student in his very small town. The story itself is actually very simple, it's just a kid coming to grips with who is and what that means in the context of a place that you love, that might not love you back. The simplicity is what makes it so powerful- because there are a million small towns like this across the US, I grew up in one, and in every town there is a Jake, who just wants to be proud of himself and his town.
Jakes family is super supportive of Jake, worried about what might happen next, but always in his corner. When Jake's dad hangs a pride flag in their front yard it forces the whole town to confront their feelings about not just Jake personally, but what they want their community to stand for. When Jake steps out of his comfort zone and rally's support for the first Gay Pride event in their town's history, those feelings of course come to a head.
I'm not going to give specifics, you have to read to find out, but what Stamper does with this storyline is brilliant- because it is so relatable. What person hasn't felt like it's you against the world about something? What person hasn't thought someone is in their corner only to find that maybe you didn't know that person as well as you thought you did? Or who has found out that the someone new is maybe just the friend you didn't even know you needed? And we all want to believe that when push comes to shove, the people that love us will have our back, even when it's tough. Jake navigates it all, and as a reader, it's amazing to take that ride with him.
I can't for everyone to get their hands on this one, and to add it to my library collection next year.
something about the way HE Edgmon writes Wyatt in particular that really hits deep for me.
While Wyatt's experiences are so unique to them, being a witch in a world where witches are persecuted, dealing with fated relationship, fae uprisings, learning to control a power that they don't necessarily understand... there is also something keenly universal about Wyatt being an outcast, being unsure of their own emotions, and struggling to find and keep good relationships.
This story comes on the heels of the Witch King and the story doesn't let up as Wyatt and Emyr struggle to keep their tenuous hold. What I love here is that these are young adults forced into a position of power without a lot of time to adjust. They are making decisions as they go and sometimes those decisions are awful. Sometimes they lash out and treat people they love poorly. Sometimes they trust the wrong people or jump too quick. These are not perfect heroes coming in to save the day. In fact sometimes they are a complete disaster, and that's okay, because most teens are a complete disaster, and they are still able to do amazing things. HE Edgmon captures that perfectly.
hesitant on how it would all pull together, except I know that Alexis Hall has never dissapointed me before, and so I trusted that he would have it well in hand and that it would all come together. It did. It really, really did. I have been burned before on Historical romance and bad takes, but I never should have doubted. Hall creates characters that you are almost immediately invested in and from the jump I knew that Viola and Gracewood were endgame and it was just a matter of how they would get there.
Hall does something that I deeply appreciate with this book- Viola's gender is key to the story, and key to her growth as a person and key to her relationship with Gracewood. The fact that it was something that wasn't spoken about at that time in history is made clear, but, and this is where Hall nails it- Viola's gender is not treated as the big bad in the plot. It's a concern in so much as she is worried about how it will impact her closest relationships, but at the end of the day the people who love her, love her. Their hurt comes primarily from the fact that she felt that she couldn't tell them, that they had given her any reason to doubt their love and acceptance... but never for becoming who she was always meant to be. Hall weaves the internal worry that comes with the not knowing how people will react perfectly, and makes it clear that no matter what, you deserve love and acceptance.
And that message carries over to all the characters- Gracewood is suffering both mentally and physically from the things he encountered at Waterloo. He is grappling with the loss of his best friend and the loss of the man he thought he was supposed to become. At a time when he believes he needs to project strength, instead he feels hopeless and the injuries to his leg have left him feeling like he can never be the man he thinks he must. His sister Mira is also a bit lost. She knows what she is supposed to do and who she is supposed to be, knows that it is expected for her to find a husband and begin a family, but her wants and desires leave her a bit on the outside of traditional society. With both Gracewood and Mira, Hall again reminds us that it's okay to be who you are, it's okay to not meet the expectations of those around you (especially those who do not actually care for you), and it's okay to chase your dreams even if others don't understand them. That again, no matter what, you deserve love and acceptance.
I love historical fiction and I love a good romance. This one hits both notes perfectly and I'm hoping that Hall will allow us to keep visiting with these characters- I'd love to check back in with Viola and Gracewood and their family and I would especially love to join Mira on some adventures.
Home of the ramblings of an avid reader. In my spare time I also run, ride, teach, go on adventures and get into shenanigans.
Find me here: