This review is also posted at Amazon:
It took a hundred pages for me to get even a little interested in this story. If I hadn't meant to review it, I would have put it away. I was uninterested in the protagonist and found the world-building to be nebulous for the most part. Very easy book to put down. I rearranged a junk drawer and an over-flowing cupboard while reading this book. Not a good sign.
I'd never read PC Cast, but I was interested in picking something of hers up because of how ubiquitous she is in the YA sections in my favorite book stores. Now I see why. Sex sells. A lot.
Now, I love a good sexy romance. My first adult romance was 'borrowed' from my mom when I was sixteen. I definitely get the draw. But there has to be a story that needs it. There has to be chemistry between the characters. And there has to be a reason for the sex scenes in the first place, otherwise they're either just padding or prurience.
The lead romance had the foundation of having the hero see the heroine in dreams for her entire life. Without ever having met her, he was in love. The heroine first sees him in her own dreams shortly before she meets him and she's just as smitten. I've read plenty of romances where couples mate immediately based on being fated, but I found their interaction so bland that their passion seemed out of place. It seemed like adding a sex scene was the purpose rather than furthering the story, which, sorry to say, seems disturbing and smarmy in a book written specifically for teenagers.
But let's get away from sex, if we can. Although it's difficult with all the 'throbbing' the hero was doing for the first two thirds of the book.
We start the story in an inaccessible world, with an unlikely couple and a vague goddess (one goddess, a number of 'goddess incarnates', a 'chosen one' and another 'goddess'). We know there's love and beauty, but there's no real context for any of it. It just sort of floats out there for a prologue and a chapter before we really get to know anyone.
It wasn't until the action moved to a totally different place that the world started to take shape. We learn next to nothing about the hero's world, though. Wastelands, apparently, where his people thrive but suffer. They suffer because the darkness in their blood is making them go insane. Good enough, I suppose, but we have no visual on the place itself. Maybe in a later book it will be explored a bit, but it was needed here and in this story.
The fix for the madness is a vague prophecy that our hero realizes has been misinterpreted and is worse than even he thought it was. His reinterpretation frankly does not fit with the words of the prophecy, so that whole sequence of plot is contrived. And, in the end, the execution of the prophecy doesn't make much sense even with his reinterpretation.
Add to this four interesting characters (I won't say who), three of which make it to the end of the tale. The character death here does impact the story but isn't necessary in the actual world the author has given us. Except, of course, that Cast seems to be setting up a book for another character. Again, contrived.
And finally we get an actual, true to it's name deus ex machina. What else would you expect with a goddess in the lead?
Sadly, I really wanted to like this book. But I didn't and I won't be continuing the series.