of why I despised him. I knew he despised me right back, but have him use those terms, after all the years that had passed...I didn't know he still had the power to hurt me.”

“He looked up, his gaze meeting mine and shook his head, looking like the motion used every last ounce of strength. “Don't.”
I didn't have a choice. I slid my hand over his chest, up his neck, and ran my fingers through his beard as I cupped his jaw.
Still his eyes met mine. “Don't. Please don't.”
I stepped closer, eased his jaw up, and kissed him.”
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