(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Roseline Enescue didn’t ask to become an Immortal, to have all of the guests at her wedding slaughtered, or be forced into marriage with a man whose lust for blood would one day ignite the vampire legend. Willing to risk everything for a chance at a normal life, Roseline escapes to America. Terrified her husband Vladimir will find her, Roseline enrolls as a senior in Chicago’s elite Rosewood Prep school. Mingling with humans is the last place he would look for her. But her transition into the human world isn’t easy. Mortal men flock after her while cutthroat girls plot her demise. Yet Roseline remains relatively unfazed by the petty hysteria until she falters into the arms of Gabriel Marston, reluctant MVP quarterback, unwilling ladies man, and sensitive artist in hiding. Troubled by the bond that pulls her towards the mortal boy, Roseline tries to ignore him, but Gabriel is persistent. As their lives entwine, Roseline begins to realize that Gabriel is much more than he appears. His ability to toss a football the entire length of the field and grind concrete into dust pales in comparison to the glowing blue cross tattoo that mysteriously appears on his forearms. Despite the forbidden bond between them, Roseline can’t help wondering what Gabriel is: He’s not human. He’s not Immortal. So just what is he?
[Full disclosure: I requested and received this ebook through NetGalley as part of the 'Beautifully Unnatural' four book package.]
I thought the premise of this book sounded a little dumb, to be honest. An immortal who just wants to be a teenager? Meh.
And yet, after all the effort Amy Miles went to in order to develop her characters, I kind of get it. Roseline was never allowed to be a child. She was raised for marriage into another wealthy family from birth and was a child bride on her wedding day. Add to that the fact she watched her entire family die before her eyes and that the blood of dead younger sister made her immortal and you’ve got a basic recipe for stunted growth. Not to mention all the myriad tortures Dracula inflicts on her. I think anyone would turn out with a lack of trust, not to mention an odd mix of maturity (because she had to deal with torture and politics) and immaturity (a response to being forced into said torture and politics).
From all this, you can definitely guess that Roseline is a pretty memorable character. I still don’t quite buy the whole 300-year-old immortal falling for a teenage boy, but I’m willing to give Amy Miles a little leeway here after she semi-justified Roseline’s immaturity. Gabriel is not bad in the beginning and I like how he actually develops into a character rather than just your typical love interest. He won’t abandon Roseline, no matter how much she pushes him away in order to protect him. Compared to other love interests, he also knows how to act and lie, which make him a far more compelling character than your usual guileless but oddly heroic male.
Even if the characterization was iffy in spots, the plot was not. Even when it was ‘slow’ (i.e. there were no major events happening), there was still an element of tension throughout the novel that kept your attention. I generally liked Roseline as a character so I was very invested in what happened to her, especially when she got the word that Dracula was going to go on a killing spree unless she returned to him. She has trouble adjusting to high school life in America but she does find a lot of things to be happy about at the same time: Gabriel, finally being allowed to be herself and (again) the whole not being tortured thing. Anyone would act a little irrationally after being denied freedom for centuries and then being given it back.
So overall, Forbidden at least had a solid plot and generally well-developed characters. The world-building was okay and I expect we’ll see a little bit more of an explanation in the other two books of the trilogy. For something I picked up as guilty pleasure, I actually found myself enjoying it on a more intellectual level. And that’s why I’ll be reading the next book to find out what happens.
I give this book 4/5 stars.
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