Wendy Darling: Shadow (Wendy Darling #3) by Colleen Oakes

I have thoroughly enjoyed the “Wendy Darling” series, which also included Volume 1: Stars (previously reviewed here) and Volume 2: Seas (reviewed here). How did Shadow finish out the story?

Wendy Darling: Shadow front cover (SparkPress)

THE PLOT: Volume 3 picks up where Seas left off. Wendy has returned to the Lost Boys, trying to make Peter believe she loves him and gain his forgiveness for leaving. She needs to be there long enough to get information from Tink and steal Peter’s pipes, both needed to control the Shadow, the destructive force behind Peter’s power.

 Her task is complicated by the capture of Booth, her gentle true love from London, thanks to her combative brother John. With Booth under Peter’s control, Wendy has to fight for his release from Neverland along with the freedom of both her brothers.
Alone with Peter, without the aid of her friend Captain Hook or much assistance from a hostile Tink, Wendy will have to rely on herself to rescue her loved ones and free Neverland from Peter and the Shadow.

MY TWO CENTS: First, let me say that this book has a lot more action than Volume 2 did. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Seas, but it was a lot of setup and building toward the climax. Now that we’re here, stuff is happening. In contrast to Seas, Hook’s role here is fairly limited. We do get a big dose of Peter, who was mostly missing from Seas.

Of course, we knew all along that this is a more obvious Wendy coming-of-age story than the original Peter Pan. This Wendy is in her late teens and already had a love interest before Peter. Peter makes no secret of what he wants from Wendy.  We definitely see a more adult Wendy emerge in this volume; she’s grabbing adulthood, and the responsibilities that come with it, with both hands.

Wendy is mostly released from Peter’s thrall now, especially with the reality of a captured Booth staring her in the face. While she has a battle plan, there’s a part of her that will take whatever happiness she can just in case it doesn’t work out.

I also found that this book wasn’t very predictable. I had a pretty definite idea of how things would play out, and I was wrong quite a bit. I wonder if other readers would agree with me, or do you see this ending coming?

COVER NOTES: I’ve mentioned before how very much I love these covers. I was wrong in thinking that we might see Wendy’s face on this final cover, but I don’t have a problem with that. I much prefer “faceless” covers that leave the details to the reader’s imagination than a model who doesn’t match my idea of the character. We do, however, get Wendy standing strong for the first time, which is appropriate. I’m buying a set of these books to have the matched set in hard copy because I think they’re worthy of my precious limited shelf space.

BOTTOM LINE: I really liked this whole series, and found Shadow fairly unpredictable. I’m really gratified when the series finale doesn’t trip the finish line. I would recommend this series to fans of fairy tale retellings.

TEACUP RATING: Four-and-a-half out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available in paperback and eformats on July 18, 2017.

NEXT UP FROM THIS AUTHOR: The third book in the “Red Queen” series, War of the Cards, will be released November 7, 2017. I really need to start reading this series.

Note: Review is based on ARCs provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors, #4) by Sabrina Jeffries

I owe author Sabrina Jeffries and readers a huge apology…I started this review over a month ago, got sick, and never finished it. So without further ado…

The Pleasures of Passion front cover (Pocket Books/Simion & Schuster)

THE PLOT: Niall and Bree were young lovers separated when Niall killed a man in a duel and had to leave the country. He couldn’t share with Bree that the duel was fought over the sexual assault of his sister, so she was led to believe it might have been over another romantic partner. When Niall asked Bree to run away with him, she refused because her mother was dying. But Niall’s father managed to poison the young couple against each other by telling Niall that Bree wouldn’t go with him because he wouldn’t be a rich earl once he was in exile. He encouraged Bree to believe that the duel was fought over a woman shared by the men.

When they meet up years later, both are cynical toward the other. Niall believes Bree jumped into marriage immediately after his exile as an opportunist. She was really forced into it by her father’s gambling debts. Now, a spymaster is making them pretend to be engaged to find out if Bree’s father is involved in a counterfeiting ring. Bree agrees in order to protect her father and the reputation of her young son. Niall owes the spymaster for granting his pardon and allowing him to return to England. But of course, throwing this couple together will result in all kinds of romantic shenanigans, AND the opportunity to finally clear the air…if they’re brave enough to take it.

MY TWO CENTS: I can see where some readers might be annoyed by one thing: “If this couple would just TALK to each other honestly, none of the misunderstandings would happen.” But here’s the thing: they were very young when the first break took place. That situation continued to breed distrust. And even after all the secrets are finally out, it still takes some time to re-establish trust. So no, just talking to each other doesn’t solve ALL the problems. I also love romances that emphasize how sex doesn’t just solve everything.

One thing I love about Sabrina Jeffries: she’s great for pointing out all the reasons why a storyline is ludicrous and letting the characters argue them out right on the page. For example, when Bree and Niall are coerced into working together, they hash through all the “couldn’t we just do this instead…” and “no, we can’t do that because…” So Jeffries is well aware of how a plot line may seem stretched AND believable at the same time. I like it.

COVER NOTES: One thing I often note from my Goodreads list is how color schemes seem to go in cycles, especially for romance novels. This gray and red scheme is the same being used on Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess, also released in June. I honestly wish he wasn’t holding her bare leg, but otherwise, another fun “breaking the fourth wall” cover. Do you prefer it when series covers match? I really, really want them to match because I’m weird that way.

BOTTOM LINE: Another enjoyable entry in this series. I love “young lost love found again” stories.

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available now in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN SERIES:  An e-novella, A Talent for Temptation, is coming October 2, 2017. The final book in the series, The Secrets of Flirting, will be available March 27, 2018.

Note: Review is based on ARCs provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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