Monday, 16 September 2013

Book: Prince of Hearts by Margaret Foxe

I received a copy of Prince of Hearts from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Alina is an independent woman with a slight gambling problem and a secret occupation writing a serial for the newspaper, she also works as a secretary for Sasha, a man with a past that he'd rather forget. Both Alina and Sahsa try to deny the feelings that they have for each other, and yet after being pushed together when events happen that are beyond their control, and threaten everything they know, including their lives, they have to start accepting both their emotional feelings for each other and the overwhelming physical attraction they feel towards each other, whilst attempting to solve a mystery and bring peace to the tormented past.

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Prince of Hearts is primarily described as falling within the genre of steampunk. Whilst this is true there are also particularly strong elements of romance and adventure, as well as a small amount of paranormal elements. Ultimately this means that Prince of Hearts has something in it for everyone, or at least it did for me! I couldn't stop turning the pages I was so drawn into Aline and Sasha's story!

As I was warned before, I think that it is only fair that I pass the warning on. Due to the strong elements of romance in Prince of Hearts, sex is described in some detail at certain parts of the book. Personally I saw this as part of the way that Foxe successfully wove several genres together to create a fully enjoyable read. I think that there is also a sense that it truly reflects Victorian society and their somewhat prudish, attitude to sex and the fact that it was very much a forbidden pleasure.

Moving onto the reason for the sex, being the relationship between Sasha and Aline,. In these two characters there is a real sense of complexity, neither is straight forward, something that I feel I should commend the author for, especially as she created such complex characters in a relatively small number of words. Because of the complexity of the characters, their relationship was also anything but simple. Both characters suffered from a certain level of confusion in figuring out their true emotions. Interestingly, at no point did I find this frustrating, it made the pair of them more human and their relationship more real And anyone who regularly reads my reviews will know that I love nothing like real feeling, well developed characters, and in Prince of Hearts I got them!

In the world Foxe creates, people are enhanced through the practice of welding (with the exception of the immortal characters and Aline who has a rare blood disease meaning that her blood doesn't clot, making enhancement impossible) which supposedly improves life and skills. Foxe then takes this one step further and introduces one of the paranormal elements of the book. There are the 'Elders' who each have a mechanical 'Da Vinci heart' which allows them to live forever. Each Elder is then able to 'bond' with humans, whereupon they too become immortal, though the blood bond needs renewing every hundred years or so. On top of this if a human is given bonded bloog, and so corrupted Elder blood, they become a vampire.

Though this may seem like a lot of paranormal elements to take it, it actually comprises a very small part of the plot, and adds more things that could be explored in future books, which I very much hope there will be! I loved Prince of Hearts, and even if you're not a fan of steampunk, my bet is that you would enjoy this book too!