Review: Arcana by Jessica Leake

I contacted author Jessica Leake earlier this year because after seeing the cover and reading the synopsis for Arcana I was really looking forward to reading it. I've had several chats with her since then and she has been super great to work with. Arcana is her debut book and I really enjoy supporting first-time authors. It's a tough place in the publishing world. Prism Book Tours will be touring Arcana next month (you can see the tour announcement here) and it's going to be a great tour! I'm starting off with all this because regardless of my review, I'm looking forward to seeing what Jessica writes next and I hope her book finds its place into some loving hands.

Arcana
by Jessica Leake
Adult Historical Fantasy
Hardcover, 288 pages
November 18th 2014 by Talos

Summary

Amid the sumptuous backdrop of the London Season in 1905, headstrong Katherine Sinclair must join the ranks of debutantes vying for suitors. Unfortunately for Katherine, she cannot imagine anything more loathsome – or dangerous. Through her late mother’s enchanted journal, Katherine receives warning to keep hidden her otherworldly ability to perform Arcana, a magic fueled by the power of the sun. The machinations of the fashionably elite are a constant threat, but worse still are those who covet Katherine’s Arcana, seeking the power of her birthright. They could be hiding behind the façade of every suitor, even the darkly handsome Earl of Thornewood. With so much danger and suspicion, can she give her heart to the one who captivates her, or is he just another after her power?
   

My Review

I love historical romances, especially when there is a creative or intriguing twist to the story. In Arcana the twist has to do with Katherine's (and the women in her family) ability to use Arcana, or absorb energy and use it to heal or to exert some control over other things. The story becomes further intriguing as Katherine finds that she will face two suitors, one who will become a friend and one who will become a foe.

I loved the beginning of this story! I loved the setting and the way the story first introduces us to Katherine's beloved family. I loved getting that unrestrained glimpse into Katherine's thoughts and personality and her relationships with those closest to her. Lucy was especially endearing and Robert definitely was the perfect chummy and teasing older brother. I also enjoyed James, Collin's mischievous younger brother with his teasing and antics. This story was full of family, their loyalty and love for one another, and these light and teasing, but also serious relationships.

I especially loved the banter between Katherine and Collin, with Lord Blackburn, Eliza, and others. There were so many great one-liners, retorts, and reactions that cracked me up and some relationships and comments that upset me. There were also unguarded and sweet moments when a feeling or communication was shared with words, slight touches, or through a look.

There were a few areas where I thought there could have been a little more development (in some of the characters and in the world-building) and where I thought Katherine should have had a stronger backbone or thought more clearly. I also would have loved less descriptive kissing scenes. The story would have been sweet and still beautifully climatic if there would have been a few stolen kisses and then a nice drawn-out kiss at the end, but that is how I like these types of stories. The mature content and wanting more development to some parts of the story lowered my rating a half star, but those that don't mind the content should thoroughly enjoy reading this.

I would recommend Arcana to those who enjoy reading historical romances with a magical twist, intriguing characters, are full of family, danger, and romance, and don't mind the mature content.


Content: (Highlight to read.) There were a couple of overly descriptive kissing scenes, one scene that just sits on not-quite-line of sex, a couple times when a man tries to force himself on a woman, and some brief violence.

Source: From the author and the publisher through Edelweiss, which did not affect my review in any way.


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